I think this will be the final post for right now on John 3:16.
What I want to do here is summarize some of the major insights that I gained from this collaboration. Please share things you have learned in the comments.
A number of great resources have been mentioned in these posts:
- Google Search and Instant Search: If the only hits are from Bible verses, well then you’re probably looking at “Biblish.”
- Google Ngram Viewer: (http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/) This is a far more powerful method. Compare “I so love you” to “I love you so much” and get a feel for relative frequency of these expressions over time.
- Greek Lexicons and Concordances: Louw & Nida and BAGD/BDAG. See here for some discussion and lots of links: http://discipuluscripturae.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/bagd-vs-bdag/ I find that even a really old fashioned lexicon like Vine’s Expository Dictionary can be helpful not for definitions but for showing where a word occurs in the New Testament. I did some of my research using the much-maligned Strong’s Concordance. It’s free on many of the software programs available and can help you bring up lists of occurrences.
- Lots of translations! Looking outside of English helped us see that the “so” problem is not much of an issue in Romance languages.
- “Grammars” and Commentaries: As you see I can’t even bring myself to write it without scare quotes. Grammars are notoriously deceptive. Scholarship tends to be old. They frequently engage in more theologizing than linguistics. Proceed with caution. BDF was mentioned. I often use GGBB. Commentaries are normally written by theologians rather than linguists. This isn’t to say that they are valueless, just that insights are often more devotional than exegetical.
- B-Greek, BBB and blogs: B-Greek is old-school, it’s a mailing list and kind of clunky but it is stuffed with really smart people talking about these kinds of issues. Dive in and try to keep your head above water! (http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/). Better Bibles Blog has a lot of stuff but I especially want to draw your attention to the many blog posts mentioned in these two posts. Many of the commenters have blogs of their own and post smart stuff on Bible translation with regularity.
- Open Text has discourse charts for many New Testament books (http://www.opentext.org/texts/NT/John/view/combined-cl-ch3.v0.html)
- Perseus is the first place to go if you want to search for Greek outside the New Testament. (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper). Use Classical Greek examples with caution when trying to build your case for a New Testament analysis. Hundreds of years separate most of the Classical texts from the New Testament.
- Scholarly articles. Much was made of an article by Fedukowski. While it isn’t available online there are many other sources for scholarly papers. Bloggers often tend to reference them and summarize them so that can help if you don’t have access to protected content.
- Compare translations! For the non-expert this gives you a wealth of information. Translators spend hours going over verses like John 3:16 (Trust me, I’ve been there). Don’t think of translations in terms of “right or wrong” but rather ask, “Why did they choose to translate it this way?”
- Read the footnotes! The best translations give alternate renderings in the footnotes or explain unusual or controversial renderings. NET Bible is the first place to go for a bibliography of commentary on thousands of verses of the Bible. (http://net.bible.org/bible.php?book=Joh&chapter=3#n41)
- Do a word search. Find every occurrence of the Greek word (not the English) and scroll through them. If possible, look for the places where an English translation has rendered the Greek differently. By doing this you will establish two things: the default usage of this word and any marked usages. hOUTWS in John 3:16 is a marked usage.Notice how Rich Rhodes’ use of Perseus employed this method with Classical Greek.
- Chart the text. In my second post I did a very simple chart of John 3:14-17. Essentially line up everything with one clause per line. The verb phrase goes in the middle, put in a noun phrase slot before and after the verb. Seeing everything as a chart is the best thing you can do for gaining control over an unruly text. The reason Greek scholars don’t know if Koine is SVO or VSO is because 1. They don’t understand the difference between default and marked usage, 2. And they haven’t charted enough texts.
- Rely on the experts. (You’re only human.)
- Don’t trust the experts. (They’re human, too.)
οὕτως (hOUTWS), Adverb, occurs 206 times in the New Testament.
Note there is also a demonstrative pronoun (nominative, singular, masculine) that looks similar.
As an adverb, οὕτως modifies a verb phrase with a basic meaning of “in this way” or “thus.”
τὸ πνεῦμα ὅπου θέλει πνεῖ, καὶ τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἀκούεις, ἀλλ’ οὐκ οἶδας πόθεν ἔρχεται καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγει· οὕτως ἐστὶν πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος. (SBLGNT)
The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (NET)
καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, (SBLGNT)
Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, (NET)
There are almost 200 examples of οὕτως being used in this way.
When used with ὅστε, it expresses degree of the verb with a basic meaning of “so much” or “greatly.”
Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλὰ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. (SBLGNT)
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)
This is the only case I know of in the New Testament where these two words are taken together to have an adverbial function of degree. Please help me out if you know of other cases. As Rich Rhodes mentioned, there are many clear examples from classical Greek. In New Testament Greek it is either exceedingly rare or if you don’t admit this as being a case of degree than hOUTWS plus hOSTE is unattested in the New Testament.
Three main ways of translating οὕτως in John 3:16
- 1. so
- 2. in this way
- 3. so much
Below I’ve listed a small number of the most popular translations in English. For a massive list of 68 versions of John 3:16 see here: http://www.innvista.com/culture/religion/bible/compare/godloved.htm
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
2. IN THIS WAY
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
3. SO MUCH
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
This is really a bare-bones examination of the John 3:16 controversy. I especially commend to you the discussion in the comment section of the second post for a lot of detailed discussion of this topic.
So where do I stand on this one? At the end of the day, I have to say that I believe that οὕτως in John 3:16 simply means “in this way.” While Iver and Rich have made convincing arguments for the marked usage of οὕτως together with ὅστε, I suspect that the “degree” component of the phrase resides solely in ὅστε. Kudowski in her paper doesn’t mention John 3:16 and never mentions an example of οὕτως and ὅστε together having a joint meaning of “so much.” If I saw a number of examples of this construction in the New Testament without an adjective such as “amazed” or “surprised” that seemed to clearly show οὕτως being used to mark degree I might revise my conclusion.
I would appreciate any corrections of errors in this post as well as suggestions for expanding it. I would like to write more in the exegesis section but I’m on vacation and supposed to be heading out the door in a few minutes for a hike!
And what about the ducks, dogs and hogwash? Well, we’ve employed a lot of barnyard imagery to talk about this verse. “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” That’s the case here with οὕτως, it quacks like a duck so don’t try to turn it into an eagle. Dogs are four-footed animals that hold their owners as practical slaves to their bodily necessities. But a dog can also be someone who is working hard, an ugly woman, or a tough boss. This is difference between default and marked usage of language. οὕτως in John 3:16 is just a dog. And hogwash? Well, I’ve been guilty of it, but I claim that grammarians and lexicographers are especially prone to it. Protect yourself by doing linguistics. Koine Greek is a language and can be studied just like any other without the need to insert fanciful theological notions into our analysis.
Finally, Merry Christmas! What God did in the Old Testament by saving his people through Moses and a serpent on a stick, he did in the New Testament by sending his only son. May you look to the Son in this season, find faith in his story and be saved.
All the posts in this series: