From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Mar 23 2001 - 08:04:43 EST
At 1:58 AM -0500 3/23/01, DJNordlund@aol.com wrote:
>I have a question about the translation of the end of 1 John 1:5.
>... KAI SKOTIA EN AUTWi OUK ESTIN OUDEMIA
>I am a rank amateur with Greek, but the usual translation "...and in him is
>no darkness at all" (or some variation) seems awkward. I was wondering if
>rendering this as "... because of him, darkness is not meaningless" is a
>possibility. This would seem to fit John's apparent rejection of the
>thinking of some gnostics that sin of the flesh is unimportant. But I may
>just be guilty of bad translation or engaging in eisegesis.
>Are there other examples of this construction that I might look at that would
>help clarify this for me?
[Please note: your original message was in styled text; we ask list-members
to avoid styled text and to write in plain-text ASCII when posting to the
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Actually, OUDEMIA here is NOT an adverb, but is adjectival and must be
construed with SKOTIA , and it DOES mean "not any" (or english adjectival
"no"; the meaning must be "no darkness" or "not any darkness." Moreover,
I'd say this is an adjective that quite normally precedes its noun and in
this instance, following and separated from SKOTIA, it is quite emphatic.
John could have written simply: EN AUTWii OUK ESTI SKOTIA, "Darkness isn't
in him" or "There isn't darkness in him"--but with the addition of OUDEMIA,
it becomes "No darkness is in him" or "There is not any darkness in him."
And again, the force of the expression with the separated and postponed
OUDEMIA is really quite aptly represented by the common English version,
"In him there is no darkness at all."
Here are some other instances of the fem. adjective OUDEMIA used with a
noun in the GNT:
Acts 27.22 KAI TA NUN PARAINW hUMAS EUQUMEIN; APOBOLH GAR YUCHS OUDEMIA
ESTAI EX hUMWN PLHN TOU PLOIOU. "And now I urge you to take heart, for
there won't be ANY loss of life AT ALL of you but of the ship (only)."
Phil 4:15 OIDATE DE KAI hUMEIS, FILIPPHSIOI, hOTI EN ARCHi TOU EUAGGELIOU,
hOTE EXHLQON APO MAKEDONIAS, OUDEMIA MOI EKKLHSIA EKOINWNHSENT EIS LOGON
DOSEWS KAI LHMYEWS EI MH hUMEIS MONOI. "And even you know, you Philippians,
that at the beginning of the gospel proclamation, when I came from
Macedonia, NOT A SINGLE CONGREGATION shared with me in a plan of giving and
taking except for you only."
While you may very well be right about the author's intention, particularly
in this letter, which Raymond Brown argued was written partly to clarify
the difference between the Johannine gospel's dualism of light/darkness and
the Gnosticizing interpretation of the sectarians who had left the
Johannine community, but whether or not we attempt to bring that to bear
upon understanding of 1 John 1:5, the grammar of OUDEMIA SKOTIA is still,
I believe, as I have suggested. And I'm not sure that it's even necessary
to bring opposition to Gnosticism into the interpretation; in terms of
Johannine motifs the dualistic antitheses of LIGHT/DARKNESS,
VISION/BLINDNESS, LOVING ONE'S BROTHER/HATING ONE'S BROTHER are quite
enough to make the sense clear without any reference to Gnostic ideas at
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
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