“RE: The Historic Translation of John 1:3-4”
After reading article from The Everlasting Good News of Yahweh website (http://www.intergate.com/~jcordaro/index.html) entitled “The Historic Translation of John 1:3-4,” I was driven to comment for I have sense some things that are not quite right in the article. I first surrendered myself to the Holy Spirit Who enabled me to fulfill what is written in 1 John 4:1, saying, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, if they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Thank You, Lord Jesus my Heavenly King and my God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit which is sent by the Almighty Father in Your Holy Name!
Our English Bible gradually developed over the last six hundred years. John Wycliffe is credited with the first English translation of the New Testament which was completed about 1380 C.E. Until that time the Word of Yahweh was locked up in the Latin tongue which was unknown to the common people. The Latin Vulgate translated by Jerome about 400 C.E. was the standard Bible used in the Catholic Church.
Wycliffe’s translation is based upon the Latin Vulgate, not the Greek. It is therefore a “version of a version.” In Wycliffe’s version, John 1:3-4 use the word “him” in reference to the “Word” of verse 1 and is a translation of the Latin “ipsum” and “ipso” (he, she, or it), and,
To get a better picture of the matter, let me put the Wycliffe’s translation of John 1:1-5 & 14 here.
“(1) In the bigynnyng was the word, and the word was at God, and God was the word. (2) This was in the bigynnyng at God. (3) Alle thingis weren maad bi hym, and withouten hym was maad no thing, that thing that was maad. (4) In hym was lijf, and the lijf was the liyt of men; and the liyt schyneth in derknessis, (5) and derknessis comprehendiden not it,”
“(14) And the word was maad man, and dwellyde among vs, and we han seyn the glorie of hym, as the glorie of the `oon bigetun sone of the fadir, ful of grace and of treuthe.”
The writer tried to lessen the important of Wycliffe’s work by marking it as “version of version.” The writer had hopped that the reader will therefore tend to classify Wycliffe’s Bible as unreliable or question its authenticity.
The next great English translator was William Tyndale. He was an excellent Greek scholar who had access to the Greek text of Erasmus which Wycliffe did not have. The hand of the Almighty was upon Tyndale as He used him to give us our first English translation based upon the Hebrew and Greek. His New Testament was published in 1526 and revised to its final state in 1534.
Tyndale’s translation of John 1:3-4 reads,
John 1:3,4 – All things were made by it, and without it, was made nothing that was made. In it was life, and the life was the light of men.
Let me also put the Tyndale’s translation of John 1:3-4 and 14 here.
“(1) In the beginnynge was the worde and the worde was with God: and the worde was God. (2) The same was in the beginnynge with God. (3) All thinges were made by it and with out it was made nothinge that was made. (4) In it was lyfe and the lyfe was ye lyght of men (5) and the lyght shyneth in the darcknes but the darcknes comprehended it not,”
“(14) And the worde was made flesshe and dwelt amonge vs and we sawe the glory of it as the glory of the only begotten sonne of ye father which worde was full of grace and verite.”
It is clearly seen that the writer tried to lift Tyndale up using some flattery terms such as “great English translator,” “an excellent Greek scholar,“ and “who had access to the Greek text of Erasmus which Wycliffe did not have.” While these terms may be true, it is still a bit careless to say that, “The hand of the Almighty was upon Tyndale as He used him to give us our first English translation based upon the Hebrew and Greek,” for I learn that second and latter editions usually serve as corrections and additions for the first one. Besides, it is unwise and even untrue to say that God was with Tyndale and was not with the other biblical scholars.
As you can see, Tyndale used “it” instead of “him.” “It” is a translation of the Greek “autou” meaning he, she, or it. What this tells us is that Tyndale did not read Messiah into the “logos” or “word” of verse 1 and he was not influenced by the Latin Vulgate or Wycliffe.
