Steve Runge has an interesting post in which he challenges the foundation of Porter’s theory of Greek verbal aspect. Here’s an excerpt:
To be sure, aspect is far more prominent in Greek than it is in English, whereas the opposite is true of tense in English. However, in neither case is it a matter of absolute tense or absolute aspect, with the other being completely absent. Nonetheless, this is the kind of case that Porter undertakes to build. The arguments marshaled by Wallace advocate taking a different tack in describing the relationship of tense and aspect to time in Koine Greek. These issues should have been engaged 20 years ago when the ideas were initially being formulated.
I think Runge raises an important issue. In dealing with Porter, Fanning, Decker, Campbell, and a few others in a grammar seminar, I kept coming back to the same question: If temporal reference is encoded in the tense-form (i.e., it is a semantic feature), should one expect the temporal reference to remain unchanged in (most) every usage of any given tense-form?
If you say yes, you’ll tend to side with Porter since every usage of a given tense-form does NOT implicate the same temporal reference. If you answer “no,” you’ll tend to side with Fanning or others who don’t exclude temporal reference completely from discussion of semantics.