But, it seems as though this phrase has engendered no confusion or deep thought among commentators, as far as I can tell. And translations are largely in agreement, paraphrasing the same general idea; mostly avoiding a literal rendering, such as 'the dispersion of the Greeks' (cf. Young's Literal Translation).
Presumably this would give English speakers the wrong impression; that it refers to 'Greeks' (Gentiles) who are dispersed, rather than 'Jews' among them; even though it's the 'Greeks' who are the rumored target audience of Jesus. Thus the popular implication seems to be that Jesus would go to the Jews to teach the Greeks.
I've seen 'τῶν ἑλλήνων' (of the Greeks) identified as an 'objective genitive'; though it strikes me as resembling a 'partitive genitive' - even though the latter does not appear to be compatible with the common understanding. In my attempt to rationalize it, I suppose 'the (Jewish) diaspora' is conceived (by the author) as 'PART of the Greek-speaking (world)' - and thus constitutes 'the Greek diaspora', so to speak. In other words, the reference might be to the 'Hellen(ist)ic dispersion' - Hellenized Jews living in the Diaspora. Alternatively, if it simply meant 'the Greek-speaking world', it might tie-in to Jesus' 'teaching the Greeks'. Then again, could 'the Greeks' simply be a referred to thoroughly 'Hellenized Jews' writ large?
Here's the Greek text vs the KJV, NASB and NET (with added emphasis and formatting):
John 7:35 (SBL)
John 7:35 (KJV)εἶπον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι πρὸς ἑαυτούς·
Ποῦ οὗτος μέλλει πορεύεσθαι ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐχ εὑρήσομεν αὐτόν;
μὴ εἰς τὴν διασπορὰν τῶν Ἑλλήνων μέλλει πορεύεσθαι καὶ διδάσκειν τοὺς Ἕλληνας;
John 3:35 (NASB):Then said the Jews among themselves,
Whither will he go, that we shall not find him?
will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
John 7:35 (NET):The Jews then said to one another,
“Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him?
He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?
*sn The Jewish people dispersed (Grk “He is not going to the Diaspora”). The Greek term diaspora (“dispersion”) originally meant those Jews not living in Palestine, but dispersed or scattered among the Gentiles.Then the Jewish leaders said to one another,
“Where is he going to go that we cannot find him?
He is not going to go to the Jewish people dispersed* among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, is he?
Here's how BDAG addresses this verse under the term 'diaspora':
BDAG decidedly puts John 7:35 in the former category of 'state or condition of being scattered...', not 'the place in which the dispersed are found', even though the preposition 'εἰς' seems to open up the latter possibility. So, I don't really see any conflict between the traditional translation of John 7:35 ('the (Jewish) diaspora among the Greeks') and BDAG's #2 definition - "the place in which the dispersed are found, dispersion, diaspora".διασπορά, ᾶς, ἡ (s. διασπείρω; Philo, Praem. 115; Plut., Mor. 1105a; Just.)
LXX of dispersion of Israel among the gentiles (Dt 28:25; 30:4; Jer 41:17; s. also PsSol; TestAsh 7:2).
① state or condition of being scattered, dispersion of those who are dispersed (Is 49:6; Ps 146:2; 2 Macc 1:27; PsSol 8:28)
ἡ δ. τῶν Ἑλλήνων those who are dispersed among the Greeks J 7:35.
—Schürer III 1–176; JJuster, Les Juifs dans l’Empire romain 1914; ACausse, Les Dispersés d’Israël 1929; GRosen, Juden u. Phönizier 1929; KKuhn, D. inneren Gründe d. jüd. Ausbreitung: Deutsche Theologie 2, ’35, 9–17; HPreisker, Ntl. Zeitgesch. ’37, 290–93 (lit.); JRobinson, NTS 6, ’60, 117–31 (4th Gosp.).
② the place in which the dispersed are found, dispersion, diaspora (Jdth 5:19; TestAsh 7:2). Fig., of Christians who live in dispersion in the world, far fr. their heavenly home αἱ δώδεκα φυλαὶ αἱ ἐν τῇ δ. Js 1:1. παρεπίδημοι διασπορᾶς 1 Pt 1:1.—Hengel, Judaism II index. DELG s.v. σπείρω. TW.
Here are a couple of references explaining the 'partitive genitive' that fave a familiar form:
The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek
Smyth's Greek Grammar*30.29 The partitive gentivie (also 'of the divided whole') denotes a whole to which the head belongs as a part:
οἱ χρηστοὶ τῶν ἀνθώπων the good people (lit. 'the good among the people')
πολλοὶ τῶν λόγων many of the words
Compare that to the use of the phrase 'our diaspora' in 2 Maccabees 1:26-27 -*1306. The genitive may denote a whole, a part of which is denoted by the noun it limits.
