Evidence That The Perfect Tense In John 20:23 And Matthew 16:19 Is Mistranslated -- By: Julius R. Mantey

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 16:3 (Summer 1973)
Article: Evidence That The Perfect Tense In John 20:23 And Matthew 16:19 Is Mistranslated
Author: Julius R. Mantey


Evidence That The Perfect Tense In John 20:23 And Matthew 16:19 Is Mistranslated

Julius R. Mantey*

The perfect tense is the most difficult of Greek tenses to understand and to interpret. That is true chiefly due to the fact that it has been explained as being a combination of the two tenses, the aorist and the present. Burton, in his Moods and Tenses, gave this description of it: “It implies a past action and affirms an existing result.”1 A. T. Robertson quotes Gildersleeve as saying, “It expresses the continuance of completed action.”2 In every comprehensive Greek grammar that dual function is mentioned. It is to be found in Kuhner, Blass-Debrunner, Smyth, Hadley and Allen, Goodwin, Moulton et al. Disagreement among interpreters of the New Testament arises when one does not give due consideration to the dual function of the perfect, ignoring either its past action or its present results.

Two articles on the interpretation of Matthew 16:19; 18:18; and John 20:23 appeared in the Journal of Biblical Literature, LVIII (Sept., 1939).3 Dr. Henry Cadbury of Harvard disagreed with my insistence on translating a perfect as portraying past action as well as present results. He advocated translating it as future in the above verses, overlooking the primary and basic function of past action in the perfect tense. He said, “In the three passages the simple future seems to me as adequate as any simple English translation can be.”4

Research on the part of many during the past forty years has thrown much new light upon the interpretation of the above New Testament passages.

Dr. Wilber Thomas Dayton, President of Houghton College, wrote

The author of this article is a Greek grammarian who has taught Greek for forty years. He lives at 414 Palmetto Road, New Port Riehey, Florida 33552. While working for the Th.D. degree, he majored in Greek grammax under Dr. A. T. Robertson, the famous Greek grammarian. Dr. Mantey and Dr. H. E. Dana, aware of the need for a comprehensive grammar of moderate length, produced the Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament in 1927. This volume has gone through numerous printings and is used in Greek classes around the world today.

his Th.D. dissertation on “The Greek Perfect Tense in Relation to John 20...

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