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These in Bethany happened
An Aramaic Word Study of hlyn in John 1 verse 28, by Greg Glaser.

The above is a word study of the Aramaic grammar in John 1:28. I?ve outlined here all 74 occurrences of the word hlyn (?these?) in the gospel of John ? the goal was to examine the grammatical pattern and therefore deduce whether its most likely usage in John 1:28-29 distinguishes between (1) Bethany, and (2) The Crossing of the Jordan.

The conventional translation does not distinguish these two places, but rather joins them together as if they were one place.

However, my word study explains that if the most likely Aramaic grammar is applied, then it would mean these two places are separate; that ?John the Baptist? spoke with the Pharisees (John 1:19-27) in the village of Bethany near Jerusalem, rather than at the Jordan River. From there (Bethany) according to this theory, John the Baptist simply walks about 17-miles on that day and/or the next day to reach the Jordan River to baptize the messiah Yahshua.

Indeed, this most likely grammar becomes all the more so given the present absence of evidence of a place called Bethany at the Jordan River. The conventional translation has its charm though, and the weight of a tradition, and some potential grammatical support, so I do think it is important for students to analyze it both ways if studying the matter.

According to my study, this issue was important in the 3rd century, as Origen dealt with the geographical problem by changing the Greek transliteration of ?Bethany? to ?Bethabara?. The Aramaic was never changed to ?Bethabara? following Origen?s commentaries though, because the Aramaic was maintained separately from the Greek.

As I studied all 74 occurrences (see Appendix A) of this word hlyn in the fourth gospel, I see it was used with precision by the author, which further supports the Peshitta tradition.

I hope this word study proves beneficial to other students too; I enjoyed the research.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Greg. Very interesting, and if true it answers the question quite good. I didn't know that Origin had changed the word out like that and it come into use in subsequent Greek texts ...and thus caused the confusion.

If so, this is an example of how it is supper important not to take liberties in a translation and add your own word in, thinking it will be harmless, trying to make things "more clear", when God didn't see fit to use the word in the 1st place, when He had his Apostles compose the original text, for good reason.

The Aramaic New Testament comes through again... <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

When we change things like this, we try to re-write history, thinking we are doing a better job of what has already been written.

As a side note: Speaking of that type thing...I just got back home from watching the new "Noah" movie with Russel Crowe as "Noah"...and the only thing that it has in common with the actual accounts in The Bible, is that his name was Noah, he had three sons with their certain names, and his grand-father was named Methuselah...oh, and there was a worldwide flood of water, and that Noah built an ark to survive it and save the animal kingdom. Everything else pretty much is a brand new tale, which has nothing to do with the actual events described in The Bible.

But, it makes for a good movie if nothing else I guess, and better than the Gilgamesh version of the original account too I think... I got a bit of a laugh as well, when they named one of the "Watchers" (fallen angels/Giants) "Og". It seems the writers knew a bit more about the Bible than the part about the flood.

Hello Greg,

Excellent word study, very thorough. Though I'm probably one of those who could take the other side of the argument.

It would appear that John specifically qualifies this Bethany as being the one "across" the Jordan, which would support the idea of two distinct Bethany's; the main one near Jerusalem, and a more distant one, close to 20 miles or so to the east, across the Jordan. So if there were only one Bethany, wouldn't John have just said that this "happened at Bethany"? But of course, I know you have a response to this.

On your word study, I would agree that that "holeyn" typically points back, but some time ago I found "these" to be problematic in a number of areas. It was too specific, and not malleable enough to fit most contexts. I think it was Matthew 9:18 that eventually changed my view on the word.

"As-of then these so-speaking he-was ... " ??? - This didn't make sense to me.
"As-of then such-that so-speaking he-was ... " - This version made more sense contextually, although I think "such-to-that" might actually be the full range of the word.

This is how John 1:28 would read using that same translation:

"At-Beth-Anyah such-that became, on-across the-Yurdnon; whereas so-baptizing he-was, Yuchanon."

Here, it would appear that not only is Beth-Anyah described as being across the Yurdnon, but also as the place where Yuchanon was baptizing.

* * *

But for the sake of being malleable myself, I could write the same translation in a way that conforms to your way of thinking, simply be changing where the end of the sentence occurs.

"... at-Beth-Anyah, such-that became.
(New paragraph) - On-across the Yurdnon, whereas so-baptizing he-was, Yuchanon, and-to-the-day after, Yuchanon saw to-Yeshua, of-coming toward-him ..."

So yeah, I can see where either argument has some plausibility to it, and either can be construed by the text; depending upon where one draws the end of the sentence.
Thanks guys for the comments.

