"Word [ λόγος]" ... "it" or "he"

Just updated my Logos software to Logos 8 (German version) and was "playing around" a little bit to acquaint myself with some of the changes and also checking out a few German Bible translations included in the package with their reverse interlinear translations.

I had a few Bibles open (Luther 2017, Luther 1984, NASB95, NIV, ESV) and used the Luther 2017 to do a search on the word λόγος / "Wort" and then browsing through the search results ... and noticed once again that all places where the word λόγος is used, it refers to a THING (Word, saying, etc => an "it") and really at no place does it refer to a MALE PERSON (=> a "he").

Strangely, there is a deviation from this general truth as found in all verses with λόγος in various English translations in the passage in John 1:1-3 where these English translations use the masculine pronoun "he" when referring back to the noun "word" rather than using the neuter pronoun "it" as do the German Bible translations.

Seems to me that theological preconceived ideas (that is, a Holy Trinity programmed mind) on the part of certain translators (respectively, the organizations or committees behind the scenes who commissioned the translation) deliberately deviated in John 1:1-3 from all other places where λόγος is used and tried to make the text give the impression of "Word" being a male person rather than recognizing what the word actually means and how it is used in every other places where it occurs.

Or should I consider the German translations (such as Luther Bible) to have a false translation in John 1:1-3, just because English translations use "he" and not "it" ?

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Comments

  • JanJan Posts: 240

    Grammatical gender vs. natural gender. The girl, in German das Mädchen, is also always an "it". That doesn't mean that girls are in general no persons but things (at least in the German speaking countries). It also doesn't mean that every person (die Person) is female. There are many other examples.

  • reformedreformed Posts: 2,221

    @Jan said:
    Grammatical gender vs. natural gender. The girl, in German das Mädchen, is also always an "it". That doesn't mean that girls are in general no persons but things (at least in the German speaking countries). It also doesn't mean that every person (die Person) is female. There are many other examples.

    Exactly. You have to look at the context.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,937

    John followed the sequential pattern of his Gospel that begins with "in the beginning" (John 1:1) and ends with "it is done" (19:30). By beginning the apocalyptic narrative in Revelation with "things which are" (Rev 1:19) and ending it with "they have taken place" (21:6), show single author. Combining his Gospel and the Apocalypse, it seems that John has presented a complete narrative of salvation from "in the beginning" up to the final climax when there will be a new heaven and the new earth.

    The book of Revelation was given by God to Jesus Christ (1:1). All the information given in the book originated with God Himself. It was given to Christ so that He might show His servants what must shortly happen. Jesus gave the message to John as a revelation by sending His angel (1:1).

    The role of Christ is central in the book of Revelation. Rev 1:1 says that the book is "the revelation of Jesus Christ," so the importance of its Christocentrism cannot be denied. However, what should be noted in this book is that the authority of God the Father can always be observed behind Jesus Christ. It is God the Father who sits on the throne [Rev 1:4; 4:2,9-10; 5:1,7,13; 6:16; 7:10,15; 12:5; 14:5; 19:4; 21:5; 22:1,3] and is called "the Almighty" [Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14; 19:6,15; 21:22]. The ultimate source of "the revelation of Jesus Christ" is God. God's activity in the Revelation is remarkably pictured.

    1. The word "God," which clearly denotes God the Father, is used 98 times in the book.
    2. The words which denote Jesus are used only half as many times-49 times:
    • "Jesus" is used 7 times
    • "The Son" 3 times
    • "Christ" 4 times
    • "Jesus Christ" 7 times
    • "The Lamb" 28 times
    1. Though Jesus Christ carries out the primary active role in the history of salvation, the central issue is to worship God (19:10; 22:3,9; cf. 14:7). Christ's redemptive work has the goal of bringing this world back to God, who is to be the center of worship for all creatures.

    2. Rev 14:6-7 calls all to worship God as the source or all things:

    • "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters".

    A contribution to the context of Jesus- the beginning and the end. Keep studying Brethren. CM

  • PagesPages Posts: 45

    @Wolfgang said:
    Just updated my Logos software to Logos 8 (German version) and was "playing around" a little bit to acquaint myself with some of the changes and also checking out a few German Bible translations included in the package with their reverse interlinear translations.

    Congratulations on your update.

    Wolfgang, perhaps you have this UBS Handbook resource in your Logos library to read. If not, here is a pertinent part regarding the Gospel of John that briefly touches on gender issues when translating from the Greek text into a target language.

