Temporal Deixis

Decker, Rodney J. Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark in Light of Verbal Aspect. Studies in Biblical Greek, v. 10, ed. D. A. Carson. New York: Peter Lang, 2001.  xvii + 293 pgs. hdcvr. $61.95. ISBN: 0-8204-5033-2.

Amazon now has 26 pages excerpted that you can read online, including front and back covers, front matter, the first six pages of text, and complete indexes.

This page is designed to serve as an on-line support page to accompany the published book. In particular it provides resources that intend to make some of the material more accessible to students. There are also links to related material, either my own or otherwise, including some related documents that are available only here. And, of course, there is the inevitable errata list.

Book Synopsis:

Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb provides a detailed grammatical study of the Greek verb in the Gospel of Mark focused on the question of temporal reference. Following the theory of verbal aspect proposed by several recent scholars, this study distinguishes between aspect and Aktionsart, semantics and pragmatics. It argues that temporal reference is not grammaticalized by the tenses of the Greek verb. Instead, koine Greek indicates these relationships through contextual means (temporal deixis). The full temporal range of usage of the verb in Mark’s gospel is examined, deictic indicators are catalogued, and selected passages are used to illustrate the ways in which time is indicated. This linguistic study provides a basis for more accurate exegesis of the text of Mark and other similar writings.

Foreword by Series Editor D. A. Carson

Studies in Biblical Greek is an occasional series of monographs designed to promote and publish the latest research into biblical Greek (Old and New Testaments). The series does not assume that biblical Greek is a distinct dialect within the larger world of koine: on the contrary, the assumption is that biblical Greek is part and parcel of the Hellenistic Greek that dominated the Mediterranean world from about 300 BC to AD 300. If the series focuses on the corpora of the Old and New Testaments, it is because these writings generate major interest around the world, not only for religious but also for historical and academic reasons. Research into the broader evidence of the period, including epigraphical and inscriptional materials, is welcome in the series, provided the results are cast in terms of their bearing on biblical Greek. Primarily, however, the Studies are devoted to fresh philological, syntactical, text-critical, and linguistic study of the Greek of the biblical books, with the subsidiary aim of displaying the contribution of such study to accurate exegesis. Recent years have witnessed the publication of several seminal books on verbal aspect theory. However much these books converge, at several points they disagree with one another, and in any case they disagree markedly with the theories of Greek verbal semantics that have dominated biblical studies for about a century and a half. Although many essays and reviews have attempted brief evaluations, what has been lacking has been a systematic testing of one or more of these theories in large blocks of contiguous Greek. That is what Dr. Decker has done. He has tested the “fit” of Porter’s theory in the Gospel of Mark–but at the same time he has kept his eye peeled on alternative theories, with the result that this book provides an enormous amount of shrewd comparative evaluation. Those who are just breaking into linguistic theory will be grateful to Dr. Decker for the way he defines terms as he goes along: careful study of this book will provide the reader not only with evenhanded evaluation of recent verbal aspect theory, but with a competent introduction to the linguistic categories and assumptions on which such theories are based.

D. A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Endorsement (Stanley E. Porter)

This is a brief blurb that appears on the back cover of the published book.

I am pleased to recommend Rodney Decker’s study of verbal aspect both to those interested in matters of Greek linguistics and to New Testament exegetes. Informed study of Greek verbal structure, especially verbal aspect, has become a topic of increasing importance over the last decade. Decker’s study not only offers a worthwhile survey of much of this recent work, but applies an informed concept of verbal aspect to important passages in Mark’s Gospel with telling results. His attempt to quantify these results is a definite aid to further study of this vital topic.

Professor Stanley E. Porter, Ph.D. (Sheffield)

University of Surrey Roehampton

Centre for Advanced Theological Research

Department of Theology and Religious Studies London

Endorsement (W. E. Glenny)

This is a brief blurb that appears on the back cover of the published book.

