Re: Proffessor [sic] Blackwelder and participles

From: lakr (
Date: Sun Mar 15 1998 - 11:12:03 EST

>> James Jackson wrote:
>> I have been reading Boyce W. Blackwelder's book, "Light from the Greek New
>> Testament" published in 1958.
>> Now as to the questions I have. If I am understanding his reasoning
>> clearly, he indicates in his section on participles that salvation involves a
>> continuing action on the part of the believer. He cites John 3:14-16: "... so
>> must the Son of man must be lifted up: that whosoever believeth [PISTEUWN,
>> pres. part., goes on trusting] in him should not perish, but have [ECEI,pres.
>> subj., might continue to have] eternal life. For God so loved the world, that
>> he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth [PISTEUWN, pres.
>> part., goes on trusting] in him should not perish, but have [ECEI, might
>> go on having] eternal life.
>> Professor Blackwelder also cites John 3:36: "He that believeth
>> [PISTEUWN, pres. part., goes on trusting] on the Son hath [ECEI, pres.
>> indic. continues to have] everlasting life.

James, the Greek word PISTEUW reflects different shades of meaning
depending on context. That is why 'A Grammar of New Testament' Greek,
by James Moulton, notes that early Christians clearly recognized
"the importance of the difference between mere belief ... and personal
trust". However I think the key to understanding the nuances may also
be found in certain gramatical constructions with PISTEUW in addition
to the context (see below).

> Dale Wheeler replied:
> James:
> With all due respect to Prof Blackwelder, I doubt very seriously that he
> would be able to find many (perhaps I should say "any") competent Greek
> grammarians to agree with him. Substantival Ptcs are just noun substitutes
> in general, as they are in the above examples you cite. There is no more
> an "ongoingness" to the use of the Present Subst Ptc, than there is a
> "once-for-allness" to the Aorist Subst Ptc. The "tense" is chosen because
> its appropriate to the type of action (Aktionsart) of the verb in question.
> "Hit" is a punctual and will normally take an Aorist (unless the writer is
> trying to communicate repeated hitting); "Believe" is normally a Climax
> (action leading to a conclusion) for which either the Pres or Perf are
> natural. The same is true in general for the uses of the tenses in the
> other moods.
> If one were to follow this idea of the present = continuous always, one
> would create absolute nonsense of the text. The examples are legion, but
> let me give you one from the context of the first example; John 3:31 reads:
> I seriously doubt that anyone would want to read or translate this verse as:
> The one who *continuously* comes from above is *continuously* above all
> things; the one who *continuously* is from the earth is *continuously* from
> the earth and continuously speaks from the earth. The one who
> *continuously* comes from heaven is *continuously* above all things.
> The present tense in these cases does not mean *continuously*, whether its
> a participle or an indicative; otherwise Jesus would have to be
> *continously* coming from heaven in order to be the supreme ruler of the
> universe ("above all things").
> The present tense is chosen for ERCOMAI because the normal action of the
> verb is an "activity" (unbounded and durative, ala Fanning)...but that
> doesn't mean that anytime anyone goes or comes that they must do it
> DOES stop at some point. PISTEUW, as a climax verb,
> normally refers to a (thought, feeling, etc.) process that leads to a
> decision to accept something as true or valid. hO PISTEUWN is simply
> someone who has made the decision, and is being characterized as a person
> who accepts as true/valid certain propositions.
> Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.

Dale, have you considered that PISTEUW can be considered an _activity_
when it is found in certain grammatical constuctions ? PISTUEW is
found followed merely by a noun in the dative case, but in addition
it is followed by EPI and EIS.

Paul Kaufman says in 'An introductory Grammar of New Testament Greek'
"Another construction which is common in the New Testament (especially
in John's Gospel) is PISTEUW with EIS and the accusative case ...
The whole construction of EIS plus the accusative must be translated
rather than attempting to translate the prepostion EIS as an isolated
word. Faith is thought of as an _activity_, as something men do, i.e.
putting paith into someone"

Larry Kruper

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