Ex nihilo? Was Raqiyah

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Thu Jul 25 03:52:31 EDT 2002

Dear Dave,

There is evidence that the aorist does not signal past tense, but 
only the perfective aspect, even though it has in most cases past 
reference. Two recent dissertations have argued for that. One example 
of an aorist with future reference is Jude 1:14 in the NT. As far as 
I am aware, there is no example of Greek imperfect with non-past 
reference, so I conclude that it signals both past tense and the 
imperfective aspect.



Rolf Furuli

University of Oslo

>When I was studying advanced Greek grammar, we called these
>principles "first-year lies."  Which is to say, in the first year profs
>often over-simplify things, then have to go back and explain what's
>really going on later.  I don't know of a single case of the type you
>describe in the NT; there are some of the reverse, such as Mark's
>omnipresent "historic present," but that seems to be more a case of
>one writer's idiolect than anything else.  Outside the indicative mode,
>it's possible that the "tenses" were aspect-based, though even this
>can be questioned.  In the indicative, however, as in Gen 1:1, the
>present tense was not an option.  Had the translator understood
>some sort of "linear" aspect in addition to the past tense, s/he would
>likely have used an imperfect.  In the indicative, the aorist (as its
>name suggests) is the simple past tense.  In English I can say "I
>went to the kitchen" or "I went to Paris" and only the context -
>specifically the pragmatic fact that I live in Boise, Idaho, can tell a
>listener that the latter event took much longer than the former. 
>Again, I recommend reading Stagg before making too many
>sweeping comments about the aorist.
>  > Dave,
>>  Since the discussion is really about Gen. 1:1 I won't dwell on the finer
>>  points of Greek.  And some real Greek scholar might correct me. And this
>>  comment does not really deal with the use of aorist in Gen. 1:1.  However as
>>  far as Greek tenses are concerned they are less time specific than aspect
>>  specific.  In other words the Greek writter used aorist in some cases
>>  because it was "punctiliar" rather than because it represented a "past"
>>  event.  The use of the present tense in Greek more often meant an act in the
>>  present time that is in process. I believe there are cases in the New
>>  Testament at least where the writer used the aorist to express an event in
>>  "present time (at least to the mind of the English speaker)" with
>>  "punctilar" action.
>  > Bill Burks
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