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The word μονή in John 14:2 has been translated in multiple ways:

My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (NIV)

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (NABRE)

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (KJV)

Which option best conveys the meaning of the Greek?

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The word is μοναὶ, plural of μονή. LSJ definition. The word is a noun formed from the verb μένω, to remain or abide somewhere. So a literal translation would be something like "many places in which to abide." The REB renders this as "many dwelling-places." Re the KJV, wiktionary lists the following obsolete/obscure definition for "mansion:"

(chiefly in the plural) An individual habitation or apartment within a large house or group of buildings. (Now chiefly in allusion to John 14:2.)

"Mansion" is derived from Latin manēre, which is the Latin version of μένω. So to a person with knowledge of Latin and Greek, working at a time when mansion still had this meaning, this would probably have seemed like the most natural thing to do: translate the word as the direct English cognate.

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    note that this is the current meaning of the word "manshon" borrowed from English into Japanese
    – James K
    Mar 18 at 21:46
  • 1
    I assume habitation had the same ambiguity, with the French meaning now essentially being a house and the Spanish equivalent habitación now being a room; presumably the earlier Latin could mean each.
    – Henry
    Mar 18 at 22:09
  • 1
    See also the (British, archaic) name 'mansion block' for posh (or formerly posh!) apartments built at the end of the 19th century.
    – avid
    Mar 19 at 11:07
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From here it says that the Archaic definition of the word "mansion" was "an abode or dwelling place". The definition of the English word "mansion" has simply changed over time. This verse is therefore more accurately translated to modern readers in the NABRE translation as "mansion" here does not mean "a large estate" as the word would tend to indicate in the KJV.

Also here is the etymology of the word "mansion".

The Greek word used here (μονή) only appears two times in the Bible and the other time it appears is few verses later in John 14:23 where it is translated by the KJV translators as "abode".

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The Greek text of John 14:2 according to the Textus Receptus (Stephanus, 1611) states:

ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ τοῦ πατρός μου μοναὶ πολλαί εἰσιν εἰ δὲ μή εἶπον ἂν ὑμῖν πορεύομαι ἑτοιμάσαι τόπον ὑμῖν

The word in question is μοναὶ (monai). It is the nominative plural declension of the feminine-gender, root noun μονή (monē). The noun μονή and its various declensions occur twice in the Greek text of the New Testament, both of which are translated into the Latin Vulgate by the Latin word mansiones, the plural, nominative/accusative declension of the root noun mansio. (I'm not sure why Jerome decided to translate John 14:23 into plural, since the Greek noun μονὴν is singular, but that seems to be the case.)

|  Verse      |  TR     |  Vulgate   |  English Translation (KJV)
|  John 14:2  |  μοναὶ  |  mansiones |  mansions
|  John 14:23 |  μονὴν  |  mansiones |  abode

Now as you might know by now, the English word "mansion" is etymologically derived from the Latin word mansio.

According to Merriam-Webster,

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin mansion-, mansio, from manēre to remain, dwell; akin to Greek menein to remain

Lewis and Short (p. 1109) define the Latin word mansio as,

I.a staying, remaining, stay, continuance.

I. Lit. (class.): “is saepe mecum de tua mansione, aut decessione communicat,” Cic. Fam. 4, 4, 5: “mansio Formiis,” id. Att. 9, 5, 1: “excessus e vita et in vita mansio,” id. Fin. 3, 18, 60: “cautior certe est mansio,” id. Att. 8, 15, 2: “diutinae Lemni,” Ter. Phorm. 5, 8, 23: crebrae ad amicam, i. e. visits, Turp. ap. Non. 132, 16.—

II. Transf. (post-Aug.), a place of abode, a dwelling, habitation.

A. In gen.: “pecorum mansio,” Plin. 18, 23, 53, § 194: “aestivae, hibernae, vernae, auctumnales,” Pall. 1, 9, 5; 1, 12: “mansionem apud eum faciemus,” Vulg. Joann. 14, 23: “multae mansiones,” id. ib. 14, 2.—

B. Esp.

  1. Night-quarters, lodging-place, inn; also, as a measure of days' journeys, a stopping or haltingplace, station: “deinde ad primam statim mansionem febrim nactus,” Suet. Tib. 10: “a quo (monte) octo mansionibus distat regio, etc.,” i. e. stations, days' journeys, Plin. 12, 14, 30, § 52: “aquationum ratione mansionibus dispositis,” id. 6, 23, 26, § 102: “continuatis mansionibus,” Just. 13, 8, 5.—

  2. Mala mansio, bad quarters, a kind of punishment in which the culprit was stretched out and tied fast to a board, Dig. 47, 10, 15; 16, 3, 7.

As you can see from their definition, there is nothing that suggests something like this:

enter image description here

In fact, according to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of the English word "mansion" is "dwelling, abode." However, that definition is noted as "archaic," as the word is no longer used in that manner. Yet, the word "mansion" did possess that meaning when the King James Version was produced in 17th century England.

