Aorist never codes an open situation? - To Kimmo

Kimmo Huovila kimmo at
Thu Dec 21 02:06:19 EST 2000

Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
> [Mark]
> > > The often quoted Gnomic Aorist passage does appear to cancel one or more of
> > > these characteristics:
> > >
> > > 1 Peter 1:24
> > >
> > >
> > > (The grass withers and the flower falls away)
> > >
> > > Here, I would say that "countable and bounded" are not semantically related
> > > to THIS use of the Aorist.
> >
> [Kimmo]
> > Why not? The grass is (in a timeless context) described as
> > 'reaching/having reached the
> > conclusion of becoming withered', not just 'engaging in the process of
> > withering'. Similarly flowers will fall away, not just engage in the
> > process of falling away.
> >
> [Moon]
> I think there are three ways to describe the situation, not just two:
> (1) 'reaching/having reached the  conclusion of becoming withered'
> (2)  'engaging in the process of  withering'
> (3)  passes through the process of withering
> (1) looks at the conclusion of the process, (2) into the middle, and (3)
>      upon the process as a whole.
> I am inclined to take the above verse to belong to the third category.

I do not object.
> The present tense and the perfect tense refer to the present.
> The present tense covers (2) and (3),

While the present can be used of situations of type (3), it in itself
codes only (2). Thus it would be no contradiction to deny the completion
of the process in the next sentence. In other words, it does not say
whether the process is passed through or only engaged in. I would say
the present codes only (2).
> while the perfect tense covers (1).
> In the case of the past time, the imperfect tense covers
> (2), while the aorist covers (1) and (3).
> What do you think? Is there any evidences that the aorist only covers (1)
> not (3)?
No. As a matter of fact, I think it also covers (3). Aspectually they
are both perfective. The Greek verbal system did not grammaticalize a
distinction between (1) and (3). I just do not see a need to draw the
distinction in analyzing Greek, but if you feel it is necessary, then
the aorist covers both.

> If so, how does Greek describe the situation of type (3)?
Aorist would grammaticalize it (or type (1)). This is not to say that it
is the only way to describe an event of type (3). Even the present could
be used, though then you cannot be sure, on the basis of the verb, that
it is of type (3) - perhaps the process was terminated.
> [Mark]
> > >
> > > Kimmo, am I misuderstanding your concept of PERFECTIVE? The reason I
> > > understand your attributing the "countable and bounded" to the Aorist is
> > > based on this statement you make: God only once "so-loved" (I almost get the
> > > sense that because God's love finally attained this level, that he gave.)
> >
> [Kimmo]
> > Some things I see differently, but I do attribute these to the aorist,
> > but with no implication of God's
> > love finally attaining a level. This 'so-loving' is actually expressing
> > God's love. The verb AGAPAW in this context does not speak of abstract
> > love, but a concrete expression. Or we could say, the verse speaks of
> > 'God loving in the manner as to give...', which is an active expression.
> [Moon]
> It seems to make more sense to take "God loved the world so" to refer to
> God's (abstract) mood in the past time, rather than as God's active
> expression.
> What would be wrong with it? If I say " Now I realize that my parents
> loved
> me so much" (in Greek), in what sense does it refer to "a concrete
> expression or action"?

It does not. That is a statement of degree, not of manner. The thing
that would be wrong in taking John 3:16 to mean an abstract mood (apart
from the aorist) is the word hOUTWS with the hWSTE clause. The manner of
that love is described in concrete terms involving a historical event.
That constrains our interpretation.

This is not to say that the author did not see the expression as a
concrete expression of an abstract mood or attitude. Rather, you would
expect him to have seen it thus. Love as an attitude and as an
expression stand in a metonymical relationship. You could say, "God
loves the world so much that He gave His Son", and then I would agree
with you that it is degree. But if you say, "God loved the world in the
manner of giving His Son", the situation is entirely different. It is
temporally constrained to the time of giving, and is a sentence of
manner, though it still expresses the abstract attitude.

> For me, it simply summarizes what has been in the
> hearts of my parents all along.
> So, I think we need to posit atv least three ways of looking at
> situations,
> not just two.
The need is not apparent to me from a grammatical point of view. But it
is OK to use the three ways, if you feel it is helpful. Just remember
that type (3) is not applicable with punctual verbs, and both (1) and
(3) are subtypes of perfectivity.
> The two statements do not express the same idea at least in English.

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