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

From: Williams, Wes (
Date: Tue Sep 02 1997 - 21:10:08 EDT

I hesitate to terminate this thread because it is only now that we have
reached the central issue. Paul wrote regarding the prefixing of
qualitative nouns with the English "a":

> So what if we translate "a sinner" instead of "sinful?". Even
> though the qualitative nuance does not imply this, the "a"
> translation might suggest that there are other sinners.
> This is true, of course, so it doesn't bother us. It doesn't
> come from the Greek, but it still corresponds to reality.

> But, when we come to Jn 1:1c, this is a different story. The
> translation "a god," suggesting a god among other true gods,
> runs contrary to what orthodox Christianity has always believed.
> Therefore, let's translate it as clearly and unambiguously as
> possible to reflect the qualitative nuance. "A god" won't do.

We have now finally reached the core issue behind the John 1:1c
This comment perhaps represents the limits of this thread within the
constraints of b-greek. I suggest that holding "what orthodox
Christianity has always believed" as an authority is not the final word,
especially due to the debates on the definition ("nature") of QEOS from
the second century through the fourth (so, perhaps not "always"). But I
will not pursue that thread on b-greek since "what orthodox Christianity
has always believed" is out of scope. I suggest that we meditate on what
scripture Greek text itself says.

The comment "The translation 'a god,' suggesting a god among other true
gods," is not a conclusion to which "a god" necessarily points and is
certainly NOT what I believe John had in mind when he penned his words!
I refer to B-A-G-D, noting ALHQINOS ("true" as in "the only _true_

ALHQINOS... 3. genuine, real... Of God in contrast to other gods, who
are not _real_..._true_ in the sense of the reality possesed only by the
archetype, not by its copies.

Therefore, if we agree that there is one "only true God" (cf. John 17:3
- v.1, the Father), then "a god" could legitimately suggest a
representative of the archetype. This fits well with John 10:34 QEOI
ESTE, who were representatives of the archetype, God, but were
themselves called "gods". Also cf. Ps 8:5 LXX - Hebrews 2:7. Therefore,
"a god" need not refer to the extreme conclusion suggested above,
namely, that of many true gods.

To address the issue in my own mind (of anarthrous PNs), I also did a
study of precopulative anarthrous predicate singular nominatives in the
book of John two years ago, which I see was recently posted on this
list. I refer all to this list to view and meditate on the source
material for themselves. I think the results argue against ANY kind of
"rule" or "suggestion percentage" that precopulative anarthrous singular
predicate nominatives are definite, qualitative, or indefinite (although
anarthrous nominative nouns are usually not definite, but not always).
The type of noun it is appears to come from an indication in the
context, as John Albu noted. I suggest that the source itself shows that
a precopulative nominative usually implies a certain emphasis over
postcopulative nominatives.

Although I very respectfully differ with Paul as to the significance of
the singular precopulative anarthrous PN, I do value his research and
his courage to speak up against the tide and popularity of Colwell's
rule these many years.


Wes Williams

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