Re: Translation of Rev 3:8

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Feb 25 1997 - 14:10:50 EST

At 10:50 AM -0600 2/25/97, lakr wrote:
>I am studying participles in Mounce's textbook - chapter 30.
>It starts with an exegetical example and uses
>Rev 3:8 "QURAN HNEWGMENHN" as an example where the NIV,KJV
>and NASB are "weak" and "inadequate". The commentator makes the
>point that the perfect passive participle should be translated
>"an opened door" as opposed to "an open door". This makes sense to
>me, as I suppose in English this would be considered a past
>Is there another side to this issue ?

Perhaps so. I just went back and read that note at the outset of chapter 30
of Mounce and I think it is overblown in the ecstasies it goes into over
the "permanently, never to be closed" door. I think that probably the
normal way of saying "the door is open" in Greek is HNEWKTAI hH QURA. While
one can say it certainly does imply that a decisive, fully efficacious act
of opening has been completed, the primary information presented in that
sentence is that the door "stands open." So if we actually put "an opened
door" in the translation of the verse in question, I think that the primary
change we would be making is substitution of UN-idiomatic English for
idiomatic English. I don't think there's any standard adjective in Koine
Greek for "open"--and the fundamental sense of the perfect is to indicate a
present condition.

Can it really be argued that HNEWGMENH by itself here conveys all that
precise detail: "permanently made open, never to be closed"? That meaning
is in the verse, but it is conveyed by the second half (hHN OUDEIS DUNATAI
KLEISAI AUTHN), not by the perfect passive participle itself, nor by the
verb DEDWKA which takes QURAN as its direct object, inasmuch as the
Semitizing quality is very strong in this verse, and it would appear that
DIDWMI here has not so much the sense of making a gift as it does of
positioning an object with respect to the party being addressed, much like
the sense of Heb. NATHAN which may very well be in view here.

Many past participles in English are hard to distinguish from adjectives
used predicatively. Often enough in the GNT the perfect passive participle
is used with a form of EIMI in such a way that it is difficult to determine
whether we are dealing with a genuine periphrastic perfect or pluperfect or
with a participle functioning much like an adjective. One good example of
real pluperfect, emphasizing the completion of John's putting on his hair
shirt some time earlier than the time referred to in the narrative? Or does
it just tell us what he was wearing. I think the same thing could be said
of HNEWGMENH in Rev 3:8: it is the clause which follows which carries all
those implications rather than the tense of the participle.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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