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 Post subject: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:12 pm 
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So I am trying to put together a translation of St. Jerome's Gospel of Matthew to: a) give myself a deeper understanding of Latin and b) acquire a deeper knowledge of scripture in the meantime.

Yet this portion of the text, which occurs after Christ is baptized in the Jordan river, has really caught my attention:

Ecce vox de caelis dicens: "Hic est filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi complacui."

I understand that it should read "This is my beloved son, in whom I am pleased." Yet Jerome says "complacui," which is a first person perfect. So should that not be "I was pleased"?

Is there another way to utilize the perfect that I am not aware of?

Thanks

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:16 pm 
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It would never be "was" with an perfect.

Some verbs in Latin have English present text meanings when the Latin verb is in the perfect tense. For example, "nosco" in the present tense is "I learn," but "novi" in the perfect is "I know." I don't know off the top off my head if complacere is such a verb, but it could well be.

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:59 pm 
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BlessedKarl wrote:
So I am trying to put together a translation of St. Jerome's Gospel of Matthew to: a) give myself a deeper understanding of Latin and b) acquire a deeper knowledge of scripture in the meantime.

Yet this portion of the text, which occurs after Christ is baptized in the Jordan river, has really caught my attention:

Ecce vox de caelis dicens: "Hic est filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi complacui."

I understand that it should read "This is my beloved son, in whom I am pleased." Yet Jerome says "complacui," which is a first person perfect. So should that not be "I was pleased"?

Is there another way to utilize the perfect that I am not aware of?

Thanks

Complaceo in the perfect has the sense of "very pleased" Hence the Douai renders it "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" with well being the intensifier

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:01 am 
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BlessedKarl wrote:
So I am trying to put together a translation of St. Jerome's Gospel of Matthew to: a) give myself a deeper understanding of Latin and b) acquire a deeper knowledge of scripture in the meantime.

Yet this portion of the text, which occurs after Christ is baptized in the Jordan river, has really caught my attention:

Ecce vox de caelis dicens: "Hic est filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi complacui."

I understand that it should read "This is my beloved son, in whom I am pleased." Yet Jerome says "complacui," which is a first person perfect. So should that not be "I was pleased"?

Is there another way to utilize the perfect that I am not aware of?

Thanks


There's tense and then there's aspect. Tense tells you about the time of the action relative to you speaking now. So the past tense in English tells you that something occurred before this moment when I'm speaking about it. Aspect tells you how the action is perceived. Aspect is what differentiates 'I cried' from 'I burst into tears'. One tells you about crying, possibly over a long period of time. The other tells you about the moment that the crying started.

The perfect tense in Latin is an amalgation of tense and aspect. Sometimes it's a plain old past tense. Sometimes it expresses the perfect aspect. The perfect aspect means that something happened in the past, and it has a continuing relevance into the present. Moritus sum can mean I died and I am dead. You have to differentiate the two by context.

In this case, I think it's important to note that the present tense est as opposed to fui was used in the previous clause. If fui was used, it'd be very easy to interpret it the other way: this was my son, with whom I was well pleased. The context suggests to me that complacui should be interpreted in its perfect aspect. That is, complacui really means: I was pleased in him in the past, and I continue to be pleased with him in the present.

The Greek to me is way more troubling, I think you could (should?) read it as 'with whom I was well pleased', but that's besides the point.

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:56 am 
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nooj explained the grammar behind what I asserted.

You could render it "This is my beloved son, in whom I have been pleased" I think it is clear that implies He still is please. As when your Father says "You have made me proud" as opposed to "I was proud in you" the former implies a continuance, the latter that he no longer is.

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:00 am 
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Sorry for it taking me so long to respond everyone.

Alright, so I would first like to thank everyone for their generous responses. I really appreciate the well-thought out comments I have received.

I want to ask some questions on the perfect.

I was told that the perfect tense is for when you are saying stuff like "I drove" or "I ran." The imperfect, on the other hand, is about saying stuff like "I was running" or "I was walking." Are you all saying that this distinction I was taught is incorrect and the the perfect is not,in fact, about saying something that definitively happened in the past?

Thank you all very much. I really appreciate this as I would like to have a deep knowledge of the Latin language.

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:06 am 
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I would be careful tying the perfect tense down that tightly, though the imperfect is pretty much used the way you say it is. In the case of the passage you originally mentioned, though, it's more a matter of the meaning of the verb when brought into English.

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:03 pm 
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BlessedKarl wrote:
I was told that the perfect tense is for when you are saying stuff like "I drove" or "I ran." The imperfect, on the other hand, is about saying stuff like "I was running" or "I was walking." Are you all saying that this distinction I was taught is incorrect and the the perfect is not,in fact, about saying something that definitively happened in the past?


No, what you've been told is right.

The Latin perfect tense does mostly refer to the past. Originally it was actually a merger of two aspects, the aorist and perfect. The aorist simply refers to the past, and is a one-off thing. The perfect referred to what happened in the past but still has continuing relevance in the present. Most of the time in Latin it is the aorist part that shows through, but the old perfect sense still exists.

Most obvious is with verbs like odi and memini. They're actually perfect in form. In fact, only perfect forms exist for them, but they have a present meaning. Not 'I hated' or 'I remembered', but 'I hate' and 'I remember'. But every verb can act like this. feci can mean I have made (perfect) and I made (aorist, straightforward past tense).

Another example:

1) cur non possum videre pecora? Why can't I see the flocks?
iam egi pecora in valle. I've already driven the flocks into the valley.

2) quo pecora egisti? Where did you drive the flocks?
egi pecora in valle. I drove the flocks into the valley.

Number 2 shows only the aorist aspect of the perfect tense, it doesn't say anything at all about the present state of the flocks. The shepherd's just saying what he did in the past. But if someone was asking him where the the cattle were now or why he couldn't see them at this present moment, the shepherd would answer with the perfect aspect of the perfect tense. That would be number 1. Same verb, different context.

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:16 pm 
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Quote:
The aorist simply refers to the past, and is a one-off thing.

If I read this one more time, I will scream. :fyi: it usually does that, but not universally. One of the hallmarks of an apologist who doesn't know Greek trying to make an argument concerning Greek is the statement that the aorist is always punctiliar. I realize you were trying to speak simply, but that is still a hot-button point for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 6:21 am 
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Forgive me Obi-Wan. My Latin teacher is probably shaking his head in disapproval right this minute.

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 Post subject: Re: Confused about how St. Jerome uses the perfect in this sente
PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:49 am 
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BlessedKarl wrote:
I understand that it should read "This is my beloved son, in whom I am pleased." Yet Jerome says "complacui," which is a first person perfect. So should that not be "I was pleased"?
I don't know latin, but in greek a perfect (at least normally )denotes a past action with (still) lasting consequences. Therefore it seems, at least idiomatically, that "in whom I am pleased" is a correct translation. One could perhaps say, "in whom I was/have been and still am pleased"

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