Prophetic Perfects in the Psalms

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Mon Apr 23 16:29:40 EDT 2001

Lee Martin wrote;

>> Dear Lee,
>> I wonder if we understand the concept "future perfect" in the same way.
>Dear Rolf, Yes I understand it in the same way.
>> I have never heard of any approach in linguistics when one presumes that
>> particular verbs are future perfect (a relative tense) if there are no
>> evidence for it both in the form itself and in the context.
>The evidence for future perfect is that the form is QATAL (which I presume
>to be perfective) and the deictic point is future. A perfective form with
>future tense is future perfect.
>> >> (3) Gen. 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard (QATAL) you: I will
>> >> bless him (QATAL); I will make him fruitful (WEQATAL) and will greatly
>While it is true that we have no indicator of a future deictic point here,
>there is no evidence that the "blessing" (QATAL) is not in the immediate
>past. Thus is not at all necessary to make this future.
>> >Gen. 17:16 I will bless (WEQATAL) her and will surely give you (QATAL)
>> >> a son by her. I will bless (WEQATAL) her so that she will be (WEQATAL)
>> >> mother of nations; kings of peoples will come (YIQTOL) from her."
>In the case of Gen 17:16, the WEQATAL is enough to indicate a future deictic
>point, thus the QATAL could very easily be a future perfect.

Dear Lee,

After reading your comments above, I have some questions: In English there
are four different kinds of futures:

(1) Future:			I will walk
(2) Future progressive:		I will be walking
(3) Future perfect:		I will have walked
(4) Future perfect progressive	I will have been walking

(1) is future tense, (2) is a combination of future tense and the
imperfective aspect (reference time intersects event time at the nucleus),
(3) is a combination of future tense and the perfective aspect (reference
time intersects event time at the coda), and (4) is a combination of future
tense with the imperfective aspect and the perfective aspect (refrence time
first intersects event time at the nucleus and then at the coda).

The only possible interpretation of (2) is that the event is not terminated
at reference time, and the only possible interpretation of (3) and (4) is
that the event is terminated at reference time. Thus the perfective aspect
in English *allways* shows that the event is terminated.

I have the following questions:

1) We both agree that QATAL represents the perfective aspect in Hebrew. Are
the English and the Hebrew perfective aspects identical in meaning, to the
effect that QATAL *allways* shows that an event is terminated?

2) If the answer is yes, do you say that the 2.505 QATALs I claim have
present meaning, in reality are present perfects or something else, i.e.
that all the events they describe were terminated at reference time, and
that QATAL  cannot have present (unterminated) reference?

3) If QATAL does not *allways* show that the event in question is
terminated, how can you know that the more than 900 QATALs I claim have
future reference are future perfects (or something else) and not simple
futures, just by looking at the form?



Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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