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 Eeli Kaikkonen » March 17th, 2012, 5:21 am

At this point I feel a need to say, even thouhg it's out-of-limits in this forum, that we can't understand lexicon or grammar used by an author apart from the whole work and even larger corpus. I must take Biblical theology and exegesis into account. For 1John it means his letters and the Gospel and their backgrounds.

John 1:10: Ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. The aorist refers to past events: he was here even physically and yet they didn't come to know him. 1John 3:1: διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν. They didn't come to know him when they should have - now they, in similar manner, don't know us. (The people belonging to the world are not exactly the same people every time.) Taking the exegetical backround of 1John into consideration his purpose is to assure the readers of their knowlegde of God/Christ which they have come to question, maybe because of some false teaching about what "knowing" God means. Therefore in 2:3 the intensive meaning, "we really do know him", feels completely natural. The aoristic interpretation isn't natural in the context, and if the only purpose was to say that "we know", why not use the present tense as in many other places?

Again, I don't mean that this is necessarily the correct explanation - I just want to show why I feel that "intensive" is defensible.
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by cwconrad » March 17th, 2012, 9:14 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:At this point I feel a need to say, even thouhg it's out-of-limits in this forum, that we can't understand lexicon or grammar used by an author apart from the whole work and even larger corpus. I must take Biblical theology and exegesis into account. For 1John it means his letters and the Gospel and their backgrounds.

John 1:10: Ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. The aorist refers to past events: he was here even physically and yet they didn't come to know him. 1John 3:1: διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν. They didn't come to know him when they should have - now they, in similar manner, don't know us. (The people belonging to the world are not exactly the same people every time.) Taking the exegetical backround of 1John into consideration his purpose is to assure the readers of their knowlegde of God/Christ which they have come to question, maybe because of some false teaching about what "knowing" God means. Therefore in 2:3 the intensive meaning, "we really do know him", feels completely natural. The aoristic interpretation isn't natural in the context, and if the only purpose was to say that "we know", why not use the present tense as in many other places?

Again, I don't mean that this is necessarily the correct explanation - I just want to show why I feel that "intensive" is defensible.
This is consistent with the Raymond Brown's view as set forth in The Community of the Beloved Disciple, that this letter was composed and promulgated following a schism of the community in which a majority espousing gnostic interpretation of the gospel (GJn) left the community, and that the attitudes of those seceding are contrasted with the attitudes of those who have remained in the community. I'm not defending this view, simply noting that it's consistent with the above analysis.

I continue to wonder about the usage of the perfect tense of γινώσκω, which would seem to be an eventive rather than stative verb -- in contrast to οἶδα, ᾔδειν which is clearly stative. The question might be, to what extent γινώσκω and οἶδα are semantically distinct in usage and to what extent they overlap. For what it's worth, I note that γινώσκω is found 97x in the aorist in the GNT, of which 24 instances appear in GJn, only 2 in the letters (I don't include Rev in the Johannine corpus); on the other hand, γινώσκω is found only 21x in the GNT, of which 7 instances appear in GJn, 9x in the Johannine letters; γινώσκω appears in the perfect tense only 5x outside the Johannine corpus (4x in 1 Cor, 1x in 2Cor). Gnosis is a theme in 1 Cor.
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by David Lim » March 17th, 2012, 12:53 pm

Thanks for your careful comments! However I hope you don't mind me asking for some evidence. :)
KimmoHuovila wrote:
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.
I think fading out is hard to define and even harder to test so I cannot argue on that point.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
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).
But here I wish to ask if you have evidence that a "stative" verb in the perfect tense represents a change of state and usually focuses on the beginning, as I have not noticed it.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
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.
Likewise I almost always see the aorist used to convey the past event, so I would like to see evidence that it is used to refer to the consequences or the resulting state instead.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
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"
Agreed.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
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"?
Yes. I would actually render using the past tense but I was trying to convey that I think the aorist merely states the fact and is not really a past event at all.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
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?
The first seems incorrect because the present tense does not go with the condition that is in the past tense. The second seems okay but I do not know what really would be the difference between the imperfect and the aorist in the second part.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
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"?
I think the main difference is that I consider time as a significant part of the meaning of the tense even for "stative" verbs. If you can provide some examples of what I asked, perhaps I would be able to see your point of view better.
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by KimmoHuovila » March 17th, 2012, 2:04 pm

