comparison of one verse

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by dcorbett, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. dcorbett

    dcorbett
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    Folks, I have always used a KJV, I love the flow, the prose, and the language. The Holy Spirit is my guide. I found salvation in Christ as a teenager in the 1960s in the Gospel of John.

    Ok, that stated, I looked at an ESV for the first time....I always compare John 1 and this is one major difference I found.

    ESV John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    KJV John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.


    Not overcoming and not comprehending DO NOT mean the same thing to me. I am sorry....but someone better try to make sense of this to me, or I will have to lump this version in with the other transliterations that have disappointed me and left me dry.
     
  2. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Fair question. Don't have my stuff with me right now but I would guess that the difference in the underlying text.

    I am a strong supporter of the traditional texts. I don't know much about katalambano, but it does not appear to me that 'overcome' would be the best translation.

    BTW, a little correction for your own use in the future. 'Transliteration' is when a word is literally adopted into another language. In this case, using the TR, a transliteration would be something like 'the darkness katalambanoed it not.'

    I just looked and katalambano is also the underlying word translated 'overcame'. I agree, there is a big difference in the English words.

    You got my curiosity up :)

    Back again - just looked in TDNT and lambano means, like I thought, 'to take.'

    I would be interested in hearing from some of our resident Greek scholars why the ESV translators chose 'overcome.' As a Greek neophyte the choice does not seem to make sense to me.
     
    #2 NaasPreacher (C4K), Sep 7, 2009
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  3. mesly

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    I am no Greek scholar, but the notes in the Net Bible seem to shed some light on things, I'll quote both the verse from the Net Bible and then the note:
    Joh 1:5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.

    Or "comprehended it," or "overcome it." The verb κατέλαβεν (katelaben) is not easy to translate. "To seize" or "to grasp" is possible, but this also permits "to grasp with the mind" in the sense of "to comprehend" (esp. in the middle voice). This is probably another Johannine double meaning — one does not usually think of darkness as trying to "understand" light. For it to mean this, "darkness" must be understood as meaning "certain people," or perhaps "humanity" at large, darkened in understanding. But in John's usage, darkness is not normally used of people or a group of people. Rather it usually signifies the evil environment or 'sphere' in which people find themselves: "They loved darkness rather than light" (Joh_3:19). Those who follow Jesus do not walk in darkness (Joh_8:12). They are to walk while they have light, lest the darkness "overtake/overcome" them (Joh_12:35, same verb as here). For John, with his set of symbols and imagery, darkness is not something which seeks to "understand (comprehend)" the light, but represents the forces of evil which seek to "overcome (conquer)" it. The English verb "to master" may be used in both sorts of contexts, as "he mastered his lesson" and "he mastered his opponent."

    If this is correct, then it doesn't appear to be a textual issue, but rather one of translation choice.
     
  4. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I like the comment about mastery.

    However, this is one of my issues with many newer versions. Sometimes it appears to someone like me, a casual observer, that translations are made jsut so they aren't the same as the traditional choice.
     
  5. Tater77

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    If you get hung up on a word choice then you can miss the forest for the trees. This verse has a deep meaning to it and if your hung up on a single word being right and that being the only choice then you will only have the definition of that one word and miss the whole point of the verse.

    Quite very often the original languages have a word that conveys a though or expression that cannot be summed up in a single English word.

    If you dont want to learn Hebrew or Greek. I suggest the Amplified Bible. IT doesnt suffer from anything being "left out".
     
  6. Deacon

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    The Greek texts are the same.

    The Greek word has a range of meanings.
    The translators of the KJV knew the range and used the word “comprehended”.

    1. acquire/receives - 1Co 9:24

    2. attack/taketh - Mk 9:18

    3. seize/taken - Jn 8:3, 4

    4. understand/perceive - Ac 10:34

    5. learn about/found - Ac 25:25

    6. happen - 1Th 5:4

    But ye, brethren,are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
    1 Thessalonians 5:4 AV 1873

    The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament notes:
    Rob
     
  7. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    That's fine, but in this context comprehended seems to fit the English speaking mind better. To most of us 'overcome' has the idea of conquering, whereas comprehending means to grasp or 'get it'.

    Comprehend, grasp, understand, and words like that seem to much better fit the context of Jesus coming into the world and the world's response to Him.

    Is the only case in the ESV where the translators used 'overcome'?

    This choice seems to be the favourite in translations over the last few years. Any ideas why?
     
    #7 NaasPreacher (C4K), Sep 7, 2009
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  8. franklinmonroe

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    Remember that "comprehended" was choosen before 1611. So the questions should be: What did the word mean at that time? AND Which meaning did the translators intend here (if more than one)?

    Webster's 1828 states that COMPREHEND is "Literally, to take in; to take with, or together." There are then 3 definitions --
    1. To contain; to include; to comprise.

    The empire of Great Britain comprehends England, Scotland and Ireland, with their dependencies.

    2. To imply; to contain or include by implication or construction.

    If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Rom. 13.

    3. To understand; to conceive; that is, to take, hold or contain in the mind; to possess or to have in idea; according to the popular phrase, I take your meaning.

    God doeth great things, which we cannot comprehend. Job 37.

    It is not always safe to disbelieve a proposition or statement, because we do not comprehend it.
    I agree that today we usually think of the third definition first (as displayed by modern dictionaries with this meaning now in the top position). But the other two definitions could likely have been intended then.

