What does John 1:1c say?

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tigger2
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What does John 1:1c say?

Post #1

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The Tanager and tigger 2 will discuss.

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Post #2

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I would like to begin with the usage and grammar of John in order to see what was intended by him in John 1:1c. This would include

(1) Why have Trinitarian scholars felt it necessary to bring up various rules to justify the Trinitarian translation of 'God' over the years? Find if these rules are valid.

(2) Find rules by Trinitarian grammar experts which show that certain examples of the use/nonuse of the Greek article are invalid for use in discussing the meaning of article use/nonuse. These examples are generally uncertain in English translation. That is, whether the example uses the article or not, the English translation is uncertain.

(3) Does John always use the article (ho) when mentioning God (ho theos)? Can you find proper examples (other than John 1:1, of course) where John uses theos without the article?


(4) Find examples in John (excepting the uncertain examples as explained by Trinitarian grammarians) where the word order (predicate noun preceding verb) causes an anarthrous predicate noun to be understood to be definite (or 'qualitative).

(5) Compare all proper examples with John 1:1c.

(6) Continue discussion of John 1:1c.
Last edited by tigger2 on Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post #3

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[Replying to post 2 by tigger2]

(1) Why would there be a need to make up (faulty) rules over many years to justify the "God" translation by Trinitarians? These would include Colwell's Rule; the 'Qualitative' Rule by Harner, Wallace, et.al,? If it is so clear that John intended "and the Word was God," why the need to make new rules to prove it?

Are the rules accurate?

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Post #4

Post by The Tanager »

[Replying to post 3 by tigger2]

Thank you for outlining initial steps for us to take on this, as I can see you have given this much thought. And thank you for suggesting this discussion and your willingness to share your information with me so that I can make a better informed decision concerning John 1:1c. I pray that we will both grow through this discussion.

On a general note (i.e., not saying anything at all about whether John 1:1c is clear or not), people get clear things wrong all the time. It's helpful to have rules that can show them why they are getting things wrong. There is no need to say "but look at this rule to see your error clearly" unless groups of people are making the error.

Of course, we must look at everything on its own merit. Do these rules you've named accurately reflect the data? If not is there an alternative rule that accurately reflects the data? Please continue with your assessment of these various rules and what they ultimately mean when it comes to John 1:1c.

I will be camping until Monday, so you have plenty of time to say your two cents worth. Also, I'm never in any rush, so don't feel like you have to respond that same day or the next day or even within a few days. I also hope that time frame for me to respond is also acceptable, but I will try my best to respond as quickly as possible.


*There is also a peanut gallery discussion for this topic for anyone who is not myself or Tigger2 to comment on (at least for now). We may keep up with and incorporate parts of that discussion into our own here, if we want to, but we cannot post there until our head-to-head here is over. That is located at: viewtopic.php?p=937828#937828

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Post #5

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As I see it, all the attempted proofs for 'God' in John 1:1c. concocted by trinitarian scholars over the last century, at least, are proof of the weakness of such a translation. Why keep dreaming up new rules to defend what is supposed to be already obvious?

These include Colwell's Rule (which contradicts the next 'rule'); the Qualitative Rules (which contradict the previous rule); and the frequent trinitarian response to an "a god" translation at John 1:1c: 'It would make us polytheists.'

I don't know how well you know some of the terms needed for a real examination of John 1:1c. Here are some of them.

Nominative case; genitive case; accusative case; subject; linking verb; predicate noun; predicate adjective; definite article; articular and anarthrous nouns; count noun; abstract nouns; personal name; noun modified by numeral; preposition and genitive-modified nouns.

If you would like me to define any of them, please ask.
.....................................

(Did I warn you that my memory and my attention span have both taken a steep dive in my last few years?)

Now that I have re-thought part (1), I think I should have begun with part (2). It would be easier to debunk the trinitarian rules for John 1:1c by understanding which examples are improper ambiguous examples and which are not. It would also help immmensely when examining parts (3) and (4). So,

(2) Find information by Trinitarian grammar experts which show that certain examples of the use/nonuse of the Greek article are invalid for use in discussing the meaning of article use/nonuse. These examples are generally ambiguous in English translation. That is, whether the NT Greek example uses the article or not, the English translation is uncertain.

