Practice your Gothic #1: Joh 14:6

Welcome to the first edition of “Practice your Gothic”. The idea of this series is to practice a little bit of Gothic every week. Today let’s have a look at the Gospel of John, chapter 14, the first part of verse 6.

Gothic text and English translation

The Gothic text is:

qaรพ imma Iesus: ik im sa wigs jah sunja jah libains.

The English translation in the King James version is:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.

Word by word explanation

Let us go through this text word by word:

First sentence:

  • qaรพ: this is the past tense of qiรพan (“to say”), a very frequent word.
  • imma: this is dative singular of the personal pronoun, third person (“he”). In the dative it means “to him”. Gothic does not need the preposition “to”. It is already expressed in the dative case.
  • Iesus: proper name of the most important person in the New Testament: Jesus

Together this means: “Jesus said to him”. Please note the reversed word order. One would expect “Iesus qaรพ imma”. But here Ulfilas followed the word order of the original Greek phrase to the letter. Nevertheless The case endings make it clear: “Jesus” is the subject, “him” is the indirect object.

Second sentence

  • ik : pronoun, “I”
  • im : 1st person singular of “wisan” (to be), present tense: I am
  • sa : demonstrative pronoun. This pronoun was so frequent that in later Germanic languages like English it became the definite article (“the”)
  • wigs : a masculine noun. English: “way”. The g disappeared into “y” in English. The nominative ending -s disappeared in English, too. But the relationship can still be seen.
  • jah : “and”
  • sunja : a feminine noun, nominative case. “truth”
  • jah : “and”
  • libains : a feminine noune, nominative case. “life”

Please note that in Gothic the demonstrative pronoun sa (“the”) is not repeated before truth and life. The Greek original did repeat it.

Gothic alphabet reading practice

Now that we can understand this Gothic Bible verse, let’s practice the Gothic alphabet:

  • Gothic alphabet: ๐Œต๐Œฐ๐Œธ ๐Œน๐Œผ๐Œผ๐Œฐ ๐Œน๐Œด๐ƒ๐Œฟ๐ƒ: ๐Œน๐Œบ ๐Œน๐Œผ ๐ƒ๐Œฐ ๐…๐Œน๐Œฒ๐ƒ ๐Œพ๐Œฐ๐Œท ๐ƒ๐Œฟ๐Œฝ๐Œพ๐Œฐ ๐Œพ๐Œฐ๐Œท ๐Œป๐Œน๐Œฑ๐Œฐ๐Œน๐Œฝ๐ƒ. 
  • Latin alphabet: qaรพ imma Iesus: ik im sa wigs jah sunja jah libains.

So much for this week.

Image credits: imageOpens in a new tab. by Thomas B.Opens in a new tab. on PixabayOpens in a new tab.. The inscription on the image (“ego sum via veritas et vita”) is the same text as above, but in Latin.

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