Nicodemus as Teacher (1)
- You wrote:
I did not know that Greek had a definite article the way English does.
In Greek from earliest times to today, there is usually an article in
front of every noun and adjective. I think that what needs explaining is
the absence of the article, not its presence. So I cannot agree that in
Jn. 3:10 Jesus is calling Nicodemus 'the' teacher as though he is a
pre-eminent or leading teacher. The RSV and NRSV are right in
translating 'are you a teacher.'. Emphasis is usually achieved by word
order and/or absence of the article. In Jn. 10:11 is a very good
example. The Greek reads 'the shepherd the good'. We never translate the
second 'the'. This is the normal way of using adjectives. Also, the
Greek says 'I I am'. The fact of the first person pronoun indicates
strong emphasis on the person speaking: "I my very self am.". But, is
Jesus saying that he is the only good shepherd? I think that if he was
saying that, John would have written 'the good shepherd' and not 'the
shepherd the good'.
I believe that the context dictates whether we translate the Greek
article with an English definite article. In the case of Jn. 3:10 the
context does not justify our definite article.
Perhaps a second century parallel might clarify this issue for both of us:
According to C.K. Barrett (The Gospel according to St. John), (2nd Edition) An Introduction with commentary and Notes on the Greek text. (London, SPCK 1978) 211, Nicodemus is "the ... great, universally recognized, teacher". Eusebius reports in H.E. 4.15.26 that at Polycarp's martyrdom, the people of Smyrna in Asia Minor described him in similar vein: OUTOS ESTIN O THS ASIAS DIDASKALOS, ... O POLLOUS DIDASKWN ... "This is the teacher of Asia ... who teaches many ..."
(way down under!!) southern coast to be precise.
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