Re: 1 John 1,1

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Thu Apr 02 1998 - 08:30:42 EST

gat wrote:
> In 1 John 1,1 there is a very interesting change of tenses:
> hO AKHKOAMEN (perf.) - what we have heard
> hO EWRAKAMEN (perf.) TOIS OFQALMOIS hHMWN - what we have seen with our eyes
> and then it changes to aorist:
> hO EQEASAMEQA (aor.) - what we looked at
> KAI hAI XEIRES hHMWN EYHLAFHSAN (aor.) - and touched with our hands
> Why is the change of tenses? One could simply say that John speaks twice
> about the same thing (have seen, looked at) and just for a change he is
> using once perf. and once aor. tense. Is it significant or it doesn't
> matter?


A most intriguing question.

I decided to take an indirect approach and see what the statistical
distribution of ORAW was in the perfect. I discovered that John uses the
perfect of ORAW 20 times in his Gospel and all the other tenses of ORAW only
10 times. In the first epistle of John the perfect is used 6 times and all
other tenses of ORAW are used only once. This pattern is reversed in the
Apocalypse. ORAW appears in the Apocalypse seven times and never in the
perfect tense.

I would be tempted to conclude from this that one might not want to attribute
too much significance to ORAW appearing in the perfect tense in the first
Epistle of John.

However, there are a lot of other factors to consider. I strongly suspect that
the change from the perfect to the aorist in 1 John 1:1 has some function in
the discourse structure. Exactly what that function is I am not sure.

This is not much help, I suspect.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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