[B-Greek] Is Greek Present a tense? Was Verbal Aspect theory -- misgivings

Oun Kwon kwonbbl at gmail.com
Wed Nov 19 00:02:38 EST 2008

On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 6:22 AM, Kimmo Huovila
<kimmo.huovila at kolumbus.fi> wrote:

>> Let us for example take a look at the
>> narrative part of Mark 11.
> Ok. This is a methodologically sound start for the study of the historical
> present. However, as I have life also outside of b-greek, I only give a quick
> gut reaction, not a deep linguistic analysis, and I do not attempt to
> formulate and prove a theory of historical presents. I leave it up to other
> discourse linguists to do that and to fix some of my quick comments.
>> I use the text of NIV and show the use of
>> aorist (A), present (P) and imperfect (I).  In this chapter we find
>> many examples of present and aorist with past reference. Can you show
>> that each use of present is a special case?  Can it be shown that
>> each present is an attention grabber or signals some significant
>> development, and that the aorists don't?
>> 11:1 As they approached (P) Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and
>> Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent (P) two of his disciples,
> These are used at the beginning of a section to draw attention to the
> following episode. Also in vese 2 there is a historical present to draw
> attention to Jesus' instruction which is important in the development of the
> story.
>> 11:4  They went (A) and found (A) a colt outside in the street, tied
>> at a doorway. As they untied (P) it,
>> RF:
>> Why is P used for "approached" and "sent" in 11:1, and A used for
>> "went" and "found" in 11:4, and why is P used for the telic verb
>> "untied"?
> "Went and found" happened just as they were instructed and you would not
> expect that to cause anything significant in itself. However, when they start
> untying, that can cause some unrest among bystanders! Attention grabber: what
> happens next?


> Historical presents get their meaning only in the context of a narrative flow.


With P  translated as present in English (most don't),  I take the
narrative text like these examples as something being read by a
narrator=storyteller, while the hearers taking it as 'enactment'
(rather realistically describing what's going on). I don't think
'timelessness' of P is proven here (at  the least in narrative text).


More information about the B-Greek mailing list