Bible Numbers 2.0

Part 6: Re-Writing John 1:1 With Seung Dai

(可 惜 這 頁 沒 有 中 文 繙 譯)

The Chinese Union Version was completed in 1919, in the eighth year of the Chinese Republic. This translation built on much earlier efforts, including the Catholic translations which started centuries ago. Unfortunately, it was more of a translation of the English interpretation and understanding of their own Bible. This is especially clear in John 1:1.

太 初 有 道, 道 與 神 同 在, 道 就 是 神
(John 1:1; 約 翰 福 音 1:1 Chinese Union Version [MPT])1
εναρχηηνολογος
in thebeginningwastheword
G1722G746G2258[G5713]G3588G3056
 
καιολογοςηνπροςτονθεον
andthewordwaswiththeGOD
G2532G3588G3056G2258[G5713]G4314G3588G2316
 
καιθεοςηνολογος  
andgodwastheWord
G2532G2316G2258[G5713]G3588G3056
 
(Interlinear is from the e-Sword computer program by Rick Meyers with module IGNT+.)

Interpreting From A Theory

The theory of the Trinity plays a very large role in the translation of the Bible into Chinese.

Chinese PhraseProblemSolution
太 初

There is no definite article in the original Greek of in 'the' beginning. The in English is added for the sake of making it proper English. 太 初 was an effort to emphasize and specify a great beginning or the beginning in Chinese. It was also an attempt to elevate The Word beyond the original Greek.

To follow the Greek, the opening Chinese words should be 起 初 just like Genesis 1:1.
有 道

These two Chinese words literally read: has The Way. It is the Chinese thought equivalent to there was The Way in English. (To have something means it has to be there.)

Protestants may have chosen 道 because it was familiar to the Chinese as something unique. And as something unique, it required no emphasis or specifier. This would stand in for the Greek ο λογος (hos logos; the Word). They probably also chose it because they wanted something different from the Catholics, who had already chosen 言 for their Chinese translation. Unfortunately, 道 is very different in meaning from the Greek λογος.

Possible replacements are 字, 語, 句, 話, and of course 言.
道 與 神 同 在

The literal translation of the Chinese is, (the) Way with god(s) together present meaning the Way was present with (the) god(s). No attempt was made to bring across the definite article in the Greek for the words τον θεον (ton theos; the God). And the Chinese word 神 can only be small 'g' for god. Without any further context it could even be the plural 'gods.'

The only proper title for God in Chinese is 上 帝 (Seung Dai).2
The reason why Catholics and Protestants ignore this title is because it is singular in concept and conflicts with the Trinity.

There is also a further problem in the Greek word προς. The Christian interpretation (i.e. not the translation) is that it means with. However, in practically all cases where this word is used in the New Testament it is usually translated as to or towards. With is only a small part of the meaning of προς.

Christians prefer the meaning with because they have already concluded it fits better with the concept of the Trinity. It is an interpretation of how they understand it, not a translation of the Greek word. That is why they chose two Chinese words of similar meaning 與 and 同. Both can mean with, and or together. The double emphasis was meant to confirm the closeness of (the) Way, and god.

The Chinese words 向著 (heung jyu; to, towards, facing towards) are similar in meaning to the Greek προς.

Following The Greek

The phrases below attempt to follow the Greek more closely by replicating the definite article in Chinese where necessary and by choosing words in line with the original Greek meaning.

Most people don't realize how different the New Testament writers were from other Greek writers at that time. Josephus only used the definite article 25% of the time. New Testament writers used it up to 75% of the time! They did this to set their work, God, Jesus and the disciples apart from all others. Definite articles are used so extensively by New Testament writers that translators end up conditioned to removing and ignoring them. In most cases it would not matter, but when it concerns Jesus or God accuracy is critical. Thus the definite article plays a paramount role in the phrases below because Chinese doesn't have an exact equivalent.

起 初 有 這 個 字 字 向 著 上 帝 字 就 是 神
|__|  |_______|  |__________|  |________|
 1        2           3            4
  1. 起初. Genesis 1:1's opening is used because the Greek has no definite article specifying (the) beginning.

  2. 有 這 個 字. 有 means has or there was. 這 個 is the best replacement possible in Chinese for the Greek definite article specifying the Word/Logos. 個 is a universal classifier of things and sometimes acts also as a specifier, giving the object specified a quantity of one. 字 means Word/Character. In other words, there was this (one) Word.

