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What does "Aorist" mean?

Aorist is a tense in Greek and Slavonic; it is properly called the "gnomic aorist", and it is a perfective past tense used to express generic fact or habitual action. In essence, it is an "active past tense" which is expressed using present-tense verbs. It does not represent something that did happen, but as something that does happen. 

A perfect example is the phrase, "Christ is risen." This is a gnomic aorist construction where the action, already complete, is expressed using the present tense verb "to be" ("is"). 

During the rebirth and resurgence of the Church among the people in the former USSR, the unchurched people would almost always say "Христос воскрес", using the past tense. Indeed, He did arise in the past, 2000 years ago, but the correct theological way to express this is to use the active past tense (the gnomic aorist) and say: "Христос Воскресе": Christ IS risen.

This is indeed an intersection of philology with theology, and it is crucial for us to understand that when we are praying in Church, or praying the Psalter either in or out of Church, we pray in the present. In fact, this understanding of the aorist gives us the key to properly understand and pray the Psalter, for by using it, we are not simply reading/understanding past events, but we are actively participating in them, and applying the Psalms to our everyday condition, not merely as an edifying story, but as active participants in the events. 

This seminal construct defines the name Aorist Press, and its motto: The eternal in the words of today.

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