Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby MAubrey » October 10th, 2012, 4:03 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Battle also claims that there are 8 more cases of an HP εἰμί in Revelation (9:19; 14:4a, b, 6; 16:21, 21:16, and 22), so he does not seem to be aware of the claimed restriction by classical Greek grammarians that state verbs are not found in the HP. I don't think we're looking at translation Greek but, granting that, its Greek is not the most idiomatic in the world.

If you have access to a copy of Gerhard Mussies' Morphology, he may say something about those instance of εἰμί in Revelation. If not, I'll dig through my copy later this afternoon after I finish work for the day.
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 10th, 2012, 5:16 pm

Thanks, Mike. I'd have to request it from the closed stacks which could take days. If you've a chance to take a peek at it, that would be great.
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby MAubrey » October 10th, 2012, 6:45 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Thanks, Mike. I'd have to request it from the closed stacks which could take days. If you've a chance to take a peek at it, that would be great.

Sure.
Stephen Carlson wrote:Battle also claims that there are 8 more cases of an HP εἰμί in Relevation (9:19; 14:4a, b, 6; 16:21, 21:16, and 22), so he does not seem to be aware of the claimed restriction by classical Greek grammarians that state verbs are not found in the HP. I don't think we're looking at translation Greek but, granting that, its Greek is not the most idiomatic in the world.

Here's a scorecard for how he discusses these instances of εἰμί in Relevation:

Says nothing:
9:19; 21.16

Views them as real presents where either Jesus or John is directly speaking to the audience:
14:4a, b (should 14:6 really be 14:5?); 16:21. He also lists: 12:5; 17:14; and 20:3.

Instances where tense usage shifts from past tense to future tense via an intermediary present:
21:22

My own thoughts about a couple of these...
Verses 9:19 and 21:22 involve gnomic or simple declarative statements that couldn't be expressed sufficiently in the imperfect and there's no aorist of εἰμί. In such cases, to put a state in past tense would potentially imply that the state no longer holds. The γὰρ's that introduce these two necessitates

It would have been nice is he had said something about 9:19, that's an odd one...but the shifts from past to present through out the pericope is pretty consistent: this is what the angel did (past) and then this is a feature of the New Jerusalem (present). It's rather clear pattern. It seem me to me that this one also could viewed as involving direct speech to the audience and thus perhaps not really a historical present at all.

Here's the most relevant bit of discussion. I've cut out most of the references simply because I really don't feel like typing all of it and there's quite a bit. It's a little tedious. And I typed it rather fast. Any errors are likely mine from typing while look at a book rather than the screen.
Mussies, Morphology of Koine Greek, 333-334 wrote:Headings 5) [Historical presents] and 6) [[Futural presents] amount together to nearly the third part of the total number of present indicatives. This is due to the following facts: In recounting visions and dreams an author usually starts by using a past tense expressing something like "I heard" or "I saw". This is also the case in the Apocalypse: all the indicatives which pertain to St. John's act of seeing or hearing are past tenses ... [examples & reference].

The contents of the visions can of course also be told in past tense and St. John usually starts in this way ... [examples & reference]. However, in IV 5, V 5, VI 16, VII 10, VIII 11, XIV 3, XV 3, XVI 21, the author switches over to a present indicative, and he does so immediately after the introducing εἶδον, ἤκουσα< etc., in XII 2, 4; XVI 14; XIX 9, 11. These shifts indicate that he is no longer telling what he saw in the past, but what he is seeing again before his eyes, and as such these present indicatives give the idea of lively representation. Similar shifts have also been noticed in dream accounts that have come down to use in the Egyptian papyri ... [examples & reference].

The same phenomenon can be observed in the opening lines of the Shepherd of Hermas, Visio I, 1, 3-6 ... .

A further complication in the Apocalypse is the fact that visions are suppose to predict future events ... [examples & reference]. This may account for the shifts to the future indicative usually via the intermediary state of (historical or futural) present.

