Difference between revisions of "Talk:John 1-7 (Translated)"

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(The current translation of "ὥρα" is "hour", but I feel that the context suggests that it should be "time" or "moment" in order to obtain greater precision.)
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By itself it is not more impersonal than "word" (by the way, It would be nice to know to whom I am speaking. You forgot to sign - makes it moe personal). But for the Bible reader, for the one who knows the whole story, "word" probably is personal as His name is called "the Word of God". Probably!  [[User:BertSchlossberg|Bert Schlossberg]] 00:14, 14 November 2009 (EST)
By itself it is not more impersonal than "word" (by the way, It would be nice to know to whom I am speaking. You forgot to sign - makes it moe personal). But for the Bible reader, for the one who knows the whole story, "word" probably is personal as His name is called "the Word of God". Probably!  [[User:BertSchlossberg|Bert Schlossberg]] 00:14, 14 November 2009 (EST)
== Issue with translation of John 4:52 ==
== Issue with translation of John 4:53 ==
The current translation of "ὥρα" is "hour", but I feel that the context suggests that it should be "time" or "moment" in order to obtain greater precision.  An hour has no significance here; the speaker wants to know if the illness was cured at the moment Jesus said it was.  Using "hour" (and also "about") seems to introduce an imprecision that is not suggested by the context.  Thanks for considering this.--[[User:Aschlafly|Andy Schlafly]] 21:54, 28 November 2009 (EST)
The current translation of "ὥρα" is "hour", but I feel that the context suggests that it should be "time" or "moment" in order to obtain greater precision.  An hour has no significance here; the speaker wants to know if the illness was cured at the moment Jesus said it was.  Using "hour" (and also "about") seems to introduce an imprecision that is not suggested by the context.  Thanks for considering this.--[[User:Aschlafly|Andy Schlafly]] 21:54, 28 November 2009 (EST)

Revision as of 02:55, 29 November 2009

The Gospel According to John

TerryH and Aschlafly have asked me to take charge of the translation of the Gospel of John. For those who do not know me (which is pretty much all of you), here is a brief introduction (I've not yet had time to introduce myself on my User page). I first learned classical Greek back in 1980 in college, where I took an intensive course in Attic Greek. Not too long after that, I expanded that to include Koine (the dialect of the NT) Greek, which is in the Attic family. I have taught introductory courses in Biblical Greek (one year and two year courses) on several occasions, and have continued to study the latest research and thought on Greek translation in the almost 30 years since I first learned the language. I have also had the opportunity to read portions of some of the oldest manuscripts of the NT in existence, including P66, P77, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, and several others (from high resolution photographs of the originals, not the originals themselves). I have kept very abreast of the latest in NT textual research, and I am very well versed in most of the arguments concerning disputed sections of scripture. I have my own opinions on each of these which I will explain in the appropriate places as I reach those sections while translating.

As to this translation, the first three chapters were already completed when I arrived, so I have edited them according to my understanding of the text, and as soon as that is completed, I will begin new translation starting in chapter four. Most of the comments I have made on this page relating to the first chapter were prior to being asked to handle the translation of the rest of the book. Keep in mind that I have spent the majority of my life acting as a translation commentator, rather than a strict translator. In other words, I usually have had the luxury of taking as much space as I need to explain the meaning of the Greek. A translator, however, must be concise and succinct, which places a limitation on my "translation" that is somewhat new to me.

In keeping with my "commentator" tendencies, however, I will keep a running account of my reasoning and the occasional expanded explanation of the text in the Analysis section, as well as on this talk page.

Anyone who has questions about anything I have translated, or comments on the text itself, is encouraged to jump in on the talk page, or on my User page, and express your ideas, information or opinions. This is an open forum for all users, so please feel free to contribute. Keep in mind, however, that I have no interest whatsoever in personal attacks or snide remarks. My comments will always be professional and on the topic, and I ask that all of you do the same. Grace and peace to all of you, and I pray that the Lord uses this to minister to each and every one of you. Michael Back 1:41, 20 October 2009 (EDT)

Wow, that's extremely impressive, Michael. You're a godsend.--Andy Schlafly 16:30, 23 October 2009 (EDT)

Logos = the Word

There really shouldn't be much of a debate over using "Truth" or "Word" in John 1:1. In the Greek text, the word logos is used, which refers to something being said. Hence "Word" is better than "Truth". Also, truth in Greek is aletheia, and that word is not in the text.

I do not think word or truth are all that great. Both fail to capture the connotation in λόγος of that which is being spoken of, mandate, law decree. Word is one literal translation of λόγος but without the idiomatic meaning people may or may not actually derive from John 1:1 it's still just a literal translation. Truth does not even weakly refer to that which is being spoken of except to editorialize by making a judgment (calling the mandate a truth, which of course it is but this doesn't capture the meaning of the words in Greek). Word is fine if you want to be a literalist about it because that is literally what λόγος means. But if you want some poetry in a Bible that's accurate and a pleasure to read, you could refer to the λόγος being a causal necessity, mandate, law, etc. because what I take John 1:1 to be saying very beautifully is that God was always there, even at the beginning and that it couldn't have been any other way. Cambrian 11:15, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
This is a fascinating dilemma. The unsigned first comment above fails to address how the term "word" is diluted in modern English. But the second comment above seems to downplay be the strong commonality between λόγος and the modern meaning of Truth. Still, I agree we should search for a better term.--Andy Schlafly 11:23, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
Truth doesn't seem to be an apt term here though, logos as word here is more of a ordering, rational force, which makes sense given the audience that John was writing this gospel for. To translate it as truth doesn't do justice to what logos fully means. Aletheia, a word for truth is a truth of disclosure, something 'exposes' itself to be true to one. Heidegger uses this idea to great effect in his 'Intro to Metaphysics.' Truth for the Greeks wouldn't have been logos. I prefer the translation of logos=reason or ordering force.--Rcgallup 11:39, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
There is no Greek word for "Truth" with a capital "T". "λόγος" is probably the closest substitute John could find. As to "reason" or "ordering force," they seem to lack the spiritual side, which Truth captures better.--Andy Schlafly 11:43, 16 October 2009 (EDT)

I can really see, looking at this whole discussion, why James Moffatt in his translation chose NOT to translate Logos. He simply wrote "In the beginning was the Logos..." However, that's really not a very good solution. I never liked (and still don't like) "Truth" as a translation for Logos. However, I have to admit, "Living Word" is really growing on me! One problem way too many people have when they read "Word" is that they immediately think of a written word, which Logos is clearly not. Thus, the famous Reina-Valera translation in Spanish translates Logos as "el Verbo," the Verb, the active word. But clearly, since Logos is referring to Jesus Christ, "Living Word" really kind of captures the idea that this is a Person, specifically a Person of the Holy Trinity.--Cory Howell 16:11, 22 October 2009 (EDT)

"Living Word" for "λόγος" is really growing on me also. Truth has too much of a harsh edge to it in modern English, while "Living Word" has more of a dynamic, healing quality. Let's go with it!

