John 1:1 in Coptic Translation

by slimboyfat 78 Replies latest jw friends

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat


    Apparently there has been quite a stir in JW apologetic circles recently about the translation of John 1:1 in the early Sahidic version of John. I don't know if this has been discussed here before - if someone could give a link to a previous thread they know about on the subject that would be great. Here is what I gather:

    In Sahidic the second "God" in John 1:1 appears with the indefinite article, lending support to the Witnesses' translation "and the Word was a god".

    Sahidic was perhaps the first language into which the NT was translated, meaning that the Witnesses can claim support for their much reviled rendering from the very earliest translational testimony as to how this verse should be understood.

    On top of that it also appears that, whereas the first "God" in John 1:1 appears as a nomen sacrum, the second "God" in reference to Jesus is written out in full.

    If these facts have been accurately reported to JW apologetic circles, then we can reasonably expect that the Society will make much of this new support for their view in future publications.

    What with this and BeDuhn on the NWT and Buchannan on the form of the divine name, it does seem that a number of JW theologial positions have been gaining ground of late. Just too bad that they have all the organizational, legal and general lethargic problems within the community that they are not able to capitalize on such vindications. Were Freddy Franz still around I can imagine he would have a field day with this new support for his theology - much as he did in the 1970s when George Howard's article came out about the tetragrammaton in the NT.

  • Narkissos
    Narkissos

    Interesting.

    From http://www.integlogic.com/sahidica/pages/sahidicpaper1990.html

    It is noteworthy that Coptic was the first language the New Testament was
    translated into that has the indefinite article; and the only language
    with the indefinite article that was produced during the Koine Greek period.

    The reason this is significant is that, in Coptic versions, John 1:1b is
    commonly translated "the word was with God and the word was a god" using
    the Coptic indefinite article.

    Moreover, in the proto-Bohairic version (Papyrus Bodmer III, which was
    partially reconstructed by Rodolphe Kasser) the first occurrence of "god"
    in John 1:1 is in the Nomina Sacra form, but in contrast, the second
    occurrence is spelled out.

    Again, in John 1:18 it is noteworthy that the "God" no one has seen is also
    in the Nomina Sacra form, whereas the only-begotten "god" is spelled out.

    This Christological aspect of the Coptic versions underscores the statement
    by J. M. Plumley (already quoted above):

    "By and large the Coptic version can be a valuable aid to the scholar
    engaged in textual criticism, and because in certain passages it preserves
    very ancient traditions of interpretation, it ought to be of considerable
    interest to the scholar working on the history and development of Christian
    doctrine."
    Of course it can only be thought to support JW theology as an alternative to orthodox Trinitarian theology by people who ignore the proto-Gnostic setting of the Fourth Gospel, which was different from both.
  • Rook
    Rook

    In Sahidic the second "God" in John 1:1 appears with the indefinite article, lending support to the Witnesses' translation "and the Word was a god".

    NOW THAT IS A FAT LIE . (THE WORD WAS GOD) JESUS IS THE WORD.

    Sahidic was perhaps the first language into which the NT was translated, meaning that the Witnesses can claim support for their much reviled rendering from the very earliest translational testimony as to how this verse should be understood.

    THE VERSE IS UNDERSTOOD AS THE ETERNITY AND DEITY OF JESUS.

    On top of that it also appears that, whereas the first "God" in John 1:1 appears as a nomen sacrum, the second "God" in reference to Jesus is written out in full.

    THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD!

    If these facts have been accurately reported to JW apologetic circles, then we can reasonably expect that the Society will make much of this new support for their view in future publications.

    NICE TRY... ITLEAST YOU HAVE GOOD IMAGINATION .

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    NOW THAT IS A FAT LIE

    Well, I am glad you cleared that one up.

  • LittleToe
    LittleToe

    It still doesn't clear up the polytheistic component of that verse, if translated that way. The JWs are in continued difficulty. I would imagine the Mormons would have most to gain by this rendering.

  • jwfacts
    jwfacts

    The quote is "It is noteworthy that Coptic was the first language the New Testament was translated into that has the indefinite article;"

    not that it was the first language translated.

    Regardless of whether verses such as this and others claimed Jesus to be either 'God' or 'a god', both options left Jewish Christians in the predicament of reconciling monotheism with now having two different gods.

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat
    It still doesn't clear up the polytheistic component of that verse, if translated that way

    First century Jews viewed angels, patriarchs and divine agents as 'gods' in a lesser sense. John himself refers to such usage in his quote from the Psalms in chapter 10.

  • LittleToe
    LittleToe

    Then taking that view, you've just compounded the issue for yourself. You now have a pantheon to deal with, albeit with a "Daddy" to marshal the forces.

    There are no tidy boxes. Orthodox Christianity gave it its best shot, but there are still loose ends. Russell, Rutherford and Franz bluffed their interpretation out, mainly through ignorance.

  • greendawn
    greendawn

    Not that I want to support the JWs but being an anti trinitarian I feel pleased by the rendering in the coptic translation. Jesus is the owner of the earth and mankind because His Father passed them on to him as his inheritance. If your father gives you one of his houses then it's yours and no longer his. In that sense Christ is the God of mankind and not the Father, however The Father continues to be His head and God as Paul said so many times.

    When will the Trinitarians realise that the Father has absolute authority over the creation and can set someone up as a god to be obeyed and worshipped as such, if he so wishes? And if that breaks the inviolate rule of monotheism so be it.

  • Rook
    Rook

    You won't find the word "Trinity" used in the Bible to describe God. I'm not sure when the term was coined, but the term aptly describes the true nature of God as evidenced in Scripture. Paul may not have used the term, but I'm sure he understood the concept. We're not talking a polytheistic doctrine (three separate gods), nor are we talking about a three-headed boogieman. The existence of one God in three Persons (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) is the only logical conclusion we can draw from Scripture.

    First of all, we know that there is ONLY ONE GOD (Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Timothy 2:5, Isaiah 44:6).

    Yet there is a plurality to God:
    - "Let us make man in our image" (Genesis 1:26)
    - "God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us" (Genesis 3:22).

    Some would say that God could be speaking to the angels in these verses, but that's simply not correct. God was speaking to co-creator(s) in these verses. The Bible tells us that Jesus - not angels - created all things:

    - "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." John 1:3
    - "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him," Colossians 1:15-19.
    - "but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe." Hebrews 1:2

    The Bible refers to each person of the triune God uniquely. There is God the Father ("Paul, an apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead--", Galatians 1:1), God the Son (see John 1:1-18 and 5:18), and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18, 3:11, 12:32, John 14:26).

    In Luke 3:22, we find the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove upon Jesus, while God the Father spoke from Heaven. Three persons - but still just One God.

    In John 14:10, Jesus said, "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work."

    So you can see, that while the term "trinity" developed after the Bible was written, the nature of God that it describes is evidenced in Scripture. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery said, "The doctrine of the Trinity is not 'irrational'; what is irrational is to suppress the biblical evidence for trinity in favor of unity....The choice is clear: either the Trinity or a 'God' who is only a pale imitation of the Lord of biblical and confessional Christianity." I am not a great theologian, and I won't pretend that I fully comprehend the triune nature of our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. But I do understand the basic concept, and can easily see that it is really the only logical conclusion when scriptural evidence is assessed.

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