David Lim wrote:Thanks for your careful comments! However I hope you don't mind me asking for some evidence. :)
Some of this stuff is discussed in my thesis at http://ethesis.helsinki.fi/julkaisut/hu ... wardsa.pdf. Instead of repeating it, I will just refer to the relevant section.
David Lim wrote:
KimmoHuovila wrote: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.
I think fading out is hard to define and even harder to test so I cannot argue on that point.
I used fading out as an informal way to refer to the fact that some features are less central to categorization than others or may even become irrelevant. The theoretical background (prototype theory) is discussed in section 1.4 in my thesis. Its application to the perfect is found in section 5.3.
David Lim wrote:
KimmoHuovila wrote: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).
But here I wish to ask if you have evidence that a "stative" verb in the perfect tense represents a change of state and usually focuses on the beginning, as I have not noticed it.
I may have overstated my evidence, as I do not have statistics. However, the most common (my gut feeling) result of having a state verb in the perfective aspect (aorist) is to focus on the beginning (change of state). The perfect stem combines the perfectiveness of the event with the resulting state. In 1. John 2:3 the change of state refers to the fact that the "we" of ἐγνώκαμεν did not always know "him".
David Lim wrote:
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.
Likewise I almost always see the aorist used to convey the past event, so I would like to see evidence that it is used to refer to the consequences or the resulting state instead.
Would 1 John 3:1 qualify as evidence? The world did not know "him", and therefore it does not know "us" ("you"). I think the logic is that if the world knew "him" now, it should know "us" now. However, in the past, it did not know him. It was evident that they did not know him as they rejected him. Yet, if this not knowing him had lost its consequences (and thus they would know him now), the world should know "us", too. The past οὐκ ἔγνω is relevant in the present.
David Lim wrote:
KimmoHuovila wrote: 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"?
Yes. I would actually render using the past tense but I was trying to convey that I think the aorist merely states the fact and is not really a past event at all.
Why not past?
KimmoHuovila wrote: How about εἰ ὁ κόσμος ἔγνω αὐτόν, γίνωσκει καὶ ὑμᾶς or εἰ ὁ κόσμος ἒγνω αὐτόν, ἐγίνωσκεν ἀν καὶ ὑμᾶς?
The first seems incorrect because the present tense does not go with the condition that is in the past tense.
Why not? If the world knew him when he was on earth, they would know you now.
The second seems okay but I do not know what really would be the difference between the imperfect and the aorist in the second part.
I was trying to make the same point with counterfactual conditionals.
David Lim wrote:
KimmoHuovila wrote:
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"?
I think the main difference is that I consider time as a significant part of the meaning of the tense even for "stative" verbs. If you can provide some examples of what I asked, perhaps I would be able to see your point of view better.
I am not sure I understand. Above you wrote that the aorist merely states a fact and does not refer to a past event, and here you say time is a significant part.
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by David Lim » March 18th, 2012, 1:05 am

KimmoHuovila wrote:Some of this stuff is discussed in my thesis at http://ethesis.helsinki.fi/julkaisut/hu ... wardsa.pdf. Instead of repeating it, I will just refer to the relevant section.
David Lim wrote:
KimmoHuovila wrote: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.
I think fading out is hard to define and even harder to test so I cannot argue on that point.
I used fading out as an informal way to refer to the fact that some features are less central to categorization than others or may even become irrelevant. The theoretical background (prototype theory) is discussed in section 1.4 in my thesis. Its application to the perfect is found in section 5.3.
Okay I have read through section 5.3, but I actually do not really see how it is relevant. I do not consider the perfect tense as denoting a state of the subject of the verb. Rather I understand it as conveying the present state resulting from the past verb, and this present state may occasionally be in a different reference frame from the speaker's. So currently I have not seen any exceptions to this. I might have been unclear earlier but I meant that I consider time intrinsic to the perfect tense but not quite for the aorist, though the fact of occurrence of an event usually implies that it occurred in the past.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
David Lim wrote:
KimmoHuovila wrote: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).
But here I wish to ask if you have evidence that a "stative" verb in the perfect tense represents a change of state and usually focuses on the beginning, as I have not noticed it.
I may have overstated my evidence, as I do not have statistics. However, the most common (my gut feeling) result of having a state verb in the perfective aspect (aorist) is to focus on the beginning (change of state). The perfect stem combines the perfectiveness of the event with the resulting state. In 1. John 2:3 the change of state refers to the fact that the "we" of ἐγνώκαμεν did not always know "him".
I still think the perfect simply refers to the fact that "we have known him and still know him now", and the reason is that "we having been keeping his commandments and still keep them now".
KimmoHuovila wrote:
David Lim wrote:
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.
Likewise I almost always see the aorist used to convey the past event, so I would like to see evidence that it is used to refer to the consequences or the resulting state instead.
Would 1 John 3:1 qualify as evidence? The world did not know "him", and therefore it does not know "us" ("you"). I think the logic is that if the world knew "him" now, it should know "us" now. However, in the past, it did not know him. It was evident that they did not know him as they rejected him. Yet, if this not knowing him had lost its consequences (and thus they would know him now), the world should know "us", too. The past οὐκ ἔγνω is relevant in the present.
I agree with your logic. But it does not imply that the verb itself has anything to do with the present. "For the world to know you, it must have known him". Therefore "if the world does not know (present) you now, it must be that it did not ever know (aorist) him". The aorist "εγνω" is with respect to the present "γινωσκει".
KimmoHuovila wrote:
David Lim wrote:
KimmoHuovila wrote: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"?
Yes. I would actually render using the past tense but I was trying to convey that I think the aorist merely states the fact and is not really a past event at all.
Why not past?
I view the whole proposition as a timeless fact, in which the aorist "εγνω" is a necessary requirement for the present "γινωσκει". In that sense it is not really a past event, but indeed is a fact of the past with respect to the present situation.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
KimmoHuovila wrote:How about εἰ ὁ κόσμος ἔγνω αὐτόν, γίνωσκει καὶ ὑμᾶς or εἰ ὁ κόσμος ἒγνω αὐτόν, ἐγίνωσκεν ἀν καὶ ὑμᾶς?
The first seems incorrect because the present tense does not go with the condition that is in the past tense.
Why not? If the world knew him when he was on earth, they would know you now.
The second seems okay but I do not know what really would be the difference between the imperfect and the aorist in the second part.
I was trying to make the same point with counterfactual conditionals.
I have never seen "ει" used with an aorist in the condition ("protasis") and a present in the conclusion ("apodosis"). That is why I said I thought the first was incorrect. As for the second, I am just more used to seeing the aorist used with "αν" rather than the imperfect.
KimmoHuovila wrote:
David Lim wrote:I think the main difference is that I consider time as a significant part of the meaning of the tense even for "stative" verbs. If you can provide some examples of what I asked, perhaps I would be able to see your point of view better.
I am not sure I understand. Above you wrote that the aorist merely states a fact and does not refer to a past event, and here you say time is a significant part.
Yes I tried to clarify above. I think that in the indicative the only tense that is without time is the aorist, so the perfect tense would involve a past event and a resulting present state.
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Re: Force of the perfect ἐγνώκαμεν in 1 John 2:3

