Re: Tenses in Mark 11:24

Date: Fri Nov 13 1998 - 15:58:55 EST

Dear Gregg,

In a message dated 11/12/98 10:01:47 PM Mountain Standard Time, writes:

> I'm just a little greeker - only my third semester. I hope this question
> isn't too basic, but I guess this is how we all learn so here goes...
> I'm having trouble understanding the reason for the aorist tense of
> ELABETE in Jesus' words in Mark 11:24:
> PROSEUCHESQE ...present [all things] you pray for
> AITESQE... present [and] you ask for
> PISTEUETE... present you believe
> ELABETE...Aorist you received [them] (past tense?)
> ESTAI...future they will be granted [to you].
> The logic puzzles me...if I already had something why would I pray for
> it? Or is that simply the point about faith that Jesus is teaching? Or
> are there some finer grammar points about the aorist I'm not fully
> appreciating in this verse?
> Thanks for any comments on this.

Just a bit of addition and clarification to what has already been written:

A correction on Porter's view: Stan Porter has a discussion where he expresses
his view concerning this verse in <<Verbal Aspect of the Greek New
Testament>>, pp. 233-237, where this verse is included in a study of a group
of 'timeless aorists', which include truths of mathematics and theology. In
addition, it includes all cases where the question of time-reference simply
does not occur.

The use of the timeless aorist is probably not essentially Semitic, since it
there are extended examples of its use in extra-biblical Greek (such as Pl.
Paedr. 244-56; see Porter, pp. 240-244).

Such verses have indicated to some scholars that the Greek tense system is not
time-based, but rather aspect-based. That is, with tense an author
grammaticalizes perspective on an event. The aorist perspective is action
presented as a complete and undifferentiated process.

The logic here, therefore, may be that receiving what is asked for in prayer
is not to be viewed as confined to one temporal sphere (past, present and
future), but is viewed as occuring over time (this view is fairly consistent
with George Blaisdell's view).

Cindy Westfall
PhD Student, Roehampton

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