Re: Present Tense

Date: Tue Oct 19 1999 - 14:06:52 EDT

Whew! Yes, we have gotten away from the aorist "once for all"
idea, but this is a bit much. Is this a mutually exclusive proposition,
or a both/and?

I have a sneaky suspicion (please correct, if wrong) that this view
was prompted by a particular theology and particularly an interpretation
of 1 Jn 3, as you mention. We are both DTS grads and are familiar with
Zane Hodge's view on sanctification. Which actually came first, the
theology, then the subsequent re-interpretation of the present tense
and particularly of 1 Jn 3, or vice versa?

Paul Dixon

On Tue, 19 Oct 1999 10:43:32 -0700 "Dale M. Wheeler"
<> writes:
> Fellow B-Greekers...
> There have been several recent discussions about various and sundry
> passages (eg., 1John 3, Matt 19) where the author's use of the
> present
> tense has figured prominently in the discussion. I'd like to
> suggest for
> your consideration a theory about the present tense (that I've been
> wrestling with for the past 15+ years).
> In general. grammars have talked about the present tense as being
> inherently progressive, or linear, or, as Fanning and Wallace have
> it,
> "internal" in its nuance/perspective (I suspect that grammarians
> have come
> to that conclusion because any use of the Present Indicative is
> portrayed
> as present time, and thus has the feeling of being open ended). The
> same
> concept is applied to the Imperfect, distinct from the Aorist's
> compressive
> nature or "external" perspective. There has also been talk about
> the
> Aorist being "undefined", as if it is a "zero" tense, ie., it has no
> force
> at all; and while Aorist means "undefined" in Greek, I don't think
> the
> ancient Greek grammarians meant "zero" by that; "undefined" means
> what
> Fanning means by it, namely that the Aorist asks no questions about
> the
> internal makeup of the event being portrayed, it just tells you that
> it
> happened, regardless of the lexical meaning of the word.
> What I'd like to suggest is that the Present Tense really is a ZERO
> tense;
> it is neither linear or compressed or combined or anything. All it
> tells
> us is that the action is being *portrayed* as occurring in a present
> time
> frame (in the indicative). Whatever "aspect" (technically, since its
> not in
> the tense its the Aktionsart, but I hope you get my meaning) any
> particular
> use of a verb in the present tense has comes first of all from the
> word's
> lexical meaning (lexis); viz., "to run" is inherently linear; "to
> hit" is
> inherently punctiliar; "to shut" is inherently a combined/climax;
> etc. (for
> this in detail see Fanning, Verbal Aspect). Secondly, contextual
> factors
> are used to further indicate the ultimate Aktionsart in any given
> passage,
> esp., when the author wishes to convey a different Aktionsart than
> the
> verb's Lexis; viz., in English to make the linear "to run" into a
> compressed Aktionsart we use the simple present "He runs" instead of
> the
> progressive "He is running"; in Greek, since there is only ONE
> Present
> form, they must use other contextual clues to indicate a reversal to
> the
> Lexis, unless its prefectly obvious.
> In English we have all of these nice present forms (I run, I am
> running, I
> do run, etc.), but in Greek (like German !) there is only ONE form
> for
> present time (which is why I suspect that German speakers will
> understand
> this better than English speakers, nicht wahr!). Consequently, the
> Greek
> Present, it seems to me, CAN'T have an aspectual preference, it must
> be
> absolutely zero and neutral, and thus the "aspectual" part of the
> communication must come from somewhere else, ie., Lexis and Context.
> This
> is why, if you look in a Greek syntax book, you'll find,
> "Progressive
> Present", "Aoristic Present", and "Perfective Present"; ie., the
> Present
> tense has nothing to do with these "aspects" --> Aktionsarts, these
> nuances
> come from the Lexis and the Context.
> If this is the case, then, for example per a recent discussion, the
> fact
> that the verbs in 1John 3:4ff. are present is not conclusive to
> demonstrate
> the "habitual" nature of the person's behavior. The behavior *may*
> be
> habitual, as the NASB and many commentators suggest, but that would
> need to
> be demonstrated on other grounds (cf., Marshall, IJohn, New
> International
> Commentary; or Fanning, Verbal Aspect, for a non-habitual approach).
> We've gotten rid of the "once for all, point action" Aorist; might I
> humbly
> suggest that we similarly dispense with the "progressive/linear"
> Present ?
> ***********************************************************************
> 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:503-251-6478 E-Mail:
> ***********************************************************************
> ---
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