Jan. 19 Gospel lectionary, John 1:29-42 Greek Text notes

John 1:29-42

On the left is the SBL text (pretty close to the best Greek texts).  On the right is my translation–as literal as possible while maintaining at least roughly comprehensible English. (Words I’ve added that I think are implied in the text, but not actually present, are enclosed in [brackets].)  I’ve also added footnotes to the Greek text in places where I’ve offered brief comments.  The goal here is not to offer a complete commentary on the text, but simply to highlight some issues where looking at the original language may help to illumine what is going on overall here.  One of my purposes for this whole approach is to encourage those who are preaching and teaching the lectionary text to explore the original languages, and to give them a head start on what they might discover.

29 Τῇ ἐπαύριον βλέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτόν, καὶ λέγει· Ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ[1] ὁ αἴρων[2] τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου. The next day he sees Jesus coming to him, and he says, “Look!  The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
30 οὗτός ἐστιν ὑπὲρ[3] οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον· Ὀπίσω μου ἔρχεται ἀνὴρ ὃς ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν[4], ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who has been before me, because he was first [in comparison to] me.’
· 31 κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν, ἀλλ ʼ ἵνα φανερωθῇ τῷ Ἰσραὴλ διὰ τοῦτο ἦλθον ἐγὼ ἐν ὕδατι βαπτίζων. Even I did not know him, but so that he might be manifested to Israel—for this reason I came baptizing in water.”
32 καὶ ἐμαρτύρησεν Ἰωάννης λέγων ὅτι[5] Τεθέαμαι τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον ὡς  περιστερὰν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐπʼ αὐτόν[6]· And John testified, saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on [or over] him.
33 κἀγὼ[7] οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν, ἀλλ ʼ ὁ πέμψας με βαπτίζειν ἐν ὕδατι ἐκεῖνός μοι εἶπεν· Ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον καὶ μένον ἐπʼ αὐτόν, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ·[8] Even I did not know him.  But the one who sent me to baptize in water—that one said to me, ‘[the one] on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining on him—this is the one who baptizes in holy Spirit.
34 κἀγὼ ἑώρακα, καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐκλεκτὸς τοῦ θεοῦ.[9] And I have seen, and have testified that this is the chosen one of God [or the one chosen by/from God].
35 Τῇ ἐπαύριον πάλιν εἱστήκει[10] ὁ Ἰωάννης καὶ ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο, The next day John stood [along with] two of his disciples,
36 καὶ ἐμβλέψας[11] τῷ Ἰησοῦ περιπατοῦντι λέγει· Ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. And looking intently at Jesus walking, [John] says “Look!  The lamb of God.”
37 καὶ ἤκουσαν οἱ δύο μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ[12] λαλοῦντος καὶ ἠκολούθησαν[13] τῷ Ἰησοῦ. And the two disciples heard him [i.e. John] speaking and they followed Jesus.
38 στραφεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ θεασάμενος αὐτοὺς ἀκολουθοῦντας λέγει αὐτοῖς· Τί[14] ζητεῖτε; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· Ῥαββί (ὃ λέγεται  μεθερμηνευόμενον Διδάσκαλε), ποῦ μένεις;[15] But Jesus, turning and seeing them following, says to them, “What are you looking for?”  And they said to him, “Rabbi (which means, when translated, ‘Teacher’), where are you staying?
39 λέγει αὐτοῖς· Ἔρχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε[16]. ἦλθαν οὖν καὶ εἶδαν ποῦ μένει, καὶ παρʼ αὐτῷ ἔμειναν[17] τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην· ὥρα ἦν ὡς δεκάτη. He says to them, “Come and you will see.”  So they came and saw where he [was] staying, and they stayed beside him during that day.  The hour was about the tenth.
40 ἦν Ἀνδρέας ὁ ἀδελφὸς Σίμωνος Πέτρου εἷς ἐκ τῶν δύο τῶν ἀκουσάντων παρὰ Ἰωάννου καὶ ἀκολουθησάντων αὐτῷ Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard from John and followed him [i.e. Jesus].
· 41 εὑρίσκει οὗτος πρῶτον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τὸν ἴδιον Σίμωνα καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Εὑρήκαμεν τὸν Μεσσίαν (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον χριστός). This one first finds his own brother Simon, and he says to him, “We have found the Messiah’ ( which is translated, “Christ.”)
42 ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν. ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· Σὺ εἶ Σίμων ὁ υἱὸς Ἰωάννου,[18] σὺ κληθήσῃ Κηφᾶς (ὃ ἑρμηνεύεται Πέτρος). He led him to Jesus.  Looking intently at him, Jesus said, “You are Simon, the son of John.  You will be called Cephas (which is translated, “Peter”).

[1] Most commentators understand this to be an allusion to the Passover lamb, in light of the fact that Jesus dies in John at the time when the Passover lambs are being slaughtered.  What remains a bit puzzling is that in Jewish thought and the original story (Ex 12), the primary function of the Passover lamb was not the removal of sin, but rather the aversion of the death of the firstborn.

[2] Can have the connotation of “carries,” suggesting that the lamb carries what otherwise the world would have to carry; or it can have the connotation of take away, in the sense of remove.

[3] Could be either “on behalf of whom” or “about whom.”

[4] The perfect tense conveys at least something of the notion of pre-existence.

[5] Remember that sometimes ὅτι introduces indirect discourse “that . . .” and sometimes it is the equivalent of a quotation mark.

[6] Note the ambiguity of the preposition, which with the accusative case can mean either “above” or “on” in a more generic sense.

[7] Could be simple consecutive “And I” or concessive “Even I.”

[8] Note the absence of the definite article, rendering it at least a little ambiguous as to whether this is a reference to the Holy Spirit.

[9] A textual variant here.  Many MSS say “son of God” rather than “Chosen of God.”  If we adopt the text printed here, we have a rich Christological term with lots of layers of meaning.  Could be a genitive of possession (The chose one who belongs to God) or a genitive of source (the chosen one who came from God) or a subjective genitive (the one God chose.)

[10] The verb is pluperfect in form, but this particular verb uses the pluperfect as a simple past for the intransitive form “stood,” rather than “had been standing.”

[11] Could even be rendered, “staring at . . .”

[12] When akouo takes its object in the genitive, as we have here, the emphasis is on actually hearing the voice (rather than hearing about, which is connoted by an object in the accusative case).

[13] The normal word for discipleship.

[14] Note not “whom” are you seeking, but “what”.

[15] In classic Johannine style, questions simply raise more questions!

[16] Not sure why the NRSV renders this like an imperative “come and see” rather than “come and you will see” but it’s a simple future tense.

[17] The same verb from the “abide with me” text of John 15.

[18] Remember the ancient manuscripts had no punctuation, so it’s a judgment call whether this should be a statement (You are Simon, the son of John) or a question (Are you Simon, the son of John?)