Re: Parakletos, all five cases

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Sep 14 1997 - 08:44:06 EDT

At 12:13 PM -0500 9/14/97, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>As we looked at PARAKLETOS in 1 Jn 2:1, we had another discussion as to
>how to translate this word. We looked again at its usages in John
>14,15, and 16, and a thought struck me. I'd like to bounce this off
>y'all (you recognize this as the 2nd person plural form after our long
>discussion [ ;^> ]).
>The traditional view, as I understand it, is that the Holy Spirit in
>John 14, 15, and 16 comes along beside us to help us. What if,
>instead, Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit is coming along beside
>him, i.e. Jesus, to help him do his work? This would greatly narrow
>down the semantic domain of this word, would it not? All five
>instances would basically describe the same type function.
>I realize the etymology of the word, and the usage of PARAKALEW and
>PARAKLESIS in the New Testament. Yet this concept would not be so far
>afield from those words IMHO.

While I hardly think I can add anything to a question that has probably
already merited more than its share of words and ink, it is one that I've
puzzled over myself, and it does seem to me that, inasmuch as translators
appear uncomfortable even over the right way to convey PARAKLHTOS in
English in the gospel's Farewell Discourses, it's worth our discussing.
This is one instance in which I wonder whether the etymology of PARAKLHTOS
in relationship to PARAKALEW may not in fact be quite relevant. Some may
know that PARAKALW in Modern Greek is the response to EFCARISTW, "Thank
you." It's occurred to me that the word in NT usage is already close in
sense to the German BITTEN ("Bitte" is the German response to "Danke"),
with the sense "plead," "beg," "entreat," "encourage," "exhort," and
perhaps half a dozen additional extensions. Perhaps "intercede" would work
as a central conception. My lexicographical stuff is at the office, and I
have never felt that confident in the mutually-contradictory information
I've had from them in consulting them before, but I wonder whether
"intercessor" or "intervenor" might do to convey the sense that PARAKLHTOS
has in both the gospel and in this passage of the First Letter. Or perhaps
"mediator." One could ask also whether it is desirable to suggest either a
legal or medical professional--i.e. someone who is fully competent to take
care of one's legal or medical problems.

>I admit that I'm at a disadvantage as my TDNT is still in transit from
>the States. (Shipping books overseas takes even longer than it does
> from North Carolina to Missouri, Carl!) I have Volumes 2, 3, and 4,
>but this word is covered in Volume 5. So part of my question to the
>list is: How is this word used in the secular and LXX? Does my guess
>still hold water?

Actually, when UPS is functioning at full steam, shipping books from NC to
MO is a lot quicker than sending a letter is when the US Postal Service is
functioning at full steam!

I've read David Mackay's response to this message, and it is indeed
interesting that the noun doesn't appear in the LXX, although the verb
does. One could do a word search on TLG for PARAKLHTOS, but my guess is
that NT usage is not really different from secular usage and that the word
surely derives from secular usage rather than from any institutional
religious source within Hellenistic Judaism.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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