Correct Translation of παρουσία

Forum rules
Please quote the Greek text you are discussing directly in your post if it is reasonably short - do not ask people to look it up. This is not a beginner's forum, competence in Greek is assumed.
Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1317
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 29th, 2014, 8:45 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:I suggest looking up each of the instances and asking the question "which usage sounds better in this context?"
Rather than heading into the subjective unknown with that, let me suggest a method for doing it...

Further to what I said 12 months ago about this noun (I would now add the words ἀποχωρεῖν / ἀποχώρησις to that discussion, and I would also raise the topic of whether ἄφιξις (cf. ἀφικνέομαι "to reach", "to arrive") in Acts 20:29 Ἐγὼ γὰρ οἶδα τοῦτο, ὅτι εἰσελεύσονται μετὰ τὴν ἄφιξίν μου λύκοι βαρεῖς εἰς ὑμᾶς, μὴ φειδόμενοι τοῦ ποιμνίου· means "departure" or "arrival", if I had known then what I know now). Here, I will be considering the meaning (place it functions in the language) of παρουσία from a different perspective than I did last year.

To preempt what I will say here, I think that it is a question of whether the action can be repeated or not.

Let me first introduce a (vaguely) analogous situation to this, which is the so-called third form of the verb "to go" in English. Most books list it as; go - went - have gone, but that is not the whole story, go to - went to - have been to is also possible. The difference is whether the person returned or not. In a tense that means where the action is repeated, such as "I go to school every day.", then the third form of the verb is "I been to school every day" (implying he returned), but in another case, such as "He will go home next week." the corresponding third form of the verb is "He has gone home." (without specifying his return).

The implications of the verb form for whether the action is complete or on-going are not made so clear in English as they are in Greek, but in this case we need to think about that issue when choosing the correct third form to use.

In Greek, παρουσία is a noun not a verbal tense, but it a noun derived from a verb. In each situation where it is used, try to decide whether it is derived from a form of the verb that is repeatable, such as the present or imperfect, in which case the corresponding noun would be short term, such as "arrival" (without specifying whether he stayed on), OR from a from of the verb which is non-repeatable such as the aorist in which case the corresponding noun would be long term, such as "presence" (implying he stayed on).

In other words, rephrase each instance verbally, and decide if it is an on-going or momentary action.
In all honesty Stephen, if this works for you, fine, but seems to me to be unduly complicated. That's not how we do it in our language. We know the range of meaning in the word, and we don't confuse "The CEO is running the company" with "The CEO is running a race." This is how speakers of all languages know the meaning/usage of a word that has a semantic range.
0 x


N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

Vladislav Kotenko
Posts: 11
Joined: July 4th, 2014, 12:03 pm

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Vladislav Kotenko » September 29th, 2014, 1:10 pm

When examining the context of the first occurrence of the word παρουσία in the Greek Scriptures, namely, in Matt. 24:3, it seems that παρουσία should be rendered there as “coming” or “arrival” instead of “presence.” Jesus’ disciples apparently wanted to know the sign leading up to Jesus’ future παρουσία.

Since Jesus’ παρουσία is generally understood to be a future event, such words and phrases as “advent,” “arrival,” “visit,” “coming,” “arrival and subsequent presence” may be more appropriate renderings than “presence,” because when dealing with a future coming event, it is difficult to convey the idea that the event is yet in the future if the words “presence” or “present” are used. So if “present” is used in such case, the event may be erroneously assigned to the present and not to the future where it belongs. For example, when speaking about a future day, month, or year, it is inappropriate and wrong to use the word “present” (“present day,” “present month,” “present year”) because in such case it is erroneously assigned to the present. Instead, it should be said, “coming day,” “coming month,” or “coming year.” Thus, even though a coming day, month, or year includes not only the fact of its arrival but also its subsequent presence or duration, it is necessary to use the word “coming,” and not “present.”

