“And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.”” (John 7:12, ESV)
John uses an interesting word to describe what the crowd at the Feast of Tabernacles was saying about Jesus. The Greek word is γογγυσμός, which the ESV correctly translates as “muttering.”
It’s interesting to compare English translations here because the translators use a wide variety of words to capture what was happening among the throngs of people as they talked about Christ and what his goals were:
- There was a lot of grumbling about him – NLT
- There was widespread whispering about him – NIV
- There was considerable complaining about him – NRSV
- There was a lot of contentious talk about him – MESS
The word meaning—and no doubt the actual historical event—is probably captured in a combination of all of these translations. Jesus caused a lot of muttering, grumbling, whispering, complaining, contentious talk due to his actions and his words.
The funny thing is, here we are 2000 years later and those who talk about Jesus are still doing this sometimes!