Paraclete (and spelling of transliterated proper names)

N & RJ Hanscamp hanscamps at
Thu Nov 18 16:57:23 EST 1999

CWC wrote:
>The simple answer to Nigel's question is that English "paraclete" is
>standard anglicization of Latin PARACLETUS for Greek PARAKLHTOS. It's
>noteworthy that something is lost when the word "Paraclete" is used thus,
>since it's not a proper name in the Johannine text but an epithet, which is
>why some modern translations prefer to convert it as "Advocate" or
>"Comforter," English words that do convey senses that PARAKLHTOS actually
>had in Greek.

and Steve Puluka wrote:
>I concur.  The Slavic Eastern Churches do translate the word rather than
>transliterate.  Thus we have "Comforter" or "Advocate" in our English
>translations depending on the context of the prayer.  This is a practice we
>bring from the Old Church Slavonic editions.

While I agree that *paraclete* is not a proper name, I guess those of us who
use it as such do so because we feel that any translation (comforter,
advocate, helper) would confuse the meaning in some references, or introduce
an unhelpful meaning.  In some cases *he* (if I may use the term where *she*
may be more appropriate at times) is a reminder and teacher (14.25ff;
16.12-14), at other times a comforter (14.15ff), and at other times a
witness (15.26, 27), while at other times an accuser (16.8-11), or a
"replacement" (14.15ff).  Thus the allocation of one or the other terms may
be misleading.  He is after all hO PARAKLHTOS in several of the texts.

But I am curious - Steve,  Does the application of the title "Comforter" or
"Accuser" with capitals mean that this is a title?  - or seen as a title in
the Eastern Churches?

A wider question of translation (Joe, this one is for you too), is it
helpful to translate the word in different ways (as Steve seems to indicate
that the Eastern churches do) depending on the context?


Nigel Hanscamp
Trinity Methodist Theological College
Auckland Consortium of Theological Education, New Zealand
Email: hanscamps at

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