From: Carl W. Conrad (email@example.com)
Date: Sat Feb 26 2000 - 06:45:00 EST
<x-charset iso-8859-1>At 4:39 AM -0600 2/26/00, Jason Hare wrote:
>«hOUTWS GAR HGAPHSEN hO QEOS TON KOSMON, hWSTE TON hUION TON MONOGENH
>EDWKEN, hINA PAS hO PISTEUWN EIS AUTON MH APOLHTAI ALL' ECHi ZWHN
>With what force should APOLLUMI be read in this verse? LSJ says that if
>APOLLUMI comes in the passive, as here in APOLHTAI, it means "to cease to
>exist." Is that an accurate, though untraditional, reading of this word?
>"That everyone believing in him might not cease to exist..."
The form APOLHTAI is aorist middle 3d sg. subjunctive; it is not really
passive (and in fact, relatively few of these non-thematic "third" aorists
is ever really passive--it is intransitive.
The verb actually means "perish" in the intransitive forms (middle, perfect
"active" APOLWLA) and "ruin" or "waste" or "cause to be wasted" or even
"lose" in the active. It would repay the effort to look carefully at the
range of uses of this verb in an unabridged lexicon. I think that in John
3:16 the traditional translation as "perish" is probably about as accurate
as we can do in ordinary English. The sense is not "annihilate" in any
sense of "make cease to exist (in any form in creation whatsoever)" but
"render useless/ineffective." In Mark 2:21 Jesus says that old wine put
into new skins causes the skins to burst and both the wine and the skins to
become useless or "got to waste" (APOLLUTAI). In secular Greek the
intransitive aorist or perfect (APWLOMHN, APOLWLA) is used as a sort of
slangy "I'll be damned!" or, more desperately, "I'm a goner!", "it's all up
with me!", "I'm done for!"
Personally, I've always felt that when APOLHTAI in John 3:16 is translated
"perish," the focus in translation is put excessively upon the eternal fate
of the would-be-believer alone, whereas I think it should rather be upon
the transformation of a wasted existence into a fruitful and purposive
existence beginning at once and continuing on forever. For that reason, I'd
personally prefer to translate APOLHTAI in John 3:16 as "go to waste" or
"go for nothing" or "be futile."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/
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