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5696Re: [John_Lit] Translation of Jn. 4:22

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  • Kevin Snapp
    Mar 11, 2009
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      Thanks for responding, Gary.

      I asked the question because my Greek is unfortunately limited to what I can look up; I don't read the NT in Greek. I knew that in classical Greek proskunew took an accusative object, but thought that in Hellenistic Greek it had been completely supplanted by the dative; I wasn't aware it could be found in the NT. Nevertheless, since John uses the dative in the preceding verse (proskunete tw patri) we can expect the dative in 4:22.

      I didn't mean to suggest that the proposition "that salvation is from the Jews" was an object of worship -- rather, that just as proskunew has no object in 4:20 ("our fathers worshiped at this mountain ...") [dative of location; surely she didn't mean they worshiped the mountain! :)] it should be understood to have no object in 4:22, with "ho" standing for the object of "know," i.e., "that salvation is from the Jews." The meaning I had in mind might be better expressed in English with a participle, i.e., "You worship, not knowing [it/ho]; we worship, knowing [it/ho] that salvation is from the Jews."

      You wrote,
      >
      > The reason for the neuter relative pronoun is likely the standard reason for using a neuter relative or demonstrative pronoun with no antecedent: to refer to an idea in the passage rather than a particular noun. This is why we translate it with a "what" - this properly gets John's idea across that Samaritan worship is without knowledge, not that Samaritans did not know God at all (although I wouldn't put it past John to say so - see Jn 8:19, 8:55, and others, where John says that Jews do not know God).
      >
      My problem is that there really needs to be "something" that is known or not known, if not stated in the sentence, then implied by the context. It can't mean "you know nothing." So if what the Samaritans don't know isn't "what you worship," it has to be "that salvation is from the Jews."

      I don't think it can be "what you worship"; turning 8:19 around, while Jesus might have said the Samaritans don't know God, he wouldn't have said that the Jews do know God in the same breath! (Of the three, Jews/Judeans, Samaritans and Galileans, only concerning the Samaritans does John's Jesus have no complaints.) So that leaves "that salvation is from the Jews."

      BTW, I did a word search and this is the only place John's Jesus says "we" meaning himself and the Jews. Maybe even here "we" should be limited to Jesus' disciples, but since the context is Jews vis-a-vis Samaritans, the Samaritan woman would understand "we" to mean "we Jews."

      I took a look at 1 John 2:12-14, but didn't try to find that discussion. I'd be surprised to see "hoti"translated by "that" in that context -- unless, and here I'm ignorant -- the translator understood John to be using the Greek perfect as if it were a Hebrew/Aramaic past tense, which could imply continuing action, and that "hoti" here has almost the sense of "hina," i.e., "I write/wrote ... [in order] that you [continue to] overcome evil."


