Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby Jason Hare » October 17th, 2012, 9:03 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:But it seems to me that the charges were not being brought right then, though the charges are in some sense currently before the high priest. The contrary witnesses had their say and Jesus is asked to answer them. To me, the perfect or aorist would seem more natural unless there's some nuance of the present tense to be suggested.


They may not have been speaking right then, but they were certainly serving as witnesses against him right then – and they could be called upon to answer for their testimony, to add to it, clarify it or repeat it as needed. I see no reason why the present isn't perfectly suited to the situation. μαρτυρέω is not just what they are saying at the current moment but the fact that they are serving as witnesses, even if their testimony has already been given.
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 17th, 2012, 9:29 am

Jason Hare wrote:They may not have been speaking right then, but they were certainly serving as witnesses against him right then – and they could be called upon to answer for their testimony, to add to it, clarify it or repeat it as needed. I see no reason why the present isn't perfectly suited to the situation. μαρτυρέω is not just what they are saying at the current moment but the fact that they are serving as witnesses, even if their testimony has already been given.


Are you suggesting that it might be something like John 15:27 where Jesus tells his disciples καὶ ὑμεὶς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε even though they are not testifying at that moment? I guess this use would be considered an habitual present (which I think is the lines that David Lim is suggesting). I'm not completely satisfied, however, because this situation is more specific (after all, Jesus is being asked to rebut some specific accusations) than the general situations of being witnesses for Jesus.
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby Jason Hare » October 17th, 2012, 9:33 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Jason Hare wrote:They may not have been speaking right then, but they were certainly serving as witnesses against him right then – and they could be called upon to answer for their testimony, to add to it, clarify it or repeat it as needed. I see no reason why the present isn't perfectly suited to the situation. μαρτυρέω is not just what they are saying at the current moment but the fact that they are serving as witnesses, even if their testimony has already been given.


Are you suggesting that it might be something like John 15:27 where Jesus tells his disciples καὶ ὑμεὶς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε even though they are not testifying at that moment? I guess this use would be considered an habitual present (which I think is the lines that David Lim is suggesting). I'm not completely satisfied, however, because this situation is more specific (after all, Jesus is being asked to rebut some specific accusations) than the general situations of being witnesses for Jesus.


No, I don't think this is habitual at all. They are certainly at that moment standing as witnesses against Jesus. I think the problem is that you've tied μαρτυρέω to the specific speech instance. It is their function as witnesses, not their specific words, that is in question. They are standing as witnesses against him – whether they have finished their presentation or not.
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 17th, 2012, 9:48 am

Jason Hare wrote:No, I don't think this is habitual at all. They are certainly at that moment standing as witnesses against Jesus. I think the problem is that you've tied μαρτυρέω to the specific speech instance. It is their function as witnesses, not their specific words, that is in question. They are standing as witnesses against him – whether they have finished their presentation or not.


I do think that (κατα)μαρτυρέω generally refers to making a speech act (see BDAG, LSJM, etc.) and this is confirmed by the immediate context: οὐκ ἀποκρίνῃ οὐδὲν τί οὗτοί σου καταμαρτυροῦσιν; “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” (NRSV) The question is about the content of their speech act, not their status as witnesses.
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby David Lim » October 17th, 2012, 11:29 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:Okay I should use examples to clarify what I mean:

"They always say that I am wrong."
(I consider "say" to be a generic present.)

"It does not seem to be what you mean here."
(I consider "mean" to also be a generic present; "meant" would have indicated a single past "event" but "mean" shifts the reference time to the point at which I said it.)

"Birds fly"
(I consider gnomic presents to be a subset of generic presents.).


OK, I sort of see what you're getting, but these examples usually get assigned to different categories. The first would be a habitual present; the second would be a "perfective present" (ugh), and the last a generic present. There may be a common thread.


Okay. So if I have to choose to put the present verb in Mark 14:60 into one of those categories, I guess I would put it under "perfective present".

Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:In other words, I consider the tense of the present verb to be always present with respect to some time in focus, which is often set in the present time of speaking, but is sometimes set in the past (what is also called "historical present"), sometimes set in the future, and sometimes essentially undefined. In the last case I consider it to be a "generic present". In all cases the audience automatically identifies the time in focus based on the context and the tense of the verb, and when there is no definite time in focus with respect to the surrounding context, the time in focus becomes the time of the verb itself.


