From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Feb 21 2002 - 16:06:06 EST
At 11:46 AM -0500 2/21/02, Bret A. Hicks wrote:
>In 1 John 1:1 John uses the relative pronoun hO/ (I am following Carl's
>recent convention of using the / to mark the relative pronoun rather than
>the definite article). This seems to refer to the "word of life". My
>question revolves around the use of this relative pronoun and has tow parts.
> First, why did John use the relative pronoun rather than the definite
>article, as he did in John 1:1? I know that there is much discussion over
>whether the "word of life" refers to the Gospel, to Christ or to both. Is
>the use of the relative important in determining whether the "word of life"
>is a Person or a "thing"? I know John is able to use the relative at times
>to refer to person rather than thing (he seems to clearly do so in John
>4:22, 6:37,39 for example), but how common is this? Is there something that
>would mandate the use of the relative here and not in John 1:1?
> Second, why did John use the neuter relative rather than the masculine
>(or feminine)? Since the referent appears to "the word of life", why does
>he not use the masculine (as LOGOS is masculine) or feminine (since ZWH is
>feminine)? Does this have any bearing on the "impersonality" of the
>referent, or are the two unrelated?
> Thanks for any help on these questions.
The use of the neuter relative pronoun in 1 John 1:1 really doesn't have
anything whatsoever to do with any theoretical impersonal character of the
person/thing experienced by virtue of the incarnation; it is strictly
grammatical and is very close to the English usage of "what" in "WHAT I
always told you would happen is now about to happen!" -- where "what" means
"that which" or "the thing which." Many versions actually convert it as
"that which ..." My own explanation of the use of the neuter relative
pronoun here is that it is not so much "impersonal" as it is wholly
indefinite so as to be inclusive of any possible class or order of
experience: "what was ..., what we've heard, what we've seen with our own
eyes, what we gazed upon and our hands touched with respect to the LOGOS
which is LIFE ..."
I don't know if that comes clear or not: but it seems to me that what the
neuter relative pronoun is intended to do more than anything else here is
to underscore the phenomenal OBJECT-hood of the community experience of
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
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