Re: Jn.1:1b word order

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Sat Feb 07 1998 - 23:24:41 EST

On Sat, 07 Feb 1998 22:02:51 -0500 Jim West <> writes:
>At 09:21 PM 2/7/98 -0500, you wrote:
>>John 1:1b.
>For the same reason that it is proper for us to say "God is Love" but
>not to say "Love is God"! For, though God can appropriately be
described as
>loving it is equally inappropriate to say that the abstract "love" is a
I think you misread the above Greek sentence, Jim. I thought the same
thing, until I reread it.
>>Does it mean the same?
>Clearly not.
>>Is either more natural or common?

Yes, the construction as found in Jn 1:1 is more natural, than the
post-copulative anarthrous predicate nominative construction (53
occurrences of the pre-copulative construction in John's Gospel versus 19
occurrences of the post-copulative construction)
>I am not sure what you mean by natural or common.
>>Does it imply a special emphasis?

Perhaps it is better to understand that by nature of a predicate
nominative, one should expect a certain stress; hence, the tendency to
push the predicate nominative forward in the sentence.

Translate it, "God, the Word was"? Technically, there may not be
anything wrong with this translation, unless it communicates that "God"
is the subject. If so, then it is to be rejected. If it communicates
that God and the Word were one and the same, then it should be rejected,
since one is articular and the other is anarthrous. If, however, it
communicates that the Word was divine in the same sense as the divinity
of the preceding hO QEOS, then retain it.

If one seeks to retain the word order in the translation, why not,
"divinity, the Word was," which does seem rather awkward in the English.
I personally like, "the Word was God." This retains in English the
similarity between the Greek words hO QEOS (1:1b) and QEOS (1:1c) while
not implying that QEOS in 1:1c is definite. It is analogous to comparing
hH SARX with SARX (1:14), "the flesh" versus "flesh," or hO ANQRWPOS
and ANQRWPOS, "the man" with "man." In each case, the anarthrous noun is
merely being used almost as an adjective to describe qualitativeness.

Paul Dixon

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