I should also point out that not only is the tense an issue (the statements are past), but more importantly the aspect is an issue too, for these statements are complete(d). I regret that my original post only pointed out the temporal mismatch.


However, I don't see any problem with aspect, because I never consider the present tense to have any specific aspect. This is how I view the tenses:
Present: present time, undefined aspect
Imperfect: past time, imperfective aspect
Future: future time, undefined aspect
Aorist: past/indefinite time, undefined aspect
Perfect: present time, perfective aspect
Past perfect: past time, perfective aspect
Future perfect: future time, perfective aspect
In other words I don't see any tense other than the imperfect as being restricted to only imperfective aspect. Also, I don't see any temporal mismatch for any tense.

By the way, is it possible that the last question is "Why do these testify against you?" instead of "What do these testify against you?"
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » October 17th, 2012, 3:21 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Are you suggesting


Of course he's not suggesting – he suggested.

So, I say you are too literalistic and Jason is right. There's no problem if we view this through prototype theory. The usage is easily explained by the semantic nature of the present tense and cognitive understanding of the real world event. It may not be prototypical, but fits well within normal understanding about the present tense.

And also: wouldn't the two suspected mismatches, aspectual and temporal, rather lead you to find a simple solution which doesn't have mismatches? Why do you want still to think this usage is strange? And finally, if grammarians haven't noticed this, doesn't it mean they just took it as natural use of the present tense?
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 17th, 2012, 4:25 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Are you suggesting


Of course he's not suggesting – he suggested.


;) Yeah, English has got this construction too.

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:So, I say you are too literalistic and Jason is right. There's no problem if we view this through prototype theory. The usage is easily explained by the semantic nature of the present tense and cognitive understanding of the real world event. It may not be prototypical, but fits well within normal understanding about the present tense.


I'd like to see this prototype suggestion fleshed out a little more. I think I have shown, being too literalistic or not, that is is not a typical use of the present indicative. It refers to a past, completed statement, but still there is something present and continuing about it. I'm trying to articulate what this is, instead of saying, "Well, it's obvious." As I understand it, it is important to articulate the conditions under which marginal meanings occur and how they are related to the prototypical meaning. So there's quite a bit a work more to be done in order to get an adequate prototype explanation.

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:And also: wouldn't the two suspected mismatches, aspectual and temporal, rather lead you to find a simple solution which doesn't have mismatches? Why do you want still to think this usage is strange? And finally, if grammarians haven't noticed this, doesn't it mean they just took it as natural use of the present tense?


I think grammarians have noticed this phenomenon with respect to the notion of a "perfective present" (see e.g., BDF $ 322), which is a terrible name but the idea is that it is a present that acts like perfect. Typically examples of this include some usages of present ἀκούω as if "I have heard" in Luke 9:9, 1 Cor 11:18, 2 Thess 3:11, and even phenomenon like "Isaiah says" or "Scriptures says" with λέγει.

As for Mark 14:60 and its Matthean parallel, I haven't exhausted the literature on this verse, so I don't know if it has been commented upon beyond Fanning's claim, p. 200, that "in contrast to the uses with general reference to be covered later, the descriptive present is used of what is occurring now, not of what does occur more generally in present time" (emphasis original). In checking Fanning's cites, it became clear to me that Mark 14:60 must have been mis-categorized or Fanning's discussion is inadequate because the action was not in fact occurring then but had been completed.

Yes, I do want an explanation that does not involve any temporal or aspectual mismatches. At this stage I'm seeing two possibilities:

(1) Analogize this to the historical perfect. The temporal mismatch is accommodated by shifting the deictic center / perspective point to the time of the act of communication, and the aspectual mismatch is accommodated by collapsing the reference time (in a Reichenbach/Klein system) to a point. The Cambridge grammar of English seems to prefer this approach for English; see CGEL 131, § 3.4.2.3(c), “Past Evidential Use with Verbs of Communication.” (I think this is one of the ways David was going.)

