RE: ALLOS and Jn. 1:1c/Was Anarthrous Subject

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Fri Sep 05 1997 - 11:52:25 EDT

Cindy Westfall wrote,

<<<<I know that several in the Jn. 1:1c, Colwell Stdy Bible thread
suggested that context was important. I don't remember reading any
extensive treatments on the context in the discussion, which is why I
attempted bring it up at this
point--tacking it on the anarthrous subject issue.

I think I am struggling with the old "meaning derives from context vs.
meaning derives from philology/grammar/etc." issue. As you say, a case
could be made for context resolving the issue. I do understand that the
whole discussion revolves around Colwell's rule and the use of the anarthrous
noun to mark the predicate. However, it is also about the open options of
how the wording and grammar in 1:1c can be translated. In my book, context
should be one of the earliest considerations in eliminating options that may
be possible in a vacuum.

But, as you imply, I don't think that we can expect a consensus here.>>>>

Dear Cindy,

You are absolutely right when you say that the context is important for the
understanding of any clause, including John 1:1c. But I think we ought to
emphasize that "context" can mean at least two things, one which is
subsumed under "language" and the other "subsumed" under theology. The one
subsumed under "language" can in turn have two members, one related to
syntax and the other to semantics. Let us apply this to John 1:1c.

Verse 1 consists of three clauses forming one sentence. This is exclusively
the "linguistic context". Everything else in John, in the whole Bible and
any relevant extrabiblical information is the "theological context". The
lack of article before QEOS in 1:1c has absolute no meaning in itself;
there are scores of examples of QEOS without article which denote the
Father, thus being specific and deserve capital "G" in English
translations. However, two occurrences of articular QEOS together with the
one lacking the article in the same "linguistic context" are highly
important (This is the use of the "syntactical context"). These facts
signals a difference between QEOS and hO QEOS, but not which kind of
difference. If we take a new look at our restricted "linguistic context",
we observe that QEOS is said to be PROS TON QEON. So we learn that QEOS is
another individual than hO THEOS with whom he has a relationship. But the
kind of relationship is not stated (This is the "semantic context"). And
this is as far as we come, if we restrict our investigation to language.

We should of course also do much work with the "theological context"
because it is also very important, particularly for those translating the
Bible. But we should always keep in mind that the "theological context" is
of a completely different nature than the "linguistic context", being full
of minefields and inviting the "uninformed" to do logical blunders and
emotional judgements. But still we need it badly. We may perhaps also
devide the "theological context" into compartments. Material from Johns
prologue is of course much more important than other parts of the book (and
so are also linguistic parallels elsewhere). So when Paul Dixon uses 1:14
as an argument for QEOS in 1:1c being qualitative, and I use 1:18 as an
argument for it being generic, we follow a sound scientific procedure, but
it should not be concealed that these are arguments from the "theological
context" and they are not so compelling as those inferred from the
"linguistic context".

Your appeal to the context, therefore, is appropriate, but we should work
with in a systematic way, always reminding ourselves what we in fact ar

Regards Rolf

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:28 EDT