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

Steve Runge srunge at logos.com
Thu May 14 10:39:28 EDT 2009


In light of all of the discussions about presents and historical
presents, I thought I would point something out. You had a very
interesting use of the historical present in your last post I put
asterisks around it. Interesting that you used it only once in the post,
at a transition to a "new pericope" as it were, marking the transition.
It was not used for vividness. You seem to be picking up Koine nicely!



-----Original Message-----
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of John Sanders
Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 11:55 PM
To: Eddie Mishoe
Cc: B Greek
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Present tense for future events (was 1 John 1.9)

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,
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

But those are my thought.  Again, if I offended you, I do dearly
 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>

> 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>
> > 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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