[B-Greek] Revelation 1:18

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Tue Jul 12 15:52:52 EDT 2005

Dear Stephen,

>In chatting to some JWs recently, we discussed Rev 1:18 where the First and
>the Last states that "I was dead" (NIV). In the New World "translation",
>"became dead". Looking in my GNT it is written
>The usage of GINOMAI struck me as curious and the notion of "becoming dead".
>Would a use of EIMI NEKROS have worked too? Should we understand "becoming
>dead" as being in the state of deadness? I'd be interested to read any
>thoughts regarding this, regarding the use of GINOMAI as an auxiliary verb
>etc. Also, if you have any references that discuss these types of questions,
>I'd be pleased to hear from you

HH: GINOMAI can be translated as "was." The second main meaning for 
GINOMAI according to BAGD lexicon is "as a substitute for the forms 
of EIMI." EIMI is the standard Greek verb for representing the "to 
be" idea. In English do we really talk like the New World 
translation? At least it sounds odd in my ears: "I became dead." It 
seems more natural to say, "I died" or "I was dead." (Of course, how 
often does anyone talk that way at all?) The verse (Rev. 1:18) seems 
to describe a stative condition. Jesus was in one state, that of 
deadness, and he is now is in another, aliveness. In a technical 
sense the New World translation is perfectly possible. The question 
is what part of GINOMAI's scope of meaning the writer of Revelation 
had in mind. Since he uses EIMI in the same verse with "alive," the 
New World Translation may have been tryng to preserve the difference. 
Yet the difference may have been so subtle in Greek that their 
attempt in English is too much.

				Harold Holmyard

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