Finally:
Mussies, Morphology of Koine Greek, 335-6 wrote:In our opinion it is unnecessary to see behind these shifts of time the inability of an author who could not handle the Greek tenses. Lancellotti, the only scholar who has thusfar devoted a special study to the use of the tenses in the Apocalypse holds the view that these "haphazard" shifts can be accounted for by assuming the Biblical Hebrew verb system as the underlying substrate. St. John's wavering between past and present, present and future is according to him due to the timelessness of both the Biblical Hebrew indicatives. If the influence of Biblical Hebrew were so strong still that ST. John could not clearly distinguish between presents and future tenses it is difficult to understand why he did not avoid to use the Greek future at all. The present indicative could then be used either as a present, past or future tense and the aorist as a past tense. Lancellotti's point of view would be proved if in the Apocalypse future indicatives were misused for past tenses or with the value of present time, or if aorists were used as present or as futures. As long as this is not the case we think it more probably to assume that the underlying Hebrew had developed to a great extent towards Mishnaic Hebrew or was perhaps already identical to it.

As it is, the transitions t the future tense in the Apc. are usually preceded by another kind of transitions, namely those from a past tense to a present indicative. Such a use of the tenses seems quite natural for an author who has to recount visions actually seen, or pretended to have been seen, in the past, but which at the same time predict future events.
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby Shirley Rollinson » October 10th, 2012, 7:40 pm

Matt 2:18 :φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμὰ ἠκούσθη, / κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς · / Ῥαχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς, / καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν παρακληθῆναι, / ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν.
Literally :
A voice/sound was heard in Rama
weeping and much lamentation
Rachel weeping / lamenting her children
and she did not wish to be comforted
because they are not

Apart from the εἰσίν the verbs are in the Aorist, so it's hardly a Historical Present.
How about an Indirect Statement - which in this case would be a present tense - someone had just said to Rachel "They are not" i.e. they are no longer in existence.
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby Iver Larsen » October 11th, 2012, 4:23 am

Although I have not had time to study what John Battle wrote - and Stephen says that he does not give arguments for his claim of a historic present - it seems clear that this is not a historic present. I have not seen anyone supporting Dr. Battle's suggestion.

My point is only that the present tense of εἰμί can often function like the perfect tense of an event verb, since εἰμί has no perfect. In this case I agree that οὐκ εἰσίν is used or understood as a euphemism for death in Matt 2:18, and one could have used a perfect like τεθνήκασιν. They have died. The focus is on the present state of being dead. However, it is a quote from Jer 31:15, and the context in Jeremiah suggests that the original text can refer to people who have been taken captive into exile and are not necessarily dead. In English both possibilities are covered by "they are no more" as NIV has it.
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby Alan Patterson » October 11th, 2012, 7:36 am

Mike,

You asked,

Beyond that, do you have any evidence for the idea that the deictic center is not the speaker? I'm quite incredulous to your proposal.


My short answer would be:

I think the easiest read on this is Mari Olsen on Verbal Aspect. Yes, the DC can be the time of speaking (more so in didactic works or epistles), but that certainly would not be its default position in other literary pieces. For example, a DC is the center mass (main verb often) within of a Historical/Biographical literary unit which stands in some relationship to the other parts/events within that literary unit. As the events begin to go back and forth in this Historical account, the movement is usually created around a DC. This is why I argue that the Historical Present is not part of the Greek system. A Present Tense will, as I have said before, serve to present an event temporally concurrent with the contextually developed DC, and that deictic center relates to the context being described, not some external event.

With the DC you have: Aorist, Imperfect ---------- DC (Present Tense)---------- Future

Present or Historical texts will follow this distribution except in normal literal deviations

Mike, to sharpen my thinking, can you give an example or two in which my position does not hold up?
χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 13th, 2012, 4:55 am

Alan Patterson wrote:As the events begin to go back and forth in this Historical account, the movement is usually created around a DC. This is why I argue that the Historical Present is not part of the Greek system.


