[B-Greek] John 7:15 re GRAMMATA
dan-bgreek at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 1 15:57:32 EST 2005
John 7:15 re GRAMMATA
I wrote: I looked at the greek text for this verse today and I am having a
problem with the last part of it. Is the following a correct translation?
... Jn 7:15 ... Therefore the Jews were marveling, saying ...
PWS hOUTOS GRAMMATA OIDEN MH MEMAQHKWS.
How does this man know LETTERS not having <learned> them?
Is the text referring to Hebrew Letters or Greek Letters (or both) which in
turn points to some kind of special teaching (a formula or superstition
like letters equaling numbers).
GS and CC responded
GS: If you check BDAG (which you should own -- if not, buy it NOW), you will
find that GRAMMA, particularly in the pl GRAMMATA refers to knowledge or
learning in general. This is similar to its usage in English.
The_New_York_Sun_ even has a feature called "Arts and Letters" --
CC: MEMAQHKWS doesn't mean "having known" but "having learned." The
question posed is "How this fellow can read, since he hasn't been
schooled?" -- or, if you prefer it in the style of the word-for-word
interlinear text: "how this-one letters knows, not having learned." But the
sense is: "How can this guy be so well-versed in scripture, since he's
clearly untutored?" Jesus' answer is appropriate to that sense, "I didn't
get my teaching from scribes or rabbis, I got it from the one who sent me."
DG: Thank you George, I just ordered BDAG 2000 today.
I looked up grammata in another online lexicon (http://www.greekbible.com/)
and here is what it says ...
1) a letter 2) any writing, a document or record 2a) a note of hand, bill,
bond, account, written acknowledgement of a debt 2b) a letter, an epistle
2c) the sacred writings (of the OT) 3) letters, i.e. learning 3a) of
I know what both of you are saying but two different lexicons have multiple
meanings for grammata.
Is one of the meanings "Letters of the alphabet" or not?
Is it remotely possible that grammata in Jn 7:15 might be a play on words?
Consider this passage from the Infancy gospel of Thomas where Jesus teaches
his teacher about letters ... (Source: THE GNOSTIC SOCIETY LIBRARY) ...
Now a certain teacher, Zacchaeus by name, stood there and he heard in part
when Jesus said these things to his father and he marvelled greatly that
being a young child he spake such matters. 2 And after a few days he came
near unto Joseph and said unto him: Thou hast a wise child, and he hath
understanding. Come, deliver him to me that he may learn letters. And I will
teach him with the letters all knowledge and that he salute all the elders
and honour them as grandfathers and fathers, and love them of his own years.
3 And he told him all the letters from Alpha even to Omega clearly, with
much questioning. But Jesus looked upon Zacchaeus the teacher and saith unto
him: Thou that knowest not the Alpha according to its nature, how canst thou
teach others the Beta? thou hypocrite, first, if thou knowest it, teach the
Alpha, and then will we believe thee concerning the Beta. Then began he to
confound the mouth of the teacher concerning the first letter, and he could
not prevail to answer him. 4 And in the hearing of many the young child
saith to Zacchaeus: Hear, O teacher, the ordinance of the first letter and
pay heed to this, how that it hath [what follows is really unintelligible in
this and in all the parallel texts: a literal version would run something
like this: how that it hath lines, and a middle mark, which thou seest,
common to both, going apart; coming together, raised up on high, dancing (a
corrupt word), of three signs, like in kind (a corrupt word), balanced,
equal in measure]: thou hast the rules of the Alpha.
As you can see, this "gospel" (written after canonical John) seems to talk
about a special kind of "teaching" regarding "letters." I am sure the Jews
wouldn't be amazed because Jesus as a grown man knew how to write "letters."
Maybe Jesus knew the scriptures and had a brand new interpretation of the OT
text (based on interpreting the letters in the text) that came from God? If
he taught something and it made sense this would indeed amaze the Jews.
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