A couple weeks ago I enjoyed working through a good portion of the latest volume in D. A. Carson’s SBG series: Constantine R. Campbell, Verbal Aspect, the Indicative Mood, and Narrative: Soundings in the Greek of the New Testament (ed. D. A. Carson; Studies in Biblical Greek 13; New York: Lang, 2007), xxi + 285 pp.
- See here for the text that appears on the book’s back cover, including a brief summary and recommendations by Peter T. O’Brien (Campbell’s colleague at Moore Theological College) and Moisés Silva.
- Campbell explains in his preface, “This book is a lightly revised version of my doctoral thesis, which was submitted to Macquarie University in July 2006. I am grateful to Professor D. A. Carson, Dr Moisés Silva, and Dr. Anssi Voitila, who examined the thesis, for their suggestions that have improved the work” (p. xv).
- When I took Dr. Carson’s Advanced Greek Grammar course at TEDS last year, he referred positively to Campbell’s work several times. Carson writes in the series preface (pp. xiii-xiv),
The last two or three decades have witnessed an impressive growth in the application of linguistic theory to the study of Hellenistic Greek. Nowhere has this work been more intense than in debates over the relevance of aspect theory to our understanding of the Greek verbal system. Dr Campbell’s book carefully weighs in on some of these debates, focusing on the narrative literature of the Gospels (primarily the Synoptic Gospels) and on several extra-biblical narrative sources. One of the great strengths of his research is the limpid clarity of his prose. It is always a bit disconcerting to discover how much work on aspect theory has been done, and how little of it has crossed into the world of New Testament Scholarship. Because of its clarity and excellent illustrations, Campbell’s volume has the potential for mediating between the two fields. Scarcely less important is the fact that Campbell puts forth some fresh suggestions as to how to understand the perfect and pluperfect. On any theory of the Greek verb—the time-based system of the Rationalist period, the more recent variations of Aktionsart theory, and now aspect theory—the perfect tense has proven notoriously difficult to handle. Campbell provides fresh food for thought–certainly not the last word, but an intriguing suggestion that may well point the way ahead.
- I dutifully incorporated a bit of Campbell’s work into a journal article I wrote this summer on verbal aspect theory.
- It was a bit relieving to hear Campbell thank his children “for constantly reminding me that there is a lot more to life than the Greek verb” (p. xvi). :-)
- Cf. Campbell’s academic background and recent talks available as MP3s. His personal site about his “evangelistic jazz ministry” certainly raised my eyebrows!
- For more information on the SBG series, click here and then click the PDF icon near the top of the page; this PDF gives a description of each book in the series as you’d find on each book’s back cover.
- Cf. my post on another SBG volume: “John Lee on NT Lexicography“
- Review by Rodney Decker
- Andrew David Naselli, “A Brief Introduction to Verbal Aspect Theory in New Testament Greek,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 12 (2007): 17–28.