Subject: JN 1:1
From: ROBERT MONDORE <MONDORER@a1.cs.hscsyr.edu>
Date: 28 Jan 1994 07:50:00 -0500 (EST)
Posting-Date: 28 Jan 1994 05:00:00 -0500 (EST)
There have been many excellent postings concerning John 1:1.
It is good to know that so many defenders of the faith are up on
the technicalities of the rich Greek background of this passage.
Not to belabor the point, but just a caution to those who may not
be so well versed.
Much ado is given to the issue as to whether there is a definite article
or not before the word Theos (God). While this is good and proper, the
words of the great master, A.T. Robertson, should be remembered to counter
those who would belittle Christ by mistranslating John 1:1c. (I am
speaking to those who have not delved deeply into these matters, not
to those who have already responded with such great scholarship).
Robertson made it clear that in classical Greek, the word Theos would have
the definite article before it if it referred to the god of "absolute religion"
in distinction from the "mythological gods." BUT (and that is a big "but") in
the New Testament that is NOT so. This is not to say that the article is
unimportant, quite to the contrary...as some of the posted messages have
brilliantly pointed out. However, for reasons pointed out above, it may
be beneficial to see A.T. Robertson's words on this important matter.
"Among the ancient writers [ho theos] was used of the god of absolute
religion in distinction from the mythological gods. Gildersleeve (Syntax,
pp. 232-236) gives a full discussion of the subject. In the N.T, however,
while we have [pros ton theon] (John 1:1,2), it is far more common to
find simply [theos], especially in the Epistles."
---A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, In the Light of Historical Research,
pg. 761, A.T. Robertson.
What I am trying to communicate is this...
Many cultists who try to denigrate Christ to the status of a lesser god,
start out by saying, "Well, you see that John 1:1c has no definite article
before the word theos, therefore Christ is not really God but just is
a god-like being, just as the angels are." And so the argument goes.
A.T. Robertson shows that this simplistic argument just plain holds no
validity. I put Robertson to the test :-), and found that literally
hundreds of verses throughout the N.T. as well as the LXX have theos
without the definite article when referring to Almighty God.
As scholars will say, context rules. What is the context of John 1:1?
Try looking at John 1:3. That is the unmistakable context. The Scriptures
teach us that God alone created the universe. John (as well as Paul) teach
that this act was performed through Christ. (Compare Hebrews 2:10...
It is "through" God whereby all things are).
Other great biblical (koine) Greek scholars shed light on this situation.
I will not go into this in detail, but Dana and Mantey show us
that the (Greek) wording of John 1:1 indicates "[that] other persons of the
Trinity may be implied..."
---A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament,
pg. 149, H.E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey.
I hope I have been of some help to the original questioner, and hope
that he will personally contact me should he require more information.
Robert J. Mondore