I am starting a new project. I will be doing a verse-by-verse study of the Gospel According to John. My goal is to give each verse time to sink in so that I don’t skim over certain doctrinal points. Since I don’t know biblical Greek I am going with Augustine’s idea and comparing several translations to get a better sense of what was said in the Greek.
I will use the New American Standard Version, English Standard Version, The New International Version, and the New American Bible. As a side note I will also compare the difference between today’s bibles and the Wycliffe new testament.
This is meant to be a personal Bible study, but I am more than ok with others sharing what they notice that I might overlook. I chose to start with John because it’s best to begin with the gospel, and if I am blessed to continue this study past john through the other gospels Luke will lead strait into Acts of the Apostles.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All four translations say the exact same thing. The translation with the most difference is the Bible in Basic English, which says;
From the first he was the Word, and the Word was in relation with God, and was God.
Right off the bat John establishes a fact of the Gospel that denies a great heresy that would rise up after his time. Arianism, was a heresy that denied the Deity of Christ. The Arians claimed that the proper translation of this passage was “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and God was,” In the Greek there are no periods or any way to mark the end of a sentence, so one was able to get away with saying this was a proper way to put the phrasing together, but since the entire passage is speaking about the Word, it is an unnatural jump to suddenly just be talking about God. Taken with the whole passage it only makes sense if John is saying that the Word was God.
He uses the phrase “In the beginning,” to bring back an idea his Jewish audience would be familiar with already. Genesis 1:1. This will go in line with 1:3 to define Christ as creator, which also backs up his claim of Godhood. By saying he was with God and was God it shows a distinction in the Godhead. The idea of God being one, but also being distinct persons is backed by Genesis 1:26 and 11:7.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was at God, and God was the word. [In the beginning was the word, that is, God's Son, and the word was at God, and God was the word.]
While the same points are covered in the Wycliffe translation as in the newer text, the sentence structure is a little harder to follow.