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Quick question - I am learning Greek and trying to read the NT in the same. Why is the perfect tense used when describing Jesus’ (Rev 1) and John the Baptist’s clothes (Mark 1)?

Specifically I am specifically using the UBS5 and looking the verb ἐνδύω (I clothe) in the following 2 verses:

  • "καὶ ἦν ὁ Ἰωάννης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ" Mark 1:6

  • "καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν λυχνιῶν ὅμοιον υἱὸν ἀνθρώπου ἐνδεδυμένον ποδήρη καὶ περιεζωσμένον πρὸς τοῖς μαστοῖς ζώνην χρυσᾶν" Rev 1:13

I am wonderednig why the perfect tense ("was clothed") has been used vs. other options such as the aortist and present.

Thanks in advance.

Max

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    Thanks Dottard - just clarified. – user7289 Dec 30 '20 at 12:05
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In both Mark 1:6 and Rev 1:13 the verb tense of ἐνδεδυμένον is Perfect Participle Middle - Nominative Masculine Singular.

Note that it is in the middle voice and thus we could translate this as, "had clothed himself".

This conveys the meaning that:

  • The clothing process was complete and thus the person was not presently dressing or clothing himself (thus, present tense and even aorist tense does not fit)
  • The person had clothed himself (ie, the middle voice)

If the present tense was used, it would read something like, "is clothing himself" and expect to see Jesus or John only partly dressed.

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The classic description of the perfect tense is 'past action with continuing effect in the present'.

If I said something in the past, then the communication has happened, and the words do not, as it were, continue to hang in the air. So the natural past tense to use is the aorist.

However, if I dressed myself in the past, then the effect of that past action continues in the present—I remain in a state of being dressed. The natural past tense to use in this case is the perfect, since the past action (of dressing) has a continuing present effect (I continue in a state of being dressed).

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    No. In Greek (though not in English) the perfect tense has the sense of a past action with continuing resultant state. That is not the case in English. The imperfect tense is used for an action that continues during a period of time, is continuing into the present, or begins an action (the 'inceptive' imperfect) – Ian Paul Jan 1 at 21:44

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