Miles Coverdale, a friend of Tyndale, gave us the first complete Bible printed in English in 1535. It was not a firsthand translation from the Hebrew and Greek, but was based on the Latin Vulgate and Tyndale’s translation. Coverdale used “him” in John 1:3-4.
In 1537, John Rogers, using the pseudonym “Thomas Matthew,” published a translation based largely on Tyndale and Coverdale which became known as Matthew’s Bible. He uses “it” in John 1:3-4.
I still need to show you another translation of John 1:1-5 & 14 by John Wesley.
“In the beginning existed the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not one single thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, but the darkness perceived it not,”
“And the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.”
Then the history went on as the writer tried to formulate his/her argument to prove that Jesus is not God and therefore the concept of Trinity is not of the truth. Here is the history which I am not going to comment on.
The Great Bible followed in 1539 and was a revision of Matthew’s Bible. The first edition was prepared by Miles Coverdale. For some reason Coverdale decided “it” was more correct than “him” which appeared in his 1535 version based on the Latin Vulgate and left John 1:3-4 as it was in Matthew’s translation, “it” instead of “him.” The Great Bible was the first authorized English version and was ordered to be placed in every church.
Under Queen Mary the printing of the English Bible ended and its use in the churches was forbidden. This gave rise to a version completed in Geneva. The Geneva Bible of 1560 was the first Bible to have numbered verses, each set off as a separate paragraph. This Bible became the “household Bible of the English-speaking nations.” It held that position for about 75 years. It was Shakespeare’s Bible and that of the Puritans who settled New England. Once again, the translation of John 1:3-4 follows Tyndale’s Quote, “it” instead of “him.”
Queen Elizabeth eventually reinstated the order that a copy of the Bible be placed in every church and she encouraged its reading. Since there were not enough copies of the Great Bible, the bishops themselves made a new revision known as the Bishop’s Bible. It was published in 1568. It was used mostly by the clergy, not being very popular with the common people. It, too, renders John 1:3-4 using “it,” not “him.”
In 1582, the Roman Catholic version of the New Testament was completed and known as the Rheims New Testament. It was the result of a battle between Papists and Protestants, the former believing the Latin Vulgate to be the standard upon which all translations should be made. It was the work of Roman Catholic scholars based on the Latin. They chose to render John 1:3-4 using “him” as did the previous versions based on the Vulgate.
From that point on, all future versions, beginning with the King James version of 1611, used “him” instead of “it” in their translation of John 1:3-4. As you can see, the following translation of John 1:3-4 is not without historic and linguistic foundation;
“All things were made by it, and without it, was made nothing that was made. In it was life, and the life was the light of men.”
I have a very brief look at the English Bible History (http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/) and it roughly in agreement with the writer’s history of English Bible here. I also looked at Douay-Rheims Bible which appears to be a Catholic version of the Bible which uses “him” instead of “it” in John 1:3-4. But, I did not go into the disputes between Catholic and the Protestant since it is not going to affect anything at all here. All I need to say is that this ‘progress’ of Bible translation should also involve the progress of spiritual understanding of the Word of God beside history and linguistic foundation. The Word of God reveals God’s mind and not that of any human such as Tyndale or any Greek or even Hebrew expert. Therefore we need to use ‘God’s language’ spoken by the Holy Spirit, the 3rd Person of Trinity the writer has no slightest idea about.
The “logos” (Word) of John 1:1 means “the spoken word” or “something said (including the thought).” In that sense the word is an “it,” not a person but a thing. In other words, Yahweh spoke creation into existence. This understanding agrees perfectly with passages such as Gen.1:3,6,9,11,14,20, and 24, all of which begin, “And Elohim said.” Yahweh spoke and it was done.
Ps.33:6,9 – By the word of Yahweh were the heavens made; and all the host by the breath of his mouth. . . For He spoke and it was; He commanded, and it stood fast.
