Which Came First?

I used to blog early in the morning.  Then FBC came along, and my blogging schedule went as haywire as her sleeping schedule.  In due time, she settled in to a pretty good routine and so did I.  Then SBC came along: 16 months later and I still consider it a success if I get a blog post written at any point in the day.  Nobody told us that two kids meant five times the work, but I digress.  One thing is sure, if you find that I’m posting on this blog after 5pm, something’s not right.  So, it was with great intrigue that I read a post that The Rev. Evan Garner published after 8pm last night.  Clearly, something was amiss.

As I read his reflection on yesterday’s Daily Office Gospel, which happens also to be Sunday’s appointed lesson, it quickly became apparent that Evan was losing control.  He’d gone to the Greek for crying out loud!  I’ll let him explain it:

“The Greek (yes, Steve Pankey, I went to the Greek) uses the word πρωτος, which means “before.” And I take that to mean before following. The other problem, which becomes evident in a comparison of the CEV and NIV, is what the “before” is before. The Greek word in the preceding verse is ακολουθησανθων, which is an aorist active genitive plural, that basically means “of-following.” I think that’s what the “before” is before–the following–but the CEV seems to disagree by supplying “had gone with Jesus” instead of the “who had followed him.” Maybe there’s an intentional double-meaning of the word “following,” but I think the “before” came after the visit with Jesus and before they chose to follow him (as disciples).”

My brain broke right after “aorist active genitive plural,” but I was intrigued.  The standard reading of Sunday’s gospel text is: John points out Jesus, Andrew and unnamed disciple approach Jesus, Jesus invites them to come and see, they spend the day with Jesus, Andrew runs off to find Peter.  According to Evan’s reading the pattern is: John points out Jesus, Andrew and unnamed disciple approach Jesus, Jesus invites them to come and see, Andrew runs off to find Peter, they all spend the day with Jesus.  It seems like a silly point to ponder, but it really does make a difference.  Was Andrew convinced of Jesus’ messiahship by the word of John the Baptist?  Or, as I suggested yesterday and as millions of sermons will say on Sunday, was Andrew’s conviction based on his experience of Jesus?

For what it’s worth, and my Greek is far from good, let alone authoritative, I think Evan mistranslates πρωτος.  Instead of being “before,” I think the translation “first” is much more accurate.  I say this based on three pieces of information:

  • The Barclay-Newman Lexicon entry for πρωτος, defines it as: 1) first in time or place 1a) in any succession of things or persons 2) first in rank 2a) influence, honour 2b) chief 2c) principal 3) first, at the first
  • The Young’s Literal Translation of verses 40 and 41 reads, “Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard from John, and followed him; this one doth first find his own brother Simon, and saith to him, ‘We have found the Messiah,’ (which is, being interpreted, The Anointed,)”
  • The Robertson’s Word Picture for the verse indicates a contest between the disciples of Andrew and the disciples of John (The brother of James and son of Zebedee and presumably the unnamed disciple of JBap) over who first brought their brother to Jesus.  The rivalry between the brothers Zebedee and the rest of the disciples is well documented in scripture.  “Joh 1:41 – He findeth first (heuriskei houtos prôton). “This one finds (vivid dramatic present) first” (protôn). Protôn (adverb supported by Aleph A B fam. 13) means that Andrew sought “his own brother Simon” (ton adelphon ton idion Simôna) before he did anything else. But Aleph L W read prôtos (nominative adjective) which means that Andrew was the first who went after his brother implying that John also went after his brother James. Some old Latin manuscripts (b, e, r apparently), have mane for Greek prôi (early in the morning). Bernard thinks that this is the true reading as it allows more time for Andrew to bring Simon to Jesus. Probably prôton is correct, but even so John likely brought also his brother James after Andrew’s example.

All of that to say, that I don’t think you need to rewrite your sermons for Sunday (and who am I kidding, based on my stats, most of you won’t read this until Saturday afternoon).  I think it is safe to assume that Andrew and the unnamed other disciple of JBap spent the day with Jesus before seeking out their brothers.  Of course, I could be dreadfully wrong, but I’m not preaching this week, so you won’t see an 8pm post from me on the matter.

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One thought on “Which Came First?

  1. I think I agree, but my brain somewhere and it’s only 5:12 pm. I think I going to play with the come and see phrase as evangelism which your gleaning, at least I think that’s what I read. May 1st Corinthians will be easi … na – it’s “come and see”

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