Re: hO in 1 John 1:1

From: Benjamin Raymond (
Date: Thu Feb 05 1998 - 08:38:21 EST

At 01:04 PM 2/4/98 -0000, Jeff Kendall wrote:
>Hi Ben,
>You wrote (snipped):
>>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 (?).
>If this is what you've been told, it really is incorrect. But from your post,
>it just seems possible that you may have misunderstood your teacher. Could it
>be that there has been some confusion because there are two distinct issues
>here: (a) the case(s) of the relative pronouns; (b) the syntactical
function of
>the noun clauses that they introduce (ie whether they are noun clause
>or noun clause objects)?

I hope I'm not making my teacher out to be a bad guy. I really like him...
it's just that we butt heads about Greek all the time. I'm rather
skeptical of his methods/conclusions.

I asked him again after class today. He admitted that the latter three
hO's could technically be taken as accusative, but nominative is also
possible. He still feels that this is some sort of compound subject and
ought to be taken as nominative. Now, I can see how the whole *section*
here can be taken as the broad subject of the surrounding context. But I
can't see how hO can be the subject (compound or otherwise) of an active
verb of which it is simultaneously the object!

In English we don't seem to have this problem (or perhaps I should say
distinction). I can say "that which has seen" and "that which has been
seen" and the relative pronoun looks exactly the same (no cases). The only
reason the Greek looks the same is because the neuter is the same form for
nominative and accusative.

So I guess my question is this: If the relative pronouns were masculine,
would the hON be the required form for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th occurrences?
If the answer is yes, I'll rest easy :-)

>Some commentators understand the parallel noun clauses in 1John 1:1 as the
>"compound subject" of a verbless copulative sentence with PERI TOU LOGOU THS
>ZWHS as the complement.

Ah, that may very well be the piece I am misunderstanding. My instructor
takes the compound subject to be both the hO and the "we" implied in the
verbs. Would this be correct (syntactically)?

>eg Smalley in his Word commentary renders the verse as follows:
>"What was there from the beginning - which we have heard, which we have seen
>with our eyes, which we have observed and felt with our hands - is our
>the word of life."
>I seem to remember that the New English Bible reflects a similar
>of the Greek syntax. Is this what your teacher is trying to convey?

I think so. While I see value in viewing the text broadly like this, I'm
still tending to look at the cases as they must be taken in their immediate

Even given the broad understanding, would it be appropriate to refer to all
the pronouns as nominative?

>Others understand verse 2 as a parenthesis with verse 1's series of parallel
>noun clauses being resumed in verse 3. In this case, these noun clauses are
>understood as direct objects of the verb APAGGELLOMEN in verse 3. This
>understanding is reflected in the different renderings of RSV or NASV and the
>Hope this helps,

Yes! The last paragraph is a good summation. I tend to see the passage as
the NASB translators did, although the fact that the whole section
functions as the object of APAGGELLOMEN (reiterated in the hO of v.3) does
not alter the cases of each relative pronoun (i.e., I still take the first
hO in v.1 as nominative).

Benjamin Raymond
senior, Harding University School of Biblical Studies
HU Box 11871, 900 E Center
Searcy, AR 72149-0001

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