    But I could see that John might have meant that "the darkness" did not want to 'include' the Light; or another way, that "the darkness" did not want to 'accept' (take in) the Light. This would make the rejection of the Light more a willful act, as opposed to a lack of understanding or comprehesion (which is a result of lack of capacity or capability).

    The analogy is perfect: darkness can be changed into light; however, light cannot be changed into darkness. Darkness simply being the absence of light. Light is 'real' and dominant. So it is true that darkness cannot "overcome" light.
     
    #8 franklinmonroe, Sep 7, 2009
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  9. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Okay, but do any of those possibilities deal with 'overcoming?'

    I suspect that the KJV, NKJV, and a few others got this one right.
     
  10. Rippon

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    I have Volume 1 of The Gospel Of John, by James M. Boice. He has :

    ...The darkness certainly did not understand the light. It did not overcome it. And yet, there is another meaning of the word that I believe comes even closer to John's true meaning and is more appropriate. It is "to quench," "to extinguish," or "to eclipse," the concepts employed by J.B. Phillips and the New English Bible. Thus,... we can say that God's light is shining in the darkness and that it has never been eclipsed. (p.48)
     
  11. franklinmonroe

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    Yes, I think in the context of the analogy. "The darkness" could/would not accept/include the Light, but the Light came in spite of the darkness. The Light DOES shine in the darkness. Therefore, the darkness could not overcome/master the Light.

    Do you think that darkness should/does understand light in some manner?
     
    #11 franklinmonroe, Sep 7, 2009
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  12. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    That is the key - not apart from the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit.

    Wow - 12 posts, we are disagreeing, and no one has called anyone a name yet!
     
  13. Dale-c

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    Well if you weren't so blind and stupid...... lol
    Just kidding.

    Anyway, this is a good conversation in that we can discuss a word and how it is translated objectively rather than just assuming that our favorite translation got it right.
     
  14. franklinmonroe

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    Its easier when one does not have a "favorite".
     
  15. Deacon

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    Regarding the use of “comprehend” in John 1:5:

    In English when we ‘comprehend’ something you could say that we have:
    1) grasped its meaning,
    2) we have mastered it,
    3) we have gained control over it,

    When you look at it that way you can see how close it really is to the word “overcome” in the ESV.

    Louw-Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains suggests a similar word-play in the Greek, which is typical Johannine style.

    The KJV/NKJV’s use of “comprehend” uses the word in its figurative sense,
    The ESV (and others) use of “overcome” is its typical or literal sense.
    [See LN #37.18 – 37.19]


    So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
    John 12:35 ESV


    Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
    John 12:35 AV 1873

    One of the values of comparing many versions is that you get a greater understanding of the possible meanings of the words the original author used.
    Lockman’s Amplified Bible was developed for this very purpose.

    Learn to value the information different versions can provide and use them to delve deeper in to the originally intended meaning of Scripture.

    You really don't have to like them, just use them. :smilewinkgrin:

    Rob
     
    #15 Deacon, Sep 7, 2009
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  16. Tater77

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    I think καταλαμβάνω (katalambanō) in this verse can't really be summed up in a single word since it conveys a thought/expression.

    And yes it is nice to have a civil conversation :)
     
  17. franklinmonroe

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    It is interesting to note how John uses the Greek word katalambano (Strong's #2638) in the rest of the book.
    And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
    They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. (John 8:3-4, KJV)

    Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. (John 12:35, KJV)
    Notice how easily it could be said that the "taken" woman in John 8 was 'overtaken' (or 'overcome') by her accusers. John returns to the theme of light/darkness in Chapter 12 where "come upon" could in reverse word order be 'over-' (substituted for "upon") plus 'come'.

    dcorbett, it would seem from the evidence gathered so far that the ESV could be completely justified in its choice of "overcome".
     
    #17 franklinmonroe, Sep 8, 2009
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  18. franklinmonroe

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    Agreed. You may already know that καταλαμβάνω is a compound word. The Greek preposition kata (Strong's #2596) basically means 'according to' (also 'by', 'along', 'toward', 'against', etc.) plus the verb lambano (Strong's #2983) which essentially means 'to take' or 'to receive'.
     
  19. franklinmonroe

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    Yes, and some other versions have similar renderings as well --
    Goodspeed - The light is still shining in the darkness, for the darkness has never put it out.

    The Source - And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not supress it.
    (footnote: Aorist tense referring to a point-in-time event, rather than a continual event.)

    J. Anderson - This light is shining in the darkness, for the darkness has never put it out.

    God's Word - The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.
    (GW footnote: English equivalent difficult.)

    New Evangelical Translation (the other NET) - and the light is shining in the dark, and the darkness has not put it out.

    Good News - The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.

    Message - The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out.

    New Life - The Light shines in the darkness. The darkness has never been able to put out the Light.

    ISV - And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.
     
  20. franklinmonroe

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    I noticed a lot of versions use "apprehended" --
    ASV (1901) - And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not.

    Darby - And the light appears in darkness, and the darkness apprehended it not.

    Emphatic Diaglott - and the light in the darkness shines, and the darkness it not apprehended.

    Murdock (1852) - And this light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not.

    Worrell - And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not.

    RSV - And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not.

    ALT - And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not apprehend it.
    Only a few seem to have "master" --
    NET - And the light shines on10 in the darkness,11 but12 the darkness has not mastered it.

    Knox - And the light shines in the darkness, a darkness which was not able to master it.

    Cassirer - the light which shines on in the darkness, and the darkness failing to gain mastery over it.
     

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