Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 14th, 2012, 7:49 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote: Greek has a bunch of different words for "know." I can see how οἶδα is stative, but could γινώσκω be eventive, as in "come to know"?
Good and true point. Still I can see why this could be said to be "intensive", if the perfect tense refers to both "coming to know" and "knowing".
Looking at Rijksbaron, he claims that (1) if the verb is terminative/telic, then the force of the perfect is stative-confective (which I think equals extensive under the old terminology) and (2) if the verb is stative then the "perfect expresses the highest degree of that state (so-called intensive perfect)" (3d ed., p.39).

If we follow Rijksbaron's analysis, then the question really devolves to whether γινώσκω is terminative/telic or stative. Rijksbaron puts a lot of weight on the lexical aspect of a verb, especially on its telicity, but unfortunately this is not the kind of information that the usual Greek lexica and other resources usually provide.

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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by David Lim » March 15th, 2012, 3:33 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
David Lim wrote: Also, I am not sure I would consider there to be a clear distinction between the action of "knowing God" and a state of "knowledge of God". In a sense, it seems that to the writer knowing God is equivalent to loving him and keeping his commandments, which are not specific actions but a way of living, and the one who does these has known him; there is no "state resulting from an action", and neither is knowing God an "action that results in a state".
Sorry, but I'm a big fan of linguistics and metajargon. "State" is a linguistic term. You are talking more about real life distinctions; I'm talking about linguistic classification of verbs, which includes differences in usage and semantics of verbs and verb forms. "Know" is a stative verb, both in Greek and in English. It behaves somewhat differently than activities, accomplishments etc.

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexical_aspect. Notice especially http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno_Vendler: "Linguist S.-Y. Kuroda has said that Vendler's terms achievement and accomplishment "have since become basic technical vocabulary in modern linguistics,"[1] and have been used to develop numerous theories and allow for "sophisticated and highly technical" research in a variety of areas.[1]" You surely must love it! :twisted: )
Okay, why is "γινωσκειν" stative then? From what I gather, if "γινωσκειν" is stative, it should not have an "end". Why then is the imperative "γινωσκετε" used (Mark 13:29, Luke 12:39), implying that there is an "end" to that particular instance of "knowing", which is the point when they "came to know", similar to Carl's aorist example? Or did I misunderstand the meaning of "stative"? Can you help give a clear definition for a stative verb?
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » March 15th, 2012, 7:22 am

David Lim wrote: Okay, why is "γινωσκειν" stative then? From what I gather, if "γινωσκειν" is stative, it should not have an "end". Why then is the imperative "γινωσκετε" used (Mark 13:29, Luke 12:39), implying that there is an "end" to that particular instance of "knowing", which is the point when they "came to know", similar to Carl's aorist example? Or did I misunderstand the meaning of "stative"? Can you help give a clear definition for a stative verb?
Really good question. One big principle behind all grammatical or linguistic description is that you must understand the distinction between real world and the world of language. For example, if we say that something was going on, it's linguistically restricted to past, but it still doesn't mean that the real world event is restricted to past. "I was here already when you came" doesn't mean I'm not here now. Similarly, saying that a verb is stative and therefore doesn't include endpoint doesn't mean that the event couldn't end in real world. It just means that linguistically speaking a stative word doesn't include a natural endpoint, the event described doesn't have distinguishable phases, and it doesn't lead to changed circumstances. For example, if something 'exists' the existense can have an endpoint, it can have different phases etc. in the real world. But the word 'exist' doesn't have them. The word 'build' is different: between two moments of the action there has happened some progress and there is a natural endpoint to it, namely when e.g. a house has been built. It's part of the inherent meaning of the word. You can say "I am building a house" but not "I am existing" (or maybe you can, for some special effect, but not as naturally). This shows the usefullness of the classification: it's realized grammatically and semantically. If it weren't, there would be no need for such linguistic classification. These things are discussed in any basic textbook on semantics.

