John 3:32

clayton stirling bartholomew c.s.bartholomew at
Tue Nov 16 12:51:26 EST 1999

> ----------
>>From: david reigle <reigles at>
>> Dear Friends,
>> I am wondering about the meaning of the tenses in John 3:32
>> I don't know what to make (if anything) of the contrast of the
>> perfect with the aorist here, neither relative time nor aspect seem to
>> make sense to me here.   Some people I have read claim a
>> confusion of tenses occurred here.  Was that a common thing?
>> Were the Greek speakers of this time becoming "lax" in the way
>> they used their tenses, or was the author making some distinction
>> by using these tenses.  Thank you for your help.
>> Dave Reigle

>From: "clayton stirling bartholomew" <c.s.bartholomew at> >
> Dave,
> I don't see any confusion here. I would suspect that any attempt to
> "make something" out of this distinction would stem from confusion on
> the part of the modern reader about the significance of the tenses. In
> other words there is nothing difficult about this text unless we choose
> to seek a difficulty and manufacture one which wasn't in the mind of the
> author.


Raymond Brown (Anchor Bible) has a comment on this. He says that the
emphasis is falling on "seeing" more than "hearing"  and cites BDF

I think Raymond Brown is giving an appropriate amount of weight to this
issue (not much weight). The perfect is a marked form in relation to the
aorist so some slight disparity may be intended between the significance
of seeing and hearing in this context.

Leon Morris (1971) has a longish footnote on this citing several other
views on this subject none of which are too compelling. Godet and D.A.
Carson don't even mention the tense distinction. H.A.W Meyer has the
enlightening comment "Note the difference in tense." As an argument from
silence or near silence I would concluded that Carson, Godet and H.A.W
Meyer didn't think much of this issue.

Take a look at 1John 1:3 for a parallel where both tenses are perfect.


Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062                

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