Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part VII)

This entry is my penultimate submission on the topic of Caragounis v. Porter. One other post will follow this one.

Caragounis not only criticizes Stanley Porter's treatment of various biblical passages and his papyri translations, but he's also less than kind to the "aspect only" approach. He points out that the advocates for "aspect only" either root their theoretical claims in a) secondary moods of Greek verbs (i.e., imperative, subjunctive, and the optative "along with the infinitive and the participle") or b) appeal to "a few odd or special cases of the indicative." See Caragounis, 331.

According to Caragounis, Buist Fanning employs the first method, while Porter relies upon the second:

"This is a fatal methodological error that leads to a distorted picture of tense and aspect" (332). Why does he see the need to correct the aspect only view?

1. One should begin with ordinary instances of the indicative mood, not odd or unusual cases. These represent the bulk of uses for the indicative mood, and the "ordinary indicative" is "the mood most frequently-occurring" (332). Caragounis provides data which allows us to test his claims. Even a cursory look at how Greek moods are employed in the GNT shows that writers overwhelmingly use the "ordinary indicative." So why not start there instead of beginning with special uses of the indicative or with the non-indicative moods?

2. Caragounis next looks at particular texts that Porter analyzes in Verbal Aspect in order that he might critically discuss where he thinks Porter falls short. Some of the texts that are considered include 2 Cor. 9:7; Mt. 7:19; 26:18; 2 Pet. 2:19; James 5:2-3; Acts 10:45. Porter analyzes other texts, but Caragounis uses the aforementioned passages to illustrate how wrongheaded it is to conclude Greek is tenseless, based on passages like these. Some of the verses represent special cases, whereas others occur in contexts that show the uses are gnomic, omnipresent or future. On the other hand, Caragounis believes that Porter disregards Acts 10:45 which seems to militate against his thesis that Greek is "aspect only."

3. Therefore, based on 15 texts or so, Porter concludes that Greek verbs do not grammaticalize tense. To quote Caragounis:

"This is Porter's evidence. On the basis of this 'evidence,' which he explains in an eigensinnig manner (texts, which are capable of other and better explanations), he arrives at the untenable conclusion that the Greek verb expresses no time - a conclusion that flies in the face of seventeen million Greeks, who daily use the verb to express time! And it is on the basis of these texts that he decides that the Greek verb expresses only aspect."

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