Sunday, January 8, 2017

Watch! Seek! Behold! See! Witness!

Below is a rough translation and some interpretive comments regarding John 1:29-42, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel reading for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany.

Throughout my comments I will use JTB to describe John the Baptist and to distinguish that reference from John the writer of the gospel. If I simply say “John” I will be referring to the writer, not the baptizer.

A key term throughout this text is εἴδω. I encourage you to consult Kittel or a reputable lexicon for greater insight, but from what I can tell, εἴδω is a term that has evolved over time alongside of the verb ὁράω, to the point that one takes its form of tenses from the other. Both εἴδω and ὁράω roughly mean “to see” and can mean, likewise, “to understand.” We will see it throughout this text both as a verb and as the interjection/imperative “Behold!” “Seeing” terms are crucial to John’s gospel, which is why the post-resurrection story of Thomas changes everything with the words “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” A related verb is θεάομαι, which we will see below and which is introduced in v.14, “… and we beheld his glory.” This word is the root of the English word “theater.” And then there is the most common word for ‘to see,’ which is βλέπω, found in v.29. βλέπω seems to carry the sense of seeing something, while εἴδω, ὁράω, and θεάομαι seem to point more to the idea of ‘noticing’ or ‘contemplating,’ with specific attention. I will make these terms red throughout my translation and for good measure I will throw in a few other related terms:
φανερωθῇ the word for “reveal” and the root of our word “Epiphany,” since this text is given to us during the season of Epiphany.
ζητέω: To seek in order to find.
εὑρίσκω: To find, which – according to lexicons – can mean either to find without looking or to find as a result of looking. In this text, εὑρίσκω seems to correspond with ζητέω, so it would be to find as a result of looking.

There are times when “see” and other times when “know” seem to be the best translation for some of these terms, much like in English we might say “I see what you mean” to indicate “I know what you mean.”

I would further argue that the words “testify” and “witness” are dependent on the experience of “seeing,” throughout the gospel. This is quite the extended family of terms. 

In addition to the “seeing” terms there are other terms that are used repetitively throughout this pericope. I will try to note them in my comments.


29 Τῇ ἐπαύριον βλέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτόν, καὶ λέγει, Ἴδε  
ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου.
The next day [John] sees Jesus coming to him, and says, “Behold the lamb of God who carries away the sin of the world.  
βλέπει: PAI 3s, βλέπω, 1) to see, discern, of the bodily eye
ἐρχόμενον: PMPart asm, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Ἴδε: PAImpv, ὁράω but derived from εἶδον, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know.
αἴρων: PAPart, nms  αἴρω, 1) to raise up, elevate, lift up  1a) to raise from the ground, take up: stones  1b) to raise upwards, elevate, lift up: the hand
1. John’s prologue used images such as Word, life, and light to describe Jesus. This is the first use of “lamb.” I believe this is a point where John’s gospel and the synoptic gospels differ. In John, Jesus dies on the “day of preparation of the Passover” (19:31), whereas in the Synoptics Jesus celebrates the Lord’s Supper on the day that they sacrifice the Passover lamb (Mark 14:12; cf. Matt. 26:17, Luke 22:7).  There are a gazillion web sites mansplaining away what looks like a difference between the Synoptics and John. Most of them seem to fear that a “discrepancy” would destroy the integrity of the gospels’ truth.
I suspect it is a difference in theology, not timing, that is at play, with John interpreting Jesus’ death in light of the Passover lamb. I don’t think the case is as strong in the Synoptics.
2. To John’s point, though, if by “lamb of God” John is making a Passover reference, the phrase “taking/carrying away the sins of the world” is curious, since the lamb’s role on Passover seems more passive than that.

30 οὗτός ἐστιν ὑπὲρ οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον, Ὀπίσω μου ἔρχεται ἀνὴρ ὃς ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν, ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν. 
This is the one about whom I said, ‘Behind me comes a man who is before me, because he is greater than/prior to me.’  
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist
εἶπον: AAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἔρχεται: PMI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
γέγονεν: PerfAI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being 
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist
1. In John 1:27, JTB says, “the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.”

