Re: John 1:5 - aspect

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Jan 11 2000 - 11:58:17 EST

At 10:12 AM -0600 1/11/00, Joe A. Friberg wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Carl W. Conrad" <>
>Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 9:27 AM
>> I'm not sure one can avoid theologizing in offering any
>> interpretation of this passage. But yes; I've always understood FAINEI as
>> indicating the ongoing, continual shining of the Light (of revelation from
>> the cross) and that KATELABEN has a dual potential sense, the primary one
>> being that of "quench" with the negative: Darkness didn't succeed in
>> snuffing out the light, with at least perhaps a secondary sense of
>> KATALAMBANW in the Stoic sense of "apprehend,"grasp intellectually"--in
>> which sense I'd understand the aorist to have the sense, "and the Darkness
>> has not succeeded at grasping it."
>This dual nuance has always fascinated me. It seems that translations
>usually go one way or the other on this. But is there a way in translation
>to retain the tension of both possible meanings? My only suggestion so far
>would be to use 'seize' since this would generally connote hostility, but
>might lend itself to the grasping connotation as well.
>Further, how would these tenses best be tranlated in English? Here is my
>stab at it:
>"This light keeps on shining in the darkness, for the darkness could not
>seize it."

Elizabethan English used "comprehend" in the KJV, and then the primary
sense of the word was apparently "grab," "seize." I think that "apprehend"
might work the same way now. But I'm not really sure it's possible to
capture what appear to be authentic double-entendres in the Greek. What
does one do with ANWQEN in John 3:3 EAN MH TIS GENNHQHi ANWQEN ...? How do
you say both "again" and "from on high" Can we resort to something like "da
capo"? I suspect we can do little more than footnote the version to
indicate the possibility or suspicion of a double entendre.


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

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