QEOS in Jn 1:1c

From: Paul S. Dixon (dixonps@juno.com)
Date: Wed Sep 03 1997 - 13:23:15 EDT

b-greek list:

I was content to let this thread die, but others, including lurkers, have
assured me it is or has been profitable. So, rather than try to respond
to all my opponents individually, let me try to synthesize the arguments
and respond accordingly.

The argument has progressed to this stage, in my judgment. I argued that
QEOS in Jn 1:1c is qualitative, and not definite nor indefinite, for the
following reasons:

        1. It is qualitative, because:
                a. the first two clauses of verse 1 give us two
qualities (pre-existence and personality) of the Logos and we should
probably expect a third quality in parallel,
                b. the contrasting parallel between QEOS in Jn 1:1c and
SARX in a similar construction in 1:14 argue for it,
                c. in 94% of occurrences of similar constructions in
John's Gospel (anarthrous precopulative predicate nominatives) I found
the significance to be qualitative. In his grammar, "Beyond the Basics,"
Wallace agrees with my conclusions, though he thinks the percentage may
be a bit high and cites Harner whose findings elsewhere in the NT were
closer to 80%. Nevertheless ...

        2. It is not definite, nor indefinite, because:
                a. I assumed, by definition, that the nuance of a noun
is one and only one of the three possibilities. This assumption has been
severely criticized by the opponents. While they seem to accept the
qualitative nuance, they argue the indefinite nuance is also there, and
therefore the "a god" translation must not and cannot be ruled out as a
possibility. They have cited Harris and Harner for support of their
thinking on this.
                b. This touches directly upon a basic issue of
hermeneutics, one which should not be taken lightly. Does scripture,
including its individual words, mean one thing, or are we to look for two
or more meanings? I believe there is one and only one essential meaning.
 And, I believe this is essential to the orderliness of God and to His
revelation. If somebody would like to demonstrate from scripture
otherwise, fine. Go ahead.

When I rejected "the Word was a god" as a viable translation, I was
accused of circular reasoning. Not so, if you follow my argument above.
It hinges, of course, upon my basic hermeneutic assumption.

Finally, I would like to address a point Clay Bartholomew brought up. I
rejected as a possible translation of Jn 1:1c, "and god was the Word,"
because it was "bad Greek." Clay cited Harris who argued that it could
be translated that way and who then appealed to Jn 1:18 for support.

I argue it is still bad Greek. First of all, Jn 1:18 is no parallel with
1:1c. I am not saying that an anarthrous noun cannot serve as the
subject. What I am saying is, in a sentence or clause containing an
articular noun and an anarthrous noun (such as in Jn 1:1c, but not 1:18)
the rule is that the subject is denoted by the articular noun. Can
anybody give me an exception to this rule in the Greek NT? LXX? Other
Greek writings? Is there any Greek writing where in the same sentence or
clause an anarthrous noun is the subject and an articular noun is the
predicate nominative?

Paul S. Dixon

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