Dr. Decker’s study of the temporal deixis of the Greek verb is important for students beginning to study verbal aspect in the Greek New Testament and for those who have been involved in the renewed discussion of this topic over the past decade. Beginning students will find in this book a quick entree into the discussion of verbal aspect; Decker provides for them the definitions of key terms and a summary of the recent theoretical discussion concerning verbal aspect in the Greek New Testament. For those who have followed the discussion for the last decade, Decker’s study is the kind of work we have been waiting for. He tests one of the two main competing temporal theories of the Greek verb on extended portions of the Gospel of Mark. Dr. Decker’s work is a must for students of New Testament Greek and exegetes of the New Testament who desire to stay abreast of the discussion concerning verbal aspect in the Greek New Testament.

W. Edward Glenny, Th.D. (Dallas), Ph.D. (U/Minn.)

Professor of New Testament and Bible

Northwestern College

St. Paul, Minnesota

Author’s preface

My interest in verbal aspect was first aroused at the “Porter Fanning Debate,” held as part of the Consultation on Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics at the 1991 annual SBL meeting in Kansas City. When I was granted a sabbatical a few years later to complete the residence work for my doctoral study in NT, I determined that this was an issue that I needed to explore. Two doctoral seminars in advanced Greek grammar provided the forum for my initial work. When I began the first seminar I must confess to being strongly inclined to follow the path that had been described by Fanning; I was a bit skeptical of the apparent complexity of Porter’s more technical approach based on systemic linguistics. As providence would have it, however, Professor Glenny (who directed those seminars) assigned me a major portion of Porter’s tome as my contribution to the seminar. Wrestling with Porter’s theory and its implications during the fall of 1994 was one of the most profitable portions of my study that year. I came away convinced that this was indeed a significant and valid approach to the verb in the NT. The implications for temporal reference in the Greek of the NT were of particular interest to me. These factors later led to a dissertation proposal on that very topic.

This book, then, is a lightly revised version of the dissertation submitted to Central Baptist Seminary, Minneapolis in 1998 for the Th.D. degree. The content remains largely unchanged except for the omission of a lengthy appendix (a keyword-in-context concordance of all verb forms in Mark, categorized by form). A few additional notes have been added and some wording has been refined. Other changes have been made to conform to the style specified by the series. The academic origins of this book are still quite evident, however. It will also be obvious to linguists that it has been written by a NT student. I have tried to reflect accurately the implications of linguistic thought (which are especially significant for this study), but I have done so as a guest in the country of Linguistica. I have only a visa for study there; I am not a citizen.

I would be remiss if I did not express my heartfelt thanks to my dissertation committee at Central Seminary, W. Edward Glenny, chairman (now at Northwestern College), and Robert W. Milliman. Their patient reading and counsel during the years when this project was gestating were invaluable. My external examiner, Buist M. Fanning (Dallas Theological Seminary), also deserves thanks for his contributions. His thoroughness and his graciousness in dealing with a dissertation that argued against his own published position on the topic were both much appreciated. The present book is the better for the help of all three of these men–though as writers are obliged to say, they are not responsible for any of its faults! It seems appropriate that the chairman of that seminal 1991 debate, D. A. Carson, has seen fit to accept this book as part of the Studies in Biblical Greek series. For the opportunity to share this work with a larger audience and for his editorial direction, I thank him. Thanks are also due to Calvary Bible College and Seminary, Kansas City, which granted the sabbatical during which this work originated, and also to Baptist Bible Seminary, which has assisted with both scheduling and financial needs as the dissertation itself was written and during the ensuing publication process. I have appreciated the opportunity to return to teach at my alma mater.

