Definiteness with verbs of being

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Michael Abernathy
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Joined: June 3rd, 2011, 10:49 am

Definiteness with verbs of being

Post by Michael Abernathy » October 5th, 2011, 10:50 pm

The recent discussion on John 1:1 reminded me of a few principles that I don't remember being brought up concerning definiteness with verbs of being. I was wondering if these points were overlooked or just not considered correct today.
First, Goetchius in The Language of the New Testament notes on page 46 that when used with a verb of being the predicate nominative generally lacks the article not because it is indefinite but to distinguish it from the subject.He cites 1 John 4:8 ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν to make his point.
Smyth's grammar makes a similar statement on page 282.

Second, Goetchius goes on to state that when the predicate nominative precedes the verb it generally lacks the article even though it may be necessary to translate it as definite.
Referring to Mark 15:39 οὑ̂τος ὁ ἄνθρωπος υἱὸς θεου̂ ἠ̂ν he argues that it could be translated "This man was the Son of the God" or "This man was a son of God."

Robertson also indicates that the article is often absent when used with the predicate in a context that suggests this absence does not detract from the definiteness of the noun. See Page 794 of his large grammar.
As I understand these comments, grammar alone may not determine the whether a predicate nominative should be translated as indefinite, qualitative, or definite.
Without rehashing John 1:1 would somebody care to comment?
Michael Abernathy
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