If the writer is correct that ‘logos’ means ‘the spoken word’ then we can find logos all over the Bible for every ‘spoken word’ made by anybody, any body at all, is logos. Logos cannot be interpreted as ‘spoken word of God’ either. If it can, then all God said like “let there be light” (Gen. 1:3) and “sky” (God calls an expanse between the waters to separate water from water; Gen. 1:7-8) are also logos. According to John 1:1 (NIV) which says,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”
we can also claim that since ‘logos’ is the spoken word of God, then ‘sky is logos and is also God.’ So what is the problem here?
According to an online Greek Interlinear Bible (NT) which can be read at, http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/Greek_Index.htm, the word ‘logos’ means ‘saying.’
“en archE En ho logos kai ho logos En pros ton theon kai theos En ho logos,”
which literally means,
“IN ORIGINal WAS THE saying AND THE saying WAS TOWARD THE God AND God WAS THE saying.”
Verse 2 says,
“houtos En en archE pros ton theon,”
“this WAS IN ORIGINal TOWARD THE God.”
Now look carefully at verse 3 of John 1,
“panta di autou egeneto kai chOris autou egneto oude hen ho gegonen,”
which literally translated as,
“ALL THROUGH SAME BECAME AND apart-from SAME BECAME NOT-YET ONE WHICH HAS-BECOME,”
and verse 4 that says,
“en auto zOE En kai hE zOE En to phOs tOn anthrOpOn,”
“IN SAME LIFE WAS AND THE LIFE WAS LIGHT OF-THE humans.”
The disputed ‘it’ or ‘him’ was taken from Greek word ‘aoutou’ or ‘autO’ which means ‘SAME’. This ‘SAME’ can be associated with both ‘theos’ or ‘logos’ without changing the overall meaning of these verses since “God was the saying.” The reason behind putting the “Word” in capital letter such in NIV Bible is not merely to honor the ‘Logos, Who is God’ but to distinguish it from the ordinary meaning of word or spoken word. Logos or Word here is more like the ‘manifestation of the power or the appearance of the power in voice form’ and not just a group of words spoken by God. Most of the time, the true meaning of Logos or Word is revealed to the hearts of those who believe as indescribable experiences with the Living Word. That’s the moment when they are moved to call the Word, as Him, instead of it.
Not only did Yahweh speak creation into existence, but He also spoke His Son Yahshua into existence; “And the word (Yahweh’s spoken word) was made flesh” (Jn.1:14). Yahshua did not become the “Word of Yahweh” until his birth as a flesh and blood male child.
Let’s go back to the inappropriate meaning of logos proposed by the writer and imagine God said in the beginning, “Let there be light:” and there was light (Gen. 1:3). If the writer’s explanation is correct, then we should find the same kind of spoken word like “Let there be My Son, Jesus:” and there was Jesus (exists) somewhere in the Bible. All we can find is something like in Psalm 2:7 (NKJV), “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” But according to the writer, Jesus appears on the day “the spoken word” of God is heard. The truth is, the angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God” (Luke 1: 35, NIV). Again, this is the realm of Holy Spirit the writer has no idea about.
To say the “logos” of John 1:1 is a reference to Messiah is to read him into the text. Roman Catholic scholars had to do this in order to support their unscriptural trinity doctrine. If Messiah did not pre-exist, the trinity doctrine would collapse, it being based upon the belief that all three members of the “godhead” were co-eternal. Since Messiah only pre-existed in Yahweh’s plan of salvation and not literally, the trinity doctrine is without foundation.
I believe that the readers are quite familiar with the great commission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19 (NIV) which says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The readers are welcome to check this verse out in the online Greek New Testament at http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/Greek_Index.htm. It’s Jesus Himself that promoted the Trinity and not Roman Catholic or Protestant Church. The writer should know this simple fact very well.
For further study of this subject, please refer to the articles entitled, “Yahshua the Messiah is Not Almighty Yahweh” and “Did Our Savior Pre-exist?”
If the Holy Spirit allows, we shall meet there. I do not expect to have anything that is far different from the above arguments. I just have a simple question, “Why did they not reject the concept of Trinity from the Holy Spirit side?”