    Though the Greek term logos may be rendered “word,” it would be wrong to think it indicates primarily a grammatical or lexical unit in a sentence. Greek has two other terms which primarily identify individual words, whether they occur in a list (as in a dictionary) or in a sentence. The term logos, though applicable to an individual word, is more accurately understood as an expression with meaning; that is, it is “a message,” “a communication,” and, as indicated, a type of “revelation.” A literal translation, therefore, more or less equivalent to English “word,” is frequently misleading.

    In some languages there are additional complications. For example, in some languages the term “word” is feminine in gender, and therefore any reference to it must also be feminine. As a result, the possible use of pronouns in reference to Jesus Christ can be confusing. Furthermore, in many languages a term such as “word” must be possessed. One cannot speak about “the word” without indicating who spoke the word, since words do not exist apart from the persons who utter them.

    (Handbook on the Gospel of John UBS Handbook: John; Newman, Barclay M., Jr., Nida, Eugene A.)

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @Jan said:
    Grammatical gender vs. natural gender. The girl, in German das Mädchen, is also always an "it". That doesn't mean that girls are in general no persons but things (at least in the German speaking countries). It also doesn't mean that every person (die Person) is female. There are many other examples.

    Indeed ... one must distinguish between grammatical gender and natural gender, and should certainly not make a thing a male or female person or visa versa by translating a grammatical gender into another language incorrectly, yes?
    If the word for "girl" in German has a neuter grammatical gender,and the word for "girl" in another language has a different grammatical gender, should the correct translation reflect such? Does a thing become a male or female person because of grammatical gender? I would say, no.

    What "natural gender" does word have? masculine or neuter?
    Why would the German Bibles translate the pronouns referring to "word" in John 1:1-3 with "it"? Why some English Bibles as "he" ??
    Are the German translations correct (regarding "word" as a thing as in all other places where that word occurs, or are the English translations correct which turn "word" into a male person only in these 3 verses while not treating it as a person in all other places?

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @C_M_ said:
    John followed the sequential pattern of his Gospel that begins with "in the beginning" (John 1:1) and ends with "it is done" (19:30). By beginning the apocalyptic narrative in Revelation with "things which are" (Rev 1:19) and ending it with "they have taken place" (21:6), show single author. Combining his Gospel and the Apocalypse, it seems that John has presented a complete narrative of salvation from "in the beginning" up to the final climax when there will be a new heaven and the new earth.

    The book of Revelation was given by God to Jesus Christ (1:1). All the information given in the book originated with God Himself. It was given to Christ so that He might show His servants what must shortly happen. Jesus gave the message to John as a revelation by sending His angel (1:1).

    The role of Christ is central in the book of Revelation. Rev 1:1 says that the book is "the revelation of Jesus Christ," so the importance of its Christocentrism cannot be denied. However, what should be noted in this book is that the authority of God the Father can always be observed behind Jesus Christ. It is God the Father who sits on the throne [Rev 1:4; 4:2,9-10; 5:1,7,13; 6:16; 7:10,15; 12:5; 14:5; 19:4; 21:5; 22:1,3] and is called "the Almighty" [Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14; 19:6,15; 21:22]. The ultimate source of "the revelation of Jesus Christ" is God. God's activity in the Revelation is remarkably pictured.

    1. The word "God," which clearly denotes God the Father, is used 98 times in the book.
    2. The words which denote Jesus are used only half as many times-49 times:

      • "Jesus" is used 7 times
      • "The Son" 3 times
      • "Christ" 4 times
      • "Jesus Christ" 7 times
      • "The Lamb" 28 times
    3. Though Jesus Christ carries out the primary active role in the history of salvation, the central issue is to worship God (19:10; 22:3,9; cf. 14:7). Christ's redemptive work has the goal of bringing this world back to God, who is to be the center of worship for all creatures.

    4. Rev 14:6-7 calls all to worship God as the source or all things:

    • "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters".

    A contribution to the context of Jesus- the beginning and the end. Keep studying Brethren. CM

    and what does all that wonderful information about Jesus have to do with my original post about the word logos and relating pronouns ?
    or how does it answer the question whether the German Bibles are correct with translating the pronouns in John 1:13 as "it" while some English Bibles translate as "he"??

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624
    edited January 4

    @Pages said:
    Wolfgang, perhaps you have this UBS Handbook resource in your Logos library to read. If not, here is a pertinent part regarding the Gospel of John that briefly touches on gender issues when translating from the Greek text into a target language.

    I am well aware of this resource ... and also have had practical experience over several decades as a professional translator with such matters.

