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The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis

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A Fresh Approach to the Greek Verb

For the past 25 years, debate regarding the nature of tense and aspect in the Koine Greek verb has held New Testament studies at an impasse. The Greek Verb Revisited examines recent developments from the field of linguistics, which may dramatically shift the direction of this discussion. Readers will find an accessible introduction to the foundational issues, and more importantly, they will discover a way forward through the debate.

Originally presented during a conference on the Greek verb supported by and held at Tyndale House and sponsored by the Faculty of Divinity of Cambridge University, the papers included in this collection represent the culmination of scholarly collaboration. The outcome is a practical and accessible overview of the Greek verb that moves beyond the current impasse by taking into account the latest scholarship from the fields of linguistics, Classics, and New Testament studies.

Praise for the Linguistics & the Greek Verb Conference

[Excerpted from the concluding essay] "Another crucial issue is the long-term disinclination of those who study Greek in different institutional environments to communicate effectively with one another, or indeed with linguists who have a more general interest in grammatical and semantic categories that happen to have instantiations in Greek. It is still not unusual, for example, for Classicists to have no real sense of the evolution of the language in postclassical periods (whether ancient, medieval, or modern), or for New Testament scholars largely to ignore what was happening more generally to Greek in the Roman period, or for Hellenists collectively to lack any clear theoretical or typological perspective when framing their analyses of specifically Greek phenomena. This volume, by contrast, is characterized throughout by the openness of its contributors to the value of information and insights derived from work in linguistic theory and linguistic typology, and to the importance of scholarship conducted right across the spectrum of Greek studies. As a consequence, the argumentation in its different chapters is more incisive, and the analyses more grounded and more compelling, than would otherwise ever have been possible. Nothing, after all, breeds cant and gibberish more rapidly than a closed circle of devotees who are certain they have all the answers."

—Professor Geoff Horrocks, Professor of Comparative Philology, Faculty of Classics, Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge University

It is rare that I attend a conference as well-focused and helpful as this. Combine that with high-quality scholarship from a mixture of people with expertise in Classics, Linguistics and New Testament Studies, and you have a delightful two days which was educative, stretching, engaging and stimulating. As a New Testament exegete, I learned much about the Greek verb from this conference, and have gained angles and perspectives which will inform my reading of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. I’m enormously grateful—and looking forward to seeing the book!

—Professor Steve Walton, Professorial Research Fellow in New Testament, St Mary’s University, Twickenham (London)

This insightful and clearly-written volume of essays truly advances the discussion of verbal aspect and tense in Koine Greek. I plan to use The Greek Verb Revisited as a textbook in an upper-level Greek seminar.

—Robert L. Plummer, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Host of www.DailyDoseOfGreek.com


  • Foreword by Andreas Köstenberger
  • Introduction
  • Overview
    • Porter and Fanning on NT Greek Verbal Aspect: Retrospect and Prospect by Buist Fanning
    • What is Aspect? Contrasting Definitions in General Linguistics and New Testament Studies by Christopher J. Thomson
    • Tense and Aspect in Classical Greek, Two Historical Developments: Augment and Perfect by Rutger J. Allan
    • Aspect-Prominence, Morpho-Syntax, and a Cognitive-Linguistic Framework for the Greek Verb by Nicolas J. Ellis
  • Application
    • Verb Forms and Grounding in Narrative by Stephen H. Levinsohn
    • Imperfects, Aorists, Historic Presents, and Perfects in John 11: A Narrative Test Case by Patrick James
    • The Contribution of Verb Forms, Connectives and Dependency to Grounding Status in Non-Narrative Discourse by Steven E. Runge
    • Participles as a Pragmatic Choice: Where Semantics Meets Pragmatics by Randall Buth
    • Functions of Copula-Participle Combinations (Periphrastics) by Stephen H. Levinsohn
  • Linguistic Investigations
    • The Historical Present in NT Greek: An Exercise in Interpreting Matthew by Elizabeth Robar
    • Function of the ε-Augment in Hellenistic Greek by Peter Gentry
    • Typology, Polysemy, and Prototypes: Situating Non-Past Aorist Indicatives by Christopher J. Fresch
    • Perfect Greek Morphology and Pedagogy: Their Contribution to Understanding the Greek Perfect by Randall Buth
    • The Semantics of the Perfect in the Greek New Testament by Robert Crellin
    • The Discourse Function of the Greek Perfect by Steven E. Runge
    • Greek Prohibitions by Michael Aubrey
    • Tense and Aspect After the New Testament by Amalia Moser
    • Motivated Categories, Middle Voice, and Passive Morphology by Rachel Aubrey
    • Conclusions and Open Issues by Geoffrey Horrocks

