John the Poet?

From: Nichael Cramer (
Date: Tue Feb 10 1998 - 21:05:04 EST

> ... [ if John had meant <X> he would have written <Y> ] ...

Since everyone seems to be getting into the act here, let me ask a
question that has always bothered me: How much of the structure of these
verses --in particular how much of the tortured syntax-- is simply a
result of the requirements of prosody?

The metrical/hymnal nature of the first few verse of John has long been
understood. To what extent, then, should _this_ be understood as the
--finally-- governing principle of composition?

To take one obvious example, it doesn't take too much imagination to hear
the opening lines of the fourth Gospel as a classic call-and-response:

  Minister: en arxh ...
  Audience: ...HN O LOGOS!!
  Minister: kai o logos hn...
  Audience: ...PROS TON QEON!!
  Minister: kai qeos...
  Audience: ...HN O LOGOS!!
  Minister: outos hn en arxh
  Audience: ...PROS TON QEON!!

(Not to mention the inner-echoes "en arxh... en arxh..." Or that
beautiful chiasm: "logos hn .. qeon... ...qeos... hn..logos")

In short, I guess, my question is this: Are we missing the --hymnodic--
forest for the sake of the --syntactic-- trees?

Nichael Cramer

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