Monday, February 14, 2005

RB17055 - Rob #29: Concluding remarks on the infinitive of antecedent time 

(RB17055) - Robert Bowman [Mon Feb 14, 2005 6:44 pm] (Rob #29: Concluding remarks on the infinitive of antecedent time)


This post will conclude my response to your post #19 (pp. 249-51).

You wrote:

The challenge for you is not to lock in the action of main verb antecedent to the event of the aorist infinitive, but to break it out. If it is locked in, then when the event of the aorist infinitive is in the past, then the main verb is a past tense, too. But we are not concerned with those cases; we are concerned only with when the main verb is a present tense. When it is, we have either (1) the aorist infinitive indicating a general, continuing, customary, or iterative occurrence, in which case the main verb is gnomic or customary or iterative, or (2) the aorist infinitive indicates a specific event of time, in which case the main verb is past progressive or futurative. Since you have never paid attention to that distinction within the aorist infinitive clause, your argument in without merit. (pp. 249-50)

It is simply false to say that I have not paid attention to the two different cases you mention of the use of a present-tense main verb with the infinitive of antecedent time. In my post #15, I noted the two futuristic uses (Mal. 3:22; John 13:19), which are not broad-band uses, and
distinguished them from the uses that are broad-band, including the gnomic, customary, and iterative occurrences (p. 179). Our disagreement is whether there are occurrences that can be described as "past progressive," by which I assume you mean belonging to the PPA category. I have argued that there are no clear instances of such occurrences, at least not in biblical Greek.

You seem to have misunderstood my view as implying that the action of the main verb is "locked in" to time antecedent to the event of the aorist infinitive. Thus, you write:

Since you have argued that the aorist infinitive limits the time of the main verb to before the event of the infinitive, you have quite simply argued away the continuing action of the verb after that event. It's a good thing your argument is an invalid one. The use of the present is what unlocks the action of the verb from mere antecedence, and gives it continuation to the present. If you had your way, we would be forced to use a simple past tense: was antecedent to a past event. (p. 250)

No, I have never "argued that the aorist *limits* the time of the main verb to before the event of the infinitive," in such a way that the state is "locked out" from continuing after that event. I have argued that the main verb in these constructions *denotes* a state antecedent to the main verb. That the state continues after the event denoted by the aorist infinitive is implicit from the context (e.g., Jesus obviously exists when he speaks the words of John 8:58), but the denotative *sense* is that the state obtains antecedent to the event; in turn, the *meaning* (in context) is that the state is unbounded with respect to the event of the past denoted by the aorist infinitive.

I had written:

"As for translating this construction, I am not aware of a single instance, in the 20 occurrences of the construction in New Testament Greek, in which any of the standard English Bibles translates PRIN or PRO TOU 'since before.'"

You replied:

That's because the implicit "since" only pertains when you have both a past event in your aorist infinitive clause and a present tense main verb. None of the NT examples other than John 8:58 have this combination of features. But Psalm 90.2 and Jeremiah 1:5 from the OT do, and the rendering "since before" is needed to convey both antecedence and continuation in both instances, unless the main verb is rendered as a simple past, which would be incorrect.

Again, according to you, there are four biblical Greek texts in which a rendering like "since before" is needed (Ps. 89:2; Prov. 8:25; Jer. 1:5; John 8:58). Yet none of the English translations in current use of the LXX or of the Greek NT has ever translated any of these four texts with the locution "since before" or any equivalent.

The rest of your closing remarks in your post #19 either repeat arguments already addressed or anticipate matters relating to later posts, so I will conclude this post here.

In Christ's service,

Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
Center for Biblical Apologetics
Online: http://www.biblicalapologetics.net

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