This week I'm thinking about Greek. It's been on my brain. So much so that I dreamt that I was doing a translation from the New Testament and I got "he is an idiot, he who despises Narnia." Pretty sure this missed the final edition of the text...
Either way, I guess this week was the first time I have tried to connect verses in Greek to my own devotional life. It's like, even though I've heard passages a bunch of times before, by meditating on the Greek, I can find the meaning anew for myself. It's been enhancing my prayer life, but it is also forcing me to think about the role of language in communication. It's not that I think that all Christians should learn Greek to be able to study the Bible (though I would encourage it for those so inclined). But I do think that looking at a text in a language not your own let's you "get around" your own presuppositions about the passage. I found the same thing with French in looking at the Bible and other texts, but it's been all the stronger with Greek.
The passage I've specifically been meditating on is John 1... the poetry of the language in the Greek is wonderful and it has been challenging but devotionally rewarding to think about these very familiar verses in a new way.
Anyways, I thought people might want to see what the Greek looks like - even if you can't read it, you can see the parallel structuring of some of these verses, and see the repetition. I've provided my own (very rough!) literal translation below. I've bolded where the world placement indicates emphasis. I've only had one semester of Greek, so those of you with more skillz, please be gracious! :)
1Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. 2οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. 3πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν 4ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων: 5καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.... 9Ήν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον,ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον. 10ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. 11εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον... 14Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.
1. In [the] beginning was the word, and the word was to/towards God, and God was the word. 2. This one was in [the] beginning to/towards God. 3. All through him became, and apart from him became not one [thing] 4. that became[.] In him life was, and the life was the light of mankind: 5. and the light in the darkness shines, and the darkness is not overtaking it... 9. It was the true light, that gave light to all mankind, coming into the the world. 10. In the world he was, and the world through him became, and the world did not know him. 11. Into the same he came, and those ones did not receive him... 14. And the word became flesh and lived in/among us, and we saw the glory of him, glory which only [is] from [the] Father, full of grace and of truth.
(John 1:1-5; 9-11;14)
How do you think about the relationship between meaning and language? Does this change the way you think about communication, either day-to-day or in prayer?