    Though the Greek term logos may be rendered “word,” it would be wrong to think it indicates primarily a grammatical or lexical unit in a sentence. Greek has two other terms which primarily identify individual words, whether they occur in a list (as in a dictionary) or in a sentence. The term logos, though applicable to an individual word, is more accurately understood as an expression with meaning; that is, it is “a message,” “a communication,” and, as indicated, a type of “revelation.” A literal translation, therefore, more or less equivalent to English “word,” is frequently misleading.

    Actually, even in English the word "word" does not just always mean or indicate "an individual grammatical or lexical unit", but has similar or the same meanings as the word logos in Greek. You can "take my word for it" ... or not :wink:

    In some languages there are additional complications. For example, in some languages the term “word” is feminine in gender, and therefore any reference to it must also be feminine.

    Indeed, a correct translation adjusts any pronouns to align with the grammatical gender in the target language ...

    As a result, the possible use of pronouns in reference to Jesus Christ can be confusing.

    This "jump" from "word" to "Jesus Christ" is the root of the problem and error. The article has been talking about the term "word / logos", now all of a sudden - most likely due to theological prejudice or preference or preconception - jumps to "the person Jesus Christ". We are NOT talking about pronouns in reference to "Jesus Christ", we are talking about pronouns in reference to "word".

    Furthermore, in many languages a term such as “word” must be possessed. One cannot speak about “the word” without indicating who spoke the word, since words do not exist apart from the persons who utter them.

    Indeed ... and by use of figures of speech "word" could be representing an author, similar to "music" could be representing a composer. You know, last night I listened to Bach and Mozart ... Hmn, was that music actually the person Bach? the person Mozart?
    Here, I am reading @Pages and commenting on @Pages ... Yes, @Pages in a certain sense is what he/she wrote, but nobody would have the idea that that word/message we are reading actually is the person @Pages, or?

    To come back to my original post ... which translation therefore is correct? the "it" as found in German Bibles (and perhaps other language Bibles as well, if the term for "word" in that language is neuter gender), or the "he" as found in English Bibles giving the impression that "word" in these verses is not really "word" but a "male person" ?

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    Sometimes it is claimed that John uses the term logos differently than other writers in the NT scriptures, specifically that he uses the term for the person Jesus Christ. I have saved a verse list with references in the gospel of John where the word logos is used and highlighted the translated word in the NASB95 version:

    John 1:1
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    John 1:14
    And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
    John 4:37
    “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’
    John 6:60
    Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”
    John 7:36
    “What is this statement that He said, ‘You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come’?”
    John 8:37
    “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.
    John 10:35
    “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),
    John 12:38
    This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?”
    John 12:48
    “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
    John 14:24
    “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
    John 15:25
    “But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’
    John 17:17
    “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
    John 18:9
    to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”
    John 18:32
    to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.
    John 21:23
    Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

    Now then, as one should be able to easily see, John uses the term logos in its basic usage and meaning of "word, saying, etc" and NOT as if it was a person.

  • PagesPages Posts: 45

    @Wolfgang said:

    @Pages said:

    This "jump" from "word" to "Jesus Christ" is the root of the problem and error. The article has been talking about the term "word / logos", now all of a sudden - most likely due to theological prejudice or preference or preconception - jumps to "the person Jesus Christ". We are NOT talking about pronouns in reference to "Jesus Christ", we are talking about pronouns in reference to "word".

    Yes, I noticed that and questioned whether to include that part of the quote. :)

    To come back to my original post ... which translation therefore is correct? the "it" as found in German Bibles (and perhaps other language Bibles as well, if the term for "word" in that language is neuter gender), or the "he" as found in English Bibles giving the impression that "word" in these verses is not really "word" but a "male person" ?

    In the Greek text of John 1:1-3 both the noun λόγος along with the antecedent pronouns οὗτος and αὐτοῦ are masculine in gender. So to translate οὗτος a demonstrative pronoun as “this one” or “he“ is common certainly for English; however, if a target language has a gender issue than the translator(s) need to present the original language thought/meaning to the best they are able.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @Pages said:

    @Wolfgang said:
    To come back to my original post ... which translation therefore is correct? the "it" as found in German Bibles (and perhaps other language Bibles as well, if the term for "word" in that language is neuter gender), or the "he" as found in English Bibles giving the impression that "word" in these verses is not really "word" but a "male person" ?

    In the Greek text of John 1:1-3 both the noun λόγος along with the antecedent pronouns οὗτος and αὐτοῦ are masculine in gender.

    Yes, the Greek word and respective pronouns referring to it are of masculine GRAMMATICAL gender but NOT masculine NATURAL gender ... Please note, this is the case in all occurrences of the word λόγος in any verse (cp. my list above about verses in John's gospel).

