Re: 1 John 1,1

From: Jim West (
Date: Thu Apr 02 1998 - 15:43:47 EST

At 09:35 PM 4/2/98 +0200, you 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
>Any comments?
>Gregor P. Turkanik

It seems to me that John uses the perfect tense first because he intends it
to be understood in a durative sense, i.e., we have heard and that hearing
continues to have an impact on us- we have seen and that seeing continues to
influence us...

Then he uses the aorist to indicate a real historical reality: i.e., the
historical aorist, so that my little expanded translation would now run
something like,

"and indeed, in contrast to our gnostic opponents, we really have looked at
him in the flesh and our hands really did touch him in the flesh...."

John's use of the perfect then indicates past action with present
significance while his use of the aorist signifies a historical (and not
merely spiritual) reality. Thus, these tense changes are extraordinarily



Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

Petros TN

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