The Proleptic Aorist revisited

Mark Wilson emory2oo2 at
Fri May 31 15:30:36 EDT 2002


You wrote:

>I agree that the examples given by Mark's have future reference, and
>are good examples of such. But I wonder if you take "past time" and
>"past tense" to mean the same thing. It is generally agreed that
>"tense" is a "grammaticalization of location in time", but "past
>time" needs not be the same as "past tense". Aorist cannot be half a
>tense and half an aspect.  If it signals past tense this will
>*always* be so, except for possible special examples that can be
>explained. Because a reasonable number of aorist verbs have futrue
>reference, it is excluded that it can signal past tense, although in
>most cases an aorist has past reference.

I think we have way too many terms being tossed around, and
surely Wittgenstein was right when he said, "There are no
genuine disputes, only vague and undefined terms."

Based on your above comments, I am not sure if you are agreeing
with any of my comments. So, I'll clarify things a bit.... I use
that term "clarify" loosely  :o )

My argument is that NO Aorist Indicative Verb refers to a
point AFTER the DC in temporal statements. All such Aorists refer
to a point, time, or distance PRIOR TO the DC.

Yes, the event being referenced certainly can be future to
the time of writing or speaking, but this is unrelated to the DC.

The example of Rev. 10:7 is a good example to visualize:


This event being described is future as of today. That is, the
mystery is still in operation today. However, when, in the future,
this trumpet sounds, the mystery will have ceased PRIOR TO it
being sounded (hence, the Aorist ETELESQH).

So, here is an Aorist used in a sentence that references some
future event, but from the perspective of when the event actually
takes place, the Aorist denotes a past event. Remember, the Aorist,
as I am arguing, ALWAYS refers to a point, time, or distance that
is PRIOR TO the contextually developed DC.


>An example which is best taken as stative but can be taken as
>actional, is seen in (3)
>  (3) Romans 5:14 "Nevertheless, death reigned (AORIST) from the time
>of Adam to the time of Moses
>There is no doubt that death continued to reign also after the time
>of Moses, but here the focus is in the beginning and on a great part
>of the state (or the actions, if the take the rule as such).

I think it simpler to take reigned as iterative, even though
the author has personified death. The point is simply that
during the entire time from Adam to Moses, everyone died.


>It is true that the end very often is included in the aorist verb,
>and this is the reason why it is believed to be an uncancelable
>characteristic of the aorist. However, the inclusion of the end in so
>many cases is *pragmatic*, it is due to the context and not to an
>intrinsic property of the aorist. So I see no reason to include any
>certainty or any end in an aorist with future reference,it simply
>refers to the future without any restrictions.

How then do you distinguish a future indicative verb from an
aorist indicative verb in such future referenced contexts?

I agree that an Aorist need not imply the end, that is perhaps why
both Porter and Wallace use the parade analogy. The Aorist is looking
at the event from way up high, EVEN AS THE PARADE IS STILL IN PROGRESS!
They would argue that the event is to be viewed without reference
to its internal procedures, but from the vantage point of seeing the
whole event in general. I think "in general" might better convey
that the event need not be terminated (as opposed to IN SUMMARY, which
I think of as an event having ended).

More thoughts,

Mark Wilson

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