Since the time my dissertation was completed the following items have come to my attention, but I have not been able to interact with them in this study (occasionally a note has been added to indicate where these studies are relevant): Gustavo Martin-Asensio, “Transitivity-Based Foregrounding in the Acts of the Apostles” (Ph.D. thesis, Roehampton Institute London, University of Surrey, 1999); Stanley Porter and Matthew O’Donnell, “The Greek Verbal Network Viewed from a Probabilistic Standpoint: An Exercise in Hallidayan Linguistics,” Filologia Neotestamentaria (forthcoming, 2000); Roy Millhouse, “The Use of the Imperfect Verb Form in the New Testament: An Investigation into Aspectual and Tense Relationships in Hellenistic Greek” (M.A. thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1999); Kimmo Huovila, “Towards a Theory of Aspectual Nesting for New Testament Greek” (M.A. thesis, University of Helsinki, 1999); and Stephanie L. Black, “The Historic Present in Matthew: Beyond Speech Margins,” in Discourse Analysis and the New Testament, ed. S. Porter and J. Reed, 120–39, JSNTSup 170 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999). There are also several relevant articles in Translating the Bible: Problems and Prospects, ed. S. Porter and R. Hess, JSNTSup 173 (Sheffield: JSOT, 1999): Matthew Brook O’Donnell, “Translation and the Exegetical Process, Using Mark 5.1–10, ‘The Binding of the Strongman’, as a Test Case,” 162–188 (this article is particularly relevant and useful as it illustrates in greater detail how this approach can impact the detailed exegesis of a pericope–though I do not accept all O’Donnell’s individual conclusions); Gustavo Martin-Asensio, “Foregrounding and Its Relevance for Interpretation and Translation, with Acts 27 as a Case Study,” 189–223; and Thomas Hatina, “The Perfect Tense-Form in Colossians: Verbal Aspect, Temporality and the Challenge of Translation,” 224–52.

Rodney J. Decker

Baptist Bible Seminary

Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

January 2000

Biographical sketch of the author:

Rodney J. Decker is associate professor of New Testament at Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. He received his Th.D. degree in New Testament from Central Baptist Seminary, Minneapolis. His articles on linguistic, exegetical, and theological topics have been published in BibliothecaSacra, Trinity Journal, Grace Theological Journal, and the Journal of Ministry and Theology. He has taught Greek and New Testament for the past ten years. Before coming to BBS in 1996 he taught at Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. (Additional vita.)


This section will collect miscellaneous notes and comments regarding the book, either in general or regarding specific sections or statements. If I receive relevant feedback from readers that I think appropriate, that will be included here, as well as selected comments from reviews.

Published review on RBL/SBL website (by R. Seesengood, Drew University):

“Decker’s Temporal Deixis begins with an introduction and analysis of prior scholarship on verbal aspect (very briefly presented–both a strength and a weakness, particularly in light of the complex, subtle, and extraordinarily difficult to articulate differences between various positions), and for this service alone Decker should be thanked. …

“Decker offers a stunningly thorough survey of temporal aspects in Mark, greatly aided and enhanced by computer-generated searches but betraying many quiet hours spent with the text. Throughout the work, his notation is meticulous, careful….

“Temporal Deixis would be a good supplement to an intermediate Hellenistic Greek grammar. It will be of most interest and use to scholars of linguistics, New Testament Greek, and verbal aspect in general; Decker’s goal is a modest but necessary step forward in the state of the question. I am certain he will gladly take the “criticism” of being intellectually stimulating and provocative. There may yet be quite a bit to work on in New Testament Greek.”

Review posted on Amazon.com (as of fall 2005; these come and go, so I include this one here–largely because it is favorable and I’d like to preserve such things! 🙂

A Challenge to Learn New Things, August 16, 2005

Reviewer: Merlin W. Zook (Camp Hill, PA. USA.)

“This study of temporal deixis and verbal aspect with a focus upon the Gospel of Mark represents a significant source of new information for those who are pursuing Biblical Greek linguistics. Decker investigates semantics, verbal aspect, pragmatics, temporal reference, various relationships, Aktionsart, contextual methodologies, and deictic indicators. Significant examples illustrating these concepts are referenced in the Gospel of Mark. These are new and challenging ideas involving linguistics of Biblical Greek. Decker , in his book, is testing Porter’s theory concerning verbal semantics, and he is taking a close look at temporal deixis of Greek verbs as well.

“This book is well supplied with tables, word lists, diagrams, parallel study columns, an extensive bibliography; also subject, author, and reference indexes. There is an ample supply of associated notes for each chapter which prove themselves quite valuable and helpful to the reader. I recommend the reader to follow the notes carefully and thoroughly while each chapter is read. Also, the reader needs to closely follow the tables, lists, diagrams and study columns to better understand the material which Decker is introducing. I strongly recommend Decker’s book to those who are interested in learning the newest ideas on the cutting edges of modern linguistics dealing with Biblical Greek. This book certainly opened up new frontiers for me; others may enjoy this adventure as well.”

