Friday, June 20, 2008


It’s always interesting comparing Russian and English translations of the Bible. Sometimes one or the other is more accurate. Often both fall short of expressing the full essence of a word, so it can be helpful to add the Russian translation to my understanding of a passage. It enriches the meaning. Of course at times it’s also just confusing, especially since I use the NIV in English and the Russian Synodal Version, which are from two completely different time periods…

My latest encounter with this was in last Sunday’s church sermon about the Holy Spirit. The title for the Holy Spirit being discussed here was Paraclete. The NIV Bible says “counselor” and the Russian Bible says “comforter.”

If I had been familiar with the KJV, I would have known that the word used there is “comforter,” like in the Russian. Or if I had looked into a more modern Russian translation, I would have seen that the word used there is “defender” or “intercessor.” But, I didn’t know that until I got home and looked it up.

I used to find it very confusing that the Russian Bible uses “comforter” while the NIV uses “counselor.” They seem to me very different words, which create totally different pictures in my mind. A comforter comes and hugs and wipes tears; a counselor sits and listens to your side of the story and then gives advice. I suppose one person can do both, yet they are still slightly different tasks…

What I mean to say is that if a person (like me, with no seminary degree) has an understanding of the Holy Spirit (when named as the Paraclete) as ONLY a comforter or ONLY a counselor, he will be missing out.

As explained in the sermon (and in any good Greek contextual dictionary), the Paraclete can refer to an intercessor, an advocate (as in court), a consoler, a comforter, a counselor, a defender. I like the word “helper” as an all-consuming word, but no one asked me. J

Yet another reason to learn NT Greek…


  1. Лиза, скоро выучим греческий и будем читать в оригинале! :)

  2. I am with you. "Paraklete" was once, rather clumsily, translated for me as "one who stands beside and helps". That is the translation that "stuck"....maybe it is the "standing beside" that I like so much....but, like you, "Helper" seems to be inclusive of all the Spirt's roles.

  3. Was it just suggested that you will soon have learned Greek? You must be better with languages than I am!

  4. Annie, "one who stands beside" is actually correct because "para" means "beside." But, maybe it does sound clumsy in English.

    Apparently your Russian isn't too bad. :) No, I'm not on the verge of knowing Greek, but I am working on it.


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