I ran into this while reading about the documentary "The God Who Wasn't There." The producers use Hebrew 8:4 as evidence that the author of Hebrew (Barnabas of course ;-)) did not think Jesus was ever actually alive on the earth. They do not get into technical details, but I believe their argument goes as follows:Hebrews 8:4 wrote:Îµá¼° Î¼á½²Î½ Î¿á½–Î½ á¼¦Î½ á¼Ï€á½¶ Î³á¿†Ï‚, Î¿á½Î´â€™ á¼‚Î½ á¼¦Î½ á¼±ÎµÏÎµÏÏ‚
"This a second-class condition so the condition is false (at least for the sake of argument). So from the author's perspective, Jesus was never on Earth because the verb is past tense."
The NIV and most English translations I have tried translate it basically as follows:
The producers allege that this is a purposeful mis-translation.If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.
I have not studied anything with respect to tense in conditional clauses, so I was wondering if anyone has any insight. Since the á¼¦Î½ is imperfect tense its repetitive and/or progressive aspect seems to preclude the producer's argument from being true. However, I am not sure it tense necessarily denotes time in conditional clauses (particularly those which use indicative mood verbs). If I meant to say what the producers imply in English, I would use a perfect "If he had been on earth," but that option is clearly not available in Greek.
So anyway, what do you think?