Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

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Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby Stephen Carlson » November 5th, 2012, 4:10 am

I am continuing my examination of verbal aspect, and now I wish to pose this question.

Eph 2:4 wrote:4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, 5 καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ ....
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ... (NRSV)


What is the force of the aorist ἠγάπησεν? Surely God still loves the "us" of this passage, right?
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby Jason Hare » November 5th, 2012, 6:57 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:I am continuing my examination of verbal aspect, and now I wish to pose this question.

Eph 2:4 wrote:4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, 5 καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ ....
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ... (NRSV)


What is the force of the aorist ἠγάπησεν? Surely God still loves the "us" of this passage, right?


Don't you think it refers to the past love that he felt even when we were dead? Then again, it might refer to the expression of love that is the cross. Either way, it seems evident that the aorist is appropriate.
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby David Lim » November 5th, 2012, 10:20 am

Jason Hare wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I am continuing my examination of verbal aspect, and now I wish to pose this question.

Eph 2:4 wrote:4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, 5 καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ ....
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ... (NRSV)


What is the force of the aorist ἠγάπησεν? Surely God still loves the "us" of this passage, right?


Don't you think it refers to the past love that he felt even when we were dead? Then again, it might refer to the expression of love that is the cross. Either way, it seems evident that the aorist is appropriate.


In my opinion, the sentence itself indicates neither option you gave. Rather, it says this:
God loved us with much love. Because of this love, though we were dead in the transgressions, God, being rich in mercy, made us alive together with the Christ ...

So "ηγαπησεν" in the sentence simply had to do with "the love which God loved us with", which was also "the primary reason he did all that he did for us", and did not have anything to do with the love God has for us at any other point.
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby Stephen Carlson » November 5th, 2012, 3:06 pm

I'm not sure if I understand you two right, but both of you seem to be saying that ἠγάπησεν means performing an act of love, rather than having a loving feeling, right?
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » November 5th, 2012, 5:22 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Eph 2:4 wrote:4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, 5 καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ ....
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ... (NRSV)


Interestingly the punctuation is different in these Greek and English versions. If the Greek version reflects the authorial intention better, it could be parallel to John 3:16 where aorist refers to the one act of love. If the English punctuation is more correct, it would mean the time when we were dead and aorist is used because it's a-orist, undefined tense. There's no need to use imperfective imperfect which would refer to the continuing or ongoing nature of the love. That's just not necessary in the context; therefore aorist is used. IMHO.
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby David Lim » November 5th, 2012, 8:38 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm not sure if I understand you two right, but both of you seem to be saying that ἠγάπησεν means performing an act of love, rather than having a loving feeling, right?


Actually no, because I don't see "ηγαπησεν" as referring to "an act out of love" rather than "simply the love itself". Furthermore, I don't see any problem with the aorist that denotes past time, as I never consider it to exclude the possibility of doing the same in the future. But of course the sentence itself is about the "act of love that God did" because of "the fact that he loved us with much love".
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby Jason Hare » November 5th, 2012, 9:32 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm not sure if I understand you two right, but both of you seem to be saying that ἠγάπησεν means performing an act of love, rather than having a loving feeling, right?


I'd confirm that this is how I would read it. We could render it as "showed his love." I would take it as conceptually parallel to Romans 5:8, which uses the verb συνίστημι (in this sense, "exhibit, give proof of") with τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἀγάπην as its object.

But being rich in mercy, on account of the great love which he showed us [in sending Jesus / in taking us in / in having chosen us to participate in salvation – something along these lines], and ourselves being dead in trespasses, God made us alive with Christ...

Do you read it otherwise?

What gets me is the placement of ἡμᾶς between ὄντας and νεκρούς, as if it were part of the accusative circumstantial phrase rather than functioning as the object of συνεζωοποίησεν.

καὶ συνεζωοποίησεν ἡμᾶς τῷ Χριστῷ, νεκροὺς ὄντας τοῖς παραπώμασιν....

Wouldn't that be more sensible in terms of order? As it is, we don't find an explicit object of this verb (συνεζωοποίησεν) or of the verbs placed in parallel with it (συνήγειρεν and συνεκάθισεν of verse 6). We have to assume ἡμᾶς from the accusative phrase, but it isn't explicit as an independent pronominal object of the verb(s).

