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

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Tue Oct 28 1997 - 12:07:44 EST

Wes Williams <> quoted and wrote:
>> 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]).

        I'm replying to b-greek-digest so there may have been some posts I
haven't read yet. But my vote on this goes with what Carl Conrad said, as

>I've always assumed that this was directly in imitation of the Hebrew of
>Genesis 1:1 -- B'RESHITH BARA' . . . If there's a better reason for the
>absence of an article there, I'd like to hear it.>

        Neither the Hebrew, nor the Greek (LXX) of Gen. 1:1 employs the
article, and since EN ARXHi is exactly how the LXX begins Genesis, it seems
to me that in Jn. 1:1 John is consciously echoing the language of the first
phrase of Scripture.


David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
Southeastern Spanish District of the A/G Dept. of Education
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