Re: John 1:1

From: mjoseph (
Date: Thu Feb 12 1998 - 13:45:05 EST

Charles C Stevens wrote:

>I have not seen a refutation of these translations of "BR'ShYT BR'
>'LHYM ...", nor would I expect there to be one *in B-Greek*.

I thought that people would know of this; perhaps I assumed too much.
See EJ Young, "Studies in Genesis One" (Presbyterian and Reformed: 1975),
pages 1-7 for the linguistic details. Delitzsch (in loc) doesn't go into
quite as much detail, but closes with the statement "this construction is
invented for the simple purpose of getting rid of the doctrine of a
creatio ex nihilo, which is so repulsive to modern Pantheism." Skinner,
in the ICC volume on Genesis, while holding to an alternate translation
himself, points out that *all* ancient versions translate Gen. 1:1 as an
independent sentence, and he even italicizes the word "all"!

>I wonder about discussing the validity of a given translation of
>*Hebrew* text in this forum, which is intended not for discussions of
>*Hebrew* grammar and semantics, but of *Koine Greek*

This is interesting. Are you really saying that the underlying Hebrew is
not germane here? Or its contribution to the mindset of John's readers?
Is the only thing to be discussed on this list "grammar and semantics"?
Greg Stafford said:

>Of course, in my opinion, it
>doesn't take him long to comment on the temporal nature of the LOGOS'
>existence (John 1:14, 18), but he does not do so in John 1:1. I understand
>that others differ in their view of these two verses, and I respect their
>opinions. But we are commenting on John 1:1 right now.

Does this mean that we are not to take context into account when

I understand that on this list Greek grammar is "OK" and theology is "not
OK." Between those two are such things as historical and cultural
background, literary context, etc., which I thought were appropriate,
indeed necessary, for reading the Greek text correctly. Perhaps I was

>You also make
>an assertion about how a first-century Jewish Christian would understand
>John's use of EN ARKHi. Any chance you could provide some evidence supporting
>that assertion?

See Gen. 1:1. Whether or not the LXX has translated the words
*correctly* is not important. The fact is, that Gen. 1:1 was translated
that way. When John uses that phrase, EN ARKHi, he is bringing to the
mind of his Jewish (Christian) reader the time to which Gen. 1:1 refers,
which is why I made an (apparently inappropriate) comment as to what the
Hebrew of Gen. 1:1 means.

Mark Joseph

God has given us plenty of evidence if we are willing
to believe, and he has given us plenty of perplexities
if we want to buttress our disbelief--John Wenham

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