Thursday, March 22, 2012

John 1:3-4; Greek Sentence Issues

Everyone loves John 1:1-5, but there are issues with the sentence structure in the Greek.  While the NT was being written and copied, the text was written scriptura continua or "continuous script".  There were no spaces between words and very little punctuation.  A good example is from one of the oldest copies of John’s Gospel, P66.  The script of P66 looks like this:

Note that there were no verse numbers.  That was added hundreds of years later.  Our problem with this text occurs in verse 3 and verse 4 with ὃ γέγονεν (what has come into being).  It either goes with what precedes it in verse 3, or is the beginning of the next sentence.  Here are the two renderings.
1. All things came into being through him, and apart from him, not one thing came into being which has come into being.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
2. All things came into being through him, and apart from him, not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Which is correct?  Hmmmmm.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Holiness and Sanctification: Paul's use of ἁγιασμός

There are several words in Greek that mean both "holiness" and "sanctification".  One of those is ἁγιασμός (hagiasmos).  It's mostly used by Paul in his letters, but is also used in Hebrews 12:14 and 1 Peter 1:2.  Paul uses it in Romans 6:18; 22; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; and 1 Timothy 2:15.  BDAG defines this as "personal dedication to the interests of the deity, holiness, consecration, sanctification; the use in a moral sense for a process or, more often, its result (the state of being made holy) is peculiar to our lit. (New Testament).”  So, depending on the context, ἁγιασμός either relates to the process that Christians go through during their lives, or the initial "setting apart" at conversion/infilling of the Holy Spirit.  I suppose we could assign either "holiness" or "sanctification" to the context.  Here is an example of how I translated 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8:
3 For this is God’s will, your sanctification, for you to abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to master his own vessel in holiness and honor, 5 not in lustful desires as the Gentiles do, who don’t know God; 6 not to overstep and to take advantage of his brother or sister in the task, because the Lord is the avenger concerning all of these things, just as we also spoke to you beforehand and declare solemnly.  7 For God didn’t call us in impurity, but in holiness.  8 For that very reason, the one who rejects this instruction does not reject man, but God who [also] has given his Holy Spirit into you.
In verse three, the context refers to the “process” and in verse 7, I interpreted the use as the initial experience.  Of course, others could interpret this differently.