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Thread: John 9:3

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    John 9:3

    I'm preparing a month long study for a class. I have a question about this verse. One of the authors of my resource material contends that the original Greek reads differently. He asserts that Jesus does not say ..."he was born blind so that the works of God might be revealed in him." that the translators insert that for clarification. He contends the passage if translated literally would be more akin to"...let the works of God be revealed in him." Can anyone here confirm or deny his assertion? I greatly respect this author, but I just do not have the ability to confirm or deny.

    thanks!
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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    I don't know what translation you're using. I find The Blue Letter Bible a useful interlinear source (search for the verse, select "Interlinear" under tools), and Bible Gateway is useful for looking at passages in parallel in a multitude of translations.
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    Can we bring John Reece out of retirement for one thread?
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    Professor and Chaplain Littlejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    I don't know what translation you're using. I find The Blue Letter Bible a useful interlinear source (search for the verse, select "Interlinear" under tools), and Bible Gateway is useful for looking at passages in parallel in a multitude of translations.
    I have the Blue Letter Bible App on my phone...it doesn't seem clear there...and it always uses Strong's. Jaltus has always contended that if it was Strong's it was probably wrong....
    "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

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    tWebber
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    The Greek is literally,
    “Rabbi, who sinned, this one or his parents, so that he was born blind?”
    Jesus answered, “Neither this one sinned, nor his parents, but so that the works of God might be revealed in him.”
    So the phrase, “he was born blind so that...” was added for clarification, but it gets the most probable gist.

    The hina clause (“so that”) is not a complete thought; something needs to be added to supply what it is that this clause provides a purpose for.
    A bare hina clause (if you put a period between ‘parents’ and ‘but’), could, in some circumstances have the connotation, “Let the works of God be revealed in him.” When such a clause is all by itself, there can be an unspoken thought like, “My prayer (or my desire, or my intention) is (so) that the works of God...” and that turns it into a mild jussive, “Let it be so.”

    But in this case, it comes out as being so clearly parallel to the question, “What happened, so that he was born blind?” that the most natural way to read it is that he’s telling the questioner, “It’s not a result, but a purpose.” The question is not, “What happened with the result that he was born blind,” but “He was born blind for what purpose? So that the works of God might be revealed.”

    That author isn’t wrong that hina can be used that way. If you put a period after parents, it could be an elision similar to Matthew 9:6: “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
    So here, “Neither sinned. But so that the works of God might be revealed in him...” Only he doesn’t go on and immediately heal the man. This has the same weakness as “Let the works of God be revealed in him,” in that there is no immediate follow through. He talks some more about a tangent, and then he sends the man off to wash his eyes. The people present do not see God’s power revealed, at least not now, and that leaves the whole statement just kind of hanging there pointlessly.

    The traditional interpretation is both perfectly valid for the Greek construction, and it fits the context better.

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    tWebber Rushing Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Littlejoe View Post
    I'm preparing a month long study for a class. I have a question about this verse. One of the authors of my resource material contends that the original Greek reads differently. He asserts that Jesus does not say ..."he was born blind so that the works of God might be revealed in him." that the translators insert that for clarification. He contends the passage if translated literally would be more akin to"...let the works of God be revealed in him." Can anyone here confirm or deny his assertion? I greatly respect this author, but I just do not have the ability to confirm or deny.thanks!
    ...αλλ’ ´ινα φανερωθη τα εργα του Θεου εν´ αυτω does mean “so that the works of God may/might be manifested in/by him”. ´ινα denotes purpose: “A is B, ´ινα C might be D.” *Hina* is purposive, so it is much more than a mere permissive conditional adverb. It here expresses God’s purpose, for which, see Isaiah 6 in particular; and in the NT, the promise of restoration in Isaiah 6 & similar passages begins to be fulfilled. The outlook in the quoted words is purposive, and eschatological, and apocalyptic.

    This agrees with the theology of the Gospel & Revelation: bad stuff can happen, but God is in total control of all events, and has a purpose to work through events; even through the bad stuff. Whether it takes the form of being born blind, of opposing Christ, of being betrayed and crucified, or of being persecuted to death for Christ. And God’s total control of bad stuff is an aspect of His rule as King. The Gospels, and Revelation, are full of the doctrine that God is King, and that Jesus is King on behalf of God.

