[B-Greek] Eph 4:22: time of "being corrupted"

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Fri May 9 04:42:53 EDT 2008


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Harold Holmyard" <hholmyard3 at earthlink.net>
To: "'greek B-Greek'" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 8. maj 2008 23:20
Subject: [B-Greek] Eph 4:22: time of "being corrupted"


>
> Almost every English translation in Eph 4:22 takes TON FQEIROMENON as
> something like "which is being corrupted." However, my understanding is
> that the temporal force of a participle is governed by the time of the
> main verb. Here is an online statement of that principle from a website
> teaching NT Greek:
> http://www.ntgreek.net/lesson31.htm
>
> To the extent that the tense of a participle indicates time, it will
> indicate time only relative to the main verb. Present tense participles
> usually indicate action coincident with the time of the main verb.

If I understand it correctly, this applies to the case where a participle is the head of a
subordinated clause which is then modifying the verb in the main clause. In Eph 4:22 we have a
different grammatical construction where the participle modifies and is part of a noun phrase in the
same was as an adjective or rankshifted relative clause modifies the head noun. Therefore, I
wouldn't look for a main verb to attach it to.

> hUMEIS DE OUC hOUTWS EMAQETE TON CRISTON, EI GE AUTON HKOUSATE KAI EN
> AUTWi EDIDACQHTE, KAQWS ESTIN ALHQEIA EN TWi INSOU, APOQESQAI hUMAS KATA
> THN PROTERAN ANASTROFHN TON PALAION ANQRWPON TON FQEIROMENON KATA TAS
> EPIQUMIAS THS APATHS, ANANEOUSQAI DE TWi PNEUMATI TOU NOOS hUMWN
>
> But you did not thus learn Christ, if indeed you heard about him and in
> him were taught, just as truth is in Jesus, that you should put off,
> according to the former conduct, the old man which was being corrupted
> according to the lusts of deceit, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

Paul is describing "the old person" in various ways. One aspect is that it is following the former
way of life. Another aspect is that it is decaying or on the way to destruction. A third aspect is
that it follows the "deceptive lusts/selfish desires".

Present participles are often used to describe a general characteristic without any aspect of time
or at least without focus on it.

So, translation is more of matter of context and theology. I see the teaching as past, the putting
aside as present, but the description of their former life as past.
In our Danish version we said:
"Derfor skal I aflægge den gamle livsstil, som I havde før i tiden, da I blev bedraget af jeres
begær og var på vej mod fortabelsen."
(That is why you should put aside the old way of life, which you used to have/lead, when you were
deceived by your selfish desires and on the way to lostness.)

Iver Larsen




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