Author Topic: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος (Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 1:1) -> In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  (Read 9188 times)

Leon

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Sorry for the lackadaisical writing, but I'll put it in a nutshell: I'm certainly no expert on Ancient Greek, but my knowledge of Modern Greek gives me enough understand of John 1:1. There seems to be, however, discrepancy over whether "Εν ἀρχῇ ᾖν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ᾖν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεός ᾖν ὁ Λόγος" should be translated as "In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (by far the most common rendering of the original Greek, central to the Trinitarian doctrine of the majority of Christian sects) or "In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god (small 'g'). The latter is used mainly by Jehovah's Witnesses but, if I'm not mistaken, some other Bible translations prefer to use that aswell. Please note that I don't know whether the vital, final ΘΕΟΣ is supposed to start with a capital θ, though I'm supposing the more pious of you here will know far more than I do on the subject; I guess it is very significant, too (?), indicating the true meaning of the verse, à la "Πρόεδρος είναι ο Παπούλιας" against "πρόεδρος είναι ο Παπούλιας". I'm no biblical scholar, though.

Really, I want a more professional judgement on this; I've been already 99% convinced that the first, most popular translation of John 1:1 is right, and I would like specialist backing to prove certain people wrong.

Thank you very much for your time and looking after the baby of the board!

Leon.
« Last Edit: 17 Jan, 2009, 22:48:54 by spiros »
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billberg23

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Leon, good to have you back among us, sharing your fresh perspectives!  Actually, I’ve always had the same questions about the first sentence of John.  Furthermore, I’ve always been fascinated by the semi-delirious tone of his gospel (not to mention his Apocalypse!) which is so characteristic of the Gnostic writings (both pagan and Christian) of the early centuries A.D.

Obviously, the sentence is intended to reflect in some way the first sentence of Genesis:
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν.  ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος, καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου, καὶ πνεῦμα Θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος.

But, while Genesis is concerned with introducing God as a material creator, and with bringing us down to our earthly condition as quickly as possible, John seems intent on a non-material, noetic aspect of creation, leading us into matter (flesh) through the priority of the “word,” which ends by “pitching its tent” (ἐσκήνωσεν) in our midst, just as Jehovah “pitched his tent” among the Hebrews (the Ark of the Covenant) in the Old Testament.

This gospel that begins with λόγος is supposed to have been written in Ephesus, where, seven centuries earlier, Heraclitus had preached his own λόγος to his fellow citizens.  Only a coincidence, of course.  But it does beg the question as to whether John’s λόγος was the same sort of universal rationale, plan, idea, “deal”.  And the λόγος was πρὸς τὸν Θεόν.  That should mean “with reference to God,” or “toward God” (direction of motion with the accusative).  Why is it always translated “with”?  I’ve never seen πρὸς elsewhere with the meaning “with.”  Can you help me out with this, Leon?   

“And the word was toward God, and the word was God.”  Like a mirror?  Vertigo here, Leon, but that must be what it means, I think.  What’s your feeling?

There's more about this gospel that inrigues me, and there are very few answers out there.
« Last Edit: 25 Nov, 2007, 15:15:42 by wings »
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

lpap

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@leon

Εν ἀρχῇ ᾖν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ᾖν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεός ᾖν ὁ Λόγος

There are three sentences here. Let me put them in the grammatical syntax : subject-verb-rest of sentence

ὁ Λόγος -  ᾖν - εν ἀρχῇ  -> the Word was at the beginning
ὁ Λόγος - ᾖν - πρὸς τὸν Θεόν -> the Word was with God
ὁ Λόγος - ᾖν - Θεός  -> the Word was God

The sentence "the Word was a god" is just a fabrication. This is not what the Greek sentence is literally saying. The original sentence clearly says that "the Word was God".

It is like the sentence: "my grandfather was carpenter". Of course there were other carpenters like him at his time and one may paraphrase my sentence into "my grandfather was a carpenter", but then this is not the literal rendering of my original statement, which has nothing to do with any carpenters other than my grandfather.

The verb "ᾖν" is the imperfect of the the word "ειμί" (= "to be"), thus it could have been translated as "have been".  So a literal translation could have been: "Before there was any beginning, the Word had been, and the Word has been toward the God, and God had been the Word".