Similarly, even though the idea of presence is inseparably incorporated in the word παρουσία, it may be better to render it as “advent,” “arrival,” “visit,” “coming,” or “arrival and subsequent presence,” since Jesus’ παρουσία is generally conceived of as a future event. So in order to express that futurity, it may be more appropriate to use one of the above-mentioned possible renderings, because it seems from the context that Jesus’ disciples (Matt. 24:3) asked him about the sign indicating that he will come soon, not that he has already come and is present.
0 x

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Stephen Hughes » September 29th, 2014, 2:21 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:In all honesty Stephen, if this works for you, fine, but seems to me to be unduly complicated.
Perhaps for other verbs where the aspect is marked it would be clearer.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:That's not how we do it in our language. We know the range of meaning in the word, and we don't confuse "The CEO is running the company" with "The CEO is running a race." This is how speakers of all languages know the meaning/usage of a word that has a semantic range.
Different learners have different strategies to cope with polysemy.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Michael Theophilos
Posts: 6
Joined: April 26th, 2013, 5:42 pm

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Michael Theophilos » September 29th, 2014, 8:15 pm

cwconrad wrote:Interesting points, these. But once again, I think, the point is that the "correct" translation of this word will depend upon the context in which it appears.
Agreed! Appreciating the semantic domain can help determine the possibilities.
0 x

Rolf Furuli
Posts: 7
Joined: January 7th, 2014, 11:01 am

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Rolf Furuli » October 1st, 2014, 2:01 am

It has been suggested that the context should decide whether to use ”presence” or ”coming” in translation. To do that, we need to consider the Actionsart terms punctiliarity versus durtivity, because ”coming” signals punctiliarity and ”presence” signals durativity. And here is the real problem: How can we know that the author of a text with παρουσία wants to stress the punctiliar coming and not the durative presence? In Philippians 2:12, παρουσία is contrasted with ”absence” and therefore the stress must be on the durative state of being present. In 2 Corinthians 10:10 the meaning ”presence” is also clear. But among the other 22 occurrences of παρουσία in the NT, do we find a single example where it is clear that the puntiliar coming is focused upon? In other words, are there one or more examples in the NT where the sense ”presence” does not fit? Or to be even more radical, can the sense ”coming” that we find in the lexicons be justified at all?

Rolf Furuli
Stavern
Norway
0 x

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 1st, 2014, 3:08 pm

Rolf Furuli wrote:It has been suggested that the context should decide whether to use ”presence” or ”coming” in translation. To do that, we need to consider the Actionsart terms punctiliarity versus durtivity, because ”coming” signals punctiliarity and ”presence” signals durativity. And here is the real problem: How can we know that the author of a text with παρουσία wants to stress the punctiliar coming and not the durative presence? In Philippians 2:12, παρουσία is contrasted with ”absence” and therefore the stress must be on the durative state of being present. In 2 Corinthians 10:10 the meaning ”presence” is also clear. But among the other 22 occurrences of παρουσία in the NT, do we find a single example where it is clear that the puntiliar coming is focused upon? In other words, are there one or more examples in the NT where the sense ”presence” does not fit? Or to be even more radical, can the sense ”coming” that we find in the lexicons be justified at all?
One of the problems in doing that is that εἶναι is not marked for punctiliarity or durativity, and so neither is ἀπουσία, ἐξουσία, οὐσία, or παρουσία, if they are conceived of as expressing that idea from their corresponding verbal forms.

The verb πάρειμι is apparently used with both durative and punctiliar senses in the NT - in the sense of arriving, take for example Matthew 26:50 Ἑταῖρε, ἐφ’ ᾧ πάρει;could as well be, "Friend, why have you come? As much as it could be, "Why are you here?". Joohn 7:6 Λέγει οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐμὸς οὔπω πάρεστιν, ὁ δὲ καιρὸς ὁ ὑμέτερος πάντοτέ ἐστιν ἕτοιμος. "My time has not yet come", and in the sense of being present, Luke 13:1 Παρῆσαν δέ τινες ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ καιρῷ ἀπαγγέλλοντες αὐτῷ περὶ τῶν Γαλιλαίων, ὧν τὸ αἷμα Πιλάτος ἔμιξεν μετὰ τῶν θυσιῶν αὐτῶν. "There were some present". Galatians 4:18 Καλὸν δὲ τὸ ζηλοῦσθαι ἐν καλῷ πάντοτε, καὶ μὴ μόνον ἐν τῷ παρεῖναί με πρὸς ὑμᾶς.

