The Bochkov-Kuzovlev nonlinear fluctuation-dissipation theorem is used to derive Narayanaswamy’s phenomenological theory of physical aging, in which this highly nonlinear phenomenon is described by a linear material-time convolution integral. A characteristic property of the Narayanaswamy aging description is material-time translational invariance, which is here taken as the basic assumption of the derivation. It is shown that only one possible definition of the material time obeys this invariance, namely, the square of the distance travelled from a configuration of the system far back in time. The paper concludes with suggestions for computer simulations that test for consequences of material-time translational invariance. One of these is the “unique-triangles property” according to which any three points on the system’s path form a triangle such that two side lengths determine the third; this is equivalent to the well-known triangular relation for time-autocorrelation functions of aging spin glasses [L. F. Cugliandolo and J. Kurchan, J. Phys. A: Math. Gen. 27, 5749 (1994)]. The unique-triangles property implies a simple geometric interpretation of out-of-equilibrium timeautocorrelation functions, which extends to aging a previously proposed framework for such functions in equilibrium [J. C. Dyre, e-print arXiv:cond-mat/9712222 (1997)].