I propose the following grammatical analysis:  http://www.forananswer.org/John/Jn1_1.htm

@billberg23

The word "πρός"(=forward to/towards) is a preposition, which is a strengthened form of preposition "πρό"(=fore, in front of, superior to) .

You are right, the sentence "Λόγος ᾖν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν" literally -> "the Word has been toward the God"

But the proposition "πρός" has the following meanings :

1) forward to/towards 
2) in genitive: "the side of", "pertaining to"
3) in dative: "by the side", "near to"
4) in accusative: ""the place", "the time", "occasion","respect"
5) in comparative : "motion towards", "accession to", "nearness at"


If you are interested in the language of New testament I propose this book: http://www.alibris.com/booksearch.detail?invid=9294083120 (other books from the same author: http://www.alibris.com/search/books/author/Zodhiates)
« Last Edit: 25 Nov, 2007, 15:16:09 by wings »
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banned8

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Before you all get me totally confused, shouldn't this be:
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

What's with all the subscripts?
« Last Edit: 25 Nov, 2007, 15:16:33 by wings »

wings

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Before you all get me totally confused, shouldn't this be:
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

What's with all the subscripts?

That's right!
« Last Edit: 25 Nov, 2007, 15:17:00 by wings »

billberg23

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Re subscript:  the text was so familiar, I hadn't noticed that an iota had been stuck under the eta of ἦν.  Some moderator I am, huh?

Back to business:  It's unlikely that πρός (Doric πότι, Cretan πορτί) has anything to do with πρό.  Πρός seems to be from an Indoeuropean root meaning "against."

So please, someone, convince me that the idea of "toward" ("against") can somehow be identical to the idea of "with."
« Last Edit: 25 Nov, 2007, 17:45:45 by billberg23 »


billberg23

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Something else to ponder, Leon:

I don't doubt that John was thoroughly Hellenized, and familiar with the mainstreams of Greek philosophical tradition.  I wonder if he was aware of Aristotle's notion of God ("the Unmoved Mover"), described in Metaphysics Λ 1074b34 as "thought thinking thought." (αὑτὸν ἄρα νοεῖ, εἴπερ ἐστὶ τὸ κράτιστον, καὶ ἔστιν ἡ νόησις νοήσεως νόησις.  So He thinks Himself, if in fact that is what the best thing is, and His thought is the thought of thought.)

Could there possibly be anything similar in the first sentence of John?  "The word was (directed, addressed) to God, and the word was 'God'"?
« Last Edit: 25 Nov, 2007, 18:49:26 by billberg23 »

Leon

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First of all, allow me to give context to my questions: a Jehovah's Witness couple has been coming to my house every Saturday for a Bible study. I'm simply intrigued by their beliefs and interested in religion, although I identify as an agnostic (I don't know whether a deity exists). I am almost certain, however, that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has a corrupt translation of the original scriptures. I've come across many verses in the New World Translation that just don't correspond with the original Scriptures, or at least the Nw Testament I have in Ancient and Koine Greek. Their views on a metaphorical Hell (they think that today's world must be Hell as it is ruled by Satan and the unrighteous are just "conscious of nothing" after they die), Christ's death on a torture stake (not a cross) or hanging from a tree, refusal to accept blood transfusions (even if it means death) et al. are also very good topics that Greek-speakers are at a great advantage of being able to scrutinise.

@ billberg23: I just feel that John 1:1 is key to revealing the deity, lordship, and godship of the Word, the Logos, our Saviour Jesus the Christ, that is to say, the existence of the Holy Trinity, which, admittedly, can be difficult to comprehend or explain. I feel that the Tetragrammaton should be used (I much prefer 'Yahweh' to 'Jehovah', though, and 'Yeshua' to 'Jesus') and that it refers not exclusively to the Father, but the Triune God. John introduces a seemingly impossible contradiction: that Christ (the Word) was both with God and was God, at the same time. This certainly would be impossible if Christ is not part of the Trinitarian Godhead. John also implies that Jesus is the Creator - "without him nothing was made that has been made" (NWT translates this as "All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence" (John 1:3). Also, Jesus Himself introduced the idea of the Trinity (Mat. 28:19-20): "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This irrefutably implies an order within the Trinity and that all three 'persons' or entities are united under one name.

