Re Flashbacks

Moon-Ryul Jung moon at sogang.ac.kr
Thu Jan 2 21:52:37 EST 2003


Alex, thanks for the excellent explanation for the movement of the
reference time in Greek. You seem to say that both the aorist and the
imperfect, with the help of GAR, can refer to the time point
preceding the currently established situation. No problem with the
aorist, but I have some reservation with respect to the imperfect. 
See my comments below. 


[Alex]> 
> Iver questioned whether it is the aorist alone that is used in flashbacks.
> I don't think that is the case, but the first couple of examples I cite
> below do use the aorist:
> 
> Mark 6:45-52, which follows a description of the feeding of the five
> thousand, tells of the Lord's walking on water and the disciples' response.
> They were astonished, (Mark 6:52) OU GAR *SUNHKAN* EPI TOIS ARTOIS, ALL'  HN
> AUTWN hH KARDIA PEPWRWMENH.  Zerwick/Grosvenor indicate, "transl. 'had
> understood' ".  It's interesting to note the difference in translations: KJV
> "they considered not the miracle of the loaves"; NAS "they **had** not
> gained any insight from the incident of the loaves";  RSV "for they did not
> understand about the loaves";  NKJ "they **had** not understood about the
> loaves".  The KJV and RSV translations understand the time reference of the
> action of SUNHKAN to be the time of the disciples seeing the Lord's walking
> on the water;  the NAS and NKJ refer it to the time of the feeding of the
> five thousand in the immediately preceding passage.  The ambiguity arises
> because the Greek aorist, unlike English pluperfect, does not mark relative
> time.
> 
> A clearer example occurs in the passage at Mark 9:33ff.  The Lord asked the
> disciples what they were arguing about on the way.  Mark 9:34 tells us, hOI
> DE ESIWPWN. PROS ALLHLOUS GAR *DIELECQHSAN* EN THi hODWi TIS MEIZWN. The
> disciples were keeping silence, for they *had* argued with each other on the
> way over who was greatest.  (The imperfect, had it been used, would have
> invited the reader to view the process of the disciples arguing;  but the
> aorist, DIELECQHSAN, simply affirms the fact that they argued.  The choice
> does not depend on the nature of the action [Aktionsart], but how the writer
> chooses to present to our attention what happened [Aspect]).
> 

Perfect!

> But there are also examples of the imperfect used in this way.
> 
> The opening of the fifth chapter of Mark narrates the healing of the
> Gerasene demoniac.  At v7 we read, (NRS): And he shouted at the top of his
> voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I
> adjure you by God, do not torment me."  The following verse reads:  *ELEGEN*
> GAR AUTWi, EXELQE TO PNEUMA TO AKAQARTON EK TOU ANQRWPOU.  For he (Jesus)
> had been saying to him, ...  (Some of the translations offer: KJV "For he
> said unto him,";  NAS "For He had been saying to him";  RSV "For he had said
> to him";  NRS "For he had said to him".   KJV does not clearly indicate that
> the time sequence has shifted;  of the others cited, only the NAS gives
> force to the imperfect.)  Maximilian Zerwick's excellent 'Biblical Greek
> illustrated by Examples' notes this verse at section 290 (p98), as well as
> Mark 6:17.

I think we can interpret the situation so that the demon shouted in the 
middle of Jesus' commanding. For this I have the following hypotheses:

 (1) The aorist verb can pick up its reference time more freely than does
the imperfect verb. In other words, the aorist sentence is more
independent
than is the imperfect sentence. The imperfect sentence is rather dependent
on
the aorist sentence, which is the mover of the story line. 

 (2) Each sentence [aorist or imperfect] in the narrative INTRODUCES
the TIME FOCUS, relative to which the next sentence picks up its reference
time. I assume  that each sentence  (more precisely the situation
described
by it) has the reference time and the event time. The event time of the
aorist is included in its reference time. The event time of the imperfect
includes its reference time. It reflects the boundedness of the aorist and
the unboundedness
of the imperfect. I say my assumption explicitly because not everybody,
for exmaple, Iver, adopts this model.