Other Reviews: Daniel Wallace, Religious Studies Review

29.2 (Ap 2003): 195,

“relatively technical monograph (with helpful explanations)” “This kind of work (with a commendable irenic tone) is needed to advance the discussion in the Porter-Fanning Debate, for it wrestles with all the data of a limited corpus.”

[To be fair, Wallace remains unconvinced of my thesis, and offers 3 specific criticisms–which you can look up and read for yourself! 🙂 ]


In my reading I just (6/01) ran across a chapter of which  I wish I had been aware while doing the research for my book: Steven Levinsohn, Textual Connections in Acts, SBLMS 31 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987) has an entire chapter on “Temporal Expressions” (pt. 1, ch. 2, pp. 44-52). He explores some different avenues related to temporal expression (related, e.g., to word order and discourse analysis) that would have been very appropriate to explore in Mark. Oh well… perhaps a journal article one of these days… 🙂

p. 40, re. augment (near middle of the page): “The augment in Greek may perform a similar formal role in specifying which personal endings are to be used (secondary rather than primary)…” As a supporting argument in this regard, note that in the non-indicative moods (which do not prefix an augment) the aorist subjunctive forms, for example, use primary endings not secondary. This suggests that the augment functions as a marker for secondary endings.

p. 68, last sentence s.v. HDH re. the perfect in Mk. 15:44: “Pilate’s query is whether or not Jesus was already in the state of death

at that time.” This should be rephrased: “Pilate wonders whether…” Pilate “wonders” (QAUMAZW) if he is already in the state of death

(this is the perfect form TEQNHKEN), but his query (EPERWTAW) appears in the last phrase of the verse using an aorist (APEQANEN): “…if he had already died.” (BDAG, 751, translates “whether he was already dead”–but that would seem more appropriate for the perfect than the aorist in this context.) This does not affect the point of the statement in the book(which relates to the use of HDH with the perfect), only the choice of the word “query” in that statement.

p. 121, Markan Usage (i.e., of participles in re. temporal usage)

Not included in the test chapters (2, 6, 15), but quite interesting is Mark 4:8 where two present adverbial participles precede an imperfect form and both participles describe action antecedent to the main verb. This is an unusual pattern found elsewhere in the NT only in Acts 8:3 (see also Ps 34:14; 4 Mac 11:18). The instances in Acts & 4 Mac both have the same temporal pattern. [I will discuss this in my forthcoming Mark Handbook.]

p. 122, second full paragraph, re. Acts 6:27, “simultaneous aorist participle” This might be taken in the sense, “having sent for the executioner, the king commanded (him)…,” but the syntax seems unusual for this with the subject of the main verb coming between the participle and its object. If so (and at this point, I doubt it), then this would be an example of the more usual antecedent aorist participle.

p. 139

As another example of how verbal aspect functions at the discourse level in narrative, see Stanley Porter, Idioms of the Greek NT, pp. 302-03 where he discusses Mark 11:1-11.

Re. n. 56 on p. 186, 3d paragraph:

I was recently reading Deissmann and noted that the following comment makes the same point as that cited in the book from Conrad and McKay: “There is one circumstance which sometimes makes the inscriptions less productive than might have been expected, especially those that are more or less of the official kind. The style has often been polished up, and then they are formal, artificial, cold

as the marble that bears them, and stiff as the characters incised upon the unyielding stone. As a whole the inscriptions are not so fresh and natural as the papyri” (Adolf Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East: The NT Illustrated by Recently Discovered Texts of the Graeco-Roman World, 4th ed., transl. L. Strachan [NY: Doran, 1927; reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995], 24).