That?s funny about the Noah movie ? I?m guessing you weren?t surprised either that the producers went with the name Noah rather than the Hebrew nKh.

Nice points as well Chuck about textual integrity. I agree happily. When it comes to a scribe you really need a person who follows the rules strictly, every yod counts ? scribes demonstrate the good kind of stiff-neck. Interesting when the kingdom calls a scribe out of his comfort zone too, as we read in Matthew 8:19-20 ? the scribe is invited to follow Yahshua in his travels from place to place, ?Foxes have holes, and birds of the sky nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.? I imagine this very eager scribe struggling within himself, trying not to turn back in his heart to the comfort of his cozy house, level desk, tidy scrolls, lamps, oil containers, inks, little treats in the pottery jar.

In our modern world we are tempted with a ridiculous amount of comfort, so the scribe?s calling resonates with many of us. It is written that Noah?s great grandfather was a righteous scribe. I suppose that got omitted from the movie as well? If so, the producers would at least be in agreement with the Council at Laodicea, right?

Jerry, thank you for your comment about the alternate translation of Eabra (?across?). I should have included discussion of the nuance here in my paper, so I just updated it to basically explain the following -- notice how this same phrase in John 1:28 bEabra dyurdnn is used in John 3:26 to refer to Yahshua and JB ?in the crossing of the Jordan? yet there is no mention of Bethany. The text instructs this is the same water crossing. It is tempting to refer to Eabra as ?across?, but I reason not if there is a ?bet? prefix (as in John 1:28, and John 3:26). Without the 'bet' prefix, there is a ?lamed? prefix, and for that phrase (with lamed) you find your alternate definition ("across") used consistently: John 6:1 (lEabra dyma dglyla dtbryus), John 6:17, John 6:22, John 10:40, John 18:1. So that also supports my theory and evidences consistency in the fourth gospel. Nice.

In further support, notice the use of bEaynyun in John 3:23 to refer to being literally inside the water -- this is because (1) Eaynyun is referring to a spring (just like Jordan refers to the river), (2) there is a 'bet' prefix here rather than a 'lamed' to emphasize being in the water (which is quite practical for a baptism), and (3) the author also uses a special phrase dEal gnb afterward to emphasize how the spring was next to another location -- that special phrase is not in John 1:28-29, which together with all the other evidence helps confirm that Bethany is not across from the Jordan in the literal sense being conveyed by the text. I do think "across" is conveyed in a figurative sense and through wordplay, but the wordplay should not be the primary reading.

On that other point you made about Matthew 9:18, we do see dyn used frequently throughout the gospels in the second position of a sentence (second word). I gather it is an ancient stylistic nuance of Hebrew/Aramaic because dyn (?and?) is a conjunctive word, so it is clever to say/write it in the second position. I should find a study of this type of thing in Hebrew. In any case, I see Matthew 9:18 is proper literal grammar, as the kd connects naturally to the hlyn, so the hlyn remains literal as ?these?. Really pleased to hear your thoughtful perspective, thanks again for the comment.
Greg, the reason I probably lean towards the opposite side of your argument is that it appears to me, by overall context, that some Judeans sent out Pharisee priests and Levites to see JB, not JB going to see the Pharisees; at least in the gospel of John. And in what appears to be the parallel account in Matthew, it states that Jerusalem and all of Judea, Pharisees and Sadducees, were going out to see JB, to be baptized by him at the Jordan River; not JB going anywhere near Jerusalem. And it was at this time also, in Matthew, that Yeshua came all the way from Galilee to be baptized by JB.

Perhaps on your side of the argument is the fact that there doesn't seem to be any historical evidence for a second Bethany near the Jordan River.

In the end, I kind of doubt that either of us can prove our position by grammatical nuances. But instead, I think it's probably the overall context that determines it.

Either way though, it's an interesting topic to think about.
Right on, I think it's interesting too.

It does appear that JB also travelled, as we read in Luke 3:3. As you correctly highlighted (from John 1:19), we read that the Judeans from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to inquire of JB. It doesn?t say though in John 1:19 that these men were sent literally inside the Jordan river crossing to ask their questions. Rather we read literally in John 1:28, ?These in Bethany happened.? And indeed this (theory) would only be possible if JB was in Bethany for some reason and the Judeans in Jerusalem knew it. We know from Luke 3:3 that JB traveled around and was quite famous (see e.g., Matthew 3:5), and the more one reads about the potential importance and connections of a particular family in Bethany, the more one gets to thinking about the probabilities going around these matters.

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