Re: From whence it IS?

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Wed Jun 03 1998 - 12:55:32 EDT

At 10:44 AM 6/3/98 -0400, Jim West wrote:
>At 07:36 AM 6/3/98 -0700, Dale Wheeler wrote:
>>It has been my observation (as well as many others; I think Wallace mentions
>>this somewhere as well) that in the NT, LXX, and other places I've bothered
>>to look, that ESTIN is NEVER used as an historical present. The only
>>exception would be John 5:2, which, because of the preponderance of the
>>contrary evidence, I don't think is an exception. I take it that it means
>>that at the time of John's writing "the sheep gate...with five porticos" was
>>still in existence, ie., "There _is_ in Jerusalem..." not "There _was_ in
>>Jerusalem..." That would seem to mean that John's Gospel was written before
>>AD70. I really don't have any theological axe to grind on this one, this
>>just a grammatical observation.
>It is true that the narrative present, in this case, is a response to a
>direct question. Nevertheless, that says nothing in reference to the
>PURPOSE of the present tense. The original question, as I read it, had to
>do with WHY the narrative present was used. And, in spite of Dale and (I am
>sorry to have forgotten already) the fellow from Trinity, the matter of
>direct or indirect discourse has nothing to do with that question. Further,
>the comment above that estin is NEVER used as a historical present is
>impossibly inaccurate and far too general to be meaningful.


You may be under the *impression* that your posts are non-offensive,
however one would think that after numerous people have told
you that your manner of reply IS offensive, you'd think that
you would change the way you reply, so as to foster a more
amicable scholarly exchange !?! I have studiously avoided
getting involved in ANY threads that you are involved in for
this very reason...the pontifical nature of your posts are
OFFENSIVE !! Frequently you have good things to say, sometimes
you offer unsupported opinions--and that's exactly what they
are, opinions; and its just fine to offer one's opinions on
bgreek as far as I'm concerned, but you present BOTH as if
they are ex cathedra, and they are NOT ! So I thought in
this case, I'd respond in tenor and tone, and see if its sits
well with you. I personally value some of the contributions
you make to bgreek, so don't take this as a personal attack
or affront...its not. But if it makes you uncomfortable, then
its achieved its goal...because that's is exactly how you
make many, many other folks on bgreek feel all too often.
Now to the reply...

Its obvious that Jim doesn't know what he's talking about
here with respect to the historical present versus the use
of indirect discourse (a extremely unlikely possibility is
that the didn't understand the question or the reply).
This is CLEARLY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY a case of indirect
discourse, as ANY basic Greek grammar will tell you (cf.,
BDF #324, or the lengthy treatment in Burton, _Moods &
Tenses_, pp. 130-42.), and ANY instructor of Koine should
know and recognize it instantaneously. It doesn't matter
that this is contained in an historical narrative, its
still the indirect/paraphrased report of a speech, thought,
feeling, belief, etc., and as such it IS indirect discourse.

As to the use of ESTIN as an historical present; I personally
(as well as Dan Wallace [who's not at Trinity, but Dallas, and
the author of the new Zondervan Syntax], and several others
the NT and in the LXX (some of us chased it through the
various NT era papyrii, etc., as well), and there is NO
EXAMPLE of it used as an historical present. When Jim has
done the same, and can cite specific examples (make sure
they are not Indirect Discourse !!!) to the contrary, then
he will be in a position to comment on whether my assertion
is correct or not...and NOT UNTIL THEN! Until then all
he has to offer is his knee-jerk reaction (no doubt as a
result of the fact that this grammatical situation would
clearly demonstrate a first century date for the Gospel,
a conclusion his posts have clearly demonstrated that he
dislikes in the extreme).

In conclusion, I'd say that I prefer to "play nice with the
other kids" and respect the positions, beliefs, opinions, etc.,
of everyone on bgreek, and as long as we ALL behave as adults
and respect each other as we engage in CIVIL scholarly
debate then we can have fun on bgreek...that's what I'd
personally like to see !! Jim, please keep contributing to
bgreek, but PLEASE, take some time to make sure that what
you are saying is said in a manner that fosters our mutual
edification, rather than just inflames the other members of
our bgreek community.

Finally, my apologies to Edward and Carl--two men whom I
personally hold in the highest of esteem--for making waves.
In the past I have normally allowed them to handle these
kinds of things offlist, but it is my impression that such
comments from them have fell on deaf ears in this case.

Now back to the MorphBHS (or was it the MorphLXX ?!)...


Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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