From: Jonathan Robie (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Sep 02 1998 - 09:19:42 EDT
At 10:36 PM 9/1/98 -0300, Christian Naaktgeboren wrote:
> Somebody can explain to me what is the perfect tense and how I
>can translate a verb in this tense, for example:
> PROS GALATAS
> 02-19 EGW GAR DIA NOMOU NOMW APEQANON INA QEW ZHSW XRISTW
The Greek perfect designates action that began in the past, resulting in a
current state. Either the action continues into the present, or the action
has effects that still continue into the present. The perfect "tense" is
more complex than the Aorist, Imperfect, or Present tenses. Fortunately, it
is rather similar to the English perfect tense, so it is fairly easy for
English speakers to grasp. (Note: I used to think that they were quite
different, but I am beginning to see more and more similarity - since this
is the first time I've voiced this view in public, I'm curious to see how
others respond!) Consider the following sentences:
1. Carl taught Greek for forty years. (past tense)
2. Carl has taught Greek for forty years. (present perfect)
The first sentence, which uses a simple past tense, implies that Carl is no
longer teaching Greek. The second sentence, which uses the perfect, implies
that Carl is still teaching Greek. The perfect, in both Greek and English,
involves both a past action and a present state. If Carl had not taught in
the past, this sentence clearly would not be true, because the past event
would not be fulfilled. If Carl were no longer teaching Greek, it would not
be true because the perfect implies that in the current state of things,
Carl is still teaching.
Consider the following example.
Matt 3:2 (GNT) METANOEITE; HGGIKEN GAR hH BASILEIA TWN OURANWN
Matt 3:2 (NIV) "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Matt 3:2 (NRSV) "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
The verb translated "has come near" or "is near" means "to approach", but
because it is used in the perfect tense, there is also an focus on the
current state: the kingdom has come to us and is now here. The perfect
implies both the past event and the current state.
Sometimes, in either Greek or English, the emphasis seems to be on the past
event; e.g., "I have gone to the store." At other times, the emphasis seems
to be on the present state: "I have been saved". Sometimes it is unclear
which is being emphasized: "I have been promoted". These same three things
are also true of the Greek perfect. As in many things, context is key to
Hope this helps!
Jonathan Robie firstname.lastname@example.org
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