[B-Greek] question about paraklhtos

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 6 16:06:34 EDT 2006

I've corrected the spelling of the word's transcription  in the subject header.
  And so we end right back at "comforter" in your view.  I find no basis for this to be taken as "comforter" other than the usage in the LXX of Jb 16.2 where PARAKLHTORES (from the by-form PARAKLHTWR) is used as a translation of the Hebrew M:NaX:aM"Y from the root NXM which is glossed "to find consolation."  Jeffrey's observation should be taken to heart.  Even today we use the phrase "to give aid and comfort to the enemy" where "aid and comfort" must be taken as a hendiadys and has nothing to do with making them FEEL BETTER.  I think the understanding of PARAKLHTOS as "to comfort" in the sense of making one feel better is entirely symptomatic of our times of wanting a "feel good religion."  The explanation of the function of the PARAKLHTOS in Jn 16.26 is perfectly clear.  It is the function of instruction and bringing to remembrance and not of "feeling good."

yancywsmith <yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net> wrote:

I have no quarrel with the gloss "advocate," although my guess is 
that term "advocate" in current English usage is a good bit narrower 
than the semantic range of PARAKLHTOS. What I am saying is that the 
precise meaning of PARAKLHTOS may in fact vary in John 14-16 (14:15– 
17.25–26; 15,26–27; 16,7–11; cf. C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According 
to St. John, Philadelphia 1978, 462–463), but that the sense added by 
ALLOS (“another”), implies that Jesus himself is a PARAKLHTOS. The 
evidence of Jesus' activity as a PARAKLHTOS is his concern to prepare 
his disciples for his absence in the long speech from 13:33-18:1. The 
Holy Spirit, promised as a Paraclete comes as his replacement or 
surrogate according to a consolatory commonplace in which a person, 
image, or portrait takes the place of and mediates the presence of 
the loved one for the bereaved.

One recurring figure in Greek literature is the appearance of a ghost 
or a spirit in a dream to console the bereaved, and Chrysostom, in 
his comments on this passage has to exert considerable rhetorical 
skill to ward off this interpretation in his Greek audience. 
Commenting on Jesus' promise to come to his followers in John 
14:18-21, he clarifies that Jesus does not come to his followers "as 
we might see the dead in a dream" (hWSPER TOUS NEKROUS hWRWMEN ONAR). 
Chrysostom further asserts that the post-mortem appearance of Jesus 
is not in the form of a FANTASMA. (Compare this to Euripides, 
Alcestis 355-56 "and perhaps you will console me by visiting me in my 
dreams. For even in sleep it is pleasant to see loved ones for 
however long we are permitted.") Of course John did not believe that 
Jesus was present to the believers as a mere dream or FANTASMA! 
Neither did Chrysostom. As Holloway argues, however, Chrysostom’s 
sustained efforts at clarification suggest that the text evoked just 
such an image for both himself and his audience and that he felt the 
need to argue at some length against it. Scholars have long fretted 
over just how Jesus was going to be present in the community after 
his death and how that presence relates to the promise of the ALLOS 
PARAKLHTOS. But, if we imagine the Paraclete as mediating the 
presence of Jesus without being Jesus himself (in John's theology), 
then a solution is clear. Such a role was fulfilled in ancient 
contexts of bereavement by funerary portraiture and statuary, which 
were seen to mediate the presence of the loved one without actually 
being the loved one. So, the presence of the Spirit as PARAKLHTOS is 
consolatory, but also fulfills other roles—for example prophetic 
roles like advocate—that belonged to Jesus.

Yancy Smith
Y.W.Smith at tcu.edu
yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Brite Divinity School
Texas Christian University

On Jun 6, 2006, at 1:00 PM, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:

> "Carl W. Conrad" wrote:
>> On Jun 6, 2006, at 10:52 AM, George F Somsel wrote:
>>> At Jn 14.25 where what the function of the PARAKLHTOS will be is
>>> stated, it speaks of teaching and reminding
>>> It seems necessary to circumnavigate the barn in order to reach a
>>> conclusion that this has anything to do with consoling.
>> George, have you read the article to which Yancy referred? I have
>> not. But I would hesitate to rule out that sense of comforter --
>> especially inasmuch as (1) "comfort" is a common sense of PARAKALEW,
>> (2) some English versions have actually used the word, "comforter" to
>> translate PARAKLHTOS in the Johannine passages; (3) BDAG gives as a
>> basic sense, "‘one who is called to someone’s aid’ ... In the few
>> places where the word is found in pre-Christian and extra-Christian
>> lit. as well it has for the most part a more general sense: one who
>> appears in another’s behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper" I think
>> that the entire article on PARAKLHTOS in BDAG is worth reading
>> carefully.
> One of the things that is overlooked in the "is comforter a good 
> translation
> of PARAKLHTOS" question is that the English word originally did 
> not have
> the sense of "consolation" that it does now. Rather, given its 
> origin
> [= Of. confortere(s, -teor, transl. L. cons{omac}l{amac}tor, a common
> rendering since 7th c. of PARAKLHTOS = advocatus ‘advocate, 
> intercessor]
> it meant, as PARAKLHTOS does, an advocate.
> Yours,
> Jeffrey
> --
> Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
> 1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
> Chicago, Illinois
> e-mail jgibson000 at comcast.net
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
> B-Greek mailing list
> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek

B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
B-Greek mailing list
B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org

How low will we go? Check out Yahoo! Messenger’s low  PC-to-Phone call rates.

More information about the B-Greek mailing list