Biblical double meanings

> This seems to miss the point that, in some meaningful sense, anwthen
> "literally" means BOTH 'from above' and 'again.'  That seems to be the
> whole literary point.  The ambiguity is not an unfortunate problem for the
> writer, but a means of communicating something.  Trying to resolve the
> ambiguity in this case is like trying to resolve the ambiguity in a
> pun--if you succeed, the pun ceases to be a pun.  I can't really imagine
> there being a dynamically eqivalent translation of this verse.

Absolutely. But if one is not too hypnotised by the "above" sense, could
not a simple translation be, "Unless one is reborn ..."? That leaves the
type of birth equally open. The "above" is important, of course - from
Heaven (the Spirit) rather than from earth (the flesh), but not nearly
so important as the deliberate double meaning.

You are absolutely right though that the biblical texts are full of this
sort of thing - as are almost all religious texts. The idea is to
"evoke" an insight, not to thrust platitudes down a probably unwilling
throat. "Give me understanding and I shall keep thy Law." Does this
mean, "I shall realise I must try even harder to keep it", or "I shall
realise I obey it willy-nilly"? Along the lines of the Zen idea that
"Tao is that from which I cannot depart. That from which I can depart is
not the Tao." Equally true of God's will and Law. The Bible is full of
this sort of think.

Some of the John cases are a bit trivially contrived really, to let
even semi-educated Christians feel a bit smug at the obtuseness of
Nicodemus and the woman at the well, etc.

I thank my stars I am not a translator. Anyone who takes the Bible
seriously really needs to make the effort to read it in the original,
there is no doubt. Pity about all the mistakes and self-contradictions
of course. "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet .." from MALACHI!!

John Richards                                       Stackpole Elidor (UK)