[B-Greek] Translation of Aorist Indicative Verbs in 1 John 2:12-14

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 4 16:04:18 EDT 2006

First, the text -- in transliterated GREEK
  You've asked something that's been rather puzzling to me as well.  The aorists might be taken as epistolary aorists.  Here's a description from A. T. Robertson's _A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research_, p. 845
  (ç) Epistolary Aorist. This idiom is merely a matter of standpoint. The writer looks at his letter as the recipient will. It is probably due to delicate courtesy and is common in Latin as well as in the older Greek, though less so in the later Greek. The most frequent word so used was ἔãñáøá, though ἔðåìøá was also common. The aorist has its normal meaning. One has merely to change his point of view and look back at the writer. In 1 Jo. 2:12–14 we have the rhetorical repetition of GRAFW, EGRAYA (note the perfects after hOTI). But in 1 Jo. 2:21 EGRAYA may be the epistolary use, though Winer protests against it. Here as in 2:26, TAUTA EGRAYA, the reference may be not to the whole epistle, but to the portion in hand, though even so the standpoint is that of the reader. Cf. also 5:13. In 1 Cor. 9:15 also the reference is to the verses in hand. In Eph. 3:3, KAQWS PREGRAYS EN OLIGWi, the allusion may be to what Paul has just written
 or to the whole epistle, as is true of EPESTEILA (Heb. 13:22). Certainly GRAFW is the usual construction in the N. T. (1 Cor. 4:14; 14:37; 2 Cor. 13:10, etc.). EGRAYA usually refers to an epistle just finished (Phil. 19; 1 Pet. 5:12; 1 Jo. 5:13), but even so the standpoint veers naturally to that of the reader. This is particularly so in Gal. 6:11 which probably refers to the concluding verses 11–18 and, if so, a true epistolary aorist. In Ro. 15:15 the reference may be to another portion of the same epistle or to the epistle as a whole. In 1 Cor. 5:9, 11, EGRAYA refers to a previous letter, as seems to be true also in 2 Cor. 2:3, 4, 9; 7:12; 3 Jo. 9. But EPEMYA is found in undoubted instances as in Ac. 23:30; Eph. 6:22; Ph. 2:28; Col. 4:8. So ANEPEMYA in Phil. 12 and HBOULHQHN in Text. Rec. 2 Jo. 12. Curiously enough Gildersleeve says: “The aorist in the N. T. [Ep. aor.] is clearly due to Roman influence, and is not to be cited.” The
 epistolary aorist is more common in Latin (cf. Cicero’s Letters), probably because of our having more epistolary material. The idiom occurs often enough in the papyri. Cf. EPEMYA, B.G.U. 423 (ii/a.d.), EGRAYA hUPER AUTOU MH IDOTOS GRAMMATA, P.Oxy. 275 (a.d. 66). There is therefore no adequate reason for denying its presence in the N. T. examples above. 
  Robertson, A. (1919; 2006). A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (845). Logos.

But even if these are epistolary aorists, the question remains, "Why the present?"
  Perhaps someone more knowledgeable has an answer.
Steve Hulme <stevehulme at stevehulme.com> wrote:
    Dr. Conrad,

Thanks for your tip about the need to send messages in plain text format to this list. Indeed, I had sent the blank message in MIME format.

To all, 

Here's the original question:

1 John 2:12 and 2:13 use the present tense of the indicative three times: 
In 1 John 2:14, the author switches to the aorist indicative "EGRAYA hUMIN", 
again repeated three times.

I have two questions: first, the New Jerusalem Bible translates these verses as 
I would have, assigning the action of the present tense indicativeGRAFW to the 
present time, and the action of EGRAYA to the past:


thanks in advance

Steve Hulme
Raleigh, NC

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