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

From: gjordan (
Date: Wed Sep 03 1997 - 01:07:44 EDT

On Tue, 2 Sep 1997, Paul S. Dixon wrote:

> 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

Johns's Gospel is very accomplished at deploying literary figures, and
utilizing deliberate polysemy. Wes Williams has already rightly pointed
out John 10.35 etc. where a lesson on the ambiguity of "theos" (using a
Psalm as perversely as Derrida to make the point!) is explicitly placed
into the mouth of Jesus himself. So I think, even if "theos" has one
certain main meaning, which works best to explain the narrative and
context in this case, still the author/redactor must have been aware
of the related terms & concepts it evoked, and so done it deliberately.

> 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
> case.

Last I checked OED (I think), "God" in English is almost always a proper
noun, which is about as definite as definite can get - it is "this one"
when there is no "other."

> 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."

I'm not clear on how "deity" conveys qualitativeness - actually, I'm not
clear on exactly how any substantive can be objectively and infallibly
determined to have a "qualitative" sense. I haven't read your relevant
chapters, but based on posts here the criteria seem to be contextual
clues - a subjective, interpretive approach. "All... in essence and
being" seems to be equating the substantive senses of the two definite
nouns, not using a qualitative aspect of either of them.

Greg Jordan

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