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The Perfect Storm

Critical Discussion of the Semantics of the Greek Perfect Tense Under Aspect Theory


Constantine R. Campbell, Buist M. Fanning and Stanley E. Porter

Nowhere are the chaotic debates surrounding contemporary aspect theory more heated than in discussions of the theory’s application to Hellenistic Greek, and especially its understanding of the semantics of the Greek perfect tense. This book is a distilled academic debate among three of the best-known scholars on the subject, each defending his own unique interpretation while engaging the other two. The Perfect Storm will prove an indispensable resource for any scholar seeking to write convincingly on the Greek perfect in the future.

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4. Why the Greek Perfect Tense-Form Is Stative: A Response to Constantine R. Campbell: STANLEY E. PORTER


4. Why the Greek Perfect Tense-Form Is Stative: A Response to Constantine R. Campbell


I appreciate the opportunity once more to respond to the work of Constantine Campbell. Whereas I have not known Con as long as I have Buist, I have had the opportunity to respond more recently and more directly to Con’s work—something about which he is clearly not too pleased.1 I apologize if I have in any way personally offended him, as my only motivation was to correct what seemed to me to be clear misunderstandings—misunderstandings that, unfortunately, still remain and require further comment (I think that we at least agree on the issue of deponency!). However, as to the specifics of the constructive chapter that Campbell offers in this volume, I must admit to being greatly disappointed that there is not more new and rigorous material to which to respond. There are, nevertheless, a few fundamental issues that merit comment.

Before I get thoroughly into my response, however, I wish simply to make the observation that I am not entirely clear what Campbell seeks to accomplish in his chapter. He claims to be arguing that “the best explanation for the use of the Greek perfect is that it is imperfective in aspect” (5).2 This seems to be a claim to evaluate the perfect on the basis of use, while also saying something about aspect. He follows by claiming that his “chief argument...

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