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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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Editor’s Preface


Studies in Biblical Greek is an occasional series of monographs designed to promote and publish the latest research into the Greek of both Testaments. The Series does not assume that biblical Greek is a distinct dialect within the larger world of koine: on the contrary, the assumption is that biblical Greek is part and parcel of the Hellenistic Greek that dominated the Mediterranean world from about 300 B.C. to A.D. 300. If the Series focuses on the corpora of the Old and New Testaments, it is because these writings generate major interest around the world, not only for religious but also for historical and academic reasons.

Research into the broader evidence of the period, including epigraphical and inscriptional materials as well as literary works, is welcome in the Series, provided the results are cast in terms of their bearing on biblical Greek. In the same way, the Series is devoted to fresh philological, syntactical and linguistic study of the Greek of the biblical books, with the subsidiary aim of displaying the contribution of such to accurate exegesis.

The present volume, Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament, breaks ground on several fronts. Dr Huffman pushes back by about a century the history of an Aktionsart approach to prohibitions. His analysis also demonstrates that Aktionsart theory in prohibitions has never been just one thing: there are three different analyses that claim the rubric. More importantly, in demonstrating the superior explanatory power...

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