Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
Jacob Rhoden
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Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by Jacob Rhoden » May 11th, 2018, 10:13 pm

I am working my way through "The Greek Verb Revisited"[1] and I am trying to work out if I misunderstand Randall, or Con, or both. 😄

In Randall's chapter "Perfect Greek Morphology and Pedagogy" he writes:
Plutarch’s account of the report of Pan’s death used the perfect because Pan had already died— he was not in the process of dying: Pan ho megas tethnēken “Pan the Great is dead!” (Plut., Peri tōn Ekleloipotōn Chrēstēriōn 17, [Def. orac. 419E]).
(Apologies for the transliteration, I have the kindle version.)

1. I understand that Randall holds that the imperfective aspect semantically encodes aspect and tense. But that Campbell understands the imperfective aspect to semantically encode aspect but not aktionstart, nor not tense. This would suggest that in Campbells view, the imperfective aspect or the perfect tense-form itself does not semantically encode the concept of a "process".

2. If I understand correctly, Randall appears to suggest that the problem with Campells position is that it incorrectly forces us to translate this example as something like "Pan the Great is in the process of dying". However Campell, as far as I am aware, doesn't argue that the imperfect semantically encodes tense or process does he? So I am not sure Campbells position requires this example to be interpreted as "Pan the Great is in the process of dying". My current understanding of Campbells position (which could be wrong), is that his position leads us to think that the speaker perceives themselves to be in, or is communicating with, a sense of heightened proximity to the event.[2]

I assume I am misunderstanding something, I wonder if someone could help clarify.

[1]: Runge, Steven E.; Fresch, Christopher J.. The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis (Kindle Locations 8863-8866). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.
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[2]: Campbell, Con. Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek:
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RandallButh
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by RandallButh » May 12th, 2018, 5:37 am

Jacob, allow me to try to unpack your conundrum.

1. Randall (disclaimer: myself) does not teach that the imperfective aspect encodes aspect and tense. By definition, the imperfective aspect is an aspect.
Please be careful with metalanguage. Many Greek students refer to the παρατατικὸς χρόνος as the "imperfect tense" (acceptable, so far, a past and imperfective tense). But they may have trouble differentiating the past-imperfective indicative tense from the imperfective aspect in the non-indicative verbs. (Subjunctives, imperatives, infinitives, participles, and imperatives that use the same stem as the present tense and imperfect tense all have "imperfective" aspect. The non-indicatives only mark aspect and mood [in this framework, the infinitive becomes a noun with an abstract mood and the participle is an adjective with an abstract mood]. In addition, the indicative tenses also include a time component [in addition to the aspect component].).
2. Con's "proximity" is a illusory metaphor and makes a false prediction when applied to the Pan example. It cannot explain the Pan example because Con is still claiming the word to be 'imperfective.' That is, he claims that the end point(s) are NOT in view. Look at the picture that you already pasted! In "Campbellian Greek," Pan is not yet dead, but dying, still in process. That does not fit the context. That is not how Greeks understood or used the perfect! Not. Not. Not.

Con's view of the perfect has been falsified and should not be presented to students or used by students. Students may not have the background to understand the falsification at the beginning of their studies. To what may this be compared? You would not want to present 'flat-earth' as a real option to science students. That would surely confuse and slow down physics students, not to mention pilots, navigators, and persons Skyping across time zones. (In a flat earth, the sun would need to 'hang' near the western horizon for an hour or more while it crossed more western time zones. Instead it continues to drop relatively quickly approaching sundown in accord with a spherical earth.)
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Jacob Rhoden
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by Jacob Rhoden » May 12th, 2018, 7:25 am

Hi Randall,

Thanks for your reply and your correction, it is much appreciated. Looking back at that sentence I can see where I have messed it up. I would attempt to re-write it, but I am not sure there is any point attempting to summarise what Randall Buth says to Randall Buth 😄

Your chapter in this book is the first thing I have come across that directly makes a critique of Campell's position. I am happy to be directed to particular works that do so. (For now I am just working through chapters in "The Greek Verb Revisited".)

Campbells dissertation is sitting in a pile of books next to my desk which I have not had time to read yet. so when you say "he [Campbell] claims that the end point(s) are NOT in view" my reaction was that "this was not what I took from reading his 'Basics of Verbal Aspect' book". It is the helicopter imagery that sticks more clearly in my mind than the linguistic terminology. So I have been visualising the imperfect aspect with a sense of remoteness or proximity, rather than with a concern for specification of start and end points. However Campbell in that same book (p19) does actually quote Fanning "The action can be viewed ... without reference to the beginning or end-point". And if this is the case I can see how usage of θνῄσκω without reference to beginning or end-point in "Πᾶν ὁ μεγας τεθνηκεν" is problematic.