[γερουσία - senate is of course not the same situation, but is grouped with the other nouns in -σία that are derived in various ways. ἀγνωσία, ἀθανασία, αἱματεκχυσία, αἰχμαλωσία, ἀκαθαρσία, ἀκαταστασία, ἀκρασία, ἀποστασία, ἀπουσία, ἀφθαρσία, γενέσια, γερουσία, γυμνασία, δικαιοκρισία, διχοστασία, δοκιμασία, ἐκκλησία, ἐξουσία, ἐργασία, ἑτοιμασία, εὐεργεσία, θυσία, κλισία, μετοικεσία, μισθαποδοσία, Μυσία, νεοσσιά, νομοθεσία, νοσσιά, νουθεσία, ὀπτασία, ὁρκωμοσία, ὁροθεσία, οὐσία, παλιγγενεσία, παραχειμασία, παρουσία, παρρησία, πρωτοκλισία, συνωμοσία, υἱοθεσία, φαντασία]

It is like asking whether ἐκκλησία ( < ἐκκαλέω) is the "summoning" of the body politic (puntiliar) or the resulting mass of people who hold the meeting "assembly" (durative). Of course it is durative (if we think in that way), in part for the reason that the corresponding verb for the short-term event in this case is perhaps συνάγω. δοκιμασία on the other hand is just the short process of examination / scrutiny, but apparently not the long state expressed by the adjective δόκιμος "approved" and the noun δοκιμή "proof" [both in the sense of the process of proving and the proven-ness that follows it.] of which δοκιμασία is a particular way of looking at it (from the point of view of the (human) agent), while δοκιμή is the overall event - both punctiliar and durative. In other words this is not an abstract way of thinking that we can use to deduce meanings, but a set of tendencies that allow for us to make sense of the way words can mean different things depending on that differentiation of meaning. Is ἐργασία in Acts 16:19 Ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ κύριοι αὐτῆς ὅτι ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς ἐργασίας αὐτῶν, ἐπιλαβόμενοι τὸν Παῦλον καὶ τὸν Σίλαν, εἵλκυσαν εἰς τὴν ἀγορὰν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄρχοντας, the "fortune-telling" or the "wealth" resulting from it? It could go either way. Is πρωτοκλισία the action of reclining in the place of highest honour at the table, or the on-going honour that attaches itself to the person who is seen sitting in that seat (BDAG fans will notice that I am taking this in a much more abstract sense - more related to the verb - than simply something like "the seat of honour" conveys)? I think it is the on-going sense (not the place itself in a concrete sense). Is υἱοθεσία the moment of adoption or the on-going right to live in the house (This time looking at the word from a different point of view than BDAG does when it differentiates between who is adopted)? 2 of the ongoing right to live in the household and 3 of the momentary acceptance into the household, in my opinion.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1317
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Barry Hofstetter » October 2nd, 2014, 6:14 am

I think it's a big question mark whether a noun derived from a verb would carry over any Aktionsart at all. I don't think this is rocket science or even a complicated linguistic or discourse issue. Look at the way the word is used both in its NT contexts and elsewhere. That's what the lexicographers did, I think they've done a pretty decent job.
0 x
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

Vladislav Kotenko
Posts: 11
Joined: July 4th, 2014, 12:03 pm

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Vladislav Kotenko » October 2nd, 2014, 11:11 am

There was an ongoing discussion on the translation of παρουσία in 2003 on ibiblio.org:

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-gr ... 25058.html

Among other things, it was said: “The conclusion on the basis of the points above is that the primary tool for an understanding of PAROUSIA is the context of the NT. There are examples in the NT, such as Philippians 2.12 where "presence" is demanded" (see also 2 Corinthians 10:10), but there are no instances in the NT where "coming" is demanded. So the advice would be for each one who either chooses "coming" or "presence" to make a list of reasons, philological, linguistical and theological, in order to find the reasons behind one's choice.