Re. pp. 131-36 (esp. the smry. on 136), see R. T. France’s new commentary on Mark in the NIGTC series (Eerdmans, 2002), p. 504 which correlates some of the same data that I have noted (& some that I hadn’t) on a broader scale than makes the temporal structure of the discourse much more apparent. I happen to disagree with the conclusions that he draws from some of this material (i.e., a largely preterist approach to Mk. 13:24-27), but the temporal markers of the discourse that he charts are significant.

The following note was received from Prof. Chet Creider (posted with his permission). It relates to my digest of Porter, not to my book, but since it is directly related, I thought it appropriate to post here.

I hope you won’t mind a very small and unimportant (in the sense of having anything to do with aspect or tense) correction to your “Poor Man’s Porter”:

In the Appendix you attribute the origin of the concept of markedness to Chomsky’s early work in phonology, but this is not true. The concept originated in the work of the Prague School of Linguistics and is particularly associated with their concept of the “archiphoneme” and the phenomenon of neutralization (e.g. the voicing contrast of obstruents is neutralized in German in word-final position and only the unmarked member of the pair voiceless/voiced is found). I believe that the first systematic exploration of the concept of markedness was done by the Russian phonology Nicholas Trubetzkoy (working in Prague) in his 1939 Foundations of Phonology work. In that work he systematically studied the nature of phonological oppositions and developed the concepts of equipollent and gradient oppositions, in addition to taking over the concept of marked opposition.

Chomsky (and Halle — their work was _The Sound Pattern of English_, 1968) initially tried to do without any notion of markedness. They eventually added an appendix on markedness to the book, but completely botched the job as they missed the fact that markedness is highly context dependent and tried to develop a notion of markedness which was not that. (To take just one example, the unmarked voicing state for stops is voiced between vowels but voiceless in final, i.e. pre-pausal, position.) There is a nice, careful exploration of markedness with respect to aspect in Paul Friedrich’s monograph on aspect in Homeric Greek.

Translations of foreign language material (German, Spanish, French)

The series (SBG) conventions specify that foreign language material not be translated. This is a deliberate choice by the editor and assumes that readers of the series can read scholarly literature in a variety of languages. Since, however, I have some hopes that students may find the work helpful, and even that some may be curious as to the content of those quotations (an idealistic notion, I suspect, but one which I hope to nurture for a bit longer!), I have thought it appropriate to provide a translation of many of those quotations here.

The excerpts included here thus far sometimes contain the original introductory comments (the dissertation included translations of all foreign text). There is additional material to be added yet (e.g., none of the material from Pesch’s commentary on Mark is included yet; someday I need to polish my translations from Pesch!). The citations are presently indexed to the original dissertation. Page numbers for the published version will be added when they are available. (Those more proficient than I in the relevant languages are welcome to submit proposals for more polished versions of these translations–I would greatly appreciate it.) I realize that these may be somewhat meaningless when read as isolated snippets of text; they are intended to be used with the book.

The pagination given at the left is the original dissertation page. Some cross-references to the published book have been added in [brackets]. Note numbers should still be the same or close. Please note that diacritics have been deleted to make the text readable on a wider variety of operating systems. Some German ‘esset’s have been replaced with ‘ss.’ Spanish initial question marks have been “flipped” to ‘?’ (and yes, I know that looks odd!).

p. 3 n.5 [p.158]

Weissengruber’s comparison of the two may be useful here: “Vor allem in Hinblick auf die besondere Ausrichtung der Leser dieser theologischen Publikationsreihe, fur die die standige Konsultation von Porters Arbeit als (wie ich sie genannt habe) Fundgrube und Nachschlagewerk ein wichtiger Arbeitsbehelf bleibt, werden die prinzipiellen Darlegungen, die Fanning im ersten Teil seines Buches bietet, einen ubersichtlicheren Leitfaden durch die komplexe Materie des Verbalgebrauchs bieten als die von Porter” (“With all regard to the particular orientation of the readers of this theological series, for whom the constant consultation of Porter’s work as a storehouse and a reference work [as I have referred to it] remains an important help, Fanning, in the first part of his book, gives the basic statement; he offers a more lucid guide through the complex material of verbal usage than that of Porter,” 171).

