Re: Present Tense

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Tue Oct 19 1999 - 17:43:43 EDT

<x-flowed>To: Dale M. Wheeler,

<< If this is the case, then, for example per a recent discussion, the fact
that the verbs in 1John 3:4ff. are present is not conclusive to demonstrate
the "habitual" nature of the person's behavior. The behavior *may* be
habitual, as the NASB and many commentators suggest, but that would need to
be demonstrated on other grounds (cf., Marshall, IJohn, New International
Commentary; or Fanning, Verbal Aspect, for a non-habitual approach). >>

In all fairness, I don't remember anyone suggesting that BECAUSE the verb
was present tense that that means it MUST be "habitual." And I wonder if
your purpose might be better served simply by remembering James Barr's
axiom: "it is in sentences that the real theological thinking is done" [as
opposed to words] ("The Semantics of Biblical Language," 234). Isn't that
the point you are trying to make here, namely that no one word can bear the
meaning for the whole sentence?

Buist M. Fanning [1990:214,215] writes:

<< ... some have expressed doubt that the tense alone can be relied upon to
convey the sense required for the 'habitual' approach. ... [yet] There are
numerous presents in the NT denoting a custom or habit 'without' other
explicit indicators. The sense of the context indicates the customary or
habitual nature of the occurrence. >>

Isn't that your point too? Namely that it is "the sense of the context"
which indicates the customary or habitual nature of the occurrence and not
merely the tense of the verb?

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)

 From Luther's Large Catechism: "Why, do you think, is the world now so
full of unfaithfulness, shame, misery, and murder? It is because everyone
wishes to be his or her own master, be free from all authority, care
nothing for anyone, and do whatever he or she pleases. So God punishes one
knave by means of another" (BoC 386.154).

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