June 1 Gospel lection, John 17:1-10; Comments on the Greek text

Jn 17:1 Ταῦτα ἐλάλησεν Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἶπεν[A]· Πάτερ, ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα[B]· δόξασόν[C] σου τὸν υἱόν, ἵνα ὁ υἱὸς δοξάσῃ σέ, Jesus said these things, and having lifted up his eyes to heaven, he said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your son, so that the son may glorify you.
Jn 17:2 καθὼς ἔδωκας[D] αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν πάσης σαρκός, ἵνα πᾶν[E] ὃ δέδωκας αὐτῷ δώσῃ αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. Just as you gave him authority [over] all flesh, so that [with respect to] all that you have given to him, he might give to them eternal life.
Jn 17:3 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωὴ ἵνα[F] γινώσκωσι[G] σὲ τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν καὶ ὃν ἀπέστειλας Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and [the one] whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
Jn 17:4 ἐγώ σε ἐδόξασα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὸ ἔργον τελειώσας ὃ δέδωκάς μοι ἵνα ποιήσω· I glorified you on the earth, having completed the work which you have given me to do.
Jn 17:5 καὶ νῦν δόξασόν με σύ, πάτερ, παρὰ σεαυτῷ τῇ δόξῃ ᾗ εἶχον πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί.[H] And now, glorify me, Father, alongside yourself, with the glory that I had before the world was, alongside you.
Jn 17:6 Ἐφανέρωσά σου τὸ ὄνομα[I] τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οὓς ἔδωκάς μοι ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου. σοὶ ἦσαν κἀμοὶ αὐτοὺς ἔδωκας, καὶ τὸν λόγον σου τετήρηκαν. I manifested your name to the people whom you gave to me from the world.  They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Jn 17:7 νῦν ἔγνωκαν[J] ὅτι πάντα ὅσα δέδωκάς μοι παρὰ σοῦ εἰσιν· Now they have come to know that all [the] things which you have given to me are from you.
Jn 17:8 ὅτι τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἔδωκάς[K] μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔλαβον καὶ ἔγνωσαν ἀληθῶς ὅτι παρὰ σοῦ ἐξῆλθον, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν[L] ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας. Because the statements which you gave to me, I have given to them, and they received [them] and came to know truly that I came forth from you, and they believed that you sent me.
Jn 17:9 ἐγὼ περὶ αὐτῶν ἐρωτῶ· οὐ περὶ τοῦ κόσμου ἐρωτῶ ἀλλὰ περὶ ὧν δέδωκάς μοι, ὅτι σοί εἰσιν, I ask concerning them; I do not ask concerning the world, but concerning [those] whom you have given to me, because they are yours.
Jn 17:10 καὶ τὰ ἐμὰ πάντα σά ἐστιν καὶ τὰ σὰ ἐμά, καὶ δεδόξασμαι ἐν αὐτοῖς. And all that is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.
Jn 17:11 καὶ οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ[M], καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ εἰσίν, κἀγὼ πρὸς σὲ ἔρχομαι. πάτερ ἅγιε, τήρησον αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ᾧ[N] δέδωκάς μοι, ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν καθὼς ἡμεῖς. And I am no longer in the world, and [yet] they are in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, keep them in your name which you have given to me, in order that they may be one, just as we [are.]”

[A] Indicating the shift from direct address to prayer at this point.

[B] Forms a nice bookend with 2:4.  Surveying this word in john will yield some interesting results.

[C] This “glorification” of course, is the paradoxical “lifting up” of the Son of Man on the cross, as well as the resurrection.

[D] Aorist indicates a prior giving (in the incarnation?)

[E] Interesting shift from the neuter (encompassing more than persons) to the masculine gender later in the verse, focusing specifically on persons.  What God has given to Jesus encompasses more than persons alone.

[F] Could be epexegetical, as I have translated here (“that”), or one might translate it as a purpose clause, indicating the reason for eternal life:  “This is eternal life, so that they may know you, . . .”

