David I. Yoon, «Prominence and Markedness in New Testament Discourse.», Vol. 26 (2013) 3-26
Paul's testimony of his post-conversion experience in Galatians—the only place in the New Testament this is found—is the starting point for the rest of his polemic against his opponents who avert the gospel he first taught his readers. What is interesting is that he highlights or emphasizes certain portions of his testimony, using the linguistic method of prominence. As others have written already, prominence in Hellenistic Greek is conveyed in many ways, but one major way is by the writer's choice of verbal aspect. By first identifying a theory of prominence in the Greek of the New Testament, the paper then applies that theory to Gal 1:11–2:10 to discover that Paul emphasizes preaching and gospel related items in his testimony.
10 David I. Yoon
this paper, as the selected passage contains a few imperfect tense-forms;
however, the difficulty lies in the criteria for determining whether a text
is discourse or narrative, or possibly both. Though a separate section on
the imperfect tense-form is lacking in his Idioms, in his earlier and more
comprehensive Verbal Aspect, Porter does devote much space for the
significance of the imperfect in comparison with the aorist and present
tense-forms27. He states that between the imperfect and present, “there
is no aspectual difference: both are aspectually imperfective on the basis
of their formal paradigm,” but that “a semantic distinction stems from a
functional difference,” that the imperfect tense-form conveys remoteness
as opposed to the present tense-form28. The imperfect tense-form, then, is
less marked than the present tense-form; however, the imperfect, like the
present tense-form, conveys imperfective aspect.
c) Stative aspect. This is conveyed through the perfect (and pluperfect29)
tense-forms and is the most heavily marked as compared to the perfective
and imperfective aspects. This is judged on the basis of frequency in the
extant literature, stem formation, history of the Greek verbal system, and
its aspectual meaning30. “The action is conceived of by the language user
as reflecting a given (often complex) state of affairs”31. Again, I turn to
Wallace for a traditional Aktionsart definition of the perfect tense-form:
“it describes an event that, completed in the past (we are speaking of the
perfect indicative here), has results existing in the present time (i.e., in
relation to the time of the speaker)”32. After surveying a few grammars,
Wallace concludes that it combines the aorist and present tenses, and
“speaks of completed action (aorist) with existing results (perfect)”33.
However, the stative aspect, again, does not rely on temporal factors, but
simply conveys a state or condition of affairs, without reference to its
progress (imperfective aspect) or completion (perfective aspect).
Usually, the analogy of a parade is provided for understanding the
various aspects in relation to each other34. Imagine the various viewpoints
E.g., Porter, Verbal Aspect, 198–211.
Porter, Verbal Aspect, 207.
Just as the imperfect tense-form conveys remoteness in relation to the present tense-
form, the pluperfect also conveys remoteness in relation to the present.
Porter, Verbal Aspect, 245.
Porter, Idioms, 21–22.
Wallace, Greek Grammar, 573.
Wallace, Greek Grammar, 574.
Porter, Verbal Aspect, 91; Porter, Idioms, 24. He adopts this analogy from A.V.
Isachenko. Cf. Campbell, Basic of Verbal Aspect, 19, who also refers to this helpful