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Basics Of Verbal Aspect In Biblical Greek [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   159
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2008
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
Age  18
ISBN  031029083X  
EAN  9780310290834  
UPC  025986290832  

Availability  81 units.
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Item Description...
In this book, Constantine Campbell investigates the function of verbal aspect within the New Testament Greek narrative. The book includes exercises, an answer key, glossary of key concepts, an appendix covering space and time, and an index to Scripture cited.

Publishers Description
Verbal aspect in the Greek language has been a topic of significant debate in recent scholarship. The majority of scholars now believe that an understanding of verbal aspect is even more important than verb tense (past, present, etc.). Until now, however, there have been no accessible textbooks, both in terms of level and price (most titles on the topic retail for more than $100).In this book, Constantine Campbell investigates the function of verbal aspect within the New Testament Greek narrative. He has done a marvelous job in this book of simplifying the concept without getting caught up using terms of linguistics that no one except those schooled in that field can understand. The book includes exercises, an answer key, glossary of key concepts, an appendix covering space and time, and an index to Scripture cited. Professors and students, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, will use this is as a supplemental text in both beginning and advanced Greek courses. Pastors that study the Greek text will also appreciate this resource as a supplement to their preaching and teaching.

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More About Constantine R. Campbell

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Constantine R. Campbell is Associate Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including most recently "Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study."

Constantine R. Campbell currently resides in Chicago, in the state of Illinois.

Constantine R. Campbell has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Story of God Bible Commentary

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Great primer on verbal aspect  Apr 12, 2010
Campbell's book is the first I have read that is specifically on the subject of the verbal aspect in Biblical Greek. I was pleasantly surprised to find it a clear and helpful book (as I had imagined it would be a difficult subject to read on). Campbell easily shows us the need for a proper understanding of verbal aspect. The following quote from the book was one example that he used in the introduction to show how verbal aspect can be abused or distorted in the pulpit.

" Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Some commentators write that because an aorist is used here, Romans 5:6 proves that Christ's death was a once-for-all event, never to be repeated, and therefore Christ could not be reoffered time and time again (as in the Roman mass).While I do not want to deny the once-for-all nature of Christ's death (cf. 1 Peter 3:18), the aorist in Romans 5:6 does not prove the point at all. Why not? Because that's not what an aorist means. People who argue such things about this verse base their argument on a faulty understanding of the aorist indicative. [pg 13] "

Basically, Campbell's definition of verbal aspect is viewpoint, that is, the author is viewing the action from the outside or inside; the former being called perfective aspect and the latter being called imperfective aspect. However, some features of verbal aspect are not agreed upon by linguists, such as the role of tense in regards to verbal aspect.

The book is divided into two sections: 1) Verbal aspect theory, and 2) Verbal aspect and the New Testament text. The first section contains five chapters which provides an explanation of terminology (tense, aktionsart, and aspect), a historical survey on verbal aspect, explanations of perfective and imperfective aspects, and a chapter on the puzzle of the perfect form. The second section of this book focuses upon the Greek of the New Testament and is composed of five chapters. These touch upon such things as lexemes, the semantics and pragmatics of present and imperfect tense-forms, aorist and future tense-forms, perfect and plu-perfect tense forms, and participles.

Basically, Campbell argues that tense is not something inherent to the Greek verb (semantics). An example of this is that Campbell says the aorist verb does not have an inherent meaning of past time, but rather of remoteness. Typically, this remoteness is used in the sense of time (i.e. remote from the present), however there are occasions when the aorist does not refer to time past but it is referring to another kind of remoteness (e.g. spatial remoteness).

This primer of verbal aspect is very accessible for the beginning Greek student, which is quite surprising considering verbal aspect is complex (and somewhat controversial on certain aspects). The book also contains exercises and answers to help the reader understand verbal aspect. The book then ends with a concluding postscript, a glossary, and two indices (scripture and general). Although, a bibliography for further reading would have been a very good addition to this book. This is an inexpensive book, so go to this site and buy it!
Excellent readable introduction to verbal aspect  Mar 29, 2009
This book is an excellent, readable introduction to the mysteries and complexities of verbal aspect in Biblical [Koine] Greek.
I am a mere amateur in this area being at the beginner/intermediate level, and my review is primarily aimed at people in the same category. To make sense of this book, you need to be at least at that level -- having completed first-year greek (Mounce / Basics or an equivalent), and be conversant with the next stage (per Wallace Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics or equivalent). Campbell does provide translations of greek passages quoted.

