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Is translating οὕτως (the adverbial form of the word meaning "this") in John 3:16 as "so much" valid, or is this based on a misreading of the KJV? In the KJV, it is translated "so," ""For God so loved the world." Note the translations: "This is how much God loved the world" The Message and "For God loved the world so much" GNB. Most English translations, including the NASB leave the translation the same as the KJV.

However, HCSB translates "“For God loved the world in this way." The old Spanish version RVA, as well as the Spanish NASB equivalent LBLA, translate "Porque de tal manera amó Dios al mundo." Google Translate translates "de tal manera" as "in such a way," which is a valid translation.

Looking at some ancient translations: The Latin Vulgate translates οὕτως in John 3:16 with "sic" having the lexical definition "thus, so; as follows; in another way; in such a way." The Peshitta translates οὕτως in John 3:16 with hkn meaning "thus" and similar to Hebrew כֵן having the lexical definition "thus, in the same manner; as so; then, afterwards, thereafter."

Are people misunderstanding how "so" was used at the time the KJV was translated? Should we understand οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον to mean "For in this way God loved the world?" Is there an instance where οὕτως clearly means "so much?"

Below are graphs from the Bible World Study Guide in Logos Bible Software 7 showing the frequency of how KJV and HCSB translate οὕτως.

How KJV translates οὕτως, size based on frequency: enter image description here

How HCSB translates οὕτως, size based on frequeny: enter image description here

  • Appreciating the enormity of the giving, by God, of His only begotten Son, is the way to appreciate the meaning of 'so' in this verse. You seem - to me - to have left the actual verse behind, in favour of overdone translation examinations and pie charts. The idiom 'can't see the wood for the trees' springs to mind. – Nigel J Jun 29 '18 at 3:34
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As far as grammar is concerned, "so much" would only be valid where οὕτως is directly associated with an adjective about size such as Rev 16:18. Otherwise it should be translated as "in this manner", "thus", "so", etc. When coupled with a correlative like "gar" (="for" in English as per John 3:16) it become strengthened and so might be rendered, "For thus God loved the world that..." as it is tied to the previous verse(s).

οὕτω(ς) an adverb from the near demonstrative οὗτος (this); in this manner, in this way, thus, so; (1) with reference to what preceded; (a) in combination with a correlative to produce a comparison (just) as … so (LU 11.30); (b) used absolutely to intensify what preceded thus, so, in this way (MT 11.26); (2) to refer to and introducing what follows as follows, in this way (MT 6.9); (3) before an adjective or adverb to denote degree of intensity so (RV 16.18)

Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Vol. 4, p. 289). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

  • See Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Friberg, Friberg and Miller published by Trafford Publishing – Mac's Musings Jun 29 '18 at 9:11
  • Wow! I missed that. You explained it better than the brief phrase in the Analytical Lexicon, which takes some thought to apply. – Perry Webb Jun 29 '18 at 14:21
  • This matches the early translations (Vulgate and Peshitta) well. – Perry Webb Jun 29 '18 at 21:00
  • So would we be looking at usage 1a? – Ruminator Jun 29 '18 at 21:50
  • Assume that by "usage 1a" you mean from the ANLEX above, in my opinion it means a combination of both 1a and 1b – Mac's Musings Jul 1 '18 at 4:19

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