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Q&A #140 - Joh 14:6 - the original text
by Robert Nguyen Cramer
This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
I was wondering if you would be able to give me the exact translation into Aramaic of: "the way, the truth, and the life." I hope that you will be able to lead me in the right direction of finding this quote exactly, as apposed to the full quote from John 14:6.
Thank you for your consideration, as this is important to me.
Thanks for your email. The original text of John 14:6 was written in Greek rather than in Aramaic. As I noted at http://www.bibletexts.com/versecom/joh21v15.htm:
Though all of the books of the New Testament, including the Gospel of John, were first written in Greek, Jesus primarily spoke in Aramaic, a colloquial Semitic language related to Hebrew and entirely different from Greek. (Having come from Nazareth, Jesus also certainly did know and speak Greek, as appears to be the case from the account of his conversation with the Syrophenician woman in Mar 7:26 and other accounts, including possibly Joh 12:20.) With only a few exceptions, all of Jesus' authentic dialogue in the Greek New Testament are translations from Aramaic to Greek... Though John was written in colloquial Koine Greek, it was written with very careful symbolic use of Greek words to articulate Jesus message, if not his actual words. (In terms of the artistry of its symbolism in the Greek language, the Gospel of John is unique in the New Testament. Even Revelation, which is full of outward symbolism, does not weave the symbolism into the use of the Greek language nearly to the extent that the Gospel of John does.)
There is much that is very special about the Fourth Gospel. Comparing the Fourth Gospel with the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the Fourth Gospel might be described as being more like a painting of Jesus' life; whereas, the synoptic gospels might be described as being more like snap-shot photographs. The synoptic gospels may have some of the dialogue and many of the "sayings" more literally correct and from earlier recorded sources; however, the author/s of the Fourth Gospel with his/her/their artistry, Greek-language symbolism, and spiritual insight seems to present the authentic texture and essence of Jesus' message. This may be due to the writing of the Gospel of John representing a source with more intimate familiarity with the life and ministry and thinking of Christ Jesus.
Below is the Greek text of Joh 14:6.
Legei (said) auto (to him) ho Iesous (Jesus) ego (I) eimi (am) he hodos (the way) kai (and) he aletheia (the truth) kai (and) he zoe (the life) oudeis (none) erchetai (comes) pros (to) ton patera (the father) ei (if) me (not) di (through) emou (me).
Below is the English Standard Version's (ESV) accurate translation of the verse. I have added the Strong's numbers for most of the words. (A book review of the ESV is at http://www.bibletexts.com/reviews/bibles/esv.htm.)
Jesus <2424> said <3004> to him, "I am <1510> the way <3598>, and the truth <225>, and the life <2222>. No <3762> one <3762> comes <2064> to the Father <3962> except through <1223> me.
For more information on this verse, see http://www.bibletexts.com/verses/v-joh.htm#14.
Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer