I John 1:1-3

From: Steve and Janet Reaves (sandjreaves@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Wed Jun 30 1999 - 01:30:59 EDT

Well, while it's true that much of the syntax of I John is
straightforward, I must admit that for a beginner the first 3 verses
might be a little confusing. They consist of a series of relative
clauses with a parenthetical statement plopped right down in the middle
of them. Don't hold your breath for the main verb, because it doesn't
show up till verse 3. But if you just take it one clause at a time, you
can make it through.

First, let's begin with some explanations for those just beginning. The
relative pronoun (rel. pron.) is an omicron with a grave accent and a
rough breathing. It is neuter (neut.), singular (sg.), and has the same
form in both the nominative (nom.) and accusative (acc.) cases. It
differs in appearance from the masculine (m.), sg., nom. form of the
definite article only in that it has an accent.

The object of this first sentence is the first clause (That which was
from (the) beginning). It is the antecedent of the relative clauses
that follow. The verb (eta, nu: HN) is the imperfect (impf.), 3rd
person, sg of the verb EIMI (I am).

Do you know why the omicron is missing from the preposition (prep.) APO
(alpha, pi, omicron)? This prep. means (among other things) "from", and
it takes the genitive case, which is what ARXH is in.

For any of you who have considered the matter, do you think there is any
significant difference of meaning between the perfect tenses and the
aorists in these verses? This brings us to an issue that affects
pedagogy. There is the notion of aspect in the understanding of GK
verbs which says that the "tense" is less about time and more about the
way that an action is viewed. For example, is the present tense in a
given context indicating present time or continuous action. Does the
aorist (again, in a given context) say that the action happened in the
past or that it is momentary or simply action 'pure and simple'. I
would especially appreciate Wesley and Michael sharing their insights
with us. In teaching my 9yod, I have mentioned to her this concept of
aspect, especially as it relates to imperatives and participles, but for
the indicative mood we generally use time categories. She does however
realize by translating that sometimes the English idiom demands a
different tense than the GK one.

Well, this should get us going. If anyone out there does not have the
GK texts either in bk form or online, please let me know and we will
figure out something. It may be tomorrow before I can post anything on
the Odyssey.

Enjoy the GK,

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