John 5:47 But if ye believe not his writings,

Greek Verse: 

Literal Translation: 

If, however, you have not trusted the writings of that [famous] man, how in the world could you have trusted the sayings of mine?

KJV Verse: 

Jhn 5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The most interesting "lost in translation" sense is the parallel phrases contrasting "the writings" of [Moses] with "the sayings" of Christ. The KJV captures this a little bit with the contrast between "writings" and "word," but we try to make this clearer in the alternative translation. It should be clear that the Greek word is not logos, the Greek word that is almost always translated as "word" in the Gospels, but rhema, which specifically means spoken words.

This verse highlights the fact that Christ knew that his spoken words were what was going to survive him. It also seems to say clearly that we cannot trust in Christ's words unless we first trust in Moses's writings.

As we discussed in the last post, "ekeinos," translated as "his" is not the normal possessive pronoun, but a word that highlight an person and an idea previously mentioned, and it is used specifically to refer to a famous man.

In the KJV, it seems as if the first mention of "believe" is in the present tense while the second use is in the future tense, "shall believe." Actually, both are aorist, which means an action begun in the past and is usually translated in the past in English. However, the final believe is in the subjunctive mood, which indicates that it has a probability of happening in the past, present, or future.

Greek Vocabulary: 

εἰ "If" is from ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions.

δὲ "But" is from de (de), which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way.

ἐκείνου "His" is from ekeinos (kakeinos), which means "the person there", "that person", "that thing", "in that case", "in that way", "at that place," and "in that manner."

τοῖς...γράμμασιν "Writings" is from gramma which is Greek for "drawings", "a letter," (as in an alphabet)"diagrams," and "letters" (as in correspondence).

οὐ "Not" is from οὐ ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, class="greek">μήapplies to will and thought; class="greek">οὐ denies, class="greek">μή rejects; class="greek">οὐ is absolute, class="greek">μή relative;class="greek">οὐ objective, class="greek">μή subjective.

πιστεύετε (2nd pl pres imperat act) "Ye believe" is from pisteuô (pisteuo), which means "to trust, put faith in, or rely on a person", "to believe in someone's words", "to comply", "to feel confident in a thing," and "to entrust in a thing."

πῶς How" is from pôs (pos), which means "how", "how in the world", "how then", "in any way", "at all", "by any mean", "in a certain way,"and "I suppose."

ἐμοῖς "My" is from emos, which means "mine", "of me", "my", "relating to me," and "against me."

τοῖς...ῥήμασιν "Words" is from rhêma (rhema), which means "that which is spoken", "word", "saying", "word for word", "subject of speech," and "matter."

πιστεύσετε 2nd pl aor subj act) "Shall ye believe" is from pisteuô (pisteuo), which means "to trust, put faith in, or rely on a person", "to believe in someone's words", "to comply", "to feel confident in a thing," and "to entrust in a thing."

Wordplay: 

 Parallel phrases contrasting the writings of Moses and the sayings of Christ. 

Related Verses: