The negation of perfect verb forms

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.
Garrett Tyson
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The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Garrett Tyson » September 8th, 2018, 3:17 pm

Has anyone ever studied the negation of perfect verb forms? Any grammars talk about it? I'm wondering if coming at it from the negated perfect examples would shed light on the perfect's aspectual value. What exactly is being denied? Why is the perfect being used? And does this help us understand the perfect in general?

I had a theory that if the perfect is completive (or completive-resultive), then a negated perfect wouldn't (always?) be a wholesale denial/rejection of something, but would instead sometimes suggest the negated verb was viewed as in process but not completed. It's the completed nature of the verb that's being denied, but not the entirety of the process represented by the verb.

If Decker is right, and the perfect portrays a state, with no notion of progress or change, then the negation of the perfect should always be a straightforward rejection of the given (sometimes complicated) state.

If Con Campbell is right, and the perfect is imperfective, then the negation should be.... what? (I haven't read Campbell).



Basically, what I was expecting/hoping for was something like Phil 3:12:

Phil 3:12 Οὐχ ὅτι ἤδη ἔλαβον ἢ ἤδη τετελείωμαι, διώκω δὲ εἰ καὶ καταλάβω, ἐφʼ ᾧ καὶ κατελήμφθην ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ.

Understood as, "I'm making progress toward this, but haven't yet accomplished..."

or Rev. 2:3 καὶ ὑπομονὴν ἔχεις, καὶ ἐβάστασας διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου, καὶ οὐ κεκοπίακες.

I wanted to translate this as, "You haven't become completely exhausted/weary."

I then thought I could maybe use that in Matt 21:25-27. The chief priests and elders weren't completely denying knowledge of the source of John's baptism. They were saying that hadn't finished deciding its source. "We don't (yet) completely know."

25 τὸ βάπτισμα τὸ Ἰωάννου πόθεν ἦν; ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ἢ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων; οἱ δὲ διελογίζοντο ἐν ἑαυτοῖς λέγοντες· Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν· Ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, ἐρεῖ ἡμῖν· Διὰ τί οὖν οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ; 26 ἐὰν δὲ εἴπωμεν· Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, φοβούμεθα τὸν ὄχλον, πάντες γὰρ ὡς προφήτην ἔχουσιν τὸν Ἰωάννην. 27 καὶ ἀποκριθέντες τῷ Ἰησοῦ εἶπαν· Οὐκ οἴδαμεν.


But it would look like this in 1 John 1:10:

10 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.

"If we say 'we haven't finished sinning', we make him a liar..."
(implication then being, we are supposed to say, "we have finished sinning." which doesn't work.)



I did a quick search this morning, and found the following examples of a negated perfect: Romans 9:25; 15:21; 1 Cor. 7:15; 9:15; 10:13; 15:14, 16, 17; 2 Cor. 2:13; 3:10; Col. 2:1; Heb. 4:2; 1 Pet. 2:10; 1 John 1:9; 3:6; 4:18; 3 John 11; Rev. 2:3; 13:8. (skipping most oida examples). I'm sure I missed some examples--I only would've caught them if ou immediately preceded the verb--and I'm not including the gospels here.

Here are some examples with telic verbs:

1 Cor. 9:15 Ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ κέχρημαι οὐδενὶ τούτων.

Rom. 15:20 οὕτως δὲ φιλοτιμούμενον εὐαγγελίζεσθαι οὐχ ὅπου ὠνομάσθη Χριστός, ἵνα μὴ ἐπʼ ἀλλότριον θεμέλιον οἰκοδομῶ, 21 ἀλλὰ καθὼς γέγραπται· Οἷς οὐκ ἀνηγγέλη περὶ αὐτοῦ ὄψονται, καὶ οἳ οὐκ ἀκηκόασιν συνήσουσιν.

Col. 2.1 Θέλω γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι ἡλίκον ἀγῶνα ἔχω ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν καὶ τῶν ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ καὶ ὅσοι οὐχ ἑόρακαν τὸ πρόσωπόν μου ἐν σαρκί,

1 Pet 2:10 οἵ ποτε οὐ λαὸς νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ, οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες.

1 John 3:6 πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει· πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν.


