ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

How do I work out the meaning of a Greek text? How can I best understand the forms and vocabulary in this particular text?
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby Barry Hofstetter » October 7th, 2012, 7:05 am

Let me add to Mike's nearly exhaustive review of the aspect of participles that ὁ πιστεύων is a substantive participle. The emphasis is not so much on the verbal aspect of the participle, but on the fact of the action. Participles used substantively describe a particular referent in terms of the action in the participle. For the present participle, this simply means "one who believes." An aorist participle, ὁ πιστεύσας would mean "one who believed" or "one who has believed." Any implications about the continuing or non-continuing nature of the action would have to be supplied from context.
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby Jason Hare » October 7th, 2012, 1:26 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Jason Hare wrote:It's interesting that Matthew uses the present participle while Luke uses the aorist, given that they are parallel accounts of the same parable. It seems that ὁ ἀκούων and οἱ ἀκούσαντες refers to the same group of people. One could generalize it to πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων even (to make it relevant to the OP's πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων). It would seem that context needs to determine whether or not we should take πιστεύων in any kind of continuous sense, not just the form itself. Certainly we would not think that the one who hears in verse 22 of the Matthew passage, for instance, is someone who continuously believes. It is certainly someone who believed the message only for a limited time, yet Matthew employed the present participle.

Hi Jason, no. present participles are always imperfective and aorist participles are always perfective. The situation you're seeing here involves two issues. The first is that the choice of aspect is not dependent on the situation "in the real world," but only on how the author wants to present the situation. But we also have the challenge of a very fine distinction between the English progressive aspect and the Greek imperfective aspect.

English and Greek have subtly distinct verbal systems for the category of aspect. In English we have a distinction between a progressive aspect and a non-progressive aspect. Thus, we have a contrast like:
Examples wrote:(1) Rachel is eating dinner (present progressive)
(2) Rachel eats dinner (present non-progressive)
(3) Rachel was eating dinner (past progressive)
(4) Rachel ate dinner (past non-progressive)

You can see here that in English we have a contrast between past and present and progressive and non-progressive. Both progressive, whether present or past, express a situation as both incomplete and ongoing. That is to say, in both (1) and (3), Rachel is involved in the process of eating (ongoing) and has not yet finished (incomplete).

Likewise, examples (2) and (4) say nothing whatsoever about whether Rachel is currently eating (non-ongoing), but we do know from them that she has eaten something at some point in the past and has finished it (complete). For our purposes, example (2) is particularly significant for another reason. Of these clauses, example (2) not only suggests that Rachel has eaten in the past and has finished, but that she will likely eat again in the future. Example (2) lends itself the best to having habitual or gnomic meaning. Habitual meaning is not ongoing. It does not express situations that are in progressive, so the English progressive is insufficient for expressing it.

Conversely, the Greek present is not a progressive aspect. It is an imperfective aspect. So while the progressive, as in English, is both incomplete and ongoing, the imperfective, like what we have in Greek, only expresses situations that are incomplete, independent of whether they're ongoing or not. The result of this distinction is that Greek imperfectives allow for habitual or gnomic interpretations, where the English progressive would not. So we have a situation where the communicative function of present and the aorist overlap with each other.

So in a sense, the answer here is that, yes, both Matthew 18 and Luke 8 are saying "the one who hears" rather than "the one who is hearing (continually)." In both cases, Jesus is present talking about atemporal/gnomic situations and either the choice of the aorist or the present is acceptable.

To summarize then:
Greek imperfectives (like the present) may express situations that are incomplete, including (but not limited to): continuous, iterative, habitual, gnomic meanings.

English progressive may express situations that are both incomplete and ongoing: including (but not limited to): continuous and iterative, but not habitual or gnomic.

Greek aorists
may express situations that are complete or "wholistic," including (but not limited to): punctiliar, constative, gnomic.

English non-progressives may express situations that are complete or "wholistic" or regular, including (but not limited to): punctiliar, constative, gnomic, and habitual.

So when it comes to Greek present participles, if they don't translate well into English as continuous or ongoing, they're probably either gnomic or habitual, meaning that cannot be expressed with the English progressive. That doesn't mean that the Greek participle isn't imperfective. It means that Greek isn't English.


Well and good, and I would agree with your discussion (not something I wasn't already aware of). So, explain how this general picture applies to the specific parallel accounts that I mentioned above. That's what the question is about.

Thanks!
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby MAubrey » October 7th, 2012, 2:57 pm

Jason Hare wrote:Well and good, and I would agree with your discussion (not something I wasn't already aware of). So, explain how this general picture applies to the specific parallel accounts that I mentioned above. That's what the question is about.

