Re: John 6:29

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Oct 10 1999 - 17:12:11 EDT

At 3:29 PM -0500 10/10/99, David A Bielby wrote:
>Jn 6:29b
>I'm translating the conjunction and the Present Active Subjunctive
>functionally as 'to believe'. My questions are: Is there not a continuous
>sense in this phrase...and if so, how can we bring that out without being
>awkward in the translation?? Doesn't it seem that the english tends to
>lose that continuous state connotation? How can we adjust for that?
>Could it be translated "to always believe" or something like this?

Yes, I think you could say that the fact that PISTEUHTE is present "tense"
means in effec that the believing is continuous--but it could also mean
that the believing is in its inception: i.e. "so you may begin to believe
in the one whom he sent" or "so you may continue to believe in the one whom
he sent."

However, both of these sound rather awkward in English, and my own
inclination, except when being "hyperliteral" is to stay within the bounds
of ordinary English idiom, which does not normally make the sort of
distinction you're suggesting for PISTEUHTE. I don't think it would be
"always believe" anyway, but rather, "continue to believe." That is to say,
as I understand the force of the aspect here, it is that action is ongoing
and that nothing is implied about an end; rather it's a matter of
open-ended futurity (which has always seemed to me to be what lies at the
heart of Johannine faith in any case).

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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