[b-greek] QEOS and the Article

From: GregStffrd@aol.com
Date: Fri Mar 02 2001 - 10:19:01 EST

It appears that there are two grammatical interests to the question at hand:
1) the use or nonuse of the article, and 2) the fronting of the PN. As long
as we maintain our focus on either of these two grammatical issues, the
discussion should prove fruitful for all. I am here separating the two
grammatical approaches, and will give some thoughts on the use and nonuse of
the article with QEOS. 2) will apparently be explored further in other posts.

In a message dated 03/01/2001 8:19:55 PM Pacific Standard Time,
bsullivan@dingoblue.net.au writes:

<< As Dave points out, the author uses anarthrous phrases where the noun is
 understood as definite (1:6, 12). However, Melinda notes Jn 6:70 and 9:17
 using the indefinite 'a prophet', 'a devil.' Perhaps the use of the article
 in 1:4 could be used to argue why such a theologically provocative statement
 as Jn 1:1 is indefinite when v4 (seemingly less important) has it. >>

If Dave's point was specific to an argument that deals only with the use or
nonuse of the article (and I think maybe it was), then it is fine to point to
other uses of the same term in different grammatical cases and discuss why in
these instances the nonuse of the article does not similarly convey an
indefinite semantic.

However, I do not know of anyone who only points to the nonuse of the article
in John 1:1c as a basis for his/her conclusion. I believe I am correct in
saying that most arguments also rely on the USE of the article in 1:1b. Thus,
we are not simply dealing with an isolated instance of a term, or a term used
multiple times FOR ONE INDIVIDUAL in one particular context.

In John 1:1 we have two individuals who are grammatically shown to be in
association with each other, each called QEOS (one with the article and the
other without it). In such a context where two beings are "with" each other,
where they are each called QEOS but distinguished by means of the article,
then I think it is entirely appropriate to suggest some distinction in
English such as "God" and "a god."

If there is disagreement of a _grammatical_ nature, then one must present a
context where two individuals have the same term applied to them but with a
difference in the use of the article. THAT would be a comparable situation to
what we have in John 1:1, not simply citing texts where a term is used
without the article and where such a term is not in association with the same
term used with the article for another individual. Such a context, as I
mentioned in a previous post, seems to me to demand a distinction between the
two who are in association with each, a distinction in the very same terms
used to describe each of them.

What is more, we have evidence from very early times to show that some
influential theologians also perceived a similar distinction in this use and
nonuse of the Greek article. Origen in his Commentary on John appears to be
speaking with direct reference to John 1:1 when he writes, "all beyond the
Very God is made God by participation in His divinity, and is not to be
called simply God (with the article), but rather God (without the article). .
. . The true God, then, is 'The God,' and those who are formed after him are
gods, images, as it were, of Him the prototype" (ANF vol. 10, page 323).

Origen made regular use of the anarthrous QEOS when referring to God
elsewhere in his Commentary, so there is clearly some thought about the
distinction between the Logos and other "gods" and "The" God when they are
called QEOS in a context where each is mentioned but where a difference in
the use or nonuse of the article exists. This is clear from Origen's quote
which I encourage all to consider in its entirety.

Philo also makes a distinction between "The" God and others who are called
QEOS without the article. I don't have the exact reference with me right now,
but I will post it later. It is in his On Dreams, though, I remember that

So we have two highly influential theologians, one who preceded John and
whose writings show a good deal of similarity (in language and in thought)
with those of John (particularly his Gospel), and one who followed him, who
wrote a Commentary on his Gospel. Both write that a significant distinction
is to be noted when the Most High God is called QEOS with the article in
contrast to others who are not.

Looking at it purely from a grammatical level, and noting these early
influential thoughts about the same, is it not at least reasonable to suggest
that there is a distinction in this particular context between the LOGOS and
the QEOS he is "with," in terms of QEOS, and that use of the article is to
some degree responsible for this distinction? In my opinion, it is.

Best regards,

Greg Stafford

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