Start With John


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This is my 2004 translation of John’s gospel.

My 2012 translation of John’s first epistle begins at John A.

My 2015 translation of John’s second epistle begins at John B.

My 2015 translation of John’s third epistle begins at John Γ.

My 2015 and 2017 translation of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians begins at To The Thessalonians A.

My 2015 translation of Paul’s letter to The Romans begins at To the Romans.

My 2004 translation of Paul’s first letter to the Korinthians begins at And Now For Something Completely Different….

My 2004 translation of Mark’s gospel begins at Mark 1.

2 Maccabees 2:30: On the Responsibility of the Author:

It is the province of the original author of a history to take possession of the field, to spread himself in discussion, and to inquire closely into particular questions. The man who makes a paraphrase must be allowed to aim at conciseness of expression and to omit a full treatment of the subject matter.

During the first two years following my injury, being pretty much confined to the couch and having a numb right arm, I decided to start journaling by hand in order to stimulate regeneration of the nerves in my arm and hand. I also began translating the New Testament with the intention of creating a translation simply for my own reference. I wanted to make a kind of ‘raw’ translation that would give a sense of the original language in terms of rhythm (or lack of it), style, vocabulary, and the personality of the author, if possible. I should note that even though I studied the German demythologizers extensively, even under some professors who received their PhD’s in Germany, I do not subscribe entirely to this interpretive philosophy. I have come to the conclusion that, while much of the material in the gospels is taken from a rich oral tradition that arose among the early Christian communities in Asia Minor, and while there is a lot of good evidence for source and redaction theory, I believe that each of the gospels as we have them today was ultimately composed by a single individual author who drew from the memes and social conventions that were emerging in the Greco-Roman Empire. This is part of the basis for my theory that the gospels are novels. Verb tenses are translated as literally as possible, although I felt some artistic license was warranted in terms of idiomatic language, and minimal effort is made to poeticize or ‘smooth out’ the syntax. I also try to follow the indicated punctuation as closely as possible; so if you find it feels a little ‘rough,’ that is what I was going for. My additions are enclosed in square brackets; for instance, in the case of idiomatic, underlying semitic chiastic grammatical structure, where the insertion of some words is ‘understood’ in order for the sentence to make sense, all of my inclusions are in square brackets. Italicized words are emphatic, my emphasis. I started with John. Here is chapter one.

According to John

[An ancient hymn]

1 In the beginning was the word,
and the word was with god,
[προς τον θεον, lit. ‘face-to-god’]
and the word was god.
2 This [word] was in the beginning with god
[προς τον θεον, ‘face-to-god’].
3 All things through him were generated,
and without him nothing was generated.
4 What was generated by him was life,
and the life was the light of humankind.
5 And the light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness is not conscious of it.
9 He was the light of truth,
enlightening all men,
coming into the world.
10 He was in the world,
and the world was generated through him,
but the world did not know him.
11 Unto his own realm he came,
and his own people did not recognize him.
12 But to as many as recognized him,
he gave them power to be born children of god;
that is, to those who believe in his name,
13 not to those [born] of blood
neither of the will of the flesh
nor of the will of man,
but of god born.

14 And the word became flesh
and tented among us;
and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only begotten of the father
full of grace [χαριτος, ‘charm,’ ‘giftedness’] and truth.

6 There came a man, sent by god, named John. 7 This one came to testify testimony concerning the light, to the end that all might believe because of him. 8 That one was not the light, but he testified concerning the light.

15 John testifies concerning him and has proclaimed, saying, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘There is one coming after me who was generated before me because he preceded me [with the possible connotation of a higher ranking superior based on seniority, i.e. that Jesus was “first,” πρωτός].'” 16 Because from his great wealth we all received, gift upon gift [or ‘good fortune,’ χαριν, traditionally ‘grace’]; 17 the law was given through Moses but victorious favor and truth were born in Jesus the Messiah. 18 No one has seen god ever; [it is the] only begotten god who was face to face with the father who interpreted that one [the father]. [He is saying that Jesus is the physical ‘interpretation,’ the face, of the invisible god of Genesis, to whom he refers in the poem above.]