However, we shouldn't even be focusing on the Latin word mansio as the New Testament was originally composed in Greek. There is nothing about the Greek word μονή that suggests a luxurious estate either. According to Thayer, it simply means a "dwelling" or "abode."

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The allusion is to the quarters/accommodations in the temple maintained for the priests:

http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/The%20Temple%20by%20Alfred%20Edersheim.pdf

(Do a search for "the chambers"):

...Above and beyond it were the apartments of the high-priest and the council-chamber of the ‘honourable councillors,’ or priestly council for affairs strictly connected with the Temple. On the northern side of the Priests’ Court were the gate Nitzutz (Spark Gate), with a guard-chamber above for the priests, the Gate of Sacrifices, and the Gate of the Beth-Moked. Alongside these gates were the chamber for salting the sacrifices; that for salting the skins (named Parvah from its builder), with bathrooms for the high-priest above it; and finally the Beth-Moked with its apartments...

This raises the question in my mind as to whether Jesus was only promising a prepared place for the disciples or for or believers. ISTM that the saints would have their own houses on their apportioned land rather than all living inside one building.

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I tend to think Jesus wasn't talking about "dwelling places" as we know them. Instead, He was describing our future "physical bodies", into which we will step sometime in the next life. These new bodies will be our "abodes" or "dwelling places", the temples of God, so to speak. There will be no need for roofs over our heads, to guard us from the elements or protect us from evil. There will be no "mansions" to evoke jealousy or comparison, pride or covetousness. Worldly wisdom and selfish ambition have devised these interpretations over time. Spiritual wisdom suggests otherwise.

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  • Please note that the upvoted answers are not opinions but rather information from credible sources.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 2 '20 at 21:55
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This portion is most profound and thrilling to me. Although I have the utmost respect for Tyndale, I am disappointed that he did not translate mone the same in vs. 2 and vs. 23. The Greek reader would have read the same word in both places and it is a disservice to the English reader to use different words unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

First, what is the Father's house? It is best to stray from the context as little as possible. Jn.2:16 indicates the Father's house is the temple, but John goes on to explain that Jesus was referring to His body (vs.21). Remembering that John's writings are dated 20-25 years after Paul finished his, it appears that Jesus is anticipating Paul's revelation concerning the Body of Christ. The Father's house is Jesus (comp. Col.2:9) and the many abodes are His followers. This is confirmed by the revelation of the branches in the vine being His disciples.

"If it were not so, I would have told you." Where else do we read such a statement? I believe Jesus is telling them that God's purpose is not about Him alone but rather they will be included in Him because He is going to make a place for them. Exodus 33:21,22 is helpful here: "...there is a place by Me, and you shall stand upon the rock, and it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock..." How meaningful is this! The cleft was produced by Christ's crucifixion(Who is the Rock 1 Cor. 10:4). Without His crucifixion there would be no place in God for us. It was through this great "surgical operation" that we were grafted into Him (to use the picture of the Vine and Gal. 2:20) and became the Father's many abodes (see vs. 23).

"I come again." This does not refer to what we call the Second Coming. Jn. 14:16-23 shows that "that day" refers to the day of His resurrection (see Jn. 20:22). His going was actually His coming (14:18). In resurrection He became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) to make this union with Him possible (2 Cor. 3:17; 1 Cor. 6:17) and produce the Body of Christ.

"Where I am, there you may be also." At the time this was spoken, they were already in the same room physically, but through resurrection they would be in Him! What an exciting portion!

Incidentally, I don't believe Judas heard any of this (Jn.13:21-30). These intimate words were only for those who loved Him.

One more thing. I think vs. 1 is transitional. The Greek word for "in" is usually translated "into" or "unto" or "for". If we use "in" it should be directed to Peter who was believing or trusting in himself (I will lay down my life for you). Jesus admonished him to believe or trust in God. If we use "into" it introduces the profound thoughts that follow. Whoever believes in God and Jesus actually believes "into" Him to become one of the many abodes.

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    I looked at your post and realized it was one big paragraph and decided to pass. If you want it to be read, please apply some formatting. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 2 '20 at 21:53
  • i'll read it without or with formatting
    – Walter S
    Mar 3 '20 at 17:06
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If the NSA gets this I may incur their wrath.

In my observations of our new neighbors, especially those in Christian regalia, it occurred to me that they a wide spectrum of people's and when the road builder calibrated their construct, they used a crude map covering the sky, there were over staggering hundred stops. Clearly, the King of the Angels was trying to prepare, first His disciples and later the whole world for this incredible possibility. The translation should therefore stand as beautiful homes.

At this point, you are probably praying I seek medical attention. I trained the USAF to ferret out Soviet bombers during the bomber gap days, the mid-'70s. Will I share, no, for faith is caught not taught.

For the blessed, 1000 years celebration of God's day of rest and for all, a New Heaven and a New Earth.

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    Jul 26 at 17:53

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