I certainly think that the origins and hence meaning of πρός must be considered here, too, as it will help clarify exactly the pragmatics of "ὁ Λόγος". I'm not familiar with Aristotle's notion of God, although I've hard of theories suggesting that God was never intended to be a literal ruler, but rather that he whole Bible is metaphorical and speaks more here about the destiny of life. It's very interesting, and I do find the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers to be very enthralling, particularly due to their rejection of creed and doctrine and individual experience of God, whoever or whatever that concept is, given that it is adequate for most Quakers, many of whom are agnostics and atheists, through their silent prayer. It appears to be an extremely happy, accepting, and beautiful faith I would easily fit into.

@ lpap: I will quote to you from the sheet Colin (the Jehovah's Witness I speak to) gave to me yesterday vis-à-vis the Greek original John 1:1:

These translations use such words as "a god", "divine", or "godlike" because the Greek word θεός is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article. This is an anarthrous θεός. The God with whom the Word, or Logos, was originally is designated here by the Greek expression ὁ Θεός, that is, θεός preceded by the definite article ὁ. This is an articular θεός. Careful translators recognise that the articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone. Therefore, John's statement that the Word or Logos was "a god" or "divine" or "godlike" does not mean that he was the God with whom he was. It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same as God himself.

In the Greek text there are many cases of a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb, such as Mr. 6:49; 11:32, Joh. 4:19; 6:70; 8:44; 9:17; 10:1, 13, 33; 12:6. In these places translators insert the indefinite article "a" before the predicate noun in order to bring out the quality or characteristic of the subject. Since the indefinite article is inserted before the predicate noun in such texts, with equal justification the indefinite article "a" is inserted before the anarthrous θεός in the predicate of John 1:1 to make it read "a god". The Sacred Scriptures confirm the correctness of this rendering.

In his article "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1", published in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92, Philadelphia, 1973, p. 85, Philip B. Harner said that such clauses as the one in Joh. 1:1, "with an anarthrous predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning. They indicate that the logos has the nature of theos. There is no basis for regarding the predicate theos as definite". On p. 87 of his article, Harner concluded: "In John 1:1 I think that the qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun cannot be regarded as definite."

Following is a list of instances in the gospels of Mark and John where various translators have rendered singular anarthrous predicate nouns occurring before the verb with an indefinite article to denote the indefinite and qualitative status of the subject nouns:

Mark
6:49  a spirit
11:32  a prophet
John
4:19  a prophet
6:70  a devil
8:44  a murderer
9:17  a prophet
10:1  a thief
10:13  a hired man
10:33  a man
12:6  a thief


What do you have to say about that?

« Last Edit: 25 Nov, 2007, 21:58:02 by Leon »

banned8

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Dear Leon,
Firm religious believers are (have to be) dogmatic. Do not for a moment believe that the JWs would accept a different interpretation from what the dogma says even if you had John the Evangelist feeding you the lines. This is the sort of discussion you should have with independent, hopefully objective, Bible scholars. For you, is this a purely linguistic exercise?
(And I am a confirmed atheist, therefore dogmatic in my own way.)

lpap

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Dear Leon,

You are right, Jehovah's Witness group is using a "special" bible of their own.

There is no original authentic bible found anywhere in the world. There are many occasional ancient scrolls that are being saved from several sources and they are being studied in university theological seminars. The scrolls were written as copies of Bible's segments by different penmen throughout centuries. There are mistakes and fake passages in these copies. For the past several centuries scholars are trying to identify the original bible text by comparing the texts from several sources and by making analysis of their content. In contrary to public opinion, that believe that there is only one official Bible, every descent theologian knows the fact that there is not one authentic Bible. Nevertheless, during the past of time a certain number of "complete" versions of Bible were formed by scholastic consensus and they were adopted by certain Christian denominations.

Jehovah's Witness group has every right to use its Bible. But it is a fact that their Bible have many substantial differentiations in comparison to established versions of Bible like the "King James Bible" or "Koine Greek Bible".

Even the versions of Ancient and Koine Greek NewTestament are not original versions but they are compilations of segments. Even as I write this words thousand of researchers all over the world are working in order to answer difficult questions regarding the authenticity of every line of Bible. That includes Christian researchers too.

So, in this context "god" in John 1:1 in Greek Orthodox Church's Bible is written without the definite article. I believe this to be correct.

Let me propose the book  "Lectures on the criticism and interpretation of the Bible" published in 1842  http://books.google.com/books?id=MpUHAAAAQAAJ&printsec=titlepage

In this book there is certain historical analysis about the quest for the authenticity of the compilation of Bible.