  3. 字 向 著 上 帝. Having previously specified 字 (the word), it is assumed that the reader understands this holds also for its second appearance. 向 著 means to or towards. The word 字 was facing towards or (moving) to 上 帝 (God as in capital 'G'). Since 上 帝 is unique, this duplicates the definite article in the Greek τον θεος.

  4. 字 就 是 神. (The) word 字 is exactly (precisely/emphatically) 就 是 god (small 'g') 神.

The phrase and its numbersNumerics Gematria are given below.

Using 字 For λογος
31041709628388824525635635354508241939563411120642924
Total: 29575 = 5 x 5 x 7 x 13 x 13.

Readers will wonder how many versions of this phrase I went through before I reached this point. It took just two or three tries. The first version specified 字 (the Word) with 這個 three times. Then I began eliminating the extra 這個.

By faithfully paying attention to the Greek, the result is quite immediate. The factors of 7 and two 13s are a good start, but not enough to confirm the statement in Chinese of Jesus being a god, and not the God.

The basic phrase above is amended with the possible replacements for the Word: 語, 句, 話, and 言.

Using 說 語 For λογος
3104170962838885986594659865946535450824193959865946411120642924
Total: 61230 = 2 x 3 x 5 x 13 x 157
Using 句 For λογος
3104170962838883143145354508241939314411120642924
Total: 26376 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 7 x 157.
Using 說話 For λογος
3104170962838885986527759865277535450824193959865277411120642924
Total: 59223 = 3 x 19 x 1039
Using 言 For λογος
3104170962838881126112653545082419391126411120642924
Total: 28812 = 2 x 2 x 3 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7. SF: 35 = 5 x 7

Out of the five possibilities, 字, 語, 句, 話, and 言, only 話 failed to produce a total divisible by 7 or 13. 字 produced 7 and 13, and 言 produced a total with four factors of 7, and the sum of its factors is also divisible by 7.

The fact that 字 and 言 produced the best results is not coincidence.

字, 語, 句, 話, and 言 Compared
Word; character; letter; logograph; to betroth a girl; a name or style one assumes upon reaching manhood in former times.
Speech; words; to say; to talk; to mean; a language; a dialect.
Language; speech; word; phrase; expressions; sentences; to tell; to inform.
Sentence; name of an ancient country; name of an ancient emperor.
A talk; a speech; words; language.

字 is the only one of the five that specifically includes written words. 言 is the only word to include meaning. The other three words have more to do with actual speech or language.

The Trinity Test

Let's see what happens when statements supporting the Trinity are tried. The phrases below attempt to connect the Word (道, 字, 語, 句, 話, and 言) with God (上帝) using the pattern set by the verse from the CSBT.

太 初 有 道 道 與 上 帝 同 在 道 就 是 上 帝
Total: 35710 = 2 x 5 x 3571

太 初 有 字 字 與 上 帝 同 在 字 就 是 上 帝
Total: 21256 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2657

太 初 有 個 字 字 與 上 帝 同 在 字 就 是 上 帝
Total: 23708 = 2 x 2 x 5927

太 初 有 這 個 字 字 與 上 帝 同 在 字 就 是 上 帝
Total: 27596 = 2 x 2 x 6899

太 初 有 語 語 與 上 帝 同 在 語 就 是 上 帝
Total: 37405 = 5 x 7481

太 初 有 說 語 說 語 與 上 帝 同 在 說 語 就 是 上 帝
Total: 55363 = 7 x 11 x 719

太 初 有 這 說 語 說 語 與 上 帝 同 在 說 語 就 是 上 帝
Total: 59251 = 193 x 307

太 初 有 句 句 與 上 帝 同 在 句 就 是 上 帝
Total: 20509 (prime number)

太 初 有 這 句 句 與 上 帝 同 在 句 就 是 上 帝
Total: 24397 = 31 x 787

太 初 有 話 話 與 上 帝 同 在 話 就 是 上 帝
Total: 35398 = 2 x 11 x 1609

太 初 有 說 話 說 話 與 上 帝 同 在 說 話 就 是 上 帝
Total: 53356 = 2 x 2 x 13339

太 初 有 這 說 話 說 話 與 上 帝 同 在 說 話 就 是 上 帝
Total: 57244 = 2 x 2 x 11 x 1301

太 初 有 言 言 與 上 帝 同 在 言 就 是 上 帝
Total: 22945 = 5 x 13 x 353

太 初 有 說 言 說 言 與 上 帝 同 在 說 言 就 是 上 帝
Total: 40903 (prime number)

太 初 有 這 說 言 說 言 與 上 帝 同 在 說 言
就 是 上 帝
Total: 44791 = 47 x 953

Out of fifteen tries, only one was divisible by 7, and only one was divisible by 13. None were divisible by 7 and 13. And none were divisible by multiples of 7.

