Critical Discussion of the Semantics of the Greek Perfect Tense Under Aspect Theory
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.
5. Defining the Ancient Greek Perfect: Interacting with Recent Alternatives to the Traditional View of the Perfect: BUIST M. FANNING
5. Defining the Ancient Greek Perfect: Interaction with Recent Alternatives to the Traditional View of the Perfect
BUIST M. FANNING
Decades ago James D. G. Dunn began a book review as follows:
A special honour is due to all those in any branch of scholarship who refuse to accept established orthodoxies and submit “assured results” to fresh scrutiny. Every so often such an attempt constitutes a break-through in understanding and highlights a new or neglected element which serves as a focal point for fresh insights and new constructions. But others do little more than demonstrate why the assured result has become so, since their alternative hypotheses show themselves to be much weaker and a less convincing interpretation of the evidence.1
As a matter of discretion I will not specify what book Dunn was reviewing, but I want to suggest that the same scholarly paradigm applies to the issue we are discussing in the present volume. Credit goes to my fellow participants in this book, Stanley Porter and Constantine Campbell, for their refusal “to accept established orthodoxies” about the Greek perfect.2 Their fresh scrutiny of the ←61 | 62→perfect’s meaning has been valuable. But I will argue that their alternative views are weaker and less convincing than the traditional consensus.
In pursuing this argument, I will first attempt to clarify what the traditional view says about the perfect and suggest a few refinements to clear up issues it has...
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