Re: Historical Present

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Fri Jun 05 1998 - 11:41:09 EDT


Several have written privately and asked for my definition of the
historical here it is from my syntax notes in
GRAMCORD. I claim NO originality in this AT ALL; this is from
Fanning, Verbal Aspect, who has a very nice treatment of the
whole subject.

III. Special Uses of the Present:

   C. Historical Presents: Must be: 3rd person, non-copula, indicative:

      1) Expressive or Vivid Description Historical Present: Translated
                normally as past, but could be Present for effect: Matt 4:5

      2) Unmarked or Standard Narrative Historical Present: Translated
                as past with no special significance; takes aspect from
                associated past time verb: Mark 12:41 (With aspect from
                Imperfect) (NASB)

      3) Annalistic or Note-taking Historical Present: Present used in
                the original recording of the events by eyewitness is
                retained: Matt 3:1 (NASB)

      4) Discourse-Function or Dramatic Historical Present: Used by
                author, especially Mark, to clearly introduce new pericope,
                story, unit, etc.: Mark 1:12 (NRSV); Mark 1:40 (TLB)


Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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