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The English verb "bow" as written in most English translations of John 19:30 would be defined as "to bend or curve downward."

Here is an image of someone "bowing the head":

Man bon right bowing his head

As you can see, the man on the right has his head "bowed" or bent forward. Based on the English translation of John 19:30, we'd assume that Jesus' head looked something like this upon his death on the cross:

Jesus' head bowed on the cross

The Greek text of John 19:30 according to the Textus Receptus (Stephanus, 1611) states,

ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Τετέλεσται καὶ κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα

(There do not seem to be any variants between Textus Receptus and NA28.)

Is there any lexical support, whether biblical or extra-biblical (e.g., classical Attic or Koine Greek literature) for the translation of the Greek phrase κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν as "bowed the head"?

How is the verb κλίνω used elsewhere in the LXX and Greek NT, and is it ever used in the sense of "bowing" or bending forward?

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I like this question (+1), but I wonder if it would be of more general interest if you could tell us what makes you question the translation. You clearly already know at least part of the answer, which is fine, but I would advocate for going ahead and telling us what you do know and encouraging answers to build on that. Just my thoughts - it's a good question. –  Susan Nov 1 at 12:17

1 Answer 1

Just looking at the multiple greek lexicons at Perseus http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=kli%5Eqei%2Fs&la=greek&can=kli%5Eqei%2Fs0&prior=kli/nw#lexicon The Middle Liddel gives (and the LSJ and Autenrieth concur, only the Slater gives a more limited definition) to make to bend, slope, or slant, to incline or turn as such bow is within the range of translation and given the context most appropriate, as it is kind of hard for a dying man to lay his head other than in a bow on the cross. Also note that none of the parallel translations at biblehub.com chooses a different verb. Also the Lithuanian for to bend, incline, "palinkti" also means bow. http://www.lietuviu-anglu.com/palinkti/

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