(gnomic) These two positions don't even seem close

clayton stirling bartholomew c.s.bartholomew at worldnet.att.net
Mon Aug 28 12:25:42 EDT 2000

on 08/28/00 12:49 AM, yochanan bitan-buth wrote:

> By the way, everyone has appreciated Porter's contributions even if they
> don't buy the absolute system.
> That is the way good scholarship works.


Having spent more time and effort than I would like to think about trying to
make use Porter's model in actual exegesis I have essentially abandoned this
quest. After nine years of messing around with aspect theory I have parted
ways with the several promoters of "grand theory" models from the late 80's
and 1990's.  

Randall has done such a clear and succinct job of stating things that I will
not attempt to improve on it but just quote what he said:

yochanan bitan-buth wrote:
> Before this unravels further, maybe a note about how 90-99+(?)% of Greek
> teachers see verbs. They distinguish the indicative verbs from the
> non-indicative:
> The indicative forms definitely include tense. You may call them tensed
> aspects if you like, but they are still tenses.
> Thus, the aorist indicative is basically a 'simple' past. (Or a PAST
> 'simple aspect', if you will.)
> The imperfect is an 'in-process' past. (Or a PAST 'in process aspect', if
> you will.)
> Yet Wayne is quite right on the rest: infinitives, subjunctives,
> imperatives and participles would have been much clearer for most Greek
> students if they were always named by NON-time labels, e.g. "in-process"
> versus "simple". The aorist is the "simple" set (linguists call this
> 'perfective') and the "in-process" (named 'imperfective' by linguists) is
> the so-called "present" set.
> So yes, it is true that the infinitves, subjectives, imperatives and to a
> large extent participles are truly marking PURE ASPECT and not time.
> But the indicative verbs are marking time.
> Again, that is the common consensus and there is no need for a student to
> be bothered by a very small minority who might tie themselves in knots
> trying to deny what Greek readers see plainly.

I agree with virtually everything in this statement and would encourage any
new student who is bothering themself about this topic to simple print
Randall's comments and paste them in the front inside cover of thier book(s)
by Porter,  Fanning, and  Broman (sp?).

> In every field there have always been theorists who extrapolate principles
> beyond the boundaries where they are appropriate and produce something
> theoretically 'consistent', but wrong.


This is what I call "Grand Theory." There is a certain level of hubris
involved in promoting "Grand Theory" the most glaring recent example is
Steven Hawking's statements about a  "Theory of Everything."

>(For every claimed 'paradigm shift'
> there are hundreds of well-meaning deadends.)  A classic example of this
> are some logical theories and linguistic semantic theories that produce
> statements that go 'against the grain', against the intuitive, common sense
> of the speakers. If semantic theorists can do that to English, a living
> language, qal veHomer someone might try it with the old Greek verb systems.
> Well, that's what Porter did, in the view of the extreme majority.

Yes again. 

Thank you Randall. You have save a lot of people a lot of time and trouble
if the will simply take your analysis of this and live with it rather than
get side tracked by endless "brush busting" through the jungles of verb
aspect theory. 

For any new student of NT Greek this is one journey you do not need to take.


Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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