I'm not sure what is meant by being "part of the Greek system," but the phenomenon is real even if you push the explanation a level back by supposing shifts in the deictic center. For example, Matt 3:15 has the present tense form ἀφίησιν in a context surrounded by aorists (v.15 ἀποκριθεὶς ... εἶπεν; v.16 βαπτισθεὶς ... ἀνέβη). These aorists must have a different deictic center than ἀφίησιν. Whether you call it a historical present or a DC-shifted present, the issue of identifying them is the same.
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby MAubrey » October 13th, 2012, 6:32 pm

Alan Patterson wrote:Mike,

You asked,

Beyond that, do you have any evidence for the idea that the deictic center is not the speaker? I'm quite incredulous to your proposal.


My short answer would be:

I think the easiest read on this is Mari Olsen on Verbal Aspect. Yes, the DC can be the time of speaking (more so in didactic works or epistles), but that certainly would not be its default position in other literary pieces. For example, a DC is the center mass (main verb often) within of a Historical/Biographical literary unit which stands in some relationship to the other parts/events within that literary unit. As the events begin to go back and forth in this Historical account, the movement is usually created around a DC. This is why I argue that the Historical Present is not part of the Greek system. A Present Tense will, as I have said before, serve to present an event temporally concurrent with the contextually developed DC, and that deictic center relates to the context being described, not some external event.

With the DC you have: Aorist, Imperfect ---------- DC (Present Tense)---------- Future

Present or Historical texts will follow this distribution except in normal literal deviations

Mike, to sharpen my thinking, can you give an example or two in which my position does not hold up?


Well, my first thought for an example is: All of Greek literature.

So either I'm missing something completely about what you're wanting to claim...or something. I know you've got a level head on your shoulders, so it must be something that I miss understanding... I also don't know what in Olsen you think takes this position. Perhaps you could cite a page number or something? I'm yet to come across a conception of deixis such as what you've proposed here and I'm not unfamiliar with the literature.

I'm going to assume that there's simply some great miscommunication between us here. Maybe you should go with your long answer instead of the short one. That might solve it. Or suggest the second easiest thing to read on this...or the hardest for that matter. I can take it.
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby Scott Lawson » October 13th, 2012, 11:03 pm

In my reading today I came across εισιν seemingly used as a past tense at Acts 4:13 where it says: "Θεωρουντες δε την του Πετρου παρρησιαν και Ιαωνου, και καταλαβομενοι οτι άνθρωποι αγράμματοι εισιν και ιδιωται, εθευμαζον, επιγινωσκον τε αυτούς ότι συν τω Ιησου ήσαν,..."

Please forgive my lack of proper accents. My iPhone supplies only the modern accents.

Is this a candidate for a stative HP?

Can εχω at times be stative? I note a number of times that it appears in the present tense with a past tense meaning. For example John 5:6: "τουτον ιδων ο Ιησους κατακειμενον, και γνους οτι πολυν ηδη χρονον εχει, λεγει αυτω Θελεις υγιης γενεσθαι;"
Perhaps the above example is better categorized as a Present of Past Action, but does that category imply that the verb be an activity (action) rather than a state?

Thanks in advance for answering my questions and my apologies if my questions detract from the discussion.
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Re: Matt 2:18 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν ... historical present?

Postby RandallButh » October 14th, 2012, 1:51 am

Missed some of this thread bouncing around the bush in TZ.

A couple of comments:
1. I agree with many here: no this (Mt 2:18) is not a HP and is inside a subordinated OTI clause.
2. (a position cited but not advocated by anyone in the thread, thankfully)
by assuming the Biblical Hebrew verb system as the underlying substrate. St. John's wavering between past and present, present and future is according to him due to the timelessness of both the Biblical Hebrew indicatives.


This shows a common, modern misunderstanding of BH.
BH, too, has time restrictions and sensitivity in its verbs, as is seen in the same restriction as Greek in not letting 'tomorrow' (52xx, מחר // αὔριον) occur in the same clause with either YIQTOL or VEQATAL.
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