John 7:38 LXX source and suggested emendation

Are you learning Koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament and most other post-classical Greek texts? Whatever your level, use this forum to discuss all things Koine, Biblical or otherwise, including grammar, textbook talk, difficult passages, and more.
Post Reply
User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 4830
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

John 7:38 LXX source and suggested emendation

Post by jeidsath »

The "waters" question in the other forum made me look up John 7:38, which I remembered in English as "Living Waters".

ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ, καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος.

Water is singular, question answered. But where is that quote from? (And "κοιλία"?!)

Nobody seems to know the quote origin, though sometimes a mention is made of similar imagery in Proverbs 18:4: "The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook." In fact, the quotation really does appear fairly direct, but it's from Proverbs 18:4 LXX:

ὕδωρ βαθὺ λόγος ἐν καρδίᾳ ἀνδρός,
ποταμὸς δὲ ἀναπηδύει καὶ πηγὴ ζωῆς

Reason/the word is deep water in the heart of a man, and a river [that] springs up and a wellspring of life.

Much much closer. The LXX brings in the "in the heart of a man" imagery, and interprets the Hebrew as a parallel structure, with ποταμός referring to the same, easily read as also coming out of the man's heart.

Notice that this image also explains the somewhat bizarre κοιλία in John 7:38, leading as it does to immediate bathroom imagery. (What rivers normally come out of a κοιλία? Glad that translators always fix this by glossing "heart". Good job, guys.) In the LXX Proverbs 18:4 image (where we have καρδία), κοιλία comes to mind as a natural descriptor for underground spaces. So it can be read as a part of the metaphor in John 7:38, the mental image being something like "rivers of living water flow out of his aquifer."

Still though...I personally would have been more comfortable with the Greek version of John 7:38 had our Lord said "ἐκ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ" and dismissed κοιλία to the sewers. I expect that a lesser thinker -- say Plato or Aristotle -- would take an emendation here, based on the strength of the LXX source, and the similarity of the two words.
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

S Walch
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:10 pm

Re: John 7:38 LXX source and suggested emendation

Post by S Walch »

That is a good conjectural emendation (κοιλίας > καρδίας are but three letters different), and does indeed make much more sense. Guess it does depend on exactly what "cavity" κοιλία is referring to - it needn't exactly mean the digestive system or other related bathroom words, and a general "from within himself" was probably intended; the heart itself, does indeed have a κοιλία or two (as per LSJ: ἡ δὲ καρδία ἔχει μὲν τρεῖς κ. Arist.HA496a4, cf. 513a27.).

Wonder if a early church father has taken it as literally as it first appears...

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 4830
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: John 7:38 LXX source and suggested emendation

Post by jeidsath »

I'm mostly happy to have found the source of John 7:38. I think that part is a far sturdier claim than κολία/καρδία.

But to answer your musings, κοιλία seems to have mostly literal significance. Having read through the LXX/NT uses, they seem to be divisible into the following categories:

1) The literal stomach cavity
2) The source of children, both for females and males [sperm?]. 2b) The womb during pregnancy.
3) The location of strong disturbing emotion, sometimes tied to τὰ σπλάγχνα
4) Subterranean hollows [I think I saw an LXX use like this anyway, I'm compiling from memory.]

Outside of the LXX/NT, actual flows from the κοιλία seem to be dysentery or menstruation, frequent in medical literature.

I couldn't find the καρδία called α κοιλία anywhere, and I don't think that mere anatomical possibility would justify the usage in context.

John 7:38, as far as I can tell, seems to be 1) a unique use of κοιλία, 2) unfortunately suggestive; immediately so to me anyway, which is why I bothered to look into it 3) drawn from an LXX source text that uses καρδία.

It's possible that the author of John was quoting from memory, and flubbed the quote, maybe due to the common semi-metaphorical LXX use of children proceeding out of the κοιλία. Or, as mentioned, he was thinking of subterranean cavities due to the LXX Pr 18:4 source, which would be a natural use of κοιλία. But the graphical similarity between κοιλία and καρδία is suggestive.
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

S Walch
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:10 pm

Re: John 7:38 LXX source and suggested emendation

Post by S Walch »

Thought I'd check to see whether an ECF had said something about this verse and relation to heart, and came across this from Hesychius of Jerusalem (Collectio Difficultatum et Solutionum 18 - PG column 1408, section D, line 44)

περι ων φησιν ο χριστος ποταμους εκ της κοιλιας ρευσειν υδατος ζωντος εκ της κοιλιας δηλαδη της καρδιας των εις αυτον πιστευοντων

...from the stomach cavity; that is, the heart of those who believe in him.

So the equalling of κοιλία and καρδία at least goes back to the 5th century CE. Hopefully further searches will provide extra support.

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 4830
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: John 7:38 LXX source and suggested emendation

Post by jeidsath »

Searching for quotations of this verse (not necessarily including καρδία), I came across this in Nyssenus:

"διὰ πάντων τοίνυν τῶν εἰρημένων τὴν καθαρὰν καρδίαν διὰ τοῦ τῆς κοιλίας ὀνόματος νοεῖν ἐναγόμεθα"

So 1) everybody agrees that it means heart, 2) it's not completely obvious

***

Here's an interesting one from "ORIGENES, Fragmenta in Psalmos 1-150 [Dub.]."
(5) Τοῦ ποταμοῦ τὰ ὁρμήματα εὐφραίουσι τὴν πόλιν τοῦ Θεοῦ.

Χαρίσματα τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος· Ποταμοὶ γὰρ, φησὶν, ἐκ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ ῥέουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος. Ἔλεγε δὲ περὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος.
Here it's quoted as "ἐκ τῆς καρδίας" (likely from memory, or by way of explanation). Later on:
Ἐπῆραν οἱ ποταμοὶ φωνὰς αὐτῶν, κ. τ. ἑ.

Φύσεις λογικὰς ἁγίας ποταμοὺς ὀνομάζει, διὰ τὸ ῥεῖν ἐκ τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν ποταμοὺς ὕδατος ζῶντος.
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

S Walch
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:10 pm

Re: John 7:38 LXX source and suggested emendation

Post by S Walch »

Good find. Checked Ehrman/Fee/Holmes in The Text of the Fourth Gospel in the Writings of Origen, and they have the Ps.Cat (Psalm Fragments) C 45,5 one (page 410), but not the second allusion listed. Not been able to find any more.

Indeed, 1) everybody agrees that it means heart; 2) it's not completely obvious. :)

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 4830
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: John 7:38 LXX source and suggested emendation

Post by jeidsath »

We should be precise about what Nyssenus is saying: Everyone interprets κοιλία, an empty cavity, as leading us to think of "clean heart." Maybe. But if κοιλία meant "heart" on its own, Nyssenus would not have said "we're led to think". He's making the connection between empty and clean here to get from κοιλία to καθαρὰ καρδία.

My statement, which should have been more clear, was that everyone agrees that the verse means heart, but why that is, given the word used, is not obvious.
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

Post Reply