John 8:58

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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Scott Lawson wrote: August 1st, 2021, 11:52 am Eeli, the aorist with infinitives seems to be the default tense form so very little significance about its time can be drawn from this.
Yes, and aspect of the infinitive (not tense in linguistic/semantic sense!) isn't any kind of problem here. When I'm talking about time here I'm talking about point in timeline (past, present, future time). Infinitive doesn't have time in that sense at all, it has only aspect. Contrary to some grammarians (Porter et al.) tense has that kind of time in indicative, so ειμι refers to the present time of speaking. But the infinitive doesn't do that by itself.
I thought I’d post Baugh’s comments on present and aorist imperatives.
I don't see how imperative could be relevant here. The aspect of imperative is a much researched problematic area, but it only confuses this discussion.
Daniel Semler
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Daniel Semler »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 1st, 2021, 10:51 am
Jonathan Robie wrote: August 1st, 2021, 9:14 am
Actually, I think Scott is pointing at something important. The normal thing you would expect is that an aorist infinitive γενέσθαι indicates something that happened before the corresponding main verb εἰμί. But πρὶν conflicts with the normal way of reading, it's very marked.
If we detach an infinitive from the surroundings it doesn't have time indication at all. γενέσθαι is like "to be born"; Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι is clumsily-overliterally "Abraham to be born", better "Abraham's birth". It doesn't yet indicate time. We just know who that Abraham is and that he was born in the past. But we don't have a separate infinitive, we have an infinitive with πρὶν. Therefore I think we are misguided if we compare this with aorist infinitives + present indicatives from all contexts. It may be interesting if we research infitive, but not helpful for this context. We have to compare this passage with aorist infinitive - which we know to be referring to a past event - combined with πρὶν or προ του. Is a present tense main verb ever used with that construction (well, other than the mentioned Psalm)?
So I looked at this for the NT only (I would like to do a wider check but I don't have the time just now). There are no examples with πρίν. But with πρό τοῦ:

“μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν.”
(Matthew 6:8 Novum Testamentum Graece (New Testament in Greek))
https://accordance.bible/link/read/GNT28-T#Matt._6:8

Actually thinking more about it, this one might not be considered quite an example, as the main verb for the infinitive is perfect in form though present in sense.

Thx
D
Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Scott Lawson wrote: August 1st, 2021, 12:01 pm καὶ νῦν δόξασόν με σύ, πάτερ, παρὰ σεαυτῷ τῇ δόξῃ ᾗ εἶχον πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί.
(John 17:5 GNT28-)
That's exactly what we would expect in John 8:58, too. The main verb is in imperfect because it refers to the time before existence of the world. If I'm allowed a little bit of exegetical-theological speculation, Jesus didn't loose that δοξα when the world came into existence. Therefore it's πρὸ τοῦ which causes the imperfect tense of the main verb, not how the event happened in the real world. Using the imperfect would be grammatically and semantically correct in John 8:58.

So, can anyone find any instance of πριν or προ του + inf. where the infinitive clearly refers to a past event and where the main verb is in present indicative, in Koine (excluding our problematic passage and the Psalm) or even in wider Ancient Greek?

I would also be interested in hearing if cross-linguistic research could shed some light on this. "Before x happened, y is(PRESENT)" is ungrammatical in English, so is the corresponding sentence in Finnish. In both imperfect or perfect tense form would be used.
Daniel Semler wrote: August 1st, 2021, 1:54 pm πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι
αἰτῆσαι clearly doesn't refer to past time exclusively, it's generic. Every time we ask, the Father knows it beforehand. Therefore it's not a parallel.
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

I can’t concede that Jesus didn’t lose the glory he had at the time before the world was.

And again I think εἶναι is a forced choice because there isn’t a full paradigm of forms to choose from.

And there is a circularity between the temporal preposition and the main verb. I don’t think you can say one causes the other. It’s just the way it works. But the main verb does influence the time of the infinitive in the subordinate temporal clause.