31 κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν, ἀλλ' ἵνα φανερωθῇ τῷ Ἰσραὴλ διὰ τοῦτο ἦλθον ἐγὼ 
ἐν ὕδατι βαπτίζων. 
And I had not known him, but I came baptizing in water in order that he might be revealed to Israel.”
ᾔδειν: PluperfAI 1s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know 
φανερωθῇ: APSubj 3s, φανερόω, 1) to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown,
ἦλθον: AAI 1s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
βαπτίζων: PAPart nsm, βαπτίζω, 1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge
1. With JTB as a “witness,” what he had seen and what he had not seen are important to his testimony. This verse implies that, up until now, JTB had not seen Jesus, waiting alongside of everyone else for Jesus to be revealed.
2. However, JTB is not waiting passively. In a stunning declaration, he says that he came baptizing in order for Jesus to be revealed. That is, JTB’s ministry, in John’s gospel, is more specific than the ‘baptism of repentance’ that we see in the Synoptics. As early as v.8 John says that JTB came to testify to the light.

 32Καὶ ἐμαρτύρησεν Ἰωάννης λέγων ὅτι Τεθέαμαι τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον ὡς περιστερὰν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐπ' αὐτόν:
And John witnessed saying that “I had seen the Spirit come down as a dove out of heaven, and stay on him;
ἐμαρτύρησεν: AAI 3s, μαρτυρέω, 1) to be a witness, to bear witness
λέγων: PAPart nsm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Τεθέαμαι: PerfMI 1s, θεάομαι, 1) to behold, look upon, view attentively, contemplate
καταβαῖνον: PAPart asn, καταβαίνω,1) to go down, come down, descend
ἔμεινεν: AAI 3s, μένω, 1) to remain, abide
1. Three terms in this verse appear more than once in the pericope. “Witness,” “seen” (theater-style; θεάομαι), and ‘remain.’
2. This is a curious verse because, when the Synoptics speak of the Spirit coming down from the heaven and alighting on Jesus, it is when JTB baptizes him. John never says that JTB actually baptizes Jesus.

33 κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν, ἀλλ'  πέμψας με βαπτίζειν ἐνὕδατι ἐκεῖνός μοι εἶπεν, Ἐφ' ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον καὶ μένον ἐπ' αὐτόν, οὗτός ἐστιν βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ.
I myself had not known him, but the one who sent me to baptize in water said this to me, ‘The one upon whom you see the Spirit come down and stay on him, this is the one who baptizes in a spirit of holiness.’ 
ᾔδειν: PluperfAI 1s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know 
πέμψας: AAPart nsm, πέμπω, 1) to send 
βαπτίζειν: PAInf, βαπτίζω, 1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge  
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἴδῃς: AASubj 2s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know 
καταβαῖνον: PAPart asn, καταβαίνω,1) to go down, come down, descend
μένον: PAPart asn, μένω, 1) to remain, abide
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist
βαπτίζων: PAPart nsm, βαπτίζω, 1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge
1. Again, the Synoptics have this descending of the Spirit happening after Jesus is baptized.

34κἀγὼ ἑώρακα, καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν  υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. 

And I have seen and have witnessed that this is the son of God.” 
ἑώρακα: PerfAI 1s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know 
μεμαρτύρηκα: PerfAI 1s, μαρτυρέω, 1) to be a witness, to bear witness
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist
1. Here, the word (μαρτυρέω) seems to have two sides, as does its English translation, “witness.” On the one hand, we can read it as another of the ‘seeing’ verbs, with JTB having seen and witnessed that Jesus is the son of God. On the other hand, we could see it as a responsive verb, that JTB sees that Jesus in the son of God and then he witnesses/testifies to what he has seen.

35 Τῇ ἐπαύριον πάλιν εἱστήκει ὁ Ἰωάννης καὶ ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο,
The next day again John had been standing with two of his disciples,
εἱστήκει: PluperfectAI 3s, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set  1a) to bid to stand by, [set up]  1a1) in the presence of others, in the midst,
1. This time we know who it is JTB is talking with. I would hope that the use of ‘disciples’ for JTB would enable us to see the wider common use of this term for devoted followers and not just to confine the term to disciples of Jesus.

