Re: Jn 1:1, Colwell, Nelson Stdy Bible

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Fri Aug 29 1997 - 12:46:37 EDT

On Fri, 29 Aug 1997 06:11:02 -0500 "Carl W. Conrad"
<> writes:
>At 2:11 AM -0500 8/29/97, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>>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
>>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?
>I agree wholeheartedly with the substance of Paul's thesis here and
>his complaint about the Nelson Study Bible: that the absence of an
>before QEOS in John 1:1c need not be an indicator that QEOS is
>definite; I agree too that I think we should understand QEOS as
qualitative, and
>in fact, I've always like best the version (was it J. B. Phillips?):
>and what God was, the Word was."
>Methodologically, however, the last sentence bothers me: it seems to
>imply that we should judge the meaning and intent of the Greek text in
>of what later becomes a recognized heresy and in terms of what is later
>declared to be right theology. I would think that one ought to
>determine first what the Greek text CAN mean, and only then go on to
make a
>judgment about whether that accords with this or that theological
>That is to say, I would think that right theology derives from a right
>of the text, not a right reading of the text from right theology.
>But this is an area--the theology of hermeneutics?--or is it the
>hermeneutics of theology?--that is not very properly one of B-Greek
>focus. It's quite enough, I think, to focus upon what the Greek text
can or
>must mean on its own terms, and to leave to the theologians to read out
>implications of that meaning.

Yes, you are right, Carl. Theology must come from exegesis, not vice
versa. Yet, there is a place for theology in exegesis. If our exegesis
leads us to conclusions that contradict our theology, then one of two
things must result. Either we must change our theology, or we must
reconsider our exegesis.

Of course, we practice the latter all the time when we "compare Scripture
with Scripture." It's a fine line, to be sure, and your point is well
taken. Thanks.

Paul Dixon

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