    So to translate οὗτος a demonstrative pronoun as “this one” or “he“ is common certainly for English; however, if a target language has a gender issue than the translator(s) need to present the original language thought/meaning to the best they are able.

    A proper translation will take the above concerning the grammatical gender into account. It will recognize that "word" is NOT a masculine person, rather "a thing" which normally would be represented by a pronoun which applies to "a thing".
    In English. a "word" or a "saying" (cp. the list of verses with occurrences of λόγος in John) would not be represented by "he" but rather by "it" ... yes?

  • reformedreformed Posts: 2,221

    @Wolfgang said:

    @Pages said:
    Wolfgang, perhaps you have this UBS Handbook resource in your Logos library to read. If not, here is a pertinent part regarding the Gospel of John that briefly touches on gender issues when translating from the Greek text into a target language.

    I am well aware of this resource ... and also have had practical experience over several decades as a professional translator with such matters.

    Though the Greek term logos may be rendered “word,” it would be wrong to think it indicates primarily a grammatical or lexical unit in a sentence. Greek has two other terms which primarily identify individual words, whether they occur in a list (as in a dictionary) or in a sentence. The term logos, though applicable to an individual word, is more accurately understood as an expression with meaning; that is, it is “a message,” “a communication,” and, as indicated, a type of “revelation.” A literal translation, therefore, more or less equivalent to English “word,” is frequently misleading.

    Actually, even in English the word "word" does not just always mean or indicate "an individual grammatical or lexical unit", but has similar or the same meanings as the word logos in Greek. You can "take my word for it" ... or not :wink:

    In some languages there are additional complications. For example, in some languages the term “word” is feminine in gender, and therefore any reference to it must also be feminine.

    Indeed, a correct translation adjusts any pronouns to align with the grammatical gender in the target language ...

    As a result, the possible use of pronouns in reference to Jesus Christ can be confusing.

    This "jump" from "word" to "Jesus Christ" is the root of the problem and error. The article has been talking about the term "word / logos", now all of a sudden - most likely due to theological prejudice or preference or preconception - jumps to "the person Jesus Christ". We are NOT talking about pronouns in reference to "Jesus Christ", we are talking about pronouns in reference to "word".

    Furthermore, in many languages a term such as “word” must be possessed. One cannot speak about “the word” without indicating who spoke the word, since words do not exist apart from the persons who utter them.

    Indeed ... and by use of figures of speech "word" could be representing an author, similar to "music" could be representing a composer. You know, last night I listened to Bach and Mozart ... Hmn, was that music actually the person Bach? the person Mozart?
    Here, I am reading @Pages and commenting on @Pages ... Yes, @Pages in a certain sense is what he/she wrote, but nobody would have the idea that that word/message we are reading actually is the person @Pages, or?

    To come back to my original post ... which translation therefore is correct? the "it" as found in German Bibles (and perhaps other language Bibles as well, if the term for "word" in that language is neuter gender), or the "he" as found in English Bibles giving the impression that "word" in these verses is not really "word" but a "male person" ?

    Or, the error is that you are being TOO literal and don't see that the word WORD is beign used as a title, not a thing.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,937

    @Wolfgang said:

    and what does all that wonderful information about Jesus have to do with my original post about the word logos and relating pronouns ?
    or how does it answer the question whether the German Bibles are correct with translating the pronouns in John 1:13 as "it" while some English Bibles translate as "he"??

    Jesus is God, in any language. It's more than "wonderful information". All of Scripture must be considered -- "in the beginning" (John 1:1). CM

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @reformed said:

    To come back to my original post ... which translation therefore is correct? the "it" as found in German Bibles (and perhaps other language Bibles as well, if the term for "word" in that language is neuter gender), or the "he" as found in English Bibles giving the impression that "word" in these verses is not really "word" but a "male person" ?

    Or, the error is that you are being TOO literal and don't see that the word WORD is beign used as a title, not a thing.

    Ah ha .... and how would that now tell me whether the German Bibles or the English Bibles are correct in their translation? Do you always try a theological explanation first and then make a translation? or should perhaps a correct translation be made first and then may be a theology arrived at from there?

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624
    edited January 4

    @C_M_ said:

    @Wolfgang said:

    and what does all that wonderful information about Jesus have to do with my original post about the word logos and relating pronouns ?
    or how does it answer the question whether the German Bibles are correct with translating the pronouns in John 1:1-3 as "it" while some English Bibles translate as "he"??

