Theos in Jn.1

A little care with the philology is often worth a waggonload
of theological prejucdice.

First the word God functions both as a name and as a descriptor.
1. Zeus throws thunderbolts;  1b God throws thunderbolts
We can see that in 1 and in 1b we have a name or its equivalent.

2. Zeus is God, or 2c Zeus is a god
We can see that in these sentences the "same" word is behaving differently.
We have a description here rather than a name.

3. My favourite musician is "divine" We can see that here the term divine is
being used in a somewhat loose sense.

In Greek the term theos can cover uses 1 & 2.  The term theios
(note the iota) can cover uses 2 & 3.  Jn 1 could have used the latter if
some looser sense of "divine" was meant.  What we have is something more like
sense 2, but in a Johannine context we can exclude 2c.

So for 2a let us provisionally read "the word was (some description).
The point previous e-mailers have made about word order and use of the article should be noted car 
article should be noted carefully.  We can translate simply but inadequately
the logos was God.  But which sense of 2a do we have here?  The text
actually seems to offer a rhetorical device to indicate that we
do not have a statement of unqualified identity here.  The text places 
either side of the problematic phrase "the logos was with God".
This looks like a determined attempt to avert misreading.
I don't think in the light of the above that we should be quite so
hostile to "what God was the logos was".  It preserves
the "ladder" structure of the passage and it correctly points to some
kind of sense 2a for the word theos.

David M.
David L. Mealand            *    E-mail: David.Mealand%uk.ac.ed@ukacrl
University of Edinburgh     *    Office Fax: (+44)-31-650-6579
Scotland, U.K.  EH1 2LX     *    Office tel.:(+44)-31-650-8917 or 8921