I had hoped that would already be self evident...

Okay. What I'm saying is this.

The kind of statement here in Barry's post, which essentially concludes the same thing you did, Jason, if your own post a few back is wrong:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:Any implications about the continuing or non-continuing nature of the action would have to be supplied from context.

The aspectual distinction does not disappear. Aspectual implications are always always always present. But it's also wrong because its the wrong aspectual implication. The Greek imperfective, whether indicative, imperative, participle, infinitive, etc, does not denote ongoing situations. It expresses incomplete situations. But its always there, even in substantival participles. What in the world is the point in having a choice between two forms if you can't use them?

Any substantive present participle is likely either going to be habitual or gnomic. Any substantive aorist participle is going to be constative or gnomic. And all of those are going to be translated the same way into English. That doesn't mean there's not a difference.

All contrastive grammatical categories involve one of three options in their usage:

More Examples wrote:1) There only one possible option and the alternative is ungrammatical.
a. This bottle contains two pints of milk (grammatical).
b. *This bottle is containing two pints of milk (ungrammatical).

2) There are multiple options, but each conveys a notably different proposition (my examples 1-4 in my previous post are of this type).
a. Sally sleeps in the room next door (grammatical, marks the propositions as being habitual, but makes no claim about whether Sally is sleeping right now).
b. Sally is sleeping in the room next door (grammatical, marks the proposition as a current, ongoing situation regardless of whether she regularly sleeps there).

3) There are multiple options, but each the propositional content remains unchanged.
a. I had a chat with him the other day (grammatical, x happened in the past).
b. I was having a chat with him the other day (grammatical, same propositional content--x happened in the past--but with a subtle difference in conceptualization).

Substantival participles always involve the third type of contrastive relationship. But its still there. It is not supplied by the context. But because it marks no significant change to the proposition the difference is far more difficult to see by the non-native speaker.

So, let's look at your examples...

Mt 13:18-23 wrote:Ὑμεῖς οὖν ἀκούσατε τὴν παραβολὴν τοῦ σπείραντος. παντὸς ἀκούοντος τὸν λόγον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ μὴ συνιέντος ἔρχεται ὁ πονηρὸς καὶ ἁρπάζει τὸ ἐσπαρμένον ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν σπαρείς. ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὰ πετρώδη σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ εὐθὺς μετὰ χαρᾶς λαμβάνων αὐτόν, οὐκ ἔχει δὲ ῥίζαν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἀλλὰ πρόσκαιρός ἐστιν, γενομένης δὲ θλίψεως ἢ διωγμοῦ διὰ τὸν λόγον εὐθὺς σκανδαλίζεται. ὁ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων, καὶ ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου συμπνίγει τὸν λόγον καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται. ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν καλὴν γῆν σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ συνιείς, ὃς δὴ καρποφορεῖ καὶ ποιεῖ ὃ μὲν ἑκατόν, ὃ δὲ ἑξήκοντα, ὃ δὲ τριάκοντα.

Here Matthew present Jesus as making atemporal, true for all time, gnomic statements:
Anyone who hears...
Anyway who hears...
Lk 8:11-15 wrote:Ἔστιν δὲ αὕτη ἡ παραβολή· Ὁ σπόρος ἐστὶν ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ. οἱ δὲ παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες, εἶτα ἔρχεται ὁ διάβολος καὶ αἴρει τὸν λόγον ἀπὸ τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, ἵνα μὴ πιστεύσαντες σωθῶσιν. οἱ δὲ ἐπὶ τῆς πέτρας οἳ ὅταν ἀκούσωσιν μετὰ χαρᾶς δέχονται τὸν λόγον, καὶ οὗτοι ῥίζαν οὐκ ἔχουσιν, οἳ πρὸς καιρὸν πιστεύουσιν καὶ ἐν καιρῷ πειρασμοῦ ἀφίστανται. τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσόν, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες, καὶ ὑπὸ μεριμνῶν καὶ πλούτου καὶ ἡδονῶν τοῦ βίου πορευόμενοι συμπνίγονται καὶ οὐ τελεσφοροῦσιν. τὸ δὲ ἐν τῇ καλῇ γῇ, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἵτινες ἐν καρδίᾳ καλῇ καὶ ἀγαθῇ ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον κατέχουσιν καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἐν ὑπομονῇ.

Here, Luke present Jesus as making simple declarations/constative statements. This is particularly clear in how Luke has Jesus presenting the explanation, "There is the parable."

