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Some questions from John Ch. 1

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Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby jbradchevy » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:58 am

Hey folks,

New to this site and fairly new to Koine Greek. I have a couple of questions that I am hoping I could be directed in the right direction by some more experienced students of Greek:

1) Curious about the use of προς in John 1:1 and John 1:2. Why not συν? Doesn't συν have more to do with togetherness?

2) Curious about the translation of δια in John 1:3 as "by". I know that δια when used with the passive voice and with the genitive denotes intermediate agency. But wouldn't this be conflicting with Colossians 1? Or does it not matter if it is deponent?

εν Χριστῳ,

Jonathan
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby mwh » Sat Nov 02, 2013 3:08 am

Welcome Jonathan! I'm quite new to this site myself, but it's a great site with some very helpful and stimulating people and I've been having fun (at least most of the time).

You're not the only one to be curious about John's προς. It's a classic problem, as is ὁ λόγος itself. As you realize, the literal meaning is "towards God" or "towards the god", but in koine it can just mean "with," more or less. My own take on it is that John is wanting to be somewhat vague and mysterious. The artfully arranged tricolon of 1 (a double chiasmus, in rhetorical terms), followed by the amalgamated repetition in 2, makes for an impressive and portentous opening. The logos is somehow linked to God, stands in a relationship to Him (another meaning of πρός), before being identified as God (or a god) itself (θεος ην ο λογος). συν would be more specific, and evidently less to John's purpose.

In 3 δι’ αυτου means "through it", a regular use of dia + gen. "All things were (or came about, or came into being) through it." δι’ αυτου is normally translated "through him" not "through it," but this is not really supported by the Greek, except inasmuch as since logos is a masculine noun, it can possibly be conceived of as a "him" as well as an "it." English has the disadvantage of having to disambiguate, distinguishing "it" and "him," but in Greek it can mean either.

An interesting and controversial question is whether the continuation (3-4) goes
"and without it(him) not a single thing came into being. What has come into being in it(him) was life" (with punctuation after ουδε ἕν)
or
"and without it(him) there came into being not a single thing which has come into being. In it(him) was life" (with punctuation after ὃ γέγονεν). It's a question of where to put the stop. The ancient manuscripts disagree about this (or are non-committal), as do modern editors and textual critics.

Hope this helps. I expect you'll get different answers from others (but this is the one you should heed :wink:).

χάρις σοι καὶ εἰρήνη
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby Vladimir » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:54 pm

mwh wrote:An interesting and controversial question is whether the continuation (3-4) goes
"and without it(him) not a single thing came into being. What has come into being in it(him) was life" (with punctuation after ουδε ἕν)


I think it is more natural to translate "by him" and not "in him". ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτω̨̃ ζωὴ ἠ̃ν. Since γέγονεν is a perfect form, αὐτω̨̃ must be the dative of agent.
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby mwh » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:27 pm

But it's ἐν αὐτω̨̃ not just αὐτω̨̃. "in" or "within"
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby Vladimir » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:04 pm

mwh wrote:But it's ἐν αὐτω̨̃ not just αὐτω̨̃. "in" or "within"

Isn't it a hebraism? Of course in classical Greek it would be αὐτω̨̃ without ἐν. Otherwise how do you understand the use of ἐν in Col. 1, 16 (ὅτι ἐν αὐτω̨̃ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα) or in Mt. 9, 34 (ἐν τω̨̃ ἄρχοντι τω̃ν δαιμονίων ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια)?
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby mwh » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:20 am

I'm sorry, I misjudged your level of knowledge. But I don't see any reason to think that this en autw is any kind of semiticism. I don't quite understand your point about autw having to be dative of agent because gegonen is perfect. The particular tense used shouldn't make any difference; and dative of agent with any form of gignomai (active not passive in meaning) would be unusual.

I take it that with the alternative punctuation you'd accept "in."

As to the passages you adduce, I'm not sure if they have relevance even if they are hebraisms. But are they?
In Col.1.16 "in him" is what appears to be meant (although "by him" would of course be a less strange thing to say) –- it's followed up by di'autou and eis auton, and en autw in the next verse can only mean "in him." All this is in the context of the eikwn tou qeou tou anoratou, "image of the unseen god," which has led to suspicions regarding Pauline authorship.
At Mt.9.34, casting out devils "in" Beelzebul (or whoever) is rather specialized usage, Hebrew and/or aramaic I expect but also Greek.
In any case, I think en autw in John's prologue has to be taken at face value, and not as dat. of agent.
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby Vladimir » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:11 pm

mwh wrote:I'm sorry, I misjudged your level of knowledge. But I don't see any reason to think that this en autw is any kind of semiticism.

The preposition ἐν is often used in this way in the New Testament, just compare its use with such hebrew constructions as "bemelek" (by a king) etc. See also the Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament by Abbott-Smith.

I don't quite understand your point about autw having to be dative of agent because gegonen is perfect. The particular tense used shouldn't make any difference; and dative of agent with any form of gignomai (active not passive in meaning) would be unusual.

