Re: Jn. 1:1c

CSRT29A@prodigy.com (Alan Craig) writes:

>I think that when one considers the many times that scholars and
>translators have opted for the rendering and/or meaning of theos at
>Jn.1:1c as "divine" (Moffatt, Goodspeed, Abbott, Plummer, Schaff,
>Thayer, Strachan, Summers, Schonfield, Berkeley, McKenzie, McHardy &
>Moulton, Metzger, Zerwick, Cupitt, O'Grady, Goguel, Stage, Bohmer,
>Wiese, Menge, Bock, Pfafflin, Schneider, Haenchen, Heitmuller, Lindars,
>etc.), perhaps the difficulty of accepting the rendering of it as "a
>god" can be put into proper perspective.

     There are also many scholars who have opted for rendering, "And the Word
was God."  A funny thing about translating: often one must opt for what best
conveys the idea of the original rather than holding out for an exact
correspondence to the original text (Cf. the NEB's "and what God was, the
Word was.").  Sir Edwin Hoskyns (_The Fourth Gospel_ [London: 1947]),
comments "It is impossible to reproduce in English [the nuance presented by
this verse].  The Coptic version alone has been able to reproduce the meaning
of the original Greek.  The Word is distinguished from the Father, without,
however, thereby introducing any suggestion of lack of complete union between
them" (p. 141).  

     Another indication that "the Word was divine" is not an adequate
rendering of QEOS HN O( LOGOS is that there is a word in Koine Greek that
exactly corresponds to "divine" (QEIOS), and it is not used here.

>Interestingly, we do have a number of cases where such sentence
>structures are duplicated, following the pattern which appears in John
>1:1.  Some of these are:  Mark 6:49; 11:32; John 4:19; 8:44 (twice); 9:
>17; 10:1, 13, 33; 12:6.  

>One of my favorites is found at John 6:70....

     Syntactically, there are solid reasons to believe that Jn. 1:1c is not a
case of a simply anarthrous noun as the above examples imply.  (Even if that
were the case, one might skip down just five verses and take an example from
Jn. 1:6 where anarthrous QEOS obviously means "God.")  The construction we
have here is an anarthrous noun, with predicate meaning, positioned before
the verb (3rd person of EIMI); and an arthrous noun, which serves as the
subject, positioned after the verb.  A couple of similar constructions to
look at might be Mark 2:28 KURIOS ESTIN O( UI(OS... and Jn. 4:24 PNEUMA [scl.
ESTIN] O( QEOS.  On the latter, take the translations of Weymouth, Goodspeed,
RSV, JB, Phillips, NASV who translate "God is Spirit." 

     Questions relative to this construction have been discussed quite a bit
- both on this list, and in other scholarly forums - ; some hold that the
anarthrous, predicate noun in first position in constructions like the one in
Jn. 1:1 may be, either definite or indefinite, depending on the context (See
David Wigtil's message to this list of 7/12/94).  Others see the anarthrous
noun in first position as expressing the nature of the arthrous noun in the
last position.  Whichever of these may be the case, the translation "a god"
does not fit in Jn. 1:1.  In the case of the former, the context is against
it; both the immediate context and the larger context of the Gospel of John
portray the Logos (Christ) as being of one nature with the Creator.  If, as
postulated in the latter case, QEOS refers to the nature of the Logos, then
the most logical way to understand the anarthrous QEOS would be in reference
to God as mentioned in Jn. 1:1b.

David L. Moore