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

From: John Kendall (
Date: Sun Sep 07 1997 - 21:46:14 EDT

Dear Rolf, you wrote:

>I accept your criticism regarding therminology, and am eager to repent from
>writing what is unclear and ambiguous.

I truly am grateful for your efforts, and please forgive my obtuseness, but
after reading your latest post I began to wonder if these introductory words
were intended with some mischievous postmodern irony! :-)

Could you go back a few stages and make it a little clearer as to what _you_
mean by the terms "generic" and "specific"? Despite your following quote about
agreeing definitions, we are clearly using the same terms differently.

>I agree with all your definitions except the small comment
>"In other words, a non-articular noun in category b may be (i) purely
>qualitative. If "purely qualitative" means "exclusively qualitative" this
>is not true, as shown above.

Indeed, I did mean exclusively qualitative - in the sense that a writer may use
a non-articular noun to refer exclusively to, or focus exclusively on its
qualitative character. In that I didn't really understand your post, I'm not at
all clear as to why you deny the validity of this category. It seems to be
common category in intermediate Greek grammars.

To take a quick and simple example using my terminology, what about: EN AUTWi
ZWH HN (John 1:4)? I take it that ZWH here is:

(a) not definite - not referring to a particular known instance of life - not
"In him was the life (which in context we've been speaking about)" - compare hH
ZWH in the following clause where the article is used anaphorically;
(b) not indefinite - not referring to an individual, but otherwise unspecified,
instance of life - not "In him was a life";
(c) qualitative - not qualitative-indefinite, not qualitative-definite, but
exclusively qualitative - "In him was _life_".

Perhaps you've been using the term "indefinite" to take in all categories other
than "definite"? In that case, I'd have to coin the term "non-definite" to mean
the same thing. If it were so, I could understand your denial of the
"exclusively qualitative" category since a qualitative use of a noun is indeed
a non-definite use (but not, in my terms, an indefinite use!). At least, I hope
that the above example clarifies my use of terms.

Whatever the case, please bear with my lack of linguistic sophistication. I
really would like to understand your viewpoint. My other curiosity at the
moment stems from a vague intuitive sense when reading some other posts that at
points your argumentation involves deeper assumptions that would a priori rule
out the possibility of a God who is transcendent over the created order of
space and time - but I haven't quite teased out what's going on. However, that
fascination is of course quite properly beyond the bounds of B-Greek
discussion! Do please forgive this comment if it's inappropriate or way off
base - it's just the combination of puzzlement and curiosity ...and perhaps the
lateness of the hour!

With thanks and appreciation even amidst the puzzlement,

John Kendall

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