Re: hO in 1 John 1:1

From: Benjamin Raymond (
Date: Fri Feb 06 1998 - 01:47:08 EST

At 08:19 AM 2/5/98 -0600, Carl Conrad:
>On Thu, 5 Feb 1998, Benjamin Raymond wrote:


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

Okay, I feel good about this. I'm not so concerned with being able to draw
the nuances out of the form yet. As long as it's clear to me why the cases
are as they are, I can work with it. It actually seems clearer in Greek
than in English.

>> >Some commentators understand the parallel noun clauses in 1John 1:1 as the
>> >"compound subject" of a verbless copulative sentence with PERI TOU
>> >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)?
>Quite honestly, I have to say that it seems to me an utterly far-fetched
>and unnatural way to understand what is really not that difficult nor
>uncommon a Greek construction. Even supposing that one wants to say that
>the first hO with HN is nominative and has the sense TOUTO hO (Latin ID
>QUOD) and that one views the other instances of hO (each of which must be
>accusative in its own clause-syntax) as relative pronouns referring back
>to the first hO as their antecedent, I'd have to say that the construction
> Nominative (implicit ESTI) PERI TOU LOGOU
>is, at best, a solecism--intelligible only as an un-Greek expression.

Fair enough. Assuming no ESTI is implied, is there a name associated with
this construction?

>> >I seem to remember that the New English Bible reflects a similar
>> understanding
>> >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
>> contexts.
>In my opinion, this way of looking at the Greek confuses the question of
>the way the Greek syntax works with the question of how best to translate
>the Greek into English (or some other language). Personally I think that
>creates a major obstacle to understanding the alien text on its own terms.
>How to convey the sense of the Greek into another language shouldn't
>really be dealt with until after one is confident that one understands the
>Greek construction. More on this below.

Very true. Consider, though, that these questions are not always so easily
separated by a third-semester Greek student! :-)

>> Even given the broad understanding, would it be appropriate to refer to all
>> the pronouns as nominative?
>No: that's really an instance of cutting the Gordian knot once you've
>decided that you can't untie it.

I had to look up the allusion. I could use some more history classes.

Actually, I'm with you. I see the latter three hO's as accusative, and
would not have thought much about it except I asked in class to be sure
there was a switch from the nominative and was given the answer that they
*ALL* were nominative.

I'm just trying to give my prof the benefit of the doubt. I thought I
might be missing something, but I imagine he and I won't see eye to eye on
this one.

>> >Others understand verse 2 as a parenthesis with verse 1's series of
>> >noun clauses being resumed in verse 3. In this case, these noun clauses
>> >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
>> >NIV.
>> >
>> >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).
>The fact of the matter is, I think, that the Greek text as the MSS give it
>to us lacks a verb--and ESTI can only be supplied to link the sequence of
>relative clauses beginning with hO to PERI TOU LOGOU in a very
>unsatisfactory way. I think that the UBS committee has done the right
>thing by punctuating after ZWHS with a dash; what this means is that we
>have an anacoluthon--an incomplete sentence, and that after the sentence
>gets this far, the writer starts over with a new subject and predicate in
>verse 2. How to translate this, i.e., whether to carry the anacoluthon
>over into English and so to reproduce the structure of the Greek, is a
>different question altogether from analyzing and understanding the Greek
>text. It appears to me that the commentators cited above are really
>confusing the very different matters of understanding how the Greek works
>(insofar as it does work) and of conveying what the writer meant with his
>Greek to say into English.
>I don't like to be so redundant, but I don't think the point can be
>overemphasized: the FIRST step is to understand the Greek; only AFTERWARDS
>can one go on and decide how best to convey the MEANING of the Greek into
>another language. It is fundamentally wrong to attempt to force the
>structure of a meaningful translation onto the syntactic structure of the
>Greek text, and to do so will only render the Greek text into gibberish.

Yes. I'll stick with making sure my understanding of Greek grammar is
correct for the time being. As long as those hO's are certainly
accusative, I'm willing to put off the second step. Thanks for a
thoughtful post.

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

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