Edited. I changed have to lose in the first sentence
Last edited by Scott Lawson on August 1st, 2021, 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Scott Lawson
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Also because the to be verb ειμι does not have a full paradigm, there is no aorist or perfect verb forms, as a result γίνομαι takes up the slack for certain senses.


For example γίνομαι has a change of state meaning as well as the idea of inception/ingression which could have possibly been expressed by the aorist tense of ειμι if there was one.
Scott Lawson
Daniel Semler
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Daniel Semler »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 1st, 2021, 2:27 pm
Daniel Semler wrote: August 1st, 2021, 1:54 pm πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι
αἰτῆσαι clearly doesn't refer to past time exclusively, it's generic. Every time we ask, the Father knows it beforehand. Therefore it's not a parallel.
True here, but why is that ? In isolation the two infinitive clauses don't look too different. So is that coming from the perfect main verb ?
Asked the other way around, why is πρίν Ἀβρααμ γενέσθαι past referring ? Is that contextual - ie. that we know Abraham was born a long time ago ?

thx
D
Jonathan Robie
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Jonathan Robie »

The πρίν clause is normal, it means "before", the infinitive + accusative is part of the πρίν construction. This is covered in the "Temporal Clauses" chapter in "The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek".
When the matrix clause is affirmative (not-negative), πρίν is normally followed by the (accusative and) infinitive. In such cases, πρίν can be translated only with before, not with until: (35) λέγοιμ’ ἂν ἤδη. πρὶν λέγειν δ’, ὑμᾶς τοδὶ | ἐπερήσομαί τι μικρόν. (Ar. Lys. 97–8) I’ll make my speech momentarily. But before making it, I’ll ask you this, a small issue. (36) ὀλίγον δὲ πρὶν ἡμᾶς ἀπιέναι μάχη ἐγεγόνει ἐν τῇ Ποτειδαίᾳ. (Pl. Chrm. 153b) Not long before we went back, a battle had taken place in Potidaea. (37) ἦν ἡμίν, ὦναξ, Λάιός ποθ’ ἡγεμὼν | γῆς τῆσδε, πρὶν σὲ τήνδ’ ἀπευθύνειν πόλιν. (Soph. OT 103–4) Once, my lord, Laius was the king of this land, before you had control of this city.

van Emde Boas, Evert; Rijksbaron, Albert; Huitink, Luuk; de Bakker, Mathieu. The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek (p. 544). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
I think this is correct. So ἐγὼ εἰμί BEFORE Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι. Again, that limits our options.
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 1st, 2021, 2:27 pm I would also be interested in hearing if cross-linguistic research could shed some light on this. "Before x happened, y is(PRESENT)" is ungrammatical in English, so is the corresponding sentence in Finnish. In both imperfect or perfect tense form would be used.
That's because in normal discourse, if A happened before B, and B has already happened, then A has already happened. Calling this "ungrammatical" misses the point, I think, the present is being used for effect, the fact that it clashes with the normal expectation is the point.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/
Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Scott Lawson wrote: August 1st, 2021, 3:55 pm I can’t concede that Jesus didn’t have the glory he had at the time before the world was.
Maybe you misread what I wrote? Jesus having the glory before the world was is what is stated explicitly. But implictly it continues even after the world began to exist. My point is that choosing between the imperfect and present tense doesn't depend on how the event happens in extralinguistic world, i.e. using imperfect doesn't mean that the event is actually limited to the past. Therefore "I was" would have been proper in John 8:58 even though Jesus' existence continued after Abraham.

John 17:5 uses the imperfect in the main clause because
And again I think εἶναι is a forced choice because there isn’t a full paradigm of forms to choose from.
There are now different passages quoted in different posts, and previous posts quoted and answered so that the result is difficult to follow. Therefore I try to be explicit about which passage I'm talking about. Please clarify which εἶναι is a forced choice in your opinion and in which way. In John 8:58 we need to choose only from two options, present and imperfect, and missing paradigms or other words which are used for missing paradigms are irrelevant.
And there is a circularity between the temporal preposition and the main verb. I don’t think you can say one causes the other. It’s just the way it works. But the main verb does influence the time of the infinitive in the subordinate temporal clause.
What you have been saying about this is now probably sinking in. Because a certain form is used in the main clause you could expect certain form in the other clause. I just would rather say it's expectation for interpreting the forms, not that it for example "influences the time". But interpreting language isn't so simple. Knowledge about extralinguistic world affects it, too, and that's why I have insisted that we know Abraham was born in the past which causes certain interpretation. No grammar can change that, and that's why we can't interpret "whenever Abraham is born, I already exist before that".

