3

English versions of the New Testament seem to take considerable latitude in translation of the Greek prepositions, “en” and “dia” and at times they seem to be used interchangeably. Specific choice of English word used to translate can introduce some subtle differences in the apparent emphasis of the text.

As examples consider Col 1:16, 1 Cor 8:6 and Heb 1:2. In Col 1:16 the initial, “en” is variously translated, “in”, “by” or “through” and, in fact, the Jewish New Testament by Stern, renders it, “in connection with”. With respect to “dia” in the last line of the same verse, we generally have either, “by” or “through” as the translation.

Is there any legitimate reason why “en” here could not be translated,”because of” and/or “dia” in the last sentence, be translated, “by reason of”? If so, then the emphasis of this verse would appear to be on Christ as the reason for creation rather than the instrument of creation. By the same token, could the last sentence of 1 Cor 8:6 be legitimately translated, “...one Lord Jesus Christ, because of whom are all things...”? If so, this would, as before, stress Christ as the reason for creation.

Finally, Heb 1:2, could the last line of this verse be legitimately translated, “...because of whom He made the ages...”? If so, the emphasis would again appear to be on Christ as the reason for making the ages. This would also seem to fit better with the concept of Christ being the, “heir”.

4
  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your question. Please remember to take the tour below. You will need to make this question more specific because you comment on so many things and texts.
    – Dottard
    Jul 7 '20 at 0:21
  • 2
    General comment, any good Greek lexicon will show the large variety of uses these Greek prepositions have. Please do not base a doctrine on the subtlety of meaning (which is often less specific that some would prefer) of a Greek preposition.
    – Dottard
    Jul 7 '20 at 0:22
  • Dia means through, throughout, by reason of, or because, depending on whether it is in the genitive or accusative case. En can mean in, by, or through depending on its case. Like Dottard suggested, you would do well to consult Thayer or Strong's to see all the uses of these prepositions in their various cases.
    – oldhermit
    Jul 7 '20 at 0:37
  • 1
    Up-voted as a good first attempt. However, I think you should take some time to consider each text, one at a time, one place per question. We cannot sort all this out in one question and one answer. I recommend Daniel B Wallace's book 'Beyond the Basics' in which there is an extensive treatment of each Greek preposition in turn.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 7 '20 at 4:41
1

"Dia" means "through" when used with a genitive noun and "because of" or "on account of" when used with an accusative noun.

In Colossians 1:16, it is used with a genitive noun which is why it's translated as "through" instead of "because of"

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through (dia) Him (autou) and for Him. (NKJV)

"Autou" is the genitive form (note the "u" ending) while "auton" would have been the accusative form (note the "n" ending).

The same is true of 1 Corinthians 8:6

yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through (dia) whom (hou) are all things, and through (dia) whom (autou) we live. (NKJV)

hou is the genitive form of "hos" meaning "who."

The same is once again true of Hebrews 1:2

has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through (dia) whom (ou) also He made the worlds (NKJV)

Once again, "dia" is used with a genitive "ou."

2
  • Thanks, Elliot. Is it always as straight forward as this or are there instances where the translator has to make a judgment?
    – Nelly
    Jul 24 '20 at 7:32
  • @Nelly Yes and no. As in any language, there's definitely a lot of overlap between/among/in/with Greek prepositions. And no preposition in one language will have an exact translation in another language with all its subtleties and nuances. So, you can't really be too dogmatic about the implications of one prepositions over another. But in my limited experience, I would say that probably most of the time, it's either as straight forward as this or else it doesn't matter too much which definition you use (e.g. Col 1:16 "In Him" vs "through Him" vs "by Him") Jul 24 '20 at 11:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.