    Because God is the Righteous/Legitimate/Rightful King, the power of satan “the prince of this world”, is unrighteous/illegitimate/wrongful, and Jesus has been sent to cast him out, and to assert the Kingship of God instead, by bringing in the Kingdom in His own Life, Person and Acts. So Jesus, Whose Kingdom/Reign/Kingship “is not of this world”, makes the Kingship of God present by doing “mighty deeds” that make it present, and (for those with eyes to see it) to manifest its presence. And healing the man born blind, is one of those mighty deeds that is a sign of the presence of the Kingship of God.

    So there is a lot going on in the theology of that verse. The theology of the NT is as valuable and important a guide to the meaning of the NT text as the purely linguistic features of it are.
    Last edited by Rushing Jaws; 06-05-2018 at 05:19 PM.

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    Professor and Chaplain Littlejoe's Avatar
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    First of all...Thanks for you detailed analysis! Some follow up...if you will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Just Passing Through View Post
    The Greek is literally,
    “Rabbi, who sinned, this one or his parents, so that he was born blind?”
    Jesus answered, “Neither this one sinned, nor his parents, but so that the works of God might be revealed in him.”
    So the phrase, “he was born blind so that...” was added for clarification, but it gets the most probable gist.

    The hina clause (“so that”) is not a complete thought; something needs to be added to supply what it is that this clause provides a purpose for.
    A bare hina clause (if you put a period between ‘parents’ and ‘but’), could, in some circumstances have the connotation, “Let the works of God be revealed in him.” When such a clause is all by itself, there can be an unspoken thought like, “My prayer (or my desire, or my intention) is (so) that the works of God...” and that turns it into a mild jussive, “Let it be so.”
    Is it the case that this verse has hina with a subjunctive verb? And is it true that when hina with a subjunctive verb communicates purpose it is called a purpose clause, but when the same form expresses a command it is called a command clause. And, it is up to the reader to determine from the context whether purpose or a command is meant. If so, could this also be a command to "Let God's works be revealed in him"? We see these two examples in Matt 19:13 (purpose) vs Mark 5:23 (command)

    But in this case, it comes out as being so clearly parallel to the question, “What happened, so that he was born blind?” that the most natural way to read it is that he’s telling the questioner, “It’s not a result, but a purpose.” The question is not, “What happened with the result that he was born blind,” but “He was born blind for what purpose? So that the works of God might be revealed.”
    But this is only true if you assume the view that God makes people ill or deformed just to be kind and heal them later...That doesn't seem to fit with the Mission of Christ. (Acts 10:38 and 1 John 3:8.) Isn't it more likely from the context that Jesus was attributing the blindness to the works of the Devil and commanding he be healed to demonstrate his authority over sickness and works of the enemy?

    That author isn’t wrong that hina can be used that way. If you put a period after parents, it could be an elision similar to Matthew 9:6: “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
    So here, “Neither sinned. But so that the works of God might be revealed in him...” Only he doesn’t go on and immediately heal the man. This has the same weakness as “Let the works of God be revealed in him,” in that there is no immediate follow through. He talks some more about a tangent, and then he sends the man off to wash his eyes. The people present do not see God’s power revealed, at least not now, and that leaves the whole statement just kind of hanging there pointlessly.

    The traditional interpretation is both perfectly valid for the Greek construction, and it fits the context better.
    But to your point, he explains WHY he's going to heal him. He continues to talk about the works of the Father...telling them that they need to do the works of the Father while it's still day. Is the context not conducive to a command?
    "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

    "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

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    Professor and Chaplain Littlejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rushing Jaws View Post
    ...αλλ’ ´ινα φανερωθη τα εργα του Θεου εν´ αυτω does mean “so that the works of God may/might be manifested in/by him”. ´ινα denotes purpose: “A is B, ´ινα C might be D.” *Hina* is purposive, so it is much more than a mere permissive conditional adverb. It here expresses God’s purpose, for which, see Isaiah 6 in particular; and in the NT, the promise of restoration in Isaiah 6 & similar passages begins to be fulfilled. The outlook in the quoted words is purposive, and eschatological, and apocalyptic.

    This agrees with the theology of the Gospel & Revelation: bad stuff can happen, but God is in total control of all events, and has a purpose to work through events; even through the bad stuff. Whether it takes the form of being born blind, of opposing Christ, of being betrayed and crucified, or of being persecuted to death for Christ. And God’s total control of bad stuff is an aspect of His rule as King. The Gospels, and Revelation, are full of the doctrine that God is King, and that Jesus is King on behalf of God.

