John 7:37-38

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thomas.hagen
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John 7:37-38

Post by thomas.hagen » May 27th, 2016, 5:11 am

Dear Forum:

I would like to ask a question concerning John 7:37-38:

37Ἐν δὲ τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ μεγάλῃ τῆς ἑορτῆς ἱστήκει ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἔκραξεν λέγων Ἐάν τις διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με καὶ πινέτω. 38 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ, καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος.

I am most interested in the translation of Jesus’ words: Ἐάν τις διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με καὶ πινέτω. 38 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ,…

Most versions of the Bible follow the punctuation of Westcott and Hort’s text above. However, a few versions and, above all, a number of scholars (perhaps most notably Raymond Brown) prefer to make “ὁ πιστεύων” the subject of “πινέτω”. Thus Jesus’ words become: Ἐάν τις διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με καὶ πινέτω ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ.

The choice seems to depend on whom one thinks is the source of the “ποταμοὶ ὕδατος ζῶντος”: the believer or Jesus. And that, in turn, depends on the relationship one sees between this episode and Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4, on the one hand, and the Old Testament imagery one takes into consideration, on the other.

I would simply like to ask whether there is anything in the Greek text itself which would favor one translation or the other. For example, at first (and ignorant) glance, going directly from a nominative participle to “ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας” looks rather strange. In fact, the literal translation found in most versions produces a very stilted English. To get a correct syntax, some versions do violence to the Greek text in order to get something like: “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him" (Holman Christian Standard Bible). Is this construction compatible with the Greek of John’s Gospel?


Thank you for your consideration,
Thomas Hagen
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Wes Wood
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Re: John 7:37-38

Post by Wes Wood » May 27th, 2016, 11:30 am

I would simply like to ask whether there is anything in the Greek text itself which would favor one translation or the other.
I think either interpretation is possible, but, if I read the passage cold without any punctuation, I would read it as it is punctuated here: 37Ἐν δὲ τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ μεγάλῃ τῆς ἑορτῆς ἱστήκει ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἔκραξεν λέγων Ἐάν τις διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με καὶ πινέτω. 38 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ, καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος.
To get a correct syntax, some versions do violence to the Greek text in order to get something like: “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him" (Holman Christian Standard Bible). Is this construction compatible with the Greek of John’s Gospel?
Why do you feel that this rendering does violence to the text? If the punctuation above is accepted as the correct one, it makes sense to me. This is how I understand it: ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ [ἐστίν] καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ (the nearest logical antecedent without knowing for sure the context of the quotation = ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ) ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος. I see little difference between “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him" and "The one who believes in me is just as the scripture said, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his belly.'" Their rendering of the phrase ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ is too interpretive for my own idiosyncratic tastes, but I certainly don't think it does violence to the syntax. Thoughts?
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thomas.hagen
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Re: John 7:37-38

Post by thomas.hagen » May 27th, 2016, 2:13 pm

To get a correct syntax, some versions do violence to the Greek text in order to get something like: “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him" (Holman Christian Standard Bible). Is this construction compatible with the Greek of John’s Gospel?
Why do you feel that this rendering does violence to the text? If the punctuation above is accepted as the correct one, it makes sense to me. This is how I understand it: ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ [ἐστίν] καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ (the nearest logical antecedent without knowing for sure the context of the quotation = ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ) ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος. I see little difference between “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him" and "The one who believes in me is just as the scripture said, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his belly.'" Their rendering of the phrase ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ is too interpretive for my own idiosyncratic tastes, but I certainly don't think it does violence to the syntax. Thoughts?[/quote]

I agree that, once it is decided to accept the punctuation you propose, the version I quoted is a perfectly valid way to express the idea in acceptable English - I would say even preferable to most versions which leave it as: "The one who believes in me, as the scripture said, rivers of living water will flow from his belly." But even you had to add "is just" to achieve normal English syntax. I think I can now make my question more precise. Is "ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος" normal Greek syntax to express the idea we are talking about? If it is, then your rendering is fine, as well. But if it were not, might it be an indication that what the author had in mind was: "...πινέτω ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ. καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος."?
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thomas.hagen
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Re: John 7:37-38

