Sequence of actions between verb tenses

Wayne Leman Wayne_Leman at SIL.ORG
Fri Aug 10 18:10:43 EDT 2001

Very good, Mark. I wasn't at all sure if Greek used the present tense as a
semantic ditto, and recalled something about that, but it might have been
some other language I was reading about. I thought it was Greek, however. I
do suspect there is some discourse function to the use of tense and aspect
in Hellenistic Greek. Bruce's comment, which you cite, seems quite promising
as one of the functions of a tense shift. I supposed I need to pull out my
reference materials on the discourse and semantic functions of Greek tense.
Sigh! So much to learn, so little time in which to get our regular work done
as well as learn all the things we want to!

Wayne Leman

> For what it's worth:
> >I say this because from verse 1 down through verse 14, the narrative is
> >dominated by repeated aorists (and imperfects of eimi). Then suddenly
> >is a tense shift in v. 15, followed by a continuation of aorists after
> >quotation from John the Baptist. If the present is merely functioning
> >neutrally to carry the previous tense forward, why did the writer wait
> >until
> >v. 15 to use the device, and why did he abandon it when he continued the
> >narrative?
> A commentary I am reading on the Gospel of John, by
> FF Bruce, does indicate that the Present Tense here
> is noteworthy, saying:
> "The present tense may indicate that while John himself was long
> dead by the time the Gospel was written, his witness
> remained (and remains)."
> Mark Wilson

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