John 1:4 ὃ γέγονεν *ἐν αὐτῷ* ζωὴ ἦν - instrumental ἐν?

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Jonathan Robie
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John 1:4 ὃ γέγονεν *ἐν αὐτῷ* ζωὴ ἦν - instrumental ἐν?

Post by Jonathan Robie » September 25th, 2016, 8:42 pm

In John 1:4, could ἐν αὐτῷ be an instrumental use of ἐν, with essentially the same meaning as δι’ αὐτοῦ?
John 1:1-5 (SBLGNT) wrote:Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. πάντα δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.
"What was created by him was life" makes sense to me here, but I don't see that interpretation listed as a possibility in the first handful of commentaries I looked at. Am I missing something? Is there a reason that instrumental use would be unlikely here?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: John 1:4 ὃ γέγονεν *ἐν αὐτῷ* ζωὴ ἦν - instrumental ἐν?

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 25th, 2016, 9:08 pm

For me, instrumental readings are disfavored with agentive animates as they imply an agent using the instrument to perform a task. So who is using the Word as an instrument?
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: John 1:4 ὃ γέγονεν *ἐν αὐτῷ* ζωὴ ἦν - instrumental ἐν?

Post by Jonathan Robie » September 26th, 2016, 8:14 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:For me, instrumental readings are disfavored with agentive animates as they imply an agent using the instrument to perform a task. So who is using the Word as an instrument?
ὁ θεὸς, perhaps?

Which would make it somewhat parallel to the agency of God in Hebrews 1:
Hebrews 1 wrote:Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸς λαλήσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις 2 ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων, δι’ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας· 3 ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως, δι᾽ αὑτοῦ καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, 4 τοσούτῳ κρείττων γενόμενος τῶν ἀγγέλων ὅσῳ διαφορώτερον παρ’ αὐτοὺς κεκληρονόμηκεν ὄνομα.
But in Hebrews the agency is explicit, and if agency is implied in John 1, it is not explicit.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

S Walch
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Re: John 1:4 ὃ γέγονεν *ἐν αὐτῷ* ζωὴ ἦν - instrumental ἐν?

Post by S Walch » September 26th, 2016, 6:42 pm

I recall thinking this a while back, but can't remember what I came to conclude. I should write things down more.

I believe it was something along the lines of expecting υπο + gentive rather than εν + dative to indicate "by him".

Though I think this was probably due to thinking about whether it was a dative of agency, or a dative of means.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: John 1:4 ὃ γέγονεν *ἐν αὐτῷ* ζωὴ ἦν - instrumental ἐν?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 27th, 2016, 1:53 pm

There are really two different issues being discussed in this thread -- agency and instrumentality. Agency is usually expressed with a preposition + the genitive, instrumentality is usually expressed with the dative, sometimes (and especially in Koine) with the preposition ἐν + dative. Agency is usually personal, instrumentality impersonal. I would take ἐν αὐτῷ with ζωὴ ἦν, which would mean that the λόγος is the source of life.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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