(2) Analogize this to the Russian "factual imperfect," which can include single-act habits (if I understand this right). I would apply it for Greek verbs of communication as follows. Sometimes a statement, though made in the past, can in principle be reaffirmed. (Jason touched on this when he said, "they could be called upon to answer for their testimony, to add to it, clarify it or repeat it as needed.") This possibility of reaffirmation suggests that could be repeated indefinitely (like habituals or iteratives) and thus does not have to refer to the temporal location of a specific act of communication but to the content of that communicative act. The pragmatic effect of this construction would be to background the actual communicative act and foreground its content.
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby RandallButh » October 18th, 2012, 2:57 am

I am happy with the present. Communication often streches things away from the basic, most prototypical usage. It is a choice and perspective that an encoder/author can choose. By choosing the present, the status of the testimony being 'on the table, on the floor, before the judges' comes into focus. Yes, that stretches things from the specific action of speaking to the product, the testimony.

And in addition, I am glad that Stephen pointed out the aspectual incongruity. Aspect gets a 'free pass' too often, so that people often miss the choice involved, even against the grain of its prototypical use. Yes, a perfect would have worked and fit better temporally and aspectually. However, the perfect is less common in Greek and may be considered to bring a little extra processing energy into the communication that the author apparently wanted to skip over, so that the focus would rest on the unresolved, open-ended situation of the testimony. That was the author's choice. The audience gets to argue about its elegance. The 'splitters' will want to give this present a special name (perfective present?), the 'lumpers' will just call it a present and widen the circle of included possible meaning. Both must deal with the rhetorical result.

One may also look at synoptic issues. If one accepts that Matthew had seen Mark, and it happens that I do, it is of interest that Mt does not change the tense but accepts it as within his bounds of Greek usage. However, he does not tell us how close to the fringe. Looking at Luke 22:71 we only get a statement about testimony at the end of the trial scene, though it does speak about τί ἔτι ἔχομεν ἁμαρτίας χρείαν, speaking about an open-ended situation, and rhetorically negating such because of Jesus' "answer". Incidentally, the Lukan account is independent here, the midrashic repartee is too technical and Jewish to be explained as a stylistic rewriting by an outsider. NB that Luke's account provides a rationale for the question 'are you the son of God' (jumping to Psalm 2 through a Hebrew connection with Ps 110, a reading of the Hebrew that is also reflected in the Old Greek), something missing in Mk/Mt.

In sum, to prevent misunderstanding, the title of this thread ( k. past-referring?) needs to be answered negatively. καταμαρτυροῦσιν does not refer to the past but to the present. However, it is a non-prototypical use of the present, focusing on the current open-ended status of the product, the testimony.
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 18th, 2012, 6:27 am

This has been a helpful and productive thread. Thanks for all your contributions!
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Re: Mark 14:60 καταμαρτυροῦσιν - past-referring present?

Postby Alan Patterson » October 18th, 2012, 7:29 am

57 καί τινες ἀναστάντες ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ' αὐτοῦ λέγοντες 58 ὅτι Ἡμεῖς ἠκούσαμεν αὐτοῦ λέγοντος ὅτι Ἐγὼ καταλύσω τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον τὸν χειροποίητον καὶ διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν ἄλλον ἀχειροποίητον οἰκοδομήσω: 59 καὶ οὐδὲ οὕτως ἴση ἦν ἡ μαρτυρία αὐτῶν. 60 καὶ ἀναστὰς ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἰς μέσον ἐπηρώτησεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν λέγων, Οὐκ ἀποκρίνῃ οὐδέν; τί οὗτοί σου καταμαρτυροῦσιν;

If you are asking about Temporal Aspect within a quote, more needs to be said. It is difficult to pick up in the middle of a quote and make a temporal statement such as "past-referring." Every event prior to the time of writing/speaking is a past event, but not every past event is portrayed/written as a past event.

I see it as a simple Present referring to the present set of events. By forcing your DC years ahead to someone quoting these events is, at least to me, wrong directed, and will yield all kind of kooky constructs. But if you let the DC stand as it was originally given, you have a trial, and within this set of events, a question is being asked. But I've beat this dead horse enough. What did you think about vs 58? The Future tense is used? How do you identify such a usage? Since we are told elsewhere that this statement refers to his body being raised, the event was fulfilled in our past. How does a Future tense work in such a comment since the DC is the time of writing, which would be Present of course?
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