Re: John 1:5

From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Fri May 08 1998 - 10:50:32 EDT


You raise a few interesting issues here. :-)) wrote:

> Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> > Well, my understanding of the prologue is that IF we want to
assign a WHEN
> > to orient the tenses in it, that WHEN ought to be either the time of
> > composition OR the time (each time) it is being read.

> This particular present tense [FANEI] just sticks out like a very
sore thumb, grammatically.<
> I emphatically do not buy the idea that it is either the time [each
> time] the composition is being read, or the time when it was written.

With all due respect to Carl and his amazing expertise with the Greek
language, I don't buy this option either. Yet, I also don't agree with
your conclusion, George. Surprise!

> This present tense stands virtually on its own.
> But WHEN?? When indeed!! Did it START shining some time back??
> Eh??? ... NO. Why? Because EN ARCH HN hO LOGOS. The Logos WAS
BEING [already] IN the ARCH of time
~ It precedes the origin and genesis of time.

Here's where I disagree, George. Sure HN (in this case) predicates
existence of the LOGOS. It does not tell us, however, whether the
existence posited of the LOGOS is eternal or temporal. We must draw
upon other aspects of the Johannine Gospel to elucidate such matters.

True, the LOGOS existed EN ARXH. But that's ALL John tells us. John
does not deal with concepts of Platonic timelessness, nor with
Parmenidean beingness. It is quite possible that Scripture in toto
doesn't present information from this perspective.

In 1 John 1:1, John uses HN AP' ARXHS to describe the ARXH of Christ's
earthly ministry. Closer to hom (depending on how we construe John
1:4) HN is also utilized with reference to the LIFE created by the
LOGOS. GR Beasley-Murray offers the following translation:

"What has come into being had [HN] its life in [EN AUTW] him, and the
life was [HN] the light of all men" (WBC 1-3). If this rendering is
legitimate, HN is also used with regard to the creation.

 In 1:8, the apostle also writes concerning John the Immerser:


While it is true that this passage tells us that John is NOT the true
light, HN is used to inform us of this vital point ABOUT a created

>It is timeless, and this little sentence states this fact in
> the simple sentence 'The Light in the darkness is shining.' The
> ongoing present tense is the only one that catches the timeless
> permanence of this 'shining'. No other tense CAN do this. Why is
> this so hard?? We simply do not understand the tense power of the
> Greek verb.

Just because FANEI is present tense doesn't mean that it's timeless,
George. As a matter of fact, 1:3, 4 makes it clear that FANEI is not
timeless: it had a "beginning."


These words tell us that at creation's "beginning" LIGHT (or LIFE)
came into existence through the LOGOS. Since the LOGOS was the active
agent of the light (which is life), he could also be called the light
which shines in darkness.

Edgar Foster

L-R College

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