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Jon Dart | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Oct 29 2019 3:15 AM

My Bible study class noticed that in the Amplified Bible, 1 John 1:9 says, "If we ...confess our sins, He is faithful and just...and will...[continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness." They were thrilled that the AMP expanded the verb tense in this way. I explained (without looking it up) a little bit about present and aorist verb tenses in the subjunctive and imperative moods. Then out of curiosity, I looked the verse up, and the Greek actually has an aorist subjunctive in 1 John 1:9, meaning, not continuously, but cleansing as a completed act. Where does the AMP get the concept of continuous cleansing here? Should the verse not be translated "If we [continuously] confess (present subjunctive—the AMP does not expand this verb tense here) our sins, He is faithful and just...and will...[completely] cleanse us? Maybe the translators are taking the continuous idea from the verbal aspect of the aorist tense (continual cleansing within the totality of God's complete cleansing), but this seems unlikely to me since I don't think verbal aspect was well understood in 1954. Interestingly, 1 John 1:7 uses the present indicative with the verb "cleanse." The thing is, now I have to somehow explain this to my Bible study class. What are your thoughts?

Posts 10435
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 6:11 AM

Jon Dart:
What are your thoughts

Why are you using AMP? No offense to the lady, but her support materials are now somewhat dated. They were the cat's meow, when I slept through afternoon college Bible class. The added comments are probably closer to semantic meaning, vs strict grammar. NET notes are more Bible class useful.

I use AMP in my text comparison, more as a reminder of the good old days (ditto Thayer).

Posts 40
Jon Dart | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 6:28 AM

Not sure what lady you're referring to. I don't use the AMP in class, but some in the class pointed out the expanded translation of the verb "cleanse," and wanted to know why the other English translations don't include it. They have no knowledge of semantics or Greek grammar. The questions in my post are mine, not the class's. I realize the AMP is dated, but the addition of "continuously" is glaringly wrong, and has nothing to do with the resource being outdated. There is no way that the aorist tense should yield a simple sense of "continuously" especially in 1954, when verbal aspect was not on the radar. So I'm still wondering what the explanation is for this. In the 2015 revision of the AMP, this same translation persists. Even given verbal aspect, the addition of "continuously" is misleading. Are the translators getting this from the present subjunctive with the verb "confess?" Or should we just write the AMP off as unreliable?

Posts 10435
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 7:23 AM 

The 'lady' was Frances Siewert, though several involved, and updated 4 years ago.  Using your absolute grammar rule, you'd have to chunk a sizable list of translations. I'm trying to remember one that wouldn't get tossed. I'd assume, if some in your class value AMP's approach (and learn), then there's the answer.

Added: NET Notes has a good discussion of 1 John 1:7 & 9 problem, relative to BDAG.

Posts 40
Jon Dart | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 9:17 AM

I have no quarrel with other English translations, because they all use either the English infinitive, or English perfective present ("cleanses" rather than the progressive "is cleansing), or the English future, also in a perfective sense. None of this contradicts the perfective verbal aspect of the Greek aorist tense, the aspect of finished action. However, adding the adverb "continuously" definitely shifts the focus of the verse away from God's complete cleansing; it places the focus on the process of cleansing, which the aorist tense precludes. All of this aside, my original question hasn't been answered yet: Why does the AMP, even the revision, add "continuously" to the aorist subjunctive verb "cleanse" when there seems to be no warrant for that? Anyone else?

Posts 906
Justin Gatlin | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 3:04 PM

Weird. The Exegetical Summary series does not show any discussion of this possibility, not do the UBS handbooks. 

My next plan of attack was to search for "continuous WITHIN <1 John 1:9>", which turned up no results. 

(continuous, continuously) NEAR <1 John 1:9> gave some hits that make that argument (I get 11 articles in my 18k resource library), but they all seem to be in popular-level resources. The only person I can find who really argues for the point is way back in BB Warfield. He quotes Meyer's Critical Exegetical Commentary on the NT (Logos does not have it tagged). 

I think that, whatever the merit may be of the interpretation, it is a lousy translation. 

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Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 5:52 PM

If you're interested in the expansion of translation theory since Nida's literal-functional you would find Applied Translation Studies by Tong King Lee to be an easy, brief introduction. It would expand you thinking on the pluses and minuses of various translations.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 40
Jon Dart | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 5:54 PM

None of my Greek grammars or lexicons mention the issue. Lenski argues for complete cleansing, Gundry for thorough cleansing, Wuest for a single act of cleansing, as does the Expositor's.

Posts 40
Jon Dart | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 5:54 PM

Thanks, I'll check that out.

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