From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Feb 22 1998 - 20:49:39 EST

At 5:12 PM -0600 2/22/98, Benjamin Raymond wrote:
>Rereading John 1:9 again while reviewing for class, I stumbled over another
>If TO FWS is the subject of this periphrastic imperfect, why does the
>author use the masculine object AUTON in 10c? Is the author ascribing some
>masculine sense to TO FWS, or does this refer back to hO LOGOS somehow?

This is perhaps a bigger question than it appears.

It does indeed (refer back to hO LOGOS). Your question takes me back many
years to when I first read the Johannine Prologue and makes me remember
that it really is full of things that are not immediately self-evident--and
also that are not self-evident to one who is reading it a verse at a time
with significant intervals between verses.

If, however, you'll look back, you'll notice a chain of identifications of
hO LOGOS: 1-2: existence initially in the presence of God and essential
identity (the meaning of which essential identity is, it appears, a
perpetually recurring question on our list); 3: role of the Logos in
creation of the world; 4: Life in the Logos as the Light of humanity; 5:
the unquenchability of that Light. Then 6-8, which some consider a sort of
prosaic interlude in the midst of a poem inserted in order to clarify the
relationship of the Baptist to the incarnate Logos, interrupt the sequence
to say that the Baptist is not to be identified with the Light. Now 9
resumes the sequence of 1-5: Light on the way into the world; then 10:
Light IN the world, but unrecognized by it as its creator. The key to 10 is
the earlier verses 3-5, the progressive clarification of the identity and
functions of the Logos--and the declarations of those verses are implicit
in how 10 must be understood, so that yes, the masculine pronoun of 10 must
refer back to the LOGOS. To be sure, some might want to say that the
masculine pronoun in 10 depends upon the masculine proper noun IHSOUS which
we all understand to be the name of the incarnate Logos, but in fact the
name IHSOUS appears nowhere in the prologue, and I really think that the
reader is meant to make that identification for himself or herself and that
the masculine pronouns in 10 refer strictly to the LOGOS.

Strictly speaking, this should imply that unless we regularly refer to the
noun "word" in English with a masculine pronoun, we might more accurately
translate that masculine pronoun in 10 with "it." But I think that most
readers really want to jump the gun and make the identification with Jesus
before the evangelist has done so and therefore use the masculine pronoun
in translation also. This is one of those little conundrums confronting the
English speaker who wants to translate the Greek text both accurately and
with some sensitivity to where the masculine grammatical gender really has
nothing to do with the gender of a person. Would we squeal in protest at a
KOSMOS AUTON OUK EGNW as "It was in the world, and the world came into
existence through its agency, and the world did not recognize it"?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:05 EDT