Jn 1:1, Colwell, Nelson Stdy Bible

From: Paul S. Dixon (dixonps@juno.com)
Date: Fri Aug 29 1997 - 03:11:55 EDT

In 1975 my Th.M. thesis, "The Significance of the Anarthrous Predicate
Nominative in John" (cited favorably several times in Wallace's recent
grammar) demonstrated that it was an inappropriate application of
Colwell's rule to use it to affirm the definiteness of QEOS in Jn 1:1c.

Colwell's rule says that definite predicate nouns preceding the verb tend
to be anarthrous. The rule affirms nothing about definiteness. Rather,
it assumes definiteness, then affirms the likelihood of the articularity
of the predicate noun. The rule does not say that anarthrous predicate
nouns preceding the verb (e.g., Jn 1:1c) tend to be definite. This is
the converse of the rule and as such may not be inferred. Colwell
himself drew this erroneous conclusion and many scholars since have
followed suit. The error is purely logical.

In order to argue for definiteness one would have to consider at least a
random sampling of anarthrous predicate nouns, then ascertain how many of
them were definite (or qualitative). This is what I did. Well, I
actually considered all the occurrences of the anarthrous predicate
nominatives in John. My thesis argues that normally the anarthous
predicate nominative in John is qualitative, especially when it precedes
the verb (94% of occurrences).

This morning I purchased the new Nelson Study Bible. This is what I
found on p. 1756 regarding the translation of Jn 1:1c::

        "The best understanding of the translation, however, as
recognized by Greek scholars, is that since theos is a predicate
and precedes the noun logos and a verb, it is natural for it to
occur here without the article."

Zounds! Colwell's error revisited. This statement clearly reflects the
erroneous thinking whereby the converse of Colwell's rule is affirmed.
Only if one assumes that QEOS is definite here can one appeal to
Colwell's rule. But, then that would be begging the question. The
question is, what is the significance of the anarthrous predicate
construction here? It is qualitative, both because of the immediate
context where QEOS is set in contrast to the qualitative SARZ in a
similar construction in v. 14, and because of the normal significance of
the construction in John. Furthermore, if QEOS in 1:1c were definite,
then this definiteness would point to the preceding TON QEON identifying
the LOGOS with God the Father. Would this not be Sabellianism and a
denial of the trinity?

For more check my homepage (http://users.aol.com/dixonps) where the
summary chapter of my thesis can be accessed.

Paul S. Dixon, Pastor
Ladd Hill Bible Church
Wilsonville, Oregon

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:26 EDT