Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 5th, 2018, 1:20 pm

Bill Ross wrote:
December 5th, 2018, 11:48 am
To my knowledge Jerome did not know English as well as I do and as a native speaker I can tell you that to my ears the way "word" is used in English Bibles is more Biblish than it is English. I've never heard any of these in secular English:
I agree that Jerome's English was terrible... :lol: However, Latin was his primary language and he was fluent also in the Greek of his day. I also note that you have not really answered the question as to why verbum seemed a better choice to Jerome than sermo. I'd like to have some sense of that before I start claiming sermo is a better choice. And we really need to keep this to the Greek as well, because the question we are really asking is what λόγος means.

I see this problem everywhere in the NT.

Maybe it's just me.
I am valiantly resisting the temptation to argue translation theory here. Stick to the Greek (hortatory encouragement including myself).
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Bill Ross
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Bill Ross » December 5th, 2018, 1:49 pm

Following your suggestion I just did a search and lo and behold it appears that Jerome was copying a Pope:

http://valera1602.org/wp-content/upload ... s-Name.pdf
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 5th, 2018, 2:46 pm

Bill Ross wrote:
December 5th, 2018, 1:49 pm
Following your suggestion I just did a search and lo and behold it appears that Jerome was copying a Pope:

http://valera1602.org/wp-content/upload ... s-Name.pdf
Bill, you've got to be kidding. Riplinger is a KJV onlyist who believes that all other translations are Satanically inspired. She's a total flake and is about as trustworthy a source as quicksand is support. Please try seriously to engage the topic.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Bill Ross
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Bill Ross » December 5th, 2018, 3:21 pm

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Bill Ross
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Bill Ross » December 6th, 2018, 8:41 am

Also, I noticed today that for the verbal form of LOGOS (λέγω) BDAG gives as the #1 usage:
① to express oneself orally or in written form, utter in words, say, tell, give expression to, the gener. sense (not in Hom., for this εἶπον, ἐν[ν]έπω, et al.)...

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 588). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
In my view the noun form would reflect the same kind of features as this verbal form.

Notes on λέγω:

• Only pres. and impf. are in use;
• the other tenses are supplied by εἶπον (q.v., also B-D-F §101 p. 46; Mlt-H. 247), but the foll. pass. forms occur:


Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 588). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 6th, 2018, 10:24 am

Bill, that article is far better and quite interesting. However, according to the OLD, verbum has a much broader range of meaning than the author of the article suggests, including:

4(pl.) Words (used in combination to give expression to ideas).
▶ necesse est eos qui re sunt hostes ~is notari, sententiis nostris hostis iudicari CIC. Phil. 14.21; haec ~is plurimis Att. 7.17.3; nihil praetermisi in te ornando, quod positum esset ‥ in honore ~orum Fam. 10.13.1; eae litterae ‥ inuidiosam atrocitatem ~orum habent Q. fr. 1.2.6; Democritus quidem optumis ~is causam explicat cur ante lucem galli cantant Div. 2.57; LIV. 25.16.14; (litterae) recitatae sunt. ~a inerant quaesita asperitate TAC. Ann. 5.3; ii ‥ qui benefacta sua ~is adornant PLIN. Ep. 1.8.15; exprimere ‥ ~is non possum, quantum mihi gaudium attuleris Ep. Tra. 10.2.1; omne crimen pro capitali receptum, etiam paucorum simpliciumque ~orum SUET. Tib. 61.3.
5(pl.) Spoken words, talking, utterance, discourse, etc.
▶ suauis homo ‥ ~um paucum ENN. Ann. 246; quid opust ~is? libertatem tibi ego ‥ dabo, si impetras PL. Mil. 1213; formam ‥ ~is depinxti probe Poen. 1114; stultus es qui facta infecta facere ~is postules Truc. 730; hoc age: sati’ iam ~orumst TER. Ph. 436; comperce ~is uelitare: ad rem redi TURP. com. 145; rem ~is quam maxime ante oculos eius, apud quem dicitur, ponimus CIC. Inv. 1.104; placet tibi nos pugnare ~is? Caec. 81; Gallorum animos ~is confirmauit CAES. Gal. 1.33.1; monuit ‥ mitibus ~is legatos B. Alex. 70.2; longa ducere ~a mora PROP. 1.10.6; bucina cogebat priscos ad ~a Quiritis 4.1.13; uocis ~orumque quantum uoletis ingerent LIV. 3.68.4; cum diu certatum ~is esset 27.11.12; saepe fuit breuior quam mea ~a dies OV. Pont. 2.4.12; fuisse Pomponium ‥ ~is rudem VELL. 2.9.6; in hac causa etiam Ciceronem ~a deficient SEN. Suas. 6.1; non ~a in funere primo, non lacrimas habet STAT. Theb. 5.593; inter magna rerum ~orumque ludibria SUET. Vit. 17.1; GEL. 17.5.14; (poet.) columbae, quarum blanditias ~aque murmur habet OV. Ars 2.466; —(in humorous wordplay with uerbero, etc.) me illis quidem haec uerberat ~is PL. Truc. 112; pueros ‥ castigare ‥ solent, nec ~is solum, sed etiam uerberibus CIC. Tusc. 3.64.


