More on John 1:1

Gryllus Maior

Active member
I was going to post this as a response in a different thread, but they tend to get lost in the myriad of posts, so here:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

There are a number of different ways John could have written this statement and expressed a similar thought, such as:

ἐν ἀρχῂ ἦν ὁ λόγος ὅς τε πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θέος ἦν or ἐν ἀρχῇ ὁ λόγος θεός ὑπάρχων πρὸς τὸν θεόν ἦν...

But instead we get three short independent clauses connected by καί. Now, are these just simple connectors? Parataxis is a long standing explanation of the text. Roger is trying to come up with something clever as he mines his grammars for information. If anything, I would see this rhetorically, as a tricolon crescens. The writer starts with bear statement of the Word's existence in the beginning, then builds on that with added information that the Word was with God, and climaxes it with the the otherwise unqualified statement that the Word was God. This is a very powerful way of raising the questions in the reader's mind that John wants to answer as he develops his themes throughout his gospel.
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
I was going to post this as a response in a different thread, but they tend to get lost in the myriad of posts, so here:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

There are a number of different ways John could have written this statement and expressed a similar thought, such as:

ἐν ἀρχῂ ἦν ὁ λόγος ὅς τε πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θέος ἦν or ἐν ἀρχῇ ὁ λόγος θεός ὑπάρχων πρὸς τὸν θεόν ἦν...

But instead we get three short independent clauses connected by καί. Now, are these just simple connectors? Parataxis is a long standing explanation of the text. Roger is trying to come up with something clever as he mines his grammars for information. If anything, I would see this rhetorically, as a tricolon crescens. The writer starts with bear statement of the Word's existence in the beginning, then builds on that with added information that the Word was with God, and climaxes it with the the otherwise unqualified statement that the Word was God. This is a very powerful way of raising the questions in the reader's mind that John wants to answer as he develops his themes throughout his gospel.

Before we continue our discussion I would like to reiterate that I am not being dogmatic as to the use of και at John 1:1. I propose it as a possible alternative to your view. However there are factors that I will repeat that cause me to see the linguistic view as probable.

In a previous post I said that parataxis is merely a way of saying the two clauses are side by side. It is not an explanation of the text. Tricolon crescens is a description of three clauses that increase in intensity. Neither of these is inconsistent with the linguistic view of the text.

I have quoted linguists in my expository rendering of John 1:1-4.

You say I cleverly “quote mine” these sources. But you don't show how you claim I misuse them. I honestly cannot see any support for your view from them. For example:

Translators and commentators frequently do not know what to do with certain uses of και. Often they seem unaware of the distinctive uses and consider them redundant and therefore omit και from their translations or comments. Some traditional Greek scholars even describe som uses of και as pleonastic (i.e., redundant). Discourse linguists, however, hold that και was not used arbitrarily, but has a specific function in a discourse. I intend to demonstrate in this chapter that και is meaningful wherever it is used.” (Heckert, 1991)

Discourse linguists do more than describe two clauses as being placed alongside each other with και (parataxis) or to comment on the rhetorical device of three things that increase in intensity.

Heckert quotes other linguists who see an internal continuity in them.

“Levinsohn (1977:20) says of καὶ’s coordinating function, “it unites elements of equal value, weight, or standing. In John’s Gospel particularly, it ties together information into event complexes as in John 1:29 and 41 and adds concluding events, speeches, or incidents… Buth’s view (1991:13) is similar to Levinsohn’s: καὶ has a conjunctive function, joining two or more elements of the same level to each other and indicating continuity with the context, “same situation, same subject matter, same subject or participant.” (Heckert, 1991)

My application of this to John 1:1 is that και the three clauses would naturally have the “same subject.”

Since the Word is the subject of John 1:1a, and continues to be the subject at 1:1b, we would naturally expect the subject to be the Word at 1:1c.

You have argued that the only reason for the anarthrous θεός at 1:1c is merely to identify the subject in the predicate nominative. I don't doubt that in some other passages it might be true, but discourse linguistics gives a grammatical reason why such logic does not apply to John 1:1.

