John 1.10 in the ‘Passion Translation’: more evidence that Brian Simmons may not be translating from Greek.

In my last post, I asked, in connection with a footnote to John 2.3 in the 2015 edition of John: Eternal Love, whether Brian Simmons, the supposed translator of the ‘Passion Translation’, was even looking at the Greek text at all. Today, I ask the same question with regard to the first footnote to John 1.10 in the 2014 edition. The second footnote also casts some doubt on whether he is really translating from Greek. I take them one at a time. Tomorrow, I plan to look at the following verse and its footnote.

I give both verses together here, since the Greek text of verse 11 helps to explain a blunder in the first footnote to verse 10:

John 1.10

10) ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω.

11) εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον. [NA 28]

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.11 He came to His [a]own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

Note 'a': John 1:11 Or own things, possessions, domain [NASB]

In the 2014 edition of John: Eternal Love, which is still online at Google Books, Simmons had these verses as:

and the three footnotes were:

Taking the first two of these today:

1) Footnote ‘n’ to John 1.10a

ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; [NRSV]

The ‘Passion Translation’:

First, Simmons says that it is implied that the One who was in the world was the Creator. The text says that the world came into being through Him. It follows that the world was created through Him, but this is not the same as saying that He was the Creator Himself. 1

Second, he claims that ‘the Greek’ means:

he came to his own things.

but in fact it means nothing of the kind. I put a simple English gloss next to each Greek word:

ἐν (in) τῷ (the ) κόσμῳ (world) ἦν (he was), καὶ (and) ὁ (the) κόσμος (world) δι’ (through) αὐτοῦ (him) ἐγένετο (came into being)

The beginning of verse 11, however:

εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν

does mean:

he came to his own things

One might suppose that a footnote to the beginning of verse 11 had accidentally been connected to verse 10. But the beginning of verse 11 has its own footnote, which I discuss tomorrow, so no such simple explanation is possible. I find it hard to see how a competent translator could make such a blunder.

2) Footnote ‘o’ to John 1.10b

10b) καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω.

10b) and the world did not know Him.[NASB]

The ‘Passion Translation’:

The Greek clause has a simple subject-object-verb structure:

καὶ ὁ κόσμος (and the world)

αὐτὸν (him)

οὐκ ἔγνω (did not know).

αὐτὸν is the accusative singular masculine of αὐτός, -ή, -ό, here functioning as the third person pronoun. This form does not occur in any other case, number and gender, as can be seen from its declension: 2

It really demands to be translated, in my opinion. Of the thirty-one English translations at biblestudytools.com, only ‘The Message Bible’ omits the masculine pronoun ‘Him’:

This may be possibly be considered acceptable in a free translation. The last clause, ‘and yet the world didn’t even notice’, is similar to Simmons’:

But if this approach is taken, and the object of the verb omitted in the primary text, then any alternative version given in a footnote should surely include it.  Instead, the rendering in Simmons’ footnote has a neuter object:

where ‘it’ stands for the content of the first part of the verse, as Simmons has it.

Surely, here in the footnote at least, somebody who is reading and translating the Greek text would take the opportunity to translate αὐτον and include the masculine pronoun ‘him’ in the alternative rendering.

Andrew Chapman

 

 

 

Notes:

  1. My personal opinion is that the scriptures are consistent in saying that God the Father created all things through the Son (1 Corinthians 8.6, Hebrew 1.2) or in the Son (Colossians 1.16).
  2. W. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009) p. 100.

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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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