John 8:25

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Daniel Semler
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Joined: February 18th, 2019, 7:45 pm

John 8:25

Post by Daniel Semler »

Hi All,

Ran into this :
“Ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ· σὺ τίς εἶ; εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· τὴν ἀρχὴν ὅ τι καὶ λαλῶ ὑμῖν;” (Ἰωάννην 8·25 GNT28-T)
https://accordance.bible/link/read/GNT28-T#John_8:25
This seems to have puzzled translators and grammarians a good bit. There are several points at issue.

1. What exactly is τὴν ἀρχὴν doing ? Opinions vary little here and most go with something rather akin to ἐξ ἀρχῆς/ἀπ' ἀρχῆς though BDAG says
—τὴν ἀ. J 8:25, as nearly all the Gk. fathers understood it, is emphatically used adverbially=ὅλως at all (Plut., Mor. 115b; Dio Chrys. 10 [11], 12; 14 [31], 5; 133; Lucian, Eunuch. 6 al.; Ps.-Lucian, Salt. 3; POxy 472, 17 [c. 130 AD]; Philo, Spec. Leg. 3, 121; Jos., Ant. 1, 100; 15, 235 al.;

BDAG, s.v. “ἀρχή,” 138.
https://accordance.bible/link/read/BDAG#6853
This is of course is odd in that John uses ἐν ἀρχῇ, ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, ἐξ ἀρχῆς elsewhere.

Current thought seems to be that this is a to be interpreted adverbially as since/from the beginning though the NRSV holds to a ὅλως interpretation.

2. ὃ τι there is debate here and textual variation. ὅτι seems unlikely though and some variation on ὅστις seems better but to me a little unnecessary. Perhaps this combined with the adverbial καὶ indicates some mild exasperation. Why are you continuing to ask this when I have already told you ?

3. Is it a question or a statement ? Here there is a bunch of variation in the Greek MS, though the NA derivatives and the SBL all treat it as a question, which perhaps makes sense if the sense is "what have I been telling you since the beginning ?!".

4. Why is λαλῶ rather than ἐλαλοῦν ? I guess we could go with historical present, But perhaps again it is "what am I always telling you, from the first ?"

If anyone has anything to offer on any of these points, or any others, for me to consider or investigate I would be grateful.

Thx
D
Barry Hofstetter
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Re: John 8:25

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

I don't think we are going to add much to what centuries worth of readers have seen in this text. τὴν ἀρχήν is adverbial no matter how you cut it -- such adverbial accusatives are not uncommon in Greek, and it doesn't strike me as particularly odd as a variaton on ἐν ἀρχῇ or ἐξ ἀρχῆς. λαλῶ, practically a perfect here. I favor "I am what I told you from the beginning."
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.
Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: John 8:25

Post by Stirling Bartholomew »

Daniel Semler wrote: December 13th, 2020, 8:03 pm This is of course is odd in that John uses ἐν ἀρχῇ, ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, ἐξ ἀρχῆς elsewhere.

Statements that take this form are common in exegetical literature. I don't think they are valid. If you press that logic it leads to absurd results. In a small sample of someones writing what has been done elsewhere doesn't predict what will come next. Examples of used-only-once idioms are ubiquitous. If by "odd" you mean statistically improbable then the statement is a tautology. Using an idiom for the first and only time isn't strange.
C. Stirling Bartholomew
Daniel Semler
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Joined: February 18th, 2019, 7:45 pm

Re: John 8:25

Post by Daniel Semler »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: December 13th, 2020, 8:40 pm I don't think we are going to add much to what centuries worth of readers have seen in this text. τὴν ἀρχήν is adverbial no matter how you cut it -- such adverbial accusatives are not uncommon in Greek, and it doesn't strike me as particularly odd as a variaton on ἐν ἀρχῇ or ἐξ ἀρχῆς. λαλῶ, practically a perfect here. I favor "I am what I told you from the beginning."
Thanx Barry.
As usual I need to read more Greek then. Cures all ills.

Thx again
D
Daniel Semler
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Joined: February 18th, 2019, 7:45 pm

Re: John 8:25

Post by Daniel Semler »

Stirling Bartholomew wrote: December 13th, 2020, 9:29 pm
Daniel Semler wrote: December 13th, 2020, 8:03 pm This is of course is odd in that John uses ἐν ἀρχῇ, ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, ἐξ ἀρχῆς elsewhere.

