Re: John 1:1 QEOS definitely definite?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 22 1997 - 06:14:17 EDT

At 4:30 AM -0500 9/22/97, Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:
>On Fri, 19 Sep 1997, Rev. Craig R. Harmon wrote:
>> Something has always bothered me about John 1:1. In the third clause we
>> read KAI QEOS HN hO LOGOS. Now I have read in the grammars how QEOS,
>> (a) because it is the predicate of the clause, does not require the
>> definite article in order to be understood as being definite (i.e. "the
>> Word was God" as opposed to "the Word was a god" as in the New World
>> Translation). Fine! But that is not the same thing as saying (b) "QEOS
>> here is (definitely) definite because it is the predicate." #1 says
>> that, even though there is no definite artical, we can still understand
>> QEOS to be difinite but it doesn't exactly preclude an indefinite
>> understanding. My question is this, I guess: Is, "the Word was a god" a
>> legitimate translation from a strictly grammatical point of view (all
>> theology aside)?
>> --
>> AIWN; AMHN. Romans 16:27
>> But thanks to you as well.
>There is more to this question than just the article. Note that hO LOGOS
>and QEOS are the same case (nominative) which indicates that they both
>refer to the same thing. Therefore since hO LOGOS is definite then QEOS
>but also be implicitly definite.
>In short, no I don't believe "The Word was a God" is a grammatically
>possible translation.

I thought we had been over this particular ground before. In any case, I
think the argument here is fallacious: one need only substitute the
classical illustrative elements ANQRWPOS and SWKRATHS and re-write the
clause as ANQRWPOS HN hO SWKRATHS to realize that (1) although hO SWKRATHS
is definite, ANQRWPOS is not; and (2) The translation "Socrates was a human
being" is not only grammatically possible, but about as literally accurate
as is possible.

There is nothing in the grammar itself that invalidates "The Word was a
god" as a translation. It is other factors in the context that will have to
determine whether this is a legitimate understanding of the clause.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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