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18.126 Tense and Time in the Participle

As you can see, Croy is in quite a quandary because he does not recognize that aspect is the fundamental driving force behind the Greek verb system. This is because Croy's approach comes from a teaching tradition that emphasizes English translation, rather than linguistics.

Since English does not have a strong sense of verbal aspect, many scholars of Biblical Greek did not understand the fundamental importance of aspect in the Greek verbal system. With the emergence of the science of linguistics, and especially comparative linguistics, it is now possible to see the fundamental importance of aspect in the Greek verbal system (just as aspect is the driving force of the verbal system of the Slavic language family, for example).

So when Croy says "the tense of a participle has nothing to do with the time of the action, but only with the kind of the action," what he is really saying is that participles do NOT have tense (nothing to do with time). Instead, participles have aspect (kind of action).

The most important clue that participles do not have tense is that they never take augment, which is the marker of the past tense in Greek. Of course, for the present participles this is not important - but for the aorist participles that you will learn in the next chapter, the absence of augment will be very clear!

Also, Croy does not emphasize the importance of the use of μὴ rather than οὐ as the word used to negate a participle. The word μὴ is the marker of verbal negation for participles and for infinitives, as well as for all non-indicative finite verbs (you have not learned these yet, but they include the subjunctive verb forms, and the imperatives). This is another sign that the present participle is actually very different from the present tense verbs that you have learned. To negate a present tense verb you use οὐ, but to negate a present participle (present in aspect, but without any tense), you use μὴ.

If you did not do so already, please re-read these notes about aspect so that you can keep getting used to the idea of verbal aspect, which is an absolutely fundamental feature of the Greek verbal system.

Biblical Greek Online. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. Page last updated: April 9, 2005 8:06 PM

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