Why did Brian Simmons translate ἑώρακα (heōraka) as ‘ophesthe’?

In my last two posts  I have been presenting evidence (here and here) that Brian Simmons, who calls himself ‘the translator’ of the ‘Passion Translation’ New Testament, is less than familiar with the Greek language. I continue with a surprising mistake in a footnote to John 1.34 in the 2014 edition of John: Eternal Love.

John 1.34

κἀγὼ ἑώρακα καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ [NA 28]

"I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God." [NASB]

In the Passion Translation, 2014 edition, the verse and first footnote read:

ἑώρακα is the first person perfect active indicative of ὁράω, ‘I see’, ‘I perceive’, and means ‘I have seen’ or ‘I have perceived’. This must be the Greek word that Simmons is referring to in his footnote.

ἑώρακα transliterates as heōraka;

ὁράω, the lexical form, transliterates as horaō.

Why then does Simmons transliterate it as ophesthe?

I cannot give a definitive answer, but I do have a possible partial explanation.

ophesthe transliterates back into Greek as οφεσθε. This is not a Greek word, but curiously a Google search for οφεσθε yields many results with this (non-) word in the quoted section. On visiting the page, however, the word usually appears as οψεσθε (opsesthe), with a ‘psi’, ψ,  in place of the ‘phi’, φ. 1  Here is part of one such quoted extract from the results page. It is from Isaiah 33.11 in the Septuagint, and and is displayed as beginning:

Νϋν οφεσθε…

At the source page, the verse begins with:

Νῦν ὄψεσθε…

Now you will see; now you will perceive; the strength of your spirit will be vain; fire will consume you. [NETS]

Not only is ὄψεσθε a Greek word, but it is a form of the same verb ὁράω that ἑώρακα is also a form of. It is its second person plural future middle indicative, and means ‘you will see’.

It is easy to envisage someone accidentally conflating φ with ψ, as indeed Google’s algorithm or OCR software appears to do. It seems plausible therefore that ὄψεσθε could accidentally or mistakenly be written as ophesthe. Since there is a close connection between ὄψεσθε and ἑώρακα in that they are both forms of the same verb, I think that there is a good case that it is ὄψεσθε that Simmons meant to transliterate.

But why? Simmons wrote:

Simmons could reasonably have given the Greek word in Latin script either as heōraka (ἑώρακα) or as horaō for its lexical form ὁράω. Conceivably, he could have used the present infinitive form horan (ὁρᾶν), ‘to see’, as we do in English, and as is sometimes suggested for Greek. But he could not reasonably have given a second person future to represent the word.

The form ὄψεσθε occurs thirteen times in the New Testament. 2 There are, according to one estimate, 7,957 verses in the New Testament. 3  It occurs three times in John, which has 879 verses, by the same source.  So it occurs, on average, every few hundred verses, if I may be permitted for a moment to speak of the inspired scriptures in such a prosaic statistical way. I mention this only because ὄψεσθε occurs in John 1.39, just five verses on from the one we are examining: 4

39) λέγει αὐτοῖς· ἔρχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε. ἦλθαν οὖν καὶ εἶδαν ποῦ μένει καὶ παρ’ αὐτῷ ἔμειναν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην· ὥρα ἦν ὡς δεκάτη.

He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. [NASB]

Both verses would as likely as not have been on the same page of whatever text Simmons was using. Did his eye somehow stray from one to the other? Or alternatively, could he have been consulting a commentary or annotated bible, and wrongly connected a comment on verse 1.39, with the word ὄψεσθε appearing in that comment, with verse 1.34? These are just suggestions, but I think it is fairly unlikely that the proximity of ὄψεσθε in verse 39, to ophesthe in Simmons’ footnote to 1.34, is only coincidence.

One other possibility may be discounted. It cannot be that the footnote was intended for verse 1.39, but was misplaced. Simmons translates the later verse as:

but Simmons’ footnote:

refers to the Greek word that corresponds to “seen”, which does not appear in his version of verse 39.

implications

We all make mistakes, but the question is whether somebody who knows Greek could realistically make this particular mistake. Let us suppose, for sake of argument, that Brian Simmons really is translating from the Greek original, as he says he is. Here again is the Greek text of John 1.34:

κἀγὼ ἑώρακα καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ

He translates it very loosely, but recognisably, as follows:

He has translated ἑώρακα (‘I have seen’, ‘I have perceived’) very expansively as:

‘I have seen this revelation fulfilled with my own eyes.’