    Jesus is God, in any language. It's more than "wonderful information". All of Scripture must be considered -- "in the beginning" (John 1:1). CM

    @CM ... how does this answer the question concerning whether the German Bibles or the English Bibles mentioned are translated correctly? Your comment here is dodging the issue, I would have hoped for better from you.

  • reformedreformed Posts: 2,221

    @Wolfgang said:

    @reformed said:

    To come back to my original post ... which translation therefore is correct? the "it" as found in German Bibles (and perhaps other language Bibles as well, if the term for "word" in that language is neuter gender), or the "he" as found in English Bibles giving the impression that "word" in these verses is not really "word" but a "male person" ?

    Or, the error is that you are being TOO literal and don't see that the word WORD is beign used as a title, not a thing.

    Ah ha .... and how would that now tell me whether the German Bibles or the English Bibles are correct in their translation? Do you always try a theological explanation first and then make a translation? or should perhaps a correct translation be made first and then may be a theology arrived at from there?

    Even with your translation the result is the same.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,937

    @Wolfgang said:

    @C_M_ said:

    @Wolfgang said:

    and what does all that wonderful information about Jesus have to do with my original post about the word logos and relating pronouns ?
    or how does it answer the question whether the German Bibles are correct with translating the pronouns in John 1:1-3 as "it" while some English Bibles translate as "he"??

    Jesus is God, in any language. It's more than "wonderful information". All of Scripture must be considered -- "in the beginning" (John 1:1). CM

    @CM ... how does this answer the question concerning whether the German Bibles or the English Bibles mentioned are translated correctly? ...

    Short answer: In addition to I posted recently, in a word, "Presuppositions". Theological bias. CM

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @reformed said:

    @Wolfgang said:
    Ah ha .... and how would that now tell me whether the German Bibles or the English Bibles are correct in their translation? Do you always try a theological explanation first and then make a translation? or should perhaps a correct translation be made first and then may be a theology arrived at from there?

    Even with your translation the result is the same.

    WOW ... I am shocked at your seeming inability to read and understand simple text.
    You give the impression that you see no difference in meaning of the two translations ... nor in the meaning of the entirely different uses of the word "word", etc. ...

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @C_M_ said:

    @Wolfgang said:
    @CM ... how does this answer the question concerning whether the German Bibles or the English Bibles mentioned are translated correctly? ...

    Short answer: In addition to I posted recently, in a word, "Presuppositions". Theological bias. CM

    Aside from your comment not answering my questions, are ´you now admitting presuppositions and theological bias on your part or on whose part?

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,937

    You have MY answer.
    On another point, are German Bibles without bias? CM

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @C_M_ said:
    You have MY answer.
    On another point, are German Bibles without bias? CM

    German Bibles are in danger to be biased as much as any other language translations, as any translation is no better than its translator(s).

    In the case of John 1:1-3 however, the textual and grammatical points to be considered are in favor of the German translations using the neuter pronoun corresponding to the gender of "word" as being "a thing", whereas the English translations disregard textual and grammatical points in favor of endeavoring to reflect theological bias over linguistic evidence.

  • reformedreformed Posts: 2,221

    @Wolfgang said:

    @C_M_ said:
    You have MY answer.
    On another point, are German Bibles without bias? CM

    German Bibles are in danger to be biased as much as any other language translations, as any translation is no better than its translator(s).

    In the case of John 1:1-3 however, the textual and grammatical points to be considered are in favor of the German translations using the neuter pronoun corresponding to the gender of "word" as being "a thing", whereas the English translations disregard textual and grammatical points in favor of endeavoring to reflect theological bias over linguistic evidence.

    At minimum, you must call it a title and not a thing given the context of the passage.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @reformed said:
    At minimum, you must call it a title and not a thing given the context of the passage.

    From where in the context of the passage do you get the idea that "word" is a title ?????
    The language used in John 1:1-3 has nothing that would be indicative of this term being "title".
    Compare the rest of the passages in John where the word logos is used to get a better picture of how John understood and used the term "word"/logos ... there is no indication that John used the term differently from how he used it in other passages.

  • JanJan Posts: 240

    @Wolfgang said:

    @Jan said:
    Grammatical gender vs. natural gender. The girl, in German das Mädchen, is also always an "it". That doesn't mean that girls are in general no persons but things (at least in the German speaking countries). It also doesn't mean that every person (die Person) is female. There are many other examples.

    Indeed ... one must distinguish between grammatical gender and natural gender, and should certainly not make a thing a male or female person or visa versa by translating a grammatical gender into another language incorrectly, yes?
    If the word for "girl" in German has a neuter grammatical gender,and the word for "girl" in another language has a different grammatical gender, should the correct translation reflect such? Does a thing become a male or female person because of grammatical gender? I would say, no.