The change from present to aorist does not change the propositional content of any of the participles. It's a small, subtle distinction. We have a tendency to always conclude that if a difference in form doesn't noticeably change the proposition (as in my example 2a-b above), then there much not be a distinction. It is 100% clear that even when there's no propositional change in two English examples, there is still a subtle difference in the presentation of the event that varies on the basis of aspect (my examples 3a-b). Why should it not be the same for Greek.

Here in Matthew and Luke, there is a difference between substantival present and aorist participles, but:

(1) It is a quite subtle difference.
(2) It is untranslatable in to English because the same English form is used for both means.
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby Alan Patterson » October 8th, 2012, 6:10 am

Mike,

I am sure you have read GGBB. In one footnote, Dan Wallace says that the (incomplete?) ὸ πιστευων, for example, is likely continuous, ongoing (maybe even in a salvific context), in the particular verse he was addressing. I'm sure everyone who read that footnote must have been frustrated. Now, it is possible that I misunderstood what Wallace was saying, but I do remember not believing my eyes when I read it. I do not have GGBB in front of me so I can't give you the footnote number. Do you know the footnote I am talking about? Did I misunderstand Wallace? Based on your statements above, I assume you would be a little taken back by Wallace's footnote, if I read it right. I can give the footnote to anyone who wants it tonight.
χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 8th, 2012, 6:35 am

Alan Patterson wrote:I am sure you have read GGBB. In one footnote, Dan Wallace says that the (incomplete?) ὸ πιστευων, for example, is likely continuous, ongoing (maybe even in a salvific context), in the particular verse he was addressing. I'm sure everyone who read that footnote must have been frustrated. Now, it is possible that I misunderstood what Wallace was saying, but I do remember not believing my eyes when I read it. I do not have GGBB in front of me so I can't give you the footnote number. Do you know the footnote I am talking about? Did I misunderstand Wallace? Based on your statements above, I assume you would be a little taken back by Wallace's footnote, if I read it right. I can give the footnote to anyone who wants it tonight.


That would be Wallace, GGBB: Exegetical Syntax, p. 621, n.22. The footnote is rather long, but the key claim is: "The present tense was the tense of choice most likely because the NT writers by and large saw continual belief as a necessary condition of salvation." (emphasis original)

I have to admit that I'm not finding Wallace particularly clear here. More specifically, it is not clear to me over what time frame is the continual belief suppose to hold. At judgment? Over the course of one's life from one's first belief? What about (temporary) apostasy?

At any rate, I don't think that the imperfective aspect by itself can answer that question. Context and the author's theology have to play a role and this may take us beyond the charter of this forum.
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby cwconrad » October 8th, 2012, 9:25 am

I am hesitant to invest as much as 2c worth in this discussion. I am as wary as Stephen is of theological inferences or assumptions that may be involved in this question of the precise meaning of πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων. But I do wonder how far one can push logical and aspectual nuances into a finely-tuned understanding of the generalizing substantival present participle. What emerged in my mind from deep within memory was a recurrent ancient proverb concerning requital and retribution that appears in Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy. By looking up the verb δρᾶν in LSJ I quickly found the half-remembered, half-forgotten phrasing from the Choephoroe· "The one who did the deed must be done to."

Aeschylus,Ch.313
“δράσαντι παθεῖν” τριγέρων μῦθος τάδε φωνεῖ


I find it fascinating how the different tense-aspect forms of the verbs (δρᾶν, πάσχειν) appear here, such that α distinction between ὁ δρῶν, ὁ δράσας, and ὁ δεδρακῶς becomes tenuous, at best. Doesn't each form mean "the culprit"?

LSJ:
... opp. πάσχω, freq. in Trag., and in prose, e.g. Antipho 2 δ 5, al., Hp.Epid.4.43, al., D.S.5.55.6, al., Ph.1.44, al., etc. εὖ δρῶσαν, εὖ πάσχουσαν A.Eu.868; ἄξια δράσας ἄξια πάσχων Id.Ag.1527; κακῶς δράσαντες οὐκ ἐλάσσονα πάσχουσι Id.Pers.813; of one in extreme perplexity, τί πάθω; τί δὲ δρῶ; Id.Th.1062, cf. Ch.899; δρῶν ἀντιπάσχω χρηστά S.Ph.584; prov., “δράσαντι παθεῖν” τριγέρων μῦθος τάδε φωνεῖ A.Ch.313; δράσαντι γάρ τοι καὶ παθεῖν ὀφείλεται Id.Fr.456, cf. S.OT1272; τά γʼ ἔργα μου πεπονθότα .. μᾶλλον ἢ δεδρακότα acts of suffering rather than of doing, Id.OC267; ὁ δρῶν the doer, whoever he be, A.Ag.1359, etc.; ὁ δράσας the culprit, Pl.Lg.879a, cf. S.Tr.1108; ὁ δεδρακώς Id.OT246, D.23.40 ...


