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 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν,* καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. (John 1:14, NA28)

Usually commentators point out that σκηνόω has the idea of dwelling in a tent, and σκηνη is used in the New Testament and LXX for the tabernacle. However, σκηνόω is very similar to the Hebrew word שָׁכַן, (šakan, imperfect waw consecutive וַיִּשְׁכֹּ֤ן, wayiškon) which also means dwell and is also used for Mount Sinai.

The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. (Exodus 24:16, ESV)

The context seems to fit John making a parallel to Mount Sinai.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17, ESV)

Here's a chart of the roots of the word in the LXX translating שָׁכַן. Note: most of these roots had the preposition κατα prefixed. The root of ἐσκήνωσεν is predominant.

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Translations with other than dwell.

The Word  became flesh  
and took up residence  among us. (HCSV)

The Word became a human being and, ..., lived among us. (GNB)

So the Word became human and made his home among us. (LT)

The Word became a human and lived among us. (NCV)

             The Word became flesh and blood,
               and moved into the neighborhood. (Message))

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; (Amp.)

The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. (ISV)

And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us (YLT)

Many more had "lived."

הַדָּבָר נִהְיָה בָּשָׂר וְשָׁכַן בְּתוֹכֵנוּ; -- ha-Berit ha-ḥadashah. (2000). (John 1:14). Israel: The Bible Society in Israel.

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The verb σκηνόω is literally "I encamp", but idiomatically, "I dwell" or "I live among", etc.

This John 1:14 is correctly translated by most versions as "made his dwelling among us".

In my opinion, the primary precedent is to make a complete contrast with one text and a continuation of another text.

Contrast Precedent:

Dan 2:11 - What the king requests is so difficult that no one can tell it to him except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals.”

Continuation Precedent:

Ex 24:16 - The glory of the LORD dwelt/settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Ex 25:8 - "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.

Ex 29:45 - Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.

Eze 43:9 - Now let them put away from me their prostitution and the funeral offerings for their kings, and I will live among them forever.

Lev 26:12 - I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.

[There are many OT verse discussing God being among the people.]

Thus, John pointedly contrasts the false gods of Babylon (and others) with the true God of Israel who, via both the shekinah-glory and Jesus' incarnation, lived among us. On this topic, we may also quote 1 Cor 14:25 -

as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"

2 Cor 6:16 - As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

(This verse quotes Lev 26:12; Jer 32:38; Eze 37:27.)

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  • Before you answer I also viewed encamped as the best translation. – Perry Webb Apr 11 at 11:31
  • Sorry, I edited the wrong place. – Perry Webb Apr 12 at 23:47
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G4637 Seems quite simply to translate to living among us.

Not surprised we’re not addressing the obvious translation error in this passage.

Logos (G3056) Greek for an idea, word or speech.

dabar (H1697) the Hebrew equivalent is also translates to word, matter, promise or thing. Please note a person is not a thing! In 1,439 translations of dabar it is never used to represent a person.

A more appropriate translation would be God's spoken promise (or plan of salvation) was realized (or fulfilled) with the birth of The Lamb.

Assuming God came to earth as a man ignores God’s divine nature of immortality, that is he cannot die. This assumption also makes God out to be a liar when he stated:

Numbers 23:19 I am not a man that I would sin nor the son of man that I would repent.

Hosea 11:9 I will not destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not a man

Seems you may have greater issues to explain than understanding the verb G4637 dwell!

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You are correct in noting the relationship to שכן. ἐσκήνωσεν does come from a semitic loan word.

You might look at the feminine face of God in Rabbinic discourse, the shekinah. That name also derives from the word שכן. In the Jewish Torah commentary, the Zohar, this is also associated with the linguistic principle and the equivalent of the alpha and omega. In Hebrew, this is the aleph and tav which make the word את, the most common lexeme in the biblical text. This is the sense of the indwelling aspect of God, pitching God's tent among us.

In the Zohar, את is the "Word" (as in the Logos), and there is evidence that this received tradition was projected back before the time of Jesus. I believe that John received the mythological construct of the indwelling shekinah and represented the person of Jesus Christ as the union of the indwelling feminine and the transcendent father. So the idea of "the word became flesh and pitched its tent among us" (John 1:14), seems to be right in line with received tradition that passed through Jewish minds to today.

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  • Kittel seems to disagree that σκηνόω is a loan word. See Michaelis, W. (1964–). σκηνή, σκῆνος, σκήνωμα, σκηνόω, ἐπισκηνόω, κατασκηνόω, σκηνοπηγία, σκηνοποιός. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 7, p. 368). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. – Perry Webb Apr 12 at 9:09
  • Judaism as a wholes doesn't seem to agree with you: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/117729/… – Perry Webb Apr 12 at 9:18
  • Shakanu is an Akkadian word. and the etymological connection seems much older than a Hebrew loan word. – Perry Webb Apr 12 at 9:22
  • @PerryWebb, I don't think that "Judaism as a whole" is something that exists. The Zohar is very clear, right up front, that the shekinah is related to this same root and has many of the same attributes that the Johannine corpus attributes to Jesus. I also wrote "semitic" not Hebrew loan word. It doesn't surprise me that it's also found in Akkadian. In terms of the difficulty of the "Shekinah having a separate will," It'd be interesting to hear how you interpret Jesus saying "not my will, but yours be done." There is always a tension between God as a monad and as a plurality. – Gus L. Apr 12 at 12:51

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