Re[3]: Aorist Use of EIMI

Carl W. Conrad (
Tue, 20 Aug 96 14:28:28 MST

At 4:28 PM -0500 8/20/96, wrote:
> Carl, Your thoughts are deep on _be with_ and I read it several times
> to make sure I understood. I agree with you as regards John 15:27 (and
> I have mispoken so much myself!) As I see it, John 15:27 is a parallel
> grammatical construction to John 8:58 PRIN ABRAAM GENESTHAI as an
> expression of past time. Please do not misunderstand, I greatly honor
> and respect Jesus as God's Son, but I am simply trying to compare
> apples with apples here. I try to put on my "objective hat" and say
> that if a translator can put the "have" in one spot then he can put
> the "have" in another.
> As for the expression _be with_, it does appear to be used with
> various time contexts. The future "I will come and _be with_ him..."
> as well as the past "AP' ARXHS" and the _being with_ at any time. I
> see the discussion of foreordination coming up here as well, which I
> will sidestep for now in the interests of time. But as far as
> translating goes, I agree with the point made that the temporal bounds
> of the _be with_ should be in the translation. Another example that
> came up was John 14:9;
> Tosoutw xronw meq umwn eimi kai ouk egnwkas me, Filippe;
> Here EIMI is used with the expression of _being with_ them "so much
> time." Phillip had only known Jesus for roughly three years, certainly
> enough time to know someone in Jesus' mind. To maintain that Phillip
> _was with_ Jesus earlier than that in a timeless sense, well, that
> would certainly be something we could talk about sometime over a cup
> of tea in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
> I trust your observation that Parmenides used EINAI in an absolute
> sense even though I have not personally read him. But when a temporal
> limitation is placed upon the duration, should not EIMI have a context
> boundary restriction on it at John 8:58 as it also does at John 15:27
> and as implied at John 14:9? I don't mind posting to the list but I
> don't necessarily want to be flamed either or put anyone in a bad
> light. And I also do not see how it detracts any from Jesus' nature.
> My personal thoughts from reading John (and likely theologically
> debateable) is that the believer would come to belong to Jesus when
> the believer would put faith (pisteuw) in Jesus and would of course
> persist in that course. The believer is property of the Father but the
> Father has allowed the Son oversight over his belongings, thus the
> expression "They were yours and you gave them to me." This is the
> thought behind the "oneness" in the context of John 10:27-30 that the
> Father gave the sheep to Jesus. It was at the point of "pistis" that
> the believer qualified for (but had not yet obtained) ZWH AIWNIOS.
>It appears to me that Time and Eternity are so curiously interlaced in
>John's gospel that it is difficult to make unambiguous assertions about the
>sense of the statements John's Jesus makes about them.
> Agreed. I had no idea that this would be so debated! Perhaps it would
> be best to leave it as is and say that the other points of view cannot
> be easily criticized. Should we post our thoughts to this list or just
> leave it as is? I have a feeling that some will just keep this one
> going and going like the Energizer Bunny.

Enough already! There's so much here on which I agree with you that I can't separate it out from what I disagree with you about, and there may also be a lot that I haven't yet adequately sorted out in my own thinking about John's gospel and Johannine diction. I do agree that John 15:27 is in the same category as 8:58--but I would not want to use a perfect tense to translate either one; I agree also that John 14:9 appears to be different--but I'm not altogether sure it really is. Ever since I first read Bultmann's commentary on John I've had the conviction that Johannine conversation is always something more than it appears to be on the surface--from that first cryptic exchange of Jesus with the disciples in 1:35-51 with its strange counterplay of MENW in a double sense of temporary residence and permanent abode. One conviction I have is that it is wrong and dangerous to read Johannine narrative as even intended to have a straightforward historical dimension such as the synoptics (at l
east Matthew and Luke--I have my doubts about Mark's intentions). That is to say, despite the fact that I think historical facts that won't harmonize with the Synoptics (Philip, Peter and Andrew are from Bethsaida, not Capernaum!) are imbedded in John's traditions, all of these dialogues are "dialogues in limbo," all of them somehow _sub specie aeternitatis_. That's what I meant by the "curious interlacing of time and eternity." I don't know that I can make this intelligible or persuasive, and I think it's just as well that this discussion is OFF-LIST. I don't know that there's any point in continuing it. We probably really do disagree on the central matter of what the verb EIMI may legitimately mean (however it gets translated best into English.

One question: is this matter of the sense of EIMI central also to the matter you had a notion of posing on the list regarding John 1:1?

But enough already!

Best regards, c