Re: Test of The "Timeless" Aorist

Date: Mon May 04 1998 - 14:06:39 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote:
> At 11:11 AM -0500 5/4/98, wrote:

> >"If not who out of heaven descends, the Son of man."
> >
> >Another way is:
> >
> >"If not the Son of man who descends out of heaven."
> This is certainly appropriate for an aorist PARTICIPLE--to translate it as
> a relative clause, but of course, it would be no less accurate to translate
> it as most versions do: "if not the Son of man who descended out of
> heaven"--the reason being that the participle here seems pretty clearly to
> be a participial representation, as Edgar notes, of an aorist indicative
> which would be KATEBH.

Carl ~

Had the participle been a perfect, how would it be translated
differently from "who descended"? "Who did descend"? "Who has
descended"? Is there any way to differentiate these?
> >Notice that "is descending" is NOT to be used, and that translators
> >are often very sloppy in their rendering of the Greek present as both
> >'descends' and 'is descending'. The first should be reserved for the
> >aorist, the second for the present tense.
> There's really nothing wrong or "sloppy" with translating a Greek PRESENT
> tense, KATABAINEI, as EITHER "descends" OR "is descending." I think that
> you're endeavoring, George, to impose a distinction of aspect that is
> present in the GREEK upon English, where it is NOT present.

In the English they are used either way, 'tis true. In the Greek,
they are NOT. The English ongoing present is most clearly stated
using the present of 'to be' plus the participle. The 'simple'
present is ambiguous. The Greek is NOT ambiguous in the present
tense. It clearly means 'acting right now'. To say 'acts' is
ambiguous, hence what I term sloppiness in customary translations.

> >The point of the aorist usage here is to give the accounting of that
> >event a timeless scope of envisionment. It simultaneously places the
> >reader/listener at the scene of the event, much like the historical
> >vivid present, while evoking the vast range of meanings in the
> >reader's understanding and memory of just what "descending" means,
> >thereby lifting upon its wings one's vision of that particular event
> >to a horizonless perspective. [I know, I know... I wax poetic!!]
> Not only that, but you verge on writing nonsense. There's every reason to
> believe that the KATABAS here refers to a past event, ALTHOUGH in the right
> context it could refer to present or even future time, as in:
> "When he comes down off the mountain, our friend falls on his head."
> "If he comes down from the mountain, our friend will fall on his head."
> In the first of these sentences, the aorist participle represents a finite
> (indicative) aorist and indicates that the falling on his head begins at
> the point of time when our friend has succeeded in getting to the bottom of
> the mountain. In the second the aorist participle represents an aorist
> subjunctive in a future-less-vivid conditional construction.

Exactly... And BOTH can translate clearly in the SIMPLE [non-ongoing]
English present, with no ambiguity.
> > This could not have been expressed in the Greek had the Perfect tense
> >[historical] been used. The aorist gives the account depth and
> >fullness and vision, which is perhaps why it is the narrative verb
> >form of choice among the ANDROI of Greek authorship. I have this
> >feeling that to them, usage of the Perfect would have been seen as
> >little more than gossip, best left to smaller minds who are endeared
> >to such gossip.
> ANDRES? The Perfect tense in Greek is NOT the historical tense: in point of
> fact, the perfect IS the tense that will give an account depth, fulness,
> and vision--precisely because it expresses the NOW fully-developed reality
> that is consequent upon completion of the action. KATABEBHKEN means: "his
> descent is complete and efficacious: he is really here on earth right now."
> I have added the "on earth" because it is what is implied in the Johannine
> context.

Well Carl, here we just disagree. Of course it is fully realized.
That's the historical [past] fact. And of course that has
consequences. No question. It is the ongoingness of the present that
'perfects' ~ i.e. "pastizes" ~ the 'imperfect' ~ i.e. not yet
"pastized" ! future. The present itself for us is an amazing mixture
of past and future, experienced in its ongoingness, as our normal
present and ongoing awareness. The perfect but states this
historicity. The aorist gives the account of it vision and wings.

The ANDROI reference, probably butchered by me, was to the man's man
manliness of the ancient Greek writers, who were MEN, by gaahrrr!!
With little truck for paltry gossip and petty concerns!! They had
vision!!! [Doesn't always make their vision correct, mind you... :-)

> Do you mean to say, "In the Beginning was the Aorist"? Or do you mean to
> say, "In the Beginning was the Present"? I think that what Robertson is
> saying is that the Aorist is LOGICALLY prior to the present, whether or not
> it is HISTORICALLY prior. In fact, I think that historical linguists would
> say that the aorist is "unmarked," while the present is a "marked" tense.

The present, in Greek time, is always the beginning, imo. The aorist
simply states the action as a KIND of action ~ the IDEA of it. From
that, perhaps, will come the tense markers, or perhaps the alteration
of the root, to distinguish the present ongoing time of an action from
the idea of the action itself, the abstract idea, the aorist. ATR
seems to think the early roots differentiat them, but even this could
be viewed as a 'marking' of the root. Grammatically, the aorist is
first ~ No question in my mind at this point.

George Blaisdell

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