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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 Six: The Perfect Tense-form 161

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CHAPTER SIX The Perfect Tense-form 1. Introduction This chapter investigates the semantic value of the perfect indicative and its usage in narrative texts. Since the perfect is a matter of complex debate, attention is given to rival analyses, most notably the traditional conception— including the category of the resultative perfect—and the stative aspect conception. After a survey of the perfect usage across our source texts, further probing into the aspectual value of the perfect seeks to explain the patterns of usage. This leads to a discussion related to spatial value and its pragmatic implicatures. The semantics of the perfect tense-form is unquestionably one of the most controversial and difficult facets of the Greek verbal system.1 There exists little agreement among scholars as to both the temporal reference and aspectual qualities of the perfect, especially when compared to the level of agreement that tends to be encountered in relation to other tense-forms. As for temporal reference, the perfect has been described variously as a present tense, a past tense, a past-with-present-consequences tense, and a non-tense.2 As for aspectual quality, it has been described variously as stative, perfective, imperfective, and a combination of perfective and imperfective aspects. ––––––– 1 ‘Even after many generations of scholars, agreement about the semantic value of the Greek Perfect has still to be reached.’ SS, ‘Perfect’, 121; ‘It remains one of the verbal system’s most difficult problems’; T. V. Evans, ‘Future Directions for Aspect Studies in Ancient Greek’, in TLBW, 206; ‘Exactly what role the perfect plays...

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