19 This is the testimony of John when the Judeans sent priests and Levites [to him, sic] to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 And he admitted and did not deny but [rather] admitted that, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 So they asked him, “Who then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “The prophet [Moses] are you?” And he answered, “No.” 22 They said then to him, “Who are you, in order that we might give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say concerning yourself?” 23 He said:

I am a voice crying out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the lord, [Isa 40:3]

just as Isaiah the prophet said.”

24 So some of the Pharisees were sent 25 and they asked him and said to him, “Why do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet [Moses]?” 26 John answered them, saying, “I am baptizing with water; in the midst of you has stood [έστηκεν, pf, follow p66] one whom you do not know, 27 one who is coming after me, one whom I am not worthy that I should loosen his sandal strap.” 28 These things happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day, [John] sees Jesus coming toward him and says, “Behold the lamb of god who lifts away the sin of the world. 30 This is the one of whom I said, ‘After me a man is coming who was generated before me because he preceded me.’ 31 And I have never met him, but I came baptizing with water in order that he should be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, saying, “I have seen the spirit descending as a dove from heaven and alighting upon him. 33 And I have never met him before, but the one who sent me to baptize with water, that one said to me, ‘Upon whomever you should see the spirit descending and alighting, this is the one who baptizes with the holy spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have testified that this one is the son of god.”

35 The next day, again, John and two of his disciples were standing [there] when [John] sees Jesus walking about and says, “Behold the lamb of god.” 37 And the two disciples heard him speaking and they listened to Jesus. 38 And Jesus, turning and seeing them listening, says to them, “What are you looking for?” And they said to him, “Rabbi, which is to say, being interpreted, ‘teacher,’ where are you staying?” 39 He says to them, “Come and see.” They went and saw where he lived and they stayed with him that day; it was the tenth hour.

40 Now it was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, one of the two who heard about John and followed him, 41 who first finds his brother Simon and says to him, “We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, ‘Christ’.” 42 He led him to Jesus. When Jesus saw him he said, “You are Simon, son of John [follow p66, 75]; you will be called Kephas [transliteration of Aramaic], which means Petros [Greek, ‘the rock’].”

43 The next day he intended to go out into Galilee, and he finds Philip. And Jesus says to him, “Follow me.” [This is a typically prophetic thing to do – Elijah calls Elisha in a similar way.] 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaïda, from the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip finds Nathaniel and says to him, “What Moses wrote in the law and the prophets we have seen, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 And Nathaniel said to him, “Is it possible for anything good to come from Nazareth?” Philip says to him, “Come and see.”

47 When Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him, he says about him, “Behold, truly an Israelite in whom there is no crafty deceit.” [δολος: ‘properly a bait for fish: then a piece of deceit, any cunning contrivance: craft, cunning, treachery…‘ Liddell and Scott.] 48 Nathaniel says to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, while under the fig tree I saw you.” 49 Nathaniel answered him, “Rabbi, you are the son of god, you are the King of Israel.” [One gets a sense of sarcasm on the parts of both Jesus and Nathaniel. The Greek word for fig tree, συκῆ, is a word play on the homonym, ψυχή ‘life, soul, psyche.’ The word play seems in one sense to amplify the notion from the song, above, that Jesus ‘tented’ among us.] 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “You believe because I said to you that I saw you underneath the fig tree? Greater things [than that] will you see.” 51 And he says to him, “Listen carefully, you will see heaven opened up and the angels of god ascending and descending towards the son of man.” [Jesus is referring to the story of Jacob’s Ladder, a popular meme, and specifically, to the trajectory of the story through the pseudepigraphic Ladder of Jacob, in which the divine presence is identified with Jacob/Israel. This story introduces the Johannine polemic that it is not Jacob but Jesus upon whom the divine presence resides. This story exhibits the qualities of playful sarcasm and rhetoric in Jesus’ very serious assertion of his identity to the skeptic, Nathaniel.]


@gamiliel on Instagram

This translation was taken from The Greek New Testament, Kurt Aland, et. al. eds., Third Edition (corrected), United Bible Societies, (in cooperation with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Münster/Westphalia, Printed in West Germany by Biblia-Druck GmbH Stuttgart),1983.

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