One might argue that πιστεύειν/πιστεῦσαι belongs to a different Aktionsart from δρᾶν/δρᾶσαι. But I would think that ἀμαρτάνειν/ἁμαρτεῖν falls in the same category as δρᾶν -- and it seems to me that we've had this discussion about the nuance of the present-tense participle ὁ ἀμαρτάνων in 1 John more than once in the past few years.
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby MAubrey » October 8th, 2012, 11:42 am

To Carl:
I'm not claiming that at times the choice between the two forms cannot arbitrary. In fact, when dealing with such subtle distinctions often times such choice for all practical purposes are. What I am claiming is that the distinction still exists and there will be (minimally) subconscious reasons for the choice and its entirely possible that on that rare occasion, the author/speaker might actually want to make a useful distinction.

An English example:
Even more examples wrote:(1) John loaded the truck with hay.
(2) John loaded the hay into the truck.

These two examples involves a very, very fine distinction in meaning. And perhaps the vast majority of the time, the choice between them is so deeply subconscious that we could talk about a practically arbitrary choice. However, on that rare occasion, if someone wanted to to talk about how John loaded the truck, but not all of the hay fit in the truck, that person will invariably choose option (1). Or is someone wanted to talk about how John loaded all the hay, but there was still room in the truck for something else, that person would invariably choose option (2).

When it comes to subtle aspectual distinctions, my view is that all that is really necessary is to be able to explain the existence of a given form in a given context. Attempting to contrast one subtle choice with another isn't necessary. All that matters is that the once particular present or aorist form choice in question does or does not in some way fall within the semantic constraints of the the present or the aorist. If it does, that's enough. In Jason's Matthew and Luke parallels below, I would say all that matters is that Matthew subconsciously viewed the present participle forms as fitting better with his vision of Jesus words and that Luke subconsciously viewed the aorist participle as fitting better with his vision of Jesus words. But the use of the aorist by Luke and the use of the present by Matthew only needs explanation in and of themselves.

To Alan:
I have read Wallace. Here's my "little rule." The vast majority of Wallace can be, in some way, traced back to A. T. Robertson. In those few places that it cannot, take what it says with a grain of salt. The grammar itself is generally perfectly fine (though I this his multiplication of categories, regardless of its "phenomenological" purpose--see his preface--is quite silly). The footnotes are, well, to quote English grammarian Geoffrey Pullum quoting the Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy: "Mostly harmless." To which I would add: But not particularly useful, either.
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby Barry Hofstetter » October 9th, 2012, 7:39 pm

Mike asserted:

The kind of statement here in Barry's post, which essentially concludes the same thing you did, Jason, if your own post a few back is wrong:

Barry Hofstetter wrote: "Any implications about the continuing or non-continuing nature of the action would have to be supplied from context"

The aspectual distinction does not disappear. Aspectual implications are always always always present. But it's also wrong because its the wrong aspectual implication. The Greek imperfective, whether indicative, imperative, participle, infinitive, etc, does not denote ongoing situations. It expresses incomplete situations. But its always there, even in substantival participles. What in the world is the point in having a choice between two forms if you can't use them?


This is a fine post, and I essentially agree with everything you wrote, except for the statement that I am wrong. I think you actually misread my point, and I am sure it's because of lack of clarity on my part. I was not saying that the aspectual nature disappears in the substantive use of the participle, simply that it is not emphasized in a way that makes it grammatically significant for determining the kind of theological conclusions that it is sometimes called upon to support. The usual theological issue with the present participle in John 3:16 (and elsewhere) is that salvation can be lost if the individual stops believing. Now, a great deal can be said about this hermeneutically and theologically, but the fact that it is a present participle does not support the statement. I think ὁ πιστεύων is practically equivalent in English to "The believer", "the one who believes." The aspect is certainly relevant in relationship grammatically to the main verb, in that the action of believing is concurrent with the possession of eternal life and not perishing. An aorist participle would in indicate that the belief had occurred in some sense prior to these states. What I meant by context was particularly applicable not to the meaning, if you will, of the aspect but to the alleged theological application of the grammatical principles.
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Re: ὶνα πας ὸ πιστευων

Postby MAubrey » October 9th, 2012, 10:20 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Barry. Sorry about misrepresenting you...
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