Re: John 11:35

Date: Mon Jun 22 1998 - 13:30:16 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:
> At 08:56 AM 6/22/98 -0700, wrote:
> >If you were to translate this sentence as, say, "Jesus started to
> >cry", or "Jesus started crying", then its sense would lock up into the
> >inception only of the event. The aorist, inceptive or not, denotes
> >the whole of the event, and thus makes the inceptive translation
> >tricky.
> This is the way inceptive aorists are generally translated.

Dear Jonathan ~

I really think our difficulty is with the English.


> Consider the following examples,
> two blind men *began to follow* him

When I read "Two blind men follow Him," I do not 'see' two blind men
following Him. Instead I 'see' the fact of their following Him as a
conceptual whole that is now in existence. [non-progressive]

> now the king *became angry*

When I read "The king angers," I 'see' the fact of the anger of the
king, now established as an event, in virtue of the aorist. It does
carry inceptive power in the course of this narrative. [Carl tells me
that I am re-inventing English!! I would rejoin that I am
re-discovering it...]

> As I understand it, the inceptive aorist treats the entry *into* the state as the event, which is seen "from the outside", "as a whole", or whatever your favorite description of aorist is. In particular, the endpoint is not in view - it does not portray the time that the blind men stopped following him, that the king stopped being angry, that the man was no longer better, that Jesus stopped being poor or we stopped being rich, or that the saints were no longer alive. In fact, many of these events will never stop.
> >This is why I like the indefinite "weeps", which brings the
> >historical fact that he wept into a mentally present event, by means
> >of bridging the gap between "Jesus wept" and "Jesus is weeping."
> But this is precisely the point - the aorist does not have imperfective aspect,

Nor am I giving it imperfective aspect ~ Indefinite perhaps, but not

> it does not portray it as a mentally present event.

By bridging the gap between an historical fact and the reader's
present, the aorist does indeed give a mentally present sense to the
narrative that is not the same as the vivid and dramatic historical
present with which we are all very familiar. By simply stating the
fact of an action as existent, it places the reader-listener into the
action in an indefinite present that can have occurred at any time,
but in historical narrative has occurred in the past. I would argue
that it does indeed give 'mental presence' to 'historical fact'.

> That's what the imperfect or the present do. Both the traditional grammars and the modern grammars generally > agree on this.

I do too...

We should probably take this off list to our ongoing private
discussion with Carl and Rob ~ Anyone interested can post me privately
and I will include you on the mailing list for these aorist
explorations and discussions.
That way, we can save a lot of wear and tear on most member's Delete
key!! :-)

George Blaisdell

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