[B-Greek] The use of πρός in John

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 1 17:04:13 EDT 2011

I don't think there is much question that the use of πρός PROS in John 
indicates the entry into the presence of another or the address of speech to 
another.  I didn't check absolutely every instance in John (102 of them), but 
the many I did check give this indication.


… search for truth, hear truth, 
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, 
defend the truth till death.

- Jan Hus

From: Joe Theranger <theranger1 at comcast.net>
To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Wed, June 1, 2011 10:49:08 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] The use of πρός in John

I have a question about the opening sentence in John's gospel.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν

I was wondering why the word πρός. There seem to be a number of prepositions in 
Greek that seem to all mean "with" but, based on what I have seen, they each 
seem to have a different connotation and I would like to ping this group to see 
if they can add some light.

σύν                  This word for with seems to have the basic meaning of “same 
as”.  While there is much debate on this issue, there is at least one notion 
that Indo-European languages had two words for the concept of “one”.  There is 
the word “one” meaning unique.  It is seen in the word unique itself since the 
Latin number one (unus,a,um) is the root of the word unique.  There is also a 
root that is something like “sem” which basically means “one and the same”.  It 
can be seen in the Latin words semel and simul.  It can also be seen in the 
Greek word for one εἳς, μία,ἓν which used to be σέμς, σ*μία, σέμ.  In other 
words, the Greek number one seems to derive from the same root as semel and 
simul in Latin.  The idea is that σύν is related to this root and means “with” 
in the sense of “the same as”.

μετά                The idea is that this word, as is the case with παρά and 
πρός (see below) means “with” in the sense of location.  The suggestion is that 
the basic IE root of this word is the same as the “med” as seen in the Latin 
medius.  If that is true this word means “with” in the sense of “in the middle 
of” or “together with a bunch of others”

παρά              This word seems to mean “with” in the sense of “along side 

πρός                The information I found on this seems to indicate that the 
location meaning in this word is “in front of and facing away from”, the root 
being προ-.

I was wondering why John chose πρός as the word describing the relationship 
between the Father and the Son.  I can speculate that John is trying to show 
Jesus and the Logos in sort of a Greek way, the Logos projecting forth, 
continuously being generated by the Father from before all time and creation.  I 
think Philo, the Alexandrian Jew, whose view of the Logos was almost Christian, 
might agree with this. I checked the Latin translation of John’s gospel and 
found that it had an equally hard to figure out word, apud.  I have been unable 
to find a root word for the Latin preposition apud.  The closest I could come 
was ap- which means away from (Greek áπό)  and that seems to make little sense 
in this context.

Does anyone have any insight on why John chose the word πρός to describe the 
relationship between the Father and the Son?  Is “with” the best translation of 
the word?

BTW, the source for the speculation of the root meanings of σύν, μετά, παρά and 
πρός can be found in New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin by Andrew L. 


Joe Theranger

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