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 »

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?
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 »

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?
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 »

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.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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S Walch
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Re: John 1:4 ὃ γέγονεν *ἐν αὐτῷ* ζωὴ ἦν - instrumental ἐν?

Post by S Walch »

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.
Barry Hofstetter
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Re: John 1:4 ὃ γέγονεν *ἐν αὐτῷ* ζωὴ ἦν - instrumental ἐν?

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

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.
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.
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