Re: John 1:1a - in *the* beginning

From: Wes Williams (
Date: Tue Oct 28 1997 - 00:54:23 EST

> When I read John 1:1a, I always read EN ARCH as "in the beginning". Of
> course, there is no article, but I've never heard anybody translate this
> "in a beginning". Is it the meaning of ARCH that makes it definite, since
> there is only one beginning in the biblical world view? Or is there
> something else that should tip me off that this is definite and not

Actually, there are many "beginnings" in the scriptures. It is context that
determines which beginning is referenced. For example, we have Acts 11:15:

Acts 11:15 But when I started to speak, the holy spirit fell upon them just
as it did also upon us in [the] beginning.

We add [the] here, but is it the _absolute_ beginning? Or merely a
reference to Pentecost, the beginning of their spirit anointing? The
addition of the English [the] does make for better English.

I might second Carl's idea that the John 1:1 EN ARCH is merely a reference
to the beginning of the heavens and earth, or _perhaps_ the beginning of
the "coming into existence" of the TA PANTA in v. 3.

Wes Williams

P.S. After a quick check, I also found some unqualified EN ARCH references
(without a genitive) in the LXX (cf. 2Sam 17:9, which is not an absolute
beginning; Prov 8:23 [which I do not recall ever discussed on b-greek]).

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