Overblog Follow this blog
Edit post Administration Create my blog

Published by jack elliot

In Turkish the aorist is a habitual aspect


The aorist of Turkish reflects aspect/mood rather than tense; it has two important semantic functions: a) it marks volition, b) it characterizes what is the typical, normal or inherent quality of an entity


A simple past tense, especially in ancient Greek, that does not imply continuance or momentariness.


 (ˈeɪ ə rɪst) 


1. a verb tense, as in Classical Greek, expressing action, esp. in the past, without further implication as tocompletion, duration, or repetition.



(Grammar) grammar a tense of the verb in classical Greek and in certain other inflected languages, indicating pastaction without reference to whether the action involved was momentary or continuous. Compare perfect8, imperfect4
[C16: from Greek aoristos not limited, from a-1 + horistos restricted, from horizein to define]
ˌaoˈristic adj
ˌaoˈristically adv



1. A form of a verb in some languages, such as Classical Greek, that expresses action without indicating itscompletion or continuation.
2. A form of a verb in some languages, such as Classical Greek or Sanskrit, that in the indicative mood expressespast action.

To the grammarian it may seem like beating a dead horse to protest that the aorist does not necessarily reflect the nature of the action or event it covers. But the horse is not dead; he is very much alive and cavorting rather freely in exegetical and theological pastures. The fallacy of "theology in the aorist tense" stubbornly persists, even in the writings of distinguished scholars.

Thus begins the article by Frank Stagg, "The Abused Aorist", Journal of Biblical Literature 91 (1972): 222-231. (It is also available online by permission at BiblicalStudies.org.uk.) This article should be required reading in seminaries everywhere.

Among other things, Stagg provides a catalogue of several pages discussing "abuses" observed in works of major commentators. Here's one example, from p. 224:

A. N. Wilder falls into the aoristic trap in his interpretation of 1 John 2:1, "But if any one does sin (i.e., commits an act of sin [aorist tense]; contrast habitual sin in the present tense, 3: 6, 9 and 5: 18....)"12 John may imply a distinction between a single act of sin and habitual sin, but the aorist tense does not require this. It permits it.
12 A. N. Wilder, "The First, Second, and Third Epistles of John," The Interpreter's Bible (New York: Abingdon, 1957) 12, 227.

With these and many other such cases, Stagg demonstrates the "abuses" that a misunderstanding of the aorist can produce. He also has a discussion of the broader range of uses of the aorist, and surveys the main NT Greek grammars on the subject. He concludes (p. 231):

It does not follow that the aorist tense is without exegetical significance (compare, e.g., aor. subj. and pres. impv.). ... [T]he aorist may or may not be punctiliar, and the presence of the aorist does not in itself give any hint as to the nature of the action behind it.

So, to answer the question in brief: yes, the OP is essentially correct his understanding of the aorist in Koine Greek. And perhaps that means things have improved since Stagg wrote his article in 1972!

Comment on this post