A brief note on the perfect and Porter (1989)

  • ἀφʼ οὗ ἂν ἐγερθῇ ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης καὶ ἀποκλείσῃ τὴν θύραν, καὶ ἄρξησθε ἔξω ἑστάναι καὶ κρούειν τὴν θύραν (Luke 13:25).

Porter (1989, 248) cites this as an example of markedness functioning as an ordering principle (recall that in Porter’s model, markedness signals prominence and that the aorist is the least marked verb form—Porter 2009 is probably the most updated version of his approach). The present is more marked and the perfect is the most heavily marked. The perfect ἑστάναι being the more heavily marked aspect form comes before the less heavily marked present κρούειν.

But there’s a far simpler explanation of the data that does not need this unnecessary prominence model. The ordering is actually event structure and discourse, not markedness or prominence. Set a scene and its location and then present the actions that happen at that location: standing and knocking.

Porter makes the same case for Matthew 8:14.

  • Καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Πέτρου εἶδεν τὴν πενθερὰν αὐτοῦ βεβλημένην καὶ πυρέσσουσαν

But again, it’s the same situation: establish a location and then the event/experience: lying in bed and suffering with a fever.

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