[b-greek] Re: theos and ho theos'--

From: GregStffrd@aol.com
Date: Fri Mar 02 2001 - 22:39:45 EST

In a message dated 03/02/2001 6:13:10 PM Pacific Standard Time,
dixonps@juno.com writes:

 I did get your email the first time, but was busy with pastoral duties
 and am just now free to get back to you. >>

Dear Paul:

No problem. I appreciate your time, particularly since you have contributed
much to the current topic. I sent the email to B-Greek again because it did
not come through my account for the List. I never expect others to place
responses to such inquires above other more important responsibilities.

<< This whole notion that a noun
 can have two or more simultaneous nuances as used in a particular is
 rather like saying a word can have two or more simultaneous meanings when
 used in a particular context. >>

I disagree that what I am suggesting is something like saying that a word can
have two or more meanings. Rather, what I am saying is that any descriptive
term naturally conveys certain qualities. That being said, and if we agree,
there is never an instance of a definite or indefinite noun that is without a
qualitative nuance. When such a term is emphasized, I see no reason to
conclude that the indefinite or definite nuance is lost or was not present to
begin with.

If I were to, for example, use QEOS as the subject of a sentence I could do
so by saying QELEI SWZEIN SE QEOS. Or I could say, QEOS QELEI SE SWZEIN. Now,
there is no way of proving what an ancient Greek writer might have been
trying to convey by this placement of terms. However, I could say that in my
reading of Greek I tend to think that in the first example there is more of
an emphasis on the verbs, the fact that God is WILLING to SAVE you. In the
second instance, we could say that the writer is concerned with letting his
readers know that it is GOD who wishes to save YOU. The idea in the latter
case being something along the lines of, "_God_, the Almighty, wants to save
you, _you_ a finite being."

Yet, in the first instance while the emphasis is on the verbs, they are still
verbs. Nouns are grammatically different than verbs, of course, but the
qualities associated with the nouns QEOS and SE (even a pronoun as it is used
here) in this context are merely brought to the fore due to their placement
in the sentence. Taking QEOS as our point of departure, it is clear that it
is still definite, but because of its use in the sentence it receives greater
emphasis and more forcefully recalls by design the extraordinary majesty of
the one so known.

Then we have PNs. In describing the subject the PN can also be understood in
accordance with a simple or emphasized nuance, or some technical meaning. If
we say, hOUTOS ESTI KATASKOPOS, then we seem to be focussed on the WHO as
opposed to WHAT the who is, "THIS ONE, the man right here, is a spy."

Changing things up a bit, if we say, KATASKOPOS ESTIN hOUTOS, then we seem to
be more concerned with WHAT the man is, "This man is a SPY." Because the man
is in both cases an instance of the category of persons who are spies, the
indefinite semantic is never lost, but the qualities commonly associated with
the term KATASKOPOS are brought into clearer view, as an indication of the
serious nature of the charge or crime.

None of the above examples present a noun with "two or more simultaneous
nuances," but with one nuance (indefiniteness or definiteness) and an
emphasis or lack thereof on the qualities inseparably a part of the term.
That is what I am arguing for in John 1:1 and elsewhere when we discuss the
fronting of the PN, or any other term. But particularly the PN, in view of
its predicative force.

<< Take the anarthrous SARX in Jn 1:14. Is the author saying two things
 about the noun: the Word became the flesh and flesh; a flesh and flesh;
 or a flesh and the flesh? No, he is trying to communicate one or the
 other, but not both. Probably the force is qualitative: the Word became
 flesh, that is, He acquired humanity This, by the way, is probably meant
 to be contrast to 1:1c where EN ARCHi the Word was QEOS. You wouldn't
 want to suggest, would you, that SARX in 1:14 is both qualitative and
 indefinite (the Word became flesh/a flesh)? >>

What I would suggest with respect to SARX in John 1:14 is that it is 1) a
mass noun, not a count noun like QEOS; and 2) it is a well known idiom for a
human being, and, hence, when applied to an instance of humanity does not
mean a hunk of flesh but _a_ human being, and so it does indeed have an
indefinite semantic. The qualities associated with "flesh" used in this
idiomatic way are obvious, and likely emphasized by fronting.

Consider the use of SARX in Genesis 6:13 (LXX) or Romans 3:20. Clearly we are
here dealing with countable uses of "flesh" in its idiomatic sense of "human
beings." Yet, in texts like 1 Corinthians 15:29 or Revelation 19:18, a
non-countable use of the same term is found in reference to flesh as fleshly
material. Do you agree that in John 1:14 we are dealing with an idiom for
"human being" and that it has a resulting indefinite semantic in light of the
fact that the LOGOS becomes an instance of SARX in a countable sense?

<< Again, this is not to deny that a particular anarthrous noun can at one
 time be qualitative, another time be definite, and yet another be
 indefinite. >>

I would have to have examples to consider, as to what sense a noun has in one
instance as opposed to another. There might be reasons for giving it a
different semantic, but I don't see any examples where one is pressed to
strip or deny a term of personal application either a definite or indefinite
semantic. One might assert that the placement of the term emphasizes the
qualities of that noun, but a separation of the qualities from the
definiteness or indefiniteness? I have not seen it, yet.

> << What evidence do you
> have for a predicate nominative carrying simultaneous nuances
> of two or more, for example, QEOS in 1:1 being both qualitative
> and Indefinite? >>
> I believe we can both agree that nouns convey both a definite
> and an indefinite semantic in numerous instances. Right?
 <<We agree a noun can convey definiteness, indefiniteness or
 qualitativeness when used in different places. But, they cannot normally
 convey more than one nuance at any given time (see above). >>

Well, I mentioned only indefiniteness and definiteness, because I have yet to
see this qualitativeness apart from indefiniteness and definiteness. I also
do not believe these are multiple nuances. (See above.)

A noun cannot be indefinite and definite at the same time, that is, in the
same use of the term. But both definite and indefinite nouns still convey a
sense of their qualities, qualities that are commonly associated with such
nouns. I believe that rather than creating a nuance in addition to
indefiniteness and definiteness, what happens with fronting is that the
qualities the term already has in either case are highlighted, being an
inherent and known aspect of the term.

<< Am snipping the rest, as I believe I have dealt with the issues at hand.
 If you feel otherwise, please indicate so. >>

No problem. I snipped one part of yours, too. This way we can keep a steady
pace and take care of more important things.
Best regards,

Greg Stafford

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