    Because God is the Righteous/Legitimate/Rightful King, the power of satan “the prince of this world”, is unrighteous/illegitimate/wrongful, and Jesus has been sent to cast him out, and to assert the Kingship of God instead, by bringing in the Kingdom in His own Life, Person and Acts. So Jesus, Whose Kingdom/Reign/Kingship “is not of this world”, makes the Kingship of God present by doing “mighty deeds” that make it present, and (for those with eyes to see it) to manifest its presence. And healing the man born blind, is one of those mighty deeds that is a sign of the presence of the Kingship of God.

    So there is a lot going on in the theology of that verse. The theology of the NT is as valuable and important a guide to the meaning of the NT text as the purely linguistic features of it are.
    Thanks! see my post above. Is it true that the hina + subjunctive can be purpose or command?
    "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

    "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

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    tWebber Rushing Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Littlejoe View Post
    Thanks! see my post above. Is it true that the hina + subjunctive can be purpose or command?
    The jury seems to be out on that one: http://www.academia.edu/749524/The_u...Gospel_of_John

    I admit that the possibility of *hina*’s being used imperatively is not a suggestion I had come across. The theology of the passage would accommodate either or both possibilities, if the grammar does. It would not surprise me if the grammar contains, or allows for, more meaning in the Greek than can be translated into readable English

    [Edit]
    Maximilian Zerwick (S. J.), Biblical Greek illustrated by Examples (Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1990), section 294 AKA 415, quotes Eph.5.33 and other places in NT as showing *hina* can be used imperatively.
    Last edited by Rushing Jaws; 06-05-2018 at 06:20 PM.

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    tWebber
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    Is it the case that this verse has hina with a subjunctive verb? And is it true that when hina with a subjunctive verb communicates purpose it is called a purpose clause, but when the same form expresses a command it is called a command clause. And, it is up to the reader to determine from the context whether purpose or a command is meant. If so, could this also be a command to "Let God's works be revealed in him"? We see these two examples in Matt 19:13 (purpose) vs Mark 5:23 (command)
    I’d say, yes, it’s true, although a command clause is somewhat uncommon, and it requires the additional condition that it is by itself, as in a separate sentence. It would not be the normal interpretation when it is a subordinate clause as it is here. I would actually read Mark 5:23 not as a command clause, but as a mixed direct/indirect discourse. In other words, even though it’s in the second person, “you,” it reads more naturally as indirect discourse, so, roughly, I’d translate, “She pleaded with him, “My daughter is dying,” so that he/you would lay hands on her, so that she would be healed.”
    If it’s a command, who is Jesus commanding? “Let the works of God be revealed in him.” That would happen by Jesus healing him, but only Jesus himself could do that.

    But this is only true if you assume the view that God makes people ill or deformed just to be kind and heal them later...That doesn't seem to fit with the Mission of Christ. (Acts 10:38 and 1 John 3:8.) Isn't it more likely from the context that Jesus was attributing the blindness to the works of the Devil and commanding he be healed to demonstrate his authority over sickness and works of the enemy?
    I’m not saying God made him deformed for that purpose, but that his infirmity was destined to serve that purpose from the very beginning. All infirmity is the result of sin, but not all infirmity is a direct consequence of a specific sin (as the Jews assumed here). Likewise, all that happens, including infirmity, is under God’s sovereign control and serves God’s purposes, even when the direct cause is someone or something else. Whether his parents sinned and caused his blindness or a genetic defect caused his blindness or anything else caused his blindness, the circumstances were never outside of God’s ability to use them to achieve his purposes; here the eventual purpose of revealing God’s power in Jesus. Even if he is just saying that God allowed it to happen so that the works of God might be revealed in him, or even that the Devil did it, but God foresaw and intended that good would come out of this suffering, it still stands primarily as something defined by purpose, instead of something that just happened.

    Of course there's no punctuation in the original, that was all added later...right?
    correct
    But to your point, he explains WHY he's going to heal him. He continues to talk about the works of the Father...telling them that they need to do the works of the Father while it's still day. Is the context not conducive to a command?
    I’m not utterly opposed to interpreting it as a command, but in my personal opinion that seems a more awkward and unlikely construction. I take the following verse both as explaining why he’s going to do what he will do for the man, but also a bit of a reprimand of the Jews. “Instead of looking for blame, look for purpose.” Even though Jesus was the only one who could heal the man, there were plenty of good things they could have done for this blind man, but they didn’t. They didn’t bring him to Jesus out of concern for his troubles, just as a conversation piece. But the verse in question, “Let the works of God be revealed in him,” don’t do a very good job either of chiding them for what they haven’t done or encouraging them to do the loving thing now. It’s very passive.

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