John: Prologue

I thought I'd share a little of the conversations and ideas from my weekly class with Nestor Miguez on John's gospel (and letters), particularly things that emerge from reading the gospel in a Latin American context. Maybe I'll put something on each week on this, we'll see how it goes.

This week we studied the first eighteen verses of John, otherwise known as the prologue. Fellow students come from Columbia, Uruguay, Korea via Paraguay, Switzerland, the States, and Argentina. That said, we didn't get to have much of a discussion about our various contexts. Translating from the New Testament Greek into Spanish, however, did reveal a few new insights. We wrestled with words that have female or male or both or neither gender, verbs that need one pronoun in Greek and another, with a slightly difference emphasis, in Spanish. And as for the verb, 'to be' well, in Spanish we have the option of imperfect or past simple, estar (state of being) or ser (more permanent).

Out of this emerged 'la palabra,' what we call 'the word.' In the Spanish translation we are using, 'logos' (the Greek for word) is translated as el Verbo which looks and feels very much like the NRSV Bible's translation of 'the Word.' But how about trying out 'la palabra'? In Spanish this means changing following pronouns to ella - she or it. So we have in verse 3, All things came into being through her, and without her, not one thing came into being. Of course, the Greek 'logos' is masculine, as is much of the tradition of interpretation. But la palabra reminds us of the wisdom tradition of Sophia - Wisdom, who is God's co-creator (Proverbs 8).

More on next week.

PS you will notice 2 links on the right panel to other weblogs. Following blogs can be addictive, so be warned. But these two I have enjoyed reading. They're both about food - no surprises there! Others people may be interested include various linked from the Greenbelt community site. And the New Testament Gateway also has an accompanying blog. Nick Robinson's blog on the BBC website is also up to the minute and challenging. Oh, and the 'fatmanwalking' blog that has been in the news recently (inspiring, although I couldn't agree with some of the military aspects.) Once you start looking, you'll be amazed what you find amongst the 60 million blogs out there.