Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it shall by no means bring forth.

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longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(para. 5) by Lawrence(the University of Adelaide,here):
She wanted to forget, to forget the world, and all the dreadful, carrion-bodied people. ‘Ye must be born again! I believe in the resurrection of the body! Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it shall by no means bring forth. <-----Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)------>

I think the sentence in red doesn't make sense in logic, because if the wheat grain dies, it's impossible that it will bring forth(grow) new wheat grains.
And it seems to me that "fall" should be "falls", "die" should be "dies"
Could you please give me some explanations?
Thank you in advance
 
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  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    This is a quotation from the Gospel of John (Bible, New Testament), which was written around 100 C.E. in Greek. The use of "die" seems to be metaphorical.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you. Maybe the author of bible regarded the the process of a wheat grain becoming a young wheat plant as "die", because the original wheat grain disappeared and then the new plant produced many other grains. And that is called "rebirth" or "resurrection"
    Is that possible?
     
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    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    This might shed some light: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Barleycorn

    John Barleycorn is a British folksong[1] (Roud 164). The character of John Barleycorn in the song is a personification of the important cereal crop barley and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death and indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It is not a typo. The author is quoting some version of the Bible.
    The King James Version (translated circa 1600) of John 12:24 says:
    Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Now, I find the original sentence. here(number 24): http://www.catholic.org/bible/book.php?id=50&bible_chapter=12
    That translation is from 1985. The use of the subjunctive in expressions like "except it fall" or "unless he be" is characteristic of much, much older English. In the passage you quote, Lawrence has slightly changed the wording of the King James Version, which shows us that the speaker is an Anglican and rather familiar with Biblical tradition, but no so religious as to be able to quote at will without a few mistakes.
     
    From your post #1 I think the sentence in red doesn't make sense in logic, because if the wheat grain dies, it's impossible that it will bring forth(grow) new wheat grains.

    That's been the problem here. It is very logical: The wheat plant does die and collapses dead into the earth. It drops a seed into the earth. The seed is not "alive." It lies dormant with the potential for life but it can't live until something comes along to start the growth process of life. That something is water.

    If the wheat didn't die, the seed would never drop into the earth. The sequence of events is the same in all the translations.

    Of course, the ancients would not have had our modern knowledge of a "dormant" seed, but for all practical purposes it certainly appears, and might as well be, dead.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    That's been the problem here. It is very logical: The wheat plant does die and collapses dead into the earth. It drops a seed into the earth. The seed is not "alive." It lies dormant with the potential for life but it can't live until something comes along to start the growth process of life. That something is water.
    Thank you, Dale. Maybe you read the quotation wrong. It's a grain of wheat, not the wheat plant.:)
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    You are welcome(maybe it should be "it doesn't matter"). According to the new version of bible "In all truth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest", I feel the grain becomes a young wheat plant(that was regarded "die" at that time), and the previous wheat grain gets a rebirth, growing from only a single grain to lots of grains.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think the New Living Bible translation of John 12:24 captures the idea:
    I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels--a plentiful harvest of new lives.
    The main idea is that the seed is in the ground - and this is akin to a 'burial', and so it is 'dead' in that it is buried. So yes, you are right in that the verse talks about death and resurrection. This is a central Christian idea that the believer 'dies' to him- or herself and becomes alive by identifying with Christ. This idea is enacted in immersion-style baptism, when the submergence of the believer is equated to death.
     
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