The book is divided into two parts: firstly, general aspect theory and its history and development (chapters one to five); secondly, the focus on the greek of the New Testament (chapters six to 10.)
Campbell is excellent in explaining his terms as he uses them, and also provides a glossary, scripture index, and general index at the end of the book. (I note from another reviewer that there was no scripture index. There is definitely in mine). He also provides some basic exercises in part 2 and there is an answer key for the exercises at the end.

Campbell starts off by giving us the background to the problem, describing aspect theory versus aktionsart. He crucially answers the "so what?" question, illustrating the shortcomings of aktionsart and its doctrinal implications and showing how aspect theory alleviates those problems. He provides a clear definition of semantics and pragmatics and the characteristics and attributes of each of those disciplines. He goes on to give an historical outline to aspect theory, mentioning Porter, Fanning etc. and the various strands of thought within aspect theory (how many aspects are there? etc.).

In chapters 3 onwards, we dive into the nitty-gritty, discussing perceptive and imperfective aspect, proximity, the role of tense, the problem of the perfect tense (chapter 5). Part 2 relates aspect (semantics) to aktionsart (pragmatics) and describes how the various verbal lexemes are used to achieve various categories of aktionsart -- showing how it all fits together. The impression given is not that aktionsart is all wrong and is overturned by aspect theory, but that the manifest shortcomings with aktionsart, the problems of categorizing temporal properties of greek verbal lexemes as semantic rather than pragmatic, are overcome when aspect theory is applied. He builds a strong case.

This book does what it says in the title. If you want to know the basics of verbal aspect in New Testament greek, how it relates to Aktionsart, why it matters, how it works, then this book will answer all those questions in a clear, logical and concise (159 pages) way. I was surprised at the readability of the book. Normally technical books are a war of attrition for me but with this one, I'd got through 37 pages and followed the argument with relative ease before realizing I'd made it almost a quarter of the way through! Doubtless the experts will disagree on Campbell's work, but as an introduction to the subject, I think Campbell has achieved a great deal in opening up the subject to the beginner with much clarity -- and at an accessible price too!

Highly recommended.
A Very Good Introduction into the Discussion  Nov 14, 2008
In the field of Verbal aspect, there is no end of debate or discussion. With his new book Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek (BVA), Constantine Campbell has opened the door for those who have long stood outside trying to get a glimpse and a hearing of what this discussion is all about. Granted, there are areas where one person or another will find that they are in disagreement with Dr. Campbell, but that is to be expected in a field like this. Dr. Campbell has taken the time and recognized that there was a need for a primer like the one he has produced, one in which has long been overdue for the student of Koine who is just getting his feet wet in Greek. While I will not take the time to offer an in-depth review (other have done this, and they have done it quite well), I will discuss the areas of strengths and weaknesses of BVA for the intermediate Greek student and why I think that it is a fine addition for a pastor as well as a seminary student.

This reviewer has been a student of Koine for 4.5 years (3 in undergraduate, and 1.5 in seminary). While learning Greek I was aware of verbal aspect, but it was briefly discussed and then moved away from. As I progressed in my studies, the focus was always on usage of nouns, verbs, participles, etc. and their relationship within a clause and discourse. Many times I was left to wonder why the author of a particular book used the present tense where an aorist would have sufficed. This questioned festered in me and continued to grow. In frustration, I picked up Stan Porters book on aspect and was left lost in his analysis of linguistics and their importance for understanding aspect. Needing a Ph.D. to understand what he was getting at, I put the book down. When I heard of Campbell's new book, my spirits were lifted and I was sensing there was a light at the end of the aspectual tunnel.

I. Strengths of BVA

1. It is Assessable and Easy to Grasp

One of the problems with reading books on aspect by Porter and Fanning is that they are very technical and have a specialist in mind for their audience. What Campbell has done with his new book is given the student who desires to get involved in the discussion his ticket into the show. He is clear and precise in his presentation, thus allowing the student to begin to grasp the theory of verbal aspect. No doubt there will be some (i.e. see Porter's blurb on the back of the book) who will disagree with Campbell's conclusions, but I will ask this: why have they then not attempted to produce a work this assessable for the student? For this reason alone all students of Koine should graciously thank Dr. Campbell for taking the time to write such a book for us.

