"Iterative Perfect" in John 5:27?

"Iterative Perfect" in John 5:27?

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 17th, 2012, 5:27 pm

The intermediary syntax by Brooks and Winbery identifies the perfects in John 5:27 as "iterative perfects." Here is the text and their translation:
John 5:37 wrote:καὶ ὁ πέμψας με πατὴρ ἐκεῖνος μεμαρτύρηκεν περὶ ἐμοῦ. οὔτε φωνὴν αὐτοῦ πώποτε αὐτοῦ πώποτε ἀκηκόατε οὔτε εἶδος αὐτοῦ ἑωράκατε.
The Father who sent me has repeatedly born [sic] witness concerning me. You have never once heard his voice or seen his form.

Putting aside the issue that the negatives in the second sentence means zero, not multiple, times, can anyone here suggest as reason why Brooks and Winbery might think that underlying act of μεμαρτύρηκεν may have been iterative or recurrent?
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Re: "Iterative Perfect" in John 5:27?

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » December 17th, 2012, 6:23 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:The intermediary syntax by Brooks and Winbery identifies the perfects in John 5:27 as "iterative perfects." Here is the text and their translation:
John 5:37 wrote:καὶ ὁ πέμψας με πατὴρ ἐκεῖνος μεμαρτύρηκεν περὶ ἐμοῦ. οὔτε φωνὴν αὐτοῦ πώποτε αὐτοῦ πώποτε ἀκηκόατε οὔτε εἶδος αὐτοῦ ἑωράκατε.
The Father who sent me has repeatedly born [sic] witness concerning me. You have never once heard his voice or seen his form.

Putting aside the issue that the negatives in the second sentence means zero, not multiple, times, can anyone here suggest as reason why Brooks and Winbery might think that underlying act of μεμαρτύρηκεν may have been iterative or recurrent?


Context?

Without looking at the B/W text or Biblical text in their contexts I would guess that they thought that the verb refers to multiple events (for example several miracles over and over again). The general understanding which we have been taught is that the perfect means a completed action (the continuing result isn't relevant here). The natural reaction to that kind of thought is to think that it means some specific event, one event. Maybe the writers noticed that the event may have been repeated so that the perfect tense doesn't refer to just one completed event but many (iterative) and felt a need to make up a new category. Those who don't like overcategorization would rather say that the perfect tense can be used in both noniterative and iterative contexts. It just views the multiple events as one. In any case the translation is misleading because it says something which the Greek text doesn't say. If the original writer would have wanted to say "repeatedly" he could have written so (in Greek, of course). The translation possibly leads to another misguided exegesis so that people think that a normal English translation has lost something and the original text emphasizes "repeatedly".
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Re: "Iterative Perfect" in John 5:27?

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 17th, 2012, 7:16 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Context?


Not much context, unfortunately; here's how they define it:
Brooks and Winbery, p. 105 wrote:Iterative Perfect
This could be looked upon as a subdivision of the consummative perfect. It, like the consummative use, emphasizes the past action rather than the present state. there is, however, something in the meaning of the word or in the context which indicates that the past action was iterative in nature, i.e., it was repeated, it took place at recurrent intervals.


The other examples (with their translations) are:
  • John 1:18 θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε,
  • Acts 25:11 εἰ μὲν οὖν ἀδικῶ καὶ ἄξιον θανάτου πέπραχά τι, ... If there I am a wrongdoer and if I have done anything worth of death, ...
  • John 8:33 οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε We have never served any man.
  • 1 John 1:1 ὃν ἦν ἀπ' ἀρχῆς ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς That which was from the beginning, which we have repeatedly heard, which we have repeatedly seen with our eyes

Two of these are negated (John 1:18 and 8:33) so there are no multiple events there. For Acts 25:11, a single wrongful act can condemn Paul to death. This leaves the witnessing verbs of 1 John 1:1, which I suppose would involve multiple hearings and seeings, but that does not seem to be the point. It's the subject's status of being witnesses that is in view.

I would classify all of these perfects as experiential perfects or quasi-resultative, to express the change in status that the subject has undergone (though not the change of state of a true resultative). I'm not seeing how iteration is relevant, either specifically for these examples, or more generally.
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Re: "Iterative Perfect" in John 5:27?

Postby MAubrey » December 17th, 2012, 7:52 pm

Looks like a bogus category to me.

I have looked at a lot of perfects in the past year and haven't come across anything that was best described as "iterative." I don't even know what would motivate such a category. Even if there are multiple events, the perfect would focus would still be on the final endpoint, rather than on specific individual endpoints. If the latter exist, they're non-grammatical in nature and have nothing to do with the perfect.
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Re: "Iterative Perfect" in John 5:27?

