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

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Wed Sep 03 1997 - 13:26:38 EDT

I agree that this thread is just now *really* beginning to
get interesting, since all this other stuff has been covered
repeatedly. I'd love to get hip deep in this but, alas, I
don't have the time at present. However, three things have
caught my eye that I'd like some clarification and/or
response to...

1) Paul, I wonder if you'd be willing to go thru the list
compiled by Wes (and posted by John Albu) and comment on
the verses which he/they indicate as Colwell's construction
but are indefinite.

2) Greg Jordan wrote:

>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."

I'd like you to define "proper noun" because you are using it in
a way that I'm not familiar with; proper noun is normally used to
refer to someone's, some place's, or something's *name*, Bob, Jim,
Detroit, Post Office, April (month), Dallas Cowboys. QEOS is, as far
as I can tell, not the *name*, either first or last, of the Creator
of the universe...YHWH *may* be His name, but not QEOS. QEOS is a
personal noun, like "man/ANQRWPOS". Thus it (which goes to your
second question about qualitativeness) can be used as definite,
indefinite, and qualitative; just like "man", i.e, "the man",
"a man", "man(kind)", or "the God", "a god", "god(like), deity (ie.,
possessing all the attributes necessary to meet the qualifications
of the class).

3) Rolf has suggested that nouns can be *both* indefinite and
qualitative at the same time; I'd be interested in seeing some
unambiguous examples of that phenomenon, in which it is clear that
the writer did not intend a double-entendre, ie., he didn't mean
both things separately, but that he uses the term intending both
things inseparately (ie., I take it that John 1:5 means both
"comprehend" and "overcome", but not that both things are happening
at the same time; they are two separate processes being referred to
by the same word through a deliberate amibuity; I take it that
John does the same thing with ANWQEN). And since John does indulge
himself in deliberate ambiguities, its *possible* that he is doing
so in John 1:1 (I personally doubt it); but if he is, I would
suspect that he means both *definite* and *qualitative*, but
clearly not *indefinite*

A final observation about theology and exegesis; personally I
really don't care what the theologians throughout history have
said about a passage anymore than I care what Carl Conrad has
said about a passage, ie., I care about both equally...they are
the learned discourse of other interpreters. Nevertheless,
theology *does* have an important bearing on how I interpret
the text, but its not systematics (which was NEVER designed for
that purpose), but Biblical Theology. There is an *internal*
theological perspective of the text (which for me extends to the
whole of the NT and OT; for some of you it would only extend to
the one document under analysis...I can't see that it makes that
much difference for this discussion), and it is that internal
theology which must be taken into account when narrowing down
the possibilities presented by the grammatical and lexical
phenomena of any given passage...unless, of course you assume
that writers are either schizophrenic, massively confused about
what they are discussing, or just too stupid to remember what
they have written on the topic elsewhere. In this case, the
question I ask myself is, does John (or any other NT writer)
refer to Jesus as "a god among many/others" or does anyone refer
to him as if he were in fact "fully divine"? If the answer to
both is negative, then I'm left with no help on that front; but
if the answer to either is affirmative, then I'm presented with
some additional help in determining what is going on in the
specific passage I'm analyzing. Such queries won't totally
solve my problem, but they, when added to the rest of the
probablistic data, tend to make one choice much more likely
that any other.


Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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