Re: Johannine ARCH (was Jn.1:1b word order)

From: Steven Cox (
Date: Tue Feb 10 1998 - 18:32:14 EST

        Hi Jonathan
        Sure it is inevitable that a conceptual noun used with
        a dative preposition and the same noun used with a
        genitive preposition will have some different semantic
        flavour, just as other forms of context reshape nouns,
        and I did say EN ARCHi was a "set phrase" and is parallel
        to Genesis, however the examples you have provided from
        Philippians and Ruth show that EN ARCHi can just as easily
        be qualified as AP' ARCH KOSMOU etc.

        It would be interesting to run a TLG search and see how
        absolute this "absolute" EN ARCHi is?

        It may be that part of this is subjective. One reader
        looking for chronology sees chronology, another (I admit
        myself) looking for a comment on the work of Christ sees
        it as a reference to hH KAINH KTISIS, EIS TO EINAI hHMAS
        APARCHN TINA TWN AUTOU KTISMATWN, etc. etc. etc.

        It also depends on whether you think John as an author
        is much interested in linear time, and what he is trying
        to say about LOGOS in 1John1:1.

        Anyway each to his own :-)

At 14:30 98/02/10 -0500, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>In the rest of John's writings, ARCH often occurs with other prepositions,
>where it is used differently: especially AP ARCHS, also EX ARCHS. Just as
>the English "in the beginning" conveys an absolute sense of beginning, but
>the phrase "from the beginning" is much less absolute,

        I would have thought it was the reverse but anyway this
        is not about English so...

the phrase AP ARCHS
>frequently seems to convey the meaning "all along" or "right from the
>start", without necessarily indicating the beginning of all time.
>So I think that it is probably true that ARCH does not always mean the
>absolute beginning, and that even EN ARCH may refer to things like "in the
>beginning of the barley harvest", as well as the absolute beginning. The
>context of John 1:1 gives us more hints as to what is intended: all things
>were made through the LOGOS, and nothing that was made was made without
>him. So the LOGOS seems to have existed before all things were created,
>just as God seems to have existed before he created the heavens and the
>earth in Genesis 1:1. John 1:1-2 does not tell us that Jesus was created
>first, then all other things things were created through him; it says that
>Jesus was in the beginning, and all things were created through him. When I
>compare this to passages where EN ARCH does NOT refer to the absolute
>beginning, these other passages clearly indicate which other beginning is
>intended. In John 1:1, like Genesis 1:1, there is no such indication.
>Texcel Research

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