RE: Ephesians ~ Generic Dative and Periphrastic Pefect

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Apr 25 1999 - 16:56:33 EDT

<x-rich><color><param>0000,7777,0000</param>At 9:12 AM -0500 4/25/99, Bill Ross


>>The core 'sentence,' then, would be "You are existing."



>Granted, ESTE is here centered between CARITI and SESWiSMENOI; why

>should mean that ESTE is a 'stand-alone' verb is not so easy to say.



>Carl, you said that ESTE SESWiSMENOI was an evolution of the "normal"

>(sans ESTE). Are there other examples? It makes sense, but I'd sure

>better seeing another example, particularly in Paul.

Proof you want? Yes, I do indeed think that evidence is worth more than

First of all, let's say this: there are plenty of regular perfect
passives in the GNT; I've found (using AcCordance) 83 in the
unquestionably authentic Pauline letters, but almost all of them are
singulars, e.g.first-person PEPEISMAI, PEPLHRWMAI, MEMUHMAI, or (by far
most of them) third-person singulars: GEGRAPTAI, KEKLHTAI, EGHGERTAI,
MEMERISTAI, EGNWSTAI, hUPOTETAKTAI, etc., etc. The morphological plural
perfect passives are far less frequent. There are only a few
first-person plurals PEFANERWMEQA (2 Cor 5:11), PARAKEKLHMEQA (2 Cor
7:13), DEDOKIMASMEQA (1 Th 2:4). I've found only two second-person
plurals in the entire GNT that are NOT periphrastic: PEPLANHSQE in Jn
7:47 and MEMNHSQE in 1 Cor 11:2). Even in classical Attic, however, the
third-plural was regularly periphrastic, and I've found only one in the
unquestionably authentic Pauline letters PEPLATUNTAI (2 Cor 6:11).

On the other hand, in the unquestionably authentic letters of Paul I've
found several good instances of the periphrastic perfect or pluperfect;
here are a few of them:

<underline>Rom</underline> 13:1, where Paul speaks of authorities to
which one must be subject. OU GAR ESTIN EXOUSIA EI MH hUPO QEOU, and
those that do exist (hAI DE OUSAI), he says, hUPO QEOU TETAGMENAI
EISIN. This is a periphrastic third-plural perfect passive.

1 Cor 4:8 Paul says saracastically to the Corinthians: "you have
already sated yourselves" (HDH KEKORESMENOI ESTE). In the same vein he
says to them in 1 Cor 5:2 "And you've allowed yourselves to get puffed


In 1 Cor 7:29 he issues an eschatological warning: "the time has been
contracted" hO KAIROS SUNESTALMENOS ESTI (the physician might say that
the KAIROS has gone into systole like a heart in contraction).

In 2 Cor 4:3 he says "And even if our gospel has been concealed/veiled
ESTIN KEKALUMMENON, it has been concealed/veiled same form) among those
who are perishing."

In Gal 2:11 Paul speaks of his opposition to Peter in Antioch, because
he had been condemned/been convicted (KATEGNWSMENOS HN; in this
instance it is a periphrastic pluperfect).

In Gal 4:3 we have another pluperfect periphrastic: "we had been put
into slavery (HMEQA DEDOULWMENOI) under the elemental spirits of the

And one last example I'll bring up is three verses later in Ephesians
from the one under discussion: THi GAR CARITI ESTE SESWiSMENOI DIA
PISTEWS: "by grace you have been saved through faith."


>>(some might call it a "Dative of MEANS"). At any rate, they are
likely to

>assert that CARITI indicates the instrumentality whereby the

>referred to in ESTE SESWiSMENOI has been gained.



>Would you say that this is equivalent to DIA? Paul is pretty

>about salvation being by means of faith,

Yes, in fact we find it, as I've noted just above in Eph 2:8 THi GAR
CARITI ESTE SESWiSMENOI DIA PISTEWS. This is, of course, a verse that
neatly calls attention to the fact that believers and God are both
involved in the drama of salvation, believers "through faith" (DIA
PISTEWS), yet the faith would be of no efficacy whatsoever without the
instrumentality of God's grace (CARITI).

>so I lean, as various translators

>do in Romans 8:24, to a different sense of the dative, particularly
since it

>is juxtaposed with DIA in the next phrase. I'd prefer, at least, "in

No, I don't think I'd categorize the dative THi ELPIDI in Rom 8:24 as a
dative of means, although I do think it is an instrumental dative
expressing manner rather than means.

>As to George's assertion that ESTE is a stand alone verb, in the sense

>"you exist," that is how I first read it, since the context has Paul

>in this passage that the Church is God's new creation:


>Eph 2:

>10 For we are his workmanship, **created** in Christ Jesus unto good

>which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

In Eph 2:10 AUTOU GAR ESMEN POIHMA. ESMEN is hardly a "stand-alone"
verb, it takes a predicate nominative, namely POIHMA AUTOU.

>If, as you have asserted, this present tense ESTE is
normally/corruptly a

>helping verb to the perfect participle, then I would abandon the
reading. In

>the absence of a Pauline, NT or contemporary example, George's reading

>more easily supported grammatically, no? I am averse to interpreting

>reading as an example of Paul using a corrupted syntax.

I frankly haven't the least notion what you're referring to here as a
"corrupted syntax." The periphrastic perfect passive is found even in
Homer and it is quite regular in 5th and 4th century Attic prose. What
I'm saying is that the periphrastic form of a perfect passive has grown
to be quite normal in Hellenistic Greek, particularly in the plural of
verbs that are not formed from a vocalic stem: it's easy enough to add
the -NTAI ending to a vocalic perfect passive stem like PEPOIH- or
MEMNH- or LELU-, but it's very awkward to add it on to a consonantal
stem like SESWiS-, and for that very reason the periphrastic form of
the third-plural caught on and became more and more standard whenever
it became necessary to use a third-plural perfect passive.

>The reading that the believers CARITI ESTE makes the "gift of God,"

>to in the latter part of the verse, the Church itself, not faith!


>Again, although this reading is plausible grammatically and makes
sense in

>the context, it goes away if you can show that ESTE SESWiSMENOI is a

>use of the perfect participle.

I hope that I have shown that. And I remain firmly, obstinately,
insistently (yesterday I said "unregenerate" and got a note about that
;-) ) convinced that an interpretation of a Greek text is considerably
sounder when it can be shown to conform to standard Greek grammatical

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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