Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

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R. Perkins
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Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by R. Perkins » May 21st, 2015, 4:30 am

Hello all. Quick question:

Just wondering why translations such as the NASB & NET (reputable translations in my opinion) translate the future verb ἔσται as a past tense in Mt. 18.18? I am thinking that the force of the indicative mood is why, but could be mistaken (be merciful to me :oops: ).

"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven" (NASB).

Thank you much in advance.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 21st, 2015, 6:20 am

The English "shall have been ..." is not a past tense; it's a future perfect.
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R. Perkins
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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by R. Perkins » May 21st, 2015, 12:27 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:The English "shall have been ..." is not a past tense; it's a future perfect.
Thank you - was wondering if it was kind of like a historical present in reverse (i.e., in the future). The rendering "shall HAVE BEEN" was throwing me off.

Much appreciated.
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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 21st, 2015, 6:10 pm

R. Perkins wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:The English "shall have been ..." is not a past tense; it's a future perfect.
Thank you - was wondering if it was kind of like a historical present in reverse (i.e., in the future). The rendering "shall HAVE BEEN" was throwing me off.
It's more like a past that relative to a future point of time. By the time you get to this point in the future, the event has already happened and its effects are still relevant at that time. It doesn't really say anything about the present time.

In colloquial speech, a lot of English speakers just use the present perfect, and hearers usually figure out from the context that it's relative to a future point. The "shall have been" just makes it clearer.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 25th, 2015, 1:27 pm

I was going to suggest that a disadvantage of being an English speaker at this point was that we assume / imply an antecedent action, which is not necessarily assumed in / implied by the Greek tense system. "The work will have been finished" leaves us expecting a "by the time he arrives" (or something like that). "Will have been released" (by the time you ask) is an interpretation that is sort of pushed for in an English grammar system, but doesn't seem inherent in the Greek.

Perhaps cf. Luke 21:17 Καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου - a simple future passive.

But Stephen, after your comments, I'm wondering if there is more to it. :?:
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 25th, 2015, 6:28 pm

If we're talking about the meaning of the Greek, I think it just means that at some future time in heaven (presumably the eschaton), the subject will be in a bound and loosed state respectively. As these are result states, presumably the action that produced the result state precedes it, but that's not really the point of the form. The English translation "will be bound / loosed" is mostly fine, except that it is ambiguous between an eventive passive and a resultative, when it is the latter that we want.
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R. Perkins
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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by R. Perkins » May 26th, 2015, 3:33 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:I was going to suggest that a disadvantage of being an English speaker at this point was that we assume / imply an antecedent action, which is not necessarily assumed in / implied by the Greek tense system. "The work will have been finished" leaves us expecting a "by the time he arrives" (or something like that). "Will have been released" (by the time you ask) is an interpretation that is sort of pushed for in an English grammar system, but doesn't seem inherent in the Greek.

Perhaps cf. Luke 21:17 Καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου - a simple future passive.

But Stephen, after your comments, I'm wondering if there is more to it. :?:
Parson my ignorance in asking this question, but I thought the above verb was a future middle (I realize that {according to GGBB} the middle & passives can have some overlap), but my tools state that the verb is a middle voice...am I missing something (i.e., misunderstanding my own source?)?

BTW - good point about the disadvantage of English speakers.
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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by R. Perkins » May 26th, 2015, 3:40 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:If we're talking about the meaning of the Greek, I think it just means that at some future time in heaven (presumably the eschaton), the subject will be in a bound and loosed state respectively. As these are result states, presumably the action that produced the result state precedes it, but that's not really the point of the form. The English translation "will be bound / loosed" is mostly fine, except that it is ambiguous between an eventive passive and a resultative, when it is the latter that we want.
Thank you much for your astute observations - just what I needed.

Is the ambiguity between an eventive contra resultant - left unexplained in the translation - the cause for confusion for a beginner like myself as to how a past tense verb can be rendered as a future?

Hope this is not sounding too elementary (may have many questions as I progress in my personal studies) :oops: .
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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 26th, 2015, 4:22 am

R. Perkins wrote:Is the ambiguity between an eventive contra resultant - left unexplained in the translation - the cause for confusion for a beginner like myself as to how a past tense verb can be rendered as a future?
It will only be a cause for confusion if the beginner thinks the translation "will be bound" can nail down the binding to a particular time (that is, if it's referring to the binding event, not the resulting bound state). But the Greek isn't really about the when the event happens, it is about when that resulting state of being bound will definitely hold in the future.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Future Tense Verbs Translated as Past Tense?

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 26th, 2015, 5:52 am

R. Perkins wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:I was going to suggest that a disadvantage of being an English speaker at this point was that we assume / imply an antecedent action, which is not necessarily assumed in / implied by the Greek tense system. "The work will have been finished" leaves us expecting a "by the time he arrives" (or something like that). "Will have been released" (by the time you ask) is an interpretation that is sort of pushed for in an English grammar system, but doesn't seem inherent in the Greek.

Perhaps cf. Luke 21:17 Καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου - a simple future passive.

But Stephen, after your comments, I'm wondering if there is more to it. :?:
Parson my ignorance in asking this question, but I thought the above verb was a future middle (I realize that {according to GGBB} the middle & passives can have some overlap), but my tools state that the verb is a middle voice...am I missing something (i.e., misunderstanding my own source?)?

BTW - good point about the disadvantage of English speakers.
Sorry about that. I try to be more strict in my use or grammatical terminology in the beginners' sub-forum, but slipped up here. Medio-passive or subject affected would have been better.

Another way that English can really mess with the Greek is logically implied negatives. I will ... or I was ... can cause some people to assume that the negative of the verb is implied at another time. That is not something that I've read much about.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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