    What "natural gender" does word have? masculine or neuter?
    Why would the German Bibles translate the pronouns referring to "word" in John 1:1-3 with "it"? Why some English Bibles as "he" ??
    Are the German translations correct (regarding "word" as a thing as in all other places where that word occurs, or are the English translations correct which turn "word" into a male person only in these 3 verses while not treating it as a person in all other places?

    There are some linguistic aspects here (for which I'm not an expert - in no way… so my arguments here come from experience.)

    I don't think that there's a grammatical gender in English. Everything is just "the". The man (male), the woman (female), the house (neuter). The article "the" is certainly indeterminate about the gender.

    There are several examples that genders are assigned to neuter objects, such as ships, the sun, the moon etc. Assigning a gender to a neuter object is therefore linguistically correct in English.

    In German, you can't do that. If you have a neuter object (das Wort), and refer to it with a masculine article (der Wort), that's awkward, and incorrect use of the language. Therefore, most German Bible translations render the Logos as neuter.

    A notable exception is the Zürcher Bible, which has found a beautiful solution for this dilemma.

    And what do you do with languages that have no neuter gender, such as Dutch? Everything is either "hij" (he) or "zij" (she). If you believe the Logos should always be rendered as neuter, is there no accurate translation into Dutch then?

    I wish I'd know some Greek, but Latin is the best I can come up with. So let's have a look at Jerome's translation. Verbum is neuter, just as in German. That was post Nicene, when the deity of Jesus was firmly established.

    Yet still Jerome uses "hoc" (neuter) in John 1:2, because it is required by the language.

    In John 1:4, the Verbum is introduced as the Lux (light, female). Accordingly, in John 1:5, Jerome uses "eam" (feminine) referring to the light.
    And suddenly, as of John 1:10, Jerome refers to the Lux as masculine ("eum").

    That's not proper use of the language, but a literary device to support Jerome's theology, identifying the Lux, which is the Verbum, with the only male character in this text, which is God.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 2,937

    @Wolfgang said:

    @C_M_ said:
    You have MY answer.
    On another point, are German Bibles without bias? CM

    German Bibles are in danger to be biased as much as any other language translations, as any translation is no better than its translator(s).

    Wolfgang,
    Here is another contribution to the discussion for what its worth. It may not answer your question directly but every bit helps until we can secure a linguistic expert or someone keen on textual analytics. Until then, we would have to allow Ernst Würthwein, an authority in textual criticism, to offer some reasons for transmission errors:

    • "We know how easily errors can occur in copying a text. By accident a word may be missed or repeated, groups of words may be inadvertently transposed or replaced by similar or synonymous words, and if the handwriting is difficult to read, an element of guesswork may enter. Many errors may be due to carelessness, especially if the copyist is a professional scribe who works rapidly and becomes casual, and further may not be familiar with the subject of the text he is copying. But even the scribe who approaches his text with interest and devotion may introduce corruptions. He may find an expression in his exemplar which in his view reflects an earlier scribe's misunderstanding of the author, and in his concern for the meaning of the text, he naturally corrects it, just as we would correct a typographical error in a printed book. But his correction itself could very well reflect his own misunderstanding! It is not only the casual or absentminded scribe who introduces errors but the conscientious scribe as well. The next stage in the process is obvious. A scribe copying a faulty manuscript--and no manuscript is without errors--will deal with his predecessor's errors either by guesswork or with ingenuity, with the result a series of intended improvements leading away from the original text" [see Würthwein].

    When it comes to the NT in comparing the quality and quantity of the 5,000 Greek New Testament manuscripts with other ancient historical material, Bruce, the classicist turned biblical scholar, wrote:

    • "Perhaps we can appreciate how wealthy the New Testament is in manuscript attestation if we compare the textual material for other ancient historical works. For Caesar's Gallic War (composed between 58 and 50 B.C.) there are several extant MSS [manuscripts], but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is some 900 years later than Caesar's day. Of the 142 books of the Roman History of Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17), only thirty-five survive; these are known to us from not more than twenty MSS of any consequence, only one of which, and that containing fragments of Books iii-vi, is as old as the fourth century. Of the fourteen books of the Histories of Tacitus (c. A.D. 100) only four and a half survive; of the sixteen books of his Annals, ten survive in full and two in part. The text of these extant portions of his two great historical works depends entirely on two MSS, one of the ninth century and one of the eleventh. The extant MSS of his minor works (Dialogus de Oratoribus, Agricola, Germania) all descends from a codex of the tenth century. The History of Thucydides (c. 460-400 B.C.) is known to us from eight MSS, the earliest belonging to c. A.D. 900, and a few papyrus scraps, belonging to about the beginning of the Christian era. The same is true of the History of Herodotus (c. 488-428 B.C.). Yet no classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest MSS of their works which are of any use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals" (see F. F. Bruce).

