Re: hOUTWS in John

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 2 Dec 1996 19:55:03 -0600

At 7:22 PM -0600 12/2/96, David Housholder wrote:
>I note that the NRSV regularly translates hOUTWS as meaning "in this
>manner" or "thus" or such (not those words necessarily, but that idea). It
>then fudges by leaving the hOUTWS in John 3:16 as "so [loved]" leaving open
>the idea that John 3:16 speaks of a degree of love rather than a statement
>of what it meant in action ("God loved the word in this way:").
>The puzzle for me is why the NRSV then goes way overboard in giving the
>impression that hOUTWS is "so much" when it translates 1 John 4:11 as
>"Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another."
>Can anyone explain that choice of translation (the context seems to me to
>demand "in this manner" or "like this").

You have stumbled upon the important fact that words in one
language--unless they represent something quite concrete in the
experiential world, such as "hand" (but Greek XEIR may mean "wrist" or
"forearm" or even "main force," so that even reference to somsething
concrete is not really sufficient to delimit a word--words in one language
very rarely correspond one-to-one with their nearest equivalents in
another. hOUTWS is the adverb for the demonstrative pronoun, hOUTOS, hAUTH,
TOUTO, which, under different circumstances may mean "this one," "that
one," "the latter," and a few other things. So hOUTWS does, in fact,
basically mean "in this way"--but it will also mean "so," "in that way,"
and "so much" or "that much"--particularly in a typical result construction
such as John 3:16 where we have the combination hOUTWS ... hWSTE ...

The translators are not being inconsistent here but accurate. They could
achieve perfect consistency in this matter only by rendering the Greek
inaccurately or in a way that is misrepresented by English idiom. You might
do well to look up hOUTWS in a dictionary which (unlike the little
dictionary that comes with UBS3 or UBS4) shows the full range of senses
that it can have in different constructions. And give up right now the
notion that there's a one-to-one correspondence between Greek and English

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR