John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » February 20th, 2013, 7:16 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: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.


If I would translate it somehow, I would use "I have come to believe" or something like that.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby MAubrey » February 20th, 2013, 7:22 pm

Tony Pope wrote:
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.


That's an interesting point. John 6:69 is a bit ambiguous, though. It could either refer to the continuing existence of an achieved state (i.e.) "We still believe [while others have stopped]" or it could refer to the achievement of the state itself (i.e.) "We have come to believe [while others have not]." If it means the former, rather than the latter (which is the NRSV, NIV, and NET translation), then it might be useful evidence for a similar view of 11:27.

However, I would say that the contrast in 6:69 is a result of the context and does not arise from the use of the perfect.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 20th, 2013, 7:23 pm

MAubrey wrote:
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...?


I think so. I'd have to check to be sure. "Universal" is also called "persistent" or "persisting" or "continuative." I think the term "universal" is favored among those who call the experiential perfect, "existential."

MAubrey wrote: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.

Hey, it's in English, so it's cross-linguistic!

All kidding aside, take a look at:

  • Klaas Bentein, "The Periphrastic Perfect in Ancient Greek: A Diachronic Mental Space Analysis," Transactions of the Philological Society 110:2 (2012) 171–211 (as "perfect of persistence").
  • Dag Haug, "From Resultatives to Anteriors in Ancient Greek: On the Role of Paradigmaticity in Semantic Change" in Thórhallur Eythórsson, ed., Grammatical Change and Linguistic Theory: The Rosendal papers (Benjamins, 2008), 285-305 (see p. 292 citing Comrie 1976).
  • Paul Kiparsky, "Event Structure and the Perfect" (2002), citing McCawley 1971, 1981
  • Eva-Carin Gerö… and Arnim von Stechow, "Tense in Time: The Greek Perfect" (Draft 2002, publ. 2003).

Other possible cases of this universal / persisting / continuative perfect (all with states so far) are:
John 5:45 wrote:Μὴ δοκεῖτε ὅτι ἐγὼ κατηγορήσω ὑμῶν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα · ἔστιν ὁ κατηγορῶν ὑμῶν Μωϋσῆς, εἰς ὃν ὑμεῖς ἠλπίκατε.

John 17:6 wrote:Ἐφανέρωσά σου τὸ ὄνομα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οὓς ἔδωκάς μοι ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου. σοὶ ἦσαν κἀμοὶ αὐτοὺς ἔδωκας καὶ τὸν λόγον σου τετήρηκαν.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » February 20th, 2013, 7:27 pm

Rijksbaron (3rd ed. 2002) p. 38 says that the perfect of stative verbs "expresses the highest degree of that state (so-called intensive perfect)". πεπίστευκα would mean "I'm completely sure", "I really, really believe".
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 20th, 2013, 7:28 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:If I would translate it somehow, I would use "I have come to believe" or something like that.


I think that's a valid translation strategy for English (using the present perfect with an ingressive construction). The idea is to cover an interval from some undefined point in the past to the present.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 20th, 2013, 7:30 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Rijksbaron (3rd ed. 2002) p. 38 says that the perfect of stative verbs "expresses the highest degree of that state (so-called intensive perfect)". πεπίστευκα would mean "I'm completely sure", "I really, really believe".


Does Rijksbaron indicate that this usage survived Homer?
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » February 20th, 2013, 7:37 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Does Rijksbaron indicate that this usage survived Homer?


No. No diachronic data or even any reference, only some example words.

Here's the NET translation note for those who don't bother to search for it...
The perfect tense in Greek is often used to emphasize the results or present state of a past action. Such is the case here. To emphasize this nuance the perfect tense verb πεπίστευκα (pepisteuka) has been translated as a present tense. This is in keeping with the present context, where Jesus asks of her present state of belief in v. 26, and the theology of the Gospel as a whole, which emphasizes the continuing effects and present reality of faith. For discussion on this use of the perfect tense, see ExSyn 574-76 and B. M. Fanning, Verbal Aspect, 291-97.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby MAubrey » February 20th, 2013, 7:41 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Hey, it's in English

Well that's a definite mark against that being the right label here.
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Here's the NET translation note for those who don't bother to search for it...
The perfect tense in Greek is often used to emphasize the results or present state of a past action. Such is the case here. To emphasize this nuance the perfect tense verb πεπίστευκα (pepisteuka) has been translated as a present tense. This is in keeping with the present context, where Jesus asks of her present state of belief in v. 26, and the theology of the Gospel as a whole, which emphasizes the continuing effects and present reality of faith. For discussion on this use of the perfect tense, see ExSyn 574-76 and B. M. Fanning, Verbal Aspect, 291-97.

Wallace likes to make everything emphasis. But note, that his use of "intensive perfect" on those pages of ExSyn is quite different from that of Rijksbaron. For Wallace, any perfect that can be translated as an English present state is an intensive perfect by definition.

Wallace, ExSyn, 574 wrote:The perfect may be used to emphasize the results or present state produced by a past action. The English present often is the best translation for such a perfect. This is a common use of the perfect tense.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Ken M. Penner » February 20th, 2013, 9:40 pm

Not that I have an answer to the original question, but I suspect we should consider the precedent of the Septuagint. I've noticed a relatively high frequency of the perfect of πιστευειν in Greek Isaiah.
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Re: John 11:27 πεπίστευκα

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 21st, 2013, 6:58 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Does Rijksbaron indicate that this usage survived Homer?


No. No diachronic data or even any reference, only some example words.


OK. Some of R's examples fit my proposal. e.g. "σεσιώπηκα 'maintain complete silence' (σιωπῶ 'be slient')" but others less clearly so. Some of my reading on the Greek perfect is that there is a distinct Homeric use of the perfect that is not relevant to Hellenistic and even Classical Greek. Perhaps R has condensed a variety of stative perfects under one concise treatment with some loss of clarity.

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Here's the NET translation note for those who don't bother to search for it...
The perfect tense in Greek is often used to emphasize the results or present state of a past action. Such is the case here. To emphasize this nuance the perfect tense verb πεπίστευκα (pepisteuka) has been translated as a present tense. This is in keeping with the present context, where Jesus asks of her present state of belief in v. 26, and the theology of the Gospel as a whole, which emphasizes the continuing effects and present reality of faith. For discussion on this use of the perfect tense, see ExSyn 574-76 and B. M. Fanning, Verbal Aspect, 291-97.


Yeah, the note is most useful for the references (including Wallace's preferred title for his magnum opus). In fact, it's one of the reasons why I asked the question. If Martha wanted to emphasize the present reality of faith, I think that a present would be more than adequate. I didn't find the appeal to theology here particularly helpful.

My sense of the perfect here is that what Martha is conveying is she has been in this state of faith for some time, not just at the present moment. Perhaps the idea is that she's not believing just becase her brother is dead and wants a miracle.
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