36 n.58

replaced in book with longer summary from Mateos’s book; = p. 169 n.56

Mateos observes that “no existe ese aspecto en abstracto; lo unico que se encuentra en la lengua es el aspecto realizado en formas verbales que pertenecen a un lexema verbal determinado y que forman parte de un contexto” (“This aspect doesn’t exist in abstraction; the only thing found in the language is the aspect realized in verbal forms that belong to a determined

verbal lexeme and that form part of a context”) (recension de Biblical Language and Linguistics: Open Questions in Current Research [sic], por Stanley E. Porter Y D. A. Carson [eds.], FNT 7 [1994]: 220–1; the full article is relevant: 220–2).

67 n.7 [p. 179 n.6]

A major study of the timeless aorist has been provided by A. Peristerakis, Essai sur l’aoriste intemporel en grec. He defines the intemporal aorist as a use that is “depourvu de la notion du temps” (without a notion of time) (3). He explains that this is frequent in “general contexts”: “Nous avons donc adopte term d’aoriste intemporel, parce que l’aoriste est depourvu de la valeur temporelle dans les phrases de sens general” (we have adopted the term intemporal aorist because the aorist has no temporal value in sentences of general meaning) (v). “En effet, lorsqu’un auteur s’exprime d’une facon generale, fait des reflexions qui n’ont aucun rapport avec des evenements concrets…, alors il se place en dehors de tout temps reel parce que ce qu’il dit est ou doit etre valable et realisable dans tous les temps” (in effect when an author expresses himself in a general fashion, when he makes remarks that have no relationship to specific events…, he places himself outside all real time because what he says is or should be worthwhile and able to be accomplished in all times) (5). These general statements often include such statements as conditions, hypothetical statements, and relative expressions (summary on 284–5).

82 n.44 [p. 184 n.42]

Mateos recognizes the validity of this principle even though he cautions that contextual factors can make it difficult to identify in every case: “Definir el aspecto del aoristo o del presente consiste, pues, en identificar ese mnimo, que, por otra parte, puede que no sea invariable, pues no es imposible que el contexto pueda modificar o neutralizar esos rasgos” (“to define the aspect of the aorist or of the present consists, then, in identifying that minimum which, on the other hand, might not be invariable, since it is not impossible that the context may modify or neutralize those traces”) (recension de Biblical Language and Linguistics: Open Questions in Current Research [sic], por Stanley E. Porter Y D. A. Carson [eds.], FNT 7 [1994]: 221).

86 n.51 [p. 185 n.49]

“El deseo de encontrar una hipotesis sin fisuras desemboca en una solucion extrema, que no considera las complejidades del sistema de la lengua” (The desire to find a hypothesis without exceptions leads into an extreme solution, which does not consider the complexities of the [Greek] language system”) (Mateos, recension de Biblical Language and Linguistics, 222).

88 n.56 [p. 185 n.54]

Likewise Mateos: “es dificil negar que el aumento, marca morfologica, no tenga nada que ver con una determinacion temporal” (“it is difficult to negate that the augment, a morphological mark, does not have anything to do with a temporal determination”) (recension de Biblical Language and Linguistics, 222).

98 n.84 [p. 190 n.82]

Ruijgh’s summary is essentially correct, although he may have overlooked the Stoic approach to aspect (which combined aspect and time): “Les grammairiens grecs de l’Antiquite decrivent les valeurs de toutes ces formes en termes temporels et modaux. Ils ne se servent pas de la notion moderne de l”aspect’ [sic]” (The ancient Greek grammarians describe the value of all the forms in terms of time and mood. They do not employ the modern notion of aspect) (“Valeurs Temporelles,” 197).

101 [p. 44]

Louw begins by observing that traditional discussions of the cases endeavored to find either the Grundbedeutung der Kausformen (basic meaning of the case form) or the Gebrauchsumfang (range of use).

104 n.103 [p. 191 n.101]

Mateos and J. Pelaez note that “con formas verbales de presente, a[rti situa el hecho en el presente del hablante (sema: simultaneidad)” (with present verb forms, a[rti puts the action in the present of speech [simultaneously]) (“El Adverbio a[rtien el Nuevo Testamento,” FNT 8 [1995]: 90).

