Conditions, moods, and tenses in Jn 15:6-7

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Sun May 5 09:29:00 EDT 2002


At 12:16 PM -0400 5/4/02, richard smith wrote:
>Jn 15:6 EAN MH TIS MENHi EN EMOI, EBLHQH EXW hWS TO KLHMA KAI EXHRANQH KAI
>SUNAGOUSIN AUTA KAI EIS TO PUR BALLOUSIN KAI KAIETAI
>
>Jn 15:6-7  EAN MEINHTE EN EMOI KAI TA hRHMATA MOU EN hUMIN MEIVHi, hO EAN
>QELHTE AITHSASQE, KAI GEVHSETAI hUMISN.

For consistency's sake, you might endeavor to transliterate all Nu's in the
same way, preferably (I'd say) as N.

>Is it best to understand verse 6 as present general, with the present
>subjunctive in the protasis, and the latter 2 present tense indicative
>verbs in the apodosis?
>
>The difficulty for me is the treatment of the 2 aorist passive verbs in
>the apodosis.  Are they best understood as gnomic or proleptic aorists?
>something else?
>
>Does the use of the aorist indicative verbs preclude understanding the
>verse as a present general? Perhaps then the aorist is used proleptically
>and the condition is future more probable?
>
>But, perhaps if the aorist verbs are proleptic, the verbs are aorist
>because of their relationship with the subsequent present tense verbs.
>The branch had to be cast out and withered before "they" gathered them and
>burned them.
>
>This understanding might allow for the aorist use with a present general
>3rd class (5th class) condition, which is the type condition that seems to
>me most accurately to describe verse 6.

I'd opt for the aorists being gnomic and the condition present general,
Personally I despise the classification of conditions "class." I tend to
think that where the condition is clearl stated, it's normally easy enough
to figure out on a case-by-case basis.

>And there seems to be a shift from a present general condition in verse 6
>to a future more probable condition in verse 7. A shift from the general
>precept highlighted by the indefinite pronoun, to a specific circumstance
>highlighted by the 2nd person plural verb form?
>
>And verse 7 further contrasts with verse 6 by using the aorist subjunctive
>in the protasis and the future indicative in the apodosis.  However it
>also has an aorist in the apodosis.

Yes, I think that's right.

>Should the aorist imperative AITHSASQE be understood as an imperative of
>command, permission or condition?

Not condition, I'd say, and I don't think I'd trouble myself deciding
whether "ask what you will" is a command or permission. Does understanding
the verse cry out for a distinction? It seems to me that what's being said
is that what I call the "covenant mutual-indwelling of MENEIN brings a
confidence that overcomes fear. At any rate, if the distinction IS crucial,
I still think that the context is not sufficient to clarify what the
distinction should be.

>Obviously I am rambling around, and I apologize.  But understanding the
>shifts of moods and tenses, not to mention person, within these two verses
>seems to get more difficult every time I read them.
>
>I am sure the advice not to make so much of grammatical classifications is
>warranted, but I would like to gain greater appreciation of tense/aspect,
>mood, and usage in my reading.


>Any help is appreciated.  Fortunately, my lectionary reading will change
>after Sunday, and I can move on to another reading.<g>

I'd suggest move on not only to a lectionary reading but to a larger chunk:
the more reading you do the more you'll benefit.
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months:: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



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