The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by franklinmonroe, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    All four Gospels precisely agree that John the Baptist said "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" (KJV) --
    For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Matthew 3:3)

    The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Mark 1:3)

    As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Luke 3:4)

    He said, I [am] the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. (John 1:23)
    The translation/interpretation question is: Who is "the one" in the wilderness? John, or some one else? That is, is John saying he is himself out in the wilderness alone, or is John acting as the messenger of another wilderness person? If John is not referring to himself, then to whom is he referring? Is it a reference to the Messiah? Could an English translation be constructed in such a way as to make a reference to Messiah more obvious to the reader?

    You may be interested to know that there is no corresponding word in the Greek for "one"; it is implied by the Genitive case of the verb literally meaning "of-crying". So both words ("one" and "crying") are a rendering of a form of βοάω (Strong's #994, to cry aloud, shout) because the "crying" must result from 'someone'. It could also be considered as 'the-crying-one'.

    Of course, John's statement is basically a citation of Isaiah 40:3 --
    The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
     
    #1 franklinmonroe, Jun 10, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2012
  2. Greektim

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    Or "a-crying-one" of the anarthrous participle is meant to be indefinite.
     
  3. Van

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    In order to point away from John the Baptist, could it not be translated "a voice shouting: prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight in the wilderness.

    Isaiah 40:3 can be translated: A voice cries out, “In the wilderness clear a way for the Lord; (NET)
     
  4. franklinmonroe

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    Here is Wuest's translation of Matthew 3:3 --
    ...For this man is He who was spoken of through Isaiah, the prophet, saying, A voice of One shouting out in the uninhabited region. Make ready at once the Lord's road. Be making straight and level His paths. ...
     
  5. John of Japan

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    For this translation to be correct, the original would have to be a construction called the genetive absolute, with the noun for "voice" also in the genetive. But here "voice" is in the nominative. (Not meaning to criticize, just educate.)
     
  6. Van

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    So "A voice cries out prepare the way of the Lord... is "inaccurate?" It appears that you think the NET translation is inaccurate. The actual idea is to shift the emphasis of what is happening in the wilderness. Is the voice telling us to walk straight to the Lord, i.e. repent, while we are out of his way, i.e. in the wilderness, or is the John the Baptist pointing to himself as the one crying in the wilderness. The exercise was to see if it could be translated as Jesus pointing the way to the Father, rather than John the Baptist pointing the way to Jesus.

    I gave it a shot, using the NET translation. Here is the footnote, not to criticize, just educate: The syntactic position of the phrase “in the wilderness” is unclear in both Luke and the LXX. The MT favors taking it with “Prepare a way,” while the LXX takes it with “a voice shouting.” If the former, the meaning would be that such preparation should be done “in the wilderness.” If the latter, the meaning would be that the place from where John’s ministry went forth was “in the wilderness.”
     
  7. John of Japan

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    Are you paying attention to your own posts? :smilewinkgrin: I did not disagree with the NET, "A voice cries out...," but with you, "a voice shouting."
     
  8. franklinmonroe

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    John, what do you think of Wuest's rendering (with the capitalization of "One")?
    Why do you suppose so few translators make this distinction?
     
    #8 franklinmonroe, Jun 18, 2012
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  9. John of Japan

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    I like it. I only wish we had capital letters in Japanese to express that!
    It's debatable as to whether or not such capitalization communicates to the general public, even many Christians, in 2012. Some would say it's confusing if you're not used to it. Personally I like it, but don't consider it a sine qua non.
     
  10. Van

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    Not to put too fine a point on it but here is the NET translation: ““The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

    Now if we put the two ideas together, we have: "A voice of One shouting [or crying out], Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight in the wilderness."
     
    #10 Van, Jun 19, 2012
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  11. robycop3

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    I believe the context, the recording of John's actions, makes the meaning quite clear.
     
  12. John of Japan

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    I agree with this.
     
  13. Van

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    This is a statement where the reader supplies the meaning, depending on how they read the context. The OP read the context as indicating Jesus was pointing to the Father, but the translation made it appear John the Baptist was pointing to Jesus.

    Statements calculated to allow the reader to draw any inference they wish are deceptive.

    Now I expect the meaning was that the context actually points to John the Baptist being the prophetic forerunner.

    So at the end of the day, we see that the translator's understanding of the text might tilt the translation toward that view. Great if the understanding is correct, no so much otherwise.
     
  14. franklinmonroe

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    I don't understand, John. You "like" Wuest's rendering which points toward a Deity (capitalization) but at the same time agree with Roby that the context points to John the Baptist?
     
  15. Yeshua1

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    Didn't john self identify himself as being 'that Voice", as fulfillment of the OT prophecy of one to come to herald the arrival of the messiah?

    What is interesting is that though john denied being the second coming of Elijah, Jesus said that he was the fulfillment of that!
     
  16. John of Japan

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    Sorry, I wasn't clear. (Or I wasn't payin attention. :eek:) I like Wuest's use of the capital, but think he is wrong in this case.

    A scholar friend has pointed out to me something I should have caught. "Crying" is a nominative singular masculine, so it must modify ego, "I," also a nominative singular, thus meaning that John was referring to himself. Notice v. 22, where John was asked what he said about himself, not the Christ. John's quote from the LXX begins after he said Ego, or "I." Wuest was wrong.
     
  17. franklinmonroe

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    The Wuest verse quoted was not from John's Gospel but from Matthew; none of the Synoptics have "I" (ego) in the verse (see OP). Although to be fair, Wuest does use the uppercase 'O' in John Chapter 1 also --
    ... He said, As for myself, I am a voice of One crying out in the uninhabited region, Make straight the Lord's road, even as Isaiah the prphet said. ...

    Could St. John mean to say something different by inserting "I" into the Isaiah citation (there is no "I" in the OT verse) than the other writers?
     
    #17 franklinmonroe, Jun 21, 2012
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  18. John of Japan

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    In Matthew it is clear that John is referred to since it has him saying, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Christ would not be saying this of Himself. Then in 3:4 it says, "This same John" (Gr. autos de ho Yoannes). With that grammar and context, the one in the wilderness must be John.

    In Mark the quote is also from Mal. 3:1, where the Father speaks to the Messiah about the messenger. So this must be John.

    Luke is a little more ambiguous. If it were not for the other passages, one might get away with thinking Luke was speaking of the Messiah.

    John is the clearest. I don't see how the grammar and context I gave you can mean anything other than John the Baptist. John is asked who he was, and he answered clearly and unambiguously that "I am" the one crying in the wildernss.

    Exegesis is part of the translator's job. When there are parallel passages the translator can consult them to get insights. Wuest apparently did not do that well enough on this passage.
     
  19. Van

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    Lets camp out on John 1:23. How does it read?

    I [John the Baptist] a voice of one crying "In the wilderness [of you sins] make straight [repent] the way of the Master" as Isaiah the prophet said.

    So the question is, is John the Baptist the one crying, or is John the Baptist a [forerunner] voice of the One crying? Note "a voice" and "one crying" are not the same gender.

    As that famous Third Reich theologian said, "if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything." :)
     
    #19 Van, Jun 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2012
  20. franklinmonroe

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    Yes, I completely agree that is the question.
     

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