So can you agree that we can use identity the subject regardless of the presence of the article at John 1:1c?
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
Before we continue our discussion I would like to reiterate that I am not being dogmatic as to the use of και at John 1:1. I propose it as a possible alternative to your view. However there are factors that I will repeat that cause me to see the linguistic view as probable.

In a previous post I said that parataxis is merely a way of saying the two clauses are side by side. It is not an explanation of the text. Tricolon crescens is a description of three clauses that increase in intensity. Neither of these is inconsistent with the linguistic view of the text.

I have quoted linguists in my expository rendering of John 1:1-4.

You say I cleverly “quote mine” these sources. But you don't show how you claim I misuse them. I honestly cannot see any support for your view from them. For example:

Translators and commentators frequently do not know what to do with certain uses of και. Often they seem unaware of the distinctive uses and consider them redundant and therefore omit και from their translations or comments. Some traditional Greek scholars even describe som uses of και as pleonastic (i.e., redundant). Discourse linguists, however, hold that και was not used arbitrarily, but has a specific function in a discourse. I intend to demonstrate in this chapter that και is meaningful wherever it is used.” (Heckert, 1991)

Discourse linguists do more than describe two clauses as being placed alongside each other with και (parataxis) or to comment on the rhetorical device of three things that increase in intensity.

Heckert quotes other linguists who see an internal continuity in them.

“Levinsohn (1977:20) says of καὶ’s coordinating function, “it unites elements of equal value, weight, or standing. In John’s Gospel particularly, it ties together information into event complexes as in John 1:29 and 41 and adds concluding events, speeches, or incidents… Buth’s view (1991:13) is similar to Levinsohn’s: καὶ has a conjunctive function, joining two or more elements of the same level to each other and indicating continuity with the context, “same situation, same subject matter, same subject or participant.” (Heckert, 1991)

My application of this to John 1:1 is that και the three clauses would naturally have the “same subject.”

Since the Word is the subject of John 1:1a, and continues to be the subject at 1:1b, we would naturally expect the subject to be the Word at 1:1c.

You have argued that the only reason for the anarthrous θεός at 1:1c is merely to identify the subject in the predicate nominative. I don't doubt that in some other passages it might be true, but discourse linguistics gives a grammatical reason why such logic does not apply to John 1:1.

So can you agree that we can use identity the subject regardless of the presence of the article at John 1:1c?
You did get me thinking more about this and the possible reasons for using this structure as opposed to something else. Thanks for that! However, you are laboring under the fallacy that because of the context the subject of the three clauses is readily identifiable means that the syntax of the the article (or its lack) somehow changes. Of course it doesn't, and identification of the predicate (maybe here emphasis that it's predicate) still remains the likeliest explanation.
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
You did get me thinking more about this and the possible reasons for using this structure as opposed to something else. Thanks for that! However, you are laboring under the fallacy that because of the context the subject of the three clauses is readily identifiable means that the syntax of the the article (or its lack) somehow changes. Of course it doesn't, and identification of the predicate (maybe here emphasis that it's predicate) still remains the likeliest explanation.

I find the linguists view much more compelling. Your view is at odds with their view.

I presume that you don't consider my use of them as "quote mining" in a way that misrepresented them, or you would have brought this to my attention.

Why would an articular θεός be confusing after the first two clauses have already identified the subject as ο λογος?

It's not confusing to me. It's the natural reading as described by linguistics.

If the subject was to change there are discourse markers for this. I find it odd that it appears that you propose that John considered θεός at 1:1c to be definite, which could be accomplished with the article, but John did not use it because he wanted to make sure ο λόγος continued to be the subject. By default he continues to be the subject.

Why does the article on θεός at 1:1c prevent the established subject from continuing to be the subject?

That appears to be your argument.
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
I find the linguists view much more compelling. Your view is at odds with their view.

I presume that you don't consider my use of them as "quote mining" in a way that misrepresented them, or you would have brought this to my attention.

Why would an articular θεός be confusing after the first two clauses have already identified the subject as ο λογος?

It's not confusing to me. It's the natural reading as described by linguistics.

If the subject was to change there are discourse markers for this. I find it odd that it appears that you propose that John considered θεός at 1:1c to be definite, which could be accomplished with the article, but John did not use it because he wanted to make sure ο λόγος continued to be the subject. By default he continues to be the subject.

