Friday, March 14, 2014

Why bother?

Aspect by itself is of little interpretive help: the author’s subjective choice of action as a whole or in process or stative gives us very little to work with unless we process it in light of broader contextual features. Even brief suggestions about levels of prominence associated with the aspects provide little help for translators and exegetes needing to probe the meaning further.

So paying attention to how aspect interacts with features of a verb’s lexical meaning or with various adjuncts used with the verb (subject and object phrases, adverbs, prepositional phrases, etc.) is essential to finding the larger significance of aspect in a specific context. It is only natural that in seeking to understand one element of a text’s meaning we would pay attention to related features and see them in their larger connections with each other. This has always been an important part of good contextual exegesis.—Buist Fanning, "Greek Presents, Imperfects, and Aorists in the Synoptic Gospels: Their Contribution to Narrative Structuring" in Discourse Studies & Biblical Interpretation: A Festschrift in Honor of Stephen H. Levinsohn; ed. Steven E. Runge; Bellingham, Wash.: Lexham Press, 2011.

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