Truth or word

While I agree "truth" has too narrow a meaning, at first glance, it may serve the purpose well when explained properly. Sadly, many Christians believe that "word" refers to the Bible itself, rather than the deep concept of logos. Is there a better term than either? Message? DouglasA 22:12, 26 August 2009 (EDT)

I'm not a Greek scholar, but λογος, as I understand it, had an enormous range of implications in first century Greek, deeply rooted in a Greek culture which held all reality to be logical and ordered, and flowing from logic and order. While truth is being used now, I think we would be hard pressed to find a single word which encompasses all the meaning and implications of λογος. The question we must ask ourselves, is how much of the beauty of the first passage(s) of John are we willing sacrifice to give a completely accurate translation? If we don't care at all for the prose, perhaps John 1:1 might better read, "In the beginning was truth, reason, wisdom, and harmony, and all this was with God for this is what God is." A suggestion. JacobB 17:10, 1 October 2009 (EDT)
Whoops, sorry for putting the comment Re 1:9 in the wrong place. Feel free to just delete it if you want. --MarkGall 17:28, 1 October 2009 (EDT)
The more foundational question that needs to be decided here is whether this is going to be a dynamic paraphrase, or a strict translation. In other words, are we attempting to relate what the Greek actually SAYS, or are we attempting to explain what we believe it MEANS? If this is a strict translation, then using "truth" in John 1:1 is not an option, as the word "aletheia" does not appear in that verse. Like it or not, we are stuck with legitimate translations of logos: "word, message, reason, communication, thought, etc." If, however, this is more of a dynamic paraphrase, then we are not restricted by what the Greek actually says, and are free to use whatever words we need to "explain" what the Greek means. In that case, we can describe the force and meaning of logos in our "translation." As it stands right now, this is something of an odd cross between a translation and a paraphrase. So we need a philosophy of translation that goes beyond "conservative" and guides us in how strict or loose we are allowed to be in this re-translation. That alone would settle many of these translation disputes. Michael Back
We're doing a "thought-for-thought" translation. That's not a paraphrase, but that's not tied down by literalism either.
That said, I'm not entirely comfortable with "truth", as it has harsh connotations that are contrary to forgiveness. "Word" does have advantages, but it is so diluted. This debate may continue on.--Andy Schlafly 22:06, 15 October 2009 (EDT)
Commenting further on this, an imprecision is introduced in the Greek when John chose the best word available to him for what he wanted to say (which would not necessarily be perfect), and then on the English side we have dictionaries for translating that word which become quickly out of date as meanings shift. The meaning of "word" today is not the same as 20 years ago, and certainly not the same as 400 years ago. Today "word" makes one think of one solitary word that someone might type into a computer or send on twitter or texting. Pre-computers, "word" didn't mean that in English, and 400 years ago it probably had an entirely different connotation.
A collaborative, wiki-based approach is very sell suited to reducing and eliminating these imprecisions, as many people can analyze both the Greek and the English in an effort to communicate the original intent.--Andy Schlafly 19:32, 17 October 2009 (EDT)
I've been struggling with this for quite some time (long before I learned of this project). The fundamental problem here is that English simply does not have a word that comes anywhere close to the way John is using logos in this context. His usage directly challenged the Greek concept of logos (by making it PERSONAL - the logos itself created, and was both WITH God and WAS God), meaning that he was, in effect, giving it a brand new meaning BASED upon the Greek definition. So here is what we have: the logos starts as a Greek term referring to all that can be thought and communicated, and was, in ideal form, equated with "the contents, thoughts and communications of a god." The idea being that any true thing that could be learned, communicated, acted upon, written, or discovered, the gods already knew. John took this one step further with "ο λογος ην προς τον θεον," which is a nonsense statement. How could the logos NOT be with (or in agreement with) god if it is in his mind? But John repeats this in verse two, making it clear that this was no accident. THEN he goes one step further and makes it clear he intends for this logos to be taken personally by the use of houtos in verse two, and by attributing creation directly to the logos in verse three. This logos was much more than the logos of the Greeks, it was ALIVE and POWERFUL in its own right. Further, it somehow was both GOD and WITH God at the same time. Then John slams the lid on his new definition with verse 14, where the logos becomes FLESH (sarx). Absolutely IMPOSSIBLE according to the Greek understanding of this word. Likewise, impossible to relate with any current word in the English dictionary. So, there is no possible way that we will ever find an English word that can relate what John meant with logos. The most we can ever hope for is a rough approximation that might capture a hint of what logos is. Every suggestion will be lacking in some way. Traditionally, logos has been translated with "word," which was ALWAYS lacking, and is even more so now, for all the reasons we have seen. But frankly, "word" is no worse than "message," "Truth," "logic," "reason," or any other option, all for different reasons, of course.
With all of this in mind, I have opted for a different "combination" translation. This mixes the traditional translation with John's radical new concept of a living, personal logos. I believe it solves the problems presented by modern understandings of the meaning of "word" while preserving John's core intent, will be an interesting take for new believers, and keeping it recognizable to those who have been in the faith for a long time. It is not perfect by any means (as I said, I do not believe there is a perfect choice), but I would like all of you who are reading and participating in this to take a few days and dwell on it. I'm not claiming that this settles the discussion; far from it, I hope it moves it forward. My suggestion is "living Word." Michael Back 8:01, 17 October 2009 (EDT)
I like "living Word" very, very much. That may well be the optimal choice.
In the meantime I stumbled across John 17:17, where he says: "ἁγίασον αὐτοὺς ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ: ὁ λόγος ὁ σὸς ἀλήθειά ἐστιν." This seems to support the "Truth" interpretation of "λόγος". Most translate the second half as "your word is the truth," but I wonder if a more straightforward translation would be "your truth is the word." The latter translation would serve as John's own redefinition of "λόγος" as "Truth".--Andy Schlafly 20:18, 17 October 2009 (EDT)
The best translation here would be "Your word is Truth" (since you could give aletheia the article and still preserve the subject-predicate identification), keeping in mind that the absence of the article here does NOT mean "a lesser truth." "Your truth is the word" is not an option for the following reason: In a predicate phrase where one noun has the article and the other does not, the subject is the noun with the article, and the predicate is the noun without the article. The word order in John 17:17 is more or less neutral word order, with no particular emphasis.
John 1:1, for example, reads "θεος ην ο λογος," and since logos has the article while theos does not, it can only be translated "the Living Word was God," not "God was the Living Word." The order reversal is to place extra emphasis on "God" so that no one thinks it means "a god," while making it subtly distinct from "ton theon" in the previous clause. Thus, this construction says that the logos is THEOS (the emphasis tells us the logos is FULLY God), but is somehow different from "ton theon" (the Father). By giving the article to logos without giving it to theos, logos is preserved as the subject and theos can be moved forward for emphasis. BTW, if both nouns have the article, the rule is that the first one is the subject and the second is the predicate.
Manipulating word order and the articles in John 1:1 would lead to subtly different meanings of that last clause:
ο λογος ο θεος ην = The Living word is The God (Jesus and the Father are the SAME individual - Sabellianism)
ο λογος θεος ην = Although not manditory, this one "could" be interpreted as "The Living Word was a god." (less than the Father - Arianism)
However, θεος ην ο λογος in the context of the first two clauses can ONLY mean that the Living Word, Jesus, is fully and completely God, but is somehow different from the Father (thus, the Trinity). Michael Back 12:33, 18 October 2009 (EDT)
Wow, thanks for the insights. I'll change John 17:17 back as you say.--Andy Schlafly 07:59, 20 October 2009 (EDT)

