Re: perfect tense vs. periphrastic perfect

From: James H. Vellenga (
Date: Tue May 20 1997 - 15:57:55 EDT

> From: "Carl W. Conrad" <>
> At 11:26 AM -0400 5/20/97, Timo Flink wrote:
> >Howdy!
> >
> >I'm a kind of a newbie on New Testament Greek and I would like to know
> >how to best differentiate between the perfect tense and the periphrastic
> >perfect. How much and in what way they differ? I know the perfect
> >tense as being a complited action done in the past with result in the
> >present time, but what about that periphrastic one?
> Others may not agree with me but I would make two points in response to
> these questions:
> (1) I really do not think there's a whit of difference in meaning between
> the periphrastic form HN GEGRAMMENON (for example) and the conventional
> pluperfect EGEGRAPTO--or between the periphrastic ESTE SESWSMENOI and the
> conventional perfect passive SESWSQE;
> (2) Regarding perfect and pluperfect tense forms in Koin=E9, I don't think
> one can lay down a hard and fast rule regarding what they must mean in
> every context. Sometimes the perfect or pluperfect really do seem to be
> emphasizing stative aspect in the present or in the past: ESTE SESWMENOI
> ("You are in a state of salvation"); EGEGRAPTO ("It was in writing"--"It
> was a document." On the other hand these forms may on occasion have the
> same sense as aorists: EGEGRAPTO =3D EGRAFH ("It had been written"--in a
> context where the verb indicates completion prior to some given point in
> the past); ESTE SESWMENOI =3D ESWQHTE much like a Latin SALVATI ESTIS or
> =46rench Pass=E9 ind=E9fini:"You got saved." One has to make a judgment=
> based on
> context as to which sense better fits in this instance.
> >This in mind, how do you translate ESTE SESWSMENOI in Ephesians 2:8
> >? Is it some kind of a statement about persistence of the salvation
> >through present time?
> I think that the context in this instance does indeed imply the present
> state: "You are now in a state of salvation."
What would you think of trying to draw the distinction between

  "you have been saved" (SESWSQE)


  "you are [people] who have been saved" (ESTE SESWSMENOI)

In the English, too, there is no real difference in meaning,
but a slight difference in emphasis. I'm banking here on
the practice in NT Greek of often using a participle as
a noun.


James H. Vellenga |
Viewlogic Systems, Inc. __|__ 508-303-5491
293 Boston Post Road West | FAX: 508-460-8213
Marlboro, MA 01752-4615 |

"We all work with partial information."

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:16 EDT