John 1:1 reads:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1, ESV)
The greek reads as follows (as best I can tell; not sure if this is NA or UBS; copied from BibleHub):
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
I am just beginning a second attempt into learning Biblical Greek. I am fairly familiar with some words as a decent student of the Bible, but I am a layperson without seminary/professional training.
It occurs to me that a literal (word-by-word) translation of John 1:1 might be (note, this is only a word-by-word translation, not an attempt at a full translation of the sentence and/or meaning):
In beginning was the word, and the word was with the god, and god was the word.
So, why do we re-order the third clause to be "the Word was God" rather than "God was the Word"?
I ask this because I am aware of the Jehovah's Witness claim that this verse is more correctly translated:
In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
Leaving aside an odd word order choice in the first clause (as well as the multiple other texts where Jesus asserts His full deity), it seems to me that a more literal translation (preserving word order from the Greek) would render the verse:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word.
I see this as semantically having the same value as the ESV translation, but without the ambiguity that the Jehovah's Witness crowd would assert.
So, my questions are:
- Is there a reason that the original Greek is translated as it is by the ESV and so many others?
- Am I missing something, or are most translations simply trying to express a logical thought ("the Word existed in the beginning, with God, equal with God") in language that is natural for English speakers?