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RE: [John_Lit] John 1:1-10 - my proposed translation

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  • Bill Ross
    ... utterance here loses the possibility of the rich play that LOGOS has -- word, logic, thought, reason,etc... Perhaps John is less enamored
    Message 1 of 34 , May 6, 2005
      >>While every translation loses something and gains something, the use of
      utterance here loses the possibility of the rich play that LOGOS has --
      word, logic, thought, reason,etc...

      Perhaps John is less enamored with Greek concepts and more enamored with
      Genesis 1? He does begin with EN ARKH, yes? And in another book quite
      popular with Jews, we do have "and God said, Let there be..." yes? So
      perhaps we are missing the intended direct referent and being distracted by
      fallacious presumed allusion to Philo and what have you?

      >>Word is sufficiently broad to capture some of that multifaceted nature. I
      guess I am wondering in the face of this why "utterance" is attractive?
      While I can see some interesting reasons (perhaps based a bit on Bakhtin and
      Riceour's theories), I would really like to hear the rationale.

      EN ARKH points us to Genesis 1. There the utterance of God is manifest with
      God, with everything being made with the words "Let there be...". Now, I do
      mourn the inability of a single word to capture all that is there in LOGOS
      (there is no word that maps entirely exactly) but my proposed translation is
      a nudge toward seeing Genesis 1 and a nudge away from Greek and even Roman

      > Why do you take QEOS in 1:1c as if it were QEOIS?
      This seems like a real translational problem. What the word is is not
      simply divine, but God.... It is difficult, maybe even nonsensical. But
      divine seems a distortion.

      I am sorry. I assumed that everyone on this listed would accept that the
      construction is adjectival in nature. I would refer you to the discussion in
      Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. I am sorry that I have not the text at hand
      to point out the pages. Can anyone produce this? Or perhaps Martin Luther's
      discussion of it? Thanks.

      > Why "all people" for PANTA.
      The plural neuter seems to be broader than simply people.... But all things
      (I think). I am interested in why you want to restrict the scope of the
      word's work here to humanity.

      Well, as I said, this is tenuous. Perhaps it is everything. That would
      certainly fit Gen 1. Perhaps it should be "everything."

      > Why "not one person" for OUDE EN?
      Same problem as above....

      > Why "lost community" for KOSMOS?
      Yes, this is really an interesting question. What is your understanding of
      KOSMOS? This seems to be problematic for the entire ending of the

      Please note John's usage of the word. It is always, always, always - "lost

      >>I would concur with each of Jeffrey's questions, and probably could add
      more. But it would be really helpful to see what your rationale is for this.

      Just as an aside, there are so many reasons to translate -- sometimes to
      achieve some sense of the original, sometimes to accentuate some
      ambiguities or word-plays in the original, sometimes to achieve a very easy
      reading in today's idiom. They all function to a certain extent in every
      translation. And a certain ideology can't help but creep into every
      translation (they are, after all, simply our "readings" from our point of
      view. But it is really helpful to lay out what are primary reasons, what is
      guiding our ideology. That is half the fun in talking about

      Well, John 1:1-3 is THE prooftext of Trinitarianism. A better translation of
      John 1 seems to make it clear that the LOGOS is not "The Second Person of
      the Trinity" by any stretch, but rather God's utterance. "Let there be..."

      Bill Ross
    • R. Robert Jenkins
      ... Can you provide us with any evidence for this statement? I have some handbooks on the Gospel of John written by translators, some commentaries in which the
      Message 34 of 34 , May 9, 2005
        --- Bill Ross <BillRoss@...> wrote:

        > <B>
        > My stated premise for my translation of "utterance"
        > has not been addressed.
        > Let my restate it for closer scrutiny...
        > When John says "EN ARKH" ISTM that most translators
        > understand him to be
        > saying "Once upon a time..."

        Can you provide us with any evidence for this
        statement? I have some handbooks on the Gospel of John
        written by translators, some commentaries in which the
        commentators give their own translations and discuss
        what they mean by them, and some works by John scolars
        like C.H. Dodd who discuss Jn. 1:1, and none of them
        give any hint that they have the understanding you say
        "most translators" do.

        So could you produce something from a translator that
        shows that "Once upon a time" is what ytasnaltors
        understand John to be saying in 1:1?

        whereas I hear him
        > saying "Ladies and
        > gentlemen, if you would, please turn in you
        > Septuagint to page 1. I am going
        > to tell you who is being referred to by the word
        > "us" in "Let us make
        > man...".

        Now I'm really confused. Are you saying that it is
        John's intent to say that God made the world through
        the male and the female he created in Gen 1:26?

        > The main think that John is expounding, I believe,
        > is that in Gen 1,
        > everything that was made, without exception, was
        > made in conjunction with
        > the utterance, "let there be...".

        But this is expressly what he does not say about
        "man". There is a conspicuous absence of the let
        there be phrase in the section of Gen 1 where God
        creates "man, both male and female" in his image.

        > In the course of this discussion, I realize that my
        > objection to "the word"
        > (non-capitalized only) is not so much linguistic as
        > it is to the baggage
        > that the term is made to carry - that it is a
        > reference to something from
        > Greek philosophy rather than God's word(s).
        > So, I ask, is my fundamental interpretation, that EN
        > ARKH refers us to Gen
        > 1, and "PROS TON THEON" refers us to "let us
        > make..." and "by means of hO
        > LOGOS everything was made" refers us to "Let there
        > be..."?

        You are missing a clause here. Is your fundamental
        interpretaion what? Reasonable? I don't see how it
        could be. What possible lingusitic or allusive
        connection could there be between "he was with God"
        and the divibe declaration of intent to make humankind
        in God's image in Gen 1:26? And it becomes even more
        unlikely given how Dr. Gibson has shown how all that
        John says about the LOGOS in John 1:1 is what Jews
        were saying about the Torah.

        R. Robert Jenkins

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