After reading what Michael Back had to say about the logos, and doing some research, I have to wonder if John's is a gospel or a philosophical tract. Saying that John took the Greek concept of the logos, challenged it, and gave it a new meaning, would make it seem like a philosophical tract. All the attempts here to define logos mirrors a very old discourse. From reading Karl Jaspers' discussion of Heraclitus in his book on the great philosophers, logos "can neither be translated into any other term nor defined as a concept". "Logos can signify: word, discourse, content of discourse, meaning; reason, truth; law; even Being." Edward Hussey in his book on the Presocratics, states that by the time Heraclitus (b. 540 BC) really began using logos in his philosophy, "the sense of 'reason' or 'reasoning' appears to be well established" for the meaning of logos. And it would seem that logos was used in reference to "divine law" or the law of the universe. It also appears that the logos was the means by which God - since the mid sixth century BC, perhaps starting with Xenophanes, the idea of one God became known, from which the idea of the logos originated - brought order to the kosmos. The Stoics defined the logos in the same way. And for Philo, the logos "denotes the Thought of God expressed in a form that is, at least indirectly, accessible to men and knowable by them". (From Ronald Williamson's book on Philo, p. 105) So if John extended the meaning of logos, then this was in a long line of philosophers who struggled with the term and its meaning. If John then applied his understanding of the logos to Jesus, then we would have to wonder if equating the logos with Jesus is a true depiction, or a representation of his philosophizing. - Danielitld

LOL. Very good observations. And my answer is that it was BOTH a philosophical tract and a gospel, which is what the gospel has to be when it enters a new culture. The topics he directly tackles (and his tendency to explain Jewish customs) shows that John wrote his gospel specifically aimed at a Gentile/Greek audience, and that he understood he would have to address some fundamental Greek philosophical ideas in order for them to truly understand and believe the gospel. Of course, the genius of his work is that as a whole, it was just a radically challenging to Jewish philosophical and theological ideas as it was to those of the Greeks.
As for the logos, John was using a concept the Greeks had that the Jews didn't even have to help the Greeks better understand who and what Jesus was. Is this EXACTLY who Jesus is? Given that it is a human concept, I highly doubt it. It could be the closest we humans can come, or it could simply be the best concept the Greek language has to offer. Ultimately, this is about communication, and this explanation would help Greeks grasp who Jesus was a little better, but it would only be marginally helpful to Jews (as it is only marginally helpful to most Americans). So asking if this was "a true depiction or just John philosophizing" is missing the point. This is the closest Greek concept to what what the eternal God who became flesh really is that their culture had to offer. In another culture, a completely different philosophical or religious concept might better help them understand God. The truth is that ALL human concepts fall woefully short of capturing the full essence of who God is, so human approximations (like logos) are all we have. Michael Back 2:29, 23 October 2009 (EDT)
Wow, thanks for the insightful analysis. I like the use of "Living Word" as it is, but wonder if it is a bit too repetitious (three times in the first sentence). Would some variety help, as in:
In the beginning was the Living Word, and this Word was with God, and this Truth was God.
I only suggest this as way of possibly sparking further improvements in this all-important sentence.--Andy Schlafly 16:48, 23 October 2009 (EDT)
Better yet for λογος: In the beginning was the Living Word, and its logic was with God, and this Truth was God.
By using three different terms for λογος, repetition is avoided and the meaning is more completely conveyed. This also comports with the redefinition of λογος in John 17:17.--Andy Schlafly 22:56, 23 October 2009 (EDT)
I respect your interest in improving this verse, but there are several reasons I do not think it is in our interest to attempt to improve on the KJV translation. First, the verse has become idiomatic in the English language. It's a pure classic, and it very much adequately conveys the idea of logos and provides a rich use of logos in the verse. Second, attempting to avoid repetition in a verse that uses the same word in the same sense (as I read it in Greek) is wrong. Logos simply does not convincingly translate to logic, living word, or truth. There is no possessive to the object of was in the second stanza. It's not in the Greek. Logos does not translate to living word either - it means literally assertion, gesture, or statement. Neither does logos translate to truth - it only refers to the product of the power of speech, resolution, conditioning, or commanding and does not editorialize the significance of the message. So I think the best translation is as the KJV found it because it leaves the English speaking reader with a richness inherent in the ambiguity of the meaning of logos, which is inherent in that word in English, and conveys the poetry and whatever the poetic conceit is (is it almost like alliteration but when you use the same word multiple times?) in the Greek. The beauty of the use of logos in this verse is that it conveys something entirely different than something as simple as truth, living word, or logic. God literally made the motivating gesture of the universe. Thus, in the beginning was that which always was and always will be - it is and was God's gesture of creation. It was with God. It was God. God is the beginning and the end. It's elementary. Cambrian 00:30, 24 October 2009 (EDT)
We'll see what others say, but I don't find either your first or second point logical. Idioms and the meaning of words change over 400 years. Just because a Greek word is used repetitively, it does not mean the English translation is identical in every context. The context does matter.--Andy Schlafly 00:38, 24 October 2009 (EDT)
I agree that idioms and meanings change over the years, but I believe that the important focus is translating the words of the Bible as they are written into language that is consistent with the meanings that the authors of those words intended and would have understood. If a idiom presents itself as sensible to our understanding as 21st century Americans, that says nothing about the meaning ascribed to the idiom by a 1st century Jew writing in Greek. I respectfully disagree with your objections to my thoughts. Cambrian 01:03, 24 October 2009 (EDT)
I just realized that I am not being as helpful as I could: my suggestion is merely that the term logos should be translated consistently throughout the verse and that its meaning is best captured by a word or phrase that speaks to the creative gesture that God made in the Beginning. I would propose: "In the beginning was God's will, and God's will was with God, and God's will was God." Cambrian 01:14, 24 October 2009 (EDT)


The entire purpose of verse two is emphasis, and some of that is lost in this translation. "All this" is not the best translation to relate the force of "houtos" in this construction. In verse 2 "houtos" is serving as an emphatic form of "autos," placing extra emphasis on "this SAME individual..." The purpose here is to emphasize the personal nature of the logos in verse one. "This same one," or even "this very same one" or something like that would be better. As it stands now, "all this" does exactly the opposite of what the Greek is attempting to relate: it DE-PERSONALIZES the logos from verse one, which is actually a more "liberal" approach to this verse. Michael Back 12:08, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

You're a genius, Mback! Changed as suggested.--Andy Schlafly 22:09, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


P66 has "outen" (nothing) in this verse while P75 has "oute hen" (not one thing), which is simply a more emphatic form of "outen." Our translation suggests we are going with the Greek in P75 (wise choice, given that p66 has 5 times as many copy errors as p75), and if that is the case, we should keep the emphatic nature of the words found there. "Not one thing" or "not one single thing" relates the emphatic force of the Greek much better than "no thing." The repetition of "ginomai" is also a function of emphasis, but, again, depending on how strict we are going to be, we probably can get away with dropping the last "that has been made" in this verse, as this translation does. Michael Back 12:21, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

Mback, you're obviously brilliant, knowledgeable and meticulous. I made your change here but please feel free to edit any of the translations directly yourself, along with your highly informative comments!--Andy Schlafly 22:13, 15 October 2009 (EDT)
Wow. I am humbled and honored by your words and confidence. I promise you that anything I do will be done prayerfully and with full consideration to the thoughts and ideas of everyone contributing. Thank you, sir. Michael Back 8:25, 16 October 2009 (EDT)


I don't see any reason why we can't do a better job of distinguishing between "dzoe" and "bios." How about something like, "He was the source of real life..." or "Real life was found only in Him, and ..."? Michael Back 12:43, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


While this verse definitely has many different modern translations, "snuff it out" is an idiom, not a defined "dictionary" word. That phrase gives this a strong "Message paraphrase" feel, as opposed to a more scholarly, exacting translation. Is that what we want? I have no problem with idioms, but in a strict translation, you usually limit the use of idioms in English to places where idioms occur in the Greek (which, admittedly, is fairly common). Michael Back 12:52, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

