A brief comment on historiographical issues surrounding aspect
November 15, 2012
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I just wanted to make this passing note. A few posts back, I presented my analysis of the 1882 edition of William Moulton’s translation of Winer’s Greek grammar. In that discussion, I made the observation that Porter had treated Moulton-Winer unfairly in his criticism of how certain usages of the Greek present imperfective are explained in the grammar. I won’t go back over the question here. My analysis is available in the link above (be sure to read the comments on the post, too).
All I want to say here is that I have now come to the conclusion that this is not an intentionally misrepresentation of Moulton-Winer on Porter’s part. That was driven home for me while rereading some of the papers in the JSNTSupp volumes from the 1990s. In his critique of Fanning’s position, he writes:
Fanning presents a revisionist view of the history of verbal aspect, going to great lengths to preserve the traditional categories and terminology. He stresses his belief that the comparative philologists of the nineteenth century were in actual fact discussing verbal aspect, even if they did not call it this or recognize it as such (Porter 1993, 36).
I hope it goes without saying that it is Porter’s view of the history that I view as revisionist, rather than Fanning. But the fact that Porter views Fanning’s literature review as “revisionist” goes an incredibly long way in explaining how Porter’s reading of Moulton-Winer (1882) arose.
So on that basis I do view Porter’s discussion of that grammar as an honest one. I just view it as wrong and poorly argued…and he would like say the same about my own. At this point, our “world-views” (for lack of a better term) are just so dramatically different.
Porter, S. E. 1993. “In Defence of Verbal Aspect.” Page 26-45 in Biblical Greek language and linguistics: Open questions in current research. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
Winer, Georg B. and William F. Moulton. 1882. A Treatise on the Grammar of New Testament Greek. 3rd ed. Edinbugh: T & T Clark.