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Author Topic: Christ "is Ascended"?  (Read 1930 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: May 19, 2010, 02:59:23 AM »

Christ is Ascended!

This phrase has always struck me as a bit awkward, and perhaps this is only because of my own grammatical deficiencies, but it still does.

Does "ascend" simply lack a present tense in English, and is this why it seems so strange to me? It seems as though we should be saying either:

"Christ is Ascending!"

or

"Christ has Ascended!"

I suppose one could say the same of "Christ is Risen", that it should be "Christ has Risen" or "Christ is Rising", but for whatever reason the phrase "Christ is Risen" doesn't strike me as odd.

Keep in mind that all of my sense of proper grammar is innate; that is to say that I am abysmal delineating syntax and sentence structure using official grammatical terminology. I just always rely on what "sounds right." So all of you English buffs help me out here!
« Last Edit: May 19, 2010, 02:59:41 AM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
Basil 320
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2010, 05:45:59 AM »

I'm not the grammarian you may be looking for.  However, my thoughts are that the "Christ Is Ascended" terminology may be the Church's effort to demonstrate that everything we celebrate in our Life in Christ is presently occurring, rather than having happened in the past, and ending; ex. How many of our feast day hymns begin with "Today...?"  While He did ascend, His ascention remains current.  Admittedly, it may not be grammatically correct.  Likewise, with "Christ Is Risen."

Again, I'm not sure, but this type of grammar may be an English language phenomenon.  A Greek Orthodox priest once told me that "Christos Anesti," would be better translated as Christ has Risen.  I don't know for sure.
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2010, 06:52:34 AM »

A Greek Orthodox priest once told me that "Christos Anesti," would be better translated as Christ has Risen.  I don't know for sure.

Well...the most literal translation would probably be "Christ rose." "Anesti" is aorist, which is the simple past.

"Christ is risen" is an older English way of saying "Christ has risen" -- both in the present perfect tense -- the first being correct but archaic.

So, to the OP: It sounds strange because it hasn't been the typical way of forming the perfect tense in English for some centuries. It's the start of our very own katharevousa or Old Church Slavonic style ecclesiastical language!!
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2010, 08:34:16 AM »

Christ is Ascended!

This phrase has always struck me as a bit awkward, and perhaps this is only because of my own grammatical deficiencies, but it still does.

Does "ascend" simply lack a present tense in English, and is this why it seems so strange to me? It seems as though we should be saying either:

"Christ is Ascending!"

or

"Christ has Ascended!"

I suppose one could say the same of "Christ is Risen", that it should be "Christ has Risen" or "Christ is Rising", but for whatever reason the phrase "Christ is Risen" doesn't strike me as odd.

Keep in mind that all of my sense of proper grammar is innate; that is to say that I am abysmal delineating syntax and sentence structure using official grammatical terminology. I just always rely on what "sounds right." So all of you English buffs help me out here!
English, like German of today, used to use "to be" as the auxilliary of intransitive verbs (ones that don't have objects, e.g. to fall, to go, to stand...) and "to have" for transitive ones (ones that have objects, e.g. to see, to hit, to take).  Nothing more mysterious: if you go through the KJ you'll notice the usage.
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2010, 09:08:44 AM »

English, like German of today, used to use "to be" as the auxilliary of intransitive verbs (ones that don't have objects, e.g. to fall, to go, to stand...) and "to have" for transitive ones (ones that have objects, e.g. to see, to hit, to take).  Nothing more mysterious: if you go through the KJ you'll notice the usage.
Yes, that's exactly the case. French as well uses être instead of avoir to conjugate the past tenses of a specified list of intransitive verbs.

I do notice, however, in English as I understand and use it, a slight difference between "Christ is ascended" and "Christ has ascended". The former shifts the emphasis to the present reality, whereas the latter emphasizes a bit more the verbal aspect. Neither one is really wrong, and in fact, it would be difficult to express that nuance in French, for example.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2010, 09:09:12 AM by genesisone » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2010, 10:46:59 AM »

In English, the perfect (completed action) tense can also be relayed by a present tense verb.  For example, if we say "I have arrived now", it is clearly a completed action that has only been realized in the present tense.  It is strange, but I've also seen it in Latin as well as in Greek.  As pensateomnia has already pointed out the Greek aorist is the most simple form of the verb.  There used to be (a long time ago) an aorist for every tense.  The aorist represents an aspect of duration of time.  We don't have any such component in English which not only accounts for the whole mess of translations out there but also for how they appear to differ in grammatical content.
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