[B-Greek] Present tense for future events (was 1 John 1.9)

John Sanders john.franklin.sanders at gmail.com
Thu May 14 02:55:25 EDT 2009

My dear friend Eddie,

I sincerely apologize, there was no affront intended in my posting to you.  I
have been in Asia so long that I may unintentionally affront someone,
especially when I go out of my way not to.  If I may give just one anecdote:
A number of years ago I was working for an American company in Japan.  There
was a minor issue that came up and although I was not the source of the
issue, I was accountable for it.  I was called in on the carpet, he told me
the problem, etc.  I bowed my head, smiled, chuckled over the more egregious
affront, and offered my apologies.   Instead of calming the situation, he
actually became angrier.  We settled the issue, it was minor anyway.

A number of years later I am working in Vietnam.  While there, I came across
an open letter written from an exchange student to his compatriots in
Vietnam.  It was written in 1924, he was perhaps in his thirties and in
France.  He wrote to tell his fellow countrymen how to communicate with
foreigners.  I believe it was item 7 which went something like:  When
foreigners are angry with you, do not smile nor laugh, they become even
angrier.  Rather spit, stomp your feet, and curse.  The foreigners expect
that rather than the more civilized way we confront unpleasant situations.
 It took a Vietnamese writing some 70 years ago to enlighten my
understanding of Western culture.

So again, I apologize.  There was no slight intended in posting to you.

As for what Iver stated, I was referencing his comment made on his 8 May

IL: I don't adhere to the theory of deictic centers.

I may be in error, but I take it that Iver considers ‘deictic centers’ to be
part and parcel of some theory.  It may be.  I would tend to think that it
is  an analytical tool which can be associated with a number of theories.  That
was all that I intended to imply.

As for the rest of your posting, you may be quite correct.  My grasp of
tense may be very feeble, but perhaps not that feeble.

My statements were not intended to advocate that the level of discourse be
reduced to a primary level.  Quite often, or so I think, we introduce
terminology, abstractions, or various other sundry items into our discourse
thinking that those items will aid us in our presentation.  We do this, or
so I would suspect, because we were aided in our understanding by these very
same items.

Many years ago I took a class in thermodynamics.  I was fortunate in having
an excellent professor, his name was Dr. Polvi.  No matter how complex or
abstract the subject became, he always started and referred back to the
basics, which for him meant f=ma.  I found that to be a wise method in
learning and understanding.

Let us look at the matter at hand.  You posted a response to Iver’s posting
on present tense as a future tense.  You introduced ‘deictic centers’ in
your response.  There is nothing wrong, at least in my view, with using this
concept, with applying it to your readings, etc.  If your intent was to make
those on the list aware of this tool and its use, then again I apologize,
since that would have been central to your posting.  But I assumed your
posting was in response to ‘present tense being a future tense.’  In which
case the introduction of your analytical tool, as I would view it, actually
became part of the focus of Iver’s response to you.

Now let me go to what I think are the fundamentals here.  The basics which I
would think are more applicable.  I may not have made myself very
understandable or clear.  If I understand Iver correctly, he was advocating
that in certain circumstances the present tense is actually functioning as a
future tense.  In the collection of examples used by Iver, I would suggest
that each example could be put into two forms: one using the present tense
and one using the future tense.  In general, to use the present tense to
indicate a future event, one needs to introduce an adverbial time
word.  Without
the adverbial time word the phrase will not be thought of as future.  This
would indicate to me that future is not encoded in the present tense, even
given the criteria referred, but rather the future is made manifest by the
adverbial time word.  Also, the future tense can be used without any
adverbial time word and the future is still understood.  The adverbial time
word indicates is generally used to indicate a specific point in the future.
 In other words, future time is part of the future tense.

I may be wrong and others may be able to point out my defects here.  But at
least we are dealing with the fundamentals of present tense and future
tense.  I think it is commendable if you came to a similar point of view
using ‘deictic centers,’ or at least justified in my conclusion.

But when you introduced ‘deictic centers’ into your response, then the
response was centered around the use of the ‘deictic center.’  If your
intent was the use of this concept, then you are more than justified in
using it.  But if your intent was centered on the tense discussion, then I
believe your use of ‘deictic center’ obscured the thrust of your argument.

