5694Translation of Jn. 4:22
- Mar 10, 2009Greetings/Shalom/Xaire
Is there a NT Greek expert who would take a look at Jn. 4:22 with me? I'm in the awkward position of thinking I know better than the standard translations and don't trust my competence.
Because people had trouble reading my Greek font when I posted in the past, I have transliterated, and included what I think are relevant cites in my copy of Smyth's Greek Grammar, if I understand it correctly.
In John ch. 4, Jesus converses with a Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well near Sychar. In v. 4:22, he tells her, as it is usually translated, âYou worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.â (This is NRSV, but others are substantially the same.)
That doesn't make much sense. In v.20, the Samaritan woman says, âOur ancestors worshiped on this mountain,â without specifying who or what they worshiped, but it is understood, as Jesus confirms in v.21, that Samaritans worship the God of Israel, whom Jesus calls âthe Father.â So who or what is it that Samaritans worship that they don't know?
Here's how I analyze it, for brevity taking the second parallel clause together with the concluding clause, i.e.,âwe worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.â
The verb âproskunew,â âworship,â in the Septuagint and the New Testament takes an indirect dative object, while âknowâ takes an accusative direct object. If the translation âwe worship what we knowâ is correct, the singular accusative relative pronoun âhoâ serves as the object of both verbs.
The problem is not only that âhoâ is accusative and âworshipâ requires a dative object; Jesus has just said that both Samaritans and Jews worship the indubitably masculine âFather,â yet âhoâ is the neuter singular accusative relative pronoun.
Johnâs Jesus might have employed a dative demonstrative pronoun followed by an accusative relative pronoun, i.e., âhHmeis proskunoumen toutw, hon oidamen,â âWe worship Him, whom we know.â The demonstrative pronoun could have been omitted, but then we would expect the relative pronoun to have been âattractedâ into the dative case, giving, âhHmeis proskunoumen hw oidamen,â âWe worship whom we know.â [See Smyth, Greek Grammar (1956) Â§Â§2522,2531, p. 567-68] But that isnât what Jesus said.
I think the reader was intended to apprehend from what Jesus said, âhHmeis proskunoumen hon oidamen,â that (a) since there is no dative object, the object of âwe worshipâ is unspecified, as in v.20; (b) the relative pronoun âhoâ serves as the object of âoidamen,â âwe know,â and effectively serves as a conjunction, forming a ârelative clause of causeâ; [Smyth, Â§2490-91, p.560-61; Â§2555, p.574] and (c) its referent, what âwe know,â is not âwhat/who we worship,â but rather âthat salvation is from the Jews,â reading âhotiâ to mean âthatâ rather than âbecause.â
This portion of the verse should consequently be translated, âWe worship, [because] we know it, that salvation is from the Jews.â In context, âwe worshipâ could be understood to imply âwe worship as we do,â or âwe worship in Jerusalem.â Adding the first third of the verse yields, âYou worship [on this mountain] because you donât know it; we worship [in Jerusalem] because we know it, that salvation is from the Jews.â In better English, âYou worship here because you donât know, while we worship there because we do know, that salvation is from the Jews.â
To me, this makes perfect sense. Jews âknew,â as Samaritans did not, âthat salvation is from the Jews,â but Samaritans did know whom they worshiped. But that's not the standard translation. What am I doing wrong?
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