Re: hOUTWS in John

Carl W. Conrad (
Tue, 3 Dec 1996 20:25:19 -0600

At 10:47 PM -0600 12/2/96, David Housholder wrote:

CWC: >>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 ...
>I think, by that statement, you are agreeing with my understanding that "so
>much" is *not* an appropriate translation of hOUTWS in John 3:16 (though
>some modern translations use it in that sense).

No, I meant quite the opposite: John 3:16 reads: hOUTWS GAR HGAPHSEN hO
PRECISELY the appropriate translation of hOUTWS in this verse because of
the hWSTE introducing the following clause: "he loved in such a way that
consequently he gave ..." = "he loved so much that he gave ..." Classical
Attic Greek might much more commonly use a TOSOUTON where John 3:16 has
hOUTWS, but the Koine of John is considerably looser in its diction, and my
guess is that there's more than one instance of a hOUTWS in a clause of
classical Attic followed by a hWSTE result clause that would just as surely
call for a translation "in such a way ... that ..." or "so much ... that
..."; although one may argue that there is a subtle but real difference
between the qualitative "in such a way" and the quantitative "so much," yet
the diffference is so subtle that it tends to vanish and hOUTWS comes
readily to be used as an equivalent of TOSOUTON. I don't believe the latter
word appears once in the GNT, the reason being chiefly, I think, that
hOUTWS has assumed its function in normal usage. Curiously contradictory to
this is the fate of the quantative relative pronoun hOSOS in Koine: while
we may be taught to translate a relative clause beginning with hOSOI as "as
many as ... (e.g. John 1:12 hOSOI DE ELABON AUTON, ...), but in Modern
Greek hOSOS is the regular relative pronoun, and I believe that it is being
used colloquially as an equivalent of hOS, hH, hO already in the Koine of
the NT.

>You go on to say, regarding 1 John 4:11:
>>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.

Actually I was saying that about John 3:16, but I did in fact mean that I
thought it applies as well to 1 John 4:11, as I'll try to show.

>That brings us back to my original question: How is "so much" a more
>accurate translation of hOUTWS here? Note the context.
>1 John 4:9 (NRSV) God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent
>his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.
>["in this way" is hOUTWS]
>10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent
>his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
>[Note that God's love for us consisted in or resulted in His act of sending]

It appears to me that in this very note you have demonstrated the PRACTICAL
equivalence of the equational ('consisted in') and consecutive ('resulted
in') ways of viewing this passage.

>11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.
>[Why not, "Beloved, since God loved us in such a manner, we also ought to
>love one another {implied: in a similar manner}]
>John exhorts his readers to love in practical ministering, caring, giving,
>dying for one another (1 John 3:16) ways because that is the manner in
>which God loved us. He is saying that again here in 4:9-11. So why switch
>to "so much" in this context?

I don't dispute any of what you have said about John's exhortation to love
here; it is all quite valid. However, I believe that you have rightly
grouped the whole sequence of 1 John 4:9-11 in such as way (hOUTWS!) that
its literary coherence is manifest; I would say also that in my opinion its
literary dependence upon the gospel text--John 3:16--is quite manifest. You
have yourself, in your original post, put these two passages, one from the
gospel, the other from the first letter of John, together. I believe that 1
John 4:9-10 are an unmistakable literary allusion to John 3:16, and it is
for that very reason, I think, that the translator at verse 11 gives us
"loved us so much" for hOUTWS ... HGAPHSEN. The question about the AGAPH to
be raised here is this: do we understand it in QUANTITATIVE terms
("unstinting," "unbounded") or in QUALITATIVE terms ("thus and so," "like
this and like that and like the other")? My sense is that the focus is on
the QUANTITATIVE aspect here. Perhaps Anximander might have used the
adjective APEIROS to describe it: "unlimited qualitatively and

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