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En el principio era el Verbo
The Meaning of Christmas, with Vocabulary Guide
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The Biblical accounts of the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke are well-known, even to those who rarely step into a church. But another Gospel account of Christmas is less well-known, probably because it takes the form of a somewhat abstract theological treatise explaining the meaning of Christmas rather than telling a story. That is an account in the Gospel of John, reproduced below in Spanish with a vocabulary guide as an aid in either learning or translating.

The translation (the Gospel of John was written in Greek) is from the traditional Reina-Valera translation, which comes from approximately the same era as the King James Version of the Bible. It is interesting to note that Spanish has changed less than English has during that time. The passage below is quite understandable to those who know Spanish. But there are at least two differences worth nothing: 1) An accent is used over the prepositiona, making it á, and the fue form of ser, making it fué. Those accents have disappeared from modern Spanish. 2) The literary imperfect subjunctive form of verbs is used. The form isn't used in speech today and seldom appears in modern writing.

A vocabulary list appears below the passage for words that are neither basic to Spanish nor English cognates. And if you're using a browser that supports JavaScript, you can get translations of boldfaced words bypassing the mouse over them. The translation will appear in the status bar, usually at the bottom of the browser window.

En el principio era el Verbo, y el Verbo era con Dios, y el Verbo era Dios. Este era en el principio con Dios. Todas las cosas por él fueron hechas; y sin él nada de lo que es hecho, fué hecho. En él estaba la vida, y la vida era la luz de los hombres. Y la luz en las tinieblas resplandece; mas las tinieblas no la comprendieron. Fué un hombre enviado de Dios, el cual se llamaba Juan. Este vino por testimonio, para que diese testimoniode la luz, para que todos creyesen porél. No era él la luz, sino para que diese testimonio de la luz. Aquel era la luz verdadera, que alumbra á todo hombre que viene á este mundo.

En el mundoestaba, y el mundo fué hecho por él; y el mundo no le conoció. A lo suyo vino, y los suyos no le recibieron. Mas á todos los que le recibieron potestad de ser hechos hijos de Dios, á los que creen en su nombre: Los cuales no son engendrados de sangre, ni de voluntad de carne, ni de voluntad de varón, mas de Dios. Y aquel Verbo fué hecho carne,y habitó entre nosotros (y vimos su gloria, gloria como del unigénito del Padre), lleno de gracia y de verdad.

Vocabulary Guide

alumbrar: to illuminate, to give sight to the blind
carne: figuratively, humankind; literally, flesh or meat
Dios:
God
engendrar: to procreate, engender
habitar: to inhabit
hecho: participle of hacer, to make
mundo: world
la potestad: power, authority
el principio: the beginning
recibir: to receive
resplandecer: to glitter, to shine
sangre: blood
la tiniebla: gloom, darkness, confusion
unigénito: only begotten
el varón: male, man
el Verbo: the Word (in other contexts, verbo can mean "verb")
verdadera: true, real
la vida: live
la voluntad: the will

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