Of the results that worked, the one divisible by seven required the use of two words: 說 語. The combination of these two words has the meaning spoken language and is actually too narrow in meaning for the Greek word λογος. Thus this really leaves only one result: 言.

The results pale in comparison with the constructions showing Jesus is not God.

Results So Far

Although phrases supporting the Trinity with numeric features are possible, at this point they seem more difficult to write. But phrases against the Trinity in Chinese appear easy to produce. Since the original translation from the CSBT has already inadvertently been written against the Trinity, I think the evidence is clear the theory of the Trinity was a mistake, and God does not support it.

The idea that there can only be one who/that is greatest is built into Chinese thought, culture and language. An example of this can be seen in a few synonyms. These are from the book 小學生同義詞自測(進階篇) by 洪子平, published by 商務印書館(香港)有限公司, Commercial Press, H.K., 2015, page 97.

Levels of Excellence
SynonymChinese ExplanationEnglish Explanation
優良十分好Ten (or all) parts good; ten out of ten; perfect.
優秀非常好Extremely good.
優異特別好與別不同Uniquely good; not like any other.
好的程度(由低至高): 優良 → 優秀 → 優異
Degrees of excellence (from low to high).

From the table above, the highest level of excellence is 優異 (last entry on the table). Its uniqueness raises it above all others. And because there is no other like it, that means there is only one. This same idea and reasoning applies to the Chinese concept of God: 上帝.

It must be remembered that God gave Israel a name only because Moses asked for one (Exodus 3:13-15). Had Moses not asked for one, God would have remained nameless (Exodus 6:3). This should not be considered strange because in Revelation, several of the great rewards involve receiving names no one else knows (Revelation 2:17, 19:12). Some names are meant to be private! This is very much in line with the Taoist idea that the greatest name cannot be named. And this is why the Chinese have a title exclusively devoted to the one supreme God. They had nothing else to call Him by. That it should be distinctly singular and not amenable to the Trinity should not be a surprise. There can only be one who is greatest. And if the Chinese were right about names not known, why shouldn't they be right about the singular nature of the one God?

English Confirmation

Is there a way of double checking the work presented above? How can we be sure our thinking is correct? The only way is to apply the same thinking and methods in English.

John 1:1 In English Without Ambiguity
GreekEnglish MeaningTranslationExplanation
εν αρχηin beginningIn the beginningAlthough there is no definite article in the Greek, proper English requires a definite article between the words in and beginning.
ηνwaswas---
ο λογοςthe Wordthe Word---
καιandand---
ο λογοςthe Wordthe Word---
ην προςwas towardswas towardsAs mentioned before, προς is usually translated as to or towards elsewhere in the New Testament.
τον θεονthe Godthe LORDThe New Testament writers deliberately applied the definite article to bring out the fact that their God was unlike any other of the gods. Following the Septuagint, the writers translated יהוה (God’s name in Hebrew) as τον θεον. The English uses either LORD or GOD all in capitals.
και θεος ην ο λογοςand god was the Wordand the Word was a godThere is no definite article in the Greek for θεος, so none are used with it in translation. To bring this across in English requires the indefinite article. The Apostle John wrote it this way to distinguish the Word as separate from GOD.

The completed phrase below follows the Greek as exactly as possible.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was towards the LORD and the Word was a god
1     2        3                       4             5         6
30    87       104                     171           87        164
1     2   3    4   5  6   7   8   9    10   11 12    13  14    15   16  17
30    80- 7    2-  6- 30- 30- 30- 6    100- 1- 70    80- 7     100- 60- 4
In    the      beginning               was           the       Word

7            8         9              10            11
35           87        164            171           315
18 19  20    21  22    23   24  25    26   27 28    29  30   31 32  33 34
1- 30- 4     80- 7     100- 60- 4     100- 1- 70    80- 100- 1- 60- 4- 70
and          the       Word           was           towards

12        13            14           15        16             17
87        74            35           87        164            171
35  36    37  38  39    40 41  42    43  44    45   46  47    48   49 50
80- 7     10- 60- 4     1- 30- 4     80- 7     100- 60- 4     100- 1- 70
the       LORD          and          the       Word           was

18    19
1     10
51    52 53
1     6- 4
a     god

1.The total of the sentence: 2044 = 2 x 2 x 7 x 73. SF: 84 = 2 x 2 x 3 x 7. SF: 14 = 2 x 7.

