Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament

I’m way behind on using this website to record and document ongoing publications that interface Greek and linguistics. This post is part of my renewed efforts for correct that.

This morning in the mail I received a copy of Douglas Huffman’s Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament, volume 16 in the Studies in Biblical Greek series published by Peter Lang. Beyond perusing the table of contents, I haven’t had a chance to really dig into it yet.

I’m going to try to give the book a fair hearing, though I need to say that any publication on Koine Greek that uses the phrase “Verbal Aspect Theory” in its title has already raises my suspicions. In linguistics, we don’t normally say “verbal aspect theory.” The phrase “verbal aspect” is fine, but normally we really just say, “Aspect.” Typically, unless we’re contrasting it with nominal aspect (yes, that’s a thing), that it is verbal goes without saying. And it isn’t a theory. It’s semantic/conceptual category that languages simply have. That isn’t to say there are no theories of aspect. Verkuyl (A Theory of Aspectuality) has his own theory of aspectuality that differs from, say, Carlota Smith’s theory (The Parameter of Aspect)–they didn’t agree. Anyway, it isn’t at all clear clear that that’s how the phrase “verbal aspect theory” is being used by New Testament people. The vast majority of the time, they seem to be just talking about the semantic category…which isn’t a theory, as I said. Occasionally, the phrase seems to be used to refer to Porter’s view of the Greek verb, but technically that isn’t a theory of aspect either. That’s actually a theory of tense (or rather, a theory of the supposed lack of tense). But now I’m rambling…

To get back on topic, we’ll see how it goes. I hope to crack it open at some point in the next week. You’ll probably hear from me again on the subject. Amazon links below:

Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament (Hardcover)
Verbal Aspect Theory and the Prohibitions in the Greek New Testament (Paperback)

Now if only Peter Lang will improve the quality of their bindings…

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