Verb Tenses Analysis

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Verb Tenses
In narrative studies examinations of verb tenses have usually been limited to discussions on the temporal development of the pericope. They have not been treated independently. Recent studies advocating a non-temporal view of tenses and instead promoting an aspect-driven approach and more moderate studies advocating a contextual approach, allowing for both temporal and aspect nature in tense, give reason to reevaluate this viewpoint.
In addition, Mark in particular has a unique use of tenses in the New Testament corpus. Mark employs verb tenses as a means to unite the passage and emphasize the central message of the pericope. At first this might be surprising as Mark uses very common verbs, but Mark is no stranger to employing
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For independent works on the topic see Stanley E. Porter, Verbal
Aspect in the Greek New Testament: With Reference to Tense and Mood (New York:
Peter Lang, 1989); Stephen E. Runge, “The Verbal Aspect of the Historical Present
Indicative in Narrative,” in Discourse Studies and Biblical Interpretation: A Festschrift in
Honor of Stephen H. Levinsohn (ed. Stephen E. Runge; Bellingham, Wash.: Logos Bible
Software, 2011), 191–224.
limited to the first section (7:1–14) but carries on in the second section (7:15–23). The verb tenses further unite the two parts into a complete narrative.
Historical Development of Tense and Aspect
A short overview of the historical development of temporal and aspect nature of tenses is necessary before applying these principles to the pericope of Mark 7:1–23.
The linguistic discussion of the nature of tenses, especially the indicative tenses, gained renewed interest6 at the end of the last century.7 The present study cannot engage in the debate over the intricacies of the various theories promoted by the linguists. But at the risk of oversimplification, suffice it to say that Stanley Porter and Kenneth
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See also Harald Weinreich,
Tempus: Besprochene und erzählte Welt (Stuttgart, Germany: W. Kohlhammer, 1964);
Saul Levin, “Remarks on the ‘Historical’ Present and Comparable Phenomena of
Syntax,” Foundations of Language 5 (1969): 386–390; Stephen M. Reynolds, “The Zero
Tense in Greek: A Critical Note,” WTJ l 33 (1969): 68–72; Carroll D. Osburn, “The
Hsitorical Present in Mark as a Text Critical Criterion,” Bib 64 (1983): 486–500.
10 Kiparsky, “Tense and Mood in Indo-European Syntax,” 33–34.
11 Fanning, Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek; Wallace, Greek Grammar
Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament; Werner Thomas,
historical present tenses often follow a string of different past tenses and sometimes are the only tense in a passage. In either case the present tense would not be “zero tense.”
Instead the historical present seems to carry the idea of summarizing the action much like the aorist, albeit in a vivid and dramatic sense. In this view then the aspect of the present is nullified.
In recent years several new theories have been advocated. Stanley Porter has argued along with the “zero tense” grammarians but has emphasized the

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