Mk 10:20 aspectology

CWestf5155 at aol.com CWestf5155 at aol.com
Tue Aug 29 15:36:51 EDT 2000


In a message dated 08/29/2000 12:30:31 PM Mountain Daylight Time, 
c.s.bartholomew at worldnet.att.net writes:

> In Mark 10:20 we read:
>  
>  hO DE EFH AUTWi DIDSKALE, TAUTA PANTA
>  EFULAXAMHN EK NEOTHTOS MOU.
>  
>  Now I would expect one of the latter-day proponents of aspectology to raise
>  the question why do see the form  EFULAXAMHN here? Is this question worth
>  exploring?  
>  
>  The word group FULASSW, FULASSOMAI has semantic properties (see L&N below)
>  which override the morphological tense/aspect marking. I would conclude 
from
>  this that getting preoccupied with the tense/aspect marking of EFULAXAMHN 
in
>  this context is chasing phantoms. Looking for something that isn't there.
>  The primary contribution that EFULAXAMHN makes to this context is found in
>  the domain of lexical semantics, not tense/aspect marking.
>  
Clay,

I've broken through me bonds and gags temporarily.

This is funny, because this is exactly where aspect works.  The Aorist is 
used here because the speaker wishes to state a fact/event/state of affairs 
without any further dressing--"the user of Greek wishes to depict an action 
as a complete and undifferentiated process." (Porter, "Idioms of the Greek 
NT", p. 35).

I figured this out without the arrival of phantoms, without breaking a sweat, 
and well before my oatmeal finished cooking.

I think that going through all those traditional categories to find just the 
right label takes more time, and all the while I'd be fretting about why this 
looks like a contradiction of what I perceived to be the Aorist's meaning.  
And when I got it properly labelled, I would still be uncomfortable.

It works for me.

>  This leads me to one of my basic disagreements with Systemic Functional
>  Linguistics. The idea that every low level language feature is a matter of
>  "choice" and therefore represents some sort of authorial intent. I don't 
buy
>  this at all. I think that a lot of low level language features (e.g.
>  tense/aspect) are simply conventions of a most mundane sort which tell us
>  little or nothing about what the author is saying. Getting preoccupied with
>  them is like standing in the Art Institute of Chicago with your nose three
>  inches from a Cezanne looking at the texture of the canvas. You aren't 
going
>  to make any sense out of cubism from three inches away.

Well, Systemic Linguistics doesn't think that everything is a choice.  The 
principle is: when there is no choice, there is no formal significance--no 
semantic load with the form.  And SL recognizes linguistic phenomena such as 
idioms and collocation--virtually no choice there.  However, when there is a 
choice, then in that case the choice has meaning (and I'll go on record to 
say this is true for lexis too, though lexis doesn't involve a system like 
the verbal system).

I think part of our problem is that aspect has assumed monstrous proportions 
way out of perspective with the role it plays.  Aspect is not the key to 
understanding Greek--it is one of many many things that convey meaning.  The 
clearer I get on it, the less I focus on it--it is only one of the diverse 
tools that I use when doing hermeneutics.  

Cindy Westfall
PhD Student, Roehampton




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