Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

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Bernd Strauss
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Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by Bernd Strauss » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:23 am

1Pe 4:7: Πάντων δὲ τὸ τέλος ἤγγικεν. σωφρονήσατε οὖν καὶ νήψατε εἰς προσευχὰς.

Jas 5:8: Μακροθυμήσατε καὶ ὑμεῖς, στηρίξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν, ὅτι ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου ἤγγικεν.

Since the word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8; 1Pe 4:7 is in the past or perfect tense, why do many Bible translations render it with such phrases as “is at hand” or “is near” instead of “has drawn close”?

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Re: Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by Aetos » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:59 am

Here is the Liddell Scott definition of ἐγγίζω:

ἐγγίζω, aor. ἤγγισα Arist. (v. infr.): pf. ἤγγικα LXX Ez. 7.4(7), Ev.Matt. 3.2: (ἐγγύς):—Αbring near, bring up to, τῇ γῇ τὰς ναῦς Plb. 8.4.7; τὰ φιλήματα τοῖς χείλεσι Ach.Tat. 2.37; τινὰ πρός τινα LXX Ge. 48.10.
IImostly intr., approach, Arist. Mir. 845a20; τινί Plb. 18.4.1: c. gen., τῆς Αἰτωλίας Id. 4.62.5, etc.; πρὸς τὸν θεόν LXX Ex. 19.21; εἰς θάνατον ib.Jb. 33.22; ἕως ib.Si. 37.30(33); μέχρι θανάτου Ep.Phil. 2.30; to be imminent, ἤγγικεν ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Κυρίου Ep.Jac. 5.8: also, c. gen., approximate to, Phld. Herc. 1457.4.
2 to be next of kin, LXX Le. 21.3.

IIIc. inf., to be on the point of doing, ναοῦ -οντος συμπεσεῖν IG 12(1).1270.8 (Syme).

Quite often, the perfect can be translated with a present meaning, see Smyth:
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... thp%3D1946

1946. Perfect with Present Meaning.—When the perfect marks the enduring result rather than the completed act, it may often be translated by the present.

Aside from all that, I would consider the expressions "has drawn nigh (near)(close)", "is imminent", "is at hand", as virtually synonymous. If I remember correctly, in the King James version of the Bible, ἤγγικεν was translated as "draweth nigh" (draws near, in modern English). These days that expression is considered archaic, so more modern expressions have taken its place, such as "is imminent", "is at hand". I've only looked at a couple of translations, but it seems that this is a use of the perfect tense with a Present meaning.
I hope this answers your question. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty good at looking stuff up.

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Re: Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by jeidsath » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:28 pm

In Greek, the perfect is a primary tense, like the present or future, and not a secondary tense, like the aorist, imperfect, or pluperfect. It describes an existing state, not a past event.

I think that this use is simply the normal perfect, Smyth 1945, rather than Smyth 1946. Though there's not much difference.
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Re: Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by mwh » Fri Dec 14, 2018 11:13 pm

“The end is nigh” endures as the canonical translation (see Google images), and is forever topical (currently applied to Brexit and to the Trump presidency). To quote a Nobel prize winner, “Oh, Mama, can this really be the end?” Given the US’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change, I think it really can.

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Re: Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by jeidsath » Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:09 am

I can't find "the end is nigh" before 1883. Its only use with the verse in 1 Peter seems to be false archaizing in order to King James up the text a bit

Elsewhere the KJV has:

Luke 10:9 "The kingdome of God is come nigh vnto you" for Ἤγγικεν ἐφ' ὑμᾶς ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ

Luke 19:29 "And it came to passe when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethanie" for Καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἤγγισεν εἰς Βηθφαγὴ καὶ Βηθανίαν

James 5:8 "for the comming of the Lorde draweth nigh" for ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου ἤγγικεν

However for 1 Pe 4:7

"But the ende of all things is at hand" for Πάντων δὲ τὸ τέλος ἤγγικεν

(All Greek text from 1550 Textus Receptus and 1611 KJV)

***

Chaucer has "nigh" and "ny":

And that, shulde be my sorowes hertes leche,
Is me ageins, and maketh me swich werre,
That shortly, [in] al maner thought and speche,
Whether it be that I be nigh or ferre,
I misse the grace of you, my lode-sterre,
Which causeth me on you thus for to crye;
And al is it for lakke of remedye.

Aleyn answerde, 'I count him nat a flye;'
And up he rist, and by the wenche he crepte.
This wenche lay upright, and faste slepte,
Til he so ny was, er she mighte espye,
That it had been to late for to crye,
And shortly for to seyn, they were at on;
Now pley, Aleyn! for I wol speke of Iohn.
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Re: Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by mwh » Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:48 am

That’s as may be, but the archaism persists to the present day in this particular phrase, see the Google images for “the end is nigh” (some terrific images there). It’s become entrenched, even if often in a Monty Pythonesque kind of way. The online Oxford dictionary gives “The end is nigh!” as its only adjectival example of “nigh." Likewise the Cambridge English dictionary, and Wiktionary. And the top definition in the urban dictionary, usually the best source for contemporary slang, offers “Repent the end is extremely nigh"!

As for James’ no less presumptuous ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου ἤγγικεν, well, we are still waiting for Godot, but if he ever arrives he will be present.

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Re: Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by jeidsath » Sat Dec 15, 2018 5:00 am

Anyone interested in an adult discussion (as compared to most apologetics) of this problem should read Professor Jowett's essay on "On the Belief in the Coming of Christ in the Apostolic Age." It begins at pg. 108 of the link below. The section beginning on page 119 is especially good. He takes the "still waiting for Godot" criticism as something that should be patently obvious to thinking people, and not something to be explained away.

https://archive.org/details/a588536901j ... /page/n129

My personal favorite essay of Jowett's, one that was very famous and also infamous at the time, was his "On the Interpretation of Scripture" in Essays and Reviews. It begins pg. 330 at the following link. Again, I'd call him a proponent of an "adult Christianity," one that isn't interested in sweeping away difficulties and failings of scripture. And it's hard to imagine any Christian today of equivalent Greek scholarship.

https://archive.org/details/a578549600u ... /page/n341

***

I've also been reading some Jowett on Plato lately. The Unseens thread in the other forum made me realize that I was at a stage were I could read whole Plato dialogues without really doing much or any dictionary work, so long as I was prepared to read each paragraph 3-4 times, and after a few Burnet dialogues, I jumped into the Republic, turning to Jowett's notes in emergencies.
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Re: Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by Bernd Strauss » Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:30 pm

Thank you for the explanations. I can see that the word ἤγγικεν can be translated as “is at hand” in Jas 5:8; 1Pe 4:7 because the result of a completed action can be equivalent to an action in the present tense.

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Re: Translation of the Word ἤγγικεν at Jas 5:8 and 1Pe 4:7

Post by mwh » Tue Dec 18, 2018 7:14 pm

It can be translated “is at hand” (= “is nigh” = is imminent) because that’s what it means, not because it’s “equivalent to an action in the present tense.” Don’t try to explain Greek tense use until you’ve learnt Greek.

As for παρουσια, your obsession, think about what I said: “if he ever arrives he will be present.”

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