The genitive of the divided whole may be used with any word that expresses or implies a part.
1310. (I) The genitive of the divided whole is used with substantives.
μέρος τι τῶν βαρβάρων some part of the barbarians T.1.1
πρόσδεξαι τὴν θυσίαν ὑπὲρ παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ σου Ισραηλ,
καὶ διαφύλαξον τὴν μερίδα σου, καὶ καθαγίασον.
ἐπισυνάγαγε τὴν διασπορὰν ἡμῶν·
ἐλευθέρωσον τοὺς δουλεύοντας ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν·
τοὺς ἐξουθενημένους καὶ βδελυκτοὺς ἔπιδε, καὶ γνώτωσαν τὰ ἔθνη ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν.
Accept this sacrifice on behalf of all your people Israel,
and preserve your portion, and make it holy.
Gather together our diaspora;
set free those who are slaves among the nations;
look on those who are rejected and despised, and let the nations know that you are our God.
There 'our diaspora' is clearly from the perspective of Israel. Presumably, it may have raised eyebrows had it described 'the diaspora of the nations' (ἡ διασπορὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν), followed by the exhortation to 'set free those who are slaves among the nations'. The author seems careful to avoid conflating 'the (Gentile) nations' with 'the people of Israel'. Presumably, a gentivie construction like the one found in John 7:35 would NOT have conjured up the image of a 'diaspora AMONG the nations'.
I dug around a few commentaries and came up with some noteworthy (albeit underwhelming) results:
Ernst Haenchen's Commentary on John 2 (Hermeneia Series), 1985
7.35 The Jews misunderstand these words and, without knowing it, they pronounce in them a prophesy that had come to pass in the time of the Evangelist: the Christian mission in the diaspora. The Evangelist has in mind not just a mission among hellenistic Jewish Christians; the word "Greeks" (Ἕλληνες) and the fact of the mission to the Gentiles in the time of the Evangelist proves that.
Adam Clarke's Commentary on John-Romans, 1800s
Clarke doesn't say who exactly (in the early 19th century) subscribed to the latter interpretation. The implication is that the 'diaspora of the Greeks' was actually 'the Northern Israelite diaspora' ('the lost sheep of the House of Israel'), scattered among 'the nations/Gentiles' and prophesied to be re-gathered as part of the restoration of all Israel - cf. James 1:1 & Peter 1:1.Verse 35. The dispersed among the Gentiles] Or Greeks. By the dispersed, are meant here the Jews who were scattered through various parts of that empire which Alexander the Great had founded, in Greece, Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor, where the Greek language was used, and where the Jewish Scriptures in the Greek version of the Septuagint were read. Others suppose that the Gentile themselves are meant-others, that the ten tribes which had been long lost are here intended.
Interestingly, John Chrysostom, associated 'the diaspora of Greeks' with 'Gentiles' in this verse and doesn't seem to consider the modern reading as an alternative:
Chrysostom. (Homily 50 on the Gospel of John, 1. 32.)
Though I've failed to find analogous examples to 'the diaspora of the Greeks', I did manage to find the following examples of the term "diaspora", which I'll list for ease of reference without trying to illustrate anything in particular:Τί δέ ἐστι διασπορά; οὕτω τὰ ἔθνη ἐκάλουν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ὡς πανταχοῦ διεσπαρμένα.
What is, "dispersion"? The Jews gave this name to the Gentiles, because they were dispersed everywhere.
LXX Isaiah 49:6 (NETS) -
καὶ εἶπέν μοι·
«μέγα σοί ἐστιν τοῦ κληθῆναί σε παῖδά μου,
τοῦ στῆσαι τὰς φυλὰς Ιακωβ,
καὶ τὴν διασπορὰν τοῦ Ισραηλ ἐπιστρέψαι.
ἰδοὺ, τέθεικά σε εἰς διαθήκην γένους εἰς φῶς ἐθνῶν,
τοῦ εἶναί σε εἰς σωτηρίαν ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς
Justin Martyr, Dialogue Wity Trypho, 113.3 (fragment) -And he said to me,
“It is a great thing for you to be called my servant
so that you may set up the tribes of Iakob
and turn back the dispersion of Israel.
See, I have made you a light of nations,
that you may be for salvation to the end of the earth.
...οὕτως καὶ Ἰησοῦς ὁ Χριστὸς τὴν διασπορὰν τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπιστρέψει, καὶ διαμεριεῖ τὴν ἀγαθὴν γῆν ἑκάστῳ, οὐκέτι δὲ κατὰ ταὐτά.
