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« Verbal Aspect lights up the blogosphere! | Main | Basics of Verbal Aspect: 4 of 5 by Constantine Campbell »


Although I have yet to read the book (Amazon UK say it might arrive next week), from what I've read here I do wonder why the aspects are dubbed "perfective" and "imperfective".

At best this is likely to cause confusion, as those terms are also applied to types of action (which aspects aren't), and are similar to tense names. More significantly, though, if I understand correctly what you've said, they don't even seem to be particularly appropriate. Is it that the understanding of aspect has shifted since the terms were first coined, but the names have stuck?

Sorry that this is not related to this post, but I couldn't find an email address for anyone who runs this site, so I'm going to put this in the combox: over at Christians in Context (www.christiansincontext.org) we have interviewed Ken Berding and Jon Lunde about the new book in the Counterpoints series, Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Just thought you guys might be interested in linking it.

Here's the permalink: http://www.christiansincontext.org/2008/11/interview-with-ken-berding-and-jon.html

Thanks, and sorry to do it this way!


Good question, John. You're right that the terminology can be confusing, and at some points is unfortunate. I have worked hard to use the most standard terms, as they are most widely understood. This helps when relating Greek aspect to wider discussions about aspect, though can be confusing to the student! One key thing to remember is that any term with '-ive' on the end, is about aspect (or Aktionsart; e.g. 'iterative'). So 'imperfect' refers to the verb form, while 'imperfective' refers to an aspectual value.

Con, thanks for this series. I am not very good at Greek but I am appreciating the clarity of your explanations.

Thanks Gordon!

Thanks for the response. Are you aware of the review and resulting discussion over at Ben Witherington's blog?

Con, thanks for the great series! I've got two questions; I actually had one until I read John's post. Any way, here goes:

1. Vis-a-vis terms and terminology, my grammar profs always defined "Perfect" as signifying completed action, and "Imperfect" as incomplete action. Does this touch on issues of aktionsart or aspect? And, is the assertion correct? I ask this knowing (1) that you have made a distinction between "perfect" and "perfective," and (2) we probably suffer from living within the transitional time between changes and shifts in our understanding of how grammar works. By analogy, perhaps we are like the disciples at the end of Acts chapter 1. They were still drawing straws to determine a replacement apostle!

2. My second question: I was just curious to know if nouveau grammarians like yourself were encountering resistance from the old guard, established, and "quickly becoming obsolete" grammarians (a la the Old [Mosaic] Covenant in the book of Hebrews).

Again, thanks for a great and stimulating series!

Yes, I've seen the discussion over at Dr Witherington's blog, and I'm grateful to Professor Decker and others for challenging the misrepresentations and misunderstandings of my book.

All this goes to show, Irving, that there is a lot of confusion with terminology, and oftentimes Aktionsart is conflated with aspect. There's a history of this in the early grammars, and so it is no surprise that the problem lingers still.

There will always be resistance to change, but to be honest, I am generally encouraged by how accepting many of the 'old guard' are when presented with a genuine advance. I think those who desire to press on with their understanding (even if they've been teaching Greek for 30 years), are often happy to move to something better, if it can be shown that it really is better.

A good example of this is my esteemed colleague, Dr Peter O'Brien. Peter is, in my opinion, one of the best NT commentators there is, and was teaching Greek before I was born. But his new Hebrews commentary that is about to come out has fully embraced verbal aspect, and he has worked hard at not only understanding the differences it makes, but also how to apply it judiciously when reading the text. That is quite humbling, that such a great one would be so prepared to continue to learn and change. And I think his commentary will be a model for future commentaries that wish to be more linguistically savvy.

Thanks so much for responding, Con! These Koinonia blog postings by John Walton, Bill Mounce, yourself and others have been nothing short of sensational. And beyond that, you guys continue to bless us by responding to our questions and interaction. Thanks for your kind, considerate, and professorial concern for those of us who wish to be better expositors, teachers, and preachers of His word. May He get all the glory from it!

By the way, do you ever speak at any conferences, forums, and/or symposiums in North America?

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