John 8:58

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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Would anyone be able to tell how to do a search in a publicly available database in extant extrabiblical Koine literature, to search for πριν and προ του? It should preferably have links to texts and translations. Depending on the amount of hits I might want to take a closer look. If there are many thousands of hits it's probably too much, but some hundreds may not be if there's no hurry.
Jonathan Robie
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: August 3rd, 2021, 1:20 pm Would anyone be able to tell how to do a search in a publicly available database in extant extrabiblical Koine literature, to search for πριν and προ του? It should preferably have links to texts and translations. Depending on the amount of hits I might want to take a closer look. If there are many thousands of hits it's probably too much, but some hundreds may not be if there's no hurry.
I just downloaded this, I'll let you know what I think:

https://www.crs.rm.it/diorisissearch/
Diorisis Search is an application designed to build and run complex linguistic queries on the Diorisis Ancient Greek Corpus (Vatri and McGillivray 2018) through an intuitive graphic interface.
Here's the corpus:

https://figshare.com/articles/dataset/T ... _/12251468

You can specify specific sub-corpora, e.g. Hellenistic Greek.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Stephen,

So even though every other infinitive has a controlling verb γενησθαι at J8:58 doesn’t. So rather than the getting it’s relatve time from the controlling verb this infinitive gets it from the reader’s encyclopedic knowledge.

And εγω ειμι serves as a proper name and has no syntactical connection (the absolute construction) with the subordinate clause πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι and no way complete the clause.



So the meaning would be something like “Before Abraham came to be - the Eternal!
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Eeli,

With an imperfect and in this case a stative as you pointed out it becomes silent after the time period set up.

Consider these two sentences “Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν..” John 1:1

The writer of the fourth gospel is identifying the man Jesus as the preexistent Word. In the beginning the Word WAS or existed and he WAS with God. If we apply “encyclopedic knowledge” (I like this term better than real world) then we know that the Word ceased to be with God, he no longer WAS with God. So we know the Word WAS with God in the beginning but the imperfect ην speaks no more about his state of existence after the beginning.

So to with the use of the imperfect ημην in place of εγω ειμι at John 8:58. It only tells us Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham came to exist. It speaks no more about Jesus’ existence after Abraham came to exist. (Stephen mentioned a complete sense of came to exist which because it is inceptive doesn’t make sense to me. Either the verb is focusing on the beginning of the state or the ending of the state. Telic is the term used I believe).
So the use of the imperfect at John 8:58 cannot convey continued existence. It is not really a viable choice if Jesus wants to make clear that he existed before Abraham existed and continued to exist.
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Here are Stephen’s actual comments which are confusing to me:

No, πρίν is indicating a time before the complete event of Abraham's coming to be. We only know that it is in the past from encyclopedic knowledge of Abraham. The tense of εἰμί is playing no role in this.

It doesn’t make sense to me to say “the complete event of Abraham’s coming to be”. I’m not sure how “coming to be” can signal a complete event.
Scott Lawson
Stephen Carlson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Stephen Carlson »

Scott Lawson wrote: August 3rd, 2021, 4:41 pm So even though every other infinitive has a controlling verb γενησθαι at J8:58 doesn’t. So rather than the getting it’s relatve time from the controlling verb this infinitive gets it from the reader’s encyclopedic knowledge.
I don’t know what “every other infinitive” you’re thinking of. But it’s basically how πρίν works. Matt 1:18 is another example of this. If anything, the logic goes in the other direction, where the πρίν + inf. should establish a topic time for locating the main verb according to its tense.
Scott Lawson wrote: August 3rd, 2021, 4:41 pm And εγω ειμι serves as a proper name and has no syntactical connection (the absolute construction) with the subordinate clause πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι and no way complete the clause.
Whether εἰμί has a complement (your “absolute”?) has nothing to do with any syntactic (not “syntactical”) connection to a subordinate clause (which the infinitive is not). How much grammatical instruction do you have? Everything here seems partially learned.
Scott Lawson wrote: August 3rd, 2021, 4:41 pm So the meaning would be something like “Before Abraham came to be - the Eternal!
There are good ways to express “the Eternal” in Greek, but ἐγὼ εἰμί isn’t one of them.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Stephen Carlson »

Scott Lawson wrote: August 3rd, 2021, 5:36 pm It doesn’t make sense to me to say “the complete event of Abraham’s coming to be”. I’m not sure how “coming to be” can signal a complete event.
An event is complete when it reaches its boundary. Abraham’s coming to be is complete when he’s born.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Scott Lawson wrote: August 3rd, 2021, 5:32 pm So we know the Word WAS with God in the beginning but the imperfect ην speaks no more about his state of existence after the beginning.
Yes, that's correct.
εγω ειμι at John 8:58. It only tells us Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham came to exist. It speaks no more about Jesus’ existence after Abraham came to exist.
Not really. We are at the heart of the problem here. Like I said in one way and what Stephen put in more clear and rigorous linguistic language, there's a clash between the present tense and the πριν clause. The latter limits our view to the past while the present tense tries to break that view. It doesn't feel quite right.

