Re: Jn 20.22

From: Joe A. Friberg (
Date: Wed Oct 13 1999 - 14:01:29 EDT

Dear Steven Miller:

I'm not sure that we are in disagreement about the interpretation of the
passage or the illocuationary force of the utterance or the meaning of the
verb. With your response, it seems apparent to me that we are simply
talking about different interpretive questions that can be asked. Let me
pinpoint which questions I am addressing and which questions I understand
you to be addressing:

----- Original Message -----
From: Steven Craig Miller <>
To: Biblical Greek <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 1999 11:59 AM
Subject: Re: Jn 20.22

> To: Joe A. Friberg,
> JAF: << Per Steven Miller's hypothetical situation, that is not the
> language I would use to guests. To guests, I might suggest "Have some
> grapes," while to my children, if I want to require them to sample some
> grapes, I might demand "Take some grapes." This latter phrase would be
> *intended to be* more effectual! It occurs to me that English may
> *lexicalize* the aspectual distinction which is exhibited more often in
> Greek by the aor./pres. morphology. >>

My focus is on the type/nature of the action of the verb. Not only is the
illocuationary force different (suggestion vs. command), but also, the
action suggested by "Have..." is one that can be accomplished by taking a
few now, a few off and on during a 30-minute conversation, or none at all,
while the action in the command "Take..." can only be properly/completely
accomplished by taking a few grapes right now. In the first utterance, the
authorial intent is quite vague, in the second, quite specific. These are
different types of actions encapsulated by 'have' vs. 'take', and I am
suggesting the same for the Gk pres. vs. aor. imperative distinction.

> If you prefer to call it a command rather than a request, I have no
> problems with that. But, as Daniel B. Wallace (1996:485) writes:

Your focus is on the illocutionary difference of my examples. The
difference between *types* of action can occur in the same type of
illocutionary utterance. Compare the exhortations: "Have courage" vs. "Take
courage"; the first suggests an extended encouragement, the second the
inception of encouragement at a particular point (now).

> << The imperative mood is the mood of 'intention.' It is the mood furthest
> removed from certainty. (Those who have strong-willed children understand
> this!) >>

I have one (the older), and his strong-willedness seems to be contagious to
the second :-) --or should that be :-( ?

> It would seem that you haven't had any experience with strong-willed
> children. <g> For a command is a far cry from "effectual reception" in my
> experience.

My reference (and I think Carl Conrad's as well) is to the *type* of action
*intended*, whether or not it is carried out. Your focus is on the
situational outcome.

> JAF: << That is, the aorist puts the focus on the initial reception at a
> point in time, whereas, had the pres. been used, it would emphasize the
> ongoing possession of the Spirit. >>
> Wallace goes on to write:
> << The basic force of the imperative of command involves somewhat
> nuances with each tense. With the 'aorist,' the force generally is to
> 'command the action as a whole,' without focusing on duration, repetition,
> etc. In keeping with its aspectual force, the aorist puts forth a 'summary
> command.' With the 'present,' the force generally is to 'command the
> as an ongoing process.' This is in keeping with the present's aspect,
> protrays an 'internal' perspective. >>

I think what I have said is in total agreement w/ Wallace regarding the
different types/natures of actions indicated by the different "tenses."

> There is absolutely nothing about the imperative mood which implies
> "reception."

"Reception" merely happens to be the verb/action in the utterance under
discussion; it comes from the lexical root irrespective of the mood in which
the verb occurs.

> Back to the example of John 20:22, the statement by the Johannine Jesus,
> "Receive the Holy Spirit" (NRSV), can be viewed as a command, or perhaps
> exhortation. One can assume that because these were Jesus' disciples, that
> they did indeed receive the Holy Spirit (according to John's story), but
> the command (in and of itself) does not imply reception.

I'm in complete agreement. My resonance with Carl Conrad's term "effectual"
regards that term as describing the type of action, not the situational
outcome (though I cannot speak authoritatively on his scope of reference!).
For example, I would regard 'grab' as more effectual than than 'hold'. You
are correct, that no matter what lagnuage is used, the outcome is not

God Bless!

Joe A. Friberg
Arlington, Texas

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