[b-greek] Re: Aorist Tense

From: Mark Wilson (emory2oo2@hotmail.com)
Date: Thu Nov 16 2000 - 15:12:05 EST


For my own education, I thought I would make the following observations
regarding this quote. I realize it is rather dated, but still serves well as
a springboard for some of my thoughts/questions.

Here is the quote:

Please expand on this quote from Syntax of The Moods and Tenses of the Greek
Verb [William W. Goodwin, 1888]:

"The Aorist Indicative expresses the simple momentary occurrence of an
action in past time...."

"This fundamental idea of simple occurrence remains the essential
characteristic of the Aorist through all the dependent moods, however
indefinite they may be in regard to time."

I wonder if this might be a more accurate way of depicting the Aorist
Indicative (this is intended for those who see the verbal system as

The Aorist Indicative is the default tense (form) to denote action in the
past time, but is not restricted to this temporal sphere, since the Aorist
is also Aspectual (and Aspect is unrelated to time).

It does not express "momentary occurrence" as that would imply duration.
(Momentary is defined as "lasting only a short while). The occurrence may
have lasted years (for example, "he loved his children"). He may have loved
them for 58 years.

Also, the Aorist does not imply how the ACTUAL event unfolded, if at all.
The very purpose of the Aorist is to leave the nature of the action or
occurrence unstated as to HOW it occurred. If the action is ingressive,
futuristic, constative, proleptic, gnomic, or any other kind of action, that
would be communicated by other factors within the context, not the Aorist.

The fundamental idea is NOT "simple occurrence," as that would attempt to
define further an indefinite verb. The occurrence may very well have been
complex (for example, "he dodged hand grenades.") One would hardly define
someone who "dodged" hand grenades as "simple occurrence."

Please feel free to correct, improve, or whatever.

Mark Wilson

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