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Question
I have been reading a contemporary theologian's book that states, "When Jesus promises "life of the ages" (a far better translation of the Greek "zoein aionian" I believe, than "eternal life"...)"

My question is, what is your interpretation of "zoein aionian?"

If you agree it does mean "life of the ages" - what did that phrase mean in ancient Greek, in your opinion?

The quoted author's bio does not state training in ancient Greek, so I am hoping to get your expert opinion.

Thank you for considering this question.

Answer

Hi Elinor,

thank you for your question. Well, at least to me it is quite clear, that he talks about "eternal life", as you mention, and this is the actual meaning of the words. Nothing hidden here. But I don't see why a clear expression of eternity can be better than another expression of eternity. I could understand and, possibly, try to analyse, for instance, a word/text/phrase or thought variation in the same language in the event that two or more sources (manuscripts) had to be considered.

In my opinion, it could have been also called "endless life" or "immortal life" or "unending state of being" or whatsoever. And Jesus refers to the eternal life in heaven, in God's kingdom.

Another thing is that translations from texts of such religious importance tend to become "simplified" over time or to match modern social needs, daily life and certain mentalities. But this example is not, yet, a representative one of the simplification I am talking about, as it does not seem to imply or hide its real meaning.

Let me know if you have more thoughts on that. I wish you good luck with your study.

Cordially,
Michael

Greek

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Michael Barkas

Expertise

I provide assistance in linguistic, literary topics of Greek and Latin covering, thus, the following fields: translation, grammar, syntax, vocabulary, etymology, morphology, semantics and interpretations etc.

Experience

Studies: University of the Aegean, Dept Rhodes Friedrich Wilhelm Universitšt Bonn

Education/Credentials
Magister Artium (Archeology/Linguistics) Bachelor (Latin/English/Greek)

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