Re: John 1:5

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu May 07 1998 - 13:36:19 EDT

At 10:20 AM -0500 5/7/98, Richard Lindeman wrote:
>Carl Conrad writes:
>>Well, for once we agree on something, George. 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. 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.
>I am fairly certain that Carl will agree that the *time* of FAINEI in John
>1:5 depends upon whether whether we read this verse as an independent clause
>or a dependent clause within the paragraph. In the former case we must
>translate it with absolute time(present - ongoing). In the latter case we
>must translate it as relative time(past - ongoing). I read this clause as
>being strongly dependent and yet at the same time introducing an independent
>I appeal to SMYTH grammar... paragraph #2388 which states that "the time
>denoted by a temporal clause is not always solely contemporaneous,
>antecedent, or subsequent to that of the principle clause, but may overlap
>with the time of the principle clause (before and at the same time, at the
>same time and after, until and after)
>Therefore I offer Carl the following barter: I will concede that FAINEI is
>not exclusively past time if he will concede that it is not exclusively
>present time. The paraphrase of the verse (not its translation) might be as
>follows... ""The light has been and continues shining now in the the
>darkness yet the darkness did not overcome it."
>Richards Translation Rule #1: Barter makes for good translations. If one
>can trade or barter with another small insights together with large portions
>of one's own ego then the translation will be better.

Actually, Rich, I'm quite ready to accept this: the present tense implies
nothing about when the shining began--the only thing it really underscores
is that it has not ceased!

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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