Interesting point. Thanks. I'll check out your other suggestions also.--Andy Schlafly 12:34, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


Note that the use of "houtos" in this verse is similar to how John uses it in verse two. John uses it as a more emphatic form of "autos," emphasizing that "this SAME John who was just mentioned in the previous sentence" is the one being referenced here. Michael Back 1:16, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


"Animates" is not a good translation of photidzo, but it is a marginally adequate paraphrase, if we are OK with the fact that it changes the flow of John's argument. Strictly speaking, in modern English "animates" references "giving life to" or "bringing to life." The problem is that our translation takes the REVERSE meaning of verse four, which tells us that the real life He had within Him gave light to men. The current translation of this verse reverses that, and says the light from Him gives life. We could argue that this is still a true statement, but being a true statement, and being an accurate translation of the verse is not the same thing. Reversing the statement of verse four is NOT what the Greek is intending here. This verse is a follow up to the previous verses contrasting light with darkness, and photidzo specifically is "to enlighten, to bring into the light, to illuminate, to shine a light upon." The point of this verse is supposed to be that the true light brings us out of darkness, NOT that it gives us life. There is a difference between translating a verse into an English statement that just happens to be true, versus translating it into an English statement that actually relates what the verse SAYS, and is also true. Michael Back 1:55, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

1:1 and 1:14

Using "Truth" for λογος in 1:1 but then "spirit" in 1:14 is not theologically sound. In the KJV, we have "the Word was God ... and the Word was made flesh" which indisputably places Jesus as being God. Changing from "Truth" to "spirit" breaks that link between the two and can mislead readers into a sub-Arian interpretation where Jesus is the son and messenger of God rather than being God Incarnate in human form.

I agree completely. Whatever word we use for "logos" in verse 1 HAS to be used here. John's phrasing in this verse is NOT just to make a vague comment about "the spirit" becoming flesh (which is actually a very liberal, new age way of looking at this verse), but rather, specifically that the logos of verse 1, who is both "with" God and "is" God, became flesh. It is my understanding that a conservative translation would emphasize the "incarnate God" aspect of Jesus' birth, as opposed to de-emphasizing it, which is what this translation currently does. Michael Back 2:07, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

1:14 I've thought for a long time that "dwelt" is kind of archaic, and doesn't really capture the meaning of the Greek, which is something along the lines of "pitched His tent" or "built His tabernacle." How about at least something like "made His home among us" or even the slightly more earthy "pitched His tent among us"?--Cory Howell 15:56, 22 October 2009 (EDT)

That's not a bad idea. The word literally means "spread a tabernacle, pitch a tent, to tabernacle, to tent." John is the only person who uses this word in the NT, as it appears here, then in Revelation 7:15; 12:12; 13:6; and a really interesting one: Revelation 21:3 - "And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them...", which is an interesting parallel to John 1:14. I kind of like "made His home among us." Let me think about it. Michael Back 12:13, 23 October 2009 (EDT)


Translating "lambano" as "benefited" is certainly unusual, but can only be considered "appropriate" if our translation guidelines are "very, very loose paraphrase." Lambano never has the meaning of "benefits" anywhere in the New Testament. Is the EFFECT of "receiving" beneficial? Absolutely. But the "effect" of the word and the "meaning" of the word are not the same thing. Michael Back 2:27, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


Using "spoken of" for "exegeomai" is a very surface translation of what this word relates, and has the effect of narrowing the force of this verse. Exegeomai is a much stronger word which is more about "unfolding" or "laying out in detail." It actually relates the idea of presenting something with great depth and breadth, a richer, fuller, more detailed explanation; it is not just "speaking about" something, but more carries the idea of "explaining" that thing. "Explained," or "unfolded" or even "thoroughly presented" would related the idea of this word better in this context. Michael Back 2:38, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


"Testimony" is a MUCH, MUCH better translation of "marturia" than "record." Excellent choice here. Michael Back 2:49, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


Just as a note here, this is one of the verses that Muslims use to claim that the New Testament foretells the coming of Mohamed. They believe that all references to "that prophet" or "the prophet" are prophesies about the expected FINAL prophet who would set everyone straight: Mohamed. The thing to note here is that John was not denying being a specific prophet, he was actually denying being a prophet of any kind. Whether through humility or because he had a different ministry, John chose NOT to classify himself as a prophet, something that is re-enforced in verse 25 where we render the same Greek construction as "another prophet." Since this seems to be more of a paraphrase than a strict translation, it really would relate the meaning of this verse better to say simply "another prophet" here, as we do in verse 25. Michael Back 2:59, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


Euthuno means "straight, straightened out", not "clear." The idea is NOT about removing obstacles in the path, but rather, that the path have no turns or side routes. In other words, "there is only ONE path that leads to God, and it has no turns or curves" (which is very much the conservative message, is it not?). While it is true that the Hebrew uses the words "clear" and "smooth" here, this is actually from the Septuagint, which uses "euthus," the substantive form of euthuno, meaning "straight." In other words, John doesn't just quote the OT, by quoting the Septuagint, he uses a quote that actually relates the INTENT or MEANING of the Hebrew. If John believes that was a good choice, I think we should stick with his selection, and translate the Greek found in this verse, NOT the Hebrew found in Isaiah 40:3. This shows that the struggle between "strict translation" and "paraphrase" is a very old one. The translators of the Septuagint actually used a mild Greek paraphrase of the Hebrew in translating Isaiah 40:3, and John gives added authority to the wise choice of that paraphrase by choosing their wording (as opposed to a direct and stricter translation of the Hebrew) for his quotation.

Additionally, I think the ending phrase "just as the prophet Isaiah was" is not quite as clear as it could be. This choice makes the force of the verse be: I am a voice in the wilderness . . . just like Isaiah was. This is true, but it kind of loses the point that this is not just something Isaiah did, but is, in fact, a QUOTATION from Isaiah. Michael Back 3:22, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


This is a fairly minor point, but this verse does not say those questioning "were Pharisees," it says, εκ των φαρισαιων; that is, they were "from the Pharisees." The implication is that the pharisees themselves were too cowardly to come in person, so they sent others, probably students or servants, to do the questioning for them. I think that is a point worth preserving here. Michael Back 7:35, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


Both this translation and the KJV lose the startling and contrasting points that John is making here. The Greek is closer to "he is the one coming after me who existed prior to me..." (ος εμπροσθεν μου γεγονεν). John was actually pointing toward the eternal nature of the one coming after him, kind of in line with "before Abraham was, I am." While it is obvious that God is above him, the point is that this is not just "some random guy who is above me," but rather, this person is, in fact, the eternal God in physical form. "Existed before me" or some equivalent phrase would be more accurate, and would be more in line with the startling, worldview altering point (at least to Jews) that John is making here. Michael Back 7:58, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


Excellent point on the meaning of "airo." A possible solution to this would be "takes away the sinful burden..." or "takes away the burden of sin..." or maybe a more subtle "lifts and carries away the sin..." Any of these would capture at least a little of this extra force found in the Greek. Michael Back 8:16, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


Again, John's statement here is closer to "after me comes a man who existed prior to me, because he was before me," which is a very emphatic way of pointing to the pre-existence of Christ, particularly as the last phrase uses "protos," which strictly speaking tells us that John is saying Christ "came first, before me." A strong, emphatic statement. Michael Back 8:28, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


The tense is wrong here. It is NOT present tense ("I do not know..."), but pluperfect (past completed - "I had not known..."). The construction used here means "I had not (before this very moment) known who He was...". An acceptable translation would be, "I did not know who he was...," but placing this in the present tense completely misses what the Greek is saying. Eido is something of a surface kind of knowing and seeing, thus it is, in this context, about identity, not a deeper kind of "knowing him personally." The point here is that John was preparing the way for one who would take away our sins, but until this very moment, he did not know the exact identity of that man.

