Saturday, January 28, 2017

John 5:24, Present Participles, and Gnomic Perfects

The present participles ἀκούων and πιστεύων in Jn. 5:24 are instances of verbal adjectives that signal a durative or progressive Aktionsart. An interlocutor once took exception to this claim, it seems, on the basis of mostly theological rather than grammatical factors--although his grammatical objections were not wholly lacking. For instance, Jn. 5:24 also contains the perfect verbal form μεταβέβηκεν.

I submit that the perfect here in no way disproves my suggestion that the two participles in 5:24 are durative per their Aktionsart. Richard A. Young writes:

"The perfect is normally interpreted as expressing a completed act with continuing results. There are problems with this definition if time is not a function of form, for completed acts are always past. Contextually the perfect may refer to something past (Matt. 19:8), present (Matt. 27:43), possibly future (Matt. 20:23; John 5:24; Jas. 5:2-3), omnitemporal (Rom. 7:2), or timeless (John 3:18). It seems better to view the perfect and pluperfect as members of the stative aspect in which the speaker conceives the verbal idea as a condition or state of affairs" (Intermediate NT Greek, p. 126).

Wallace also classifies the perfect in Jn 5:24 as a "gnomic perfect." He explains: "The perfect tense may be used with a gnomic force, to speak of a generic or proverbial occurrence" (GGBB, p. 580-581). One could also speak of the gnomic perfect as a timeless perfect. See James 1:24.

In any event, it could be possible that John is saying, the one hearing and believing ὁ τὸν λόγον μου (the Son's word) is the one who has eternal life timelessly speaking. As Alford exclaims:

"But here the faith is set before us as an enduring faith, and its effects described in their completion (see Ephesians 1:19, Ephesians 1:20)."


Duncan said...

1 John 3:14.

Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...

Even if Christians "have" eternal life now, it might still result from ongoing activity. We are called to be holy as Jehovah God is holy.