Present vs Aorist Imperative

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uberdwayne
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Re: Present vs Aorist Imperative

Post by uberdwayne » Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:00 am

Ireney, I see what your getting at... You've basically made a distinction between a gnomic present and punctiliar aorist, I see it now :) John uses the present tense because its an action in continuance without view of an end, although not exactly obvious to the english mind! Had he used an aorist Imperative... Or aorist subjunctive, he would've considered it a one time thing. As if the receiver of the command could fullfill his obligation, then go back to "αγαπων το κοσμον." As a present tense, its not seen as a fulfillable act, but rather a state we're required to be in, and stay in. I wonder how that would stack up against other present imperatives in koine literature.


What are your(υμετερος) thoughts?

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Re: Present vs Aorist Imperative

Post by IreneY » Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:50 am

Hello there uberdwayne!

I'm afraid I'm not much of a scholar when it comes to the Bible so I can't think of any other examples out of hand. Perhaps we should search for some? :)

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Re: Present vs Aorist Imperative

Post by uberdwayne » Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:01 am

Perhaps we should search for some?
That is a great idea! I lack tools such as accordance or gramcord, but maybe if someone out there has one of these, they could search for negative prohibition imperatives in the new testament. Otherwise, it will be the old fashioned way of page by page searching! Then we can compare... In the meantime, if I come across any I'll post them....

Maybe we should create a new thread for this, called "A survey of negative imperatives" First one to find it starts the thread.
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Re: Present vs Aorist Imperative

Post by Markos » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:23 pm

uberdwayne wrote:
(quoting Irene) Perhaps we should search for some?
χαῖρε φίλε, χαῖρε φίλη!

Here are two:
John 3:7 used the aorist:
μὴ θαυμάσῃς ὅτι εἶπόν σοι, Δεῖ ὑμᾶς γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν.
John 5:28 used the present:
μὴ θαυμάζετε τοῦτο, ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα ἐν ἧ πάντες οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ
What's the difference in meaning between these two? Look, I'm not denying that, IF THE CONTEXT SUPPORTS IT, there can be a difference. IF THE CONTEXT SUPPORTS IT, we could say that in the first instance Jesus is objecting to a short, punctiliar amazement, whereas in the second instance, Jesus has in mind an amazement that would last longer. Or it's possible, IF THE CONTEXT SUPPORTS IT, that in the first instance Jesus is stopping Nicodemus from doing something that he has not started yet, whereas in the second place the Judeans have already begun to marvel. Or, IF THE CONTEXT SUPPORTS IT, we can say that in the first instance Jesus is giving a specific prohibition limited to one occurrence, while in the second instance Jesus is banning something in general that he expects to be an on-going problem.

But the context supports none of these distinctions. And if the context did, we would not need the tenses to provide this information. I think that Smyth puts it best:
Smyth, Greek Grammar, 1841e:
The distinction (between μὴ γράφε and μὴ γράψῃς) is often immaterial, often a difference of tone rather than of meaning; sometimes too subtle for dogmatic statement.
I call this approach to Greek grammar semantic minimalism. I'm not denying that there are some general guidelines about the tenses that one can learn from the textbooks, but applying these to any actual instance of real Greek almost always involves reading more meaning into a passage than the author intended. If we tried to do this with a language that we know really well, like say, English, we would immediately realize that we are going astray. I have heard, as I'm sure you have, Uberdwayne, different preachers express the idea behind 1 John 2:15 in different ways. One guy might say
Don't start loving the world, now.
Another guy might say
I want you to stop loving the world!
Now, if you stopped and analyzed each word, you would realize that different constructions are used, and you could infer that in the first instance the preacher is talking to people who have not started to love the world and in the second instance the audience has already started to love the world. But think about it. Grammar aside, does this distinction make any sense? Is there any Christian who is in danger of loving the world, but has not started loving it? Of course we have here just two different manners of expressions that are saying the same thing. What we would not do to English I see no reason to do to Greek.

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Re: Present vs Aorist Imperative

Post by Paul Derouda » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:51 pm

John 3:7 used the aorist:
μὴ θαυμάσῃς ὅτι εἶπόν σοι, Δεῖ ὑμᾶς γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν.
John 5:28 used the present:
μὴ θαυμάζετε τοῦτο, ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα ἐν ἧ πάντες οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ
In English doesn't have, or at least I don't find them, two different expressions that would convey the difference between the aorist and the present here. Perhaps aorist "don't be surprised" and present "don't wonder"? But compare:

Don't fall in love with him! (aorist)
Dont love him! (present)

Here I agree with Markos that the difference is irrelevant for the meaning.

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Re: Present vs Aorist Imperative

Post by uberdwayne » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:41 pm

IF THE CONTEXT SUPPORTS IT
This has definitely been drilled in to my head like crazy, I think you said in a previous post that you would take context over grammar 10 out of 10 times. this is good advise :)

here's another negative present imperative
Matthew 19:6
ὥστε οὐκέτι εἰσὶ δύο, αλλα σaρξ μία. ὃ οὖν ὁ Θεὸς συνέζευξεν, ἄνθρωπος μὴ χωριζέτω
taken in context, it looks as though this is something that is never permitted to happen. again as in 1 John, we can't just fullfill this command for a short time and then do it, but we are expected to continually observe the command. Is there an aorist example of continually observed command?

Is it a good "general" rule to say that a present infinitive prohibition is used to state a prohibition that needs to be continually observed?
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Re: Present vs Aorist Imperative

Post by Markos » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:52 am

uberdwayne wrote:Is there an aorist example of continually observed command?
Five come to mind right off hand...
Mark 10:19:
τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας: Μὴ φονεύσῃς, Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, Μὴ κλέψῃς, Μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, Μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς...
but of course the aorist here may have something to do with the underlying Hebrew.
Is it a good "general" rule to say that a present...prohibition is used to state a prohibition that needs to be continually observed?
Yes, as far as general rules go, this is fairly good, by which I mean that there are lots of exceptions and in any given case something else may be going on.

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