For your information you can find some articles contra Jehovah's Witness in http://www.oodegr.com/english/watchtower/watchtower.htm


lpap

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It's unlikely that πρός (Doric πότι, Cretan πορτί) has anything to do with πρό.  Πρός seems to be from an Indoeuropean root meaning "against."

So please, someone, convince me that the idea of "toward" ("against") can somehow be identical to the idea of "with."

I 'll try:

mark 2:2 και συνηχθησαν πολλοι ωστε μηκετι χωρειν μηδε τα προς την θυραν και ελαλει αυτοις τον λογον
and immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door, and he was speaking to them the word.

matt 13:56 και αι αδελφαι αυτου ουχι πασαι προς ημας εισιν ποθεν ουν τουτω ταυτα παντα
and his sisters, are they not all with us? whence, then, to this one all these?'

mark 6:3 ουκ ουτος εστιν ο τεκτων ο υιος της μαριας και αδελφος ιακωβου και ιωσητος και ιουδα και σιμωνος και ουκ εισιν αι αδελφαι αυτου ωδε προς ημας και εσκανδαλιζοντο εν αυτω
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?'  and they were being stumbled at him.

Philemon 1:13 ον εγω εβουλομην προς εμαυτον κατεχειν ινα υπερ σου μοι διακονη εν τοις δεσμοις του ευαγγελιου
whom I did wish to retain to myself, that in thy behalf he might minister to me in the bonds of the good news

matt 26:18 o δε ειπεν υπαγετε εις την πολιν προς τον δεινα και ειπατε αυτω ο διδασκαλος λεγει ο καιρος μου εγγυς εστιν προς σε ποιω το πασχα μετα των μαθητων μου
and he said, `Go away to the city, unto such a one, and say to him, The Teacher saith, My time is nigh; near thee I keep the passover, with my disciples

1 Corinthians 16:7 ου θελω γαρ υμας αρτι εν παροδω ιδειν ελπιζω γαρ χρονον τινα επιμειναι προς υμας εαν ο κυριος επιτρεψη
for I do not wish to see you now in the passing, but I hope to remain a certain time with you, if the Lord may permit

banned8

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Well, if you want a full list, this meaning is the last entry of προς in my Bible dictionary, the translation given is (in company) with and the complete list of references is as follows:

Matthew 13:56
Mark 14:49
John 1:1
Galatians 1:18, 4:18, 4:20
Philippians 1:26
1 Thessalonians 3:4
2 Thessalonians 3:10
Philemon 13
1 John 1:2

Euterpe

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If I may... This is an interesting discussion, but a slippery one too.

I would have to agree with Nickel.
This is the sort of discussion you should have with independent, hopefully objective, Bible scholars. For you, is this a purely linguistic exercise?

I do hope you realize that however sensible your argument is going to be, you can not reason with someone who has faith. I have tried (with JW as well). It has been a very interesting but often frustrating process - not in a bad way. It is just that we were not reasoning on the same level, like doing maths with different axioms.
I have learned to respect their faith but I have given up on trying to dissect the "Bible" and its meaning with someone who has faith in a specific dogma. It is sometimes hard to admit for a Cartesian mind - as you seem to be.

However, this do not mean that we should not discuss matters of faith under the pretext of post-modernism. We all know that the Bible has been reworked, copied, translated, etc... Parts have been judged "canon", other not for different reasons. However, a "purely" linguistic discussion about this is interesting. The Koine Greek is somewhat "easier" to grasp than earlier versions. However, one should keep in mind that despite the etymological, grammatical and linguistic "rules," a language, especially an ancient language like ancient Greek remains "fluid."

Even if scholars find - as I do - interesting to dissect the Bible and to appraise it with almost scientific methods (like here our linguistic discussion), they should not forget that the text is subject to interpretation - and maybe this is the entire point...
« Last Edit: 26 Nov, 2007, 03:44:54 by Euterpe »

banned8

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As far as I am concerned, I would not participate in a discussion about the language of the Bible from which (discussion) metaphysical rather than linguistic or even anthropological conclusions were to be drawn.

Euterpe

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I don't know if I was clear in my message but it was pretty much what I meant, Nickel ^^
I like to discuss this on a linguistic level. Otherwise it is too slippery...