01: Note 1

Exploring Albert Rijksbaron's book, The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek: An Introduction, to see how it would need to be adapted for Koine Greek. Much of the focus will be on finding Koine examples to illustrate the same points Rijksbaron illustrates with Classical examples, and places where Koine Greek diverges from Classical Greek.

01: Note 1

Postby Jonathan Robie » June 1st, 2012, 10:49 am

Porterites, Campbellites, and Deckerites are much more common in NT circles than in Rijksbaron's circles. Would we need to modify this note?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby RandallButh » June 2nd, 2012, 4:49 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:Porterites, Campbellites, and Deckerites are much more common in NT circles than in Rijksbaron's circles. Would we need to modify this note?


I've not met a Porterite in classical studies, though I don't usually mix in those crowds. Even McKay did not agree with Porter's absolute tenseless framework.
In any case, while one can assume and leave Rijksbaron's perspective in place, one can add a paragraph to point out the essentially aspectual base to the LY and LYSA stems. R.'s note was written with the indicative included in his perspective, which is why he called 'aspect' untenable.
And R. introduced the whole as "tense stems (or aspect stems)", p. 1.
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » June 2nd, 2012, 6:02 am

If we have especially NT students in mind it would be useful to add a lengthy note clarifying the situation. Students would certainly be confused if they first were introduced to a more or less tensless view as a de facto consensus (because of the number of the monographs defending it and the lack of large scale peer-reviewed works criticizing it, sans the older ones) and then suddenly someone says it's untenable. It would be useful to know that Classical field is a bit different and Porter represents his own linguistic framework which by no means is the only possible one. It would be also useful to know what the difference between the two views - tense forms grammaticalize tense vs. they don't grammaticalize tense - actually mean in practice.

I would love to see even one scholarly (officially peer-reviewed) article which criticizes the tensless view systematically, from all viewpoints. An edited volume with several articles by several authors would be even better. But that's a bit offtopic.
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » June 2nd, 2012, 6:22 am

R. says "it is not taken into account that 'not-completed' and 'completed' should in principle be understood as 'not-completed' and 'completed' with regard to a certain point of orientation". I feel I almost get it (and the whole of his argument) but not quite. What does he mean?
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 2nd, 2012, 9:26 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:R. says "it is not taken into account that 'not-completed' and 'completed' should in principle be understood as 'not-completed' and 'completed' with regard to a certain point of orientation". I feel I almost get it (and the whole of his argument) but not quite. What does he mean?


In response to your question, I read it several times and it's confusing to me too. Here is the fuller context:

Rijksbaron, Syntax, 2 wrote:On the other hand, it is often stated that Greek had no proper means to express relative time and that the stems are really aspect stems, aspect being defined as the 'the speaker's view of the internal constituency of the state of affairs'. Thus, the speaker would be free to choose between, for instance, a present stem form and an aorist stem form, a choice simply depending on whether he would view the state of affairs as 'not-completed' or 'completed'. In general, this opinion is untenable. For one thing, an important function of, for instance, the imperfect and aorist indicative in temporal clauses is neglected: they serve to establish the order of events, a function especially significant in historical narrative. In other words, it is not taken into account that 'not-completed' and 'completed' should in principle be understood as 'not-completed' and 'completed' with regard to a certain point of orientation.


I'm wondering if the criticism that you quoted is tied to "temporal clauses." Rijksbaron discusses those in § 26, by stating:
Rijksbaron, Syntax, 76 wrote:Temporal clauses establish a temporal relationship between two states of affairs. Relative to the state of affairs of the main clause that of the dependent clause may be anterior, simultaneous or posterior; the dependent clause may express both single and repeated states of affairs, in past, present, or future, as well as habitual.


For single past states of affairs (§26.1), Rijksbaron states that aorist forms in the dependent clauses with ὡς, ὅτε, etc. indicate anteriority and imperfects indicate simultaneity. So when these dependent clauses are understood as not-completed or completed with regard to the main clause (the "certain point of orientation"), then they express relative time.

I'm not sure that Porter et al. would find this criticism compelling, however. It seems to me that they would claim that this relative time in temporal clauses is a pragmatic effect.
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby RandallButh » June 2nd, 2012, 11:17 am

Eeli wrote:
Students would certainly be confused if they first were introduced to a more or less tensless view as a de facto consensus
... lack of peer-reviewed ...


But does anyone present a tenseless view as a de facto consensus?