I have no idea how to explain why the authors chose perfects here in any of these examples. That said, all of these seem like straightforward, total rejections of the verb. Paul hasn't made use of any of these rights at all (1 Cor 9:15); they haven't heard at all (Rom. 15:20); they haven't seen him at all (Col. 2:1); they weren't shown mercy at all (1 Pet 2:10); they haven't known God at all (1 John 3:6). Is that it? The negated perfect is the total/complete opposite of telic verbs?



Here are examples with naturally stative verbs:

Heb 4:2 καὶ γάρ ἐσμεν εὐηγγελισμένοι καθάπερ κἀκεῖνοι, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ὠφέλησεν ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς ἐκείνους, μὴ συγκεκερασμένους τῇ πίστει τοῖς ἀκούσασιν.

-I wanted to read, "not being completely united" OR maybe it's, "not being united at all." ?

2 Cor 2:13 οὐκ ἔσχηκα ἄνεσιν τῷ πνεύματί μου τῷ μὴ εὑρεῖν με Τίτον τὸν ἀδελφόν μου,

-I wanted to read, "I didn't completely have rest." OR "I had absolutely no rest." ?

Rev. 2:3 καὶ ὑπομονὴν ἔχεις, καὶ ἐβάστασας διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου, καὶ οὐ κεκοπίακες.
-I wanted to read, "You aren't completely exhausted/weary." OR: "You weren't exhausted at all." ?






At this point, I'm guessing the negated perfect is a total negation of the verb. But I have to believe someone, at some point, must've wrestled with this.

Are there any grammars or journal articles that specifically talk about the negated perfect, and what implications it has for the function of the perfect?

Anyone willing to offer help here?

Thanks...
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Jacob Rhoden
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Jacob Rhoden » September 8th, 2018, 5:45 pm

This is a great question. I am doing a thesis on the perfect at the moment. I need to think about it a little.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 9th, 2018, 2:58 pm

Guys, feel free to think this, or perhaps overthink it, but I'm not feeling it at all. The perfect refers simply to completed action, and the negated perfect to action not completed. For example:

τὸ εἰρημένον = what was spoken
τὸ μὴ εἰρημένον = the thing not spoken

τετέλεσται = it is finished.
οὐ τετέλεσται = it is not finished.

The kind of nuancing you are looking for, based on a particular theory of aspect, just isn't there, and and nobody even in ancient times, when ancient Greek was a living language, saw any such thing. For example, Jerome renders τετέλεσται, John 19:30, with "consummatum est" a simple "it is completed," no special nuance at all, just simple and straightforward. What about Phil 3:12?

non quod iam acceperim aut iam perfectus sim...

Again, nothing complicated, simply a a natural equivalent of the Greek. The kind of nuance you are talking about would be a function of context, not something grammaticalized.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jacob Rhoden
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Jacob Rhoden » September 9th, 2018, 9:10 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 2:58 pm
The perfect refers simply to completed action, and the negated perfect to action not completed
In English, If I say "The window is not broken" it is saying something about the present state at time of speaking. If I say, "The window was not broken", then I am stating something about an event that occurred in the past relative to the time of speaking (the current status is ambiguous). However If I say "The window has not been broken", I conceive that I am saying something about the state of the window at the time of speaking, and about the time leading up to the time of speaking.

If the greek perfect indicative verb is purely stative, then I assume negation of a perfect verb should only be asserting a claim about the current state. I am just not sure I have ever considered this in my reading of the N.T. text.

Although, that said, If I turn up to work and say "Oh, the coffee machine has not been used". I am myself am not even sure if it could be discerned (without additional context) if I am making an observation about the current state of the coffee machine, or if I am making an observation about the usage of coffee machine time period prior to my arrival. :shock: i.e. It could be conceived that I am expressing surprise at the fact no one has wanted to make any coffee today, or it could be an expression of surprise about the fact it is in a state of cleanliness.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 9th, 2018, 9:41 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 2:58 pm
The perfect refers simply to completed action, ...
No.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 9th, 2018, 10:03 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 9:41 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 2:58 pm
The perfect refers simply to completed action, ...
No.
Yes. καὶ ἱκανῶς εἴρηκα.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 9th, 2018, 10:04 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 10:03 pm
Stephen Carlson wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 9:41 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 2:58 pm
The perfect refers simply to completed action, ...
No.
Yes. καὶ ἱκανῶς εἴρηκα.
You're describing the aorist. There's no completed action for οἶδα.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 9th, 2018, 10:32 pm

Jacob Rhoden wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 9:10 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 2:58 pm
The perfect refers simply to completed action, and the negated perfect to action not completed
In English, If I say "The window is not broken" it is saying something about the present state at time of speaking. If I say, "The window was not broken", then I am stating something about an event that occurred in the past relative to the time of speaking (the current status is ambiguous). However If I say "The window has not been broken", I conceive that I am saying something about the state of the window at the time of speaking, and about the time leading up to the time of speaking.