36 καὶ ἐμβλέψας τῷ Ἰησοῦ περιπατοῦντι λέγει, Ἴδε  ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. 
And having seen Jesus walking about, (John) says, ‘Behold the lamb of God.’
ἐμβλέψας: AAPart nms, ἐμβάλλω, 1) to throw in, cast into
περιπατοῦντι: PAPart dms, περιπατέω, 1) to walk 
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Ἴδε: PAImpv, ὁράω but derived from εἶδον, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know.
1. “Having seen Jesus walking about,” what an interesting phrase.

37 καὶ ἤκουσαν οἱ δύο μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος καὶ ἠκολούθησαν τῷ 
Ἰησοῦ.  
And his two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
ἤκουσαν: AAI 3p, ἀκούω, to hear 
λαλοῦντος: PAPart gms, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound  2) to speak
ἠκολούθησαν: AAI 3pl, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, accompany him  2) to join one as a disciple
1. Now we have a new twist to ‘seeing.’ When JTB sees and then testifies, now his two disciples – who have not ‘seen’ – hear the testimony and follow Jesus. That would be an important nuance for John’s community, so many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, who do not see him walking about but who have heard the testimony of Jesus through others (including this gospel).
2. The terms ἀκούω (to hear) and ἀκολουθέω (to follow) are very important to John’s gospel and will be repeated in this text.

38 στραφεὶς δὲ  Ἰησοῦς καὶ θεασάμενος αὐτοὺς ἀκολουθοῦντας λέγει 
αὐτοῖς, Τί ζητεῖτε; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Ῥαββί {ὃ λέγεται μεθερμηνευόμενον 
Διδάσκαλε}, ποῦ μένεις; 
And having turned and having observed them following him, Jesus says to them, “What are you seeking?”  And they said to him, “Rabbi [which is interpreted ‘teacher’], where are you staying?”
στραφεὶς: APPart nms, στρέφω, 1) to turn, turn around   
θεασάμενος: AMPart nms  θεάομαι, 1) to behold, look upon, view attentively, contemplate
ἀκολουθοῦντας:PAPart amp, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, accompany him  2) to join one as a disciple
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ζητεῖτε: PAI 2p, ζητέω, 1) to seek in order to find
μεθερμηνευόμενον: PPPart nms, μεθερμηνεύω, 1) To interpret; to translate from one language into another.
μένεις: PAI 2s, μένω, 1) to remain, abide
1. I am using “observed” rather than “seen” for θεάομαι because there seems to be specific attention involved. Young’s Literal Translation uses “beheld” here.
2. Here we have a new entry into the family of ‘see’ words: “Seek” (ζητέω). It carries the connotation of ‘inquire.’

39  λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἔρχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε. ἦλθαν οὖν καὶ εἶδαν ποῦ μένει, καὶ παρ' αὐτῷ ἔμειναν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην: ὥρα ἦν ὡς δεκάτη. 
He says to them, “Come and see.”  Therefore they went and saw where he is staying, and stayed with him that day, as it was the 10th hour. 
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Ἔρχεσθε : PMImpv 2p, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
ὄψεσθε: FMI 2p, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes
ἦλθαν: AAI 3p, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
εἶδαν: AAI 3p, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes
μένει: PAI 3s, μένω, 1) to remain, abide
ἔμειναν: AAI 3p, μένω, 1) to remain, abide
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist
1. The phrase “come and see” has been picked up nicely in sermons and music throughout the years. The word for “staying” and “stayed” (μένω) is likewise important.

40 ην Ἀνδρέας  ἀδελφὸς Σίμωνος Πέτρου εἷς ἐκ τῶν δύο τῶν ἀκουσάντων παρὰ Ἰωάννου καὶ ἀκολουθησάντων αὐτῷ: 
Andrew the brother of Simon Peter was one of the two who heard what John said and followed him;
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist
ἀκουσάντων: AAPart gmp, ἀκούω, to hear 
ἀκολουθησάντων : AAP, gmp, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, accompany him  2) to join one as a disciple
1. “Hear and follow” is, I suggest, the way in which John’s readers (historically and now) get to “come and see.”