[G] Present tense indicates not a one-time sort of knowing, but one that is ongoing and continuous.

[H] This verse, taken by itself, might suggest that the ascension is simply a return to a former state for the second person of the Trinity.  In a sense this is true, but it is also an exaltation, according to many texts, including some from John:  7:39; 12:16, etc.

[I] Why is the name manifested in particular, and what does this mean?  Hmmm . . . .

[J] Here “knowing” is in the perfect tense, indicating not ongoing learning, but a present and continuing state of understanding.

[K] Interesting to speculate on where in the Fourth Gospel such statements are given to Jesus, if at all in the gospel.

[L] Note that knowing and believing here are almost synonymous here (though that is not always true in John).

[M] Interesting collapsing of the narrative time of the story.  Jesus is no longer in the world, and yet he is about to undergo a very real death in the world!

[N] Lots of textual variants here, most of them not relevant to translation, except some ambiguity about whether the text is referring to the name which was given to Jesus, or the people who were given to Jesus.  The text as it is printed is the more likely, in my opinion.

May 25 2014 Gospel Lection John 14:15-21; Comments on the Greek Text

Jn 14:15 Ἐὰν ἀγαπᾶτέ[A] με, τὰς ἐντολὰς[B] τὰς ἐμὰς τηρήσετε[C]· If you love me, you will keep my commandments;
Jn 14:16 κἀγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἄλλον παράκλητον[D] δώσει ὑμῖν ἵνα ᾖ μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα[E], and I will ask the Father, and he will give to you another helper to be with you into the age,
Jn 14:17 τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, ὃ ὁ κόσμος οὐ δύναται λαβεῖν, ὅτι οὐ θεωρεῖ αὐτὸ οὐδὲ γινώσκει· ὑμεῖς γινώσκετε αὐτό, ὅτι παρ’ ὑμῖν μένει[F] καὶ ἐν[G] ὑμῖν ἔσται.[H] the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither perceives [him/her][I] nor knows [him/her].  You know [the helper] because [he/she] stays beside you and will be in/among you.
Jn 14:18 Οὐκ ἀφήσω ὑμᾶς ὀρφανούς, ἔρχομαι[J] πρὸς ὑμᾶς.[K] I will not leave you orphans; I am coming to you.
Jn 14:19 ἔτι μικρὸν καὶ ὁ κόσμος με οὐκέτι θεωρεῖ, ὑμεῖς δὲ θεωρεῖτέ[L] με, ὅτι ἐγὼ ζῶ καὶ ὑμεῖς ζήσετε.[M] Yet a little [while], and the world no longer perceives me, but you perceive me; because I am alive, you also will live.
Jn 14:20 ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ γνώσεσθε[N] ὑμεῖς ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρί μου καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν ὑμῖν. In that day, y’all will know that I am in my Father and you [are] in me and I [am] in/among you.
Jn 14:21 ὁ ἔχων τὰς ἐντολάς μου καὶ τηρῶν αὐτὰς ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαπῶν με·[O] ὁ δὲ ἀγαπῶν με ἀγαπηθήσεται ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός μου, κἀγὼ ἀγαπήσω αὐτὸν καὶ ἐμφανίσω αὐτῷ ἐμαυτόν. The one who has my commandments and keeps them—that is the one who loves me; and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and I will manifest myself to him.

[A] Note that this love is not a one-time event, but a persistent activity, signified by the present tense.

[B] Although this is plural (“commandments” cf.  14: 21, 15:10), there is only one commandment that Jesus explicitly gives in the fourth Gospel:  to love one another (13:34, 15:12f., 17).

[C] Other MSS have an imperative here (and a few an aorist subjunctive).  There’s not so much difference between the future and the subjunctive, and the imperative is in some tension with the next verse.  Not an easy call.

