John 1:1 in Coptic Translation

by slimboyfat 78 Replies latest jw friends

  • Narkissos

    LOL. Don't ever expect to keep a thread even remotely connected with the Trinity debate on track.

  • LittleToe


    And if that breaks the inviolate rule of monotheism so be it.

    Take your pick. Do you break the written rule or the logistic rule? When was God ever subject to human perceptions of logic?

    The Trinity doctrine may call upon the latter concept, but then it's aim is to remain monotheistic, in the face of a sitiatuon where the Jews are recorded as believing that a "son of God" is equal to "God".


  • Terry

    What is missing in this discussion is the neutral baseline from which to examine the issue.

    If you start out with hidden premises and assumptions you skew the result of your analysis!

    Here are premises hidden in this matter that need to be brought to daylight and established as certain BEFORE any

    correct conclusions will come forth.

    1.Inspiration of ANY writings must be established

    2.Presence or absence of a polytheistic belief system on the part of the writer(s).

    3.Motive of translator (bolster or hinder a doctrinal element)

    4. Milieu of common parlance (how would the average speaker/reader understand the use of language at that time?)

    There are others, but, let's start with those four.

    An even more profoundly hidden layer to this is the actual existence of diety in any real sense. The more premises you simply accept (without proof) the more worthless your later conclusions.

    That is the essential problem in such discussions.

    A conclusion always follows its own premise.

    People get caught up in discussions of the process of reaching a conclusion and don't smell the turd in the laundry basket!!

    Don't fall into such a trap, please.

    In a court of law it is absolutely required that all evidence presented be authenticated and ruled upon as to veracity before being admitted as an exhibit. Further, it is a rule of law that BEST EVIDENCE supercede any copies made (i.e. originals only). That is why testimony is counted out which is second hand. Hearsay is blemished by interpretive assumption and personal temperment.

    In religious circles none of this happens (or can happen) because it isn't THERE to begin with!

    Religious arguments are really fights over premises that aren't established as to reality, actuality or verifications.

    To proceed in spite of this fact is to tickle each other's ears with personal tastes. It is not a discussion of fact per se.


  • kid-A

    People get caught up in discussions of the process of reaching a conclusion and don't smell the turd in the laundry basket!!

    Indeed, the problem is that in order to maintain religious belief, one must become an expert in the fine art of turd polishing. Hence, one has no difficulty in accepting as 'truth' diluted, over-translated words that were written thousands of years ago by barbarian tribes and looney prophets.

  • LittleToe

    Terry:How about discussing the subject, if you're so bothered to write into the thread?

    Try asking yourself the following questions:

    • Did the writer of John believe in some form of deity?
    • Is there a high likelihood that he was monotheistic?
    • Did he likely view certain scripture as divinely inspired?
    • Was he a "believer" in Christ?
    • Was he attempting to contribute a theological argument about Christ's origins?
    • Do JWs believe in God, Christ, the Bible, the authorship of John?

    There's a high degree of probability that the answer to all of these questions is "yes". Hence discussing it isn't as moot as you would have us believe.

    In that context, your post comes across as being your bias, rather than from a "neutral baseline".

  • Leolaia

    I have some of my own questions about this.....more details coming....

  • Leolaia

    The site in question also presents a Coptic text (eclectic?) for the NT, and John 1:1 in Coptic characters would look something like this:

