These two positions don't even seem close

Mike Sangrey mike at
Sun Aug 27 17:15:51 EDT 2000

emory2002 at said:
> Earlier Wallace says:

> "There are occasions when time is not involved in the indicative. This
> is  due to other phenomena... But in their unaffected meaning, the
> tenses in the  indicative mood include a temporal marker."

> I believe Porter's Verbal Aspect takes exception to this statement.
> Again, I  am not referring to Aktionsart, only inherent TEMPORAL
> meaning. 

I'll let Porter speak for himself[1].  I suggest you get your hands on
a copy of this grammar, even if for a week or two.  As an aside, I like
how he deals with the prepositions.

Regarding time and the tense-forms he says:

"Temporal values (past, present, future) are not established in Greek
by use of the verbal aspects (or tense-forms) alone....I do not mean to
say that Greeks did not have a means of conveying when an event might
have occurred, however, A more viable category [than absolute tense] is
`relative tense'.  This presupposes that in Greek the temporal ordering
of events is not measured in relation to a fixed point (absolute time),
but by the relations established among the involved events with regard
to each other and the context.  This relating is achieved by a variety
of indicators available in the language (e.g. use of temporal adverbs,
such an NUN, TOTE).  In other words, elements OTHER [emphasis Porter's]
than verbal aspect (context, for example) are the primary conveyors of
temporal information in Greek.  This applies in the...indicative mood
as well." (page 25).

Regarding planes of discourse he says:

"The aorist is the background tense, which forms the basis for the
discourse; the present is the foreground tense, which introduces
significant characters or makes appropriate climactic references
to concrete situations; and the perfect is the frontground tense,
which introduces elements in an even more discrete, defined, contoured
and complex way.  In Acts 16.1-5, aorist tense-forms are used for the
narrative events, present tense-forms are used for selected or highlighted
events, and the prefect tense-form is reserved for selective mention of a
few very significant items, including the `determined things'." (page 23)

To illustrate the distinction between the aspects, Porter says:

"The analogy of a parade proves useful.  If I am a television
correspondent in a helicopter flying over the parade, I view the parade in
its immediacy from a vantage outside the action as `perfective' [aorist];
that is, in its entirety as a single and complete whole.  If I am a
spectator standing with others along the side of the road watching the
parade pass by in front of me, I view the action immersed within it as
`imperfective' [present or imperfect]; that is, as an event in progress.
And if I am the parade manager in corporate headquarters considering all
the conditions, including not only all the arrangements that are coming
to fruition but all the accompanying events that allow the parade to
operate, I veiw the process not in its particulars or its immediacy but
as `stative' [perfect or pluperfect]; that is, as a complex condition
or state of affairs in existence." (page 24)

[1] Idioms of the Greek New Testament, Stanley E. Porter.

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