Pronoun demands a referent 1 John 1

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Andrew Chapman
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Location: Oxford, England

Re: Pronoun demands a referent 1 John 1

Post by Andrew Chapman » September 12th, 2014, 7:57 am

Alan Patterson wrote: 1ὃ ἦν ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς

ὃ functions as a conceptual (it references the topic to be discussed, the big picture) antecedent or "postcedent," as here. Indeed, it could be cogently argued that it refers to περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς.
Surely the relative pronoun is not the antecedent or postcedent. The antecedent or postcedent is the noun or substantive which the relative pronoun refers to, is it not?

Actually, in the grammars (Smyth, Robertson) they say 'antecedent' whether it comes before or after. Is that because it is logically prior, or somesuch?

Smyth 2509 says the demostrative pronoun is often omitted when the relative clause precedes the main clause. If τοῦτο is accepted as the grammatical antecedent, then I think it would be confusing to introduce a new idea of a 'conceptual antecedent', which might be something else. Clearly, when one reaches περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς, one finds out more about what this τοῦτο is about - it's like a descriptor of the antecedent. We're building up a picture: this was a) from the beginning b) something we heard e) something we touched..

But then again, one could see each of the relative pronouns with their implied demonstrative as having a different referent: ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν for example is the sum total to the audial messages received, to put it very prosaically - and then περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς could be telling us what the messages were about. Of course, they all naturally amalgamate themselves into something which seems to me to be primarily their witness of the word of life. This we announce to you..

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Jonathan Robie
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Location: Durham, NC

Re: Pronoun demands a referent 1 John 1

Post by Jonathan Robie » September 14th, 2014, 3:39 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
John Brainard wrote:Would the referent be τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς or would it be something else?
Relative pronouns without an apparent antecedent can be understood to suppress a demonstrative. Think of it these ὅ as equivalent to τοῦτο ὅ, "that which."
I agree.

Pronouns sometimes do not have an antecedent, in English or in Greek. "Headless relative clauses" are relative clauses without an explicit antecedent. And in fact, the whole point of this sentence structure is to withhold the subject while building up a series of statements about it, there is a sense of suspense and mystery to it.
ἦν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς,
ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν,
ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν,
περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς—
... and this far into the text, the subject still hasn't been explicitly stated ...

A pronoun does not "demand a referent".
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;

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