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Verbal Aspect, the Indicative Mood, and Narrative

Soundings in the Greek of the New Testament


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 Three: The Imperfect Tense-form 77


CHAPTER THREE The Imperfect Tense-form 1. Introduction The role of the imperfect indicative tense-form in narrative texts is investigated in this chapter, as is its grammatical semantics. First, the imperfective aspect of the imperfect indicative is affirmed here, in accord with general consensus. Second, usage of the imperfect in our source texts is investigated, demonstrating that it is primarily a narrative proper tense-form but also occurs in second-class conditional sentences in John. In order to account for the patterns of usage displayed by the imperfect, a theory is postulated regarding the grammatical semantics of the verb. There is a brief discussion regarding the pragmatic temporal reference of the imperfect indicative with an excursus on the meaning of the augment. The two major narrative proper uses of the imperfect indicative are then explored, and it is concluded that our postulated theory is capable of explaining the use of the imperfect in both offline and mainline clauses. Finally, the appearance of the imperfect in second-class conditional sentences is unfolded and explained by the proposed grammatical semantics of the verb, which also helps to explain the rare appearance of the imperfect within discourse. 2. Aspectual value As with the present indicative, there is a consensus regarding the imperfective aspect of the imperfect tense-form; imperfective aspect is grammaticalized in the imperfect indicative as a semantic value. As defined in chapter two, imperfective aspect is an internal viewpoint ‘without reference to the beginning or end-point of the action, but with a focus instead on its...

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