You would be correct if the imperfect were used instead of the present.
So the use of the imperfect at John 8:58 cannot convey continued existence. It is not really a viable choice if Jesus wants to make clear that he existed before Abraham existed and continued to exist.
I think that's right if you mean hypothetical imperfect - we have only the present there. Continued existence with the imperfect would come from the "encyclopedic knowledge", it would be actually self-evident because Jesus is speaking. If the imperfect were used together with the πριν clause it would limit our view to the time before Abraham. The text itself wouldn't say anything about time after that. And that would be very natural if Jesus wanted to say only that he existed already when Abraham didn't exist yet.
If we apply “encyclopedic knowledge” (I like this term better than real world) then we know that the Word ceased to be with God, he no longer WAS with God.
I would rather not comment on that, but I say that encyclopedic knowledge is the knowledge about the world etc. which can be assumed to be common between the speaker and the original receiver. What we may know is a different thing. They didn't necessarily think that way, it's speculation, and I don't think it's relevant for the grammar here.
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Stephen I absolutely admit I only have partial knowledge of Greek in comparison to you. But that goes for many others on B-Greek.

Stephen the “absolute construction” is not my terminology. In fact back in 2012 in discussing John 8:58 you noted that Robertson’s identification of εγω ειμι as an absolute was unhelpful.

https://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vi ... lute#p7126

Stephen Carlson wrote:
“What an interesting proposal. I do hope you pursue it. Ordinarily, the reference time for a present is the utterance time of the speaker, but with adverbials, this reference time-frame can be extended back into the past. English, on the other hand, prefers to use a perfect progressive form for such "extended now" constructions, but the verb "to be" does not take a progressive form, so a rendering would be a perfect "I have been."

You might find Robertson's discussion of this helpful with good examples, though he unhelpfully rejects this reading for εἰμί in John 8:58:

...

(As Robertson does not have an "absolute" category in his explanation of the present tense, I don't find this comment helpful.)

Wallace cites McKay's New Syntax, p.42, for this proposal but dismisses it for lack of parallels.”
Scott Lawson
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Re: John 8:58

Post by Scott Lawson »

Stephen here are Robertson’s points of basic grammar on absolute infinitives for your perusal:

k) The Absolute Infinitive. This idiom is very common in Homer, especially as an imperative and in the midst of imperatives.1 R. Wagner2 notes that in Homer this use of the inf. occurs with the nom. The papyri still show examples like ὁ δεῖνα τῷ δεῖνα χαίρειν.3 Gerhard4 holds that in such cases there is ellipsis of λέγει. The Attic inscriptions5 frequently have the absolute infinitive as imperative. Deissmann (Light from the Anc. East, p. 75) notes that, as in German, it is common in edicts and notices. Cf. imperatival use of infinitive in modern French. He quotes from the “Limestone Block from the Temple of Herod at Jerusalem” (early imperial period): Μηθένα ἀλλογενῆ εἰσπορεύεσθαι ἐντὸς τοῦ περὶ τὸ ἱερὸν τρυφάκτου καὶ περιβόλου, ‘Let no foreigner enter within,’ etc. See also Epictetus, IV, 10, 18, ἵνα δὲ ταῦτα γένηται, οὐ μικρὰ δέξασθαι οὐδὲ μικρῶν ἀποτυχεῖν. The imperatival use was an original Indo-Germanic idiom.6 It flourishes in the Greek prose writers.7 Burton8 and Votaw9 admit one instance of the imperatival inf. in the N. T., Ph. 3:16, τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν. But Moulton10 rightly objects to this needless fear of this use of the inf. It is clearly present in Ro. 12:15, χαίρειν, κλαίειν. The case of Lu. 9:3 is also pertinent where μήτε ἔχειν comes in between two imperatives. Moulton himself objects on this point that this inf. is due to a mixture of indirect with direct discourse. That is true, but it was a very easy lapse, since the inf. itself has this imperatival use. In 1 Th. 3:11; 2 Th. 2:17; 3:5 there is the nominative case and the whole context besides the accent to prove that we have the optative, not the aorist active infinitive. See Mode for further discussion. Moulton11 quotes Burkitt as favouring the mere infinitive, not ἔδει, in Mt. 23:23, ταῦτα δὲ ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ ἀφεῖναι, after the Lewis Syriac MS., and also καυχᾶσθαι.— in 2 Cor. 12:1 after ℵ. The [Page 1093] imperatival use of the inf. was common in laws and maxims and recurs in the papyri.1 So A. P. 86 (i/A. D.) ἐξεῖναι, μισθῶσαι. Radermacher (N. T. Gr., p. 146) quotes Theo, Progymn., p. 128, 12, φέρε ζητεῖν, where the inf. is used as a deliberative subj. would be. He gives also the Hellenistic formula, εἰς δύναμιν εἶναι τὴν ἐμήν, Inscr. Pergam., 13, 31; 13, 34. Hatzidakis2 notes that in the Pontic dialect this construction still exists. The epistolary inf. has the same origin as the imperatival inf. It is the absolute inf. This is common in the papyri. See Ac. 15:23; 23:26; Jas. 1:1, χαίρειν. The nom. is the nominative absolute al Cf. 2 Jo. 10, where χαίρειν is the object of λέγετε. Radermacner (N. T. Gr., p. 146) notes how in the later language the ace. comes to be used with the absolute inf., as in C. Inscr. lat. V. 8733, δουνε αυτων= δοῦναι αὐτόν. It is just in this absolute inf. that we best see the gradual acquirement of verbal aspects by the inf. It is probably the oldest verbal use of the inf.3 The construction in Heb. 7:9, ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν, is but a step further on the way. There is but one example of this absolute inf. with ὡς in the N. T.4 Cf. τοῦ πολεμῆσαι in Rev. 12:7, where it is an independent parenthesis.
Scott Lawson
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