    Of course, I don't know any Coptic myself, but poking around with the sample lexicon provided by the site owner results in a gloss roughly something like this: "Certain beginning he-exists namely the-word and the-word he-exists with-in-presence-of the-God and (?)-God he-is the-word". The lexicon indicates that the indefinite article is a prefix in Coptic (i.e. ou-), so presumably (i.e. ou-noute) would be Coptic for "a god" (while i.e. p-noute is the definite "the God"), and indeed the site indicates that ou-noute occurs in Acts 28:6 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4, where "a god" would be appropriate in English translations. On the other hand, does also occur in Ephesians 4:6, where it explicitly refers to the Father, i.e. "one God (i.e. a god) who is Father of all, over all, through all, and within all". Now linguistically, indefinite articles are frequently grammaticalized from the numeral "one" (in fact, English "an" and "one" come from the same source), and at least in this text, the inflection seems to be semantically intermediate between "one" and an indefinite article. The use of the indefinite article in Ephesians 4:6 certainly does weaken the claim that its purported use in John 1:1 does necessarily indicate the Word to be a lesser god, as opposed to the "one God" (this incidentally may be closer to Johannine and Coptic Gnostic theology, in stressing the unity of God with those in him). Whatever the case may be, some care should be taken in trying to understand the lexical semantics of Coptic, because glosses can themselves be indefinite article could be used in ways that differ from its use in English. Also, the form used in John 1:1 is which is not ou- per se but neou-. It is unclear to me (not knowing Coptic), whether neou- is a different prefix altogether or two affixes, i.e. ne-ou-, the first of which is obscure to me (at least in the lexicon provided by the site owner). But interestingly, this formation does not occur anywhere else in the Coptic NT, but does occur in the Coptic Passio Mercurii (21, cf. [1]) where reference seems to be to God:

    "nesrwme de autwoun aunau epentafywpe aulupH emate etbe peunoute je nehenhellHn ne neCrpstianos de ethn tpolis nterouswtm epentafywpe auswbe nsa nhellHn mn neunoute etyoueit prwme de nergatHs nterefswtm eroou afeime je phagios merkourios"

    And here is an Italian translation of this passage (cf. [2]): "A causa di questo miracolo molti credettero in Dio e divennero cristiani. Il santo martire fu posto in un topos molto bello e appariscente in quel posto e molte guarigioni avvennero in quel luogo per opera della potenza di Dio e del suo santo s. Mercurio". That's all I've been able to find out, but as you can see, things seem to be a little more complex than they may at first appear.

  • IP_SEC

    Were not the coptics gnostic? The word would have been a god just as we all have the potential to be a god inasmuch as the gnostics believed?

  • Leolaia

    IP-SEC....Yes, gnosticism was particularly dominant in the Coptic churches, especially by the third century when the Coptic translation was likely produced. The idea was less becoming individual "gods" but rather joining with the Father, unifying your divine spark with the unity of God (i.e. the pleroma) that extends throughout the universe and into the material world. And that is what makes the use of "a god" in Ephesians 4:6 (which expresses this concept of the "one God" as being in all things) so interesting. Why is the Father called "a god" (ounoute) in this text, to render heis theos "one God"? This suggests some caution in interpreting what the use of the indefinite article meant in Coptic.

  • Narkissos

    I don't know Coptic either, but as far as Ephesians 4 is concerned, it seems to me that the numeral "one" is distinct from the indefinite article (although combined with it). It is apparent (thanks to the repetitive structure) from the context (n.b. this is not a transliteration, just the Latin characters corresponding to the Coptic fonts in the file):

    4. etetno nouswma nouwt. oupneuma nouwt. kata qe entauteHm thutn Hn ounaHte nouwt mpetntwHm. 5.ouJoeis nouwt oupistis nouwt oubaptisma nouwt. 6.ounoute nouwt peiwt nouon nim.

    Fwiw, French uses a comparable combination to convey the sense of the adjectival "one" here: un seul corps et un seul esprit, etc. Of course it can be construed differently: as "un" can mean either "a(n)" or "one", the additional adjective "seul" ("only") can be analysed as expliciting "un" as the numeral adjective, not as the indefinite article. Or, "un" could be seen as indefinite article and "seul" would qualify the noun numerically ("a body which is one"). Imo this is debatable.

    From what I have seen in several online Coptic grammars (which are elementary), the use of the indefinite article (ou, han) is very similar to English or French, only more systematic even than in English (in many cases the French doesn't use it for a predicate when the English does, e.g. "I am a translator" > "Je suis traducteur". There was an example in one linguist forum in which Coptic would have to say "I am a Black" for "I am Black").

    Back to theology, I think a/one common mistake in approaching Gnostic or proto-Gnostic thought is reading into it the classical monotheistic notion of the exclusive unity of "God" as separated from creation. The Gnostic concept of divinity can embrace plurality, as shown from the reasoning on the plural theoi in GJohn 10:33ff. From this perspective I guess there is no problem in calling the Logos "a god" -- but the meaning of such an expression in proto-Gnostic thought is far from what the monotheistic JWs imagine.

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