1 John 5:7-8

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Alex Hopkins
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Joined: June 10th, 2011, 7:15 am

Re: 1 John 5:7-8

Post by Alex Hopkins »

Leonard Jayawardena writes
Daniel Wallace considers the interpretation given in the Expositors Greek Testament for the masculine participle (that is constructio ad sensum) and rejects it in favour of the explanation that the mas. participle is due to the personification of the three witnesses (spirit, water and blood)
In the section in which he writes these words (GGBB, p332, fn 44), Wallace is very careful not to claim support for a view based on texts which, carefully analysed in terms of their grammar, do not support that view. Of course, this is different from saying that he does not hold to that view, but rather that, in consideration of the grammar of various passages, he will not try to bolster a case using examples that are not clear-cut. In this regard, his scholarship is exemplary.

Applying the same care, then, it should be noted that what Leonard has written about Wallace is, in fact, in error. Wallace does not say that the masculine participle is due to "the personification of the three witnesses (spirit, water and blood)."

Rather, he writes that
the fact that the author has personified water and blood, turning them into witnesses along with the Spirit, may be enough to account for the masculine gender
In fairness to Daniel Wallace, that is quite a different thing.

In terms of the grammar, Leonard writes
in 1 John 5:8 all three nouns in apposition to the participle are neuter and thus the normal rules of grammar require a neuter participle and adjective (ta marturounta and tria). Isn't this basic Greek?
Quite simply, no. How apposition and concord work differs. That's perhaps the central grammatical point: the item or items in apposition do not determine the form of the substantive to which they're in apposition. To explain this using an example in English, we might say "I saw Richard, my A, B, and C." We could substitute anything for A, B, and C - my brother, my friend, my lawyer; or my support, my strength, my cornerstone. And so if we use a pronoun for Richard, and say "I saw him, my A, B, and C" - then it is clear that the choice of gender of the pronoun - between 'her', 'him', or 'it' - is determined by Richard's gender. That is, the speaker or writer uses the gender (and number) that is applicable to whatever it is they have in mind. The appositives look after themselves - their gender doesn't matter.

The case before us is 1 John 5:7-8:
7 ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, 8 τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.
What the author has in mind is the idea of witnesses; although it is a matter of interpretation and inter-textuality, I think all who have engaged in the discussion so far, and Wallace also, consider that the author has in mind verses such as Deuteronomy 19:15b, "A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses".

And for the concept of witnesses, the masculine rather than the neuter is the natural choice.

Alex Hopkins
Melbourne, Australia
Barry Hofstetter
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Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: 1 John 5:7-8

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Leonard Jayawardena wrote: April 20th, 2021, 2:00 am

What you say would be true in a sentence like this
ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, HO ANHR, hH GUNH KAI τὸ ὕδωρ, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν
No. What I say is true in every sentence in which apposiion takes place. This is a common point of grammar that everyone who learns the language knows, and the fact that you keep pushing back does not bode well for your argument. Now, instead of your made up examples, try chewing on an interesting NT, real world example:

νυνὶ δὲ μένει πίστις, ἐλπίς, ἀγάπη, τὰ τρία ταῦτα· μείζων δὲ τούτων ἡ ἀγάπη.

All three nouns are feminine, but the anaphoric pronominal reference (sorry, I wanted to prove I can use big words too) is neuter plural, in a construction remarkably similar to 1 John 5:7.
Throughout my posts I stuck entirely to grammatical issues and all I wanted to know was whether there are parallels to the sort of structure the Expositors' Greek Testament assumes exists in 1 John 5:7-8. In an earlier post I also asked in relation Revelation 17:16 (τὰ δέκα κέρατα ἃ εἶδες καὶ τὸ θηρίον, οὗτοι μισήσουσι τὴν πόρνην), where τὰ δέκα κέρατα and τὸ θηρίον both symbolize persons:
And you were given grammatical answers and and interactions with your arguments. At this point, you are still confusing apposition with grammatical concord and how it works. Now that this confusion is cleared up, I would expect moving on to something else would be necessary if you care to continue discussing this.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
Leonard Jayawardena
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Re: 1 John 5:7-8

Post by Leonard Jayawardena »

Alex Hopkins wrote:
Applying the same care, then, it should be noted that what Leonard has written about Wallace is, in fact, in error. Wallace does not say that the masculine participle is due to "the personification of the three witnesses (spirit, water and blood)."

Rather, he writes that
the fact that the author has personified water and blood, turning them into witnesses along with the Spirit, may be enough to account for the masculine gender
In fairness to Daniel Wallace, that is quite a different thing.
You are right. Daniel Wallace thinks that only "water" and "blood" are personified because to him the holy spirit is already a person, so to him the personification of the holy spirit does not arise. I don't think the holy spirit is presented as a person in the NT, so I understand that all three are personified as concrete witnesses--hence the mas. participle--in allusion to Deuteronomy 19:15. I am quite certain about the right interpretation of the subject passage, but that is not my interest. The Expositors' Greek Testament (wrongly) thinks that the masculine participle is due to the personality of the holy spirit (constructio ad sensum). This results in a construction where natural gender is used of a participle and adjective (treis) simply to fit the assumed personality of one noun element of a coordinated series of three neuter nouns. I just wanted to know whether parallels exist (or even can exist) for such a construction and, since a response is not forthcoming, I guess I will just have to give up.
Daniel Semler
Posts: 224
Joined: February 18th, 2019, 7:45 pm

Re: 1 John 5:7-8

Post by Daniel Semler »

Hi
Leonard Jayawardena wrote: April 20th, 2021, 11:44 pm I just wanted to know whether parallels exist (or even can exist) for such a construction and, since a response is not forthcoming, I guess I will just have to give up.
Yesterday I did a quick query in the Accordance Greek NT syntax db which tags apposition. Alas they do not tag the appositee (?) of the appositive so more complex queries looking for different genders in the two are not possible. But you can at least find cases that were thought by the tagger to be apposition and then look at them and see what you think. I was mostly looking at the mechanism so did not pay much attention to the results beyond that but for example this case shows a mismatch in gender.

Matt. 2:18 φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμὰ ἠκούσθη,
κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς·
Ῥαχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς,
καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν παρακληθῆναι,
ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν.

where κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς is tagged as apposition to φωνὴ. Not that is proves anything one way or the other but it does show that if you have an appropriately tagged text in some tool you might find examples to examine and see what you think. I know Logos also tags for syntax but I don't know if they tag apposition.

Thx
D
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