If the greek perfect indicative verb is purely stative, then I assume negation of a perfect verb should only be asserting a claim about the current state. I am just not sure I have ever considered this in my reading of the N.T. text.

Although, that said, If I turn up to work and say "Oh, the coffee machine has not been used". I am myself am not even sure if it could be discerned (without additional context) if I am making an observation about the current state of the coffee machine, or if I am making an observation about the usage of coffee machine time period prior to my arrival. :shock: i.e. It could be conceived that I am expressing surprise at the fact no one has wanted to make any coffee today, or it could be an expression of surprise about the fact it is in a state of cleanliness.
Good observations. One also has to observe how the perfect is used throughout Greek literature, not just in the NT. Here's an example from Epictetus (just because I happen to be reading him right now):

εἴ τις ὑμῶν ἀποστὰς τῶν ἐκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν προαίρεσιν ἐπέστραπται τὴν αὑτοῦ, ταύτην ἐξεργάζεσθαι καὶ ἐκπονεῖν, ὥστε σύμφωνον ἀποτελέσαι τῇ φύσει, ὑψηλὴν ἐλευθέραν ἀκώλυτον ἀνεμπόδιστον πιστὴν αἰδήμονα· [19] μεμάθηκέν τε, ὅτι ὁ τὰ μὴ ἐφʼ αὑτῷ ποθῶν ἢ φεύγων οὔτε πιστὸς εἶναι δύναται οὔτʼ ἐλεύθερος, ἀλλʼ ἀνάγκη μεταπίπτειν καὶ μεταρριπίζεσθαι ἅμα ἐκείνοις καὶ αὐτόν, ἀνάγκη δὲ καὶ ὑποτεταχέναι ἄλλοις ἑαυτόν, τοῖς ἐκεῖνα περιποιεῖν ἢ κωλύειν δυναμένοις· (E.D. 1.4.18-19).

How does one read the perfects that I've marked in the text above? How do they describe the action or state expressed? If NT Greek is simply ancient Greek and not a specialized language with its own unique rules, then what applies to NT Greek should be applicable to extra-biblical writers as well. Does that in fact hold true?
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 10th, 2018, 6:42 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 10:04 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 10:03 pm
Stephen Carlson wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 9:41 pm

No.
Yes. καὶ ἱκανῶς εἴρηκα.
You're describing the aorist. There's no completed action for οἶδα.
Ah, yes, οἶδα. Do you think that the idiomatic use of this verb can be generalized to all perfects? Latin, BTW, does the same thing with the perfect of nosco, novi. Does that mean we draw the same conclusion regarding the use of the perfect tense in Latin (which does double duty for both the aorist and the perfect)?
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: The negation of perfect verb forms

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 10th, 2018, 8:20 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 2:58 pm
The perfect refers simply to completed action, ...
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 10th, 2018, 6:42 am
Stephen Carlson wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 10:04 pm
You're describing the aorist. There's no completed action for οἶδα.
Ah, yes, οἶδα. Do you think that the idiomatic use of this verb can be generalized to all perfects? Latin, BTW, does the same thing with the perfect of nosco, novi. Does that mean we draw the same conclusion regarding the use of the perfect tense in Latin (which does double duty for both the aorist and the perfect)?
Well, οἶδα is only the most common perfect in the New Testament. Get that wrong and you're not "simply" describing the perfect. And οἶδα is not the only perfect that has no completed action. For example, ἔοικα is like οἶδα in this regard. I could add others but I don't want to get into a "No True Scotsman" situation.

Of course, οἶδα cannot be generalized to all perfects, and I never said it should be. The Greek perfect is polysemous and there is no way to "simply" describe it accurately. Giving the example of οἶδα, however, is sufficient to contradict your simple claim.

As for Latin, I wasn't discussing it, but come to think of it, your explanation of the Greek perfect sounds a lot like the one for the Latin perfect I heard in class. You still need to distinguish the Greek aorist and perfect, because "referring simply to completed action" won't cut it.
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