But for the word γινωσκειν we must remember, as was noticed, that it can have both stative ('know') and non-stative ('come to know, realize' etc.) meaning, which makes it a bit more complicated.
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by cwconrad » March 15th, 2012, 8:18 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
David Lim wrote: Okay, why is "γινωσκειν" stative then? From what I gather, if "γινωσκειν" is stative, it should not have an "end". Why then is the imperative "γινωσκετε" used (Mark 13:29, Luke 12:39), implying that there is an "end" to that particular instance of "knowing", which is the point when they "came to know", similar to Carl's aorist example? Or did I misunderstand the meaning of "stative"? Can you help give a clear definition for a stative verb?
Really good question. One big principle behind all grammatical or linguistic description is that you must understand the distinction between real world and the world of language. For example, if we say that something was going on, it's linguistically restricted to past, but it still doesn't mean that the real world event is restricted to past. "I was here already when you came" doesn't mean I'm not here now. Similarly, saying that a verb is stative and therefore doesn't include endpoint doesn't mean that the event couldn't end in real world. It just means that linguistically speaking a stative word doesn't include a natural endpoint, the event described doesn't have distinguishable phases, and it doesn't lead to changed circumstances. For example, if something 'exists' the existense can have an endpoint, it can have different phases etc. in the real world. But the word 'exist' doesn't have them. The word 'build' is different: between two moments of the action there has happened some progress and there is a natural endpoint to it, namely when e.g. a house has been built. It's part of the inherent meaning of the word. You can say "I am building a house" but not "I am existing" (or maybe you can, for some special effect, but not as naturally). This shows the usefullness of the classification: it's realized grammatically and semantically. If it weren't, there would be no need for such linguistic classification. These things are discussed in any basic textbook on semantics.

But for the word γινωσκειν we must remember, as was noticed, that it can have both stative ('know') and non-stative ('come to know, realize' etc.) meaning, which makes it a bit more complicated.
Metalinguistically challenged as I am, I must admit I have found this discussion most interesting. I've already declared my unproven and perhaps undemonstrable notion that, generally speaking, there's probably no significant difference between aorist and perfect-tense usages in GNT texts. Now I'm fascinated by this distinction between "real world" and "linguistic representation" regarding "knowing." I wonder if the question isn't one of the extent to which the verbs οἶδα and γινώσκω overlap in their Aktionsart. The fact that οἶδα and ᾕδειν, formally perfect- and pluperfect-tense forms, regularly function as stative verbs like present- and imperfect-tense forms, is one of the most important differences between the Greek verb roots ϝειδ- and γνω-. I would hope that the fact that English uses the one verb "know" as the standard equivalent of both Greek verbs is not muddying the waters here. I continue to wonder whether the perfect-tense forms in ἔγνωκα,κτλ. are really very common at all. In its fundamental sense, I think it really is an eventive verb. To what extent are οἶδα and γινώσκω like εἰμί and γίνομαι? εἰμί has no perfect-tense form; εἰμί has no aorist tense-form. That may or may not be relevant, but one has to wonder, if the fundamental sense of γινώσκω is "become acquainted," whether it is even possible to be fully acquainted -- even with any human being. Is this relevant to the question?
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » March 16th, 2012, 11:15 am

cwconrad wrote:but one has to wonder, if the fundamental sense of γινώσκω is "become acquainted," whether it is even possible to be fully acquainted -- even with any human being.
I don't quite understand what you mean. I just see "whether it is even possible to be fully acquainted -- even with any human being" as an example of real life situation which shouldn't be mixed with the world of language or world of linguistic description.

I want to remind that when talking about semantics we can't actually make so neat distinction between real world and world of language. They interact in many subtle ways. However, if they aren't distinguished in right places, confusion will follow. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telicity#Having_endpoints as a good example. More familiar example would be the exegetical fallacy of "punctiliar action": the description "punctiliar" wasn't originally meant to mean that the real world action was punctiliar.

