Re: John 3:6

Date: Sat May 02 1998 - 16:08:20 EDT

Edgar Foster wrote:

> > > Is it "permissible" to use the terms "physical" and "spiritual" in
> > > John 3:6?
> > I have no idea of what is permissible. The text simply seems to say
> > "That which has been begotten out of flesh is flesh." And the same
> > for spirit. 3:7 would seem to take the purpose of this
> > differentiation a little further, as does 3:8. There is no word for
> > 'human' [ANQROPOU], not physical [FUSIS], just spirit and flesh. Is
> > Spirit spiritual? This line doesn't seem to be saying so. It merely
> > says it IS Spirit. Same with flesh. Is flesh fleshy or human? The
> > text doesn't seem to be saying so ~ Only that it IS flesh.
> I agree with the comments above. Jesus simply seems to be saying that
> just as a human begets a human, so the spirit of God begets a SPIRIT
> being. Lest my words be misunderstood, I am not suggesting that a
> spirit-filled child of God walks upon the earth EN DUO PHUSUSIN. But
> it seems to me that if a true contrast is being made here, as a human
> bears a human--so God's spirit must bring forth a SPIRIT (not
> spiritual) being. The one brought forth must BE spirit (John 3:8). I
> will not get into the partciculars, but it appears that this is the
> thrust of Jesus' words.

Edgar ~

Your understanding can [arguably, of course] be drawn from the text
here, and I would not disagree with it. However, it does seem to me
to run the very grave danger, in translation [...'permissible'...?],
of saying what is not there to be said. I most certainly do draw the
conclusion that 'out of Spirit spirit is begotten' in terms of the
'kind' of result[s] such begetting begets, but perhaps even this, if
rendered into translation, would mislead, for it is MY interpretation
of the actual words. Such understanding, or its absence [which may
very well be the 'true' case here], is best left to the reader, as
John has done...

> Louw may not be trying to provide an exact translation here.
> Maybe he is only paraphrasing John 3:6,

And this is exactly the point, you see ~ Paraphrasing amounts to
saying, in effect ~ "Well, in other words...
What John REALLY meant to say here.... Is the following..." And it
leads to error just about inerrantly!!
Which is why I would rather see a reader struggle with a consistently
translated 'transliteration' [insofar as this is possible] of the
text, than be thrown to the wolves of 'versions' of it.

> "The second of the two units [of Jesus' reply to Nicodemus in John 3]
> states the issue [of begettal] unambiguously: "what is born of a human
> is PHYSICAL, what is born of the Spirit is SPIRITUAL." This explains
> the expression EX hUDATOS KAI PNEUMATOS" (Caps. for emphasis. Words in
> brackets inserted for clarity).

The dual themes in John of water [John the Baptist] and Blood [Jesus
Christ] are a matter that is best left to the reader. I most
certainly have MY understanding of their meanings and their
inter-relatedness in this text, but only came to that understanding
while reading the Greek text. The English 'versions' [I had 13 of
them to 'help' me in the English] only served to stumble and confuse
> Louw seems to be stressing the NATURE of what is brought forth, over
> against WHAT is produced or begotten. That is my contention with his
> statement.
> John seems to say that just as God IS a spirit (PNEUMA hO QEOS) in
> John 4:24, so those born ANWQEN are PNEUMA hOI ANQRWPOI EN SARKI.

Indeed he does 'seem' to say so, arguably. Are we to become "spirit
beings in the flesh"? Not on b-greek, my friend!! :-)

George Blaisdell

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