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John 1:3,4 as understood among the early Eastern believers - Printable Version

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John 1:3,4 as understood among the early Eastern believers - gregoryfl - 08-01-2014

Joh 1:3 Everything existed by his hand and without him not even one [thing] existed [of] that which existed. 4 In him was life and the life was the light of men. (Joh 1:3-4 MGI)

Basically, this is how English translations today translate this verse, whether from the Greek, or from the Aramaic, which I have here.

I discovered though, that the earliest believers in the East after the apostles did not render these verses this way, and it makes quite a difference.

One thing I appreciate about the MGI (Magiera's translation of the Peshitta) is that she puts words in brackets that are not actually in the text, but that she believes makes for proper or smooth English. Notice that there are two words here in brackets...'thing' and 'of'. In Aramaic, the letter dalet serves as a prefix to indicate the idea of 'of' or 'that of'.

The word for 'that' is Meddem and it does not have the dalet prefix. This is important because this is where the early believers understood this passage different than is done today. She added the 'of' because she understood these verses in the way that most today do, and needed to add it to make sense of it in English. Even Bauscher in his interlinear renders the phrase as (of the things), no doubt for the same reason. Meddem without the dalet simply means 'that, something, anything, whatever'. Take out the bracketed words and verse numbers, and remembering that there was no punctuation and hence the need to punctuate verbally was based on how you understood the text you were reading, let's see where they punctuated these verses at.

Everything existed by his hand and without him not even one existed.
That which existed in him was life and the life was the light of men. (Joh 1:3-4 MGI)

Compare this with the way it is today:

Everything existed by his hand and without him not even one existed of that which existed.
In him was life and the life was the light of men. (Joh 1:3-4 MGI)

The earliest understanding of these verses is consistent with the eastern churches understanding of the entire universe being in God, held together and sustained by his Miltha. His life has always been the life that truly exists in all his creation.

Ronen


Re: John 1:3,4 as understood among the early Eastern believe - Aldred Emmans - 08-02-2014

So changing the meaning by the punctuation! Example, I say to you today, you shall be with me in paradise. Reflecting the end of the world understanding of resurrection.
As apposed to the way we always understood the verse. I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.
Aldred <!-- sConfusedly: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/sly.gif" alt="Confusedly:" title="Sly" /><!-- sConfusedly: -->


Re: John 1:3,4 as understood among the early Eastern believe - gregglaser - 08-03-2014

In the gospel we often see kl mdm ("anything whatever") work as a phrase, but here in John 1:3 the words are separated from one another (separation is a key idea in John 1). And still they work together to describe something mysterious.

With regard to the 'present tense' and 'past tense' dichotomy in John 1:3, one can read it like this if desired:

"All in his hand is, and without him also not one was anything of being."

Regarding especially the last phrase dhua ("of being"), I think it's an outward manifestation in space and time (i.e., created things like people, planets).

So in a fundamental sense, one of the ways I like to possibly interpret John 1:3 involves distinguishing between (a) the core energy/life/possibility that is presently in the hand of the Father, and (b) the face or outward manifestation of that energy that flows in ways/processes we humans describe as 'past' and 'future' in spacetime.

Mysterious. And how about this unique alternative possibility for John 1:3: "All in his hand being, and without him not even one has become that he be."

Even the word plays are mysterious in the Aramaic verse:
- The word "without" comes from the root blEa ("swallow" or "devour")
- The phrase "also not" is apla, which can also mean "no face"
- The feminine word for "one" Khda also means "glad"

By way of interpretation, I like to think that Alha is life now. All we know comes from Alha and depends on Alha. It has been written that if the face of Alha turned from us, we'd no longer exist! See also Matthew 5:18. I assume from John 1:3 that Alha can 'swallow' things to bring them inside the core (where possibility resides), or Alha can devour them. The outward manifestation of Alha is like a face to us, like energy flowing through shape/form that we see and interact with in the present/past/future of a world like ours.