Aorist vs Present

Kimmo Huovila kimmo.huovila at helsinki.fi
Mon Sep 10 10:17:00 EDT 2001


Some off-the-cuff answers:

Mark Wilson wrote:
> 
> Concerning Paul's use of the Present and Aorist, I would
> like to ask for help in understanding how others understand
> his use of a particular verb, primarily its Aspectual nature.
> 
> In Romans 12:1, we have the Aorist PARASTHSAI...
> 
> PARAKALW OUN hUMAS ADELFOI DIA TWN OIKTIRMWN TOU QEOU PARASTHSAI
> TA SWMATA hUMWN QUSIA ZWSAN...

I guess the focus here is on the complete and resultative nature of
offering. Do it, and do no stop short of doing it - of course this
overtranslates, but I am trying to illustrate.
> 
> Elsewhere in Romans, the Present tense is used, as in:
> 
> Romans 6:13
> 
> MHDE PARISTANETE TA MELH hUMWN...

In a negative clause the present aspect is a more strict denial (with
non-punctual verbs), since the whole process is denied, not just the
culmination or end-point of it.
> 
> 6:16
> 
> OUK OIDATE hOTI Wi PARISTANETE hEAUTOUS DOULOUS...

Here the offering is not viewed as an event, but a continued mental
attitude. The aorist would be out of place. It would give the impression
that the offering is more final: to whom you have presented yourself,
you are a slave to. The sense of moment-by-moment offering would be
lost.

> 
> My question is trying to zero in on the Aspect of
> the Present tense compared to the Aspect of the Aorist with
> this verb in particular, since they both are being used
> in the same letter.
> 
> I am somewhat skeptical of the gloss "keep on..." for the
> Present Aspect, especially because I would certainly think that
> we ought to "keep on presenting our bodies a living sacrifice."

"Keep on" is not a happy translation (but I think I understand what you
mean, and use the term below). In Rom 12:1 Paul is not emphasizing the
"keeping on" aspect. He is not denying it either. I think the emphasis
is more on the completeness of the offering. It is viewed here as an
event and no repetition is emphasized. Presumably after offering your
body, you continue in the same attitude, though this is not emphasized.
The point is the initial offering and its complete nature. If Paul had
used the present here, he would have emphasized the continual nature of
offering more, but lost emphasis on the resultative nature of offering.

> 
> What would you say is being EMPHASIZED with each Aspect?
> 
> I guess I am seeking insight from the Linguists who can help
> me get a better grasp of the Aspectual idea with this verb,
> and perhaps indirectly with other similar verbs.
> 
> Many thanks,
> 
> Mark Wilson

Hope this helps,

Kimmo Huovila



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