Re: EIMI with Temporal Clauses

Date: Mon May 11 1998 - 11:06:00 EDT

Wes Williams wrote:

> >EGO EIMI is the independent clause, and the construction PRIN ABRAAM
> >GENESQAI answers a particular implicit question "PRIN TI?" in
> >subordination to it. 'Modify' is a misleading grammatical term here,
> >in the sense that to modify is to delimit or restrict something.
> Dear George,
> I do not believe it is misleading.

Hi Wes ~

You are utterly correct!!

And it raises an interesting issue: Is there ANY verb in the GNT that
is not adverbially modified simply by its construction? [Tense, mood,
person, etc.] My problem was with the word 'modify' ~ And I am now
'translating' it [modify] to 'talks about' or 'pertains to' in my
thinking, which as you showed so clearly is the much broader meaning
of that term grammatically.

> However, you bring up a different issue, that of whether or not the
> adverbial phrase "delimits" or "restricts" the verb. More on this below.

> When we have the
> example, we can consider whether or not the adverbial clause is restrictive
> or nonrestrictive of the independent clause.

> The
> "time-transcending force" of EIMI is something you need to prove. I do not
> believe that "eternal unboundedness" is a natural property of a stative verb
> of existence.

You are right ~ Which is the point, for as you later note, a 2000 plus
year EIMI claim can get a person in a lotta trouble around those guys
~ They throw stones!! So this statement IS the proof of the
'time-transcending force' of THIS usage of EIMI. [After EGW and by

It gives EIMI an expansion from a duration of a normal lifetime to
2000 years or so, [Abraham's birth] and with the infinitive GENESQAI
an indefinite time PRIOR to that event as well, which is why the
aorist infinitive was used, and not ANY other verb form. The One DIA
AUTON [1:3] Abraham births is the speaker here, you see...

And all of the above further expanded in time by our little adverbial
friend PRIN!!

These 5 little words pack a powerful thought, eh?? The EIMI is not
restricted here temporally at all! [Gimme those rocks!! :-) ] The
grammar compels this understanding... Which was not misunderstood bu
the Jews who heard it!

> Mary '"was" at the
> wedding' in John 2:1, but certainly not from eternity to eternity.

This is a separate issue ~ And for myself, whenever I see HN in John,
I remember that HN is the THIRD word in this gospel, and I pay VERY
close attention to WHOM it 'modifies' ~ [:-)] ~ or introduces.
> >In effect, [but not in
> >translation!!], this construction is saying EGW EIMI, and that means,
> >in this particular case, for instance, even PRIN QBRAAN GENESQAI!!
> >[Got a problem with that?? Well, the Jews sure did! They tried to
> >stone Him!]

> >Why the aorist Infinitive? Why 'to birth'? And the answer
> >lies, I believe, in the additional sequencing that the infinitive
> >affords, for implicit in it is the idea that 'even before Abraham
> >BEGAN 'to birth', I AM. And it does so without telling HOW LONG
> >before. Theologically, of course, the 'length' of the incipience or
> >interval is eternal. It is an awesome construction and use of the
> >infinitive!! And the present [ongoing] tense of EIMI simply smothers
> >it! Such is the power of tenses in John... And the need to
> >rigorously keep them clear in translation.

> I see no need to read much into the aorist infinitive GENESQAI. The aorist
> infinitive is a common enough construction with PRIN and other adverbs...

Well, whenever AMHN AMHN LEGW SOI introduces words, I have a habit of
paying VERY close attention to what in other usages might simply be
nuance. "Before 'to birth'" takes some getting used to in English,
but repays the effort when it finally feels comfortable in my English
> The word EIMI in itself says nothing about how long someone existed.

Absolutely not!! We are on the same page here!

> Duration must come from context.

Agreed! The question begs, here: "Does this EIMI 'have' duration?
Or does it have its existence EN ARCH where it 'creates' duration?"
You see, if ARCH is the origin of time [it's genesis], then
'duration', a subcategory of time, cannot be imposed on it. The clay
can't boss the potter! A theological issue, to be sure!!

> The adverbial phrase PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI
> tells us at the most that Jesus was in existence before Abraham's birth and
> the EIMI reveals that his existence continues unbroken from that point of
> reference to the time of speaking. It says nothing about how long the one
> who became Jesus existed prior to Abraham. Theologically, I believe the one
> who became Jesus existed for long times prior to Abraham's birth, but I
> cannot honestly use John 8:58 to prove that since at most it tells me that
> he simply existed prior to Abraham.

Tis easy to lose track of tenses here, Wes. John 8:58 does NOT tell
anyone 'that He simply existed prior to Abraham.' EIMI is present
tense, you see... He IS EXISTING prior to Abraham and indefinitely at
that. Nor does it say that 'Jesus was in existence before Abraham's
birth'... It says that He IS EXISTING. The difference is utterly
crucial to this text. There ain't no WAS to the Logos, my friend...
Only IS.

> If I were to try to press beyond this, I
> would have to import something into this text from elsewhere.

The 'press' is 'ironed out' by the tenses used in the text. :-)

George Blaisdell

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