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John 1:10 is usually translated using 'he' and 'him', for example

"He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him." (Berean Study Bible)

The Revised English Version translates it, instead, as

"It was in the world, and the world came into being through it, and the world did not know it."

Without getting into a debate about the context of the translation, is using 'it' instead of 'he' or 'him' grammatically reasonable, or is it problematic at John 1:10?

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It [ἦν G1510] was in the world, and the world came into being through it [αὐτοῦ G846], and the world did not know it [αὐτὸν G846].

ἦν (ēn)
Verb - Imperfect Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular

αὐτοῦ (autou)
Personal / Possessive Pronoun - Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular

αὐτὸν (auton)
Personal / Possessive Pronoun - Accusative Masculine 3rd Person Singular

Without getting into the context using 'it' instead of 'he' or 'him' is grammatically justifiable.

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  • 2
    'Without getting into the context', why are we bound by this exactly? – user21676 Apr 20 at 18:23
  • I don't know. You need to ask the OP. – Tony Chan Apr 20 at 18:29
  • @user21676 I'm not looking for an exegesis of John 1, which is what getting into the context would amount to. – One God the Father Apr 20 at 18:32
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The REV says this of John 1:10 -

It[1] was in the world, and the world came into being through it[2], and the world did not know it[3].

Let us take each of these pronouns (numbered above) one at a time:

  1. "It" is not explicitly in the text but must be deduced from the verb which is here ἦν. This verb could be grammatically translated as "It was" or "He was"
  2. The Greek has αὐτοῦ which is "of him"
  3. The Greek has αὐτὸν which is "to/for him"

The antecedent of all these pronouns is found in V9 -

The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world

Thus, the antecedent for the pronouns in V10 is "the true light" of V9. Now, "light" is grammatically neuter, so technically, the "It" of the REV is grammatically possible; EXCEPT that we have masculine pronouns later in the same sentence. Thus, John's intention becomes clear - he is personifying "light" and using this as another metaphor for Jesus, see V4.

CONCLUSION

The correct translation of John 1:10 must use masculine pronouns throughout. Therefore, we should translate something like:

He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him

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  • Can you say a bit more about how you know the 2nd and 3rd pronouns refer to light and not to logos - is it just proximity in the text? – One God the Father Apr 20 at 21:17
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    @OneGodtheFather - yes - proximity here is the key to being the antecedent. However, "the true light" is another metaphor for the Logos as sated above. – Dottard Apr 20 at 21:20

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