Any comments of this view of Aorist
emory2oo2 at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 6 14:58:56 EST 2000
I received this OFFLIST response to my question about the Aorist.
I would appreciate any comments, pro or con.
I would consider this regarding the Aorist:
First, by definition, PERFECTIVE means that an action, event, or state
is presented in its entirety, as a single and complete whole.
However, that is far from clearing things up. Mainly because many verbal
ideas are not able to be conceptualized as "complete or whole." (at least
not without altering their inherent meanings)
Here is Stagg on the Aorist:
It is a + oristic, that is, undetermined and undefined. The Aorist draws
no boundaries. It tells nothing about the nature of the action under
consideration. It is viewed without reference to duration, interruption,
COMPLETION, or anything else.
Therefore, the Aorist can be used to cover any kind of action:
single and multiple, momentary or extended, broken or unbroken,
COMPLETED or open-ended. (pg. 222+)
Yes, I believe that the action can be portrayed as "open-ended"
with the Aorist. And quite often is. It simply depends of the
verbal idea (lexis) or context under consideration.
What I like about Stagg's definition of the Aorist is that he emphasizes
that the event or act is undefined. Hence, any verb makes
perfect sense in an Aorist.
To say as many do, that the aorist is perfective, namely, that it
presents the action as "a complete whole," is to me precisely what
the Aorist was designed to avoid. Why? Because "complete" or "whole"
implies a beginning and end. It puts a concrete fence around an action,
which many actions are simple not capable of expressing.
For example, here is a familiar phrase:
hOUTWS GAR HGAPHSEN hO QEOS TON KOSMON.
Does John mean by using the Aorist here that God's love
for the world should be viewed as complete or as a whole?
"Completion" is not even a characteristic of LOVE. How would
one view God's love as a "whole" ? What would that even mean?
Better to see God's love as simply undefined. You might simply
view God's love as nothing more or less than that; simply that
God loved the world.
Many verbs would naturally be understood as "complete", and especially
in the Aorist (which I believe encodes past temporal reference in the
Indicative). But I think the problem is that just because many verbs
describe an action that has a beginning and ending point, does not
mean we should then define the Aorist to incorporate these characteristics
of particular words (lexis).
Can the Aorist be used to present an action as "complete" or "whole" ? Yes,
as long as the lexis and context permit.
Can it be used to denote an action as open-ended? Yes. (John 3:16) Some
refer to this as GNOMIC.
Any sense of the action being viewed as "complete" or "as a whole" would
seem to me to come from other features of a language (such as the lexis
used, context, etc.)
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