According to Greek grammar books, normally, the only case when dative of agent can be used is when the predicate is in the perfect tense, otherwise one should use ὑπό + genetive of agent (genetivus auctoris). E.g. Ὡς καὶ πρώτερόν μοι εἴρηται (Herodotus) - "just as I said before" (litt. "just as it was said by me before"). In my opinion, the only grammatical difference between this phrase and John 1, 3-4 is the use of ἐν in the NT passage. Besides, dativus auctoris is simultaneously dativus commodi (it must be dative of interest in English). E.g. Τί πέπρακται τοῖς ἄλλοις; What has been done by others (for themselves)? So John 1, 3-4 without a point before εν αυτω rather means: what has come into being by him (and for him) was life. This is why it is not surprising to read in Col. 1, 16 that everything was made by him and εἰς αὐτòν - for him.

I take it that with the alternative punctuation you'd accept "in."

Yes, I would because in this case the sense of the passage is quite clear with "in": the Logos was a source of life. And what does it mean "to be made in him"? Could you explain it?

and en autw in the next verse can only mean "in him."

Why do you think so? Let us see, for example, the King James Version: "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist". There are also modern translations suggesting similar variants.

At Mt.9.34, casting out devils "in" Beelzebul (or whoever) is rather specialized usage, Hebrew and/or aramaic I expect but also Greek.

I haven't understood you well. So do you agree that the use of ἐν here is a hebraism?

In any case, I think en autw in John's prologue has to be taken at face value, and not as dat. of agent.

Yes, but rather with the traditional punctuation. :)
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby mwh » Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:34 am

I should have known better than to answer an NT question :)
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby jaihare » Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:06 am

Vladimir wrote:The preposition ἐν is often used in this way in the New Testament, just compare its use with such hebrew constructions as "bemelek" (by a king) etc. See also the Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament by Abbott-Smith.


Where do you find "bemelekh" (במלך - ἐν τῷ βασιλεῖ) in the text in the sense given here (ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ...)?

Thanks,
Jason
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ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby Vladimir » Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:32 am

jaihare wrote:Where do you find "bemelekh" (במלך - ἐν τῷ βασιλεῖ) in the text in the sense given here (ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ...)?

I haven't ever searched it in the text of the OT, it was just an example from Hebrew grammar.
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby jaihare » Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:21 pm

Vladimir wrote:
jaihare wrote:Where do you find "bemelekh" (במלך - ἐν τῷ βασιλεῖ) in the text in the sense given here (ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ...)?

I haven't ever searched it in the text of the OT, it was just an example from Hebrew grammar.


An example of what, though? If it isn't used the same, then it certainly isn't a good example for the question at hand, is it?

You're saying that ἐν αὐτῷ is a Semitism here, so you have to show what it could represent in Hebrew (or Aramaic) that would demonstrate this and explain how this would influence our reading of the text. Using במלך doesn't assist us, since I don't think there exists a verse in which this phrase is used with the sense of the ἐν αὐτῷ of John 1.

I would go with mwh and compare this to Colossians 1.16 and other such uses of ἐν in the NT.
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ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby jaihare » Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:22 pm

mwh wrote:I should have known better than to answer an NT question :)


You did well, IMO.
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ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby jaihare » Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:31 pm

jbradchevy wrote:1) Curious about the use of προς in John 1:1 and John 1:2. Why not συν? Doesn't συν have more to do with togetherness?


I really do think that πρός + acc. for "with" comes from a distinction in Hebrew (that is, it's the result of a Hebraism).

In Greek, you have several words that we translate as "with" in English, in addition to a raw dative being used for instrumentality.

In Hebrew, there are only three: ב be- can be used for instruments; עם im for association (asking who you are with); and אצל etsel for location (asking where you are).

- I wrote the letter with (be-) a pencil.
- I went to the store with (im) my sister.
- My car is with (etsel) my mother.

I believe that the use of πρός + acc. in John 1:1 reflects the meaning of the latter preposition in Hebrew. In other words, it is intended to tell us where the Logos was, not so much as with whom. When it says πρὸς τὸν θεόν, I would read it essentially as meaning "in heaven." Just as we say that someone is "with God" to mean that they are deceased - that is, "in heaven."

What do you think?
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ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby Vladimir » Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:45 pm

jaihare wrote:
Vladimir wrote:An example of what, though?

An example of instrumentative use of the preposition ב from the Introduction to Biblical Hebrew by Thomas Lambdin. Do you think he is wrong?

Moreover, I have already referred to the Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament by Abbott-Smith (this example is not in that book, but according to it such constructions as one in Col. 1, 16 are semitisms). If I find a Hebrew Old Testament with search, I will look for an example from the text.
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Re: Some questions from John Ch. 1

Postby jaihare » Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:36 pm

Vladimir wrote:
jaihare wrote:An example of what, though?

An example of instrumentative use of the preposition ב from the Introduction to Biblical Hebrew by Thomas Lambdin. Do you think he is wrong?

Moreover, I have already referred to the Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament by Abbott-Smith (this example is not in that book, but according to it such constructions as one in Col. 1, 16 are semitisms). If I find a Hebrew Old Testament with search, I will look for an example from the text.


I've already stated that ב has an instrumental use. But, not in the sense that you've written above (במלך). Like you say that someone writes "with" a pen, pencil or chalk. Or, you say that someone fights "with" a sword. These are instrumentals that would use the bet preposition in Hebrew. ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ certainly doesn't fit this situation.

That said, I don't have a copy of the grammar that you've mentioned, so you might be so kind as to quote part of the relevant section and fill me in.

Thanks.
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ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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