Re: Test of The "Timeless" Aorist

From: Richard Lindeman (
Date: Wed May 06 1998 - 14:30:15 EDT

>> So in effect, what you have done is castrated the aorist tense of *any*
>> meaning or significance. It may read well to you. And in some
>> it may be harmless enough not lead you into a totally wrong
>> But it will certainly not be helpful in conveying to you any sense of
>> aspect.
>Rich ~
>An example that is autobiographical to me occurs is John 1:5 ~
>I first read this prior to understanding the aorist as non-temporal,
>and understood it to be a past tense.
>So I concluded, upon reading it, that the darkness did not
>comprehend/embrace/overcome the Light. Seemed reasonable at the time,
>and I further concluded that this was the problem that the incarnation
>of the Logos was to address. This incarnation would, I thought,
>redeem the darkness, and bring light into it, and understanding, and
>the darkness would 'see' the light, because the incarnate Logos would
>be right there on earth where it would HAVE to be seen, and the
>darkness would then HAVE to become 'enlightened'. The only problem
>the darkness has is that it HAS NOT COMPREHENDED [yet] the Light.
>Of course, I was wrong.
>This aorist should translate "does not comprehend" or "comprehends
>not" the Light, because the further reading of John utterly affirms
>this fact as a characteristic of the 'darkness'. John is not saying
>that the darkness DIDN'T comprehend [perfect tense] ~ John is saying
>that the darkness DOESN'T comprehend [non-temporal aorist].
>Perhaps this will help...
>George Blaisdell
George... this is an excellent example of where I think you are just simply
mistaken. There is no reason not to translate the augmented aorist in past
time here. Aorist is not the same as perfect. Complete is not the same as
Completed. There are a number of possible translations for this verse. But
let's consider two of them::


One possibility is to assume that this verse refers to the life of Jesus
Christ when he was upon earth. In this case we would take FAINEI as a
historical present and take KATELABEN as resultive in past time. The
translation would be as follows:

"The light was shining in the the darkness yet the darkness did not overcome
This would then simply be a statement of the fact of Christ's life death and
resurrection. Darkness did not prevail over Christ. BTW... this is the
translation I personally favor at the moment for this verse.

Another possibility is to associate this verse not with the time of Christ's
life on earth, but rather the entire history of time from its beginning.
In this case the present FAINEI could be translated with ongoing aspect in
present time. The aorist KATELABEN might then be translated as a
constative aorist in past time. It would in effect be saying that the the
light is now shining, yet in the complete history of time... even from the
beginning... darkness has never once overpowered the light.

"The light is shining in the darkness, yet the darkness has not overcome

The inference from this latter translation would be a natural one. Since
darkness has never overcome the light, therefore now we can be confident
that the light will continue to be victorious.

Rich Lindeman

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