(To be fair, the original English from the KJV, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, is also divisible by 7. Its total is 1764, which factors 7 x 7 x 3 x 3 x 2 x 2. There are two factors of 7! This is a one in forty-nine chance. Unfortunately, the sum of the factors goes nowhere. The English version presented here is not divisible by seven twice, but it goes two levels further with the sum of the factors. This is a lot more difficult to achieve than a simple one in forty-nine chance. At the very least, it is a 1 in 343 chance.)

2.1.The first letter of each word:

30 80 2 100 80 100 1  80 100 100 80 80 10 1  80 100 100 1  6

Total: 1131 = 3 x 13 x 29.

2.2.There is no corresponding feature for the last letter of each word because Jesus is not God.

3.We can take every Nth word:

6   12 18
164 87 1   = 252 = 2 x 2 x 3 x 3 x 7.

7  14
17 17 	34 = 2 x 17.
35 35 	70 = 2 x 5 x 7. SF: 14 = 2 x 7.

Why every sixth and seventh word? Because 6 + 7 = 13, which points back to God’s name.

4.1.The following segments of words can be extracted from the beginning and the end. All are divisible by 7.

From word:  2    3   3    6    = 14 = 2 x 7.
To word:    6    5   7    7    = 25 = 5 x 5.
sum:        1071 784 1092 308

Why these segments? Because their starting and end points added together are divisible by 13. 14 + 25 = 39 = 3 x 13.

4.2.The same can be done for segments of words divisible by 13.

From word:  1   3     = 4 = 2 x 2.
To word:    3   7     = 10 = 2 x 5. SF: 7.
sum:        403 1092

The sum of the starting and end positions: 14 = 2 x 7.

4.3These two features work together. Start by looking for segments that are divisible by 7 and end up with 13. Start with segments divisible by 13 and end up with 7.

5.There is a perfect distribution of odd and even valued letters.

5.1.Odd valued letters:

3 11 14 18 22 27 31 36 40 44 49 51
7 1  7  1  7  1  1  7  1  7  1  1

Total: 42 = 2 x 3 x 7.

5.2.Even valued letters:

1  2  4 5 6  7  8  9 10  12 13 15  16 17 19 20 21 23  24 25 26
30 80 2 6 30 30 30 6 100 70 80 100 60 4  30 4  80 100 60 4  100

28 29 30  32 33 34 35 37 38 39 41 42 43 45  46 47 48  50 52 53
70 80 100 60 4  70 80 10 60 4  30 4  80 100 60 4  100 70 6  4

Total: 2002 = 2 x 7 x 11 x 13.

6.1.The Hebrew divine name can be applied three times to the letters.

a) Letter from God's name in Hebrew.     b) Count
c) Adjusted count        d) Letter found

a) 10  5   6  5   10 5  6  5  10 5  6  5
b) 10  15  21 26  36 41 47 52 62 14 20 25
c) 10  15  21 26  36 41 47 52 9  14 20 25
d) 100 100 80 100 7  30 4  6  6  7  4  4

The sum of line D: 448 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 7.

6.2.It can also be applied 7 times.

10  5   6  5   10 5  6  5  10 5  6  5  10 5  6  5  10 5  6  5  10
10  15  21 26  36 41 47 52 62 14 20 25 35 40 46 51 61 13 19 24 34
10  15  21 26  36 41 47 52 9  14 20 25 35 40 46 51 8  13 19 24 34
100 100 80 100 7  30 4  6  6  7  4  4  80 1  60 1  30 80 30 60 70

5  6   5  10 5  6  5
39 45  50 60 12 18 23
39 45  50 7  12 18 23
4  100 70 30 70 1  100

Total: 1235 = 5 x 13 x 19.

7.1.1.The middle 49 letters (3 to 51):

7 2 6 30 30 30 6 100 1 70 80 7 100 60 4 1 30 4 80 7 100 60 4 100 1
70 80 100 1 60 4 70 80 7 10 60 4 1 30 4 80 7 100 60 4 100 1 70 1

Total: 1924 = 2 x 2 x 13 x 37.

7.1.2.The middle 27 letters (14 to 40):

7 100 60 4 1 30 4 80 7 100 60 4 100 1 70 80 100 1 60 4 70 80 7 10
60 4 1

Total: 1105 = 5 x 13 x 17. SF: 35 = 5 x 7.

7.1.3.The middle 15 letters (20 to 34):

4 80 7 100 60 4 100 1 70 80 100 1 60 4 70

Total: 741 = 3 x 13 x 19. SF: 35 = 5 x 7.

7.1.4.The relationship between these three features is that 49 + 27 + 15 = 91 = 7 x 13.

