Re: On Colwell's Rule

Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church (
Wed, 21 Aug 1996 09:48:32 -0700 (PDT)

You misunderstand if you think that my exegesis of theos in Jn
1:1c is based upon the Trinitarian argument regarding Sabellianism.
We certainly do not have to resort to reading our theology into the
passage here (of course, that is not always wrong - comparing scripture
with scripture is essentially that). But for those who argue for the
definiteness of theos in 1:1c on the basis of the immediately preceding
pros tov theon, then what they are saying is that the Logos was God the
Father. This, of course, is Sabellianism and a denial of the Trinity
to which I was referring.
Attempts to argue for definiteness here because of Colwell's rule
is the abuse of Colwell's rule which prompted the writing of my thesis.
His rule cannot be used to affirm definiteness here, because his rule
affirms only the probability of articularity - not definiteness, which he
The force of theos is qualitative. My thesis shows that the
probability to be 88% (for anarthrous predicate nominatives in general in
John's Gospel), and 94% for precopulative anarthrous predicate
nominatives. Furthermore, the contrast with v. 14 argues for
qualitativeness (diety ... humanity). Also, the parallel with the
preceding clauses argues for it (the preexistence of the Logos [1;1a],
the distinct personality with the Father [1:1b], etc.).

Paul S. Dixon, Pastor Check out my doctoral product:
Ladd Hill Bible Church "The Evangelism of Christ: a Model for
Wilsonville, OR 97070 Evangelism Today"

On Wed, 21 Aug 1996, Mike Phillips wrote:

> > From: Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church <>, on
> 8/21/96 10:53 AM:
> > Mike:
> > The author of John's prologue was certainly not versed in the
> > doctrine of the Trinity as we now know it <wink>. Does that mean any
> > argument for the doctrine of the Trinity from the Gospel is therefore to
> > be discarded?
> Please note, this is my second reply to you on this subject. It would
> be helpful if you read the other first on this matter, if only to place this
> one in appropriate perspective. The vagaries of email don't ensure you will
> receive them in the order in which I posted them, so I offer this intro as a
> means of alerting the reader that some context is missing if you don't read the
> other first.
> Now, Paul. I note you have posted to two forums (I hadn't noted this
> before), one for Greek Exegesis, and one for Greek Studies. I had to reexamine
> the invitations I received to each to decide again, whether to follow up in the
> vein of the question as you asked it. I choose not to, given my understanding
> of the forum. However, your mileage may vary.
> Yet, your quesion raises a counter question. Is it exegesis if we view
> the text through a trinitarian lens and determine what it must or must not mean
> given the lens we know it must be viewed through (my tongue, admittedly, is in
> my cheek)? I don't believe so. Hence, not only does my intitial comment on
> the logic of your take stand, but this follows: any exegesis which applies the
> doctrine of the Trinity _as we understand it_ (underlined) to authors, texts
> and communities who, historically did not share our convictions regarding the
> verity of our present day claims, risks being eisegesis. That doesn't mean it
> won't preach, Paul, it just means it shouldn't publish <smile> without being
> critiqued for what it is.
> Best wishes,
> -------------
> Mike Phillips
> A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging;
> it is the skin of living thought and changes from day
> to day as does the air around us. - Oliver Wendell Holmes