While traditionally grammarians have understood the Greek verbal system as grammaticalizing time and/or Aktionsart, there is growing acknowledgment that the Greek verbal system is fundamentally aspectual. There is also increasing recognition that verbal aspect can function to provide the author with the subjective choice to define discourse prominence within any given context. Much of the scholarship done on the subject of verbal aspect with regard to discourse prominence has been done at a theoretical level leaving the majority of the New Testament open for the application of the theory. It is the purpose of this study to apply the results of verbal aspect theory articulated by Stanley E. Porter to the pericope found in Matthew 20,1-16 in order to test the viability of aspect functioning to indicate prominence.
Porter’s analysis of the prominence conveyed by the aorist, imperfect and present is contrasted with Longacre’s claims about the same tenseforms. Both are wrong in equating respectively “foreground” (Porter) and “background” (Longacre) with the imperfect. Relevance Theory claims that non-default forms may result in a variety of cognitive effects. This explains why imperfectives correlate with background, yet sometimes have foregrounding effects. Additional non-default forms and structures can also be accommodated, such as inchoative aorist "erxanto" and the combination of aorist "egeneto" and a temporal expression. Finally, a non-default form or structure may give prominence not to the event concerned, but to the following event(s).
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.