Also, in contrast with eido, phaneroo is more "revealed, unveiled, made publicly known," so translating both words with the same English word kind of misses what is going on here. The second half of this sentence is a purpose clause, showing the REASON that John came baptizing. This entire intent of this sentence is more like this: "I did not know who he was, but despite that, I have come to baptize people with water so that He could be revealed to Israel" (and yes, reversing the order of the clauses in this kind of purpose clause for clarity is completely legitimate). Michael Back 9:59, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


Same tense and construction as 1:31, but here translated in the correct tense (I did not know...). Eido used in this context really does mean "I did not know who he was..." as opposed to "I did not know him personally...", and that subtle distinction should probably be preserved in the translation. After all, John knew Jesus, His God and creator, in His spirit, which is why he recognized God in the flesh standing before him. What John did not know was the identity of the man who was God in the flesh.

Redefining the Holy Spirit as the Divine Guardian is a questionable move for several reasons. First, the Greek literally says "Holy Spirit," and I find the idea of renaming a member of the Trinity completely distasteful. Second, Holy Spirit is NOT a title that has been largely redefined by our culture, so there is no need to redefine it - everyone knows that one part of the Trinity is called the "Holy Spirit." Third, it places a narrow description (guardian) upon the Holy Spirit that simply fails to even come close to all that the Holy Spirit does. Finally, it is a phrase that sounds VERY new age, and would be gladly and wholeheartedly welcomed by the eastern religion/new age element of our culture. We should not be trying to make Christianity easier to ignore because it uses new age terminology (and thus is just "another" way to god), but rather, more distinct and separate from the ideas and titles of false religions. Calling the Holy Spirit by a different name because we are not happy with what the Bible actually says is NOT a conservative thing to do; that simply smacks of liberalism in the extreme.Michael Back 10:16, 15 October 2009 (EDT)


I would like to suggest here that for clarity, we give BOTH the common transliteration and the translation of "petros": "...you shall be called Cephas or Peter (the Rock)." For those who are new to scripture, that would just bring some clarity as to where the name "Peter" came from. Michael Back 10:31, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

John 2:1

Would 2:1 be a little clearer if it were changed to something along the lines of 'A few days later...'? I took 'third day' to mean either the third day of the week or, possibly, the 3rd day after 1:51.

Your suggestion is a good one, but I'm reluctant to remove information that is in the Greek. But certainly the reference to the third day could be clarified in some way for the reader, and I encourage you to do so by editing it.--Andy Schlafly 11:11, 5 October 2009 (EDT)
I slid this down so it falls under the heading for 2:1, and fits more chronologically. I apologize if this is not allowed by a non-administrator. Michael Back 2:02, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

Doesn't "the third day" mean "two days later" instead of "three days later" because of the custom of counting inclusively? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counting#Inclusive_counting for details.

Your point is an excellent one, not because of your site, but because Christ rose on the "third day" (which was two days after Friday).--Andy Schlafly 22:08, 7 October 2009 (EDT)


It is not actually the Greek of this sentence that reveals their faith was superficial, but Jesus' reaction to their "faith" that is illuminating. Jesus understood that their faith was fleeting and transitory, which by definition means it was superficial. Michael Back 2:02, 19 October 2009 (EDT)


The Greek word translated "understood" in V24 and "knew" in V25 is "ginosko," and is deeper than just "knowing"; it means, "to perceive, to understand, to know absolutely." The point here is that Jesus was sinless and innocent, but He was NOT naive. He understood the fickleness and evil that men were capable of, no matter what they "confessed" to believe. A simple "confession of faith" did not equal true believer, and did not mean the faith was sincere. The word translated "believed" in verse 23 and "confidence" in verse 24 is pisteuo, which is the standard word in the NT for "to believe in, to have faith in." In verse 24 the construction indicates more of it's root meaning of "complete confidence, totally sure." They expressed faith in Him, but He had no confidence in them.Michael Back 3:00, 19 October 2009 (EDT)


Calling Nicodemus an "ανθρωπος εκ των φαρισαιων" (man from the pharisees), rather than just calling him a "pharisee" outright is another way of indicating that Nicodemus was different from most Pharisees. He might have agreed with much of their beliefs, but he was not really LIKE them, particularly in terms of his sincerity and devotion to God.Michael Back 3:19, 19 October 2009 (EDT)

The term "Pharisee" seems overused in English translations. Few realize the significance, or what was meant by it. How about "intellectual" for some of these references?--Andy Schlafly 16:25, 19 October 2009 (EDT)
That is not a bad idea, given our cultural understanding of "intellectual," but for now I am sticking with Pharisee for purely historical reasons relating to the fact that Israeli religious thought was divided in to two major (Pharisee and Saducee) and a few minor (such as Essene and Zealot) divisions. The differences in the doctrines of these sects really does play an important role in what is happening at times (such as when Paul realizes he is being judged by a mixed group of Pharisees and Saducees, and uses their primary doctrinal dispute to cause an immediate division within those judging him). Distinguishing between these two groups in particular is important often enough that there is no real way around preserving them, particularly if we want to keep some portions of the text understandable.Michael Back 1:51, 20 October 2009 (EDT)


Again, we see that when John wants to put emphasis on "this very same individual (as the previous verse)" he uses "houtos" (just as he did in 1:2).Michael Back 3:25, 19 October 2009 (EDT)


"αμην αμην" at the start of a quote ("truly, truly" here and again in verse 5 and 11) is a Jewish idiom (originating from the Hebrew and moving into the Greek via the Aramaic) that serves as a strong admonition to pay VERY close attention to what is about to be said. It is kind of like: "if you don't hear anything else, hear this..." or "pay VERY close attention to what I am about to say," or as Matthew Quigley (from the movie "Quigley Down Under") might say, "this is for sure and for certain...". It is worth noting that Jesus used this idiom THREE times in his conversation with Nicodemus, a pattern later repeated when speaking in the presence of opponents (John chapters 5, 6, and 8) and with His disciples at the last supper (chapter 13). Michael Back 3:41, 19 October 2009 (EDT)

anothen: From above or again

According to Strong's Concordance, anothen means from above; from the first, or anew. Anothen comes from ano, which means upward or on the top. According to Strong's, the only verses anothen is translated as again is at John 3:3 and 3:7, and at Galatians 4:9. In Galatians 4:9, Paul asked them why they are turning back to "weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?" (NIV Interlinear) But most of the time, when anothen is translated in the KJV, it is translated as "from above". In John 3:31, the KJV reads "He that cometh from above is above all". At John 19:11, Jesus, facing Pilate, tells Pilate that he has no power over him unless it comes "from above". At James 1:17, we are told that every gift and every good comes down "from above". And at James 3:15, we are told that earthly wisdom does not come "from above". From these examples, we can see that anothen has been translated both as "again" and as "from above". But looking back at John 3:3 and 3:7, especially in light of John 3:31 and the two verse from James, it really would appear that Jesus means for anothen to mean "from above". Nicodemus could just be dense and/or boorish. Or he could also simply not understand what Jesus is saying, as his response seems to show: "How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born?" (v. 3:4/ NIV Interlinear) Nicodemus is obviously taking anothen to mean "again", while Jesus means "from above". - Danielitld

