Re: 1 John 5:20 - who is hOUTOS?

Date: Fri Aug 28 1998 - 13:25:37 EDT

Dear Carl:

<< >hOUTOS may have an anaphoric, deictic, contrastive or cataphoric
reference. I
>don't know that hOUTOS *normally* refers to an immediate antecedent. Each
>instance must be analyzed in view of its own context, both immediate and
>In 2 John 7 we have a case where hOUTOS does not refer to the immediate
>antecedent. In John 11:4 hAUTH hH ASTHENEIA refers to the cognate verb in
>verses 1, 2, and 3. In this case the noun that follows hAUTH points out the
>natural antecedent.
 <<2 John 7 is different; >>

How so, Carl? It looks quite similar to 1 John 5:20, in that hOUTOS, being
preceded by "Jesus Christ," is followed by an equative verb and an articulated

<<in hAUTH hH ASQENEIA, hAUTH is a demonstrative
 pronoun used predicatively with the article--I guess we'd call this the
 "deictic" function; it is not itself the subject of the sentence; if I had
 to translate it hyperliterally (as Will Wagers once sought), I'd make it:
 "The sickness, this one, ... " But we normally use this adjectivally and
 render it "This sickness." So that is not really comparable to a situation
 where the demonstrative pronoun functions as a subject referring to an
 antecedent noun (whether or not the antecedent precedes or follows). I
 don't think it's proper to refer to ASQENEIA as the "antecedent" of hAUTH. >>

They may not share the exact same grammatical function, but hAUTH, with or
without ASTHENEIA, in this text, refers back to the use of the cognate verb
mentioned earlier. In this case we have what appears to be a middle position
between deixis and anaphoric reference.

>I believe the same is true in 1 John 5:20, where hO ALHTHINOS, following
>hOUTOS, refers to the TON ALHTHINON . . . TWi ALHTHINWi of the previous
>Others take a different view and consider IHSOU CHRISTOU as the reference.
<< Whether one deems hOUTOS to refer back to TON ALHQINON of the previous
 sentence or to IHSOU CRISTOU, I don't think it's comparable to 2 John 7 in
 any case. >>

Again, how so? In both texts we have hOUTOS preceded by "Jesus Christ,
followed by an equative verb with an articulated subject. Is there any
grammatical reason which causes you to view "Jesus Christ" as the antecedent
in one text, but not in the other?

<<And personally I think it DOES refer back to IHSOU CRISTOU
 precisely in order to go ahead and equate IHSOUS CRISTOS with hO ALHQINOS
 QEOS. This, however, does indeed involve interpretation. >>

Thank you for your personal view, Carl. My point is that grammar is not
decisive in this instance, even though in your initial comments you seemed to
think it was (see below).

<<Larry Kruper has just argued that hO ALHQINOS QEOS is only used of the
Father, but I rather think the two are being equated here. >>

If you want to take the theological view that Jesus is equated with the
Father, then that is your prerogative. Again, I was merely commenting on the
grammar, explaining that the use of hOUTOS must be considered carefully, and
pointing out that dogmatic judgments about what it "must" refer to,
grammatically speaking, should be avoided.

<< This, of course, is precisely a disputed point of interpretation, and I
don't think that the theological issue is one that can be resolved by a
"correct" construction of this text--it is precisely what the "correct"
construction of this text is that
 is in dispute. >>

Kyle asked whom hOUTOS referred to, and the fact is, grammatically, it can
refer to either "the true God" or "Jesus Christ." My intent was to avoid
theology, and give a balanced response to his grammatical question. I believe
your initial comment was that "grammatically hOUTOS here can only refer to
IHSOU CRISTWi which immediately precedes it at the end of the preceding

While I respect your views on these matters, I don't think that is a very
balanced reply, do you?

Greg Stafford

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