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The Perfect Storm

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

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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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8. The Perfect Isn’t Perfect—It’s Stative: The Meaning of the Greek Perfect Tense-Form in the Greek Verbal System: STANLEY E. PORTER

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8. The Perfect Isn’t Perfect—It’s Stative: The Meaning of the Greek Perfect Tense-Form in the Greek Verbal System1

STANLEY E. PORTER

1. Introduction

The study of verbal aspect emblemizes a much larger issue within Greek language study. That issue concerns the importance, for any who claim to be students of the Greek New Testament, of understanding and positively responding to recent advances in the study of Greek language and linguistics. Verbal aspect is the most advanced of these areas, with by far the most important and sustained work having been done over the last thirty or forty years, and with my own work perhaps serving as the first comprehensive and innovative English-language treatment of the subject with reference to the Greek of the New Testament.2 However, as much as has been done in study of verbal aspect, there remains a surprising lack of sustained linguistic analysis of other important areas of the Greek language. In fact, I fear that, for the vast ←105 | 106→majority of New Testament scholars, the importance of Greek linguistics for study of the Greek New Testament remains outside of their purview and possibly even comprehension (apart possibly from a relatively limited understanding of aspect studies). In a recent conversation with a colleague, a New Testament scholar who has written and continues to write commentaries on the Greek New Testament, he said: “Stan, what is that area that you work in again?” To which I replied, somewhat...

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