Statements that take this form are common in exegetical literature. I don't think they are valid. If you press that logic it leads to absurd results. In a small sample of someones writing what has been done elsewhere doesn't predict what will come next. Examples of used-only-once idioms are ubiquitous. If by "odd" you mean statistically improbable then the statement is a tautology. Using an idiom for the first and only time isn't strange.

Fair point Stirling. Thanx for this

thx
D
Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:25

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: December 13th, 2020, 8:40 pm λαλῶ, practically a perfect here. I favor "I am what I told you from the beginning."
Assuming the interpretation "from the beginning", I would say rather "I have been telling you". It's probably what Dan Wallace calls "EFPP", extending-from-past present, where the location of the event in time is explicitly extended to the past and isn't limited to non-past. It has it's normal imperfective force, here interpreted iteratively, and isn't practically a Koine perfect.
Stephen Carlson
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Re: John 8:25

Post by Stephen Carlson »

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote: December 14th, 2020, 6:40 pm Assuming the interpretation "from the beginning", I would say rather "I have been telling you". It's probably what Dan Wallace calls "EFPP", extending-from-past present, where the location of the event in time is explicitly extended to the past and isn't limited to non-past. It has it's normal imperfective force, here interpreted iteratively, and isn't practically a Koine perfect.
Right. The (imperfective) present makes sense here in context and no need to make it something it is not. English is a bit unusual in employing a perfect progressive for this usage. Many European languages employ the present without problem, just like Greek.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia
Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: John 8:25

Post by Stirling Bartholomew »

Alford[1] references Daniel 8:1 Theod.

Dan. 8:1 Theod. Ἐν ἔτει τρίτῳ τῆς βασιλείας Βαλτασαρ τοῦ βασιλέως ὅρασις ὤφθη πρός με, ἐγὼ Δανιηλ, μετὰ τὴν ὀφθεῖσάν μοι τὴν ἀρχήν.

Dan. 8:1 OG ¶ Ἔτους τρίτου βασιλεύοντος Βαλτασαρ ὅρασις, ἣν εἶδον ἐγὼ Δανιηλ μετὰ τὸ ἰδεῖν με τὴν πρώτην.
[1]
Then comes another question: what does λαλῶ mean? It has been usually rendered ‘say,’ or ‘tell;’ ‘even the same that I said unto you from the beginning,’ E. V. But as De Wette has observed, λαλῶ will not bear this. It is never ‘to say’ simply, but ‘to discourse,’ or ‘to hold converse,’ ‘to speak.’


Again, what is τὴν ἀρχήν? not to be taken substantively (as Aug., , Vulg. principium), so as to mean ‘The beginning, as I, &c.’ (so recently, Bp. Wordsw.): but adverbially, with all Greek interpreters (see reff.). And adverbially it may mean (1) ‘in the beginning,’ ‘from the beginning,’ but not ‘firstly:’ (2) ‘generally,’ ‘at all,’ ‘omnino,’ usually with a negative clause, but sometimes with an affirmative. Thus Soph. Antig. 92, ἀρχὴν δὲ θηρᾶν οὐ πρέπει τἀμήχανα: Herod. i. 9, ἀρχὴν γὰρ ἐγὼ μηχανήσομαι οὕτω: iv. 25, τοῦτο οὐκ ἐνδέκομαι τὴν ἀρχήν: Plato, Lysis, p. 265, πῶς οὖν οἱ ἀγαθοὶ τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς ἡμῖν φίλοι ἔσονται τὴν ἀρχήν; See many more examples in Hermann on Viger, p. 722. The common rendering takes the first of these meanings;—but the above remarks on λαλῶ will set that rendering aside;—and together with the assumption of λαλῶ = ἔλεξα, the meaning, ‘in the beginning,’ or ‘at first,’ or ‘from the beginning,’ falls to the ground. We have then the second meaning of τὴν ἀρχήν, generally, or ‘traced up to its principle,’—for such is the account to be given of this meaning of the word.
Alford's comment "but the above remarks on λαλῶ will set that rendering aside;" might be set aside by a rejection of his lexical semantics in regard to λαλῶ. See L&N, BAGD.
C. Stirling Bartholomew
Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: John 8:25

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen »

Daniel Semler wrote: December 13th, 2020, 8:03 pmthe NA derivatives and the SBL all treat it as a question
Tyndale House GNT treats it as a statement.
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