[D] Here is the (edited) BDAG definition, somewhat complex, which calls into question the commonly assumed “legal representative” understanding of this word:  (παρακαλέω) originally meant in the passive sense, ‘one who is called to someone’s aid’. Accordingly Latin writers commonly rendered it, in its NT occurrences, with ‘advocatus’. But the technical mng. ‘lawyer’, ‘attorney’ is rare.  In the few places where the word is found in pre-Christian and extra-Christian lit. as well it has for the most part a more general sense: one who appears in another’s behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper. The pass. idea of παρακεκλῆσθαι retreated into the backgound, and the active idea of παρακαλεῖν took its place. Jews adopted it in this sense as a loanw. The Gk. interpreters of John’s gosp. understood it in the active sense=παρακαλῶν. In our lit. the act. sense helper, intercessor is suitable in all occurrences of the word. Christ is designated as παράκλητος: παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιονwe have Jesus Christ the righteous one, who intercedes for us. The same title is implied for Christ by the ἄλλος παράκλητοςof J 14:16. It is only the Holy Spirit that is expressly called παρ.=Helper in the Fourth Gosp.: 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7.

[E] εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα is commonly translated “forever,” but this misses the eschatological connotation implicit in the phrase.

[F] In contrast to the next chapter, where the command is for us to abide/stay in and with Jesus, here the Paraclete abides/stays with us!  Divine action comes first, and is the basis for human response.

[G] When the preposition ἐν takes a plural object, it can mean either “in” or “among.”

[H] Cf. 20:22.

[I] The Greek is neuter, but “it” sounds too impersonal in English.

[J] The first of several present tenses with a futuristic tilt.

[K] It is striking how often in John the presence of the Spirit and the presence of Jesus are conflated.  It is not hard to see why the western church wanted to add the filioque clause!

[L] Cf. the same verb used with respect to the spirit two verses earlier.

[M] A very succinct statement of union with Christ!

[N] Here perception moves to knowledge.

[O] Note the inclusio with verse 15 at the beginning of this text.

May 11 2014 Gospel lection John 10:1-10; Comments on the Greek text

 

Jn 10:1 Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ μὴ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας εἰς τὴν αὐλὴν τῶν προβάτων ἀλλὰ ἀναβαίνων[A] ἀλλαχόθεν ἐκεῖνος κλέπτης ἐστὶν καὶ λῃστής· Amen, amen, I tell you, the one who does not enter through the gate into the courtyard of the sheep, but who goes up from another place—that one is a thief and a bandit.
Jn 10:2 ὁ δὲ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας ποιμήν ἐστιν τῶν προβάτων. But the one entering through the gate is [the] shepherd of the sheep.
Jn 10:3 τούτῳ ὁ θυρωρὸς ἀνοίγει, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα τῆς φωνῆς[B] αὐτοῦ ἀκούει καὶ τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα φωνεῖ κατ’ ὄνομα[C] καὶ ἐξάγει αὐτά. To this one the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice and he calls [his] own sheep by name and leads them out.
Jn 10:4 ὅταν τὰ ἴδια πάντα ἐκβάλῃ[D], ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν πορεύεται, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα αὐτῷ ἀκολουθεῖ, ὅτι οἴδασιν τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ· When he has driven out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.
Jn 10:5 ἀλλοτρίῳ δὲ οὐ μὴ[E] ἀκολουθήσουσιν ἀλλὰ φεύξονται ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι τῶν ἀλλοτρίων τὴν φωνήν. But they will surely not follow another, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of others.
Jn 10:6 ταύτην τὴν παροιμίαν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐκεῖνοι δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τίνα ἦν ἃ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς.[F] Jesus told this saying to them, but they didn’t know what it was that he was saying to them.
Jn 10:7 Εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα[G] τῶν προβάτων. Then again Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen I tell you, I am the gate of the sheep.
Jn 10:8 πάντες ὅσοι ἦλθον [πρὸ ἐμοῦ[H]] κλέπται εἰσὶν καὶ λῃσταί· ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἤκουσαν[I] αὐτῶν τὰ πρόβατα. All who came before me are thieves and bandits, but the sheep did not listen to them.
Jn 10:9 ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα· δι’ ἐμοῦ ἐάν τις εἰσέλθῃ σωθήσεται καὶ εἰσελεύσεται καὶ ἐξελεύσεται καὶ νομὴν εὑρήσει. I am the door; through me, if anyone enters [he or she] will be saved, and will go in and come out and find pasture.
Jn 10:10 ὁ κλέπτης οὐκ ἔρχεται εἰ μὴ ἵνα κλέψῃ καὶ θύσῃ καὶ ἀπολέσῃ· ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσιν καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν. The thief doesn’t come except to kill and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have [it] in abundance.

