Friday, October 24, 2014

That darned historical present...

[I]t is important to recognize that the use of the present form in a past-tense setting represents the choice to break with expected usage. The identification of a “historical present” is based on not following the expected rules. Randall Buth notes that H[istorical] P[resent] usage breaks the rules not only in regard to tense, but also in regard to aspect. In other words, not only is there a mismatch in the grammaticalized time with the discourse time, but also there is a mismatch in aspect. Most HP actions are perfective in nature, yet they are grammaticalized using an imperfective form. This should not be understood to change the meaning of the verb; rather, it is simply another way in which the HP usage stands out in its context.—Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), 128–129.

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