Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

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WStroupe
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by WStroupe » December 2nd, 2015, 4:51 pm

Jonathan said:
It occurs to me that we have the same issue in English. Consider the sentence "I saw him standing". Standing is a participle here, the word "stand" can mean "stand up", but when I say I am standing, the focus is not on the act of standing up at all. The tense says that at the time I saw him, he was standing. I can say, "10 years ago, I saw him standing behind the doughnut shop", which indicates that he was standing at the time I saw him.
Yes, it's all relative to the main verb - "when I saw him..."

Likewise, in Rev. 14:1, it's all relative to the main verb, even though, as Barry indicated, the participle rendered "standing" in English is used as an adjective to describe the Lamb - he is the "standing" Lamb. Even though that is the case, the participle still is relative to the main verb - I find that very interesting. So, as you've pointed out, there doesn't exist any emphasis on the act of standing, only upon the state that resulted from his standing up - namely, that of "standing".

So John did not see the Lamb stand up - he only saw him in the state or condition of "standing". Why did he not simply use the present participle, then, instead of the perfect? Perhaps there is no reason other than it just isn't done that way in Greek?

Bottom line seems to be that there isn't any reason, related to any precise meaning John may have wanted to convey, for his selection of the perfect tense for the participle.
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William J. Stroupe

"God's Word is alive and exerts power..." Hebrews 4:12

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 2nd, 2015, 5:09 pm

WStroupe wrote:Bottom line seems to be that there isn't any reason, related to any precise meaning John may have wanted to convey, for his selection of the perfect tense for the participle.
Perfect participles generally indicate the current state. As for when the action that produced this state occurred, that's not really what's in view with this form. It's not really an issue of being imprecise as to the timing of the action but more of its being irrelevant.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 2nd, 2015, 5:12 pm

WStroupe wrote:So John did not see the Lamb stand up - he only saw him in the state or condition of "standing". Why did he not simply use the present participle, then, instead of the perfect? Perhaps there is no reason other than it just isn't done that way in Greek?
The present participle with this verb refers to the action of making something stand (up). It's transitive in the present, but intransitive in the perfect.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 2nd, 2015, 6:12 pm

For what it's worth, the verb ἵστημι as a participle occurs only in the aorist (active or passive) and in the perfect (active) in the Greek New Testament. Even if you include the LXX, I was only able to find one use of it as a present participle, in 1 Maccabees 8:1:
1 Maccabees 8:1 wrote:Καὶ ἤκουσεν Ιουδας τὸ ὄνομα τῶν ῾Ρωμαίων, ὅτι εἰσὶν δυνατοὶ ἰσχύι καὶ αὐτοὶ εὐδοκοῦσιν ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς προστιθεμένοις αὐτοῖς, καὶ ὅσοι ἂν προσέλθωσιν αὐτοῖς, ἱστῶσιν αὐτοῖς φιλίαν, καὶ ὅτι εἰσὶ δυνατοὶ ἰσχύι.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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WStroupe
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by WStroupe » December 2nd, 2015, 7:28 pm

Jonathan, Stephen, and Barry,

Very interesting details, and this helps a great deal for me to begin to get the sense of matters having to do with participles and with the perfect tense. There's a lot for me to learn, but this gives me a good start.

A side question that occurs to me at this point is whether there is any facility in the Greek grammar which would allow the writer to specify something very much like the perfect indicative (where the action is completed in the past with results ongoing to the present), except that the action was just completed, that is, only recently completed. Stated another way, that the present results of the action are new results that have just arisen, from the writer's standpoint, so that the completion of the action must logically be very recent.

The reason I ask this is that the perfect indicative offers a subtle temptation for the beginning reader to default to viewing the action as recently completed, because (as the temptation goes) if the results of the action continue into the present, then the action must have been completed "recently". But of course, this temptation regarding the perfect indicative is to be resisted.

But if a writer wanted the reader to understand that an action that is producing present results was an action that had just now been completed, is there any facility in the Greek he could use to convey that meaning?
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William J. Stroupe

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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 2nd, 2015, 7:45 pm

WStroupe wrote:The reason I ask this is that the perfect indicative offers a subtle temptation for the beginning reader to default to viewing the action as recently completed, because (as the temptation goes) if the results of the action continue into the present, then the action must have been completed "recently". But of course, this temptation regarding the perfect indicative is to be resisted.
You're describing the English perfect, but this is a considerably more developed use of a resultative verb form than what we see in Greek. Just because both forms are called "perfect," it does not mean that they map to each other one-for-one in every particular use. (In fact, there are different preferences between British and American English for the use of perfect in such contexts.)
WStroupe wrote:But if a writer wanted the reader to understand that an action that is producing present results was an action that had just now been completed, is there any facility in the Greek he could use to convey that meaning?
The aorist with ἄρτι does this,e.g., Matt 9:18 Ἡ θυγάτηρ μου ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν ("My daughter has just died" NRSV). Note how the NRSV renders a Greek aorist with an English perfect to get a similar effect.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 2nd, 2015, 7:48 pm

Hi William,

There is no English tense or Greek tense that says that something has just happened, but there are ways to say this in either language.

Let me also say something about language learning here. This kind of speculation about the language in English metalanguage is of almost no value in learning the language itself. What you need is lots of examples of Greek sentences at the level that you can actually read and understand in Greek. Have you worked your way through a Greek grammar? Or part way? What are you doing to learn Greek?

I'd suggest that you work systematically through a grammar and through a simple book like John or 1 John. As you go, feel free to ask for more sentences like the ones you are seeing, or that illustrate a point of grammar in a book, etc. But you've got to get Greek pouring through the synapses of your brain if you want to learn the language.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

WStroupe
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by WStroupe » December 4th, 2015, 12:27 am

I have a number of books on the grammar but I haven't yet systematically gone through any of them yet. I recently bought Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. What is your suggestion on that book? Would that be a good one for me to systematically study through?

I also checked out Dr. Rollinson's online book, and that looks very tempting too.
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William J. Stroupe

"God's Word is alive and exerts power..." Hebrews 4:12

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 4th, 2015, 12:28 pm

WStroupe wrote:I have a number of books on the grammar but I haven't yet systematically gone through any of them yet. I recently bought Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. What is your suggestion on that book? Would that be a good one for me to systematically study through?

I also checked out Dr. Rollinson's online book, and that looks very tempting too.
Wallace is an intermediate grammar, I'd start with a basic grammar, and with daily reading in Greek, starting with the Gospel of John, working from start to finish.

Rollinson's book is good, Micheal Palmer's is also good. I like David Alan Black's book, or Funk's if you want more depth (as you imply). But pick a basic grammar and start reading ...
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Time-Related Meanings in Perfect Participles

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 4th, 2015, 2:23 pm

Don't study the grammars. Read the Greek, and use the grammars for reference as necessary.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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