Re: b-greek-digest V1 #492

-- [ From: Alan R. Craig * EMC.Ver #2.10P ] --

Mr. Moore:
> From: Dvdmoore@aol.com
> Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 19:33:33 -0500
> Subject: 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,
> >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."  

What you might not have noticed about the scholars I included is that
many of these do themselves opt (when translating) for "the Word was
God" reading.  Otherwise, when it comes down to examining what  they
explain that they know it is actually expressing, they each have shown
their understanding that this use of theos means "divine."  
(Interestingly, many of them have even included "divine" in their
internal private translations as their preferred reading.)

> 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
> was, the Word was.").  Sir Edwin Hoskyns (_The Fourth Gospel_ [London:
> 1947]), comments "It is impossible to reproduce in English [the
> presented by this verse].  The Coptic version alone has been able to
> reproduce the meaning of the original Greek.  The Word is
> from the Father, without, however, thereby introducing any suggestion
> lack of complete union between them" (p. 141).  

In this verse there is nothing there to suggest that "the Word" existed
in "complete union" with God, and thus to therefore identify him as
God.  As Westcott had said: "[theos without the article here] describes
the *nature* of the Word and *does not identify His person*."  
Westcott does go on to share with the reader that he believes that by
having described "the Word" as such would, in his view, put him into
the class with God.  This, in my opinion, is based only upon his
interpretation, that is, of what he believes he is seeing as being also
insinuated by John.  Although I do agree with his initial statement, I
don't buy Westcott's theology (e.g., interpretation and conclusion).

J.M.Creed said: "When the writers of the New Testament speak
of....Jesus Christ, they do not speak of him, nor do they think of him
as God."

Professor G.H.Boobyer explained: "If, therefore, on occasion they went
so far as to refer to Jesus as `God,'....they were not assigning Jesus
equality of status with God, and certainly did not intend to say that
ontologically he was God."

E.Brunner: "...we must honestly admit that the doctrine of the Trinity
did not form part of the early Christian - New Testament -
message....it cannot be denied that not only the word `Trinity,' but
even the explicit idea of the Trinity if absent from the apostolic
witness to the faith;....The idea of a `Triune God' does not form part
of the witness and message of Primitive Christianity."

The New Catholic Encyclopaedia: "Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had
been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or
perspective."  (For "Apostolic Fathers," R.J. Miller explained that
this is a term used to identify, "...a collection of early Christian
writings by authors who were thought to have been associated directly
or indirectly with the original apostles.")  

> 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
> exactly corresponds to "divine" (QEIOS), and it is not used here.

The fact that an `exact correspondence' for "divine" exists is, I
believe, irrelevant.  (Brown tells us {Anchor Bible} of Haenchen's
study to examine just this.)   Principally because the `Prologue' is
poetry.  Also, the point I initially made had aready addressed this
issue, particularly as respects the function of this noun in serving as
an adjective here, and so there was no need for another word to convey 
(much of, though not exactly) the same.
> >Interestingly, we do have a number of cases where such sentence
> >structures are duplicated, following the pattern which appears in
> >1:1.  Some of these are:  Mark 6:49; 11:32; John 4:19; 8:44 (twice);
> >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.  
> if that were the case, one might skip down just five verses and take
> example from Jn. 1:6 where anarthrous QEOS obviously means "God.") 
> construction we have here is an anarthrous noun, with predicate
> 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,
> the translations of Weymouth, Goodspeed, RSV, JB, Phillips, NASV who
> translate "God is Spirit." 

I think the point being missed is that at John 1:1c, we do not find
just an anathrous noun, but one that also preceeds the verb.  I do not
believe your examples follow that pattern, whereas mine do.

> Questions relative to this construction have been discussed quite a
> bit - - both on this list, and in other scholarly forums - ; some
> that the anarthrous, predicate noun in first position in
> like the one in Jn. 1:1 may be, either definite or indefinite,
> on the context (See David Wigtil's message to this list of 7/12/94). 

Thanks, I will search for this.  If I cannot locate it though, I would
appreciate it if you would post it again to me (CSRT29A@prodigy.com) as
I would like to examine it?

> Others see the anarthrous noun in first position as expressing the
> of the arthrous noun in the last position. 

Yes, as you point out here, the third catagory discussed (though rarely)
is the qualitative function of the precopulative anathrous noun; i.e.,
as in the examples I provided.

> Whichever of these may be the
> case, the translation "a god" does not fit in Jn. 1:1.

Actually, if you were to re-read my initial message, you would find
that as regards the third catagory, it `fits' just fine.  Perhaps
another example will make this clear.  A friend of mine has explained
it in this way: 

"Use of this type of expression in our everyday speech is common.  `He
is a brain'  `he is intelligent'; `he is a Caruso'  `he is a great
singer'; `she is an angel'  `she is sweet, compassionate'; `he is a
Spartan'  `he is brave, highly disciplined, hardy.'  In English, the
same word order is used with both an indefinite and qualitative
significance; however, emphasis or word stress shows the difference. 
In Greek, this is accomplished by word order; the verb before or after
the noun.  To draw an instance from English literature, we can focus
our attention on the play *Julius Caesar*, by William Shakespeare, act
5, scene 5, Marc Antony says of the dead Brutus: `His life was gentle,
and the elements So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up And say to
all the world, "This was a man!"'  
`This was a man,' the gender of Brutus is not here being identified;
there was never a question, `is Brutus a man or a woman?'  What is
denoted is the fact taht Brutus acted in a manly way, he had courage,
strength of purpose.  Brutus was, in Antony's opinon, a *man!*  With
this it is clear what is meant by the phrase, `the Word was a god;' the
Word was, godlike, holy, righteous, divine and virtuous."  And again,
the Word was not `the God,' not `God,' not `*a* god,' that is, `one of
the gods'; the Word was `a *god*,' meaning, `god-like,' "divine."

> 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
> 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
> in Jn. 1:1b.

"The most logical way," I beg to differ.  In fact, I would like to see
how you would explain (logically) the `identifying' term "God" as a way
to `refer to the *nature* of the Logos.'   Again, John is *not* using
theos to `identify' the Logos' person, but to describe his *nature.* 
Mind you, if  (because of your Trinitarian theology) you do read into
this that Jesus, by virture of his being described as "divine," that he
must therefore also be God, that is fine.  Although I would not myself
come to that conclusion, the point is, that when one does arrive at
that conclusion (as Wescott above), it is only ones theology that can
tell one so, not this Scripture.  

As far as the "larger context of the Gospel of John," J.M.Creed
observed: "...the Prologue to St.John, which comes nearest to the
Nicene Doctrine, must be read in the light of the *pronounced
subordinationism of the Gospel as a whole*.

Further, Boobyer also admitted: "...is it not a fact that right through
the New Testament the reader again and again encounters material which,
implicitly or explicitly, represents Jesus as of lesser rank than God? 
And is it not of special significance that this position is maintained,
even where the New Testament is speaking of the person and functions of
the celestial Christ active in heaven after his resurrection and

So, I find myself rather agreeing with them for I have observed the
same.  In fact, when it even comes to the Bible as a whole and how
Trinitarians have attempt to represent it otherwise, Schaff-Herzog also
admits: "...it is a remarkable fact, that no single passage or verse of
the Old or New Testament is received as an assured proof-text of the
Trinity by the unanimous consent of all Trinitarian writers; some
ground their faith on one passage, some on another."

What might be even more curious to others is that all those of whom I
have quoted are themselves (as far as I know) professed Trinitarians.  

Alan Craig,
Upper Marlboro, Maryland, USA