Re: Silva pans Aspect for Exegesis

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun May 17 1998 - 14:53:30 EDT

At 2:26 PM -0400 5/17/98, Edgar Foster wrote:
>---"Carl W. Conrad" wrote:
>> I'm not sure how much the above statements actually imply (and I DON"T
>> REALLY want to get caught up in Paul's--Dixon's, that is--argument
>> what IMPLIES means, although I'll agree with the common-sense people
>> reasonable guesses may be made as to intention even where they are not
>> strictly implied): they do say that considerations of aspect won't
>> the exegesis primarily, but they don't seem to me to rule out
>> "aspects" in interpretation. The particular case in point for me is
>> Jesus-saying in Mk 8:34par: EI TIS QELEI OPISW MOU AKOLOUQEIN,
>even sure
>> that the passage can be translated properly in a way that conveys the
>> difference between the first two imperatives as aorist and the third
>one as
>> a present imperative; it is a powerful statement in any case, but I
>> really believe that the fact that the first two imperatives are
>aorist and
>> the last one progressive is a negligible one for full understanding
>of what
>> the Greek is saying.
>The way I read Silva is: aspectual distinctions in themselves NEVER
>provide any true materials for exegesis. CONTEXT must control how the
>reader construes any present or aorist forms.
>"In conclusion, we may say that an interpreter is unwise to emphasize
>an idea that allegedly comes from the use of a tense (or some other
>subtle grammatical distinction) unless the context as a whole clearly
>sets forth that idea" (Silva, Moises. _God, Language, and Scripture_.
>Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. P. 118)

That's all very fine, and indeed probably worth saying; my own feeling is
that some of the "exegetical insights" that Mounce uses to start his
chapters in _Beginning Biblical Greek_ involve just such excessive reading
of the meaning of a distinct grammatical feature. But again I ask: with
regard to Mark 8:34par would we really want to say that the fact that two
of the three 3rd-person imperatives are aorist and the third one is
progressive is NEGLIGIBLE? Regardless of what Silva may say, I think that
to ignore this question is to stop short of a complete exegesis--which
doesn't mean that the exegesis of this passage DEPENDS on how one reads
that difference in tenses, simply that it is not a NEGLIGIBLE element for

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243 OR

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