Re: John 11:35

Date: Mon Jun 22 1998 - 11:56:55 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:

> The point Eric was making was that this could be seen as an inceptive
> aorist, that Jesus started crying. "Jesus wept" does not convey that to me.
> "Started crying" conveys the inceptive aorist without the melodrama of
> "burst into tears".
> >And even more, I like the
> >indefinite English historical present: "Jesus weeps." He does weep,
> >you know... And I believe this is the first time in John that this
> >fact is noted, though I could be mistaken.
> Frankly, I find this really odd. The only way I could see "Jesus weeps"
> would be if this were a gnomic aorist, but it isn't - it refers to a
> specific occasion, to the response of Jesus upon hearing that Lazarus died
> and seeing Mary and the Jews weeping.
> I like "started crying", with the inceptive sense, but "Jesus wept" also
> makes sense, if this is merely reporting a past event.

If you were to translate this sentence as, say, "Jesus started to
cry", or "Jesus started crying", then its sense would lock up into the
inception only of the event. The aorist, inceptive or not, denotes
the whole of the event, and thus makes the inceptive translation
tricky. This is why I like the indefinite "weeps", which brings the
historical fact that he wept into a mentally present event, by means
of bridging the gap between "Jesus wept" and "Jesus is weeping." The
latter, of course, would be the dramatic historical present, whereas
the former would be, as you noted, a simple past tense of historical
interest only ~ Incidental in its import, which is not the case.

Now while the inception of an action is built in to the aorist
'tense', I am not so sure that ATR is correct in his view that the
inception of weeping is the focus here. I much prefer the enigmatic
quality of "Jesus weeps," [as a translator], and would rather leave to
the reader the prayerful joy of discovering the meaning.

One additional note, that makes this so very enigmatic: Contrary to
your comment above, Jusus already knows Lazarus is dead, and has
already seen everyone weeping. He weeps only when they say to him
"Come and see."

Go figure!!


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George Blaisdell

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