[B-Greek] En and Eis

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Thu Nov 2 02:38:58 EST 2006

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Anthony Buzzard" <anthonybuzzard at mindspring.com>

>I am new to the list, but the post quoting Clement and the use of en
> (one) rather than eis for God is intriguing.
> The point I want to confirm is that the translation of Mark 12:29
> "The Lord our God is one Lord" is the natural a correct translation
> of KURIOS EMON KURIOS EIS ESTIN. Standard authorities seem to agree
> (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, for example)
> that this is the proper way to render the Greek.
> Anyone like to comment on that translation "The Lord our God is one Lord."
> It seems to me that this is better than "Lord our God, the Lord is one."
> Anthony Buzzard

No, I don't think this is the correct translation, and it is certainly not the standard if you look 
at English versions. Since there are two types of translations nowadays, the literal (form-focused) 
ones and the communicative (meaning-focused) ones, you consequently have two more or less standard 

1. RSV: The Lord our God, the Lord is one
2. TEV: The Lord our God is the only Lord

I don't think any of them are quite correct, because KURIOS here is used for YHWH, this being a 
quote from Deut 6:4. I would prefer to take this as two short sentences. The first says "YHWH is our 
god" and is a statement by devout Hebrews that they do not worship the gods of other nations, but 
they have their own god, YHWH.
The second sentence says "YHWH is one (person)".
A word like hEIS is grammatically an adjective that is often used substantively. If used in the 
masculine, the idea is "one (person)". If used in the neuter, the idea is "one (thing)". That is why 
I would have to agree with Yancy against George about "one thing" rather than "one God" for the 
Clement quote.

It really makes no sense to use hEIS as an attributive to YHWH and say "YHWH our God is one YHWH".

The reason that TEV does not retain "YHWH is one" is that this does not communicate the intended 
meaning in English. The intended meaning of the original of both Deut 6:4 and Mark 12:29 is IMO two 
important statements of creed:

1. YHWH is our god/God
2. YHWH is the only god/God we have

The first statement identifies one important contrast to surrounding nations, namely that YHWH and 
neither Baal nor other gods is the God of the Hebrew nation.
The second statement identifies another important contrast to the surrounding nations, namely that 
YHWH is not only their god, but also their one and only god.

Iver Larsen 

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