The passage in the wikipedia article mentioned is so good that I'll quote all of it (except links and footnotes):
One often encounters the notion that telic verbs and verb phrases refer to events that have endpoints, and that atelic ones refer to events or states that don't have endpoints. The notion of having endpoints applies to events in the world rather than the expressions that refer to them. This is the most criticized property of this definition. In fact, every event or state in the world begins and ends at some point, except, perhaps, for states that can be described as "the existence of the universe." Certainly, John's being angry has a beginning, and, unless John is somehow eternally angry, it also has an endpoint. Thus, it is doubtful that one can define telic expressions by means of properties of the events or states that they refer to (a very similar problem arises with the notion that mass nouns refer to things that can't be counted). Thus, recent attempts at making the notion explicit focus on the way that telic expressions refer to, or present events or states.

Put differently, one can simply define telic verbs and verb phrases as referring to events conceptualized or presented as having endpoints, and atelic verbs and verb phrases as those conceptualized or presented as lacking endpoints.

This type of exercise can serve as a reminder of the futility of trying to link linguistic semantics to the real world without considering the intermediary agent of human cognition.
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by Scott Lawson » March 16th, 2012, 4:17 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:... I can see how οἶδα is stative, but could γινώσκω be eventive, as in "come to know"?...If we follow Rijksbaron's analysis, then the question really devolves to whether γινώσκω is terminative/telic or stative.
Stepehn
What does Roberston mean when he indicates that ἔγνωκα is sometimes used like οἶδα (1 Jo. 2:4). Is this indicating that he views ἔγνωκα as stative? His following comments seem to pertain/include ἔγνωκα: "Here we have a mere existing state in the past with the obscuration of the idea of completion (aoristic-punctiliar). But it is to be noted that the durative sense is usually a changed meaning from the aoristic sense." Cf. Rob. 904 (γ) The Intensive Past Perfect.

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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by KimmoHuovila » March 16th, 2012, 4:23 pm

David Lim wrote:Can you help give a clear definition for a stative verb?
Bernard Comrie (Aspect, pages 48–51) deals with this question. On page 49 he says
"With a state, unless something happens to change the state, then the state will continue: this applies equally to standing and to knowing. With a dynamic situation, on the other hand, the situation will only continue if it is subject to a new input of energy: this applies equally to running and to emitting a pure tone, since if John stops putting any effort into running, he will come to a stop, and if the oscilloscope is cut off from its source of power it will no longer emit a sound."
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by David Lim » March 17th, 2012, 12:25 am

KimmoHuovila wrote:
David Lim wrote:Can you help give a clear definition for a stative verb?
Bernard Comrie (Aspect, pages 48–51) deals with this question. On page 49 he says
"With a state, unless something happens to change the state, then the state will continue: this applies equally to standing and to knowing. With a dynamic situation, on the other hand, the situation will only continue if it is subject to a new input of energy: this applies equally to running and to emitting a pure tone, since if John stops putting any effort into running, he will come to a stop, and if the oscilloscope is cut off from its source of power it will no longer emit a sound."
Thanks, I think the definition of "stative" at least is clear now. Unfortunately, I then do not see what exactly it implies in 1 John 2:3. I always read a perfect to mean a present state (in the real world) that stems from a past event, whereas the aorist simply points to an event, which is usually in the past. So I see no difference between "stative" and "non-stative" verbs in the perfect tense. If a verb is stative, it still must be localised in time, and therefore I understand the aorist as referring to the whole event regardless of whether it extends indefinitely, and the perfect as referring to the present state arising from the event in the past. Thus 1 John 2:3 conveys "we have known him even as we have been keeping his commandments". The aorist is not suitable as the author did not intend to say "we came to know him before", but rather "we have known and still know him even as we have been keeping and still keep his commandments". If you think that this is not what he means, can you provide a rendering of 1 John 2:3 with as accurate nuance as possible? Thanks!