Post by thomas.hagen » May 27th, 2016, 2:24 pm

I still have not mastered the use of the Quote mechanism. In my preceding reply to Wes Wood's post, the first paragraph in the blue field is a quote from Wes's comments. The second paragraph is my answer.
Apologies,
Thomas Hagen
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Wes Wood
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Re: John 7:37-38

Post by Wes Wood » May 27th, 2016, 5:23 pm

I still have not mastered the use of the Quote mechanism. In my preceding reply to Wes Wood's post, the first paragraph in the blue field is a quote from Wes's comments. The second paragraph is my answer.
Apologies,
Thomas Hagen
It's not a big deal. :)
But even you had to add "is just" to achieve normal English syntax.
It isn't a rare thing for a verb to be implied with subordinating conjunctions. The tricky part is expressing the Greek thought in proper English. The construction itself, minus the setup for the quotation is very similar to
Rev. 3:21a wrote: Ὁ νικῶν δώσω αὐτῷ καθίσαι μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἐν τῷ θρόνῳ μου,
I think I can now make my question more precise. Is "ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος" normal Greek syntax to express the idea we are talking about? If it is, then your rendering is fine, as well. But if it were not, might it be an indication that what the author had in mind was: "...πινέτω ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ. καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος."?
I don't really know what you mean by "normal Greek syntax." If you are asking if it is the most common way that it could be done, the answer would certainly be no. If you are asking if it could be expressed that way, the answer would be yes. The biggest source of difficulty in this passage is the uncertainty of the referent of αὐτοῦ in the quotation. The different hypotheses about the proper punctuation are the result of theological debates about whether the living waters are issuing from a human or divine source.

There is another wrinkle that you may want to consider, however. Do you think it is possible that the author's Greek was influenced by his command of another language? Is it possible that this construction is, at its heart, a Semitic expression clothed in Greek? This is a question I can't answer for you, but it is a possibility that I would be open to.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: John 7:37-38

Post by Barry Hofstetter » May 28th, 2016, 12:45 pm

Okay, here's a bit more context for the text:

37 Ἐν δὲ τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ μεγάλῃ τῆς ἑορτῆς εἱστήκει ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἔκραξεν λέγων, Ἐάν τις διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με6 καὶ πινέτω.e 38 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ,f καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος.

From a purely syntactical point of view, the verbs in 38 have a subject initially expressed, τις. This is indefinite and otherwise unqualified. Vs. 37 then introduces another nominative singular which lead the reader/listener to expect another verb, but we don't get it. Instead, there is an effective anacolouthon, a break in sense, and there is no verb expressed for the nominative. I see the author introducing a new thought that is dependent on the old, a development of the preceding statement, so that ὁ πιστεύων stands in loose apposition to τις. It also strikes me that either punctuation doesn't do much to change the overal sense of the passage.
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Wes Wood
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Re: John 7:37-38

Post by Wes Wood » May 28th, 2016, 1:52 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:From a purely syntactical point of view, the verbs in 38 have a subject initially expressed, τις. This is indefinite and otherwise unqualified. Vs. 37 then introduces another nominative singular which lead the reader/listener to expect another verb, but we don't get it. Instead, there is an effective anacolouthon, a break in sense, and there is no verb expressed for the nominative.
This is a much better way to say what I was trying to express.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:I see the author introducing a new thought that is dependent on the old, a development of the preceding statement, so that ὁ πιστεύων stands in loose apposition to τις.
What you are describing sounds a great deal like the end of a sentence to me.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:It also strikes me that either punctuation doesn't do much to change the overal sense of the passage.
If the quotation that follows is a continuation or clarification of the preceding thought, then the logical grammatical antecedent of αὐτοῦ is ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ which is itself a qualification of τις. As such, the source of the flowing waters would be the one who believes (i.e. not a divine source).

However, I can't see any reason why the phrase ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ couldn't be functioning as the subject of the verb πινέτω. If a person understands the text this way, there is less reason to suppose that the αὐτοῦ of the quote should refer to ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ. While I agree wholeheartedly with your grammatical assessment, moving the punctuation after ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ makes the antecedent of αὐτοῦ less dependent on the rules of syntax and more dependent on context of the quotation. And, not that ANYONE would do this :shock:, but one could choose "the source" that fits their theological suppositions.
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