Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 30th, 2012, 3:26 pm

Rijksbaron claims that the verb (or predication) of an historical present must be telic:

Rijskbaron, Syntax, 3d ed., p. 24 wrote:Note 1 The historic present is only found with terminative (telic), not with stative (atelic) verbs (cp. § 2). Thus, the present indicative of verbs like βασιλεύω, εἰμι, ἔχω, οἶδα, ῥέω is never used as a historic present.


The historical presents in John 20:1-2 don't seem to fit this restriction, however:

John 20:1-2 wrote:1 Τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ ἔρχεται πρωῒ σκοτίας ἔτι οὔσης εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ βλέπει τὸν λίθον ἠρμένον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου. 2 τρέχει οὖν καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄλλον μαθητὴν ὃν ἐφίλει ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἦραν τὸν κύριον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου, καὶ οὐκ οἴδαμεν ποῦ ἔθηκαν αὐτόν.


All the bolded words are historical presents. Two of them are ἔρχεται, and I recognize there is some question whether it is telic or atelic. But two others are much less controversially atelic: βλέπει is a state, and τρέχει is an activity.

Do these example contradict Rijksbaron's claim, and, if so, can it be fixed?
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby MAubrey » June 30th, 2012, 4:19 pm

While ἔρχεται defaults to atelic, in both these cases, the predications themselves are telic: εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον and πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον.

But yes, this does look like Rijksbaron's description fails here. My experience has been that most Classical descriptions of historical presents differs rather widely from Koine descriptions.
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby Stephen Carlson » July 1st, 2012, 11:19 pm

MAubrey wrote:But yes, this does look like Rijksbaron's description fails here.


Just brainstorming here, but what if all that's necessary is the telicity of the final Aktionsart? In other words, could βλέπει be coerced into an event, such as "notice" or τρέχει be reinterpreted as "began to run"?
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby George F Somsel » July 2nd, 2012, 2:19 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Just brainstorming here, but what if all that's necessary is the telicity of the final Aktionsart? In other words, could βλέπει be coerced into an event, such as "notice" or τρέχει be reinterpreted as "began to run"?


"Began to run" sound sounds like an inceptive, i.e., indicates the start of an action. We encounter an attempt at describing the beginning of an action in Lk 15.18 where the "Prodigal" Son says
ἀναστὰς πορεύσομαι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου


We also encounter such an expression in the OT where the "arising" does not indicate a change in position (from lying or sitting) to standing. In Josh 8.1 we read
וַיֹּאמֶר יהוה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אַל־תִּירָא וְאַל־תֵּחָת קַח עִמְּךָ אֵת כָּל־עַם הַמִּלְחָמָה וְקוּם עֲלֵה הָעָי רְאֵה נָתַתִּי בְיָדְךָ אֶת־מֶלֶךְ הָעַי וְאֶת־עַמּוֹ וְאֶת־עִירוֹ וְאֶת־אַרְצוֹ׃

While the LXX has
Καὶ εἶπεν κύριος πρὸς Ἰησοῦν Μὴ φοβηθῇς μηδὲ δειλιάσῃς, λαβὲ μετὰ σοῦ τοὺς ἄνδρας πάντας τοὺς πολεμιστὰς καὶ ἀναστὰς ἀνάβηθι εἰς Γαι, ἰδοὺ δέδωκα εἰς τὰς χεῖράς σου τὸν βασιλέα Γαι καὶ τὴν γῆν αὐτοῦ.
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby RandallButh » July 2nd, 2012, 9:51 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:Rijksbaron claims that the verb (or predication) of an historical present must be telic:

Rijskbaron, Syntax, 3d ed., p. 24 wrote:Note 1 The historic present is only found with terminative (telic), not with stative (atelic) verbs (cp. § 2). Thus, the present indicative of verbs like βασιλεύω, εἰμι, ἔχω, οἶδα, ῥέω is never used as a historic present.


The historical presents in John 20:1-2 don't seem to fit this restriction, however:

John 20:1-2 wrote:1 Τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ ἔρχεται πρωῒ σκοτίας ἔτι οὔσης εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ βλέπει τὸν λίθον ἠρμένον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου. 2 τρέχει οὖν καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄλλον μαθητὴν ὃν ἐφίλει ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἦραν τὸν κύριον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου, καὶ οὐκ οἴδαμεν ποῦ ἔθηκαν αὐτόν.


All the bolded words are historical presents. Two of them are ἔρχεται, and I recognize there is some question whether it is telic or atelic. But two others are much less controversially atelic: βλέπει is a state, and τρέχει is an activity.

Do these example contradict Rijksbaron's claim, and, if so, can it be fixed?


Yes, it appears to be 'fixable'. I think that Rijksbaron has captured something and the question is the most precise way to write this up and to formulize it.
Perhaps one should start from the "stative" end. I would be hard-pressed to think of εστιν as a historical present. For a list of historical presents in the gospels, see Hawkins, Horae Synopticae, pp144 ff. Matt 2:13, 19 is fairly stative φαινεται, although in both cases the angel 'appears to Joseph'.
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby Jonathan Robie » July 2nd, 2012, 10:06 am

MAubrey wrote:While ἔρχεται defaults to atelic, in both these cases, the predications themselves are telic: εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον and πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον.

But yes, this does look like Rijksbaron's description fails here. My experience has been that most Classical descriptions of historical presents differs rather widely from Koine descriptions.


In what way do they differ?

Is this due to a difference in the languages being described, or to the people describing them?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby MAubrey » July 2nd, 2012, 11:43 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:In what way do they differ?

Is this due to a difference in the languages being described, or to the people describing them?

It's the nature of the claims they make. Classical linguist's claims tend to be quite different in terms of the nature of the HP compared to Koine scholars. I'm not saying that they're opposed to each other. And part of it might be merely a difference in terminology. I haven't studied or read Classical Greek enough to know whether its a fundamental difference in the language or not. It could just be a matter of perspective.
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby Stephen Carlson » July 2nd, 2012, 11:48 am

Another possibility is a difference in register. Perhaps highly literary works, such as Thucydides, use the HP in more restricted circumstances than say Mark or John.
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby George F Somsel » July 2nd, 2012, 12:08 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:


Another possibility is a difference in register. Perhaps highly literary works, such as Thucydides, use the HP in more restricted circumstances than say Mark or John.


This is always necessary. To say that one author writes in one fashion must hold true for all other authors is too levelling. Attention must first be paid to each author's voice. Only when a phenomenon is traced through all authors can one then generalize. What Paul writes may not be what "John" would write.
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Re: Non-Telic Historical Presents in John 20:1-2?

Postby MAubrey » July 2nd, 2012, 12:36 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:, such as Thucydides

Maybe Thucydides isn't the best choice:
The Historical Present in Thucydides: Semantics and Narrative Function
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