Thanks!
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RandallButh
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by RandallButh » May 12th, 2018, 7:44 am

You're welcome.

I wish that Zondervan would have the Basics of Verbal Aspect re-written by someone with a Greek verbal view.
The field is slow to correct itself when major publishers push a book that mis-represents the issues.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » May 12th, 2018, 9:41 am

I don't have Campbell at hand nor have I read your (Randall's) article, but I can't help wondering if you misrepresent Campbell's argument. It's a common traditional view that the perfect has a complete action and present relevance, and the present relevance is a state. Some have argued that the perfect is only stative. I understand Campbell meaning that it's a state, and state is imperfective. It's not the process of dying but the state of being dead.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » May 12th, 2018, 1:46 pm

RandallButh wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 7:44 am

I wish that Zondervan would have the Basics of Verbal Aspect re-written by someone with a Greek verbal view.
The field is slow to correct itself when major publishers push a book that mis-represents the issues.
That would set a dangerous precedent. Think of how many NT Greek textbooks and reference works they would need to overhaul! Many thousands of seminary students have been drinking from that well for several decades. They become militant defenders of a fossilized 19th-century language model that probably dates back at least to the Renaissance.
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by RandallButh » May 12th, 2018, 3:33 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 9:41 am
I don't have Campbell at hand nor have I read your (Randall's) article, but I can't help wondering if you misrepresent Campbell's argument. It's a common traditional view that the perfect has a complete action and present relevance, and the present relevance is a state. Some have argued that the perfect is only stative. I understand Campbell meaning that it's a state, and state is imperfective. It's not the process of dying but the state of being dead.


Eeli, it is always important to understand the position that one argues against.
If Con had argued for 'stativity' I would have been more receptive. "Stative" only needs relatively minor tweaking to clean up. Unfortunately, he rejected "stative" as a position, too. Look at the pictures that Jacob kindly posted. Con was diagramming classic and prototypical imperfectivity, where the endpoints of an action are not in view. He then "moved closer" to the event in order to diagram the "perfect". Well, that is not Greek. I am sorry to say that, because I have great respect for Con as a person.

You should probably read my article before continuing this conversation. I explain a couple of different ways in which the perfect can be viewed as combining two parameters, including a perfective+(special) imperfectivity (defined as open-ended state).
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by Barry Hofstetter » May 13th, 2018, 12:10 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 1:46 pm

That would set a dangerous precedent. Think of how many NT Greek textbooks and reference works they would need to overhaul! Many thousands of seminary students have been drinking from that well for several decades. They become militant defenders of a fossilized 19th-century language model that probably dates back at least to the Renaissance.
if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me! ;) :lol:
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 15th, 2018, 3:58 am

Can anyone tell me what "the spatial value of heightened proximity" is supposed to mean?

I think it just means "more prominent" or emphatic, yet not really spatial in the physically spatial sense. For example, if we look at John 11:11 Λάζαρος ὁ φίλος ἡμῶν κεκοίμηται· ἀλλὰ πορεύομαι ἵνα ἐξυπνίσω αὐτόν, Jesus is nowhere near the fallen asleep Lazarus, since he is on his way to wake him.

Campbell analyzes this in terms of prominence, not space, as follows:
Campbell 2007:207 wrote:In this case, the prominence of the perfect highlights the point that Jesus is making: though Lazarus is dead, it is as though he sleeps. Jesus sets out to raise him from death, as though waking a sleeping man.
By the way, Campbell translates the first clause as "Our friend Lazarus sleeps," but as far as I can tell, the simple present "sleeps" is no longer contemporary modern idiomatic English, which demands the progressive "is sleeping." This may explain why Campbell has always seemed resistant to Buth's claim that his imperfective entails the progressive: he goes out of his way here to avoid the progressive. (Note the NRSV, NASB, NIV all have "has fallen asleep" and the NAB has "is asleep"--both typical renderings of the perfect. The KJV of course has "sleepeth" but the aspectual system of early modern English differs from contemporary modern English.)
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Re: Understanding Randal Buth's example of the Perfect tense he presents to critique Campell

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 15th, 2018, 4:08 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 9:41 am
I don't have Campbell at hand nor have I read your (Randall's) article, but I can't help wondering if you misrepresent Campbell's argument. It's a common traditional view that the perfect has a complete action and present relevance, and the present relevance is a state. Some have argued that the perfect is only stative. I understand Campbell meaning that it's a state, and state is imperfective. It's not the process of dying but the state of being dead.
This is a common understanding, but not what I see as Campbell's understanding. As I read him, he rejects stativity for the meaning of the perfect on the one hand but argues that its compatibility with lexical stative verbs (as well as its use in discours) on the other hand means that is imperfective as the only viable option (the other being perfective).
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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