Re: 1 John 3:9

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Wed Dec 22 1999 - 17:37:11 EST

<x-flowed>To: Paul Dixon,

SCM: << I have doubts as to the possibility of a "habitual present" with
the negative particle "OU" where the resulting meaning clearly means that
one only occasionally does this thing, but one does not do it on a habitual
bases. It just doesn't make sense to me. >>

PD: << I don't know where you get the idea that a negative particle OU on a
present tense cannot or should not denote the negation of habitual
activity, unless you reject the notion altogether of the present
tense denoting habitual activity. Some clarification here?

I would be more than happy to try to clarify my comment. As I see it what
Zerwick and others are really suggesting is that (at 1 John 3:9) both OU
POIEI and OU DUNATAI are not so much "habitual presents," but because of
the negative particle have become mysteriously enough a "sporadic present"
sporadically sins."

IMO Greek syntax does not work like that. One cannot simply negate a
present tense verb so as to create a "sporadic present." This is IMO the
fallacy of Fanning's analysis of this issue. Fanning investigates whether
or not there is a "habitual present." And he concludes:

<< ... the habitual interpretation of 1 John 3:4-10 is certainly
'possible,' based on NT usage >> (216).

But what he overlooks IMO is that the two present verbs in 1 Jn 3:9 have
been negated, and none of the examples he cites as evidence for the
"habitual present" are present tense verbs which have been negated. Thus in
my opinion, Fanning has failed to present one legitimate, undisputed
example of a present tense verb negated by the Greek particle OU which
implies a "sporadic present."

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)
Disclaimer: "I'm just a simple house-husband (with no post-grad degree),
what do I know?"

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