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

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Sun Sep 07 1997 - 16:01:02 EDT

Stephen C. Carlson wrote:

>>>>>I'm not sure that the difference in the use of the article is so
important in Jn1:1. The verse reads (best viewed in a fixed width
font) :-

                                 KAI QEOS HN hO LOGOS.

Each clause terminates in a noun that commences the next clause in
a climax. The climactic structure manifest in this verse dictates
that QEOS appear as the first noun. Since QEOS is a predicate noun
occurring before the explicit copula, it lacks the article (Colwell's
rule). Thus, the difference in the use of the article depends more
on the constraints of the rhetorical structure than necessarily on a
semantic difference.

If the author of Jn1:1 wished to exploit the function of the articles
to capture a semantic distinction, I think the verse would read "... KAI
hO LOGOS HN QEOS" instead. And we would be the poorer for it.>>>>

Dear Stephen,

Your interpretation is of course possible and the rhythm of a and c is
remarkable. However, John is characterized by his monumental simplicity of
expression in contrast to the literary style of for instance the letter to
the Hebrews. If we use four clauses, and supply the definite article to 1c
in Hebrew (Delitsch NT) we get

bereshit haya haddavar
                wehaddavar haya 前t ha前lohim
                                    we則aelohim haya haddavar
                                                hu haya bereshit 前t ha前lohim

Here 1b and c has the same rhytm and 2 has one ictus more than 1a. This is
acceptable in Hebrew where poetry and rhytm is very different from Greek
(NB "前t" - the accusative mark does not count in Hebrew)..

I agree with Paul that Colwell`s rules are completely irrelevant for a
discussion of John 1:.1 I list three reasons speaking for the article
having semantic relevance.

(1) Words signal meaning, and if the lack of article had no significance,
only being literary, John would invite to a confusion of concepts. In a
monotheistic environment it is strange enough to use QEOS of someone said
to be "with" hO QEOS, if this "with" should not in the next breath be wiped
out by equating the QEOS being with hO QEOS with hO QEOS. If the lack of
article has no significance, what then is the meaning?

(2) All those writing the NT books were Jews. In the OT 前lohim refers in
most instances to JHWH. In about 30% of the occurrences 前lohim has the
definite article, and because of its deictic function the article may
signal some emphasis or contrast, such as "the true God" contrasted with
"God". Because John was familiar with this distinguishing power of the
article, it is likely that the lack of article in 1:1c had significance.

(3) I have argued for a parallel between QEOS in John 1:1 and the qualified
QEOS in 1:18. Do you see a parallel here?

There are too many variables in the case of John to suggest what he should
have written with this or that meaning: his Hebrew stock, his education and
abilities, and not least, our ignorance of what he intended to convey to
his readers.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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