Re: John 1:5 - aspect

From: Kimmo Huovila (
Date: Wed Jan 12 2000 - 10:05:12 EST

I forgot to change the address field. I meant to send this to the list,
so here I try again. Sorry for the delay.

Pete Phillips wrote:
> What is the aspectual significance of FAINEI being present
> tense and KATELABEN being aorist? Does this suggest
> 1. that the light keeps shining?
> 2. that the darkness had an attempt at
> extinguishing/understanding the light but that this
> opportunity had now passed and will not return?

If KATELABEN is taken in the sense of comprehending,
probably the most natural sense would be a negation of the ingressive
sense. The verb (but in the middle) in the sense of comprehending is
aspectually stative (lexical aspect) in Acts 10:34, which seems to
justify the
possibility of interpreting it as ingressive here. In other words, the
sense would be that the darkness never entered into the state of

In this sense of the verb, the present would have been an option with
no big difference in sense, as far as aspect is concenred.

If KATELABEN is taken in the sense of overpowering, the boundedness of
the aorist is easily taken as resultative. In other words, the darkness
was not successful in overpowering it. The verb form as such does not
say anything of a past time opportunity never to return.

In this sense of the verb, the present could be interpreted as a
conative present (though it would not have to), which would have yielded
the sense
that darkness did not attempt to overpower the light.

It is also possible not to see any time reference in this aorist, and
understand the passage in a timeless way.

Kimmo Huovila

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