Question on Present Participles

From: JPDow (
Date: Mon Feb 09 1998 - 05:51:45 EST

Hello b-Greekers!

I am currently having a discussion/dispute with a member of another
list regarding the ever-popular topic of "total depravity". I have
been placing heavy emphasis on Genesis 6:5:

     "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in
     the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his
     heart was only evil **continually**."

I have been emphasizing the fact that *every* intent of the thoughts
of man's heart is "only evil continually" in order to show that this
verse allows no room whatsoever for any inherent goodness in mankind.

To make a long story short, the individual with whom I have been
discussing this has used a supposedly literal translation to pit
Romans 3:10-12 against Genesis 6:5. Here is exactly what he said
(between the two *** lines):

> I have been studying Romans 3:10-12 and have had some interesting
> discoveries which could clear up this whole "total depravity" mess.
> I have in my possession a Bible which claims to be the Most
> "Literal" translation when it was published in 1991 by the Christian
> Bible Society of Mammoth Spring, Ar. Here is the way that they
> translate the Greek in the verses in question:
> Romans 3:
> v.10 "just as it has been written, "There isn't anyone who is
> continually doing things that are just[and right], not even one."
> v.11 "There isn't anyone who is continually understanding. There
> isn't anyone who is continually seeking out God."
> v.12 "All have avoided Him, and they have at the same time become
> unprofitable. There isn't anyone who is continually doing kindness;
> there isn't even one."
> Jeremy, I believe you stumbled across the answer when you stated
> that being "Blameless" was not equal to being "Sinless." This is
> EXACTLY what Paul is saying in these quoted verses. He WAS NOT
> saying that the entire human race was "Totally Depraved," he was
> simply stating that NO ONE is "Sinless," Therefore EVERYONE is in
> need of a "Savior."

What he apparently means by all this is that the verse does not say
that all of mankind is continuously wicked but wicked only some of
the time (i.e., not continually). IOW, that the statement "There
isn't anyone who is **continually** understanding. There isn't
anyone who is **continually** seeking out God" actually means,
"Everyone understands sometimes and everyone seeks God sometimes."
Sinfulness, but not total all-encompassing sinfulness.

My response to him regarding v. 10 is that there is no present
participle in that verse to support the idea of continuous action.

My response regarding v. 11 is that, while it does have two present
participles for "understanding" and "seeking" and they can indeed
denote ongoing action, this need not be translated as his literal
translation rendered it. One could translate "OUK ESTIN hO SUNIWN" as
"Not there is the one ever understanding" -- that is, there is no one
who ever (at any time = at all times = continuously) understands;
hence, no one ever understands. If I'm right, the same could be said
about the second half of the verse.

What think ye? Am I way off base on this, or do you think my
interpretation of the use of the present participle in those verses
is proper?

Any help would be appreciated.

WWW site:
"...we will never be able either to abandon the Christ who suffered for the
salvation of the whole world of those who are saved, the blameless on behalf
of sinners, or to worship anyone else" (Martyrdom of Polycarp, 17.2).

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