    I hope this helps. If not now, maybe later. If not later, perhaps, someone else. Keep studying. Share text and/or a context. CM :)

    SOURCE:

    • -- Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, trans. Errol F. Rhodes [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1979], p. xvii).

    • -- F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 5th rev. ed. (Grand 187 Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1984), pp. 15-17.

  • PagesPages Posts: 45

    @Wolfgang said:

    @Pages said:

    @Wolfgang said:

    Yes, the Greek word and respective pronouns referring to it are of masculine GRAMMATICAL gender but NOT masculine NATURAL gender ...

    While most Greek words will follow grammatical gender based on morphology not all do. With that said pronouns follow natural gender; it would be preferred in my referring to you as αὐτὸς (masc) and not as αὐτῇ (fem) and certainly not τοῦτο (neu) would it not?

    John’s use of the demonstrative masc. οὗτος twenty-two times as the subject in his gospel, twenty-one of those in each instance refers to a person. The twenty-second occurrence would be disputed between us as that instance is Jn. 1:2. In fact at Jn. 1:41 Andrew is contextually substituted in English versions for οὗτος. Jn. 1:5 is the first case of a neuter pronoun αὐτὸ used in the Greek text which matches not only grammatical gender, but natural gender as well.

    @Wolfgang said:

    In the case of John 1:1-3 however, the textual and grammatical points to be considered are in favor of the German translations using the neuter pronoun corresponding to the gender of "word" as being "a thing", whereas the English translations disregard textual and grammatical points in favor of endeavoring to reflect theological bias over linguistic evidence.

    In your pronoun gender quest it seems as though the original language text has been discarded in favor of a German-English translation comparison. Is your argument that the Greek text should follow German language conventions?

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @Pages said:
    In your pronoun gender quest it seems as though the original language text has been discarded in favor of a German-English translation comparison. Is your argument that the Greek text should follow German language conventions?

    Not at all ... actually German follows Greek conventions.
    The further question is, why would logos be treated as a male person (using masculine pronoun) in John 1:1-3, when all other occurrences of the word in the gospel of John rather clearly point out that logos is not a person (cp. the listing of verses I provided)?

    When comparing the passages in 1Pe 1:20 and Gal 4:4 which speak of the same matter as John 1:1-3 and John 1:14 respectively, is it not plain that from even before the foundation of the world it was not an alive male person that was already living as a person in God's foreknowledge but it was God's plan, His idea and Word concerning a man who would be the Messiah, which existed in God's foreknowledge? Is it not clear that when the time was fulfilled, God's plan and Word became manifest and was realized when that male child who was to be the Messiah was conceived and born of a woman?

    In light of this context, would it not be false to claim that the male person ("he") already lived before the foundation of the world? That would be as if a house of stone and wood was already built and standing while the architect's plan had not even been fully revealed

  • PagesPages Posts: 45

    @Wolfgang said:

    The further question is, why would logos be treated as a male person (using masculine pronoun) in John 1:1-3, when all other occurrences of the word in the gospel of John rather clearly point out that logos is not a person (cp. the listing of verses I provided)?

    Quite simply the use of the pronoun οὗτος in v.2 and grammatical syntax make it differ from your list of λόγος occurrences – why are you not looking beyond the occurrence of λόγος?. In v.1 λόγος is the subject in all three clauses where in v.2 οὗτος is the subject and referent to λόγος v. 1. Ultimately, please keep in mind that in Jn. 1:1, 14 no speech, saying, telling, teaching, etc. occurs as in the other twelve times John writes where λόγος is the subject. (Jn. 4:37, 6:60, 7:36, 8:37, 10:35, 12:58, 14:24, 15:25, 17:17, 18:9, 32, 21:23)

    @Wolfgang said:

    When comparing the passages in 1Pe 1:20 and Gal 4:4 which speak of the same matter as John 1:1-3 and John 1:14 respectively, is it not plain that from even before the foundation of the world it was not an alive male person that was already living as a person in God's foreknowledge but it was God's plan, His idea and Word concerning a man who would be the Messiah, which existed in God's foreknowledge? Is it not clear that when the time was fulfilled, God's plan and Word became manifest and was realized when that male child who was to be the Messiah was conceived and born of a woman?