Additionally, what exactly is the καὶ connecting here? Is it connecting ὤν to ὄντας??
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby David Lim » November 5th, 2012, 10:09 pm

Jason Hare wrote:Additionally, what exactly is the καὶ connecting here? Is it connecting ὤν to ὄντας??


I think it is there simply because the author is asserting two circumstances under which "God made [us] alive together with the Christ", firstly that "he was rich in mercy" and secondly that "we were dead in [our] transgressions". This also "explains" the word order, because the circumstances were somewhat in focus in the sentence. But I guess there can be many other possible explanations.
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby Stephen Carlson » November 6th, 2012, 4:36 am

Jason Hare wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm not sure if I understand you two right, but both of you seem to be saying that ἠγάπησεν means performing an act of love, rather than having a loving feeling, right?


I'd confirm that this is how I would read it. We could render it as "showed his love." I would take it as conceptually parallel to Romans 5:8, which uses the verb συνίστημι (in this sense, "exhibit, give proof of") with τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἀγάπην as its object.

But being rich in mercy, on account of the great love which he showed us [in sending Jesus / in taking us in / in having chosen us to participate in salvation – something along these lines], and ourselves being dead in trespasses, God made us alive with Christ...

Do you read it otherwise?


OK. Consulting BDAG ἀγαπάω 2, it seems that this verb with the cognate accusative ἀγάπην is an idiom that means "to show love." (Another example is John 17:26). In our case, the phrase διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς has two accusatives for ἠγάπησεν, so something idiomatic is going on. For a sense like "show," the situation here is more activity-like than state-like and so it fits with an aorist.

Jason Hare wrote:What gets me is the placement of ἡμᾶς between ὄντας and νεκρούς, as if it were part of the accusative circumstantial phrase rather than functioning as the object of συνεζωοποίησεν.

καὶ συνεζωοποίησεν ἡμᾶς τῷ Χριστῷ, νεκροὺς ὄντας τοῖς παραπώμασιν....

Wouldn't that be more sensible in terms of order? As it is, we don't find an explicit object of this verb (συνεζωοποίησεν) or of the verbs placed in parallel with it (συνήγειρεν and συνεκάθισεν of verse 6). We have to assume ἡμᾶς from the accusative phrase, but it isn't explicit as an independent pronominal object of the verb(s).


Right. Silvia Luraghi has an article about definite referential null objects in Ancient Greek (PDF with munged Greek unfortunately) and she shows that the omission of a definite referential direct object is pretty standard with conjunct participles. So I think it's OK to have an implicit object when the object had been made explicit in the participial clause. This syntactic behavior tends to go against the differing punctuation of the NRSV's translation that Eeli brought our attention to.

Jason Hare wrote:Additionally, what exactly is the καὶ connecting here? Is it connecting ὤν to ὄντας??


Couldn't it be adverbial, "even when we were dead ...."?
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Re: Eph 2:4 ἠγάπησεν

Postby David Lim » November 6th, 2012, 6:03 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:OK. Consulting BDAG ἀγαπάω 2, it seems that this verb with the cognate accusative ἀγάπαν is an idiom that means "to show love." (Another example is John 17:26). In our case, the phrase διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς has two accusatives for ἠγάπησεν, so something idiomatic is going on. For a sense like "show," the situation here is more activity-like than state-like and so it fits with an aorist.

You mean "the cognate accusative αγαπην" right? But I still don't see what the problem with the aorist is. The aorist "ηγαπησεν" is used many times where it doesn't seem to mean "show love" in the sense of "do something to demonstrate one's love". (Mark 10:21, John 13:1) In fact, John 17:26 seems to convey exactly what I was trying to say, that "the love which God loved us with" is simply "the love which God had for us", which Jesus wants to "be in us also", not referring directly to any action of showing love but just the attitude of having the kind of love that God had for us.

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Jason Hare wrote:Additionally, what exactly is the καὶ connecting here? Is it connecting ὤν to ὄντας??


Couldn't it be adverbial, "even when we were dead ...."?


Hmm does that "και" really have such import? Or could it be just conjunctive as I read it?
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