Post by KimmoHuovila » March 18th, 2012, 3:19 am

David Lim wrote: Okay I have read through section 5.3, but I actually do not really see how it is relevant. I do not consider the perfect tense as denoting a state of the subject of the verb. Rather I understand it as conveying the present state resulting from the past verb, and this present state may occasionally be in a different reference frame from the speaker's. So currently I have not seen any exceptions to this. I might have been unclear earlier but I meant that I consider time intrinsic to the perfect tense but not quite for the aorist, though the fact of occurrence of an event usually implies that it occurred in the past.
I argued that in οἶδα, for example, there is no reference to the event of acquiring knowledge, even though typically perfect refers to a completed action that results in a state. This is an example of the event "fading out". There was also a lot of material in the section that is irrelevant to this point.
I still think the perfect simply refers to the fact that "we have known him and still know him now", and the reason is that "we having been keeping his commandments and still keep them now".
Here is probably where we see things differently. Whether one wants to see γινώσκω to be a state (of knowing) or a dynamic verb (of acquiring knowledge), the perfective aspect of the past event of the perfect tense implies that there has been a change, and thus they did not always know him. So instead of "we have known him and still know him now", I would rather say "we have come to know him and still know him now" (γινώσκω as a state verb) or "we have gotten to know him and still know him now" (γινώσκω as a dynamic verb).
I agree with your logic. But it does not imply that the verb itself has anything to do with the present.
It is true that it does not make the aorist either present or perfect. However, it shows that the aorist can be used in a situation where contextual focus is on the present implications instead of the past. The perfect is more typical in these cases.
I view the whole proposition as a timeless fact, in which the aorist "εγνω" is a necessary requirement for the present "γινωσκει". In that sense it is not really a past event, but indeed is a fact of the past with respect to the present situation.
So it is past in reference to the present, that is it is relative time to a timeless present.
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Intensive perfect

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » May 16th, 2015, 9:00 am

M. Aubrey's recent blog post made me find this old thread again. Interestingly he writes about intensive perfect semantics, saying it's not "contradictory to the very nature of completives".
It is perhaps best illustrated like this.

A change of state is a process from one state to another state.
A fully completed change of state is the the strongest version of the final state.
By analogy, the strongest version of a state (i.e. intensive) is a more completed form [sic] state.
This seems to be somewhat similar logic I had here.
The claim about completives with state predicate simply isn’t my claim. It’s from one of my central pieces of secondary literature: Bybee, Perkins, and Pagliuca’s (1994, 74). All I did was cite it and then effectively say, “This happens in Post-Classical Greek, too.”
So this is cross-linguistically defensible. But as has been noted here, γινώσκω is still a puzzling word.
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