John 1:1 in Coptic Translation

by slimboyfat 78 Replies latest jw friends

  • jaffacake
    jaffacake
    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.

    I don't know enough about your main point to comment, but if your comparison with the George Howard study is anything to go by......I have my doubts.

    A field day Freddie may have had, but only by ignoring the overwhelming evidence against the Tetragram ever having been present in the NT. The JWs quoted Howard very selectively, but how many JWs researched Howard's work?

    How many have a scan of a letter written by Howard following the redating in 1988 of manuscript p46 to the first century? How many know that Howard wrote:

    "the Tetragram was not used as I suggested" ...."this weakens my theory..." "The Jehovah's Witnesses have made too much out of my articles. I do not support their theories".

  • RodentBoy
    RodentBoy

    Seems like pretty small comfort to me, considering that, so far as I am aware, all other early translations very clearly point towards the Jesus is God interpretation. This is simply cherry picking, finding some translation that, ignoring everything else, supports their view. The Coptic Church is and always has been a Trinitarian church, so clearly the JWs are very wrong on what the passage represents. You can produce your own translation that cleverly alters the Bible to say what you're bizarre theology claims, but you can't rewrite theology of another church, which is what the JWs are really trying to do here.

  • Terry
    Terry
    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".

    Sheesh, what a grouch!

    T.

  • Terry
    Terry

    If divinity were writing about itself (himself/herself) and making itself understood to human thought contexts, would it not result in clarity rather than confusion?

    If human imagination is at work (instead of divinity), is it not more likely that the resulting confusion over this text is mostly due to the mind of the writer and the audience being addressed rather than the incomprehensible nature of divinity itself?

    What I mean is this.

    If I am a composer of music writing about MY music in a personal way and making the effort to clarify my creativity in a way the layman could understand; the result of my explanations would be "the clarifying" that resulted (if I were a competent writer.

    However, if I were an author of fiction writing in the "voice" of a composer who is explaining his music (but, I, the author do not have musical insight or training) the result of my literary character's explanations will be dense and puzzling rather than edifying.

    Capish?

    One more possibility...

    If I am a composer writing to other composers I will not re-invent the wheel in my explanations because the foundational knowledge is ALREADY PRESENT with the reader. My explanations will fully clarify my musical thoughts and be meaningful to the reader as well BECAUSE THERE WOULD BE ACTUAL CONTENT in the written word.

    Now choose among the three examples which best describes these efforts to parse the meaning of John 1:1.

    To me (I'm no expert) these are the ravings of a mystical fanatic who has lost touch with reality. There were thousands of such writers in the Middle East at the time. This is but one particularly weird example.

    The fact that people obsess over these writings as though they revealed anything real is just sad to me.

    T.

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat
    all other early translations very clearly point towards the Jesus is God interpretation.

    I am not sure that is the case. I seem to remember that the Latin is ambiguous like the Greek. As for the Syriac, I don't know.

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    Jaffacake,

    I am not convinced those letters from George Howard are genuine. Howard's article, although presented as a 'theory', certainly supported the view that the tetragram was used in th NT, so it would have been very strange had the Witnesses not taken advantage of that. Besides, they have new support now from David Trobisch who also argues that the tetragram was originally used in the NT.

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    Leolaia,

    Some languages use the same word for the numeral "one" as they do for the indefinite article. That is why it seems like a case of special pleading to appeal to the use of indefinite article with reference to God in Eph 4 to undermine the force of the inseparable preposition in John 1:1. Do you have a strong personal commitment to the JWs being wrong on this issue that compels you to argue in this way?

    Also, what do you make of the claim that the second "god" in John 1:1 is written out in full, as distinct from the sacral abbreviation of the first?

  • Farkel
    Farkel

    Little Toe,

    : I would imagine the Mormons would have most to gain by this rendering.

    The Mormons believe the name "Jehovah" in the Bible refers to Jesus, not the Heavenly Father.

