Re: Jn 14:7; Did they know?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Feb 20 1998 - 06:31:10 EST

At 8:34 PM -0600 2/19/98, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>The majority of manuscripts, and translations, tend to support the notion
>in Jn 14:7 that Christ did not believe His disciples knew (GINWSKW
>[EGNWKATE]) Him. The existence of AN in the apodosis of these
>manuscripts renders this a contrary to fact conditional.
>Both the UBS and NA favor the reading supported by p66, aleph, D, etc, EI
>EGNWKATE ME, KAI TON PATERA MOU GNWSESQE, "if you know (intensive
>perfect) Me, you will also know my Father." (cf. NRSV)
>There is a big difference, of course. It seems the whole argument depends
>upon this reading, well, in a sense. Indeed, Christ goes on immediately
>true, because they have known (and seen) Christ. If so, then it follows
>from verse 7.

Just this: I'm not a textual critic, but I've looked at the critical
apparatus and at Metzger's note on this. What's particularly interesting to
me is that the shape of a counterfactual condition here seems marred by the
perfect indicative in the protasis (EGNWKATE): we normally have a secondary
tense (imperfect or aorist, possibly pluperfect) in both halves of the
counterfactual condition. The alternative readings do make the verb in the
apodosis appropriate in pluperfect forms (EGNWKEITE AN, AN HiDEITE). While
one might conceivably argue that the perfect tense form in the protasis
(EGNWKATE) shows a Hellenistic (Latinate?) conflation of perfect and
aorist, that seems very unlikely for this gospel with its numerous powerful
perfect tense expressions (e.g. TETELESTAI; hO GEGRAFA GEGRAFA). I'm not
sure that I understand the purport of Kurt Aland's appended note in
Metzger's textual commentary: "The purpose of the Evangelist as well as the
laws of textual development have been misunderstood. If a negative and a
positive statement about the Apostles stand side by side in the textual
tradition, the positive one is usually the later." This appears to be
against the majority committee view explained in Metzger's preceding note.
Looks to me like this is a pretty sticky wicket. At any rate, I'd surely
like to see an explanation for the perfect tense in the protasis of a
counterfactual condition.

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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