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Verbal Aspect, the Indicative Mood, and Narrative

Soundings in the Greek of the New Testament

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Constantine R. Campbell

Verbal aspect in Ancient Greek has been a topic of significant debate in recent scholarship. In this book, Constantine R. Campbell investigates the function of verbal aspect within New Testament Greek narrative. He argues that the primary role of verbal aspect in narrative is to delineate and shape the various ‘discourse strands’ of which it is constructed, such as mainline, offline, and direct discourse. Campbell accounts for this function in terms of the semantic value of each tense-form. Consequently, in the search for more effective conclusions and explanations, he challenges and reassesses some of the conclusions reached in previous scholarship. One such reassessment involves a boldly innovative approach to the perfect tense-form.

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Chapter One: Methodological Issues 7

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CHAPTER ONE Methodological Issues 1. Introduction The literature concerning Ancient Greek verbal aspect demonstrates that, while there are important areas of agreement, there are also a number of issues as yet unresolved, or at best multifariously expounded.1 A significant factor contributing to this state of affairs is the precarious state of methodology in this arena.2 It is rare to find work on Greek aspect that deliberately and clearly expresses a defined and considered methodological approach. Assumptions are made without explanation; linguistic approaches are adopted without due regard to competing models; terminology lacks precision, not to mention universal application, and so it goes.3 No doubt part of the reason for this is that method is an issue of considerable difficulty in aspectology; it is not patently obvious how to proceed, nor what the presuppositional and linguistic issues really are. Hence this chapter. The aim here is to provide a detailed and reasonably comprehensive account of the methodological issues involved in Greek aspect studies. Undoubtedly I will have my own methodological blind spots, and there will be points at which the reader may disagree with the methodological choices made here, but the approach will be transparent and the assumptions made will be acknowledged as such. ––––––– 1 Indeed, some even reject the category altogether; see C. J. Ruijgh, ‘L’emploi “inceptif” du thème de présent du verbe grec’, Mnemosyne 38 (1985), 7–9. 2 ‘Certainly, any methodological monopoly is quite unjustified at the present time.’ Schuyler Brown, ‘Biblical Philology, Linguistics and the...

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