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« James 4—Insights on Business under God (Commentary and Discussion with Mariam Kamell) | Main | Verbal Aspect lights up the blogosphere! »


Oh this is so helpful. Thank you Dr. Campbell. When I started dipping into verbal aspect a few years back, all I had available was Stanley Porter's "Verbal Aspect." Needless to say, it wasn't the best introduction to the topic for a linguistic novice.

I've got your book on my desk and I'm just waiting for the Thanksgiving break to dive in.

You're very welcome!

The idea of viewpoint is very interesting to me. It makes a lot of sense that an author would be describing how he interpreted the action rather than how the action actually occurred. Granted they can overlap. I can see very easily how this works in narrative when the author can choose how to view the action, but how does this work in epistles or personal communication? It seems to me that the viewpoint is somehow different because the author is more caught up in the action and maybe not able to choose what kind of viewpoint to take. Is there a different dynamic in the epistles or am I just making things up?

Thank you for another very clear and helpful article.

If context is important to meaning and understanding of the text, then does Aktionsart and "what actually happened" play just as important role in understanding and translating? I would have thought that divorcing word and context (taking it to the extreme) would mean that we would lose something. I think what I am trying to ask is that if aspect is built into the verb itself, and aktionsart is the way that the verb is used within a context, why is aspect more important than context, considering that context plays such an important role in translation?

I first learned about aspect in Mounce's "Basics of Biblical Greek". He speaks of it as continuous(present and imperfect) and undefined (aorist and perfect). I am not sure how helpful the parade analogy has been in explaining aspect to me.

Point in case is above. When we say Adam and Eve sinned are we not viewing the event as one completed action? Aren't we viewing this "outside" of narrative time? The parade analogy brings in the element of time, which is not part of aspect (correct me if I am wrong, I am a novice).

I guess what I am trying to express is this: When we view something from a helicopter we see the actions as on going, and unfolding before us in a continuous manner, thus the analogy seems to confuse continuous and the undefined aspects of aspect (I had no other word to use!).

If I am sitting in a helicopter and I see Sally sitting in a chair, isn't that continous aspect regardless of if I am subjectively there? Then what difference does all of this make?

Sorry if this sounds really confused, but I am!

Dr. Campbell's descriptions are fascinating and (as Stephen noted) very clear and helpful. Some interesting developments since 'A New Syntax of the Greek Verb in New Testament Greek: An Aspectual Approach', by K.L.McKay, Lang, 1994.

I look forward to studying Dr. Campbell's book in more depth, applying, and testing his descriptors. His descriptors sound very spatial, so I attempted to diagram them (see .ppt)
It's an over-simplification, but may aid someone on their first exposure to Verbal Aspect. I look forward to seeing someone else develop/correct/improve my little powerpoint file.

re. Blake's comment (hopefully Dr. Campbell will correct or agree), I think "continuous aspect" is confusing since
1) 'continuous' describes the actor doing the action (the guy acting out the verb) and
2) 'aspect' describes where the author sits, relative to the actor.
I think that's the first assumption of Verbal Aspect: that the verb carries information about
1) the actor (subject doing the verb, or object receiving the verb)
2) the position of the author/speaker [THIS IS THE NEW INFO' FOR US], and
3) the action itself.
1. the guy eats (masculine, present);
2. I saw him from my certain distance and perspective;
3. eating (biting, chewing, swallowing) is happening.

Thanks everyone. There's lots to address there, but I'll just make a few comments.

Kyle, the issue of genre is important, and I don't address it much in the book. In my first book, I look specifically at the genre of narrative, and have several things to say about how aspect functions in it. The bottom line, however, is that aspect remains aspect across all genres, and basically does the same things on the level of the sentence. At a level beyond the sentence (discourse analysis), different genres become more significant for the function of aspect. For example, aspect has certain functions on the wider scale within the narrative genre that are not shared within epistles. There's lots more that could be explored on this front, and perhaps a Koinonia reader will take the research further!

Stephenmac, all the elements are important when it comes to translation and exegesis; I tend not to think in terms of what's most important etc. Verbal aspect is, however, constant. Lexemes change, contexts change, but an aorist will always be perfective in aspect. In that regard, it is 'prior', but all the elements matter in the end.

Blake, sorry but I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at. May I humbly suggest that the best thing to do at this stage is work through my book and see how you go!

Excellent post. Well reasoned and clearly argued! There's nothing like clarity when it comes to creating understanding!

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