112 n.122 [p. 44]

Mateos: Ahora bien, si a causa del lexema verbal a que se aplica o del contexto en que se encuentra, un aoristo presenta valor incoativo (posibilidad que parcee dificil negar), ?como va a verificarse en el el aspecto perfectivo que Porter le atribuye? Al contrario, podria deducirse que el aspecto “perfectivo” no es el que corresponde al aoristo como tal, sino que depende, como el incoativo, del lexema verbal y del contexto en que se verifica.

“Now if because of the verbal lexeme to which it is applied or because of the context in which it is found, an aorist presents an ‘inchoative’ value (a possibility which is difficult to deny), how will it be verified in the perfective aspect which Porter attributes to it? On the contrary, it might be deduced that the perfective aspect isn’t the one which corresponds to the aorist per se, but that it depends, like the inchoative, on the verbal lexeme and on the context in which it is verified” (recension de Biblical Language and Linguistics,221)

112 n.123 [p. 49]

C. Ruijgh rejects not only aspect (“nous preferons limiter l’emploi du terme d’aspect a la description du verbe slave”) but also a timeless view of the verb: “Nous ne sommes pas d’accord avec ceux qui pretendent que les thenes en question n’expriment pas le temps mais l’aspect, la vision subjective du locuteur.”

“We prefer to limit the use of the term of aspect to the description of the Slavic verb,” and “we are not in agreement with those who maintain that the (Greek verb) stems in question do not express time but aspect, the subjective view of the speaker” (“Les Valeurs Temporelles des Formes Verbales en Grec Ancien,” in The Function of Tense in Texts, ed. J. Gvozdanovic and T. Janssen, 205).

164 n.89 [p. 76]

Die einzig mogliche Annahme ist, daß der Text der synoptischen Grundschrift, den sie lasen, jene Zuge noch nicht enthielt, sodaß sie nicht den ursprunglichen Markus-Text, sondern Ausschmuckungen, Erweiterungen, Wucherungen darstellen. Dazu gehort nun auch das haufige eujquvV.

“The single possible supposition is that the text of the synoptic Grundschrift, which they [i.e., Matthew and Luke] read, still didn’t include those passages, so that they didn’t represent the original Markan text but rather ornaments, expansions, abundances. To that also now belongs the frequent eujquvV” (ibid., 126).

165 n.90 [p. 76]

Heilungsgeschichten (healing accounts)

Was hei? hier echt und unecht? Mit einiger Sicherheit durfen wir sagen, daß das eujquvV in dem alten Markus, der dem Matthaus und Lukas vorlag, im weiten Umfange noch gefehlt hat; bemerkenswert ist, daß es in den Heilungsgeschichten ein Urlaut des Erzahlungstypus gewesen ist.

“What is called genuine or not genuine here? With some certainty we may say that eujquvV in the old Mark, which was available to Matthew and Luke, and has been missing to a wide extent; is noteworthy in that it has been in the Heilungsgeschichten [healing accounts] an early indication of the narrative type” (ibid., 133).

180 n.134 [p. 213 n.134]

Reiser observes that “Ein solches Verhaltnis liegt gelegentlich in Satzen vor, deren Vordersatz einen Imperativ und deren Nachsatz ein Verb im Futur–oder Prasens statt Futur–, gelegentlich einen weiteren Imperativ enthalt” (such a relationship occasionally exists in sentences in which the first clause contains an imperative and in which the final clause contains a verb in the future–or present instead of a future–, occasionally anadditional imperative) (Syntax und Stil des Markusevangeliums im  Licht der hellenistischen Volkliteratur, WUNT, vol. 11, 120).

181 n.136 [p. 214 n.136]

Reiser translates, “dann mag er mir folgen” [then he may follow me] [Syntax und Stil, 120], but this ignores the fact that the final verb is also an imperative.

