Re: Revelation 3:2

From: Ben Crick (
Date: Mon Mar 23 1998 - 21:52:37 EST

On Sun 22 Mar 98 (22:22:06), wrote:
>╩Translations differ with regard to EMELLON APOQANEIN, in Rev.3:2,
>╩some translating the imperfect verb as "are about...," and others using
>╩"were about...." Is one or the other preferable, or are both
>╩acceptable? What is the rationale for either choice?

 Dear Ted,

 The experts may well turn and rend me: but for my money, EMELLON is from
 the verb MELLEIN (to intend, or to be about, to do something). Here we have
 the Imperfect Indicative Active 3rd person plural EMELLON "were about to"
 APOQANEIN "die". The E- prefix is the Past Tense Augment; sometimes this is
 written as HMELLEN with Eta; see Luke 7:2, HMELLEN TELEUTAN.

 The construction MELLEIN + Infinitive is a periphrastic Future, or as here,
 "Future in the Past". On Revelation 3:2, Swete comments "But amid the general
 reign of spiritual death Christ detected vestiges of life, though they were
 on the point of becoming extinct (TA LOIPA hA EMELLON APOQANEIN)".

 Why is it translated as Present in our English versions? Maybe because if
 HMELLON is Past, then the weaker EMELLON might be misconstrued as Present?
 In English, in direct speech we preserve the tense of the original speaker;
 but in reported speech, we use the Subjunctive mood, or the English past
 tense. So, as our Lord's words to John are being quoted verbatim, the English
 uses the Present where the Greek has the Imperfect; IMHO.

 The Latin Vulgate has /Esto vigilans, et confirma cetera, *quae moritura
 erant*/: so Jerome reads EMELLON as Imperfect. Bengel in his /Gnomon Novi
 Testamenti/ quotes variant readings from various sources; e.g. Ufilas gives
 EMELLEN; Erasmus gives MELLEI; Leicestrensis et al EMELLES.

 I await the definitive answer with bated breath...

 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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