Telicity of ἐλθεῖν (ἕρχομαι)?

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.

Telicity of ἐλθεῖν (ἕρχομαι)?

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 15th, 2012, 9:49 am

What is the telicity of ἐλθεῖν? In other words, does the (prototypical) notion of this verb have a natural endpoint?

There are two detailed, scholarly studies of this question available on the web (both in PDF) that come to different conclusions.

The first is a master's thesis by Rachel Maureen Shain, "The Preverb Eis- and Koine Greek Aktionsart" (M.A. diss., Ohio State University, 2009), which argues that ἐλθεῖν / ἔρχομαι is atelic but εἰσελθεῖν / εἰσέρχομαι is telic.

The other is a bachelor's thesis by A. J. Espinosa, "Coming and Going in Koine Greek: Deixis and Aspect of Ἐρχομαι" (B.A. diss, Yale University, 2010), which argues, contra Shain, that ἐλθεῖν / ἔρχομαι is telic and that it connotes motion to the deictic center.

Who's got the better of the argument?
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Matt 15:29 and the Telicity of ἐλθεῖν (ἕρχομαι)?

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 17th, 2012, 12:48 pm

Let's give the question some focus. This question is not merely theoretical but affects the interpretation of some verses. For example:

Matt 15:29 wrote:Καὶ μεταβὰς ἐκεῖθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἦλθεν παρὰ τὴν θάλλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ ἀναβὰς εἰς τὸ ὄρος ἐκάθητο ἐκεῖ.


On the one hand, if ἦλθεν is telic, then the bolded phrase would mean "he came to [the shore] by the sea of Galilee" (so NJB, KJV, BDAG παρά C1bβ p.757 col. 2). On the other hand, if ἦλθεν is not telic, then it would mean "he went along the sea of Galilee" (so NRSV, NASB, NIV, NAB, NET, ESV, RSV).

Which interpretation is to be preferred?
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: Telicity of ἐλθεῖν (ἕρχομαι)?

Postby Scott Lawson » June 17th, 2012, 6:44 pm

Stephen,
As for me I'm working my way through the works you referenced, but I recently read a paper written by Tony Pope in 1984 dealing with verbs of motion in Mark, which was eye opening for me. http://www.sil.org/acpub/repository/START12.pdf Your discussion has brought to mind the translation of the substantive παρουσία as "arrival." This obviously has telic implications.
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