John's use of synonyms

From: Eric Weiss (
Date: Tue May 14 1996 - 08:47:38 EDT

I've noticed that the author of John's gospel seems to like to interchange
words that are closely related semantically, but not necessarily because he
means something different by the different words -- it seems to be stylistic.
E.g.'s include ESQIW (EPHAGON--aor.) / TRWGW in chapter 6; AGAPAW / PHILEW
and OIDA / GINWSKW in chapter 21. At least I've interpreted these to be more
stylistic than denoting a real change in authorial meaning after reading some
commentaries on this.

I likewise viewed the switch from PARALAMBANO in 1:11 to LAMBANW in 1:12 as
another example of a simple stylistic word switch. But my study of lexicons
seems to indicate that the semantic overlap of the two words isn't that
great, and hence I wonder if there really is a change in meaning here, or if
instead the author is using LAMBANW to segue, so to speak, from rejecting
Jesus to believing in Jesus. I.e.:

1:11 unto his own [things / nation] he came, and those [people] who were his
own did not give him a welcome / take him as their own [PARALAMBANW]

1:12 but to whoever received him / took him as their authority [LAMBANW] =
to those who believe in his name, he gave to them authority to become
children of God [switching the second and third part of the verse more
clearly shows the possible epexegetical relation of 1:12c to 1:12a]

1:13 who not from blood(s) and not from the will of the flesh and not from
the will of man (or: a husband) but from God were born.

I guess what I'm saying or asking is that it seems that in making his
transition/comparison/contrast from or between those who "rejected" Jesus
(1:11) -- and "reject" seems to be a legitimate translation of OU PARELABON --
with those who "believed" in him, the author deliberately chose to use
LAMBANW (1:12) because it is lexically linked to the preceding PARALAMBANW,
and then he epexegetically relates it to the following PISTEUW.

Any comments/thoughts? (I'd also welcome any comments on the issue of
whether the author in his switching of closely-related words really does
indicate a change of meaning or emphasis, or whether it is mostly stylistic.)


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