John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

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John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 20th, 2013, 5:12 pm

John 11:25-27 (SBL) wrote:25 εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή· ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, 26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα· πιστεύεις τοῦτο; 27 λέγει αὐτῷ· Ναί, κύριε· ἐγὼ πεπίστευκα ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐρχόμενος.


Jesus asks Martha if she believes πιστεύεις, using the present tense, but Martha's answer switches to the perfect πεπίστευκα. Why? Or more precisely, what is the function of the perfect here?

(Also, any thoughts on Martha's use of ἐγώ?)
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby MAubrey » February 20th, 2013, 5:29 pm

Oh man. That's a difficult contrast. I'm working through how predicates that default to states function in the perfect, but I don't have an answer for this...perhaps I will by the end of the week. So far in my own data, there are state predicates that disallow perfects entirely and state predicates that do allow them, but only with a resultative reading rather than a target state reading (in Dag Haug's terminology). This appearance of πεπίστευκα complicates that, however.

As for the use of ἐγώ, well, I would expect that this is simply a topic comment structure, where the assertive nature of the clause within the discourse functions better with the explicit pronoun instead of pro-drop. Steve Runge marks it as a topic.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby MAubrey » February 20th, 2013, 5:43 pm

Okay, so after a bit of thought, here's a guess (one that will likely make it into my thesis now...):

Terminology clash:
Bybee's Resultative = Haug's Target State (e.g. the alternation between ἵστημι and ἕστηκα).
Bybee's Anterior = Haug's Resultative = Traditional English Perfect

If the view of Bybee et al. (1994) of target state perfects (=resultative in Bybee's terminology) is correct, the propositional content of this perfect might convey the idea that Martha still believes Jesus is the Messiah despite her brother's death. Bybee argues that (her category of) resultatives collocate semantically with adverbs like still, while (her category) of anteriors do not. This might suggest that even with atetic predicates like πιστεύω, the perfect retains some of its historical/original function/meaning.

But that's just a guess.

Works cited:
Bybee, Joan, Revere Perkins, and William Pagliuca. 1994. The evolution of grammar: Tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Haug, Dag. 2004. Aristotle's kinesis/energeia-test and the semantics of the Greek perfect. Linguistics 42, 387-418.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Stirling Bartholomew » February 20th, 2013, 5:52 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
John 11:25-27 (SBL) wrote:25 εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή· ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, 26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα· πιστεύεις τοῦτο; 27 λέγει αὐτῷ· Ναί, κύριε· ἐγὼ πεπίστευκα ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐρχόμενος.


Jesus asks Martha if she believes πιστεύεις, using the present tense, but Martha's answer switches to the perfect πεπίστευκα. Why? Or more precisely, what is the function of the perfect here?

(Also, any thoughts on Martha's use of ἐγώ?)


Well, you could say that πεπίστευκα represents a state of belief, but that seems kind of lame, to me anyway. Not sure without studying John's patterns of usage. ἐγώ is always marked with a finite verb and it picks up on Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή, an echo of sorts.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby MAubrey » February 20th, 2013, 6:05 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:Well, you could say that πεπίστευκα represents a state of belief, but that seems kind of lame, to me anyway.

Exactly. That's the problem. πιστεύω is already a state verb to begin with.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 20th, 2013, 6:31 pm

Could it be a universal perfect: "I have been believing (for some time?) that..."? That's one of the cross-linguistic functions of a perfect, though Greek usually does this function with the present plus an adverb. Without the adverb, though, I wonder if a perfect of a stative verb might work too....
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 20th, 2013, 6:33 pm

MAubrey wrote:As for the use of ἐγώ, well, I would expect that this is simply a topic comment structure, where the assertive nature of the clause within the discourse functions better with the explicit pronoun instead of pro-drop. Steve Runge marks it as a topic.


OK, thanks. Well, that's better than an implicit contrast with Mary!
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby MAubrey » February 20th, 2013, 6:53 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Could it be a universal perfect: "I have been believing (for some time?) that..."? That's one of the cross-linguistic functions of a perfect, though Greek usually does this function with the present plus an adverb. Without the adverb, though, I wonder if a perfect of a stative verb might work too....

Well, I'd say that generally fits with Bybee's observation about still, though perhaps from a different angle...?

Do you have a reference to this "universal perfect ... [being] one of the cross-linguistic functions of a perfect"? That's not an idea (or a category) that I've come across.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Tony Pope » February 20th, 2013, 7:04 pm

MAubrey wrote:the propositional content of this perfect might convey the idea that Martha still believes Jesus is the Messiah despite her brother's death.

I notice from commentaries that 6.69 has a similar structure: καὶ ἡμεῖς πεπιστεύκαμεν καὶ ἐγνώκαμεν ὅτι ...
Is there not in that case a contrast with the disciples who had given up? Might there be a contrast in 11.27 with any others who, in the circumstances, would also give up? Seems to be rather like what Mike is saying.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » February 20th, 2013, 7:11 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Could it be a universal perfect: "I have been believing (for some time?) that..."? That's one of the cross-linguistic functions of a perfect, though Greek usually does this function with the present plus an adverb. Without the adverb, though, I wonder if a perfect of a stative verb might work too....


I don't know about the terminology, but I instinctively take it to mean that believing isn't just a response to what Jesus says, i.e. she doesn't believe just because Jesus now says it to her, but she has come to that conclusion some time ago. I guess that's quite much the same you are saying.
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