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Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament


Douglas S. Huffman

The end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries have involved much discussion on overhauling and refining a scholarly understanding of the verbal system for first-century Greek. These discussions have included advances in verbal aspect theory and other linguistic approaches to describing the grammatical phenomena of ancient languages. This volume seeks to apply some of that learning to the narrow realm of how prohibitions were constructed in the first-century Greek of the New Testament.
Part 1 «The Great Prohibition Debate» seeks to demonstrate that verbal aspect theory has a better explanation than traditional Aktionsart theory for authorial choices between the negated present imperative and the negated aorist subjunctive in expressing prohibitions in the Greek New Testament.
Part 2 «All the Prohibitions in the Greek NT» continues to examine prohibitions, but is more of an exercise in functional linguistics. That is, rather than apply verbal aspect theory to the grammar of prohibition constructions, Part 2 seeks only to survey the (initially surprising) wide variety of ways prohibitions can be expressed in koine Greek: more than a dozen different constructions. To do this, the NT prohibitions are grouped in their varying grammatical-syntactical and/or pragmatic constructions, all of which function – in varying degrees – in a prohibitory fashion. This taxonomy may prove to be the beginnings of further investigations into how biblical Greek communicates commands.
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Chapter 7—Prohibitions Using Other Negated Verb Constructions


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Prohibitions Using Other Negated Verb Constructions

In addition to the negated verb constructions discussed in Chapters 5 and 6, the Greek New Testament communicates prohibitions in five other recognizable negated verb constructions (and most of these have appreciable sub-groupings). Because these prohibitory constructions have not yet played a major role in the debate regarding a proper theory of the Greek verb, we are not adding comments here about the fit of each to the various versions of Aktionsart theory; we will leave that task to another. It is worth noting here ← 201 | 202 → that the use of one of these constructions over another may often be as much a matter of authorial style as of differentiation in meaning. Rather than performing a full analyses of nuances in meaning, however, our purposes here are more modestly limited to identification and classification. So, included here in Chapter 7 are lists of all the NT prohibitions exemplified in the grammatical-syntactical classifications outlined in Table 7.0.

Table 7.0

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