Why does the article on θεός at 1:1c prevent the established subject from continuing to be the subject?

That appears to be your argument.
No, you may or may not be "quote mining" (lovely phrase), but you are reading far too much into what I'm saying. I'll rephrase it: the ability to identify the subject from context does not mean that the syntax used in the sentence varies from its normal use. It's normal and expected and natural (hey, what about my three uses of "and" there?) and would sound odd to the "Greek ear" to include it. Other explanations of the lack of the article fit a lot of people's theological agendae, but Occam's razor cuts rather nicely here.
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
No, you may or may not be "quote mining" (lovely phrase), but you are reading far too much into what I'm saying. I'll rephrase it: the ability to identify the subject from context does not mean that the syntax used in the sentence varies from its normal use. It's normal and expected and natural (hey, what about my three uses of "and" there?) and would sound odd to the "Greek ear" to include it. Other explanations of the lack of the article fit a lot of people's theological agendae, but Occam's razor cuts rather nicely here.

What in my analysis makes you think I argue for an abnormal use? When a subject is identified in a discourse it is normal to consider that the same identical reference (ie ο λόγος) is the same subject when it immediately follows.

When this happens thrice in sequence it is hard to understand why the third repetition would change the subject without a discourse marker.

I don't factor in theology at all in this analysis. Whether θεός is anarthrous or definite at 1:1c is a completely separate issue.

I have not used και to affect the sense of θεός, only the referent, because the subject of 1:1abc is the same.

Why do you keep bringing up theology with respect to the continuity of subject? It merely clouds the issue.
 
ἐν ἀρχῂ ἦν ὁ λόγος ὅς τε πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θέος ἦν or ἐν ἀρχῇ ὁ λόγος θεός ὑπάρχων πρὸς τὸν θεόν ἦν...

So you have no problem with replacing ὑπάρχων for ἦν at John 1:1c for your "paraphrase." You are straining out the proverbial gnat and swallowing a camel.
 
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Yeah, you really don't know the language, do you?

At this point it is becoming clear that you don't really know Biblical Greek, you may maybe know Attic, but the Greek of the bible, -- forget it.

[ὁ λόγος] θεός ὑπάρχων is not the same as θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

Also readers should note that he refuses to answer the following question.
 
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Roger Thornhill

Active member
At this point it is becoming clear that you don't really know Biblical Greek, you may maybe know Attic, but the Greek of the bible, -- forget it.

[ὁ λόγος] θεός ὑπάρχων is not the same as θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

Also readers should note that he refuses to answer the following question.

I am not singling you out because @Gryllus Maior is doing it too, but this discussion would be more enjoyable and professional if we could stick to grammar and not comments about peoples abilities and motives.

Not to say I have not done this too, so back at me. ;)
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
At this point it is becoming clear that you don't really know Biblical Greek, you may maybe know Attic, but the Greek of the bible, -- forget it.

[ὁ λόγος] θεός ὑπάρχων is not the same as θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

Also readers should note that he refuses to answer the following question.
to be in a state or circumstance, be as a widely used substitute in H. Gk. for εἶναι...

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 1029). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Cf. Acts 17:24:

ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν κόσμον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ, οὗτος οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὑπάρχων κύριος οὐκ ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κατοικεῖ.
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
to be in a state or circumstance, be as a widely used substitute in H. Gk. for εἶναι...

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 1029). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Cf. Acts 17:24:

ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν κόσμον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ, οὗτος οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὑπάρχων κύριος οὐκ ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κατοικεῖ.

Yes, Romans 4:19 shows it just means "existing."

19 And without being weakened in faith he considered his own body now as good as dead (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
 
to be in a state or circumstance, be as a widely used substitute in H. Gk. for εἶναι...

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 1029). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Cf. Acts 17:24:

ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν κόσμον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ, οὗτος οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὑπάρχων κύριος οὐκ ἐν χειροποιήτοις ναοῖς κατοικεῖ.

It is also sometimes a substitute for γίνομαι. It has a a very wide range and function. It's your inconsistency on this score which I have a problem with. In other words if you can have ὑπάρχων at John 1:1b you can certainly have γίνομαι at John 1:1b as well. But you seem to have an issue with the latter as a substitute, mainly for theological reasons.
 