Compare this with Matthew 6:8 in Daniel's post. There's no unique event of asking we can see there. Therefore both the infinitive aorist and the present main verb are interpreted more generically, maybe gnomically and/or iteratively.

That's why my request for parallels must narrow down the πριν + infinitive to those instances where the event referred to by the infinitive is known to be in the past. Only that way it limits the time of the main verb to the past and we can see if the present tense can be used there.

EDIT: I called οιδα present. It's partly because this thread is so exhausting and I may make mistakes, but I don't regret because it's practically a present. (It's a fossilized word which in my opinion shouldn't be used at all when semantics of the perfect tense is discussed.)
Last edited by Eeli Kaikkonen on August 1st, 2021, 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Daniel Semler
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Daniel Semler »

Jonathan Robie wrote: August 1st, 2021, 5:43 pm The πρίν clause is normal, it means "before", the infinitive + accusative is part of the πρίν construction. This is covered in the "Temporal Clauses" chapter in "The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek".
When the matrix clause is affirmative (not-negative), πρίν is normally followed by the (accusative and) infinitive. In such cases, πρίν can be translated only with before, not with until: (35) λέγοιμ’ ἂν ἤδη. πρὶν λέγειν δ’, ὑμᾶς τοδὶ | ἐπερήσομαί τι μικρόν. (Ar. Lys. 97–8) I’ll make my speech momentarily. But before making it, I’ll ask you this, a small issue. (36) ὀλίγον δὲ πρὶν ἡμᾶς ἀπιέναι μάχη ἐγεγόνει ἐν τῇ Ποτειδαίᾳ. (Pl. Chrm. 153b) Not long before we went back, a battle had taken place in Potidaea. (37) ἦν ἡμίν, ὦναξ, Λάιός ποθ’ ἡγεμὼν | γῆς τῆσδε, πρὶν σὲ τήνδ’ ἀπευθύνειν πόλιν. (Soph. OT 103–4) Once, my lord, Laius was the king of this land, before you had control of this city.

van Emde Boas, Evert; Rijksbaron, Albert; Huitink, Luuk; de Bakker, Mathieu. The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek (p. 544). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
If this was a response to my:
Daniel Semler wrote: August 1st, 2021, 5:43 pm Asked the other way around, why is πρίν Ἀβρααμ γενέσθαι past referring ? Is that contextual - ie. that we know Abraham was born a long time ago ?
that's not what I getting at. Eeli has been trying to find a real past event example, and the one I provided is excluded because it isn't. My question is what makes that difference between the two examples clear. It was partly rhetorical but the point I was trying to make was how different are the two examples really syntactically ? On a syntactic basis alone I don't know that one can be said to not be a parallel to the other, though in context they are clearly not parallel.

Thx
D
Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Jonathan Robie wrote: August 1st, 2021, 5:43 pm
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 1st, 2021, 2:27 pm I would also be interested in hearing if cross-linguistic research could shed some light on this. "Before x happened, y is(PRESENT)" is ungrammatical in English, so is the corresponding sentence in Finnish. In both imperfect or perfect tense form would be used.
That's because in normal discourse, if A happened before B, and B has already happened, then A has already happened. Calling this "ungrammatical" misses the point, I think, the present is being used for effect, the fact that it clashes with the normal expectation is the point.
I don't think I missed the point. I agree that the present is used here for effect and it clashes with the normal expectation. But linguists would mark it with an asterisk, and if I would write something like that in English without any special purpose, an English teacher would mark it with red. Language is fascinating because rules and expectations can be broken for rhetorical purposes.
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