Which is more or less the point I made in the analysis of John 3:3. Clearly Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus was talking about, either spiritually or linguistically, thus his assumption that Jesus used anothen in the sense of "again." It is interesting that Jesus did not correct Nicodemus' linguistic error, but actually skipped right over it and went straight to the issue of spiritual birth. Jesus never was interested in word games, and seemed to operate from the assumption that people would not understand what He was talking about (particularly illustrated by His surprise when someone DID understand His point), thus His habit of NOT explaining Himself when people misunderstood him. Very interesting indeed. Michael Back 12:21, 20 October 2009 (EDT)


It is common to interpret "born of water" to mean "physical birth," meaning, unless someone has a physical birth and then a spiritual birth, they cannot enter the kingdom of God. The problem is that the construction indicates that if EITHER one is missing, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. So if either one can be missing, then the "born from water" could be the part that is missing. This would mean that physical birth is a necessity of salvation, which could be interpreted to mean that an unborn child that dies in the womb (and thus, has not been truly "born of water") is doomed to hell. It is much more likely that Jesus is using "water" as it is usually used in scripture: as a symbol of spiritual cleansing, which causes this to parallel what Jesus did for us. His death paid the penalty for our sin (water - cleansing) and His resurrection gave us new life (spirit - life). We need BOTH cleansing and new life to enter the kingdom of God; one or the other alone will not cut it.Michael Back 4:05, 19 October 2009 (EDT)


Many translations render this verse "For God loved the world SO MUCH that . . . ", but that is incorrect. οὕτω does not indicate the DEGREE of something, but the MEANS or METHOD of something. So this verse is not telling us HOW MUCH God loved the world, but rather, the WAY God SHOWED His love for the world: by sending His only Son to die so that we could gain eternal life. In other words, agape is demonstrated by what you DO, not by how you FEEL, and God is the ultimate example of agape. No one's life is changed by how you FEEL about them, their life is changed by what you DO about it.

It should be noted that the phrase "whoever believes in Him should not perish" is not expressing a wish (as in, "if all goes well, this SHOULD work"), but rather, as the result phrase in a purpose clause, is stating a fact that WILL happen if the conditional (believe in Jesus) is met.Michael Back 1:12, 20 October 2009 (EDT)


The last clause indicates that God gave the Holy Spirit to Jesus without measure, but I am reluctant to change all Greek negatives into positives, as they do not always mean the same thing. "Do not do to others what you don't want done to you" does not mean the same thing as "Do to others what you want done to you." Michael Back 12:36, 23 October 2009 (EDT)


The two oldest copies of John, P66 and P75, as well as three of the four oldest full bibles found so far (Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Ephraemi Rescriptus) all have "Lord" at the beginning of this verse. Of the earliest witnesses, only Sinaiticus has "Jesus" here. Based on this, we are going with "Lord." Michael Back 1:17, 23 October 2009 (EDT)


The word used here, συγχράομαι, is an extreme word that includes any kind of interaction, communication, or contact. She is so used to being shunned by Jews that the very fact that Jesus even acknowledged her presence, much less actually spoke to her, not to mention asking her for some of her water, challenges everything she has come to expect out of life, and completely rocks her world. Isn't it interesting how a few simple words, the slightest courtesy, can have such a strong response in those who are used to being hurt and discarded by others? Jesus did this kind of thing all the time (here He does it with a simple request for water, earlier, in his conversation with Nicodemus, He did it with a simple statement about new birth). Don't ever let the assumptions or expectations of culture stand in the way of speaking the gentle, loving Truth of the gospel. Michael Back 2:07, 23 October 2009 (EDT)


I fascinates me how Jesus never let personal discomfort (hunger, thirst, exhaustion) hinder Him from using the circumstances around Him to teach spiritual truths. That is both amazing selflessness and very good self discipline. A good lesson for me.


This is actually a purpose clause ("hina" plus subjunctive), yet I've never seen any version that translated it that way. Part of the reason is that it is difficult to translate the way the construction is used in this verse into English. The construction of this sentence places the entire predicate ("doing the will of the one who sent me and completing His work") in the purpose clause. The problem is that there is nothing prior to the purpose clause ("I did this" IN ORDER TO "accomplish that"), indicating that He is giving the purpose of His life, not of one particular action. In other words, "my food" does not just mean "this is what nourishes me," but more accurately, "this is the purpose of my life, this is my reason for living." Difficult to catch and translate into English, but very clear in the Greek. I have tried to illustrate this construction by adding "dedicating my life to", which is technically a translation of the construction, not of any particular words.

That's a fascinating analysis, and your solution is an excellent one. I'll think if there is any way to suggest an improvement on the English to fully reflect the purpose clause.--Andy Schlafly 22:33, 31 October 2009 (EDT)


Based on the textual evidence, it is very likely that the end of verse 3 and all of verse 4 are not original, however, based on the information in the rest of the chapter, it is also very likely that they are an accurate description of the belief of the people from that era. It was likely added by later correctors to reduce the confusion of those who did not understand what the crippled man was referencing when he spoke of the agitating water, and how someone else always made it in before he did. So the information it contains is very likely TRUE, but it is also very likely that John did not include that explanation originally, and it was added later for clarification. If it was added, that happened relatively early, as it is found in Alexandrinus, which most scholars now believe dates from somewhere in the mid fourth century (roughly 350 AD), possibly between 25 and 50 years after Sinaiticus (often dated to around 325 AD - or roughly the time of the Council of Nicaea).


Any suggestions for an alternative to "perceived"?

Aramaic solution to "Logos" controversy?

I think that the way out into the open clear might be through the pass of the Aramaic understanding:

The Hebrew text of Scriptures is very clear in visualizing the God of Israel in physical terms, even if meant to be understood metaphorically. But the Aramaic Jewish translations of the Hebrew Scriptures (Torah/ Targum Onkelos) will not allow it to be so presented, but will rather speak around it (paraphrase) or use an intermediary word between the physical description and God. In the Hebrew text of Genesis 32, Jacob is wrestling with "a man" but after the bout, Jacob says, in the original Hebrew text, "I have seen God face to face and my life has been saved". In the Aramaic translation, however, Jacob is made to say, " I have seen the angel of God face to face and my life has been saved". At times, the intermediary word is actually the word "Word" - in Aramaic, Memra (the root is Aleph, Mem, Resh as in the Hebrew word 'Omer). Again, whereas the Hebrew text (Gen. 3:8) has it, "They (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden", the Aramaic has it, "they heard the sound of the Memra (Word) of the LORD God walking about in the garden" Apparently, walking about in the garden conjured up too much of rustling of leaves and bushes to take figuratively, and so it was the "Memra" of the Lord God that was heard and not the LORD God Himself. This is the pattern in other places in Genesis. An Orthodox Jew, Prof. David Flusser of the Hebrew University (now deceased), notes that it is to this mindset that we owe our understanding of John 1:1 and not to Philo and the Alexandrian "logos" philosophy. "In the beginning was the Word (Memra) and the Word (Memra) was with God.. and the Word (Memra) was God. John 1:1, Flusser maitains, is meant to rip away the distinction between God and the Memra, so assiduously held to by contemporary Judaism, and so declare that they, the Memra and God, are in reality one, ...and this One has, indeed, come down and has become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. John, in his epistle, would later say in wonderment, " Whom we have handled, we have touched and held Him."

