[b-greek] Re: Present vs. Aorist Imperative

From: Mark Wilson (emory2oo2@hotmail.com)
Date: Fri Sep 08 2000 - 22:46:52 EDT

E.A. Mills wrote:

>I would have expected all of the imperatives to be aorist, but no, the
>and third verbs are present. It makes no sense to me . . . "keep getting up
>and keep going home" (although the latter is more understandable).
>Please shed some light if you can. Thanks.

Dear E.A. (Can I call you E. :o )

You will have to wait to hear from others to get the definitive word on
this, but I would simply say here that you have a misunderstanding of the
Present Tense.

The Present Tense does NOT denote "continuous and repetitive actions" as
your "keep getting up and keep going" home implies.

The Present Tense merely views that action as THEN in PROGRESS. In the
Imperative, the command is to initiate the process. The Present Tense makes
no claims as to the "future" or "on-going" nature of the event or action,
implied in your translations by "keep on..."

The concept of "keep getting up" or "keep going home" would imply both
repetition and continuous actions, neither of which the Present Tense itself
denotes. However, that does not mean the a "continuous or repetitive" action
can not be communicate in Greek; it simply means that the Present Tense BY
ITSELF is incapable of that. In other words, for a continuous or repetitive
action to be denoted, other grammatical features would have to be employed
by the writer (perhaps some as subtle as the lexical use). I think Fanning
has done very excellent work on integrating how the specific word chosen
(lexical use) within a given context has implicit meaning itself.

Your translation then, "keep on" is not a meaning that the Present denotes.
I think my response only addresses a portion of your concern, but a critical
one indeed.

I would then suggest something more like:

"at this very moment, initiate the process of going home"

The reason I have inserted "at this very moment" is to indicate the
"present." And I have expanded the going home action to "initiate the
process" to indicate that the Present Tense is only concerned with the
present. In this case, the Present Tense would not even address whether or
not the individual completed the action of "getting all the way home." The
reason for this is because that would look ahead to the "future." And the
Present Tense is addressing the "here and now."

I might make the disclaimer here that I have only been at Greek for "not
quite two years." That would mean, give my response the appropriate
consideration, as compared to, for example, Dr. Conrad, who has almost two
hundred years under his belt :o )

OK, maybe not 200 hundred, but it sure seems like that!!

Thank you,

Mark Wilson

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