The translation of the third clause of John 1:1

I am currently reading an academic work by two of America’s leading biblical scholars entitled: King and Messiah as Son of God, Divine, Human, and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature by Adela Yarbro Collins and John J. Collins – both professors of biblical criticism and interpretation at Yale University. It is a significant contribution to biblical studies and I recommend it to Muslims and Christians who are interested in the question of the divinity of Jesus in the Bible.

Here is a snapshot taken on my humble iPhone of pages 175 & 176 where the most likely translation of the third clause of John 1:1 is discussed. The traditional Christian translation is at best a possibility. But not the only one. The much maligned JWs may well have been right after all! (Click to enlarge).

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There is a fascinating footnote below about the significance of John 20:28 (highlighted in yellow):

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Categories: Bible, Biblical scholarship, Recommended Reading

15 replies

  1. This discourse is also one of my interest, especially in relation to jewish exaltation of angelic figures.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom, has been demonstrated fully by what has been said.”

    Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 128

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.iv.cxxviii.html

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  3. This is awesome.

    I recently stumbled across a video in which a big name non-Christian scholar say that he thinks the Jehovah Witness translation is more likely to be correct. I think Prof. Mark Edwards also hinted at there being more than one translation of that verse. Hopefully I can put all that into a video and add the content of this post too.

    I used to be of the impression, after listening to evangelical apologists, that the Witness translation is a product of pseudo scholarship, intellectual dishonesty and that it had no support from any scholarship.

    Well, looks like it was another case of the apologists not being thorough or simply fudging the reality on the ground.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to be of the impression, after listening to evangelical apologists, that the Witness translation is a product of pseudo scholarship, intellectual dishonesty and that it had no support from any scholarship.

    That is still true.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/07/greek-grammar-points-to-sola-scriptura.html

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2012/01/muslim-agrees-with-greek-of-john-11.html

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  5. I used to be of the impression, after listening to evangelical apologists, that the Witness translation is a product of pseudo scholarship, intellectual dishonesty and that it had no support from any scholarship.

    That is still true.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/07/greek-grammar-points-to-sola-scriptura.html

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  6. Even Paul Williams agreed that the traditional understanding is the right understanding, according to grammar.
    The Jehovah’s Witnesses translation is indeed pseudo scholarship and was a product of someone knowing a little Greek to be dangerous; not enough to be accuate.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2012/01/muslim-agrees-with-greek-of-john-11.html

    From what I see in reading more of Justin Martyr, the Yale scholars are not doing justice to what Justin Martyr was saying. (as Dialogue with Trypho, 128 shows.) The references in the part Paul put up as a screen shot avoid verse 128.

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  7. “This work by Collins and Collins focuses on the thesis that the Jews regarded the king of Israel as divine and that by extension the Messiah was viewed in the same way. Thus when Jesus’ followers acknowledged Him as the Messiah, the key theological element for regarding Him as divine would have already been in place. Thus the concept of Jesus’ deity was not a Gentile, Hellenistic development. Instead it arose naturally and appropriately out of a Jewish milieu through the relationship of the Messiah to Israel’s kingship.”

    . . .

    “The following four chapters address the biblical data. Authored by Adela Yarbro Collins, they address in turn the Messiah and Son of God concepts first in Paul and the Synoptic Gospels, and then in the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation. Similar in tone to the first half of the book, these chapters argue that the New Testament authors readily understood Jesus’ life and ministry in terms of Jewish divine kingship.”

    “Surprisingly the authors suggest that John 1:1c “may be translated either ‘the word was God’ or ‘the word was a god.’ ” Current scholarship is decidedly on the side of the traditional translation, giving little or no credence to the translation “the word was a god.” ”

    From an academic review of the book, by Michael H. Burer

    http://www.dts.edu/reviews/adela-yarbro-collins-king-and-messiah-as-son-of-god

    I would also add that Collins and Collins do not seem to go into any grammatical justification for their saying that John 1:1 may be translated the way Jehovah’s Witnesses translate it. (the word was a god)

    They only make a passing comment on John 1:1, and refer to Justin Martyr, but they were not balanced in their treatment of Justin, leaving a lot of other things Justin wrote. (as I demonstrated above)

    I just ordered the book and look forward to studying it more and writing more on this, because there are some great positive things in this book that show the Deity of Christ is based on Jewish understanding of the Tanakh. (it was NOT a Gentile, Hellenistic, pagan concept)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I read whatever the google books will let me and decided to get the book. I just ordered it and will be reading it more thoroughly after I get it.

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  9. “a god” is a terrible translation of John 1:1c.

    Daniel Wallace explained why:

    https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/john-11-and-the-word-was-god/

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Trackbacks

  1. When men are called “God” in the Bible – Blogging Theology
  2. How Jesus became a god. Two Yale professors describe the historical process – Blogging Theology

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