John 15:27 ὅτι = because

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John 15:27 ὅτι = because

Postby Bob Nyberg » August 6th, 2012, 11:48 am

Hi,

I have a question about ὅτι in John 15:27.

καὶ ὑμεῖς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε, ὅτι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς μετ’ ἐμοῦ ἐστε.

Every translation I checked renders ὅτι in this verse as "because" or "for." For example:

And you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (NASB)

Is there a reason why most translators prefer "because" rather than "that"?

For instance, could this verse also be rendered:

And you will testify also, that you have been with Me from the beginning.

Just curious.

Thanks.

Bob
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Re: John 15:27 ὅτι = because

Postby David Lim » August 6th, 2012, 9:41 pm

Bob Nyberg wrote:I have a question about ὅτι in John 15:27.
καὶ ὑμεῖς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε, ὅτι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς μετ’ ἐμοῦ ἐστε.
Every translation I checked renders ὅτι in this verse as "because" or "for." For example:
And you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (NASB)
Is there a reason why most translators prefer "because" rather than "that"?


Context is the reason. Jesus is saying that not only will the spirit of the truth, which proceeds out from the father, testify about him, but that his disciples also testify about him. Thus naturally "from [the] beginning you are with me" becomes the reason for their testimony and not the content of their testimony. Note also that "μαρτυρησει" is future and "μαρτυρειτε" is present, thus it suggests that Jesus is making a distinction, between the spirit of the truth testifying in the future and his disciples testifying at present. If this is so, it is natural that there is some reason that they can testify now, because they have been with him for so long, just as there is some reason the spirit can testify later, because the spirit will proceed from the father.
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Re: John 15:27 ὅτι = because

Postby George F Somsel » August 7th, 2012, 1:35 am

David is correct in stating that context is determinative (How often have I said "Context is king"?). But if you look at BDAG s.v. #4 you will find it listed as "A marker of causality." Don't expect that a word will always and everywhere mean the same thing. It doesn't in English and it doesn't in Greek (or any other language).
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Re: John 15:27 ὅτι = because

Postby Stephen Carlson » August 7th, 2012, 2:04 pm

George, I think the original poster is aware that ὅτι is a marker of causality but is wondering how one can identify this use instead of the more common recitative use as a complementizer.

In this case, I think the expression καὶ ὑμεῖς with the adverbial καί (you too) indicates that Jesus's disciples are to testify about Jesus just as the Holy Spirit will testify about him (v.26 ἐκεῖνος μαρτυρήσει περὶ ἐμοῦ), so, rather than the content of their testimony, the ὄτι-clause gives the reason (being with Jesus from the beginning) for their qualification as witnesses.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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