Aorist vs Present

Alan B. Thomas a_b_thomas at
Mon Sep 10 16:45:06 EDT 2001

On this issue Mark...

I would like to offer some ideas for constructive

I think Kimmo has some good thoughts. I tend to look
at the peripheral issues as the focus when an Aorist
is used, and when a Present is used, I tend to look
at the verb as the focus.

In the Romans 12.1 passage, I do not think the author
is de-emphasizing the need to "present our bodies;" 
rather I think the author, by using the Aorist, wants
to focus on the surrounding or peripheral issues,
here, our being a living sacrifice, and so on.

In chapter 6, the author, by using the Present tense,
in the places where it is used, I would understand
the author to be focusing (drawing the readers' 
attention) to the verbal act itself. The surrounding
or peripheral issues being now somewhat secondary,
secondary in emphasis, not in importance.

I certainly hope that I am not implying that Aorist
verbs are less important than Present verbs. I think
that the FOCUS is at stake here.

If we are told...

Do X (or don't do X) so that Y will follow...
(Do Verb (X) so that Consequences (Y) will follow)

An Aorist X draws one's attention to the Y, whereas
a Present X draws one's attention to the X itself,
perhaps stressing the urgency of undertaking X,
or the need to continuing in X (when stated
in positive terms).

So as to avoid confusion, I should restate that...

An Aorist Verb draws one's attention to the
Y (consequences or surrounding modifiers), whereas
a Present Verb draws one's attention to the 
verbal action itself.

One always runs the risk of being misunderstood with
such a reply as this, but I hope that I am not
that in the above illustration, that the X or Y may
be UNIMPORTANT depending of which tense is used. I
think the author is attempting to draw the readers'
attention or focus toward either the Verb (with a
Present) or the Consequences (with an Aorist Verb).

Here is an analogy...

Consider the Imperfective and Perfective aspects
of verbals. The Prefective draws one's attention
to the completion or end of the verbal event,
whereas the Imperfective draws one's attention
to the verbal event in progress. Where one's attention
is directed does not detract from the relative
importance/significance of other temporal locations
within the same event.

I think you raise a good discussion point, one
that I have much desire to research.


Alan B. Thomas

"Reality is only temporary." 
V. L. Jr.

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