Translation: John 1:1-3

Today we want to introduce our  first translation of John’s Prologue . We will look closely the first 3 verses: John 1:1-3 (Jean 1:1-3).

Jean 1

Verse 1   Au commencement était la Parole, et la Parole était avec Dieu, et la Parole était Dieu.  

Verse 2   Elle était au commencement avec Dieu.  

VerseToutes choses ont été faites par elle, et rien de ce qui a été fait n’a été fait sans elle           

Nouns

commencement (beginning)

parole (word)

Dieu (God)

choses (things)

 Verbs

était  (was; it is the past tense [imparfait in French] form of the verb [être = to be)

ont été faites ( could be translated three ways: 1) came into being, 2) was made, 3) was done.  ont été faites, as it appears,  is a compound tense, a combination of the past tense of the verb être and the past participle of faire [to make, to do, or bring into existence]. Notice here, ont ete faites is 3rd person plural and have for its subject choses ( a plural noun). Its singular form is a été fait

 articles

la (the; it is the feminine form of le).

 adjectives

rien (nothing, apart)

 adverbs/prepositions/conjunction

avec (with)

par (by)

sans (without)

au (in)

et (and)

de (of)

side notes

verbs – underlined

adverbs/prepositions/conjunction – in bold  

Translation & Syntactical notes-

 Verse 1Au commencement était la Parole, In   [ the ] beginning  was the word, Notes-

  • the definite article is absent in the French translation before “commencement” (beginning).

 et    la   Parole était avec Dieu, and the word   was  with God,  et  la      Parole était Dieu.              and the word    was God. Verse 2 Elle était au commencement avec Dieu.

            She was in  [the] beginning with God

 Notes-

  • Elle is a personal pronoun standing in the place of Parole ( word = a feminine noun by gender). Therefore it is best translated as “She” not “he” as it appears in our English translation.

Verse 3 Toutes choses ont été faites       par   elle,

All        things  came into being  by   her (Him)

 Notes– elle before par substitutes for parole in verse 2. We rightly translate it as her instead of him.  et         rien        de ce qui a été fait n’a été fait and     nothing /apart         that    came into (being)                                         

               sans    elle.

               without her .

 Notes-the second part of verse 3 is not easy to translate in English. We could simply translate it as : “and apart from him nothing came into being that has come into being”

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3 Responses

  1. This is a great idea! It will definitely help me to keep up the reading.

    Just one point: The definite article is present at the begining of verse 1. Au is the contract form of “à le”.

  2. Thanks for all the information. Do you know of any French recordings of the Bible?

  3. Damian,
    Thanks for visiting and the correction.
    Take care

    Mark,
    Yes you can hear both Testaments online- Here’s the website http://www.bibvoice.org/fr.ls1910.index.html#a40

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