    John 1:1 as rendered in the NWT presents a big dilemma to dubs besides its obvious implications of polytheism. The Bible says elsewhere that there is only one "true" God. John 1:1 (NWT) says Jesus is "a" God. This begs the question, "is Jesus a true god or a false god?" If Jesus is a "true" god, then the verse that says there is only one true god is a lie. If Jesus is a false god, then why follow him? If Jesus IS the one and only true God, then dubs are wrong for not believing in the trinity.

    No matter what choice they make, they are screwed.

    Farkel

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat


    Narkissos,

    I think you are placing the bar rather high for the Witnesses in terms of what they can claim in their support when you suggest that even if the Coptic supports their linguistic view as regards theos being indefinite in John 1:1C, they can't lay claim to that as evidence because the Coptic translators probably did not have in mind the same conception of Jesus as a divine creature as JWs do. Surely, even if those particular believers probably had a different take on what Jesus' being "a god" involved, the point is that those early translators recognised that the theos was indefinite, and not governed by any such grammatical rule as Cowell formulated in modern times to argue that the Greek construction indicates that theos should be construed as definite.

    If we applied the same standard to Trinitarians in what they could call upon in support of their view about God then neither can they claim that John 1:1 supports their view of the relation between Jesus and God, since in interpreting this text they are forced to introduce distinctions between "person" and "being" that did not originate with the author. They are also forced to claim that the NT repeatedly equivocates in its use of theos, alternating between a putative triune being and each of the divine persons.

  • Leolaia
    Leolaia
    That is why it seems like a case of special pleading to appeal to the use of indefinite article with reference to God in Eph 4 to undermine the force of the inseparable preposition in John 1:1.

    1) What is an "inseparable preposition"?? 2) You speak as if the "force" of the rendering is already known and I am "undermining" it by seeking illuminative (counter)-examples. If that is the case, when and where did you learn Coptic? Because the actual sense of the indefinite article is NOT known until one either understands the language or looks at how the article is used. I had a lengthy pointless discussion with pseudo-scholar last year about the need for looking at other examples of Hebrew le to understand how it is used in Jeremiah 29:10. As Narkissos points out, Coptic may have an even more general use of the indefinite article than in English, employing it in semantic contexts where we would not use it in English. You thus have to take into account how article inflections are used in Coptic. That is why I pointed out the text in Ephesians because it clearly uses the indefinite article in a way that CONTRASTS with English, is more generalized than English, and more critically for John 1:1, shows that the Father can be "a god" too. It suggests that some caution may be needed in interpreting the phrase, and the further examples from the Passio Mecurii may possibly suggest the same thing as well. I honestly don't know what the rules are about using articles in Coptic, but it looks to be more complex than may initially seem. 3) Thus it is not "special pleading" to point to other examples of the same phrase used. It is exactly what one does to try to make sense of an unfamiliar language.

    Do you have a strong personal commitment to the JWs being wrong on this issue that compels you to argue in this way?

    Absolutely not, I have no stake at all in the matter. It would be a little unusual if no one in the first several centuries of Bible translation didn't take the ambiguous phrasing of John 1:1 and interpret the anarthrous predicate noun as indefinite. It is entirely possible. But you need to bear in mind that translation is an interpretive act, it often tells more about the thinking of the translator (especially in making choices between different options of rendering an ambiguous text) than it does about the text being translated.

    Also, what do you make of the claim that the second "god" in John 1:1 is written out in full, as distinct from the sacral abbreviation of the first?

    That is very interesting. Unfortunately, the version provided by the site does not give the sacra nomina and spells out both, but if this was in the original manuscripts, this would be good evidence that the translator (or copyist) was making explicit the distinction between the theos the Logos was with and the theos the Logos was. Such a distinction however was consistent with binitarian theology as well, which posits a distinction between the Father (= the theos in v. 1b) and the Son (= the theos in v. 1c), and various critics have suggested that the original author was marking the contrast in another way -- by using the anarthrous predicate noun in one case and the definite noun in the other.

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