41 εὑρίσκει οὗτος πρῶτον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τὸν ἴδιον Σίμωνα καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Εὑρήκαμεν τὸν Μεσσίαν {ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Χριστός}: 
First he finds his brother who is called Simon and says to him, “We have found the Messiah [which is interpreted ‘Christ’].”
εὑρίσκει: PAI 3s,  εὑρίσκω, 1) to come upon, hit upon, to meet with
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Εὑρήκαμεν : PerfAI 1p, εὑρίσκω, 1) to come upon, hit upon, to meet with
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist
μεθερμηνευόμενον: PPPart nms, μεθερμηνεύω, 1) To interpret; to translate from one language into another.
1. Andrew, who “seeks” Jesus (ζητέω, v.38), now “finds” (εὑρίσκω) his brother Simon, saying “We have found (εὑρίσκω) the Messiah.”
2. This parenthetical note, that ‘Messiah’ is interpreted ‘Christ,’ along with the explanations of the term “Rabbi” and “Cephas” in vv. 38 and 42 are one reason why biblical scholars conjecture that John is not writing for a Jewish audience.

42  ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν. ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ  Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Σὺ εἶ 
Σίμων  υἱὸς Ἰωάννου: σὺ κληθήσῃ Κηφᾶς {ὃ ἑρμηνεύεται Πέτρος}.
He led him to Jesus.  Having seen him, Jesus said, “You are Simon, son of John; you shall be called Cephas [which means ‘Peter’].”
ἤγαγεν: AorAI 3s, ἄγω, 1) to lead, take with one 
ἐμβλέψας: AAPart nms, ἐμβλέπω 1) to behold, 2) to look upon, view with steadfastness and attention.
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
εἶ: PAI 2s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist
κληθήσῃ: FPI 2s, καλέω, 1) to call 
ἑρμηνεύεται: PPI 3s, ἑρμηνεύω, 1) to explain in words, expound 2) to interpret 
1. While they share a root, μηνεύω, the words μεθερμηνεύω in v.41 and ἑρμηνεύω in v.42 are slightly different. Both refer to translations from one tongue to another.

2. The word ἑρμηνεύω is transliterated into the English term ‘hermeneutics,’ and is rooted in the name of Hermes, the messenger of the gods.

4 comments:

  1. Please take this picky comment in a fun, scholarly way!! This is the gospel reading for Jan 15 and not Jan 8.
    I like you pointing out the use of theaomai in this text. I didn't see (behold) that before.
    Could v. 29b be translated "Behold the lamb of God who lifts up the sin of the world"?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Mark,

    Funny you should point that out. I'm assuming that you are referring to the date at the top of the page, above the Title. Actually, that is the date of when I posted the translation, not the date for it to be read in worship. So, that's not a mistake but something generated by the blog site itself.
    Here's the funny part. When I put together our "Leadership Bulletin" (the copy with all of the introductions, "please be seated" comments, etc.) which we work over in our Tuesday morning Staff Meeting, I saved it under January 8 instead of January 15. So, while I didn't make that mistake with the blog, I did make that mistake this week.
    And you caught it! Sort of.

    Per your comment on v.29, by "lifts up" do you mean something like, "displays" or "points out"? I'm not sure about that one. I would guess the word ὑψόω (John 12:32) would capture that more than αἴρω. But, a lexicon might suggest otherwise. Hmm ...

    Good to hear from you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Every time one of the verses about Jesus' baptism comes around in the Lectionary, much of the time is taken up discussing whether Jesus and John, relatives of some kind, knew each other. V.33, at first glance, seems to resolve the question - John didn't know Jesus. But after your discussion of the various meanings of "know," we're right back where we started. Maybe they saw each other every Passover, when Jesus' family came into Jerusalem for the observance, but in all those years of playing whatever games boys played at that time, John had never seen, understood, known of the other relationship between them. Then, driven out into the wilderness to prepare for the Messiah, John finally recognizes Jesus, and knows Him for who He it, as He comes for baptism. It probably doesn't really matter, one way or the other, but I like the idea of this particular epiphany, now during Epiphany. Thank you so much for your posts - they're always the first place I turn for commentary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Caryn,
      I've given up an an answer to the Jesus-John-as-relatives question, because it seems to me that each writer is approaching their relationship theologically, not biographically.
      It has also been my experience in working in El Salvador that relationships across small communities is different than the kind of relationships I grew up knowing in a larger city and across state lines. It's hard to pinpoint, but I'm trying to understand it.

      Delete

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