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

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Tue Sep 02 1997 - 12:52:38 EDT

On Tue, 2 Sep 1997 14:52:23 +0200 (MET DST) Rolf Furuli
<> writes:
>Colewell was the first to show that the place of the anarthrous
>predicate nominative in the clause could have semantic importance, but
>opposition was definiteness/indefiniteness and he did not take
>into account. You have made an excellent study of the qualitativness of

>the mentioned constructions in John with the opposition

I'm not sure what you mean by your phraseology, "opposition
qualitative/definite, indefinite." But, later on you say about my work,
"you have only considered qualitativeness and not

You are wrong. While Colwell considered only definite predicate nouns in
his study (and so could only make conclusions about such), I considered
all the anarthrous predicate nominative constructions in John's Gospel,
then determined which and how many of these were qualitative, definite,
or indefinite, respectively. Big, huge difference. Check the summary
chapter of my Th.M. thesis for more on this

> P.B. Harner (JBL 1973:75-87) studied
>the mentioned constructions in Mark and John from the point of view of
>qualitativness without any oppositions. His conclusions were that in
>predicate nominatives preceding the verb the qualitative force usually
>is prominent but they may at the same time also be definite or
>indefinite, and one of these latter characteristics may even be the most
>prominent one.

I don't recall that Harner actually said this, but I'll look into it.
Regardless, are you espousing the view that a word or words can and do
often have more than one meaning? Unless the author meant a double
entente (very rare and highly unlikely here), then it seems we are left
to look for his singular, intended meaning. It seems now that we have
established that QEOS in Jn 1:1c is qualitative, then you are not content
with that and in order to push your "a god" translation are opting now
for a double meaning. Your appeal to Lk 20:38 and Jn 6:70 don't prove
anything. Where are the double meanings there? QEOS in Lk 20:38
certainly is not indefinite. It is either definite (preferrable because
of the preceding verse) or qualitative, but not both. Likewise, I found
DIABOLOS in Jn 6:70 to be qualitative. Sure, it is translated "a devil,"
but even this translation does not imply indefiniteness, as often
qualitativeness in English is translated in a similar fashion. But, this
does not mean the qualitative QEOS in Jn 1:1c could or should be
translated, "a god." If such a translation communicates indefiniteness,
as it probably would in Jn 1:1, then we should stear away from it.
Likewise, if the translation "a devil" in Jn 6:70 communicates one among
others, then we should probably opt for something more like, "demonic, or

>for may years, even up to the present, Colewell's rule has been
>used to rule out the rendition "a god" and also "divine". You have in an
>way shown this to be erroneous because Colwell only took into
>consideration the opposition definiteness/indefiniteness and not
>qualitativeness. Now it is important that your rule does not take over
the >erroneous place of Colwell`s, because you have only considered
>qualitativeness and not definiteness/indefinitess. This means that on
the basis >of your thesis it cannot be ruled out that QEOS in 1:1 is both
qualitative and
>indefinite, thus justifying the English "a god". In fact, as shown

I repeat. You have totally misunderstood what I did in my thesis. You
are totally wrong when you say, "you have only considered qualitativeness
and not definiteness/indefiniteness." I considered all the anarthrous
predicate nominative constructions in John's Gospel (not just the
qualitative ones), then determined exegetically which and how many of
these were definite, indefinite, or qualitative. This was in contrast to
Colwell's admitted consideration of only definite anarthrous predicate

>The conclusion is that >>(1),>>(3) and >>(4) are equally possible on
>linguistic grounds; contextually speaking, because of the phrase PROS
>TON QEON, the preference is on >>(3) or >>(4); but the ultimate choice
>words must be based on theology. Pauvre lecteur!

If the translation "God" in Jn 1:1c communicates definiteness, then it
should not be used. For most readers, however, I don't think this is the

I do totally reject the translation "a god" because the correct nuance of
QEOS is qualitative, and "a god" can and probably would communicate
indefiniteness here.

The best translation may be one that clearly and unambiguously
communicates qualitativeness, either "deity," "divine," or more
paraphrastically, "all that the Father was in essence and being, that
also was the Logos."

Your refusal to accept the clearer and unambiguous rendering of the
mutually agreed upon qualitative QEOS, your steadfast adherence to the "a
god" translation in spite of the evidence, and now your appeal to a
double meaning (qualitative and indefinite) are sufficient argument
against your case.

Paul S. Dixon

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:27 EDT