    If by “alive male person” you should mean the flesh and blood Jesus before the world was created than I agree. Jn. 1:14 states Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο “and the Word became flesh“ meaning that prior to becoming flesh and the world’s coming into being ὁ λόγος existed in some other form. For you that would be God’s plan, for me it it the second person of the trinity – the Son.

    @Wolfgang said:

    In light of this context, would it not be false to claim that the male person ("he") already lived before the foundation of the world? That would be as if a house of stone and wood was already built and standing while the architect's plan had not even been fully revealed

    Not applicable – see above.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624

    @Pages said:

    @Wolfgang said:
    The further question is, why would logos be treated as a male person (using masculine pronoun) in John 1:1-3, when all other occurrences of the word in the gospel of John rather clearly point out that logos is not a person (cp. the listing of verses I provided)?

    Quite simply the use of the pronoun οὗτος in v.2 and grammatical syntax make it differ from your list of λόγος occurrences – why are you not looking beyond the occurrence of λόγος?.

    Looking at the occurrences of λόγος in John's gospel (and other places in the NT scriptures as well), one can easily determine the use and meaning of the term in John. Nowhere does λόγος mean and refer to a living being/person.

    In v.1 λόγος is the subject in all three clauses where in v.2 οὗτος is the subject and referent to λόγος v. 1. Ultimately, please keep in mind that in Jn. 1:1, 14 no speech, saying, telling, teaching, etc. occurs as in the other twelve times John writes where λόγος is the subject. (Jn. 4:37, 6:60, 7:36, 8:37, 10:35, 12:58, 14:24, 15:25, 17:17, 18:9, 32, 21:23)

    "Word [λόγος]" by itself already refers to something declared, something spoken, a speech, a message ... in all occurrences!! Whether parts of the content of λόγος is given or not is not relevant, the meaning of λόγος remains "word, message, saying".

    @Wolfgang said:
    When comparing the passages in 1Pe 1:20 and Gal 4:4 which speak of the same matter as John 1:1-3 and John 1:14 respectively, is it not plain that from even before the foundation of the world it was not an alive male person that was already living as a person in God's foreknowledge but it was God's plan, His idea and Word concerning a man who would be the Messiah, which existed in God's foreknowledge? Is it not clear that when the time was fulfilled, God's plan and Word became manifest and was realized when that male child who was to be the Messiah was conceived and born of a woman?

    If by “alive male person” you should mean the flesh and blood Jesus before the world was created than I agree.

    I mean an "alive male person" (male because of the pronoun "he" which would certainly not be applicable to a female person or a neuter thing, yes?) ... λόγος nowhere refers to or is a "living person", not a human person of flesh and blood, nor a spirit person, an angel, or whatever.

    Jn. 1:14 states Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο “and the Word became flesh“ meaning that prior to becoming flesh and the world’s coming into being ὁ λόγος existed in some other form. For you that would be God’s plan, for me it it the second person of the trinity – the Son.

    Yes, for me -- in accordance with the overall scope of Scripture which speaks of God's plan concerning a man who would be the Messiah existing from before the foundation of the world and becoming reality when the man Jesus was born by a woman -- λόγος in the context of John 1 is God's plan.
    You claim it is" the second person of the trinity - the Son" ... and what was this Son prior to the time of birth ? Was he a spirit? a heavenly angelic being? or what (since he obviously wasn't a man of flesh and blood then)?

    @Wolfgang said:
    In light of this context, would it not be false to claim that the male person ("he") already lived before the foundation of the world? That would be as if a house of stone and wood was already built and standing while the architect's plan had not even been fully revealed

    Not applicable – see above.

    Most certainly applicable .... first you have the architect's λόγος in his mind and on paper in form of his drawings and words, afterwards the architect's λόγος "becomes stone and wood".

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 1,624
    edited January 5

    I just had a look in my Logos 8 at a French Bible "la Bible Louis Segond 1910" translation and noticed that in its translation of John 1:1-3 the female pronoun "elle" is used which corresponds to the word "parole ('word')".
    Au commencement était la Parole, et la Parole était avec Dieu, et la Parole était Dieu. 2Elle était au commencement avec Dieu. 3Toutes choses ont été faites par elle, et rien de ce qui a été fait n’a été fait sans elle. 4En elle était la vie, et la vie était la lumière des hommes
    (Segond, L. (1996). La Sainte Bible (Jn 1:1–4). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)

    Anyone still want to argue that John 1:1-3 is speaking about a living male person "the Son" ("he") ???

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