In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

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Bill Ross
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In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Bill Ross »

In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 20:31 Greek NT: Westcott and Hort 1881
ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστὶν ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.

ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 20:31 Greek NT: Greek Orthodox Church
ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύσητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.

https://biblehub.com/text/john/20-31.htm
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Jason Hare
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Jason Hare »

Not really. It is only a difference of aspect. πιστεύητε is specifically "be believing" with a continuous aspect. πιστεύσητε is of aorist aspect, not carrying (but not negating) a continuous activity.
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Bill Ross
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Bill Ross »

Thank you Jason.

The NLT renders the version with πιστεύσητε as "...so that you may continue to believe[fn]...". The footnote says "20:31 Some manuscripts read that you may believe."

Also, the interlinear of the BlueLetterBible parses πιστεύσητε as aorist active subjunctive. Is πιστεύητε a present active subjunctive?

Do you agree with the NLT rendering and the footnote, as well as the parsing I noted?

Thanks again.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Modern English doesn't really mark that distinction in aspect, but expects it to be discerned from context. I would not add "continually." The difference is really the action viewed as a process (present subjunctive) and the action viewed as a whole (aorist). Back in ancient times when I started Greek, we were drilled to translate present subjunctives in such contexts with "may" and aorist subjunctives with "might" so we could internalize the distinction, but that isn't really how English does it today. I was therefore amused by the ESV:

31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Bill Ross
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Bill Ross »

If we take the aorist as ingressive, maybe "so you might believe", and the aorist as, "so you come to believe that..."?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Bill Ross wrote: October 30th, 2020, 8:32 am If we take the aorist as ingressive, maybe "so you might believe", and the aorist as, "so you come to believe that..."?
"Ingressive" is not a category which fits the subjunctive.
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Stephen Carlson »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: October 30th, 2020, 9:47 am "Ingressive" is not a category which fits the subjunctive.
News to me, and also to A.T. Robertson in Mark 10:48 (ἵνα σιωπήσῃ) and Acts 25:26 (ὅπως τῆς ἀνακρίσεως γενομένης, σχῶ τί γράψω).

Also, J. P. Louw, "On Greek Prohibitions," Acta Classica 2 (1949): 43-57, discusses them in the context of prohibitions, where it is a natural fit.
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by nathaniel j. erickson »

This passage is one of those that scholars of Gospel of John will argue over in trying to discern the intended audience. So, some at least will argue that the difference is significant, with the imperfective signalling the author assumes the readers already believe, and thus they need to "(keep on) believing." The perfective aspect (aorist), on this view, would be understood as an address to readers presumed to not believe, and would mean "(start) believing."

Probably more relevant than just taking the generic imperfective v perfective aspect distinction here would be to look systematically at the verb πιστεύω in Gospel of John, as well as elsewhere, to see if there is a noticeable difference in the way the two aspectual forms are used. Is this expected difference actually noticeable in John's usage, or in the usage of other authors in the time period? It may be that closer examination in John and elsewhere would support the suspected aspectual distinction in meaning. Then again, maybe not.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Stephen Carlson wrote: October 30th, 2020, 10:46 am
Barry Hofstetter wrote: October 30th, 2020, 9:47 am "Ingressive" is not a category which fits the subjunctive.
News to me, and also to A.T. Robertson in Mark 10:48 (ἵνα σιωπήσῃ) and Acts 25:26 (ὅπως τῆς ἀνακρίσεως γενομένης, σχῶ τί γράψω).

Also, J. P. Louw, "On Greek Prohibitions," Acta Classica 2 (1949): 43-57, discusses them in the context of prohibitions, where it is a natural fit.
Ah, very good, thanks both for the examples and the article (which I was able to access, yay, JSTOR). I think the definition of "ingressive" that I was carrying around was a little different than the technical definition presented in the article and Robertson. So for example, Luke 15:32,

εὐφρανθῆναι δὲ καὶ χαρῆναι ἔδει, ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου οὗτος νεκρὸς ἦν καὶ ἔζησεν... "Now it is necessary to rejoice and be glad, since your brother was dead and now has come alive..."

With the emphasis simply on the starting point. This from the article was helpful:

Huh. For some reason it won't let me upload my screen shots. Annoying. However, without going into details, distinction made in the article between the ingressive use and the effective use (that latter term disliked by Robertson) indicates to me that it is context which really indicates how to read the prohibition. But if all "ingressive" means is referring to (a future) starting point, then I have no quibble.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Bill Ross
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Re: In John 20:31 variants, is the difference between πιστεύσητε and πιστεύητε significant?

Post by Bill Ross »

Okay, if I'm following this, then manuscript evidence aside, the aorist (minority witness) seems a more contextually appropriate, or at least obvious, reading, yes?
What I lack in youth I make up for in immaturity.
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