Date: Fri Apr 24 1998 - 11:16:26 EDT
Edgar Foster wrote:
> ---email@example.com wrote:
> >In the ... idiomatic English present, [the aorist] can be translated
> > effortlessly, simply, consistently and clearly, with vision, every
> > time it is seen in use.
> If you're suggesting that we translate the aorist everytime in the
> English present, this simply will not do.
> If that's the case, what about when the aorist describes past events?
> (1 Cor. 15:3) What about Rom. 3:23? Would you translate it with the
> English present?
Dear Edgar ~
1 Cor 15:3 uses 3 aorists in the indicative active voice. My KJV
translates them all in the Perfect, as completed historical events. I
would imagine that we would call these 'historical' aorists, in our
efforts to make them denote time, because they are so 'obviously'
describing actions, textually provable, that are over and done with.
But Paul is speaking timelessly of these events here, reminding his
listeners of what they are to be keeping in memory, 15:2 [Present
ongoing tense]. Just using the KJV and putting it in the only
'timeless' present we have in English, it reads easily:
"For I deliver... that which I also receive, how that Christ dies for
Thus the aorist gives these words a timelessness and thereby a
permanence of relevence that is maintained, by the continuing usage of
the aorist, throughout this passage. The EFFECT of the historical
event is rendered timeless by the aorist, which of itself has no time
time value at all. It can be employed to give unbounded vision to ANY
time period, past, present or future.
To our English ears, that are accustomed to hearing "Christ DIED for
your sins!", the statement "Christ dies for your sins." sounds a bit
odd, as our minds try to put this aoristic usage into the present
tense. It does not belong in the present tense. At all. Our
difficulty lies in the ambiguity of our two forms of present tense,
where the simple present MAY be used as an aorist, but is usually
understood 'in time' as the present.
The other issue, surrounding these 3 aorists, which I do not yet
understand, goes back to their non-sigmatic form, which on the one
hand, can be seen as confining them to past timelessness, and on the
other hand can be seen as a part of their historical collapsing from
the E____SA formal and classical rendering, into less cumbersome ways
of expression, [As our English is, having no formal aorist at all],
through the evolution of the Greek in usage. Another possibility is
that the very nature of death precludes a sigmatic form, and thus must
be rendered historically in the aorist. I am far too poor a scholar
to know how to address these issues, but I have been repeatedly
assured that the sigmatic/non-sigmatic issue is bogus. For me, until
I understand, it remains gently simmering on another of my very
numerous and growing 'back burners' of consideration.
One benefit of rendering APEQANEN 'dies' is that it does stop the
reader in his/her mental tracks, and thereby provokes a very fresh
look at the significance of the death event so described, instead of
just filing it away as historical and thereby over and done with. The
aorist, in this way, evokes thought in the reader/listener, that goes
far beyond whatever historical [i.e. Physical] event is being
described. Such is its grandeur, power and vision.
I have been told that Hebrew has no aorist form, only perfect and
imperfect. If that is true, then the Jews must be much more
intelligent than we are, for they are able to take the 'timeless
truth' out of merely historical accounts of events, without the 'wings
of vision' that we so need and the aorist so generously supplies.
When we start 'seeing' aoristically, we begin to 'see' the universal
in the particular historical events that describe and instantiate it.
And in the GNT, this verb form tells us exactly where this
'timelessness' is to be understood.
Edgar, I hope this helps. I am VERY aware that this is NOT how the
aorist is presently understood, and that far better minds than mine
are certain that this whole line of thinking is utterly without
merit. My only response is to try it with the text, see what happens,
and decide for yourself. It works, and works well, in my admittedly
struggling and stumbling and ongoing entry into the GNT. Error is
self-correcting by consequences IF we have the 'vision' to see and
acknowledge them. I use that 'vision' a LOT!! :-)
Grace to you...
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