Re: Present tence copulative verbs

Date: Tue Sep 01 1998 - 02:12:58 EDT

I am going to make some final comments on this thread, unless there is some
grammatical support/discussion that ensues which sheds additional light on
this passage. The points have already been made, and I will state my view
again below. But unless facts are given to support any assertions about what
the grammar says or would have to say, I will not give them further
consideration, as they are bound to evolve into a theological discussion.

In a message dated 8/31/98 10:01:58 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

<< >It is indeed different. EGW HMHN would not stress the fact that his
>continues to the present moment of speaking the way the PPA does.
<< True, but EGW HMHN is grammatically (and temporally) more accurate. >>

The issue has nothing to do with grammatical accuracy, but, rather, with
*what* is being communicated. If Jesus merely wished to state that he existed
prior to Abraham, without any emphasis on the *continuence* of that existence,
then HMHN would be more accurate. But what he said more accurately represents
the continuence of his existence from a time before Abraham was born, to the
present moment of his speaking with the Jews.

<< EGW EIMI does not temporally agree with the imperfect subordinate clause
PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI. A literal translation of John 8:58 would read, "I am
existing before the birth of Abraham" (temporally impossible, since Abraham
 already been born when Jesus said this). The adverbial expression of a PPA
 idiom must be perfective for the present tense main verb to carry the idea
 into the present. John 8:58 is therefore not a PPA idiom, because the
 adverbial expression is not perfective but imperfective (i.e., you cannot
 carry the idea of being "before Abraham" into the present).>>

Kyle, I already explained this to you in a private discussion. You are
creating rules that are contrary to a well known and frequently recognized
idiom. You make claims about the PPA adverbial clause that are not founded
upon any grammatical authority, nor upon any objective analysis.

When you are ready to provide such details, then we can proceed. Until then,
the fact remains that the PPA idiom exists when an adverbial expression
referring to a past time is used together with a present verb. Gramarians such
as Blass-Debrunner, K. L. Mckay, Nigel Turner, and others, recognize this. No
one is trying to carry the idea of Abraham's birth to the present. EIMI is
what is brought to the present, that is why it is a present! The adverbial
expression modifies EIMI, gathering the past and present into a single
expression. It is essential for you to understand this, if you have any chance
of understanding what I am saying, and why grammars classify EIMI in John 8:58
as a PPA.

<< Jesus could have said, "Before Abraham was born, EGW HMHN," or "Since
before Abraham's birth, EGW EIMI;" the former conforming the main verb to the
 adverbial, and the latter conforming the adverbial to the main verb. Both
 are grammatically and temporally acceptable, but "Before Abraham was born, I
 am/have been" is incorrect in both Greek and English. >>

Again, as I have told you several times already, the first option you give
does not emphasize the present aspect the way the PPA does, and the use of
"since" adds nothing to the expression that would make it any more "correct"
than what the text does say. Tell me, what does PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI modify?

<<The sentence PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI EGW EIMI suggests, as some have said,
omnitemporality, being an allusion to Exodus 3:14. >>

John 8:58 does not allude to Exodus 3:14. Exodus 3:14 points *forward* to what
God will become, and John 8:58 points backward to a time before Abraham with
the adverbial clause, and brings Jesus' existence to the present by the use of

<<There can be no doubt that Jesus was making a theological statement
concerning his eternality. >>

Kyle, there may be no doubt about this in your mind, but let's stick with the
text. There is nothing about eternality in the text at all. The grammar is
perfectly in line with a well known Greek idiom that gathers the past and
present into a single expression. If you do not want to accept that, then that
is your decision.

<<If Jesus was simply implying preexistence, then either the subordinating
 should have been perfective, or the main verb should have been imperfective.

Again, you are simply making this qualification up. Nothing requires such a
view. The use of EIMI brings Jesus' existence from a period prior to the birth
of Abraham, to the present. That is all this text says, and THAT is a very
powerful theological statement!

<< But an imperfective dependent clause cannot grammatically/temporally link
 a present tense main verb. >>

Where are you getting this from? I know in our private dialogue that you got
hung up on comparing English grammar with Greek, and that is not valid in this
instance. Also, again, we are dealing with a Greek *idiom*; this was one way
they could gather up the past and present into a single expression.

><< This verse tells us that Jesus exists, and has existed since before
> Abraham, but does not tell us when he began to exist. Many of the people
> this discussion seem to be arguing the Jehovah's Witnesses position. If I
> understand it correctly, they teach that Jesus is not God, but a created
> being who came into existence before humans did. >>
>I may be able to help clarify this point. First, no one has mentioned any
>particular theological position, until now. Rather, those involved in the
>discussion have simply commented on what the text says. I think it is
>unnecessary to put a label on a particular view that has merely been
>from the perspective of what the Bible says. Also, if you are going to
>that some are arguing for a "Witness" position, I think it only fair to
>mention that others are arguing for a trinitarian position.
<< I think we need to forget any presupposed theologies. Let Scripture
 influence interpretation, not translation. >>

But, Kyle, where does one get the idea of a connection with Exodus 3:14 if not
from one's presuppositions?

<<We have to first understand what
 the Bible says before we decide what it means. And in John 8:58, it says
 that Jesus is either eternally preexistent or just preexistent, and I think
 it is obvious that it says he is eternal. >>

How is that "obvious," Kyle? The only thing obvious about this text is that
Jesus existed before Abraham. Anything else is theologically motivated.

Greg Stafford


B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:02 EDT