Re: Pluperfect in John 7:30

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Feb 07 1999 - 07:59:38 EST

At 11:38 AM -0500 2/6/99, wrote:
>Dear b-greekers,
>I wonder if I am making too much of the pluperfect verb, ELHLUQEI, in John
>CEIRA, hOTI OUPW ELHLUQEI hH hWPA AUTOU. The very same hOTI clause appears in
>Jn 8:20. Mounce says that "the pluperfect is used to describe an action that
>was completed and whose effects are felt at a time after the completion but
>before the time of the speaker." When some hELLHNES arrive on the scene in Jn
>12 with their desire to see Jesus, Jesus says that his hour is come - using
>the perfect of ERCOMAI in Jn 12:23. The import of the pluperfect, then, in
>7:30 seems to be that Jesus' hour has a specific duration which is no longer
>felt at the time of the narrator.

No: I think you miss the point of OUPW: it is "not yet" rather than "no

Jesus' hour arrives in Jn 12, that hour
>ticks away and concludes with Jesus' announcement in 19:30, TETELESTAI - a
>perfect passive. So Jesus' hour, the hour during which he is glorified,
>encompasses everything between 12:20 and 19:30. That's how I read the import
>of the pluperfect in 7:30. Too much?

Actually, you're asking a question about the interpretation of the gospel
of John, but it is one that turns on the way the term hWRA and the way the
perfect and pluperfect tenses are used in the gospel of John.

For one think John uses perfects and pluperfects more than other NT
writers; of pluperfects in John I find (using Accordance) 34 instances (of
86 pluperfects total in the GNT), and of these 34, 16 are instances of OIDA
and are therefore hardly exceptional, since OIDA is used practically as a
present tense and HiDEIN would be equivalent to an imperfect, 5 others are
forms of ERCOMAI (i.e. ELHLUQEIN KTL.) I think you will find discussion in
several commentators on John's extraordinary preference for the perfect and
pluperfect to underscore result. While I have long believed this is true of
John's gospel indeed, I have wondered recently whether this is so
extraordinary after all, whether, in fact, John is still using a pluperfect
where most writers of his time would have used an aorist to convey the same

At any rate, in John 7:30 I think you've misunderstood OUPW: it doesn't
mean that the "coming of the hour" is no longer in effect but that it was
NOT YET in effect. Jesus cannot be arrested BEFORE the hWRA. Consider
similarly John 2:4, where Jesus tells his mother, OUPW hHKEI hH hWRA MOU,
where the perfective prsent hHKW is used instead of the more common perfect
or aorist form of ERCOMAI.

Personally, I don't think the chronology of John's gospel is at all
straightforward and linear (in fact, I'm rather dubious that the evangelist
really means us to understand that the cleansing of the temple in chapter 2
follows immediately upon the wedding at Cana at the beginning of Jesus'
ministry). I really think, however, that chapters 12-20 (or -21, if you
like), are all concerned with the hWRA, and that the perfect ELHLUQEN in
John 12:23 is already referring to the hWRA of glorification; I think that
the entire sequence of chapters 12, 13-17, 18-20 (-21) are expository of
the meaning of the hWRA. But this is not the proper platform for a
discussion of Johannine chronology as such.

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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