[A] More literally, “ascends,” recalling the recurring emphasis on John on Jesus as the one who “descends” from God, rather than ascending to God (cf. John 3:13; 6:33, 38, 41f., 50f., 58).  Metaphorically and in an expanded meaning, this “thief” who “ascends” from another place may refer to a revealer who does not “ascend” from the cross, in the way that Jesus would do, but pursues a self-preserving and enhancing path.  That’s why such a one is a thief.

[B]Remember that ἀκούω takes its object either in the accusative or in the genitive case.  When it takes the accusative, it speaks of “hearing about” in a more general way.  When it takes the genitive, it speaks of “hearing from” in a more direct way.  That’s what we see here.

[C] One of the most powerful images in Scripture is this sense of being called “by name” by God.

[D] A surprisingly strong verb—the same verb used when Jesus “drives out” demons.  Perhaps an allusion to the expulsion from the synagogue mentioned elsewhere in John (9:22, 12:42, 16:2)

[E] One would expect the aorist subjunctive after this οὐ μὴ construction, signifying emphatic future denial, and some MSS have this reading, but the more difficult reading (and thus the more likely original) is the future indicative—somewhat grammatically incorrect.

[F] Reinforcing the sense that there are multiple layers of meaning here, as I’ve tried to suggest in some of these notes.

[G] Now Jesus not only enters through the gate, but he is the gate!  Interesting morphing of the image.

[H] It is unclear whether “before me” was included in the original manuscript.  Was it deleted because it seemed to disparage all Old Testament revelation, or was it added to clarify an ambiguous sentence without it?  Hard to say—either solution is problematic.

[I] Or “the sheep did not hear them.”  Is the difference that they failed to speak comprehensibly to the sheep, or that the sheep refused to listen?  Hmm . . . .

Gospel Lection, April 27, 2014, John 20:19-31; Comments on the Greek text

Jn 20:19 Οὔσης οὖν ὀψίας τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ τῇ μιᾷ σαββάτων, καὶ τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων ὅπου ἦσαν οἱ μαθηταὶ διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων[A], ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν[B]. Then, when it was evening on that day, the first of the week, and the doors [were] locked where the disciples were, because of the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and says to them, “Peace to you!”
Jn 20:20 καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἔδειξεν τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῖς. ἐχάρησαν οὖν οἱ μαθηταὶ ἰδόντες τὸν κύριον. And having said this, he showed them  the hands and the side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
Jn 20:21 εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν· Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν· καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέν με ὁ πατήρ[C], κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you.  As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
Jn 20:22 καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐνεφύσησεν[D] καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον[E]· And having said this, he breathed on [them] and says to them, “Receive Holy Spirit.
Jn 20:23 ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε[F] τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἀφέωνται αὐτοῖς· ἄν τινων κρατῆτε κεκράτηνται. Whoever’s sins you forgive have been forgiven for them; whoever’s you hold have been held.”
Jn 20:24 Θωμᾶς δὲ εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα, ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος, οὐκ ἦν μετ’ αὐτῶν ὅτε ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς. But Thomas,  one of the twelve, the one called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
Jn 20:25 ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί· Ἑωράκαμεν τὸν κύριον. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω[G] τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω μου τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω[H]. Then the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and stick my finger into the mark of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will surely not believe.”
Jn 20:26 Καὶ μεθ’ ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ πάλιν ἦσαν ἔσω οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ Θωμᾶς μετ’ αὐτῶν. ἔρχεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων, καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ εἶπεν· Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. And after eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas [was] with them.  Jesus comes (the doors being shut) and stood in [their] midst and said “Peace to you.”
Jn 20:27 εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ· Φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου[I] ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός[J]. Then he says to Thomas, “Bring your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and stick [it] into my side, and stop being faithless, but [instead be] faithful.
Jn 20:28 ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου.[K] Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jn 20:29 λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ὅτι ἑώρακάς με πεπίστευκας; μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες.[L] Jesus says to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me?  Blessed [are] the ones who, not seeing, also have believed.”
Jn 20:30 Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄλλα σημεῖα ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐνώπιον τῶν μαθητῶν, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ·[M] So Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book;
Jn 20:31 ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύητε[N] ὅτι Ἰησοῦς[O] ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ. but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