Glare, P. G. W. (Ed.). (2012). Oxford Latin Dictionary (Second Edition, Vol. I & II). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The examples include both singular and plural usages, contra to one of the assertions of the article.

I think this also explains why Jerome used it instead of sermō, despite Erasmus' astonishment.
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Bill Ross
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Bill Ross » December 6th, 2018, 10:58 am

Thank you Barry, for your research. I admit freely that I'm talking out of my depth when it comes to the Latin and could fairly easily be convinced that I'm simply missing the boat on the Latin part (sermo vs verbum) and to be honest I don't think that translating LOGOS as "speech" solves all the problems but I'm hoping those who do have clout in linguistics (IE: you guys!) will give this matter due consideration. Pax.
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Bill Ross
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Bill Ross » January 15th, 2019, 4:25 pm

It occurred to me today to look at the way "word" is used in the Hebrew text in passages that mention "the word of God" and I was quite impressed with how much it maps to the impression of λόγος. The Outline of Biblical Usage lists this summary:

I. speech, word, speaking, thing
* speech
* saying, utterance
* word, words
* business, occupation, acts, matter, case, something, manner (by extension)
https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/le ... 1697&t=CSB

This might explain why the NT usage of the word slants slightly more toward "utterance" than does BDAG; it could be a mild Hebraism.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 17th, 2019, 6:31 pm

Bill Ross wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 4:25 pm
This might explain why the NT usage of the word slants slightly more toward "utterance" than does BDAG; it could be a mild Hebraism.
Here's one possible guess: in an oral culture, if you say "word", people generally think of an oral word. In a culture where we grow up thinking so much about written texts, if you say "word", people generally think of a written word.

But I'm not sure. Books and names written in them are pretty important in the New Testament. So are letters.

At any rate, I have been really impressed by the Exegetical Summary series in general, and I like their summary of this verse:
QUESTION—What does the phrase ὁ λόγος ‘the Word’ mean?

Λόγος means ‘word, thought, mind’ [TRT]. It tells us that Jesus is the self-disclosure of God [BECNT, Car, CH]. It is a title for Jesus in the Gospel of John [BAGD, LN] that refers to the content of God’s revelation and is a verbal echo of the use of the verbs meaning ‘to speak’ in Genesis 1 and in many utterances of the prophets [LN]. It reveals the meaning of the phrase ‘and God said’ in Genesis 1 [Rd, NICNT1], and thereby created [NICNT1]. It refers to divine Wisdom [Kn, IVP] and the Torah [Kn].
These are the most significant points of view Trail found in the commentaries he surveyed for this verse. I really don't see how translating "utterance" helps make any of these meanings clearer, though. It's a rarely used, academic word in English, and it doesn't feel like that very everyday Greek word, it turns the strikingly simple language of John into something else.

Trail, R. (2013). An Exegetical Summary of John 1–9 (p. 12). Dallas, TX: SIL International.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 17th, 2019, 6:38 pm

Bill Ross wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 4:25 pm
This might explain why the NT usage of the word slants slightly more toward "utterance" than does BDAG; it could be a mild Hebraism.
You haven't convinced me that you have a better grasp of this than Danker (of BDAG). I don't really understand the methodology you use for lexicography here. How are you testing your assertions?

In general, you really want to rely on Greek rather than other languages to understand Greek, and looking in-depth at lots of Greek examples is better than looking at definitions for other languages.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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