Re: 2 John 7-Importance of Present Participle

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Feb 01 1999 - 12:37:48 EST

At 8:11 AM -0800 2/1/99, Edgar Foster wrote:
>Dear B-Greekers,
>In his intriguing discussion of the present participle, Buist Fanning
>writes that "some present participles denote occurrences antecedent or
>subsequent to the main verb, while others describe occurrences so
>general that one cannot limit them to any single time-frame" (408).
>A few pages later, he adds: "there are also generic uses in which the
>present [participle] is multiple in a distributive sense: an
>individual is envisaged as engaging in the occurrence only once" (411).
>Based on this information, my question is: Is it possible that the
>present participle ERCOMENON in 2 John 7 can be categorized as
>described above? Is it pointing to a time antecendent to the main
>verb? Is it describing a one time occurrence?

This is a fascinating question. Let's simply ignore any theological
ramifications (if we can, and let's try hard!) and consider the question of
how ERCOMENON in 2 Jn 7 may be understood. Without being able to examine
Fanning's argument (the book is out of print, not in our library here, and
notoriously difficult to come by) I do feel at a loss to know exactly what
texts he's basing his argument on.


One thing immediately evident is that the participle in the substantival
phrase, hOI MH hOMOLOGOUNTES, although present, is appositional to the
subject of a verb in the aorist; another noteworthy factor is that
ERCOMENON, though present, is itself part of a sort of indirect statement
dependent upon hOMOLOGOUNTES. (I should admit, if it's not obvious, that
I've never looked closely at this passage before, although I have certainly
read it several times).

It's a general statement about "deceptions" and "deceivers." Although one
might argue that hOI MH hOMOLOGOUNTES refers to one group of concrete
persons held in mind by the author of 2 John, presumably that majority that
left the Johannine community about which he says so much in 1 John,
nevertheless the real problem here is the phrase that seems to function as
the object-content of the negated substantival participle, hOI MH
hOMOLOGOUNTES: "those who do not confess/agree/admit ..."

IHSOUN CRISTON ERCOMENON EN SARKI could, I guess, mean "the fact that Jesus
Christ COMES in flesh." In which case, what's the temporal reference of the
present participle ERCOMENON? I think one naturally wants to take it in
reference to a past coming and read it "the fact that Jesus Christ CAME in
flesh"--which does seem to be one central concern of the author of the
three Johannine letters. My own inclination, however, is not to see the
reference in ERCOMENON so much as pointing to time present, past, or future
so much as to the event of Christ's coming as an entrance into durative
time--which would incline me to want to translate this into English as "the
coming of Jesus Christ in flesh" rather than as "Jesus Christ coming in
flesh." Which is to say, I guess, that I see no reason why ERCOMENON here
may NOT refer to what is in fact an event of past history, but I also don't
see an emphasis on that so much by virtue of the durative/progressive
aspect of ERCOMENON as I see emphasis on the reality of a manner of
entrance into the temporal sequence, namely EN SARKI.

I think I'm going to leave this here at this point. Enough for my initial
reflections. I'm curious to see what others think about this. This is an
aspect question into which one can really sink some grammatical teeth--?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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