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.
Prominence and Markedness in New Testament Discourse 11
from which one can watch a parade. The perfective aspect may be
analogous to watching the parade from a helicopter viewpoint. The
parade is seen as complete and whole without reference to its progress.
The imperfective aspect may be analogous to participating in the parade
as a spectator, directly involved in it, viewing the event in progress. The
stative aspect, finally, may be viewed from the perspective of the events
coordinator or manager, the viewpoint of state. In other words, the event
is viewed as a state and condition of affairs in existence. So simply put,
the “Perfect is used to grammaticalize a state of affairs, the Present a
process in progress, and the Aorist a process seen as complete, with the
Perfect the most heavily marked”35.
d) Aspect and Prominence. Another relationship that these aspects
have to one another that is particularly important for this study is related
to prominence. The perfective aspect (aorist tense-form) is the least
marked in the Greek verbal system, the imperfective aspect (present and
imperfect tense-forms) is more heavily marked, and the stative aspect
(perfect and pluperfect tense-forms) is the most heavily marked36. This is
quite easily observed for students of the Greek New Testament, where the
aorist tense-form is most frequently used by the authors, while the present
tense-form is less used, and perfect tense-form is the least frequent of the
three forms. So while the primary function of aspect is to convey the
subjective choice of the writer’s conveyance of the progress of action, the
resulting secondary function of aspect is to convey prominence in the
discourse. In fact, Reed notes that one of the functions of aspect is to
indicate prominence in the discourse37.
2) Mood. Another way of conveying prominence in the Greek of the
New Testament is in the writer’s choice of mood. In fact, Porter contends
that next to verbal aspect, mood may be the most important semantic
choice that a writer/speaker of Greek makes38. Mood is often defined
as: “the feature of the verb that presents the verbal action or state with
reference to its actuality or potentiality”39. A more precise definition may
be helpful: “the mood-forms are used to grammaticalize the language
user’s perspective on the relation of the verbal action to reality”40. There
Porter, Verbal Aspect, 258.
Porter, Verbal Aspect, 180; Porter, Idioms, 23.
Reed, Philippians, 113.
Porter, Idioms, 50.
Wallace, Greek Grammar, 443.
Porter, Idioms, 50.