Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

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

Post by Bill Ross »

Jonathan Robie wrote: 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?
By posting them here! :)

Actually, BDAG does have "utterance". He has "word" but, as I read it, in apposition to "utterance" so if I'm right about that than BDAG isn't really even offering "word" in the sense of lexeme/verbum. But it seems to me that the apposition kind of got lost.

This is where the word "word" appears in the entry. Am I mistaken about the apposition?:
...① a communication whereby the mind finds expression, word
ⓐ of utterance, chiefly oral.
α. as expression, word (oratorical ability plus exceptional performance...
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. 599). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Bill Ross wrote: January 17th, 2019, 6:59 pm Actually, BDAG does have "utterance". He has "word" but, as I read it, in apposition to "utterance" so if I'm right about that than BDAG isn't really even offering "word" in the sense of lexeme/verbum. But it seems to me that the apposition kind of got lost.

This is where the word "word" appears in the entry. Am I mistaken about the apposition?:
...① a communication whereby the mind finds expression, word
ⓐ of utterance, chiefly oral.
α. as expression, word (oratorical ability plus exceptional performance...
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. 599). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Yes, that's definitely in BDAG.

So why isn't it used in translations? I think it's because the language used in a dictionary or lexicon is often quite different from the words you want to use in an actual translation. Let me illustrate using the Webster's definition of the English word word:
Webster's Dictionary (Word) wrote:1.a.1 : a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use
Now suppose I am writing a translation using that definition. Should I translate like this?
John 1:1 (Just Say No Translation) wrote:In the beginning was a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.
We don't usually copy dictionary definitions blindly into translations. It wouldn't be helpful.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Bill Ross
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Bill Ross »

Jonathan Robie wrote: 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.
I've wrestled with this for many years and I don't believe there is a very suitable word for logos in English. "https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expression" might be the best translation we have available in English.
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Devenios Doulenios
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Devenios Doulenios »

J.B. Phillips’ English version used both “expressed” and “expression” as well as “word” in John 1:1,
“At the beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that word, was with God…”. For some reason, though, he reverts to “word” in 1:14, “So the word of God became a human being and lived among us.”

—J.B. Phillips (1972), on http://biblegateway.com/

In my own translation, which I plan to start posting on my blog, I use “Message” for λόγος in John 1:1 and 1:14.

1:1 In the beginning the Message already existed, and the Message was face to face with God. In fact, the Message was Deity.

1:14 The Message became human and lived for a while among us.
Dewayne Dulaney
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Brian Gould
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Brian Gould »

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.
There are two Hebrew translations of the NT in common use, and in both of them John’s word λόγος is translated as דָּבָר (davar or dabar). Assuming that this is the basis of John's conjectural Hebraism, a difficulty arises in the shape of an overabundance of possible translations, nuances, and shades of meaning. This noun occurs over a thousand times in the OT …

http://www.haktuvim.com/en/study/John.1
Bill Ross
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Bill Ross »

I just stumbled upon this extremely relevant and informative article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos

It is a must read!
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Bill Ross wrote: November 27th, 2020, 6:48 pm I just stumbled upon this extremely relevant and informative article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos

It is a must read!
Nothing that can't be seen in the lexicons, actually. It boils down to "λόγος has a mind-boggling semantic range, but usually is easily resolved in context" (which I recently wrote somewhere else).

Food for thought: does word in English always mean "word?" If I say to someone, "I'd like to have a word with you in private," does it literally mean "a word" as in a single word?" :)
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Bill Ross
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Bill Ross »

Hi Jeffrey. It seems to me that "have a word" is an idiom, so not really intrinsic to the word "word" itself, but I catch the drift.

But what I thought was significant in the article is that Jerome himself was exasperated by not having the right "word" at his disposal to capture the spoken sense ("utterance") and the way an utterance is "engrafted' and "abides within" - as in a "message". I also found it interesting that many have opted to leave it transliterated, which, given the long history of the term since Plato, is an attractive idea to me. IE: Given the ubiquitous philosophical identification of that term with Plato's "second god", "sophia the workman" and "the angel/messenger of the Lord" in that Greco-Roman world at the time (especially by way of Philo, for the Alexandrian Jews), using that term had way more baggage than "word" or "utterance" or "message" would have conveyed, or does today.
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Daniel Semler
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Re: Why is λόγος consistently translated as "word"?

Post by Daniel Semler »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: November 29th, 2020, 7:44 pm
Nothing that can't be seen in the lexicons, actually. It boils down to "λόγος has a mind-boggling semantic range, but usually is easily resolved in context" (which I recently wrote somewhere else).

Food for thought: does word in English always mean "word?" If I say to someone, "I'd like to have a word with you in private," does it literally mean "a word" as in a single word?" :)
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/word

They don't list the exclamation "My word!" and it's not as broad as λόγος but ... I should pull out the Oxford. Any excuse really ... I don't think λόγος can be a verb and "word" certainly isn't used that way now but it used to be. It would be worth laying LSJ and Oxford or Webster's side by side for "word" and "λόγος" and seeing how much they overlap. "I give my word" - I don't think that translates as "δίδωμι τὸν λόγον ἐμοῦ" does it ?

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

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Bill Ross wrote: November 29th, 2020, 8:21 pm Hi Jeffrey. It seems to me that "have a word" is an idiom, so not really intrinsic to the word "word" itself, but I catch the drift.

But what I thought was significant in the article is that Jerome himself was exasperated by not having the right "word" at his disposal to capture the spoken sense ("utterance") and the way an utterance is "engrafted' and "abides within" - as in a "message". I also found it interesting that many have opted to leave it transliterated, which, given the long history of the term since Plato, is an attractive idea to me. IE: Given the ubiquitous philosophical identification of that term with Plato's "second god", "sophia the workman" and "the angel/messenger of the Lord" in that Greco-Roman world at the time (especially by way of Philo, for the Alexandrian Jews), using that term had way more baggage than "word" or "utterance" or "message" would have conveyed, or does today.
Why do you keep calling me Jeffrey? My real name is in my sig, and I would prefer you use that.

I'm pretty sure that's why Jerome settled on verbum as his translation, since it also has a rather flexibile range of meaning, though not quite so broad as λόγος. The Reformation authors preferred sermō as the translation. I don't think the author wants us primarily to link to Greek philosophical thought (though that could be a secondary, elenctic purpose), but to Genesis 1 and similar passages in which the אמר and דבר roots are used. But an exploration of that goes pretty far beyond the scope of B-Greek.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
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