RE: Translation for O LOGOS (John 1)?

From: Peter Phillips (
Date: Fri Oct 10 1997 - 14:51:57 EDT

I'm just doing a little bit of a study on the Prologue at the moment (or
like the last four years of moments). I don't think you are going to get a
better translation of this word. It was clearly a polysemous word in Koine
- Ed Miller suggests thirteen possible ways of interpreting it, Origen
earlier had a much longer list of lexical equivalents in his commentary.
 As he says - it's not only the Greeks who have a problem with this word!

Why not do what you have done in your letter - transliterate rather than
translate - it will need explaining eaither way!

Pete Phillips
Cliff College
Sheffield, UK

From: Noel Maddy []
Sent: 10 October 1997 15:39
Subject: Translation for O LOGOS (John 1)?

[I'm reasonably new to the list, so if this has been hashed out before
please just point me to the discussion.]

I'm working with some students in my church studying and translating
John 1. One of the most challenging things has been trying to come up
with a suitable translation for O LOGOS.

In all of the translations I can remember, this is just translated as
"the word". Of course, people that have been exposed to Biblical
teaching will probably have been taught some of the context and
connotations of the term, so they would understand it. But what about
those who have had little exposure to the Bible? Would they be able to
get any idea of the "content" meaning of "the word", or would they just
think of a spoken or written word (more like H RHMA)?

It seems like the more I study the usage of O LOGOS, the less
comfortable I am with using "the word" without spending a great deal of
time explaining to people the "real meaning" -- which is usually a good
indication of a bad translation, no?

To me, O LOGOS focuses more on the content or message, or even a
philosophy or rational structure, than it does on a word or means of

Two questions: Is this perception of O LOGOS reasonably accurate? And
is there a better English word to use than "word" for this idea?

Pleasantly puzzled,

                                         "More input!"
Noel Maddy <>           - Number Five

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:32 EDT