John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

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Peter Streitenberger
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John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by Peter Streitenberger » December 19th, 2014, 10:49 am

Dear friends,
in Joh 3,32 it states "And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony." Why are threre two distict tenses in that phrase "ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν". The perfect should be to explain, pointing to a preincarnal vision of heavenly things which are now to be testified, but why the Aorist "heard" and not a second Perfect form? That makes me wonder why.....
Yours
Peter, Germany
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 19th, 2014, 12:57 pm

C. K. Barrett concludes that "it is does not seem possible to distinguish between the perfect and the aorist", and dismisses BDF's attempt to do so:
Barrett
“It does not seem possible to distinguish between the perfect and the aorist. For an attempt to do so see B.D., 342, where it is argued that the difference of tense shows that greaterf stress is laid on seeing; contrast 1 John 1.13, where equal stress is laid on seeing and hearing.” - C.K.Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text – Second Edition, 1978, pg. 225

BDF
BDF 342(5)(2) Also Jn 3: 32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν puts the chief emphasis on seeing (the text is less certain however) …
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Bruce McKinnon
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by Bruce McKinnon » December 20th, 2014, 9:44 pm

I'm wondering about a possibly simplistic explanation. I don't have the means to do a proper analysis of how frequently ἤκουσεν occurs in the perfect. Is it possible that the explanation is simply that the perfect of this verb was a form which, for whatever reason, was not commonly used? I'll now wait to be shot down. :)
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by David Lim » December 20th, 2014, 10:08 pm

Bruce McKinnon wrote:I'm wondering about a possibly simplistic explanation. I don't have the means to do a proper analysis of how frequently ἤκουσεν occurs in the perfect. Is it possible that the explanation is simply that the perfect of this verb was a form which, for whatever reason, was not commonly used? I'll now wait to be shot down. :)
That can't be, because John does use the perfect in John 4:42, 5:37, 18:21 and 1 John 1:1, 1:3, 1:5, 4:3. The perfect is also used in Acts 6:11, 6:14, 9:13 and Rom 15:21, as well as in 29 places in the LXX. Note that 1 John 1:1 uses exactly the same two verbs, just with "ηκουσεν" instead of "ακηκοαμεν". I was wondering whether a chain of perfects has a tendency to have the second verb onwards expressed using aorists instead, but I don't have sufficient evidence for it.
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 20th, 2014, 10:11 pm

Bruce McKinnon wrote:I'm wondering about a possibly simplistic explanation. I don't have the means to do a proper analysis of how frequently ἤκουσεν occurs in the perfect. Is it possible that the explanation is simply that the perfect of this verb was a form which, for whatever reason, was not commonly used? I'll now wait to be shot down. :)
In the Gospel of John, ἀκούω occurs in the perfect 3 times, in the aorist 34 times. In the Greek New Testament, ἀκούω occurs in the perfect only 10 times, almost 3 of those are in the Gospel of John, 4 more are in 1 John, if anyone is comfortable with ἀκούω in the perfect, it's John. ἀκούω occurs in the aorist 267 times.
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 21st, 2014, 1:54 am

I do find it a bit surprising though that, at least by my count, ἀκούω never occurs in the perfect singular in the New Testament, even though that form is not uncommon in the LXX and seems called for here. Here is my count:

ἀκούω perfect – distribution by person
---------NT ---- LXX
1 sg --- 0 ------ 10
2 sg --- 0 -------- 5
3 sg --- 0 -------- 7

1 pl ---- 6 ------- 6
2 pl ---- 2 --------1
3 pl -----1 ------- 4

Compare with ὁράω perfect
---------NT ---- LXX
1 sg --- 4 ------ 34
2 sg --- 4 ------ 23
3 sg ---11 ----- 12

1 pl ---- 5 ------ 7
2 pl ---- 3 -------9
3 pl -----2 ------ 12

Significant or happenstance? Since John accounts for 6 of the 9 NT instances (by my count) of ἀκούω in the perfect, could this (disinclination for this form in the singular) be an issue of personal style? That would make Barrett's conclusion right - the two words have the same force and the different tense reflects personal style.
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 21st, 2014, 8:50 am

I think it's very difficult to know, with any certainty, why a writer chose one form over another, and the statistical analysis in this thread is based on very little data.

I suspect that ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν means the same thing as ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἀκηκόεν. I wonder how many of the other instances of ἤκουσεν in the New Testament could be changed to ἀκηκόεν without significantly changing the meaning ...
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by cwconrad » December 21st, 2014, 9:19 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:I think it's very difficult to know, with any certainty, why a writer chose one form over another, and the statistical analysis in this thread is based on very little data.

I suspect that ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν means the same thing as ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἀκηκόεν. I wonder how many of the other instances of ἤκουσεν in the New Testament could be changed to ἀκηκόεν without significantly changing the meaning ...
I agree with Jonathan here. To be sure, The figures are indeed not very significant statistically. I don't think that the perfect and the aorist have merged so that they're interchangeable in our era, but I think that they are in the process of merging and that a distinction here shouldn't be assumed -- an argument for it should be offered.
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ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 21st, 2014, 11:09 am

I think it's very difficult to know, with any certainty, why a writer chose one form over another, and the statistical analysis in this thread is based on very little data.
Agreed and agreed. I guess I just expect the tense forms to match unless there's a distinction in meaning or emphasis, especially in a declaration of some force (as here, or 1John 1). But now I see the same mix of these two words from Luke:
ὅτι ἔσῃ μάρτυς αὐτῷ πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὧν ἑώρακας καὶ ἤκουσας. (Act 22:15)
It would be interesting to know whether this perfect-aorist combination occurs with other words.
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Re: John 3,32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν - question on tenses

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » December 21st, 2014, 2:08 pm

From my quick Bibleworks scan, this perfect-aorist combination certainly does not seem very common - at least in the NT. I searched for all perfects, followed within a couple of words by an aorist, and then sifted through the 42 hits. Besides the two discussed:
ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν τοῦτο μαρτυρεῖ, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν αὐτοῦ οὐδεὶς λαμβάνει. (John 3:32)
ὅτι ἔσῃ μάρτυς αὐτῷ πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὧν ἑώρακας καὶ ἤκουσας. (Acts 22:15)
I found only two others which seem to match the construction/purpose in question. Revelation 3:3 is interesting because it is John again (may I assume?) and it is ἀκούω again:
Ἐπαινῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς ὅτι πάντα μου μέμνησθε καί, καθὼς παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, τὰς παραδόσεις κατέχετε. (1Co 11:2)
μνημόνευε οὖν πῶς εἴληφας καὶ ἤκουσας (Rev 3:3)
There are two more which are similar - but not quite the same:
ἣν οὐδεὶς τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἔγνωκεν• εἰ γὰρ ἔγνωσαν, οὐκ ἂν τὸν κύριον τῆς δόξης ἐσταύρωσαν. (1Co 2:8)
κατενόησεν γὰρ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀπελήλυθεν καὶ εὐθέως ἐπελάθετο ὁποῖος ἦν. (Jam 1:24)
I found 41 perfect-perfect constructions, most of which appear similar to 1Jn 1 in force, and 10 of which are perfect-και-perfect.
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