Justin Martyr, Dialogue Wity Trypho, 117.5 (fragment) -...so also Jesus the Christ will turn again the dispersion of the people, and will distribute the good land to each one, though not in the same manner.
Εἶτα δὲ ὅτι κατ ἐκεῖνο τοῦ καιροῦ, ὅτε ὁ προφήτης Μαλαχίας τοῦτο ἔλεγεν, οὐδέπω ἡ διασπορὰ ὑμῶν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ γῇ, ἐν ὅσῃ νῦν γεγόνατε, ἐγεγένητο, ὡς καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν γραφῶν ἀποδείκνυται.
Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.1.2 -And then at the time when Malachi wrote this, your dispersion over all the earth, which now exists, had not taken place.
Πέτρος δὲ ἐν Πόντῳ καὶ Γαλατία καὶ Βιθυνία Καππαδοκία τε καὶ Ἀσία κεκηρυχέναι τοῖς ἐν διασπορᾷ Ἰουδαίοις ἔοικεν· ὃς καὶ ἐπὶ τέλει ἐν Ῥώμῃ γενόμενος, ἀνεσκολοπίσθη κατὰ κεφαλῆς, οὕτως αὐτὸς ἀξιώσας παθεῖν.
Eusebius, The Proof of the Gospel 2.3.4 -but Peter seems to have preached to the Jews of the Dispersion in Pontus and Galatia and Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia, and at the end he came to Rome and was crucified head downwards, for so he had demanded to suffer.
Τὰ περὶ τῆς εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη διασπορᾶς τοῦ Ἰουδαίων ἔθνους, καὶ περὶ τῆς ἀνανεώσεως τῆς Χριστοῦ παρουσίας καὶ βασιλείας, καὶ τῆς ἐπ’ αὐτῇ γεγενημένης τῆς τῶν ἐθνῶν ἁπάντων κλήσεως.
Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John, 13.335 (fragment) -Concerning the Dispersion of the Jewish Race among all the Nations, and the Renewing of Christ's Coming and Kingdom, and the Call of all the Nations consequent upon it.
εἰ δὲ ἅγιοι ἄγγελοί εἰσιν, οἱ τὰς λοιπὰς μερίδας παρὰ τὴν ἐκλεκτὴν εἰληχότες
καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς διασπορᾶς τῶν ψυχῶν τεταγμένοι,
οὐδέν ἐστιν ἄτοπον τὸν σπείροντα ὁμοῦ χαίρειν καὶ τὸν θερίζοντα μετὰ τὸν θερισμόν.
Philo, On Rewards and Punishments 115And if it is the holy angels who have received the remaining portions in addition to the chosen portion
and who have been appointed over the dispersion of souls,
it is not strange that the one who sows and the one who reaps rejoice together after the harvest.
ὅθεν εἴρηται πρὸς τοὺς ἐθέλοντας μιμεῖσθαι τὰ σπουδαῖα καὶ θαυμαστὰ κάλλη μὴ ἀπογινώσκειν τὴν ἀμείνω μεταβολὴν μηδὲ τὴν ὥσπερ ἐκ διασπορᾶς ψυχικῆς ἣν εἰργάσατο κακία πρὸς ἀρετὴν καὶ σοφίαν ἐπάνοδον· ἵλεως γὰρ ὅταν ἡ ὁ θεός, ἐξευμαρίζεται πάντα.
*Evidently an allegorization of Deut. xxx. 4 “if thy dispersion (διασπορά, E.V. thy outcasts) be from one end of heaven to the other, the Lord will gather thee thence.”And therefore those who would imitate these examples of good living so marvellous in their loveliness, are bidden not to despair of changing for the better or of a restoration to the land of wisdom and virtue from the spiritual dispersion* which vice has wrought.
LXX Deuteronomy 30:3-4 (NETS) -
καὶ ἰάσεται κύριος τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου
καὶ ἐλεήσει σε
καὶ πάλιν συνάξει σε ἐκ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν
εἰς οὓς διεσκόρπισέν σε κύριος ἐκεῖ.
ἐὰν ᾖ ἡ διασπορά σου ἀπ᾽ ἄκρου τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἕως ἄκρου τοῦ οὐρανοῦ,
ἐκεῖθεν συνάξει σε κύριος ὁ θεός σου, καὶ ἐκεῖθεν λήμψεταί σε κύριος ὁ θεός σου.
And the Lord will heal your sins
and have mercy on you
and gather you again from all the nations
among whom the Lord has scattered you there.
If your dispersion be from an end of the sky to an end of the sky,
from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you.