Re: Test of The "Timeless" Aorist

Date: Thu May 07 1998 - 10:59:37 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> Well, for once we agree on something, George.


My joy is now complete!!! :-)

> I think that present FAINEI
> is indeed important and would even be willing to convey it as "continues to
> shine" or "goes on shining"--my reading of Johannine theology is that the
> shining started with the incarnation but really climaxed with the
> crucifixion/resurrection--which is to say with the
> exaltation/glorification.

Well, I don't know much about Johanint theology, my friend ~ All I
can do is look at the text, and AT THIS POINT in the text, the
incarnation of the Logos has not yet been introduced. So far we have
some out, I don't have it in front of me] and then along comes this
little present tense verb, and the immediate question is: WHY??? Why
present tense? Whose present? And the only answer I can come up with
is the reader's/hearer's present... But even that is speculation on
my part!!! IF the text puts it in the present tense, then WE as
translators had BETTER put it in the present tense, because IF WE DO
NOT, my friend, WE THEN BECOME EDITORS!!! [Well, you know, what ol'
John REALLY meant to say, you see, was this: "....blah blah
blah..."}] At which point we deserve to be ignored as translators.
Commentary? Yes, of course. Just not translation!!

My own take on this is that John is showing us, in as simple a way as
is possible, the meaning of the ARCH in 1:1, which has no dimension at
all, and is the 'abidence' of the LOGOS, dead center in the middle of
our 'present tense' experience of ongoing time, but I would NEVER
translate the present tense in John with this conception, but you can
rely on me to ALWAYS translate the tenses in this gospel EXACTLY as
they appear, for all the obvious and usual reasons.

> Of course this COULD have been expressed with an
> imperfect (or "past imperfect" as you call it above), but I would translate
> an imperfect (if it were EFAINEN) as "the light began to shine ..."-- the
> built-in imperfective aspect here is the emphasis upon the uncompleted,
> i.e. ongoing, process of shining.

On your INTERPRETATION it COULD have been differently expressed, you
see. But the brutal grammatic fact is that it was NOT differently
expressed by the AUTHOR... You see....

> On the other hand, I hardly see that you are justified in faulting Rich for
> translating the present as a "past imperfect" when you are translating an
> aorist (clearly marked as "past" by the augment) as if it were a present
> tense.

Carl Dear...

Until you honor my distinction between the English 'simple' and
'ongoing' present tenses, this objection will continue to leak

The aorist, however formed, has ONLY the English simple present that
even CAN carry its force, and I have already granted to you that the
English IS ambiguous, but is the best that we can do. In terms of
grammar, the only way you or anyone else has to 'entime' the aorist is
by context and theology...
Which is why, in your terms, Rich is as right as anyone else who might
have some exegetical 'take' on the aorist here. I'm no better, in
terms of 'my take', you see ~ I simply insist on a consistent and
invariable translation of the aorist 'tense', which ONLY the English
simple present CAN do... And not all that greatly, granted, but much
better than the joss sticks of whatever contextual considerations one
might happen to be seeing at the time!!

George Blaisdell

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