Re: meaning EAN

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon May 19 1997 - 23:27:56 EDT

At 10:41 PM -0400 5/19/97, Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:
>While reading in 1 John last night I came across EAN in 1 John 2:28 which
>the NIV translates as "when". I was confused by this because EAN is made
>up of EI + AN and AN makes a definite statement contingent, yet the
>context and translation as "when" seems to indicate certainty...
>I checked Louw & Nida and BAGD and sure enough "when" is given as a
>possible meaning. But this goes against the indefiniteness introduced by
>AN (EAN).
>Am I missing something here? I don't understand.

What is needed here is a bit of perspective of the sort gained from
awareness of the history of the language and the transformations it has
gone through from the Homeric and Classical Attic to the many varieties of
Koiné. Just as the hINA clauses have expanded beyond the original adverbial
purpose function to encompass quite a variety of substantive clauses in
Koiné, so EAN clauses have expanded beyond their original base as protasis
of general and vivid future conditions. For one thing, many users of EAN
are not even conscious of its original inclusion of an EI; in effect EAN
has become a marker for subjunctive clauses in all kinds of conditions: EAN
+ subj. = hOTAN + subj. = EAN TIS + subj. = hOSTIS AN + subj.--or you may
find a hOS EAN. In short, "if-ever" comes to be equivalent to "whenever"
and "whoever" when the clause is the apodosis of a condition calling for a
subjunctive. Sometimes you'll find the "when" or "who" expressed, but it
does occasinally happen that EAN simply by marking a conditional apodosis
IMPLIES the temporal or relative element appropriate in the context. So
it's not really that "when" is the meaning of EAN but rather that one must
read the context carefully to determine the best way to convey EAN + subj.
in any particular instance.

It strikes me that Latin CUM + subjunctive clauses are very much like Koiné
EAN + subjunctive clauses: CUM marks dependency in a subjunctive clause in
Latin, and one must determine from context whether in a given instance it
should be understood as "when," "since," or "although." I don't mean to
say that EAN functions just as does CUM but rather that as a particle of
subordination it can assume a variety of functions, just as EAN can.

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

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