Likewise, I read 1 John 3:1 to mean "the world does not know you because it does not know him", where the aorist points to "the fact that the world does not know God", which is the reason for the present situation that "the world does not know you". We can rephrase it as ει ο κοσμος εγνω αυτον και υμας εγνω αν αλλ ου γινωσκει υμας γινωσκομεν ουν οτι ουκ εγνω αυτον. If instead the perfect had been used, it would express "the world has not known him even until now", which is different. I hope I can see what an "intensive perfect" might mean from your rendering, because the linguistic terminology does not quite give a clear picture of the actual meaning to me.
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by KimmoHuovila » March 17th, 2012, 3:46 am

David Lim wrote:Thanks, I think the definition of "stative" at least is clear now. Unfortunately, I then do not see what exactly it implies in 1 John 2:3. I always read a perfect to mean a present state (in the real world) that stems from a past event, whereas the aorist simply points to an event, which is usually in the past.
Sometimes with the perfect either the present state or the past event may be less relevant than the other or even fade out like in οἶδα. If the present state fades out, it becomes very close to an aorist. If the past event fades out, it becomes very close to a stative present. Lexical study is important.
So I see no difference between "stative" and "non-stative" verbs in the perfect tense.
A state cannot be perfective in itself. If a state is depicted using a perfective form (aorist, perfect), the resultant meaning is a change of state, usually focusing on the beginning, even though sometimes the beginning and the end of the state may be in view. A dynamic verb does not get this ingressive meaning in the perfective. That's why the beginning of a state is expressed with an aorist (ingressive aorist) and the beginning of an action is expressed with an imperfect (inchoative imperfect).
If a verb is stative, it still must be localised in time, and therefore I understand the aorist as referring to the whole event regardless of whether it extends indefinitely, and the perfect as referring to the present state arising from the event in the past.
The change of state does not extend indefinitely. It is not part of the event. It is the consequences of the event or the resulting state that extends. In this sense the aorist can be quite close to the present.
Thus 1 John 2:3 conveys "we have known him even as we have been keeping his commandments".
Or "we have come to know him"
The aorist is not suitable as the author did not intend to say "we came to know him before", but rather "we have known and still know him even as we have been keeping and still keep his commandments". If you think that this is not what he means, can you provide a rendering of 1 John 2:3 with as accurate nuance as possible? Thanks!
I am not sure the aorist would have been impossible here, but anyway the author chose a perfect.
Likewise, I read 1 John 3:1 to mean "the world does not know you because it does not know him", where the aorist points to "the fact that the world does not know God", which is the reason for the present situation that "the world does not know you".
How about "the world does not know you because it has not come to know him" or "the world does not know you because it never came to know him"?
We can rephrase it as ει ο κοσμος εγνω αυτον και υμας εγνω αν αλλ ου γινωσκει υμας γινωσκομεν ουν οτι ουκ εγνω αυτον.
How about εἰ ὁ κόσμος ἔγνω αὐτόν, γίνωσκει καὶ ὑμᾶς or εἰ ὁ κόσμος ἒγνω αὐτόν, ἐγίνωσκεν ἀν καὶ ὑμᾶς?
If instead the perfect had been used, it would express "the world has not known him even until now", which is different. I hope I can see what an "intensive perfect" might mean from your rendering, because the linguistic terminology does not quite give a clear picture of the actual meaning to me.
I am not sure how different the meaning would be with a perfect. "The world does not know him as it did not come to know him" sounds like laboring the point too much, but it gives an idea of how the perfect might be used. The aorist here is not all that different because the context makes clear the present state of knowledge is relevant even though the perfect tense was not used. If you want to take the intensive perfect idea here, how about "the world does not know him"?
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by KimmoHuovila » March 17th, 2012, 3:51 am

KimmoHuovila wrote: The change of state does not extend indefinitely. It is not part of the event. It is the consequences of the event or the resulting state that extends. In this sense the aorist can be quite close to the present.
I mean perfect, not present.
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