Where philological or linguistic reasons seem insufficient or unconvincing, theological reasons prominently come into play when determining whether παρουσία should be translated as “coming” or “presence.”

So why did the majority of Bible translators choose to render παρουσία as “coming” in all the places where it has to do with Christ? Was it primarily their theology that influenced their translation?
0 x

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1317
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by Barry Hofstetter » October 2nd, 2014, 11:49 am

Vladislav Kotenko wrote:There was an ongoing discussion on the translation of παρουσία in 2003 on ibiblio.org:

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-gr ... 25058.html

Among other things, it was said: “The conclusion on the basis of the points above is that the primary tool for an understanding of PAROUSIA is the context of the NT. There are examples in the NT, such as Philippians 2.12 where "presence" is demanded" (see also 2 Corinthians 10:10), but there are no instances in the NT where "coming" is demanded. So the advice would be for each one who either chooses "coming" or "presence" to make a list of reasons, philological, linguistical and theological, in order to find the reasons behind one's choice.

Where philological or linguistic reasons seem insufficient or unconvincing, theological reasons prominently come into play when determining whether παρουσία should be translated as “coming” or “presence.”

So why did the majority of Bible translators choose to render παρουσία as “coming” in all the places where it has to do with Christ? Was it primarily their theology that influenced their translation?
I would not accept the the statement made above without the specific argumentation to back it up. It's not a question of "demand" but whether not that sense is the best fit for a particular context. As long as we are quoting old b-Greek messages, here's another:
PAROUSIA in the papyri/inscriptions means "coming", "arrival", "visit",
often but not always of the coming of an official (and their presence after
their arrival), cf. P.Oxy 47; SIG3 741.111, 1V; SEG 821.10. See the cognate
verb in an edict and speech of Nero which states that as many people as
possible were to be present in Corinth on November 28, 67 AD. There's a good
discussion in L. Robert, Hellenica 13 (1965) 129-131 on the cognate verb,
used for gods from the time of Homer. The cognate verb appears in the future
in P.XV.Cng 8.8, a letter stating that the correspondent (not an official)
will be present at a court case. See also BGU 2211, a letter about an
official's coming, "..who is now intending to be present.in the land".
Ann Nyland
0 x
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

cwconrad
Posts: 2109
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714
Contact:

Re: Correct Translation of παρουσία

Post by cwconrad » October 2nd, 2014, 11:58 am

Vladislav Kotenko wrote:There was an ongoing discussion on the translation of παρουσία in 2003 on ibiblio.org:

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-gr ... 25058.html

Among other things, it was said: “The conclusion on the basis of the points above is that the primary tool for an understanding of PAROUSIA is the context of the NT. There are examples in the NT, such as Philippians 2.12 where "presence" is demanded" (see also 2 Corinthians 10:10), but there are no instances in the NT where "coming" is demanded. So the advice would be for each one who either chooses "coming" or "presence" to make a list of reasons, philological, linguistical and theological, in order to find the reasons behind one's choice.

Where philological or linguistic reasons seem insufficient or unconvincing, theological reasons prominently come into play when determining whether παρουσία should be translated as “coming” or “presence.”

So why did the majority of Bible translators choose to render παρουσία as “coming” in all the places where it has to do with Christ? Was it primarily their theology that influenced their translation?
For my part, I rather think we are beating a dead horse in this thread. Our fundamental concern here is not with how the translators have interpreted the texts and in what percentages they have favored particular interpretations, but rather with the reasons that we can adduce in support of an interpretation of the Greek text. That is to say, our concern is with the Greek text as a Greek text, not with justification or invalidation of what the translators have done with the Greek text. Moreover, it is the well-etablished policy in this forum to steer clear of theological discussion that might either promote or disparage any particular faith-stance. It is the Greek text we are concerned with, not the (possibly ulterior) motivations of translators.
0 x
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Post Reply