πέμψαντός in J. 6.38?

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R. Perkins
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Re: πέμψαντός in J. 6.38?

Post by R. Perkins » January 15th, 2018, 9:07 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
January 15th, 2018, 8:53 am
R. Perkins wrote:
January 15th, 2018, 12:02 am
I said, "“From what I understand (again, I am only Greek II), it's important to remember that in substantive uses of the participle, the idea of time or even aspect is rather in the background. And this is a substantival participle, functioning as a noun, and that's really all it does. It isn't acting like a verb that derives its time from that of the main verb.”
Exactly.
R. Perkins wrote:
January 15th, 2018, 12:02 am
The response
Was that a response? He doesn't really address what you said - particularly this:
It isn't acting like a verb that derives its time from that of the main verb.
He seems to ignore that entirely here:
Now, as much as you do not want to see it, the aorist participle πέμψαντός still retains its linguistically encoded verbal property, and hence it is still nonetheless an aorist. Now, seeing that it is still an aorist, and seeing that it still retains its verbal property...since aorist participles were most frequently used of an action antecedent in time to the action of the principal verb, and since here in John 6:38 (A) we have the principal verb of καταβέβηκα (perfect active indicative), and since in (C) we have πέμψαντός (aorist active participle), then it is clear that the action of the one who sent the speaker took place BEFORE the action of descending from heaven.
Here the aorist gives the flavor "he who sent me" rather than "he who sends me", and it's action is not directly related to the main verb, it is understood in the context of the noun phrase. So this isn't really a good syntactic argument.

But I also think there's a better argument based on verb meaning and context: logically, the verbs καταβέβηκα and πέμψαντός seem to be connected. "He who sent me" indicates a past time. Was he sent before he came or after he came? To answer that question meaningfully, I think it's helpful to take a look at the use of πέμπω, καταβαίνω, ἄρτος, and οὐρανός in John 6, perhaps starting with verse 31.

In this context, what sending is in view? What coming is in view? How are sending and coming related to heaven? The goal of learning the language is to read carefully in context, not to do some kind of mathematical proof of theology using grammatical terms.
My thought when I initially read the response regarding the aorist participle was that there was no magic in the tense. It just means an undefined occurrence prior to the time of the utterance by the speaker. And, I felt like the response was merely wrapped nicely in grammatical terminology to mask a theological prejudice (I see this all the time)....and I also knew y'all would be able to strip it down far better than I can :oops:!
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R. Perkins
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Joined: January 18th, 2013, 9:55 pm

Re: πέμψαντός in J. 6.38?

Post by R. Perkins » January 15th, 2018, 9:13 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
January 15th, 2018, 11:12 am
R. Perkins wrote:
January 14th, 2018, 11:46 pm
From the perspective of text linguistics and discourse analysis, clauses (B) and (C) are tied in with (A) and both flow from (A).

(A) ὅτι καταβέβηκα ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ
(B) οὐχ ἵνα ποιῶ τὸ θέλημα τὸ ἐμὸν
(C) ἀλλὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με
Here's one problem I see with his reasoning on the basis of syntax alone: the verb that governs (C) is not πέμψαντός. Because the participle occurs within the noun phrase τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με, it cannot govern the dependent clause as a whole. Something has to function as the verb that governs this dependent clause - it might be a verbless clause, or it might be ellipsis, where the verb is already understood in context and does not need to be repeated.

In this case, it's obvious from the construction, in either English or Greek: "not to do my own will, but the will of the one who sent me". What verb governs "the will of the one who sent me"? Ignore the fancy grammatical terms for a second and use your natural sense for language. He did not come to do his own will. Why did he come down? Obviously, "to do the will of the one who sent him".

Let's ask that in Greek:

διὰ τί καταβέβηκε;
ἵνα ποιῇ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός αύτόν.

Bingo. We've found the verb that governs the dependent clause (C).

Let me add that in parentheses:

(A) ὅτι καταβέβηκα ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ
(B) οὐχ ἵνα ποιῶ τὸ θέλημα τὸ ἐμὸν
(C) ἀλλὰ (ἵνα ποιῶ) τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με

So the verb governing each dependent clause is ποιῶ, not the participle πέμψαντός. He came to do something, and τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με is what he came to do.
Wow - this really opened things up to me better. There was something that was not settling right w. me about his assertions of the dependent clauses.

For one thing, I am not convinced that J. 6.38(A), ὅτι καταβέβηκα ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, is an independent clause since it's a ὅτι clause. Perhaps I speak ignorantly here, but can a clause that begins w. ὅτι stand "independent" of the previous statement that it is explicating?

I plan to go back & reread this more closely. Very helpful post.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: πέμψαντός in J. 6.38?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 16th, 2018, 6:14 pm

R. Perkins wrote:
January 15th, 2018, 9:13 pm
I am not convinced that J. 6.38(A), ὅτι καταβέβηκα ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, is an independent clause since it's a ὅτι clause. Perhaps I speak ignorantly here, but can a clause that begins w. ὅτι stand "independent" of the previous statement that it is explicating?

I plan to go back & reread this more closely. Very helpful post.
A subordinating conjunction is a dependent marker, so you're right. But linguistic structures are recursive, and it contains the clause καταβέβηκα ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, which can stand alone as a sentence - the other two clauses are dependent on it. I don't think you can call this an independent clause, but it's acting like one here, these other clauses are clearly dependent on it. So in this shorter sentence, it is an independent clause:

καταβέβηκα ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ οὐχ ἵνα ποιῶ τὸ θέλημα τὸ ἐμὸν ἀλλὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με.

Treating this as an embedded sentence is a pretty good way to think clearly about it. If you want to explain this to a linguist, say that καταβέβηκα ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ is both subordinate to a higher clause and superordinate to these two lower clauses.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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