247f n.122 [p. 234 n.122]

Peristerakis, although addressing the intemporal aorist instead of the future, makes the same point: “Aucun auteur ne peut presenter comme verite ce qui n’a jamais existe ou ce que personne n’a jamais vu, ou ce qui n’est pas conforme a la logique. Il serait absurde d’avoir une comparaison avec des phenomenes irreels ou des sentences fondees sur des paralogismes” (no author can present something as being true that has never existed or that no one has ever seen, or that which is not logical. It would be absurd to make a comparison with unreal phenomena or with sentences founded on invalid reasoning) (Essai sur l’aoriste intemporel en grec, 5).

311 n.90 [p. 250 n.93]

That temporally unrestricted reference should be related to genre is not surprising. Hippocrates frequently uses it as part of his technical medical writing: “en dialecte ionien, c’est Hippocrate de Cos qui emploie le plus frequemment l’aorist intemporel…. L’emploi de l’aoriste chez les medecins et chez Hippocrate semble etre un procede technique” (in the Ionian dialect, it is Hippocrates of Cos who uses the intemporal aorist most frequently…. The use of the aorist by the medical community and by the associates of Hippocrates seems to be a technical process) (A. Peristerakis, Essai sur l’aoriste intemporel en grec, 287).


Bruce Metzger has written that “polite Chinese authors intentionally leave errors in their books in order that the reader, on finding them, may feel superior” (Foreword to A Bibliography of Greek NT MSS by J. K. Elliott, SNTSMS 62, p. x). Although I have not intentionally followed that policy, I shall be glad for the excuse! I will welcome any such reports and will list here any corrections necessary. I am painfully aware that such demons manage to hide in the pre-publication MS despite innumerable proof readings, but become glaringly obvious as soon as a cover is attached to the pages! When I sent the indexes to the publisher, I also sent about two dozen replacement pages of the camera-ready text to correct a Greek accent here and a punctuation mark there, etc., but I have no delusions of the “perfect book”–even typographically, especially when I’m the typesetter–though I’ve tried hard to do it right.

  • p. xvii, l. 3: for “footnotes” read “the notes”
  • p. 36, Mark 15:14, EPOIHSEN should be set in bold type
  • p. 37, next to last paragraph, last sentence, would be better worded as:”…still view the situation as a process.”
  • p. 50, accent missing on EGNWN(should have acute overepsilon)
  • pp. 139-40, cols. should have been set flush left rather than justified
  • p. 159 n. 8: double quotes in the embedded quote by Voelz should be singlequotes
  • p. 191 n. 100: accent is missing from EPREPEN(should have acute over first epsilon)
  • p. 191 n. 100: to be consistent, “Hebrews 7:26” should beabbreviated as “Heb. 7:26”
  • p. 188 n. 62: article by Platt is in the Journal of Philology,not the Journal of Philosophy
  • pp. 192-3, nn. 109 & 112, Olsen, “Method” should be: Olsen,”Model”
  • p. 239 n. 3: reference to pp. 71-2 should be 31-2
  • p. 265, Martin, J. R. is out of alphabetical order
  • p. 276, Wei?ngruber, title of journal shouldread, Studien … und… (not Studiem … and …)
  • p. 279: index, s.v. deixis, p. 58 should be p. 54

Related papers

  • “The Poor Man’s Porter”–A synopsis of Stan Porter’s valuable tome, Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood (Sheffield, 2d ed., 1993). This link is to a 31-page .pdf file, 132K.
  • Review of Mari Olsen’s A Semantic and Pragmatic Model of Lexical and Grammatical Aspect. Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics. New York: Garland, 1997. Review published in JMAT 2.1 (1998): 110-20. (33K .pdf file)
  • Verbal Aspect in Recent Debate: Objections to Porter’s Non-Temporal View of the Verb,” A paper presented at Evangelical Theological Society Eastern Region Annual Meeting, 3/30/01, Philadelphia Biblical University, Langhorne, PA (137K, 16 pgs. sg.-sp., .pdf file). This is an edited adaptation of pp. 38-49 of the book.
  • Some sections of the dissertation and/or related materials, either complete or abridged, html or pdf, are also online. (They may be slightly different from the published version.) These include a discussion of εὐθύς, the abstract, a digest, and the bibliography.