Date: Thu Sep 04 1997 - 11:28:45 EDT
In a message dated 97-09-03 18:37:50 EDT, you write:
<< So what exactly do we mean by "the subject"? I'm afraid I need a formalism
here, because my intuition is failing me...if I write it like this, QEOS
feels like the subject:
QEOS GAR ESTIN hO ENERGWN EN hUMIN KAI TO QELEIN KAI O ENERGEIN hUPER THS
But if I just change the word order a little, hO ENERGWN feels like the
hO ENERGWN GAR EN hUMIN KAI TO QELEIN KAI O ENERGEIN hUPER THS EUDOKIAS QEOS
Now I'm pretty sure that there is a formal definition for subject that might
give us some clarity here...and that one of the many linguist types out
there can bail us out of this!
I tend to be influenced by linguistics when I interpret a passage, and I
habitually refer to the sentence and the "paragraph" when dealing with
If we picked up a scrap of paper, and found Jn 1:1c on it, maybe our options
would be as open as the discussion has indicated. However, in the immediate
context, the flow of John's argument nails hO LOGOS as the subject:
EN ARXH HN hO LOGOS
KAI O LOGOS HN PROS TON QEON
KAI QEOS HN hO LOGOS
hOUTOS HN EN ARCH PROS TON QEON
What we have is four phrases or kernels that are parallel in regards to the
subject. That is, hO LOGOS is the literal subject in the first three, and
the nominative pronoun hOUTOS refers to hO LOGOS.
The consideration of John 1:1c in its relationship to its immediate context
sheds light on the definite/indefinite/qualitative controversy also. The
anarthrous reference to QEOS in John 1:1c is sandwiched by two articular
QEONs in 1:1b and 1:2.
One must ask what a normal reading that was not results-driven would yield.
1. One option is that the three QEOS(V) references refer to the same thing,
and the fact that QEOS is anarthrous indicates that the quality(ies) of God
are in mind (as Paul Dixon has argued).
2. The other option is that the anarthrous reference in John 1:1c involves a
change in meaning of the same basic noun in the middle of a sequence. That
is, if 1:1c is translated, "The word was a god," then the word QEOS
represents an entirely different "thing" than is represented by TON QEON in
1:1b and 1:2. TON QEON would refer to God (the Father?), and QEOS would
refer to another God which is to be distinguished from God (the Father?). In
other words, John would be utilizing a form of a pun by changing the meaning
of the noun in the middle of a sequence. To maintain this, one must argue
that the use of the the anarthrous predicate nominative (in and of itself
with no other signals) clearly signals such a word play.
My position is that if John intended a word play, he would have signalled it
by saying clearly KAI ALLOS QEOS HN O LOGOS. In fact, that would have a very
nice ring to it. If that is what John meant, I think it would have been
Participants in this discussion have argued about the grammatic possiblities
of the clause in isolation at length. We should also consider the logical
probabilities as far as its immediate literary context is concerned. There
is also the cultural contextual issue that Paul Dixon has already raised.
In academic limbo
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:27 EDT