1 John 1:1 – We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—

The above translation of 1 John 1:1 comes from the NRSV and is fairly typical of modern translations (the NIV, NASB, NET, ESV, NKJV, TNIV, and KJV all reflect the same translational technique). My issue here is the translation of the four Greek Verbs: ακουω, οραω, θεαομαι  and, ψηλαφω.What the vast majority of modern translations miss is the difference in form between the first two verbs, ακουω (‘to hear’) and οραω (‘to see’) and the second two verbs, θεαομαι (‘to see’) and ψηλαφω (‘to touch’). 

The complete Greek text is as follows:

Ο ἦν ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς _

The first two verbs (ακουω, οραω) are in the perfect verb form. The perfect verb form in Greek is typically described as ‘a past action with present significance.’ Prefective verb forms are rare and very often emphatic or at least a “deliberate choice on the part of the writer” (Wallace 573). Moulton goes so far as to call the perfect “the most important, exegetically of all the Greek tenses (Moulton, 140). The second two verbs (θεαομαι, ψηλαφω) are aorist verbs. An aorist verb form is typically described as a ‘past action.’ It is a ‘snap-shot’ kind of verb describing an action that happened in past time without reference to present significance (see Wallace, 554-65). Contra to perfect verb forms, aorist verb forms do not emphasize any present significance of the past action. 

While many commentators claim that the shift in verbs from perfect to aorist in 1 John 1:1 is of no significance (cf. Marshall, 101, n.8 and Brown 160 and the literature cited there) I am inclined to see significance here. The elder seems to be very aware of his varied use of Greek tenses. For example (more…)

After looking at 1 Samuel 15 and seeing how the LXX translated the verbs with God as the subject I thought it would be good to see how Num. 23:19 handled a similar subject to 1 Sam. 15:29. Below is an oracle of Balaam which he declared to Balak concerning the reliability of God to bring about what he has spoken about Israel.

Num. 23:19 οὐχ ὡς ἄνθρωπος ὁ θεὸς διαρτηθῆναι οὐδὲ ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἀπειληθῆναι αὐτὸς εἴπας οὐχὶ ποιήσει λαλήσει καὶ οὐχὶ ἐμμενεῖ 

Translation:

Not like a man is God to be deceived nor like a son of man to be threatened, when he has said will he not do? When he speaks will it not remain?

Translation Notes

εἴπας and λαλήσει

The future verb ποιήσει requires that the aorist participle εἴπας be translated in a temporal sense, ‘when he says(said)…’ in the form of a question (cf. NETS). The next clause starts with a future λαλήσει (‘when he says’) and continues (more…)

 

Last Sunday, our pastor preached on this passage (among others). As I was scrambling to keep up in my Readers Hebrew Bible, I realized that the translation that he read was not even close to what I had in my Hebrew Bible. He read something like this: ‘Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it’ (NASB). A look at several different translations show the struggle to understand this verse:

NRSV – Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle, but those who gather little by little will increase it. 

NET – Wealth gained quickly will dwindle away, but the one who gathers it little by little37 will become rich.

NIV – Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

ESV – Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

NASB – Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it.

JPS – Wealth may dwindle to less than nothing, but he who gathers little by little increases it.

The Hebrew, however reads: הון מהבל ימעט וקבץ על־יד ירבה. Translated as literally as possible this reads: (more…)

Here is another installment of Septuagintal Saturdays. I’m not sure how I’m going to pick these texts, but for right now I’m going to pick some highlights through Genesis and see where that gets us. This passage is dear to me because I wrote my M.A. thesis on 1 Sam. 15, which deals with similar issues to the passage here in Genesis 6. There is also discussion as to where to place this passage. Is it the conclusion to the generation of Adam in ch. 5 or the introduction to the generation of Noah Chs. 6ff.? I think it is best understood as both. Clearly it is the climax of the generation of Adam and the evil it has come to but it is also the introduction to the flood narrative. Often in biblical literature we have these ‘seam’ texts that function as the conclusion to one section and the introduction to another. To some degree I think the book of Deuteronomy functions this way, but that is another discussion.

Gen. 6:5 ἰδὼν δὲ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὅτι ἐπληθύνθησαν αἱ κακίαι τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ πᾶς τις διανοεῖται ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ ἐπιμελῶς ἐπὶ τὰ πονηρὰ πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας 

Gen. 6:6 καὶ ἐνεθυμήθη ὁ θεὸς ὅτι ἐποίησεν τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ διενοήθη 

Gen. 6:7 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός ἀπαλείψω τὸν ἄνθρωπον ὃν ἐποίησα ἀπὸ προσώπου τῆς γῆς ἀπὸ ἀνθρώπου ἕως κτήνους καὶ ἀπὸ ἑρπετῶν ἕως τῶν πετεινῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὅτι ἐθυμώθην ὅτι ἐποίησα αὐτούς 

Gen. 6:8 Νωε δὲ εὗρεν χάριν ἐναντίον κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ 

 

Translation:

5 And when the LORD God saw that the evil deeds of humankind had multiplied upon the earth and all everyone thinks in their heart [is] thoroughly upon the evil, all the days, 6 then God considered that he made man upon the earth and he planned. 7 And God said, “I will wipe off humankind, whom I made, from upon the face of the earth, from humankind to animal and from creeping things unto birds of the air because I am angry that I made them. 8 But Noah found grace before the LORD God.

(more…)