In this view, the Word (Memr'a) is used, not to "mediate" God (or the knowledge of God) to man, but to say that God, needing no mediator, has Himself come down to us and incarnate, in the flesh, has made himself known. How to translate? Not easy as "Memr'a" is being purposely used as a literary device to destroy its former use of keeping God at an untoubable and unknowable distance. A weak comparison but the only one coming to me now " O.k. (to a blind person wanting to know what I look like but too shy to feel my face), so don't touch my face, just touch this hanky (which I put on my face) and feel around," Sounds pretty weak now, come to think of it, but Aramaic Judaism was very "shy" on anthropomorphizing God, and John, too polite to refute directly was nevertheless insistant on what was the truth, and so his way of taking what they believed and pressing on the face of Jesus so that they could touch and feel. This fits into recent (in decades) work that places John into 1st century time (by Dead Sea Scrolls terminology and language) and rediscovering the corpus of Aramaic literature (with its linguistic connections to John) in the first century context - all giving credence to the Gospel of John having "apologetic" force in 1st century Judaism. Perhaps this is the accurate way to translate John 1:1 into English. It is accurate, but who can bear it? "In the beginning was the "Concealing Word" of God, and this Word was with God, and that Word was in actuality God Himself and thus has become the Revealing Word...and He became man Bert Schlossberg 20:05, 1 November 2009 (EST)

A decent explanation, but not a great translation. Your suggestion crosses over into translation commentary (i.e. transitioning from "concealing word" to "revealing word"), rather than strict idiomatic translation, and would better serve as a footnote on John 1:1 than a translation of the verse. I also think that while this gospel certainly would impact Jews, the evidence through out John's gospel points to it having been written with Greeks in mind, not Jews (unlike Matthew, for example). Thus, the secret to truly understanding what John was saying is unlikely to be found in Aramaic language parallels or Jewish thought. Greeks would have no knowledge of this Aramaic/Jewish explanation, and would be very unlikely to have made any of these connections.
I do not dispute anything you say about the Jewish mind, and their understanding of God and of memr'a, I simply point out that this gospel was clearly written in Greek to Greek speaking gentiles, not to Jews, so the secret to a more accurate translation of John's words in 1:1 is not going to be found in Jewish understanding. Michael Back 2:12, November 2, 2009 (EST)

Michael, no question that the Gospel of John was written in Greek. Do you think that there is any indication of "Jewish interest" within John to warrant consideration that it was written to Hellenized and Greek speaking Jews (or with these Jews in mind), of which, I understand, there were considerable numbers, both within the Church (Book of the Acts) and without? I saya this because a Greek understanding Hellenized yet conversanbt with the Judaism, both Aramaic and Hebrew did exist and they could be the "target population" as well as the Gentile for the Gospel of John. Cyrus Gordon hs shown that in the time of the Philistines, one of the 5 Greek tribes of the Peoples of the Sea, Greek also invaded the Hebrew language, such as "seren" instead of "melekh" (king) for ruiler of the 5 Greek city states of Canaan - "seren" coming from the Greek Tyranos (Tyrant), cov'a the philiistine head gear coming in as "hat" in Hebrew, etc. Likewise, in the 1sst century, there were Greek proselytes [who became Rabbis with their followers), and Greek words invaded Hebrew and Aramaic like "nomos" (law, reulatoru principle)) becoming "nimusiin" (manners), as well as the skillful use of Greek in the Midrashic Targums (Bereshit Rabba)- the Midrash sees father and son somehow both participating in the sacrifice to be, even by implication and hint. The Bible - Isaac: "BEHOLD, THE FIRE AND THE WOOD, BUT WHERE IS THE LAMB OF SACRIFICE?" (the Hebrew word for "lamb is 'seh') Abraham: "GOD WILL SEE TO THE LAMB OF SACRIFICE, MY SON." (here be it noted that the Greek word for "you" is "se"(accusative case) sounding exactly like the Hebrew word for "lamb"). So the Midrash adds in the mind of Abraham "And if God will not provide a lamb (Hebrew - seh) for the sacrifice, then it is you(Greek - se), Thou are that sacrifice, my son!" I think from all this that Dr. Flusser may be right. There were a szeable number of hellenized Greek Jews both in an out of the Church that would have well understood John 1:1 according to the Aramic understanding presented above. [User:BertSchlossberg|Bert Schlossberg]] 03:40, 2 November 2009 (EST)

About Flusser phttp://www.jerusalemperspective.com/Default.aspx?tabid=27&ArticleID=1612Bert Schlossberg 09:54, 2 November 2009 (EST)

This discussion of the logos is certainly becoming fascinating. When I consider the difficulty we have had coming to terms with it, and the difficulty many have had with it, I began to wonder if the use of the term logos was an unfortunate event thrust upon us initially by Heraclitus. As Karl Jaspers pointed out, not even Heraclitus explicitly defined it, while Edward Hussey stated that he "end[ed] with a central difficulty that leaves things more mysterious than before". Philo, Ronald Williamson tells us, used the term logos "very frequently", but "partly because the ideas it was used to express are difficult and complex ones, and partly because Philo's own thought is also profound and complex, it is difficult to give a clear and coherent statement of Philo's thought in this area". Williamson even adds parenthetically "if indeed it can be said that he had a single Logos doctrine". In stating that "one god there is", Xenophanes reasoned that it was "contrary to divine law" that gods should be ruled by another god since it was contradictory that "gods should have masters". (Hussey, p. 13-14) But in attempting to imagine how the one god interacts with and brings order to the world, did the Greeks simply replace "the gods" with the logos? If that is the case, then why should we give the logos any more credence then we would "the gods"?

That said, John's use of the term logos would certainly have been familiar to his Greek-speaking audience. When Jesus said that we must be born "from above", someone familiar with Stoicism, like Marcus Aurelius, could well have responded with "what is born of the earth to the earth returns; but what is born from above, to heaven returns". But John's gospel would not have said too much unfamiliar to a Jewish audience, either. Frank Kermode in his essay on John's gospel in The Literary Guide to the Bible, mentions the times that John alluded to Scriptural texts without acknowledging them. References to sheep and shepherds, Kermode writes, are derived from Ezekiel 34, "but John does not say so, preferring to work the allusions into a highly developed parable . . in which Jesus himself is (ego eimi) shepherd . ." The parable of the vine in John 15 "is adapted without acknowledgment from Psalm 80". As Bert Schlossberg said, such unacknowledged allusions may have been noticed by a Gentile who was interested in Judaism. But a Jew would no doubt notice it. Similarly, such a Gentile and a Jew would have noticed a similarity between Philo's use of the term logos, and John's.

