Re: John 3:5 and the genetive

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Sat Mar 15 1997 - 00:21:28 EST

At 5:53 PM +0000 3/14/97, Adrian Popa wrote:
>Micheal Palmer wrote:
>> Still, I'm not sure that it does do away with the ambivalence of
>> ANWQEN. ANWQEN can mean 'again' or 'from above'. The distinction
>> between physical and spiritual birth PRESERVES this duality: You
>> are born the first time from below (physically), then a second
>> time--agian--from above (spiritually). Both meanings of ANWQEN are
>> assumed.
>If I understand this correctly, Michael, you apply the ambivalence of
>ANWQEN only to PNEUMATOS. But, in my view, it should apply to the whole
>phrase, EX hUDATOS KAI PNEUMATOS. (That's what at least the parallelism
>between vv. 3 and 5, as well as the use of the preposition EK, imply).
>If water-birth were to stand for natural birth, as you are inclined to
>believe, it could neither mean "another birth" (as Nicodemus wrongly
>took it) nor "birth from above" (as Jesus probably meant it).

No. I apply the ambivalence to the whole phrase. Water birth represents the
(1) first birth, (2) birth from below (each is the opposite of one of the
senses of ANWQEN. Spirit birth represents the (1) second birth, (2) birth
from above (each being one of the senses of ANWQEN.

>In the other interpretation, which I would find more defensible, Jesus
>speaks of _one_ birth from _two_ elements. Carson, I think, compares
>this expression (with two anarthrous nouns governed by the same
>preposition) to DI' hUDATOS KAI hAIMATOS in 1 John 5.6 -- the latter
>referring to _one_ coming via _two_ distinct events.

This is a great example of a 'grammatical rule' developed to defend a
particular interpretation of a number of texts. [I'm *not* saying that
CARSON has done that, just that the supposed rule he appears to have cited
is that kind of rule.] As far as I can tell, the supposed rule has no
validity. Two anarthrous nouns governed by a single preposition do not have
to refer to a single event/entity, although they sometimes do in fact refer
to the same event/entity. What Carson MAY have in mind (I haven't read the
work you refered to earlier) is the ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI-NOUN construction, to
which Dan Wallace has devoted a considerable amount of research. Carson may
think that PREPOSITION-NOUN-KAI-NOUN should follow a similar logic. As far
as I have been able to determine, there is no justification for this

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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