RE: Ephesians

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Apr 14 1999 - 13:49:02 EDT

At 10:40 AM -0500 4/14/99, Bill Ross wrote:
>>It seems to me that it ought to read:
>> "In grace are you, having been saved through faith"
>I would think: (1) ESTE SESWiSMENOI is the standard form of the perfect
>passive, and
>I would have thought that SESWiMENOI is the standard form. Am I correct that
>it is unusual to put ESTE before a perfect passive? Wouldn't SESWiSMENOI
>have done the trick? What is the significance of ESTE here?

In older Greek the perfect passive is fully conjugated; in Koine Greek (at
least where it is actually used, and it's important to realize that it
isn't that commonly used, probably because the aorist is coming to carry at
least some of the functional sense of the older perfect) it still is quite
regularly conjugated in verbs with vowel stems: LELUMAI, LELUSAI, LELUTAI,
LELUMEQA, LELUSQE, LELUNTAI-- but for consonant stems the third plural is
regularly a periphrastic form: 1 sg. SESWiSMAI, but 3 pl. SESWiSMENOI
EISIN: but the periphrastic forms for consonant verbs especially tend to
spread, and of course periphrastic forms are what one must use for the
subjunctive. So what I am saying is that SESWiSMENOI ESTE is a not-uncommon
type of equivalent to an older second plural perfect passive form SESWiSQE.
So, just as in English we form the perfect active with forms of "have" with
the participle (e.g. "'I have' saved"), and as we form the perfect passive
with forms of the perfect of "be" (e.g. "'I have been' saved."), just so
Greek tends more and more to form the perfect passive with forms of EIMI
with the perfect passive participle of the verb. And that's what I'm
claiming here: that SESWiSMENOI ESTE is a compound ("periphrastic") verb,
equivalent in meaning to an older more common form that would be SESWiSQE.

>Do you approve of "having been saved" to represent SESWiSMENOI?

IF you are willing to go with a translation for ESTE SESWiSMENOI such as
"you are having been saved"--but I think the better English is simply "you
have been saved."

>And does the present indicative agree with the perfect passive particple?

Yes, if by that you mean that the nominative plural of the participle is in
grammatical agreement with the second personal plural ESTE: indeed it must
be or you'd have a solecism, a form that might be intelligible but is not
what would normally be written or spoken.

>Is there compelling grammatical reason to take XARITI as the indirect object
>of SESWiMENOI as opposed to being the indirect object of ESTE?

CARITI or XARITI (however you choose to transliterate the Chi) is not an
indirect object in either case. If construed with SESWiSMENOI it is an
instrumental dative, normally conveyed by "by means of ..." or "through"
(an indirect object would have to be "to ..." or "for ..."); if construed
solely with ESTE it could only be a dative of possession with the sense
"you belong to CARIS"--where we'd really need to understand CARIS to be a
person's name.

>(2) although CARITI as an instrumental dative is perfectly intelligible with
>ESTE SESWiSMENOI, there's no way I can see to make it construe with a simple
>ESTE except as a dative of possession, which would have to imply, I think,
>that CARITI is a
>person, "You belong to someone named 'Grace.'" "You are in (a state of)
>grace" is perfectly intelligible English, but I do not think CARITI ESTE is
>intelligible Greek.
>How do you read Romans 8:24a
>By hope? In hope? I realize that this is aorist, but here's how the dative
>is commonly translated:

Whether you translate it as "by hope" or "in hope" it is instrumental
dative and really indicates the means whereby the salvation has come about.
Even if you translate it as "in hope" it is not by any means a locative
dative that would indicate WHERE the salvation took place.

>For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who
>hopes for what he already has?
>For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who
>hopes for what he sees?
>For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man
>seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
>For we have been saved in hope; but hope seen is not hope; for what any one
>sees, why does he also hope?
>for in hope we were saved, and hope beheld is not hope; for what any one
>doth behold, why also doth he hope for [it]?
>I don't know the technical word for this use of the dative, but what
>grammatically stands in the way of ESTE having XARITI as the direct object
>in the sense of "in?" Is it just too unusual and unexpected in your

In my own experience it is not only unusual and unexpected but utterly
unthinkable that an intransitive verb like EIMI should have a direct object
or that a direct object should have the sense of "in." I cannot get away
from the impression here that you are letting your understanding of English
govern your notion of what the Greek should mean.

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

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