Seeing how the LXX translated the "word" of God in the Hebrew text as the logos of God prompted Philo to use the term as well, according to Williamson. But Philo would have also been aware that the idea of the logos mirrored the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God had many of the same "attributes and functions" as the logos of God, as found in the Hebrew text at Psalm 104:24, and Proverbs 3:19. But it was also in Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon where the qualities of Wisdom could be compared with the logos. In the Wisdom of Solomon we read that Wisdom is the "fashioner of all things"; "the breath of the power of God". (7:22, 24-25) But what made the logos win out over wisdom was most likely that logos is masculine, while wisdom - sophia - is feminine, making it "much more useful because of its masculinity to both Jewish and Christian writers in the first century AD" - according to Williamson (p. 104-5) If John was one of those first century writers so influenced, then it is easy to see how his reading of the Wisdom of Solomon 9:15 - substituting logos for wisdom - could have influenced his gospel: "For a perishable body weighs down the soul, And its earthly tent burdens the thoughtful mind". In his gospel, verse 1:14, John wrote that the logos became flesh, and "pitched its tent" among us. John may have been communicating to both a Greek and Jewish audience in terms that they would understand. But he was also deeply influenced by both the Greek and Jewish world in which he lived, and which helped shape his gospel. - Danielitld

Dear Daniel, Michael, Andy, and whatever other good angels are listening in to this most recent conversation, all this goes to show that whatever good will come from these discussions to issue forth in benefit to the Conservative translation, great good is coming out anyway in the discussion itself. I will ask your opinions concerning what I will present that to me decides the case for translating the Greek "logos" of out text with the understanding that it means what is simply posited and echoed in many of the translations - "Word", (but this word being understood in its Aramaic dress "Memr'a" with its usage as spoken about above (that is not to say that I know how to put it succinctly in idiomatic English!) Here is what I would say in support of what I have just said. It is clear to me that what "informs" John 1:1 is Genesis 1:1. "In the beginning was the Word (as I would put it)" must have been written by an author (human) who has had resounding in the inner ears of his head, the mighty words of the beginning of our faith, In the beginning God created". Certainly what follows in that first Chapter of Genesis over and over, in the making of all, is "and God said", "and God said" and "God said" Each of these "sayings" bears the adumbrations of "Memr'a". And just as certainly the Son, having come and shall come again, is known in the New Testament as the "Word of God" - and for good reason!. And just as certainly does the N.T. Epistles, and you can review them in your mind, see the Son as the One, and the vehicle by which the created universe came into existance - He is the "God said" of Genesis. All this latter, together with the Genesis 1. -Gospel of John 1. literary "conjunction", decides it for me that "logos" is to be translated as "Word" and that understood as the Memr'a. I believe that is what was in John's mind, and I believe that his readership among the Aramaic biblically imbued Hellenistic Jews, of which there were, within and without the Church, would have understood him, and understood the audacity of it all that the Almighty God Himself, ripping away all guise intended to obscure and hold Him at arms length, would have come down, taken flesh, and rustled around among us. But if there were none of these people around, If John would have uttered what was in his mind by himself in the confines of his bedroom, I think that John would have said it anyway. That's how real progress is made in this turgid world of ours!Bert Schlossberg 01:50, 3 November 2009 (EST)

While I am not convinced that Memr'a truly captures the meaning of logos as John intended it, I very much like your vivid and strikingly visual description. You definitely match the poet's eye with the scholar's pen. Keep it up. I truly believe the Lord will use this skill of yours to minister to many people. Just for clarification, my suggestion, "living word" is an attempt to incorporate the traditional translation, "word," with John's clear intent to do the very thing you are describing: to illustrate that the logos is much, much more than just a concept, philosophy, idea, or character trait, but is living, powerful, and is, in fact, God. Having said that, I would be fine with either "Living Word" or "Word," as I have no problems with the traditional translation (because, frankly, there simply is no English word that can accurately relate what logos means to an English speaking audience). I have long ago made peace with the simple fact that human language is inadequate to truly capture or describe our God. Michael Back 2:57, November 3, 2009 (EST)

Thank you, Michael, from you, as I have come to know you in your good words on this page, that certainly is a compliment. What are we both doing up this late?!Bert Schlossberg 03:15, 3 November 2009 (EST)

I have just read through all that has been said about the logos on this page, and giving up, just for the moment, however much it hurts me, my deep commitment to the Memr'a, and helping along to do that is what I see a striving to incorporate in translation the notion that logos, as John uses it, must embody the personal, I want to offer a new translation for logos. It is "utterance" - "In the beginning was the Utterance, and the Utterance was with God, and the Utterance was God...and the Utterance became flesh and lived among us". And here I run for cover to peer out and see what will come of this?Bert Schlossberg 22:56, 4 November 2009 (EST)

Have I mentioned that I just LOVE your posts? You can be sure, my friend, that there will be no hostile fire from this direction. Here is the question that I have: Is "utterance" a term that we would use in modern English, or is it kind of archaic? This is NOT a rhetorical question, but something that I would really like to discuss with you. And here's why - The translation instructions I have been given are to make the translation as accurate as possible while expressing it in modern American idiomatic English. In other words, if this event had taken place today, in modern America, how would each of the people involved have expressed their points in modern English? The bottom line being that we need to use a vocabulary that SOUNDS like the kind of words a modern English speaking person would use. Those who read this translation need to be comfortable and familiar with the vocabulary we use. And I'm not sure I have ever used "utterance" in normal conversation before. So what do you think? Michael Back 2:25, November 9, 2009 (EST)
As you say, I think "utterance" is a fascinating suggestion, but its modern connotations are unattractive.
John's work was a scholarly work. He's describing the cosmos as well as spirituality, perhaps. What do you think of translating "logos" as "order"?--Andy Schlafly 14:52, 9 November 2009 (EST)

Thank you, again, Michael. Well, I agree with both of you. "Utterance" will not fill the bill for Today's English. Andy, "Order" may bring to mind "arrangement" and so would not be good - "In the beginning was the Arrangement, and the ..."? But there is another meaning of "Order", if people would think that way, and interestingly enough, the Arabic develops it from "word" in a sort of logical and Semitic way. It is the word for command. In Arabic, the word for "command" is derived from the general Semitic word for "Word" - Aleph. Meme, Resh. I suppose that the one who gives the word is the one who commands. The conept of "Order" in English is related to "command", and an order is a command, and that ladies and gentlemen, is the arrangement for the day! So, how does this sound, "In the beginning was the Command, and the Command was with God, and the Command was God". To tell you the truth, I have my doubtsBert Schlossberg 11:43, 10 November 2009 (EST)

That does add a new perspective, doesn't it? But I was thinking of "order" in terms of physical laws, the opposite of disorder. Perhaps the closest word would be "perfection" or "perfect order": "In the beginning there was perfect order, and the perfection was with God, and the perfection was God."--Andy Schlafly 12:49, 10 November 2009 (EST)

Thinking.Bert Schlossberg 04:02, 11 November 2009 (EST)

Translating logos as "perfect order" makes be think that perfect order is God, meaning that what we mean by God is perfect order. It seems to take away Person aspect of Logos and makes Logos into an impersonal law of governence. I know that this need not be logically (there's a "logos" in this word), but that is the effect on me. So, so far, I can't think of anything better than translating Logos as Word (with an annotation to it).Bert Schlossberg 03:08, 13 November 2009 (EST)

I think we've stumbled into another fascinating problem: even at one point in time, terms mean different things to different people! To someone who majored in the classics, "perfect order" would be clunky and unattractive. To someone who majored in engineering or physics, "perfect order" would be welcome and attractive. You're right it is a bit impersonal, but is it more impersonal than "word"?

By itself it is not more impersonal than "word" (by the way, It would be nice to know to whom I am speaking. You forgot to sign - makes it moe personal). But for the Bible reader, for the one who knows the whole story, "word" probably is personal as His name is called "the Word of God". Probably! Bert Schlossberg 00:14, 14 November 2009 (EST)

Issue with translation of John 4:53

The current translation of "ὥρα" is "hour", but I feel that the context suggests that it should be "time" or "moment" in order to obtain greater precision. An hour has no significance here; the speaker wants to know if the illness was cured at the moment Jesus said it was. Using "hour" (and also "about") seems to introduce an imprecision that is not suggested by the context. Thanks for considering this.--Andy Schlafly 21:54, 28 November 2009 (EST)