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 18th, 2012, 8:34 am

MAubrey wrote:Looks like a bogus category to me.


Yeah. Digging further, it looks like Brooks and Winberry are following Robertson to some extent. There are two places:

Robertson p. 893 wrote:(c) The Extensive Perfect. This comes to be the usual force of the tense, Gildersleeve2 has put the thing finely: "The perfect looks at both ends of an action." It "unites in itself as it were present and aorist, since it expresses the continuance of completed action."[n.3] That is to say, the perfect is both punctiliar and durative. The aorist (punctiliar) represents an action as finished, the linear present as durative, but the perfect presents a completed state or condition. When the action was completed the perfect tense does not say. It is still complete at the time of the use of the tense by speaker or writer. In Jo. 1:32 τεθέαμαι in the mouth of John the Baptist refers to the baptism of Jesus some week before, but he still has the vision. Cf. 1:34, ἑώρακα καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα, where there is a difference of time between the two words. When Andrew said to Peter εὑρήκαμεν (1:41) his discovery is recent and vivid. No single graph for the perfect can therefore be made. In some cases the line of connection from the act (punctiliar) to the time of speaking would be very short, in others very long. This line of connection is just the contribution of the perfect tense as distinct from aorist and present. As a matter of fact, in the combination of punctiliar and durative in the perfect it begins with the punctiliar and goes on with the durative thus (•-----), but the emphasis may be now on the punctiliar, now on the durative. In others the two are drawn almost to a point, but not quite. In still others there is a broken continuity thus (A • • • • > • • • • B).[n.4] It is the perfect of repeated action. Cf. Jo. 1:18; 5:37; 2 Cor. 12:17.


And:

Robertson p. 896 wrote:(γ) The Present Perfect of Broken Continuity.[n.1] As already explained, we here have a series of links rather than a line, a broken graph (• • • • > • • • •). Perhaps πέπραχα in Ac. 25:11 is to be so understood. But certainly it is true of άπέσταλκα (2 Cor. 12:17) where Paul refers to various missions to the Corinthians. In particular Moulton[n.2] notes the examples with πώποτε, as οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε (Jo. 1:18). Cf. further μεμαρτήρηκεν (5:37); δεδουλεύκαμεν (8:33).


(Νote 4 of p. 893 and notes 1 and 2 of p. 896 all cite Moulton, Prol., p. 144.)

The combination of the notion of "broken continuity" and the compatibility of repetition suggests to me what Robertson is trying to describe what might be called today an experiential perfect. Further research should follow the cite to Moulton.

There is an ambiguity in Robertson's formulation "Is the perfect of repeated action," and it seems to have been taken to mean (wrongly) that repetition is a defining feature of this kind of perfect.
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Re: "Iterative Perfect" in John 5:27?

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 19th, 2012, 6:36 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:(Νote 4 of p. 893 and notes 1 and 2 of p. 896 all cite Moulton, Prol., p. 144.)


Still digging, here's what Moulton says:
Moulton, p.114 wrote:Then there is an important category in which we are liable to be misled by an unreal parallelism in English. Burton right objects to our deciding the case of νυχθήμερον ἒν τῷ βυθῷ πεποίηκα (2 Co 11.25) by the easy comment that it "goes quite naturally into English" (Simcox). But it does not follow that we have here a mere equivalent for ἐποιήσα. That would only place the experience on a level with the others: this recalls it as a memory specially vivid now. There is in fact a perfect of broken as well as of unbroken continuity: in the graph "A . . . -> . . . B," which leads from a past moment to the moment of speech, the perfect will tolerate the company of adjuncts that fasten attention on the initial point (as in Rom 16.7, above) or on some indeterminate point in its course (as here), or on several ponits in its course. Cf Lucian Pisc. 6 ποῦ γὰρ ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ὕβρικα;--Plato Theaet. 144B ἀκήκοα μὲν τοὔνομα, μνημονεύω δ' οὔ (see Goodwin MT § 46)--BU 163 (ii/A.D.) φασὶ οἱ παρόντες ἐκεῖνον μᾶλλον (? "often") τοῦτο πεποιηκέναι, καὶ γὰρ ἄλλοι ὡς πληγέντες ὑπὸ αὐτοῦ ἀναφόριον δεδώκασι--EP 11 (222 B.C.) πλεονάκις γεγράφαμεν. To this category belong perfects with πώποτε, as John 1.18 5.37 3.33, and such cases as 2 Co 12.17, ὧν ἀπέσταλκα, "of those whom (from time to time) I have sent." The aorist is obviously much commer but the perfect may still be used to express a close nexus with the present time.
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