Re: Jn 1:1

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Wed Sep 03 1997 - 17:17:14 EDT

Will Wagers wrote:

>>>>I'd like to offer a translation of my own (humbly). If anyone has comments
on it which haven't already appeared in other posts, I'd be happy to
recieve them.

        1:1 In the beginning, was Logos;
                        and, Logos was godward God;
                        and, Logos, *itself*, was a god.
        1:2 Logos was godward God in the beginning.

        It may very well be due to the primitive state of my Greek, but I can
tell you that a novice finds most of the arguments presented unvonvincing,
simply for various logical reasons which I won't trouble you with. But, a
major one (for me) is that "Logos" doesn't mean "Word", so any detailed
grammatical analyses which feature it seem to me suspect. (As you can
see, I have no English alternative to offer.)>>>>>

Dear Will,

Why is it that an artist`s painting of a beautiful scenery is much more
appealing than a photo of the same scenery? A photo is a true
representation of something in a fraction of a second, while a painting is
a "distortion" of reality. Because we don`t experience situations in
fractions of seconds, but as something continuing and changing, the artist
tries to communicate this by letting several details blend with each other,
appealing to our phantasy.

Some passages, such as John 1:1, are of the kind that regardless of how we
translate them, their full force is not adequately conveyed in the target
language. Learning and skill is therefore not enough but an artist is
needed. There are several commendable features in your translation. First
your preposition has a striking colour, which may arrest the readeręs
attention, causing him to pause and ask questions. This is important
because,as Greg pointed out in his post today, the preposition suggests
that QEOS is not only qualitative but also indefinite. The disadvantage of
your preposition is that you hardly can use the same rendition in other

Your choice of "a god" is quite bold, the drawback being that for many
English readers it may suggest polytheism, which clearly is not in John`s
mind. The advantage is that it accords with the preposition, and with the
view that QEOS is both qualitative and indefinite. Further it may cause the
reader to see the need for a deeper study of John`s thoughts. Your
translation is not suited for reading aloud in church or for persons with
little Bible knowledge, but certainly is excellent for discussion in a
Bible study group. It is correct that LOGOS has a much broader meaning than
"word", but because it, in John 1:1 represents a person, Jesus Christ, I
don`t thing we need account for this in translation, but rather should
bring it up as a point when the translation is discussed.

There is no better way to learn the intricacies of a foreign language than
to translate portions of it into one`s mother tongue, and I appreciate your
novel contribution. If you have not read the following books I recommend
them: "J. Beekman, J. Callow, 1974, Translating the Word of God, Zondervan.
Peter Newmark, 1988, A Textbook of Translation, Prentice Hall (Very good
on non-biblical literal translation) E. A. Nida, C. R. Taber, 1974, The
Theory and Practice of Translation, Brill. J. de Waard, E. A. Nida, 1986,
>From One Language to Another, Thomas Nelson.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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