Re: Greek Help?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Aug 26 1997 - 15:39:24 EDT

At 1:21 PM -0500 8/26/97, Michael A. Ferrando wrote:
>I am a student of Greek, self taught. My library is
>the for study is the Library of Congress shelves
>and some seminary friends. But I have a question
>that I can't seem to find a satisfactory answer.
>I could use a little help.
>My question is concerning the use of edoken
>in the Gospel of John 5.26.
>edoken is 3p. 1 aor. act. ind.

I was confused at first by this (until I check the Greek NT), thinking you
meant a form of the verb DOKEW. I use a transliteration scheme that I've
become accustomed to in the B-Greek discussion group; you can find it on
the B-Greek web page at It allows
distinction of omega from omicron and eta from epsilon, as well as some
other distinctions. I'd write this as EDWKEN

>Robertson's Word Pictures state "timeless aorist" concerning
>this verse.
>Calvin and Pink and Abbott (_Johannine Grammar_) state it
>refers to the incarnation (the Logos coming into the
>human being in Mary's womb).
>Augustine, Westcott, and others denote
>that it speaks of the "begotteness" of the Son,
>generated from the Father but not exclusive of the
>incarnation which is in sight as well.
>And also concerning the verse, of what degree are the
>adverbs "hosper" and "houtos" giving the verbs "ekia"
>and "ekain" dominate force in this sentence?

I'd write these as ECEI and ECEIN (3d sg. and pres. infl. respectively).

I'm going to delete the rest of the material you sent me and deal directly
with your question, as well as I can.

In the first place, it IS an aorist 3d sg. active. Normally that means it
refers to an event of past time, although under certain circumstances it
may state a "timeless" or "universal" truth (the so-called "Gnomic"
aorist--or aorist of the GNWMH, "proverb"). In Hellenistic Greek it often
is equivalent to a perfect tense, inasmuch as the real perfect tense is
evanescing in the period in which the NT texts are being written. What
makes this less likely here, however, is than John the evangelist is one NT
writer who regularly DOES use the perfect tense and uses it graphically for
specific effects (e.g. Pilate's hO GEGRAFA GEGRAFA or Jesus' last words on
the cross: TETELESTAI). So let's assume that the aorist is deliberately
written here.

And this gets us into the heart of theological controversy. If the GIVING
is an event of the "past," then WHEN was it given? And that's what the
various interpreters you have cited are giving their own opinions about.
Personally I'd say that all of those opinions, insofar as they bear
directly upon the Johannine passage, are governed by theological
perspectives rather than by what the Greek alone can or must strictly
assert or imply.

I'd translate (as literally as I can): "For even as (hWSPER) the Father has
life in himself, just so (hOUTWS) did he give (EDWKEN) to the Son (the
ability/capacity/authority--I think EXOUSIAN is implicit here) to have

As for the question of the time frame referred to by the verb EDWKEN, I
honestly don't believe there's any indication whatsoever, and I think all
that theological talk about it's being at the incarnation or whenever is so
much pure speculation. It seems to me that the CONTEXT of the verse makes
it perfectly clear that what is referred to is the power (EXOUSIA) to make
the dead alive--the power to raise the dead. In terms of traditional
eschatology this makes sense and is parallel to what the next verse tells
us about the power (EXOUSIA) to exercise Judgment/Condemnation (KRISIN
POIEIN). Both of these are powers which the Son of Man, according to
apocalyptic eschatological tradition, is to exercise at his coming. So
verse 26 is talking about the power to raise the dead and is saying that
this is a power held by the Father and bestowed also upon the Son. WHEN was
it bestowed? Frankly I don't see any indicator in the Greek text that
points to any time frame of the giving. The important point is rather that
Jesus, as the Son, now has that power because God gave it to him.

What the hWSPER and hOUTWS do here, in my view, is to emphasize the
parallel holding of this authority by Father and Son. It may seem a bit odd
that the verb of the first clause is ECEI and that of the second is EDWKEN,
but I think it is implicit in the second that hOUTWK KAI hO hUIOS ECEI ZWHN

I've tried to keep this as short as I could. I hope you find it reasonably

Regards, cwc

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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