Top Highlights

“Four of these points of consensus are: (1) verbal aspect as central to understanding ancient Greek verbal meaning; (2) aspect as a matter of viewpoint, that is, the speaker’s perspective on an action or state, a category semantically different from procedural or actional characteristics often called Aktionsarten or kinds of action; (3) the Greek aorist as perfective aspect and the present/imperfect as imperfective aspect; (4) Greek verbal aspect as important to some kinds of discourse structuring.” (Page 11)

“But there is considerable agreement between these two scholars as to the essential nature of aspect. In particular, both see aspect as a matter of the speaker or author’s choice of ‘viewpoint’ on the situation to which the verb relates,7 although differing as to the extent to which this choice is a subjective one.8 Moreover, both deny that aspect is a temporal category,9 seeing the expression of a situation’s temporal structure as at most a secondary effect of the choice of aspect in combination with other elements of a clause and its context.” (Page 15)

“It would be preferable to define aspect more literally, as the temporal phase or phases about which the speaker or writer is speaking, rather than the phases they have ‘in view.’” (Page 35)

“Aspect, on the other hand, is usually said to be nondeictic, meaning that it does not indicate when the situation occurred in relation to a particular deictic center.65 But to say that aspect is nondeictic is not to say that it is nontemporal, as can be seen from the examples discussed above.” (Page 28)

Product Details

  • Title: The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis
  • Editors: Steven E. Runge & Christopher J. Fresch
  • Publisher: Lexham Press
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Pages: 672
  • Format: Logos Digital, Paperback
  • Trim Size: 6x9
  • ISBN: 9781577996361

About the Editors

Steven E Runge has a Master of Theological Studies degree in Biblical Languages from Trinity Western Seminary in Langley, B.C., Canada, a BA in Speech Communication from Western Washington University, and a Doctor of Literature degree in Biblical Languages from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, which was supervised by Christo Van der Merwe. In preparation for his doctoral research, Steve completed several years of study in the linguistic fields of pragmatics and discourse grammar. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northwest Baptist Theological College, Trinity Western University, and Associated Canadian Theological Schools (ACTS) while completing his education. He is also very active in the church. He and his wife were married in 1990. They have two daughters, and live in Bellingham, Washington. Steve presently serves as a Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software, and where, along with Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis, he has developed the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament and the Lexham High Definition New Testament.

Christopher J Fresch has a PhD in Divinity from the University of Cambridge, which was supervised by James Aitken. The focus of his research was on Biblical Languages, Linguistics, and Septuagint Translation Technique. Prior to his PhD studies, Chris earned a MA in Biblical Languages and BA in Philosophy and Christianity (double major) at Houston Baptist University. He taught New Testament Greek at the University of Cambridge as an affiliated lecturer and is currently Lecturer in Biblical Languages and Old Testament at Bible College of South Australia.

Sample Pages from The Greek Verb Revisited


2 ratings

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  1. Eric moerdyk

    Eric moerdyk


    While this book is a significant and valuable contribution to understanding the Greek Verb (which I appreciate), it also has a rather striking flaw. It does not seriously involve the significant PHD's of Buist Fanning (he is asked to give a historical overview, not to enter the discussion for the rest), Stanley Porter or Constantine Campbell, or their other work on verbal aspect. Instead it dismisses them casually while still claiming to resolve the discussion. Cf. Campbell's article ''The Greek Verb Revisited' Revisited'. See also Campbell's Verbal Aspect introduction to the discussion for a fuller picture. Why claim the discussion is moved forward while not engaging the full range and schools of thought in key igniters of the discussion? I would love to see a follow up conference and collection of papers, this time involving all the key participants or schools of thought. I would gladly pay for that follow up book and listen along with such a conference!
  2. John Kight

