Catching up on Verbal Aspect: 25 years later

Greek Verb Revisted'My copy just arrived! Twenty five years ago, two scholars, Stanley Porter and Buist Fanning, working synonymously on their PhD dissertations at Cambridge and Oxford respectively, came to very similar conclusions regarding the nature of the Greek verb. They concluded that time is not a product of tense form but is derived from deictic indicators in the text. In other words, the choice of tense form by authors/speakers denotes how they wanted to portray the action, as imperfective, perfective, or stative action. This blew up the old paradigm regarding tense form and time of action and set in motion of flurry of papers, debates, and books trying to validate or disprove their conclusions.

Fanning was at Dallas Theological Seminary when I was there and I had heard about this potentially groundbreaking work but little did I know that when I started my PhD studies 10 years later that my doktorvater, Rod Decker, had also done his PhD work on verbal aspect. His work was published in the Peter Lang series on Greek studies edited by D. A. Carson. Decker is cited at least 18 times in this book himself. I was so smitten with this theory that I tried my hand in a PhD seminar in examining the perfect tense in 1 Peter to see if verbal aspect had teeth.

This book is a much needed update regarding research on verbal aspect since Porter and Fanning’s groundbreaking work. Steve Carlson notes in his endorsement of the book,

A collection of essays from the 2015 Cambridge Verb Conference, The Greek Verb Revisited is the most significant book on the Koine Greek verb to be published in over a quarter century. The essays in this volume are well-informed by up-to-date research in linguistics and present a good mix of theoretical and practical treatments of the Greek verb. Comprehensive, correct, and current, this book ought to be mandatory reading for anyone serious about the grammar of the verb in the Greek New Testament, for both students and seasoned scholars alike.

The book is a compendium of scholarly articles presented at Tyndale House, Cambridge and sponsored by the faculty of divinity at Cambridge, and is a massive tome. It is 640 pages in length and contains 19 chapters under three major headings: Overview, Application, and Linguistic Investigations.

Anyone who studies, teaches, or uses Greek in their exegesis will want to avail themselves of this book. I wish Rod had lived long enough to see this publication.

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Categories: Dallas Theological Seminary, Greek, Rod Decker, Tyndale House, Cambridge, Uncategorized, Verbal Aspect

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