Re: hO in 1 John 1:1

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Feb 03 1998 - 17:43:18 EST

At 4:21 PM -0600 2/3/98, Benjamin Raymond wrote:
>Hi all,
>I'm not satisfied with an answer I got in class today, and I'm hoping for
>some direction.
>1 John 1:1 begins with a predicate nominative hO, then repeats the hO three
>more times. There is no way to distinguish between nominative and
>accusative case here (as far as I can tell), apart from syntax.

That first is NOT a predicate nominative but a neuter relative pronoun with
its antecedent implicit within itself = "that which."
>I see the latter three relative pronouns as accusative, being the objects
>I brought this up in class (a change in case for hO), and was told that hO
>should be taken as nominative in each segment, as there can be a compound
>subject (?).
>Now I've never heard of this. I see no way around accusative unless it
>falls under a special category of nominative with which I'm not familiar.
>Logos parses the first as nominative, and the latter three as accusative.
>Wallace gives examples and a definition which would lead me to conclude
>that they are accusative by their function as objects of active verbs (and
>QEAOMAI being deponent), with the possible exception of hO in John 4:22, of
>which Wallace does not seem to identify the case (Doh!).
>Any ideas on how to pin the case down? It's not particularly a huge
>problem in this passage, but I can see where it could be.

If you were told that all of these are nominative, you either misunderstood
what you were told or you were told wrong. Each instance of hO is a
relative pronoun: the first is nominative and the subject of HN, then
second is accusative and the object of hEWRAKAMEN, the third an accusative
object of AKHKOAMEN, and the last an accusative object of EQEASAMEQA.

There is no way to distinguish morphologically between the accusative and
the nominative of any pronoun or noun; the likely linguistic reason for
this is that the accusative form serves as a nominative in the case of a
neuter, but it's beside the point why the forms are identical. Only the
context will clarify for you what the neuter form must be in any particular
case--accusative or nominative. So here, the first must be the subject of
HN and the others must be the objects of those 1st person plural verbs.

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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