 

 

[A] It’s worth doing a scan on the places where the phrase “fear of the Jews” shows up throughout John.  Some commentators suggest translating “Judeans” rather than “Jews,” since the whole gospel itself has a strongly Jewish tone, and the fear seems to be directed primarily toward the religious authorities (centered in Judea).

[B] A simple form of “Hello” in Aramaic.

[C] Another interesting study would be to explore all the earlier texts in John where the Father is said to have sent Jesus.  What exactly is it about the Father’s sending of Jesus that is replicated in the Son’s sending of the disciples?  That’s an important key to interpreting this text.  The immediate context suggest at least two dimensions:  The ministry of the disciples, like that of Jesus, is done in the power of the Holy Spirit, and involves the forgiveness of sins.

[D] It’s interesting that the one on whom Jesus breathes (them) is not explicitly mentioned in the text.  Perhaps because all of us are included in this “Johannine Pentecost”?

[E] The absence of the definite article leaves it unclear how “definite” or personalized this use of “Holy Spirit” is.

[F] Are we to envision any sort of sin here, or sins against the disciples in particular?  I would suggest that the latter is in view.  It is specifically when the disciples forgive their own enemies that they are acting like God, in the power of the Spirit.

[G] Literally “throw” my finger into the mark, etc.!

[H] οὐ μὴ + the aorist subjunctive = emphatic future denial!

[I] μὴ + a present imperative = stop doing an action already in process.

[J] The same word can mean either “faithful” or “believing.”  In john, the two are intimately related.

[K] Note that Thomas apparently doesn’t take Jesus up on the offer to actually put his finger in the wounds, or his hand in Jesus’ side.  Note that Thomas says this αὐτῷ, to him (i.e. to Jesus), and not as a general acclamation of faith in God.

[L] This includes, of course, all the readers of the gospel!

[M] An interesting acknowledgement on the part of the author that this gospel is selective in its recounting of the story.

[N] There’s a crucial textual variant here.  Is it the aorist “come to believe” or the present “continue to believe”?  Textual evidence is pretty evenly divided.  Some assume that the intended readership is centrally at stake here—either non-Christians, who are expected to “come to believe” (aorist) or existing Christians, who are invited to “continue to believe” (present).  But I think this may be overdrawn, and the envisioned audience may include both sorts of readers.  Consider the dual use of “believe” in John 4:50 and 53.  If he believed the first time, why the second mention?  But for John, believing is a never-ending journey, deeper and deeper into mystery.  That’s why I would differentiate too sharply between the present and the aorist here.

[O] Some commentators suggest that this verse should be rendered “that you may believe that the Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus,” assuming agreement on “Christ, Son of God” in a Jewish context, but focusing on identifying Jesus in this role.  The presence and absence of the definite articles favors such a reading, though this is not decisive, since the articles could be there because these are titles.  But I find it hard to believe that John assumes that his readers already know what “Christ” and “Son of God” mean, and simply have to link these categories to Jesus.  In fact, Nicodemus exclaims Jesus as “King of Israel” and Son of God” in 1:49, before he has seen much of anything!  There is far too much energy devoted in John to expanding and expounding on these terms to assume that the author takes them for granted and simply assumes his readers already understand them.