Re: 1 John 1,1

Date: Sat Apr 04 1998 - 11:44:13 EST wrote:
> 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?
> The first two [perf.] tenses refer to actual first hand historical
> events that are over and done with, but not without consequences. The
> second is a result of the first, the third of the second, and the
> fourth of the third. Progression is a key here.
> hO HN AP'ARKHS 'That which was from beginnings' Seems to be refering
> to the beginnings of the apostles' discipleships.
> hO AKHKOAMEN 'That which we heard' Seems to refer to the discipling
> entry point, where they first heard about Christ, prior to actually
> seeing Him face to face.
> hO EWRAKAMEN TOIS OFQALMOIS hHMWN 'That which we saw with our own
> eyes' follows the hearing about Him.
> These two phrases complete the physical-historical witness of the
> author[s] [Editorial 'we'?] Then comes the first aorist, which
> follows as a consequence of what the disciples saw with their own
> eyes:
> hO EQASAMEQA 'That which we see' And notice that this is a middle,
> classic aorist [ErootSA construction]. The root differs from the
> physical seeing in 2 [before it] Thus, as an abstract 'tense', in the
> middle voice, the author is showing what happened next, from the
> earliest beginnings of them all. They received a new kind of inner
> [middle] vision that is different from physical seeing. This carries
> the force of 'envisioning', and the consequent dedication of their
> lives in this seeing to Christ. So the 'time' of this tense is the
> time from their new 'seeing' until their deaths, which includes past,
> present and future.
> KAI 'And', as a consequence perhaps?
> hAI XEIRES hHMWN EYALAFHSAN 'the hands of us feel' Because of the
> envisioning, the bringing of that 'seeing' into the building of
> Christ's church, involving a certain kind of action. Was there a
> physical 'Laying on of hands?', or should this be taken as a 'groping
> in the dark' [without the Light of Christ in the flesh] metaphor, or
> is it something else? At any rate, it is a life-long venture
> following the new 'seeing'.
> PERI TOU LOGOU THS ZWHS 'concerning the word of Life [is]'
> I'm out of time ~ Hope this helps...

Well, I 'back in time' for a bit!!

The meaning of the first aorist used in this opening is, imho, very
overlooked, and I would like to talk about it a little.

It is a middle aorist of perception, EQASAMEQA. The middle voice is
crucial. The way that I use to keep the middle voice differentiated
clearly in my thinking is to 'always see' it as the first of only two
Greek voices, the 'inner' voice, termed the 'middle' and the 'outer'
voice, which is then in turn divided into the 'active' and 'passive'.
Our English has, on this understanding, only one voice, the 'outer',
in its two forms. So with this understanding as a tool to keep the
voices sharply differentiated, I tend to really keep an eye out for
middle voice verbs of perception, and especially in the 'timeless'
aorist 'tense'. The author of this passage, the editorial 'we',
speaking for the apostles, John, is telling his readers in this brief
introductory summary, about the inner quality of 'seeing' that is ever
before him in his ministry, a seeing that proceeded from what he heard
and what he saw with his own eyes. [the two perfects prior] Now given
the fact of John's seership, when John talks about 'seeing' in the
middle voice AND in the timeless aorist, I, for one, pay VERY close
attention. This 'envisionment' that John has of the events of his
discipleship with Christ is the very motive power that impels and
shapes his ministry. It is emphatically NOT historical... It is
ONGOING, past and future, and is guiding him even as he is scripting
this letter. It lives IN him, it has lived in him from the beginnings
of his discipleship with Christ, and will continue to live in him
through his last breath on earth.
This is the Sacred Spirit of Christ in John, clearly spoken in the
middle aorist of perception.

I hope I have not crossed the line of entering into theological debate
here, but this is so clear from this construction that I am
dumbfounded that it was missed altogether.

The following aorist then describes the quality of his ever ongoing
work within that 'seeing', and I really do not understand exactly what
it means... Any insights?

A possible English translation might then be:

What has always been, from the earliest beginnings...
What we first heard...
What we saw with our own eyes...
What we always see and our hands always feel for...
Is concerning the Word, the Life...

Grace to you all...


PS ~ I have not yet even read this entire letter ~ I will now...

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:21 EDT