Gnomic Aorist / Heb 7:2a
kimmo at kaamas.kielikone.fi
Mon Dec 11 09:05:17 EST 2000
Just a quick answer to some points raised.
> hWi KAI DEKATHN APO PANTWN EMERISEN ABRAAM
> **Totally apart from the context** (which leads me to think the writer
> is referring to a one-time act of giving a tenth, to Melchezidek), does
> the writer's choice of the indicative aorist EMERISEN signify a one-time
> act, or does it merely allow it?
It prefers it, especially if there is no contextual evidence to the
contrary, but by itself it does not necessarily prove it.
> I would think that if the writer had wanted to say that Abram
> repeatedly, or customarily, gave a tenth to Melchezidek, he would have
> chosen the indicative imperfect EMERIZEN.
Probably he would have used the imperfect. But the aorist would not have
been impossible if the custom had ended. In that case we would have been
dealing with a different layer of aspect.
Mark Wilson wrote:
> Kimmo mentioned the difference between the Aorist form and the Present form
> as denoting Perfective and Imperfective aspects. What occurs to me is that
> some words, by virtue of their lexical aspect, may not be used in a
> particular grammatical aspect. For example, I would imagine that "died"
> would not be used in an Past Imperfective sense. (We would not portray
> someone who was died-ing.)
Die seems to be lexically an accomplishment verb (Vendlerian category).
It is quite natural to say "He is dying in the hospital." But it is true
that there are some verbs that are quite punctual (eg. find). With these
verbs the imperfective grammatical aspect is still an option, but then
the event described by the verb is normally iterated.
The issue is that lexical and grammatical aspects operate in a different
layer. They would be incompatible only if a conflicting aspectual value
applied to the same layer. Thus, with Roe's example, if the action was
customary, the imperfect would code a perfective aspect (giving a tithe)
nested inside an imperfective one (repeatedly; coded by the imperfect).
With the aorist we would have one more layer (the repetition of the
process being bounded typically giving the sense that the situation of
repeatedly giving has ended (though contextually other interpretations
But with the aorist the more typical interpretation would have less
layers: just one giving being alluded to.
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