    John Kight


    Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis edited by Steven E. Runge and Christopher J. Fresch is a collection of scholarly essays presented at the Tyndale Fellowship 2015 meeting, sponsored by the University of Cambridge School of Arts and Humanities and Lexham Research Institute. Runge and Fresch have brought together a fascinating presentation of forward-moving linguistic research that frames a longstanding conversation around the function and application of the Greek verb. Runge and Fresch help to push the conversation past an aspect-only dialog and into new space with more room for a new paradigm to flourish. As expected, Greek Verb Revisited is academically oriented and probably best situated for intermediate or advance students of New Testament Greek. The volume opens with an excellent forward from Andreas J. Köstenberger, recounting his personal journey and adoration for the work presented. Runge and Fresch have divided the essays into three major sections: (1) Overview, (2) Application, and (3) Linguistic Investigations. The organization of the volume seems somewhat random, but the content therein is magnificent. The first section aims to position the overall conversation, past and present, within the larger framework of the volume. There are four chapters focusing on tense and/or aspect, with no obvious organizational intent, which looks to move the conversation towards new ground. While each of the essays has strengths, the essay by Nicholas J. Ellis, that establishes a cognitive-linguistic framework, is outstanding and Ellis’ use of Matt. 2:20 is appropriate. The second and third sections are where the bulk of the volume is spent. There is much that could be said about the chapters in these sections, but most of which is beyond space here. Runge’s chapter on nonnarrative discourse was fascinating. Runge is easy to follow and he does a great job bringing the reader into his discussion while remaining humble and honest about the need for further research (p. 265). Again, much more could be said about each essay individually, but as a collection of essays this volume is sure to be a staple for further engagement in the years to come. It is both exciting and encouraging to see an unfolding of new movement in research regarding the function and application of the Greek language, especially the Greek verb. Greek Verb Revisited is both up-to-date and academically stimulating. The contributors include, Peter Gentry, Stephen Levinsohn, Buist Fanning, Rutger Allan, and many more names of equal caliber. At nearly 650 pages, this volume is not for the faint of heart. But, those who specialize in or enjoy linguistics will find this volume to be a goldmine of rich discovery. Some essays are more difficult to follow than others, and this varies from topic and author. But, overall those with a preexisting knowledge of the language and a familiarity with the ongoing dialog on Greek verbs will be pleasantly surprised by the tone of this volume. Additionally, for those who love to explore bibliographies for their next research project or “rabbit trail” read, each of the essays include a sizable list of referenced resources that will come in handy. For future exploration, Runge and Fresch have included a detailed subject/author index and an index of ancient sources. This will allow for relevant information to be retrieved as the need arises—an appropriate and welcomed addition. Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis edited by Steven E. Runge and Christopher J. Fresch is nothing short of groundbreaking. The essays included are forward-looking and up-to-date with the latest conversations, and, in fact, push those conversations towards a much-needed end. If you are looking for a volume that presents the most recent advances in the Greek language, while remaining academically practical for exegesis and textual analysis, then nothing should stand in the way of this book finding space on your shelf. It comes highly recommended for those engaged or looking to engage in the conversation.
  3. Cris Dickason

    Cris Dickason


    Not a review - an encouragement... Can we please see this released in the near future? Does Faithlife need some volunteers to assist in the production work... ?
  4. LeRoy Whitman

    LeRoy Whitman


    Anything by Dr. Stephen Levinsohn needs to be read and reckoned with as we move forward. He helped us see connectives in the non-Indo-European language into which we are translating Scripture. Within an hour's time in class and five minute's discussion with the speaker of the language, he helped the native speaker see connectives in his own language (and one's that I, as a linguist familiar with the language had missed). Furthermore, Levinsohn takes the Greek text seriously as well, and capably applies the insights of linguistics (in other words, takes the language as an actual functional language rather than a dictated magic book from which you can "extract" meaning if you study words with the eisegesis you bring to the text!) - he applies theses linguistics insights not just to languages into which we translate, but TO THE GREEK TEXT ITSELF. This important advance is an watershed event in exegesis of the ancient texts that we rightly call the inspired Scriptures.
Save 25% off during the Memorial Day Sale!


Print list price: $34.99
Regular price: $29.99
Save $7.50 (25%)