Also, more significantly, from my reading of the GNT, I have noticed that ὑπάρχων invariably modifies personal substantives. So there is subtle trickery involved in substituting ὑπάρχων for ἦν to connote for a personal Logos. I would be weary of such a paraphrase. In any case, that apostle John did not use ὑπάρχων at John 1:1b is another indicator that he did not consider Logos here to be personal.
 
Ref:

Similarly, focusing the study on the εἰμί verb alone also helps to maintain the same semantic situation. In fact, there are other verbs that might have been examined since they can also yield SPN constructions. Verbs like γίνομαι and ὑπάρχω can function in the same way as the equative verb, εἰμί, within certain semantic situations. Their lexical domains certainly allow it and their predicates usually agree with their subject in case. The fact is that all equative verbs function somewhere on the gradient of “purely copulative” to “truly predicative.”6 Dotson Nelson uses the labels of “form-word” and “idea-word” to explain the difference, and concludes that a true copulative verb simply connects a subject to predicate with minimal to zero importation of meaning in the process.7..The initial study revealed that, unlike εἰμί, γίνομαι and ὑπάρχω never show up as copulatives between a proper noun and an articular noun.8 In other words, they more often function as “idea words” in such cases. This raises the suspicion that they might never truly function as “pure” copulas in an SPN construction. In this sense, should they appear in SPN construction in an expanded data pool, preservation of the semantic situation may be suspect.

Certainly at Jeremiah 29:30 γίνομαι is functioning in the same way as the equative verb εἰμί, so at the level of syntactic structure both it and John 1:1b are identical. That's the point --

29:30 καὶ ἐγένετο λόγος κυρίου πρὸς Ιερεμιαν

compare with John 1:1b, right down to the copulative conjunction :

καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
Yes, Romans 4:19 shows it just means "existing."

19 And without being weakened in faith he considered his own body now as good as dead (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
I don't think it means "existing" per se as simply ὤν -- if we get a away from the translationese above, something like "since he was about a hundred years old."
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
It is also sometimes a substitute for γίνομαι. It has a a very wide range and function. It's your inconsistency on this score which I have a problem with. In other words if you can have ὑπάρχων at John 1:1b you can certainly have γίνομαι at John 1:1b as well. But you seem to have an issue with the latter as a substitute, mainly for theological reasons.
How do you know what I have a problem with? You bring up new issues as though someone has argued it, and then respond to that issue. ὑπάρχει would have worked fine as well. I just didn't use it for that particular paraphrase.
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
Also, more significantly, from my reading of the GNT, I have noticed that ὑπάρχων invariably modifies personal substantives. So there is subtle trickery involved in substituting ὑπάρχων for ἦν to connote for a personal Logos. I would be weary of such a paraphrase. In any case, that apostle John did not use ὑπάρχων at John 1:1b is another indicator that he did not consider Logos here to be personal.
Your reading of the GNT... However, could it be because ὑπάρχων is a masculine singular participle, and that's why it's used to modify personal substantives? However, here it is modifying something non-personal:

ὑπάρχοντος αὐτῷ ἀγροῦ πωλήσας ἤνεγκεν τὸ χρῆμα καὶ ἔθηκεν πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τῶν ἀποστόλων... Acts 4:37
 

Roger Thornhill

Active member
I don't think it means "existing" per se as simply ὤν -- if we get a away from the translationese above, something like "since he was about a hundred years old."

The BDAG gloss where it is listed is
2. to be in a state or circumstance, be as a widely used substitute in H. Gk. for ειναι.

For ην at J 1:1 it is 1. be, exist, be on hand

The English rendering for both is commonly "was". Are you distinguishing them based on "was"?
 

Gryllus Maior

Active member
The BDAG gloss where it is listed is
2. to be in a state or circumstance, be as a widely used substitute in H. Gk. for ειναι.

For ην at J 1:1 it is 1. be, exist, be on hand

The English rendering for both is commonly "was". Are you distinguishing them based on "was"?
I don't think there is any special emphasis on existing, any more than if ὤν had been written instead. We express that same concept normally with the verb "to be."
 
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