      Thanks again,
      Kevin

      Kevin Snapp
      Chicago, IL

      --- In johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com, "Gary Manning" <gary.t.manning@...> wrote:
      >
      > Just a couple of quick thoughts on this question. First, you raise an interesting point about the nature of Samaritan worship and John's response to it, but I think the solution is found more in the realm of historical/cultural background than in an alternate translation.
      >
      > Technically correct Greek did indeed require a dative as the direct object for proskuneo. However, Hellenistic Greek (including the Greek found in the NT and LXX) often ignored this rule and used the accusative (see Jdg 7:15, 2 Ki 5:18, 2Chr 24:17, Lk 4:8, 24:52, Jn 4:24, Rev 13:8, 13:12, 14:9, and probably others). Likewise, Greek required a genitive as direct object for many verbs of sensation, such as akouo and geuomai, but NT authors do not consistently follow this rule.
      >
      > The reason for the neuter relative pronoun is likely the standard reason for using a neuter relative or demonstrative pronoun with no antecedent: to refer to an idea in the passage rather than a particular noun. This is why we translate it with a "what" - this properly gets John's idea across that Samaritan worship is without knowledge, not that Samaritans did not know God at all (although I wouldn't put it past John to say so - see Jn 8:19, 8:55, and others, where John says that Jews do not know God).
      >
      > Your other line of reasoning is more promising. Essentially, you are suggesting (I think) that hoti could be translated "that" rather than "because", rendering "You worship what you do not know, but we worship what we know, that salvation comes from the Jews." There are other passages where John's use of hoti is a bit ambiguous; for example, Johannine scholars debate which way to translate hoti in 1 Jn 2:12-14 (see comms by Brown and Smalley for the debate).
      >
      > However, we would then end up with this meaning: "We worship a fact that you do not know... that salvation comes from the Jews." I'm not saying that it is impossible, but it makes less sense at first look than the standard translations. It also ultimately makes salvation the object of worship, which is not a likely Johannine idea.
      >
      > Stimulating question! Glad you posted it.
      >
      > Gary
      >
      > _______________________________________
      > Gary Manning, Ph.D.
      > http://eutychusnerd.blogspot.com/
      >
      > Associate Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages
      > Interim Academic Dean
      > Pacific Rim Bible College
      > http://www.prbc-hawaii.edu/
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: Kevin Snapp
      > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 8:45 AM
      > Subject: [John_Lit] Translation of Jn. 4:22
      >
      >
      > Greetings/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, �?oYou worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.�?� (This is NRSV, but others are substantially the same.)
      >
      > That doesn't make much sense. In v.20, the Samaritan woman says, �?oOur ancestors worshiped on this mountain,�?� 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 �?othe Father.�?� 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.,�?owe worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.�?�
      >
      > The verb �?oproskunew,�?� �?oworship,�?� in the Septuagint and the New Testament takes an indirect dative object, while �?oknow�?� takes an accusative direct object. If the translation �?owe worship what we know�?� is correct, the singular accusative relative pronoun �?oho�?� serves as the object of both verbs.
      >
      > The problem is not only that �?oho�?� is accusative and �?oworship�?� requires a dative object; Jesus has just said that both Samaritans and Jews worship the indubitably masculine �?oFather,�?� yet �?oho�?� is the neuter singular accusative relative pronoun.
      >
      > John�?Ts Jesus might have employed a dative demonstrative pronoun followed by an accusative relative pronoun, i.e., �?ohHmeis proskunoumen toutw, hon oidamen,�?� �?oWe worship Him, whom we know.�?� The demonstrative pronoun could have been omitted, but then we would expect the relative pronoun to have been �?oattracted�?� into the dative case, giving, �?ohHmeis proskunoumen hw oidamen,�?� �?oWe worship whom we know.�?� [See Smyth, Greek Grammar (1956) §§2522,2531, p. 567-68] But that isn�?Tt what Jesus said.
      >
      > I think the reader was intended to apprehend from what Jesus said, �?ohHmeis proskunoumen hon oidamen,�?� that (a) since there is no dative object, the object of �?owe worship�?� is unspecified, as in v.20; (b) the relative pronoun �?oho�?� serves as the object of �?ooidamen,�?� �?owe know,�?� and effectively serves as a conjunction, forming a �?orelative clause of cause�?�; [Smyth, §2490-91, p.560-61; §2555, p.574] and (c) its referent, what �?owe know,�?� is not �?owhat/who we worship,�?� but rather �?othat salvation is from the Jews,�?� reading �?ohoti�?� to mean �?othat�?� rather than �?obecause.�?�
      >
      > This portion of the verse should consequently be translated, �?oWe worship, [because] we know it, that salvation is from the Jews.�?� In context, �?owe worship�?� could be understood to imply �?owe worship as we do,�?� or �?owe worship in Jerusalem.�?� Adding the first third of the verse yields, �?oYou worship [on this mountain] because you don�?Tt know it; we worship [in Jerusalem] because we know it, that salvation is from the Jews.�?� In better English, �?oYou worship here because you don�?Tt know, while we worship there because we do know, that salvation is from the Jews.�?�
      >
      > To me, this makes perfect sense. Jews �?oknew,�?� as Samaritans did not, �?othat salvation is from the Jews,�?� but Samaritans did know whom they worshiped. But that's not the standard translation. What am I doing wrong?
      >
      > Thanks!
      >
      > Kevin Snapp
      > Chicago, IL
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
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