 (3) The reference time of the aorist verb can be the time preceding the 
currently established TIME FOCUS depending on the context. 
But the reference time of the imperfect verb should be connected to
the current TIME FOCUS more tightly. That is, it should be
either  the interval/point of  or the interval/point immediately after
the current TIME FOCUS.


Let me apply this theory to the current example.
(i) The event of demon's shouting [aorist] establishes the TIME FOCUS.
(ii)The next sentence [Jesus' commanding] is imperfect. So, its reference
    time is either the interval/point of or the time after the current
    time focus. But because of GAR, the next sentence is supposed to
    explain the previous sentence, and so the reference time of the next
    sentence should be the time point/interval of the TIME FOCUS. 
    The event time of Jesus' commanding  includes the reference time,
    because it is imperfect. In summary, the demon's shouting occurred
    in the middle of Jesus' commanding. It makes a perfect sense. 

Let me  apply my theory to the next example. 
 
> the mission of the twelve, ending with the statement that (NRS) "they cast
> out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them".
> Mark 6:14 KAI HKOUSEN hO BASILEUS HRWiDHS, *FANERON GAR EGENETO TO ONOMA
> AUTOU*, KAI *ELEGON* hOTI IWANNHS hO BAPTIZWN EGHGERTAI EK NEKRWN KAI DIA
> TOUTO ENERGOUSIN hAI DUNAMEIS EN AUTWi. 15 ALLOI DE *ELEGON* hOTI HLIAS
> ESTIN. ALLOI DE *ELEGON* hOTI PROFHTHS hWS hEIS TWN PROFHTWN. 16 AKOUSAS DE
> hO HRWiDHS *ELEGEN*, hON EGW APEKEFALISA IWANNHN, hOUTOS HGERQH.  17 AUTOS
> GAR hO HRWiDHS APOSTEILAS *EKRATHSEN* TON IWANNHN KAI *EDHSEN* AUTON EN
> FULAKHi DIA HRWiDIADA THN GUNAIKA FILIPPOU TOU ADELFOU AUTOU, *hOTI AUTHN
> EGAMHSEN*. 18 *ELEGEN* GAR hO IWANNHS TWi HRWiDHi hOTI OUK EXESTIN SOI ECEIN
> THN GUNAIKA TOU ADELFOU SOU.
> 

In v. 18, the reference time of the imperfect ELEGEN is set to the time 
interval/point of the current TIME FOCUS, that is, the time interval 
of Herod's arresting John and putting him into prizon. The event time of
the imperfect ELEGEN includes the reference time. In diagram, we have

       o----------o (John's saying) o---o means an open or unbound
interval.
              .---. (Herod's arresting and putting into prizon)
                      ( .---. means the closed or bound interval.)

This diagram shows that John's [repeated] saying was interrupted
by Herod's arrest. So, John's saying is not unbound actually. But
it was not completed naturally, but interrupted by force. But from
the viewpoint of Herod who decided to interrupt it, it looked
as if it would go unboundedly. John's saying was described from his
point of view. It was the reason why he arrested John. 

  
If this theory works, we have clarified the issue reflected in the
follwoing comment of Alex:
 
  (I saw only after writing this, Moon, that you had
> noted in relation to my earlier examples, 'it is GAR that makes the events
> described by the aorist precede the currently established event'.  I'd have
> written 'GAR *allows* the events described by the aorist to precede the
> currently established event', but agree with what I understand Moon's
> fundamental thrust to be, that the GAR is a significant marker in these
> narrative sequences.)
> 


GAR + aorist refers to the time preceding the current situation because
of GAR AND aorist. Given S1, GAR S2, it is extremely difficult for S2
to explain S1, if S2 refers to the time after S1. If S2 is aorist and thus
describes a bounded situation, it is hard for it to overlap the time
interval of
S1 in some ways. Hence, it should refer to the time before S1.

Hmm, it looks interesting. 

Moon
Moon R. Jung
Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea 



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