He wants to explain to the reader why he is interpreting ‘I have seen’ as ‘I have seen a revelation….’ So he adds a footnote asserting (wrongly in my opinion, see Addendum below) that this Greek verb is always used in John for spiritual vision, or for ‘seeing in the spiritual realm’:

If he has just translated the word ἑώρακα (heōraka), how can he in the next breath transliterate it as ophesthe? Suppose his eye somehow strayed and he started transliterating ὄψεσθε from verse 39. Even if he did not know this particular word (and a translator of the New Testament should surely know the future middle form ὄψομαι of ὁράω), would he not at least have recognised the ending -εσθε as a second person plural middle or passive voice ending rather than a first person active ending? Forgive me, but I just don’t yet see how someone who knows any Greek could make this mistake.

Once again, I have nothing against Brian Simmons personally, and consider him a sincere and dearly beloved brother in Christ.

Andrew Chapman

 

Addendum

Brian Simmons claimed that the Greek word used in verse 34, which is in fact ὁράω, is always used for spiritual vision, or ‘seeing in the spiritual realm’. Its very use in John 1.39 counts against this idea, it seems to me. I give the previous verse also for context:

38) στραφεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ θεασάμενος αὐτοὺς ἀκολουθοῦντας λέγει αὐτοῖς· τί ζητεῖτε; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· ῥαββί, ὃ λέγεται μεθερμηνευόμενον διδάσκαλε, ποῦ μένεις;

39) λέγει αὐτοῖς· ἔρχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε. ἦλθαν οὖν καὶ εἶδαν ποῦ μένει καὶ παρ’ αὐτῷ ἔμειναν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην· ὥρα ἦν ὡς δεκάτη.

And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?"

He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. [NASB]

It strikes me as far-fetched to assert that Jesus meant that if the two disciples followed him to the place where he was saying, then they would have a spiritual vision, or would ‘see in the spiritual realm’. Surely he was simply inviting them to come and see the place he was staying? The continuation, ‘they came and saw where he was staying’, seems to confirm that the word is being used in the ordinary way.

BDAG does not give ‘to see a vision’ or ‘to see in the spiritual realm’ as meanings of ὁράω. It does say that the word can be used with ὀπτασία or ὅρασις (both of which can mean ‘a vision’) of seeing a vision:

but this is no different from saying that the word ‘see’ can be used of seeing a vision. The word ‘vision’ is needed too. The word ‘see’ on its own does not mean ‘see a vision’.

ὁράω is used in John 4.45 of the Galileans having seen all that Jesus had done in Jerusalem:

ὅτε οὖν ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, ἐδέξαντο αὐτὸν οἱ Γαλιλαῖοι πάντα ἑωρακότες ὅσα ἐποίησεν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ, καὶ αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἦλθον εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν.

So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast. [NASB]

and in John 20.29 of Thomas having seen Jesus, with the focus being on his having physically seen His wounds:

λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ὅτι ἑώρακάς με πεπίστευκας; μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες.

Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." [NASB]

It is not that Thomas has been ‘seeing in the spiritual realm’. He is seeing the One who came in the flesh. Glory be to His holy and glorious Name, the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer and wonderful Friend.

 

 

Notes:

  1. In one case (p. 670), the word appears as οφεσθε in the source, but it is a misprint for οψεσθε. By a remarkable coincidence, and I think it is unlikely to have any direct connection with Simmons’ mistake, the author is quoting John 1.39, which is discussed below.
  2. Search of Tischendorf 8th edition at The Unbound Bible.
  3. Summed from the figures at Blue Letter Bible.
  4. Although not in all manuscripts. Some have ἴδετε , the second person plural aorist active imperative of εἶδον (‘I saw’), which took over the functions of the 1st aorist from ὁράω. The meaning is thus ‘come and see’, rather than ‘come and you will see’.

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Andrew Chapman

I live for Jesus. He is my life, my hope, my Saviour and Redeemer and Lord. Hallelujah! God has blessed me with a wonderful wife called Alison, and we serve the Lord together with gladness and joy. Pray for us that we may fulfill our calling and persevere to the end on the narrow path that leads to life.

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