Periphrastic construction in I John 1:4
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Jul 2 07:44:58 EDT 1999
On 07/02/99, ""Robert R. Monti" <robemon at regent.edu>" wrote:
> Right now I'm working my way through I John to keep up my Greek translation
> work up on my own. I'd like some input on I John ch. 1, v. 4:
> KAI TAUTA GRAFOMEN hHMAIS, hINA hH CARA hHMWN hH PEPLHRWMENH.
There's a major transliteration error here that I'm going to correct each
time I see it, beginning with transcription of the verse in question.
KAI TAUTA GRAFOMEN hHMEIS, hINA hH CARA hHMWN Hi PLHRWMENH.
> Concerning Hi PEPLHRWMENH, I made the following note:
> Hi PEPLHRWMENH is the periphrastic construction (perfect participle
> and present
> subjunctive form of EIMI). It emphasizes a state of existence. For
> John, the completed
> process of writing about the manifested eternal life which the
> apostles had seen, heard
> touched is meant to achieve a durative state in both John and his
> intended audience --
> "that our joy might be completed."
I think that, in considering this verse, one must be aware that Hi
PEPLHRWMENH need NOT be considered a periphrastic construction, although it
COULD be. An alternative reading might be to read the Hi as present
subjunctive and PEPLHRWMENH as a predicate adjective in the sense
"complete." And I really think that this is probably the easier way to read
However, we might ask whether this is ultimately another way of saying the
same thing, especially as there is no NON-periphrastic form of the perfect
passive subjunctive. In either case, I think that the emphasis in the
perfect passive partaiciple PEPLHRWMENH is on an achieved state rather than
on the achievement of the state: i.e., it's not a matter of EFFECTING the
completion that is emphasized by use of this verb form (as it seems to me
you are reading it when you write, "that our joy may be completed"--that
idea would better be expressed, I think, with an aorist passive
subjunctive, e.g. hINA hH CARA hHMWN PLHRWQHi); rather it's a matter of the
present status of the joy as fully effective--as a fait accompli, so to
speak. This is why I say that PEPLHRWMENH might almost as well be viewed as
a predicate adjective and the whole clause might almost as well be written
hINA hH CARA hHMWN Hi PLHRHS. And I think that the common translations of
the clause are right: "that our joy may be COMPLETE"--rather than
> Comments would be appreciated -- either on- or off-list is fine. I would
> also appreciate it if somebody would discuss the use of DE to lend strength
> to a statement or argument, as in I John ch. 1, v. 3b:
> KAI hH KOINWNIA *DE* hH hHMETERA META TOU PATROS KAI META TOU hUIOU
> AUTOU IHSOU CRISTOU.
This is a little bit awkward and seems almost like an afterthought in a
sentence that some might well consider a monstrous anacoluthon comparable
in its own way to Ephesians 1:3-10 [No, I DON'T want to start up the "bad
Greek" thread--I think this is intelligible but curiously, awkwardly
phrased]. We have to look at this as a clarification, I think, of the
preceding clause, hINA KAI hUMEIS KOINWNIAN ECHTE MEQ' hHMWN, and I'd be
inclined to put the entire clause of 3b in parentheses: "(even our own
fellowship with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ)".
One COULD say that there is an implicit ESTIN in this clause and that it is
declarative: "even our own fellowship is with the Father and with His son
Jesus Christ." I think that's a legitimate alternative.
OR alternatively one could say that this clause is an expansive description
of the KOINWNIA that the writer wants the addresses to share; it ought
perhaps, if thus understood, to be set in the accusative to agree with the
KOINWNIAN of the previous verse, but it might be understood as something I
rather despise to acknowledge the existence of: a NOMINATIVUS PENDENS; the
nearest parallel would be the final phrase of GJn 1:14, PLHRHS CARITOS KAI
ALHQEIAS, where one expects PLHRH, an accusative to agree with DOXAN, or
alternatively PLHROUS, a genitive to agree with AUTOU.
Of course, I've been talking about a different problem than the one you
have raised, one that seems closely bound up with the function of that DE.
But I think the function of the DE is practically to turn the entire clause
in which it is imbedded into a parenthetical one; to convey its force VERY
LOOSELY, I'd convey the clause thus: "even the fellowship, that is, that we
ourselves have with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ."
But there's something grammatically awkward in this phrasing, whichever
alternative explanation one accepts: either the whole phrase ought not to
be in the nominative, or else one must accept an implicit ESTIN. Perhaps
the second alternative is easier, but I rather suspect that the first
alternative may be more in accord with the composition as it stands (that
it's something of an anacoluthon).
This has been awkward writing on the web, where I'm in recurrent peril of
losing my connection. My home domain is down and I am connected to the net
by an alternative ISP. I hope it goes through.
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