John 1:5 κατέλαβεν semantic range?

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Tim Evans
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Joined: July 10th, 2015, 1:40 am

John 1:5 κατέλαβεν semantic range?

Post by Tim Evans » November 12th, 2015, 6:22 pm

Im working my way through John in preparation for my class on John next year. Sometimes, the selection of the word meaning/translation from BDAG is obvious and simple, occasionally I come across a word where multiple, quite distinct/different senses seem to be possible, for example, κατέλαβεν:
καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.
In this case it seems that perhaps the following could also apply:
2. to gain control of someone through pursuit, catch up with, seize
a. of authority figures catch up with, overtake

3. to come upon someone, with implication of surprise, catch
a. of moral authorities catch, detect
b. of a thief: in imagery of the coming of ‘the day’, unexpected by the ‘children of darkness’ and fraught w. danger for them

4. to process information, understand, grasp
a. learn about someth. through process of inquiry, mid. grasp, find, understand
So my question is, how are these types of things decided? Is there something simple I am missing, are there commentaries (especially on John) that get down to this level of detail that I might be able to refer to?
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timothy_p_mcmahon
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Re: John 1:5 κατέλαβεν semantic range?

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » November 13th, 2015, 12:37 am

There are commentaries that would help "at this level" – Anchor Bible, Word, etc. would be places to start.

But it's really up to you as the individual interpreter to make the best sense out of it.

In this case, I'd guess the author is utilizing a double entendre – the darkness can neither understand nor overtake the light.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: John 1:5 κατέλαβεν semantic range?

Post by Stephen Hughes » November 13th, 2015, 6:02 am

Think for a moment about how a foreign language dictionary is compiled. Rather than thinking about equivalences and that the meaning in the dictionary somehow contains the meaning of the Greek, you coud apply a way of thinking something like this:
In such and so a situation, the Greek word blah-blah carries a similar force to the English word bleh-bleh.
Thinking of it in anther way, someone has gone before you to the Greek, and has thought about how best to express what they understand using a language that you and they have in common. It is not like there is a real or constant relationship between Greek and English words.

Think also about how you understand the words φῶς and σκοτία. Do they refer to physical properties or to metaphysical. Do either or both of them have the facility for reason, thought, or self-motivated action or impetus? How you think about that will more or less guide your understanding of the verb.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Shirley Rollinson
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Location: New Mexico
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Re: John 1:5 κατέλαβεν semantic range?

Post by Shirley Rollinson » November 13th, 2015, 8:20 pm

Tim Evans wrote:Im working my way through John in preparation for my class on John next year. Sometimes, the selection of the word meaning/translation from BDAG is obvious and simple, occasionally I come across a word where multiple, quite distinct/different senses seem to be possible, for example, κατέλαβεν:
καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.
- - - snip snip - - -

So my question is, how are these types of things decided? Is there something simple I am missing, are there commentaries (especially on John) that get down to this level of detail that I might be able to refer to?
I often go for the "feel" of the words, depending on their etymology (I know this can lead into murkiness and pitfalls for the unwary, but I do it anyway)
κατα - down
λαμβανω - I get (take, receive)
so καταλαμβανω - I get something down
the sentence is talking about light and darkness - the darkness didn't "get it down" - it didn't put the light out.

Your professors probably won't like that way of doing things, but it does sometimes give an added feel for what might be going on.
Shirley Rollinson
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