Bible Review 9:2, April 1993

Greek for Bible Readers

Present and Future active indicative (continued)

By David Alan Black

Bible Review

Our last lesson introduced the formation of the present and future active indicative of the Greek verb. It should be noted that the aspect denoted by the present indicative may be aoristic, though it is usually imperfective. Hence luvw may be rendered either “I loose” or “I am loosing,” depending on the context. These uses are called the simple present and the progressive present, respectively. The progressive present is frequently found in narrative material, as in Matthew 8:5: “Lord, save us! We are drowning.” One other use of the present tense deserves brief mention here. The historical present is used when a past event is viewed with the vividness of a present occurrence, as in Mark 1:40: “And a leper comes to him.” This usage is characteristic of lively narrative in general and is a special feature of Mark’s Gospel (151 times), where it frequently introduces new scenes or participants. Note that even when an action occurred in the past, an author may choose to depict that action in present time. Hence one must always carefully distinguish between reality (how the action happened) and depiction (how the author presents the action).

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