Re: John 1:1 QEOS definitely definite?

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Mon Sep 22 1997 - 10:03:03 EDT

At 07:53 AM 9/22/97 -0500, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

>A predicate adjective or noun that is identified/associated with a subject
>after a copulative word (like EINAI) is in the same case as the subject. If
>the subject is nominative, the predicate word is nominative also. This is a
>simple matter of agreement rule.

Let me break this down a little, in case some of the beginners didn't
understand all that. As Andrew points out, the direct object of a verb is
indicated by using the accusative, and the subject by using the nominative:

In the above sentence, the subject is nominative, and the direct object is
accusative. Socrates (SWKRATHS), who is nominative, is the person who is
seeing, and a person (ANQRWPON) is being seen by socrates. But EINAI is a
special case - it does not tell us what the subject *did*, it tells us what
the subject *is*, so it is followed by a predicate, not by an object.
Therefore, the predicate does not appear in the accusative, because it is
not the object. The predicate tells us something about the subject
("predicates something about the subject"), it does not indicate who or what
the subject did something to. Therefore, the predicate noun is not declined
the way objects are; instead, it has the same case as the subject:


Since the case does not identify which is the subject, predicate
constructions typically use the article to indicate the subject. If you have
two things (substantives) in a sentence like this, the article appears with
the subject, and does not appear with the predicate substantive.

According to Robertson, if you have articles for both the subject and the
predicate, "both are definite, treated as identical, one and the same, and


The above sentence means that Socrates is the man, implying also that the
man is Socrates. So why doesn't John 1:1 use an article to make QEOS clearly
definite? Because it would imply something that is not true:


This would say that God is the Word, and the Word is God. Since the Word we
are talking about is Jesus, this would also say not only that Jesus is God
(which John did believe), but that God is Jesus (which John did not believe).

I hope someone finds this helpful...


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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