2. It Has Examples and Exercises to Work Though

The exercises that are included are quite helpful and allow the reader to be able to put theory into practice. Dr. Campbell as explains himself in a clear and concise way, and also has included an answer key at the back, thus allowing the reader to be able to go through the exercises and check his work and progress.

3. It is Geared for the Student and Pastor

If one keeps in mind who the audience is intended to be, then some of the criticisms would most likely end. This book is meant to be a primer and not an in-depth analysis on aspect. Dr. Campbell has already produced two academic monographs that engage the scholar and critic alike. What we have here is a book for us students and pastors alike that brings us into the discussion and allows us the opportunity to learn the lingo and jargon that is espoused in discussions on aspect.

II. Weaknesses of BVA

1. No Scripture Index

This is an obvious weakness. For later reference one might one to see if such and such a verse is explained and discussed, but without an index he is unable to do so. Maybe in the next edition Zondervan will include this.

2. It Was a Tad Short

At the end of the reading, I was left wanting more discussion and examples. Because there is a slew of books and articles written on aspect, there is most certainly room for more discussion and examples.

At the end of the day, Dr. Campbell has given us a gem of a primer. BVA is a great help for the student desiring to enter into the world of verbal aspect. It is clear, concise, and above all free of most of the technical jargon that makes other books almost impossible for the student to read and interact with. We owe Dr. Campbell a hearty thank you for his work and for giving us students a place at the table of scholars on verbal aspect.
Great Overview and Introduction to the Verbal Aspect  Nov 10, 2008
As soon as I received this book, I was flooded with memories of the time I was first introduced to it during my college days as a classics major. I remember how elusive the concept was back then, and it does not surprise me how quickly it still returns to its elusive state. The lecture was delivered by Dr. Erwin Cook at University of Texas, who admitted that aspects was just not part of the English language as much as it is in Russian. He bemoaned the fact that his Russian did not fully grasp verbal aspect as it one should to appreciate Dostoevsky's works.

Despite its elusiveness, the Greek verbal aspect is making its way into the scene of biblical studies, where a command of the biblical languages is simply a must to engage in proper exegesis. As many others have already observed, Campbell's work has made verbal aspects accessible, both in the publisher's pricing and the readability. H.W. Smyth's Greek Grammar devotes a whole sentence to aspects: "Greek also makes extensive use of aspect distinctions to qualify the type (rather than the time) of an action." The extensive work of Smyth ironically does not lend itself to an extensive treatment of aspects.

In line with Zondervan's widely-used series of Greek textbooks, Campbell's work makes the complicated subject more engaging and accessible for even the beginners of biblical Greek to become quickly acquainted with the theory, the need, as well as the issues in verbal aspect. The book is divided into two main parts.

The first part explains the basic features of the verbal aspect, tracing its history and getting the reader up-to-snuff with the main voices in the field. In biblical studies, two names traditionally come up when speaking of verbal aspects: Porter and Fanning. Campbell briefly assesses those voices, along with others like Olson, Decker, and Evans, in terms of their contributions and the receptions of their works. Campbell sides with Porter and Decker, downplaying the role of tenses, while emphasizing the pragmatic use of their reference to time.

Despite the lack of consensus in verbal aspect studies, Campbell lists the agreements:

* Aspect holds the key to understanding the Greek verbal system.
* There are at least two aspects in Greek: perfective and imperfective.
* Debate about aspect must come to some kind of resolution as quickly as possible.
* Greek grammars and New Testament commentaries need to update and come to grips with the new playing field.
* Responsible exegesis of the Greek text must incorporate aspectual sensitivity (32).

And there is also room for more exploration in the areas of :

* Temporality and tense. Are Greek verbs tenses?
* Number of aspects. Should the stative aspect be included with the perfective and imperfective? (31-32)

The second part deals with the verbal aspect in the New Testament. Campbell offers examples that have these features of semantics, lexeme, and context, which lead up to the Aktionsart. What kind of an action is presented? The types of action range: progressive, stative, ingressive (beginning and subsequent progression), iterative (repetitive), and conative (attempted but not accomplished). Exercises and answers are included to help the reader to think and work through the grammar.

This book is highly recommended. It makes verbal aspects intelligible for biblical Greek students, and is very affordable.

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