Date: Sat Jun 06 1998 - 10:51:55 EDT
Jonathan Robie wrote:
> I've continued thinking about the relationship between the past event and
> the current state in the perfect. The two explanations I'm most familiar
> with are:
> 1. Mari Olsen's suggestion that the tense of the perfect is present,
> referring to the current state, and the aspect is perfective, referring to
> the complete event.
> 2. Fanning's suggestion that the perfect combines stative Aktionsart with
> imperfective aspect.
> I think that clear thinking about the perfect always requires attention to
> what it might say about a past event and what it might say about the
> current state. Since tense disappears outside the indicative, and aspect
> remains, I thought I'd see how non-indicative perfects relate to the past
> event and the current state.
> I chose to explore examples that Robertson had classified as referring to
> past events or current states. He says these examples represent states:
> John 4:6 hO OUN IHSOUS *KEKOPIAKWS* EK THS hODOIPORIAS EKAQEZETO hOUTWS
> EPI TH PHGH
> John 4:6 Now Jesus, *having been wearied* from the journey, sat thus upon
> the well.
> I do not mean to imply that "having been wearied" is a great translation
> into English, but it is the most woodenly literal translation of a perfect
> participle that I could find, so I thought I would inflict it on yāall.
> Although Robertson uses this as an example that refers to the current state
> - Jesus is tired - the perfect in this example doesnāt work without
> reference to a past event, tiring himself out from the journey. Suppose I
> left out the prepositional phrase EK THS hODOIPORIAS ("from the journey") -
> my guess is that the result still implies a past event:
> hO OUN IHSOUS *KEKOPIAKWS* EKAQEZETO hOUTWS EPI TH PHGH
> Now Jesus, *having worn himself out*, sat thus upon the well.
> Iām surprised that Robertson uses this as an example:
> Luke 4:16 KAI EISHLQEN KATA *TO* *EIWQOS* AUTW
> Luke 4:16 and he went in according to the *having-been-accustomed* of him
> Iām not sure that I want to read must aspect into this articular participle
> - doesnāt this just mean "according to his custom"? Even if we read this
> with significant verbal force, though, the past ongoing custom is as much a
> part of the meaning as the current custom, so both past event and current
> state are intact.
> Robertson suggests that the following two verses refer to past events, not
> on the resulting state:
> Matt 25:24 PROSELQWN DE KAI hO TO hEN TALANTON *EILHFWS*
> Matt 25:24 Then the one who *has received* the one talent came up·
> The past perfect "had received" feels more natural in English here, but
> nevertheless, the person is in the state of having received the one talent,
> which is why he is now held accountable. It seems to me that the current
> resulting state is very much in focus!
> Hereās the last example Iām looking at in this message:
> John 18:18 EISTHKEISAN DE hOI DOULOI KAI hOI hUPHRETAI ANQRAKIAN
> *PEPOIHKOTES*, hOTI YUCOS HN
> John 18:18 now the servants and the police were standing around *having
> made* a fire, for it was cold.
> Again, the current state may be the most relevant detail - that there was a
> fire - but to me, the verb also clearly implies the past event of making
> the fire.
> My tentative conclusion: both the past event and the current state are
> retained in non-indicative use of the perfect. In participles, at least,
> the force of the perfect itself is virtually unchanged from its force in
> the indicative. Therefore, neither the relationship to the past event or
> the current state is really a tense, since absolute time exists only in the
> indicative. Iām inclined to think we have two true aspects here.
The only way I have been able to make sense of this issue is to see
the Greek perfect as 'conclusive', because it talks about an action
that is concluded. [Likewise the Greek present is 'progressive'
because it talks about an action that is in progress, and the aorist
is inceptive because it talks about an action that has begun.]
Actions begin, progress, and conclude, and the Greek seems to have a
verb form for each of these 'aspects' of an action ~ The aorist, the
'progressive' system of verbs, and the 'perfective' system of verbs.
Stepping outside the indicative in the perfect then would simply
denote action that is [in the present] concluded. In each of your
examples, this easily makes sense ~ The 'tiring' of Jesus is a
concluded action in the present; His 'accustoming' is a concluded
action in the present, as is the making of a fire, and the receiving
of one talent.
If the perfect is simply the present conclusion of an event, does its
grammatic comprehensibility simplify? It sure would seem to...
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