Coptic John 1:1, Revisited

by rmnnoute 30 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    You don't give us your credentials and viewpoint concerning the scholarship. When did the Princeton prof publish his work? Without enormous effort, why should we believe your stance that a particular scholar is excellent. Some excellent scholars are seen as mediocre or off point with the passage of time. It is very true in Art History. Most of the masterpiece painters were dismissed in their lifetimes and other painters elevated. When we see the art through today's sensibilities, one can't possibly imagine what contemporaries saw.

    The bottom line for me is to not repeat the WT errors. I know enough from the relatively small bit I've studied that such a discussion would take up many heavy books and a slew of scholarly articles to even pose the questions raised. Frankly, I care about 1st century practice. Christianity was really many Christianities. It was my understanding that the Coptics and the Egyptian Jews were isolated from the rest of the world. The isolation needs to be addressed.

    I'm not saying you are wrong. As someone who was so impressed with the Witness quoting secular sources, I demand a much higher burden of proof. Also, reference is made to one strand of Coptic translation. Do the competing strands agree?

  • ShadesofGrey
    According to Greek scholar William Barclay, neither does the Greek text support the reading, "the Word was God." Barclay writes: "When a Greek noun has not got the article in front of it, it becomes rather a description than an identification, and has the character of an adjective rather than of a noun....John is not here identifying the Word with God. To put it very simply, he does not say that Jesus was God." -- Many Witnesses, One Lord, pp. 23, 24

    Let's apply this rule to some more scriptures:

    John 1:6: There came a man, sent from a god.

    John 1:18: No man has seen a god at any time.

    Matthew 5:9: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of a god.

    2 Corinthians 4:4: the God of this system of things.

    Hebrews 1:8: toward but the Son The throne of you the God into the age of the age.

    John 20:28: (Thomas speaking to Jesus) The God of me!

  • ShadesofGrey
    Alternatively, the Coptic could support "the Word was divine." But the Coptic does not support a translation like "the Word was God."

    The word for divine is theios or theias as in 2 Peter 1:4. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

    The word for God is theos as in John 1:1 and John 3:16. For God so loved the world, and

    Luke 18:19 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

  • slimboyfat

    I wish, when people bump old threads, they could give a short explanation why, and what point they intend to make by so doing.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Excellent idea. YOu only need two or three sentences at the most.

  • slimboyfat

    LWT is forever bumping stuff and posting links without ever explaining what the point is. It really gets on my tits. To be clear, that's the point I'm making.

  • ShadesofGrey

    I am assuming it was to assist with the discussion on this other bumped thread? Or was the other thread bumped? Who bumped it first?

    I have asked questions on this forum and been referred to the search feature. Perhaps people want to discuss this and do the search first.

  • slimboyfat

    That much would appear to be obvious. But assist how exactly?

    There have been other threads on the subject over the years. Does LWT mean to imply that this thread reveals something about the background or viewpoint of rmnnoute that is not clear on the other threads? It might be a possible reason for bumping the thread, but in the absence of any comment whatever who can tell what the point is meant to be?

  • botchtowersociety

    Thou doth protest too much.

  • Kas

    I second the motion that the point be clarified. The post I submitted sometime after the original thread ended, in part, called into question the validity of Harner's study, not because he lacked credentials (though it seems clear that he was not a linguist), but because his study clearly seems to be somewhat of a logical mess. More importantly, I pointed out that the manner in which scholars handle translating Greek constructions that correspond to John 1:1c into English favors an indefinite rendering.

    To restate the point, if we exclude nouns that are not like QEOS from consideration (i.e. non-count/mass nouns like "love" and "flesh"), and focus solely on nouns that are truly similar, i.e. that are (i) pre-verbal, (ii) predicate nominatives, (iii) not qualified (i.e. by a qualifying phrase of any kind, such as "of Israel", "of the Jews", "of the Sabbath", etc.), (iv) are bounded (=count), (v) do not name qualities, and (vi) are not definite (this is an assumption, because QEOS at 1:1c certainly could be definite), then one finds a clear pattern as to how translators handle such nouns. Here are all of the examples in John's Gospel that I found that fit the stated criteria:

    John 4:19: PROFHTHS EI SU
    ("a prophet" NRSV)

    John 6:70: DIABOLOS ESTIN
    ("a devil" NRSV)

    John 8:34: DOULOS ESTIN
    ("a slave" NRSV)

    ("a murderer" NRSV)

    John 8:44: YEUSTHS ESTIN
    ("a liar" NRSV)

    John 8:48: SAMARITHS EI
    ("a Samaritan" NRSV)

    John 9:17: PROFHTHS ESTIN
    ("a prophet" NRSV)

    John 9:24: hAMARTWLOS ESTIN
    ("a sinner" NRSV)

    John 9:25: hAMARTWLOS ESTIN
    ("a sinner" NRSV)

    John 10:1: KLEPTHS ESTIN
    ("a thief" NRSV)

    Note: At John 10:1, notice that there's no difference between how KLEPTHS (=thief) is handled, which occurs before the verb, and LhiSTHS (=robber) is handled, which occurs after the verb.

    John 10:13: MISQWTOS ESTIN
    ("a hired hand" NRSV)

    John 12:6: KLEPTHS HN
    ("a thief" NRSV)

    John 18:35: IOUDAIOS EIMI
    ("a Jew" NRSV)

    John 18:37a: BASILEUS EI
    ("a king" NRSV)

    John 18:37b: BASILEUS EIMI
    ("a king" NRSV)

    Some have said that these verses include the indefinite article to conform to English idiom, which is true, of course. The crucial question is whether the English renderings of these verses accurately capture the sense of the underlying Greek, and I doubt that thoughtful consideration can yield anything but an affirmative answer.


Share this