7.2.1.The middle 39 letters (8 to 46):

30 6 100 1 70 80 7 100 60 4 1 30 4 80 7 100 60 4 100 1 70 80 100
1 60 4 70 80 7 10 60 4 1 30 4 80 7 100 60

Total: 1673 = 7 x 239.

7.2.2.The middle 35 letters(10 to 44):

100 1 70 80 7 100 60 4 1 30 4 80 7 100 60 4 100 1 70 80 100 1 60
4 70 80 7 10 60 4 1 30 4 80 7

Total: 1477 = 7 x 211.

7.2.3.There is no relationship between these two features. But the numbers 39 and 35 are coincidentally divisible by 13 and 7.

8.1.How appropriate is it that the one letter in the very middle of the phrase is 1 representing the one God?

8.2.The first 26 letters before this one letter (26 being the numberNumerics Gematria of the Hebrew divine name):

30 80 7 2 6 30 30 30 6 100 1 70 80 7 100 60 4 1 30 4 80 7 100 60 4 100

Total: 1029 = 3 x 7 x 7 x 7

8.3.The last 26 letters after this one letter:

70 80 100 1 60 4 70 80 7 10 60 4 1 30 4 80 7 100 60 4 100 1 70 1 6 4

Total: 1014 = 2 x 3 x 13 x 13

8.4.The one letter in the middle can be added to the last 26 letters (but not the first 26): 1015 = 5 x 7 x 29.

Towards the lord

Does it make sense in English to say, and the Word was towards the lord? Shouldn't it be facing God, or going to God?

One can choose to be faithful to the original language, in which case the English will be a little stilted or strange. Or, one can choose to make the English completely sensible, in which case the translation leans more towards interpretation. Sometimes it is not possible to have both.

Even in the Greek, John's opening verse was a bit mysterious. Making it completely sensible in English loses a bit of this mystery. To maintain John's sense of mystery, it would be better if the English was a little strange. Towards actually makes more sense when other verses are considered.

Paul's statement of God, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16) contradicts the understanding of the Word being with God (John 1:1). These two verses make perfect sense if the Word was towards God, and not with God. No invention/explanation or theory like the Trinity is necessary to explain this. (Explanations and theories become necessary when one assumes Jesus is God.)

But what is John trying to tell us by saying Jesus or the Word was towards God? I believe John was telling us Jesus is the closest anyone ever gets to God. (This would be in line with what Paul said.) The asymptote in mathematics gives the best example. At the beginning, you can see great progress on the graph as the line heads towards one side. But as the limit is approached movement gradually becomes imperceptible. The line almost reaches the limit, is always getting closer, and is always toward the limit, but never touches it.

John could not write going towards because in the eternity before our time, the Word had long ago approached God (the limit).

Conclusion

The same principles, thinking and methods that were applied in Chinese, when applied in English produce a phrase with numeric features just like the Chinese. Unlike the Chinese, by following the Greek, and discounting the Trinity, this English translation of John 1:1 succeeded on the very first try!3

Success in Chinese and English explains why the original Greek of John 1:1 yielded no features. God anticipated what would happen over the centuries. He knew that the theory of the Trinity would develop. And He knew numeric features in John 1:1 would only harden mistaken beliefs. As a result, He inspired John to write in such a way as to produce the Greek without numeric features.

God knew Christians would become so used to seeing the definite article in the New Testament Greek they would ignore it. Once they grew familiar with the New Testament, they lost sight of the definite article's original purpose of distinguishing between the words. This caused ambiguity to arise in the understanding of John 1:1. The words became confused. And from this came the theory of the Trinity.

Restoring the meaning of the Greek, distinguishing between the Word and God, and writing to prevent ambiguity produced the numberNumerics Gematria features seen above. And rather than have only one witness, God decided to have two: Chinese and English.

中 國 要 回 歸 上 帝

(For more on China and America in prophecy: Bible Issues.)

For more on the Trinity, whether it is a valid theory or not, one must read the Bible. The site Bible Issues has two articles on this subject: John 1:1, and There Is No Trinity.

1Source: https://chinesestandardbible.com/ (accessed June 21, 2019 through https://biblehub.com).

2For more on Seung Dai being the only term for God in Chinese, please see The Notions Of The Chinese Concerning God And Spirits, by James Legge (Hong Kong Register Office, HK 1852).

3There are two reasons why it was so easy in English. First, I am more conversant in English than Chinese. Second, doing the Chinese first showed the way.

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The lessons God wants us to learn are found in the meaning of the text, not in the numbers.