Re: The Epistolary Plural in 1 John 1:4?

Date: Tue Jan 04 2000 - 17:37:51 EST

In a message dated 00-01-04 12:10:11 EST, writes:

<< I would think so and in fact I can't imagine an alternative to this view;
 certainly he does not list at the outset additional senders (as Paul
 frequently does, even when Paul writes in the first person singular). Of
 course 1 John is a treatise or sermon rather than a real letter, but it
 uses the literary form of the letter as was commonly done in antiquity for
 short treatises, and the first-plural or "editorial" we is pretty common.>>

I asked this question because (1) I did not know if this use was prevalent in
the first century (2) The usage in 1 John 1:4 has been debated.

Young indicates that the plural in 1 John 1:4 is a literary plural. Smalley,
in his Word Series Commentary, interprets the plural as "we (the writer, in
solidarity with all the representatives of orthodoxy in the church) are
writing this." Brown feels that what John writes "bears more than personal
authorization--it is Community tradition from the Community
tradition-bearers" (Young 73-74).

Here is what Wallace writes:

"Is the Elder writing alone or in association with others? Complicating the
issue is the fact that in vv 5 and 6 the plural continues, but each time with
a different force: In v 5 it seems to refer to the author and other
ministers; in v 6, it is an inclusive WE (the author and audience together).
The author uses GRAFW another dozen times in this letter, but each time in
the singular" (Wallace 396).

Hope this adds to the discussion,

Edgar Foster

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