There was no such a 'consensus,' and there were peer-reviewed rebuttals, like, for example the scathing review by C. J. Ruigh, Mnemosyne, Fourth Series, Vol. 48, Fasc. 3 (June., 1995), pp. 352-366. (Do we need a large-scale review of 'flat-earth'?) The confusion enters when the "aspect-only view" is presented as if it were the main scientific and linguistic view of the verb. That's nonsense. It can only claim a small minority of NT schools. Why have there been scathing reviews? Simple answer: because the 'aspect-only' position is not Greek and does not fit Greek. Adopting such a position did not speak well of the holder in the eyes of someone like Ruigh.

Back to the issue. I would briefly add an explanation of the aspectual difference between LY and LYSA in note one with a reference to note 2, where it is developed.
If 'aspect-only' were to be mentioned, then a brief note of its untenability would be in order: some have suggested that the Greek verb is only an aspect with no temporal reference, but advocates of such views play semantic games renaming time as 'distance', ignoring the future, ignoring the imperfect, ignoring the force of the augment, ignoring the semantic mismatch of the historical present, ignoring restrictions imperfect and aorist indicative with a word like αὔριον, and ignoring the common sense of the ancient Greek grammarians.

One does not refute a very long-winded (large-scale) argument in a footnote, but one can dismiss such an argument in a footnote. And that would be fair to Rijksbaron.
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby RandallButh » June 5th, 2012, 11:06 am

Here is a proposed short note for Rijksbaron's first footnote:

Some scholars in the field of New Testament Greek have advocated a position that removes tense from the Greek verb. Such a position has not won support in the larger field of Greek studies. Likewise, Rijksbaron has clearly included tense within the Greek verb.

However, this note #1 by Rijksbaron only deals with the stems, and many Greek scholars who include tense within the Greek verb would view the stems as primarily aspectual. Rijksbaron, himself, would seem to allow for such a view because of his first statement in this section: “The Greek verbal system has five tense stems (or aspect stems, see below, Note 1)”

A problematic statement in note #1 is “For one thing, an important function of, for instance, the imperfect and aorist indicative in temporal clauses is neglected: they serve to establish the order of events, a function especially significant in historical narrative.” First of all, the stems are more abstract than the indicative tenses, but more importantly, the imperfect and aorist are viewed by a consensus of Greek linguists and general linguists as differeing in aspect. This distinction of aspect between the "imperfect" and "aorist" remains true for the majority who view the Greek verb as including tense in the indicative verb.
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby Stephen Carlson » June 7th, 2012, 9:17 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:Porterites, Campbellites, and Deckerites are much more common in NT circles than in Rijksbaron's circles. Would we need to modify this note?


I checked the 1984 edition of the book. It is pre-Porter, but the wording of this note is the same. I wonder who Rijksbaron's target was?
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby Louis L Sorenson » June 7th, 2012, 11:08 pm

I'm late to this discussion, and have been struggling with terminology -- I doubt I'm the only person. Why does Rijksbaron call the stems "tense stems" and then parenthetically call them "aspect stems". Is "aspect stem" a linguistic term? A Google search for 'aspect stem' pulls up a bunch of IE studies. I would assume then that R includes aspect a part of tense, since he tends to conflate the terms. Are we able to separate the elements of tense (time and aspect) or would that be better expressed as "Are we able to separate time from aspect?" The perfect and aorist are tenses, and include the idea of telicity or completion/perfection? Yes?

Also, has the verbage of modern linguistics changed since R was first published? Would any of his statements be deemed in need of refining or reworking his terminology?

A third point. We need to differentiate between Section 1 §1 and Note 1 when referring to chapters. R gives a section, and then includes notes. Perhaps we should reference the notes as §1, Note 2. As there is also a §2, Note 1. I think adding the section icon would be helpful. (On windows Alt+0167).

Also, what amount of text is legally allowed to be quoted?
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Re: 01: Note 1

Postby RandallButh » June 8th, 2012, 1:24 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:Porterites, Campbellites, and Deckerites are much more common in NT circles than in Rijksbaron's circles. Would we need to modify this note?


I checked the 1984 edition of the book. It is pre-Porter, but the wording of this note is the same. I wonder who Rijksbaron's target was?


Perhaps his target was "precision." He wanted to be able to explain the difference between continuative and aorist participles. Most general linguists swing to aspect because of the obvious difference in the past between aorist indicative and "imperfect" indicative.

For Louis on terminology:
Rijksbaron uses terms from Simon Dik's Functional Grammar. They work, but like all consistent terminology they will feel a little strange from 'plain vanilla' common speech. A person should get used to 'state of affairs' for the idea behind a verb after a few pages. It is up-to-date, but theory-specific. The only thing that an NT list of help notes would be to add definition and/or encouragement for the reader to get past new terms like 'state of affairs' and 'perfective'.
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