From: Rolf Furuli (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat Jun 06 1998 - 15:27:44 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
>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
>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.
There is a typo in your words above. Fanning defines perfect as a
combination of stative Aktionsart, PERFECTIVE aspect and anteriority.
>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.
When studying infinite forms such as participles, we ought to undertake
discourse analysis. Particularly is it important to take into account what
is foreground and what is background information; this is an extra
parameter which may influence our interpretation of the infinite forms.
Both in "John 4:6 (hO OUN IHSOUS *KEKOPIAKWS* EK THS hODOIPORIAS EKAQEZETO
EPI TH PHGH "Now Jesus, *having been wearied* from the journey, sat thus upon
the well") and in John 18:18 (John 18:18 EISTHKEISAN DE hOI DOULOI KAI hOI
*PEPOIHKOTES*, hOTI YUCOS HN "now the servants and the police were
standing around *having made* a fire, for it was cold".) is
It is easier to find the true nature of infinite and modal perfects when
they play about the same role in the clause as the finite verb (usually
I once studed the 450 occurrences of the Hebrew verb NAFAL (Greek: PIPTW).
"To fall" is in English punctiliar (without an inner constituency). The
Hebrew verb may have a duration of several hours, such as in Joshua 7.6 KAI
EPESEN IHSOUS EPI THN GHN EPI PROSWPON ENANTION KURIOU hEWS hESPERAS "and
Joshua fell on the earth before the Lord until evening". The aorist here is
hardly fitting in this verse because it makes visible an instantaneous
fall. In v 10, however, do we find the clause KAI EIPE KURIOS (..) HINATI
TOUTO SU PEPTWKAS EPI PROSWPON SOU; "Why have you fallen on your face?" The
perfect participle in this clause plays the same role as a finite verb
(foreground), and suggests that PIPTW both include the downward movement
and the resultatnt state of lieing prostrate. Below I list some similar
Deut 21:1 PEPTWKOS EN TWi PEDIWi "having fallen in the field"
Judg 3:25 KAI IDOU hO KURIOS AUTWN PEPTWKWS EPI THN GHN TEQNHKWS " and
look, their Lord was fallen down dead upon the earth."
The same is true in Judg 4:22; 19:27 and 1 Samuel 5:3,4 (singular subjects)
and Deut 22:4; Judg 8:10; 20:46; 1 Sam 31:8; 2 Ki 25:11; Ezek
32:22,23,24,27; 1 Chron 10:8 and 20:24 (plural subjects).
On the basis of the examples above ( and several others) do we see that
when a verb may either be viewed as punctiliar or as durative, the aspect
chosen can show what the author wants to make visible. The perfective
aspect (aorist) suggests that the situation is instantaneous but the
imperfective aspect (realized as perfect) makes visible the durativity of
the event. Suppose now that imperfect had been used in Joshua 7:10, Deut
21:1 and Judg 3:25, what would have been made visible then? Probably an
iterative (or habitual) event "Why do you keep falling on your face?",
"having kept falling in the field", and **"their Lord kept falling dead
upon the earth". While both the perfects and the imperfects in the examples
are unbounded, their unboundedness occurs on different sides of the end of
the action and therefore they make different things visible. If both
imperfect and perfect are imperfective, there is a need for both because
they make visible to the reader very different sides of the events.
Let me also bring to your attention a special use of the perfect in the NT,
namely Heb 11:17: PISTEI PROSENHNOCEN ABRAAM TON ISAAK PEIRAZOMENOS, KAI
TON MONOGENH PROSEFEREN
We know that Abraham did not actually offer Isaac but was on the point of
doing so. The imperfect PROSEFEREN must accordingly be conative "Abraham
attempted to offer his onlybegotten son". The perfect PROSENHNOCEN is
parallel with PROSEFEREN and we would also expect this perfect to be
conative. I think we can account both for the conative force we expect
because of the parallel (and of our knowledge of the world) and of the
resultative force we expect from the perfect by translating "By faith
Abraham as good as offered Isaac". This perfect also suggests an
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo
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