Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Thu Jun 8 06:36:35 EDT 2006

On Jun 8, 2006, at 6:35 AM, Iver Larsen wrote:

>> I am working on a Portuguese New Testament translation and looked  
>> for a long
>> time for the ideal word for PARAKLHTOS. We have the transliteration
>> "paracleto" in Portuguese.  I could use a footnote and explain the  
>> term, but
>> preferred to use the word "mentor". I seems to covers all  
>> possibilities for
>> PARAKLHTOS. A mentor encourages, counsels, instructs, guides,  
>> defends, etc.
> I have been working on a modern, communicative translation into  
> Danish. We have the same problem. It is not easy to find
> a good word for PARAKLHTOS.
> The traditional Danish translation is "talsmand" which means  
> "spokesman". But in the language of today it is used
> narrowly for political spokesmen or a spokesman for a group or  
> workers in relation to the management. So we rejected it.
> We ended up with "advisor" which is very similar to mentor. I  
> didn't think about using "mentor", but it may be
> possible. The main problem I have is that it implies someone who  
> has been doing a particular job for a long time, has
> lots of experience and is now "handing over" to those he mentors.  
> For those reasons, I prefer the more general
> "advisor". My daughter has an MA supervisor, but in Danish he is  
> not called a supervisor, but an advisor (vejleder). An
> advisor (in Danish at least) is expected to encourage, instruct,  
> guide, counsel and even defend.
> I am not sure whether the best word in English or Portuguese is  
> "advisor", but it seems to work fairly well in Danish.
> (We put a footnote giving alternative renderings.) In the case of 1  
> John 2:1, we are using a word that talks about
> intercession rather than advisor, which is used in the four  
> instances in John's Gospel.

I must say that I feel some of the same mixed feelings about "mentor"  
as a proposed equivalent to the GNT word PARAKLHTOS; there's  
something very attractive in the conception of the "experienced and  
trusted advisor." The etymology of the word is itself interesting, as  
it unquestionably derives from the Homeric figure of Athena incarnate  
in an elderly guardian/tutor figure in the early books of the  
Odyssey, the spiritual catalyst of the maturation-process of  
Telemachus as he grows into a true son of Odysseus. That seems pretty  
close to the characterization of the PARAKLHTOS in the few texts in  
the Johannine Farewell discourses that enunciate his/its nature and  
functions. It occurs to me that a similar conception attaches to the  
Greek word PAIDAGWGOS, which Paul in Gal 3:24 uses metaphorically of  
the Torah/NOMOS -- PAIDAGWGOS EIS CRISTON. In 1 Cor 4:15 he uses  
PAIDAGWGOS EN CRISTWi in the sense of "spiritual mentor."

Clearly the problem of translation of PARAKLHTOS is closely bound up  
with the sense, precise or not so precise, that one assigns to the  
word. It seems to me that the word is employed to be suggestive  
rather than precise, and the word first appears in John 14:16 with  
the epithet ALLOS, indicating that Jesus himself has been a  
"paraklete" and that the one to be sent is a sort of "stand-in" for  
Jesus in his absence.

One is (or should I say; I am) inclined to think that the evangelist  
was not unaware that this word was destined to make heads shake.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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