Aorist vs. present infinitive in Matt 5:32
dknoonan at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 21 16:32:42 EDT 2002
I'd like to refocus my question back on the topic of aorist vs. present
infinitive. I think it is possible to consider this question, apart from
the implications of the passive voice.
The Matt 5:32 aorist infinitive MOICEUQHNAI happens to come at the tail
end of an aphorism, which according to Webster is "a concise statement of
principle." Like most aphorisms, Matt 5:32's concluding verb is what is
really meant to "pack a punch" -- that is, the writer would generally want
the final verb to bear the emphasis of his terse statement.
Most aphorisms in the GNT at least BEGIN in the present tense, from which
I suppose the whole concept of a gnomic present tense is derived.
Aphorisms usually have their concluding verb in either the present or
future tense, in keeping with the statement being an eternal verity.
In Matt 5:32, however, the writer appears to be moving along with present
tenses for "divorce" (APOLUWN) and "makes" (POIHi), but switches to aorist
right as he delivers his conclusion of adultery. Why does he not conclude
his thought with a present tense, as most aphorisms conclude? The only
reason I can come up is that he wishes to avoid characterizing MOICEUW as
an ongoing, continual state. He rather wishes to say merely that the
adultery occurs, and leave it at that.
Are there other viable explanations of why he would employ the aorist
here, and not complete his thought with a present tense verb?
I know this is a highly emotional issue. Id welcome any PASTORAL
comments, sent directly to me offline instead of on this thread. But if
anyone can comment on the GRAMMATICAL considerations Ive outlined about,
please reply to the thread.
Apart from the Matt 5:32 verse, I have a general question about the
difference between aorist and present infinitive. Dana and Mantey have a
paragraph on this subject on page 199 of their grammar. They discuss the
aorist in general, then move on to a consideration of the aorist in
regards specifically to the infinitive.
It is well to notice particularly the difference between the aorist and
the present infinitive. The aorist infinitive denotes that which is
eventual or particular, while the present infinitive indicates a condition
or process. Thus PISTEUSAI is to exercise faith on a given occasion,
while PISTEUEIN is to be a believer; DOULEUSAI is to render a service,
while DOULEUEIN is to be a slave; AMARTEIN is to commit a sin, while
AMARTANEIN is to be a sinner. These distinctions are typical and basal,
though plastic in actual usage.
Unfortunately, Dana and Mantey do not substantiate their comments with
examples. Is it true that aorist vs. present in the infinitive has the
significance that they suggest? Can anyone cite passages from which Dana
and Mantey might have gleaned this idea? Or conversely, are there
passages that refute this idea?
Thank you again,
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