But those are my thought.  Again, if I offended you, I do dearly apologize.
 And I also hope that calling you friend is not objectionable.

John Sanders

Suzhou, China

On Thu, May 14, 2009 at 12:26 PM, Eddie Mishoe <edmishoe at yahoo.com> wrote:

> John:
> I have to be honest and say I really don't understand what is driving your
> question. You state: Iver refers to ‘deictic center’ as a theoretical
> construct.
> I can't imagine Iver or anyone stating this. The deictic center is a word
> or phrase that establishes some point on the time line. There is nothing
> 'theoretical' about a deictic center, nor is it an advanced concept. English
> is no different. Native English users, even if unknown to them, use deictic
> centers on a daily basis.
> Your analogy tells me that you have yet to study much about Tense and
> Verbal Aspect. And your other stated concerns really seem to be asking 'What
> good is it if we discuss something very technical or advanced out here on
> B-Greek since many list members are beginners? This is almost an
> inappropriate question.
> This site (B-Greek) is for people at all levels of Greek, from beginners to
> scholars. Beginners will have to accept the fact that they are not ready to
> get too deep into Verbal Aspect. When someone posts a topic that they
> (beginners) don't understand, it will help them to read it and try to get as
> much out of an advanced discussion as they can. For the scholars out here,
> they may be asking questions that people who have a good understanding of
> biblical Greek can't understand. The goal is not to communicate at the
> lowest common denominator. Scholars oftentimes communicate with other
> scholars, and us neophytes have to recognize this and try to learn from them
> the best we can do.
> Anyway, don't worry if a technical question is asked, even a question at an
> advanced level of Greek. In other words, I would not try to degrade people
> out here who have a more advanced understanding than others. We just need to
> try our best to learn from them.
> I think you would do yourself a favor if you read the FAQ page.
> Eddie Mishoe
> Pastor
> --- On Wed, 5/13/09, John Sanders <john.franklin.sanders at gmail.com> wrote:
> > From: John Sanders <john.franklin.sanders at gmail.com>
> > Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Present tense for future events (was 1 John 1.9)
> > To: edmishoe at yahoo.com
> > Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 11:30 PM
>  >
> >
> > My friend Eddie, if you will
> > allow me to so address you as my friend,
> >
> > I have a great respect for
> > Iver Larson’s understanding of Koine Greek, but I do
> > differ with him on this issue (if I understand his position
> > correctly).
> >
> >
> > I have not read anything
> > directly by Dr. Porter, although I should shortly be in
> > possession of an electronic version of his study on rhetoric
> > in the Hellenic world.
> >
> >
> > Iver refers to ‘deictic
> > center’ as a theoretical construct.  I thought it was an analytical tool
> and I
> > am not certain that it is restricted to any one theoretical
> > construct, but I have limited knowledge in this
> > area.
> >
> >
> > I am thinking that we may be
> > better served in not relying on the analytical tools,
> > technical terms, and abstractions that we may have used to
> > come to an understanding; but rather present our
> > understanding in as simple and directs terms as possible.
> >  If I may use a metaphor, it is as if
> > I dug up a box and the debate shifts to whether a pick was
> > better or the shovel better in digging up the
> > box.
> >
> >
> > There is another
> > aspect that can be considered.  For
> > those on the list who wish to learn Koine Greek as a second
> > language, how does the discussion help them, if it can help
> > them at all?  And for those on the
> > list who wish to develop their skills in analyzing Koine
> > Greek, how does the discussion help them, if it can help
> > them at all?
> >
> >
> > --
> > John Sanders
> > Suzhou, China
> >
> > On Tue, May 12, 2009 at 9:58 PM,
> > Eddie Mishoe <edmishoe at yahoo.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> >
> > John:
> >
> > Iver rejects the Deictic Center position altogether, which
> > I note you accept, as do I. What I'm mystified by is
> > Porter's grasp of deictic indicators AND his rejection
> > of the temporal nature of the Indicative verb system. I
> > think this is why he has not gained a large following. He
> > has to resort to other linguistic phenomena and whatever
> > those are, they are not intuitive or convincing.
> >
> >
> > Eddie Mishoe
> > Pastor
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
>  ---
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