Abstract nouns, for example, should not be used as examples for a rule which depends on the presence or absence of the definite article. Robertson, pp. 758, 794, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research; Moulton, pp. 176-177, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. III; and Moule, p. 112, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek, 2nd ed., 1960, and Dana and Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 141, show that abstract nouns take the definite article with great irregularity.

We also must not mistake predicate adjectives (which, of course, also must be qualitative) for predicate nouns. “Pretty� in “she is pretty,� for example, is a predicate adjective and cannot be translated “she is a pretty.� This study must be confined to actual predicate NOUNS as actually found in the scripture in question (John 1:1c).

The predicate noun in question must be a singular count noun. If it is plural, it does not take the indefinite article in English anyway: the cows/a cows? - the children/a children?, etc. If it is not a count (countable) noun it also rarely uses the indefinite article in English translation: 'a heat'?; 'a water'?; 'a gravel'?; 'a wheat'?; etc.

There is apparently good reason to exclude from these “rules� what I call “time/season� nouns also. These are nouns which deal with, of course, certain times or seasons such as “winter,� “Friday,� “Sabbath� (sometimes), etc. For example, a writer might say “it was winter� or “it was Friday.� Are these to be understood as definite or indefinite? If we say “it was a winter� or “it is a Sabbath,� then we clearly have an indefinite noun, but what do you call “it was winter� and “it was Sabbath�? (Examine all uses of “hour� in John’s writings for example.)
Wallace himself (and Harner and Colwell) excluded all 5 instances of these “time/season� nouns from his list of examples of “pre-copulative predicate nominatives� in John’s writings (p. 98, Wallace). The “time/season� nouns I have found are: John 5:10; 10:22 (10:23 in some Bibles); 19:31; and 1 John 2:18 (twice).

Harner also excludes anarthrous predicate nouns that have a numeral modifying them (e.g. “seven eyes�). I am convinced that he is correct in so doing. - p. 76, Harner, JBL. (Also see Moulton, Vol. III, p. 178; and Robertson, p. 793.) In fact, some writer(s) implied ambiguous article usage with nouns that were modified by any adjective.

As to personal names (“John,� “Peter,� “Mary,� etc.), Wallace, Harner, and Colwell all properly exclude them as examples for their rules. It is obvious that this is also a proper exception because proper names take the definite article with such irregularity that no rule (including Colwell’s and Sharp’s “Rules�) which is based on article usage (or non-usage) can properly use them. (see Robertson, p.791)

Probably the most misused irregular usage is found when the predicate noun in question is connected to a prepositional phrase, a genitive case noun, or a possessive noun in English translations. Most of the time these will be found to be “possessive� [“of�] phrases such as “king of Israel,� “disciples of me,� etc. - see Robertson, pp. 790, 791; Moulton, Vol. III, pp. 179-180; Moule, p. 117; Dana & Mantey, p. 137; Jesus as God, p. 304, esp. (2) and (4) in 5b, Murray J. Harris, Baker Book House, 1992; The Greek Testament, p. 420, Henry Alford.

If you need more information on these 'improper' examples, please ask before we continue.

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Post #6

Post by The Tanager »

[Replying to post 5 by tigger2]

Thank you for that latest post. I do have a question of clarification about where you see this all leading. Are you making an argument against the Trinitarian argument that John 1:1c can only be translated in a Trinitarian way due to these rules or are you also saying that John 1:1c can only grammatically mean a non-Trinitarian concept?

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Post #7

Post by tigger2 »

The Tanager wrote: [Replying to post 5 by tigger2]

Thank you for that latest post. I do have a question of clarification about where you see this all leading. Are you making an argument against the Trinitarian argument that John 1:1c can only be translated in a Trinitarian way due to these rules or are you also saying that John 1:1c can only grammatically mean a non-Trinitarian concept?
I take the latter view, but if you can at least see the former, I will be pleased.

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Post #8

Post by The Tanager »

[Replying to post 7 by tigger2]

If all you are saying is that there is some grammatical flexibility in interpreting John 1:1c, then we would then need to go to the context to better interpret this passage. I think that fuller context shows the Word to be God. This would make further discussion of the grammar itself needless, it seems to me.

But if you want to argue that the grammar makes such a contextual conclusion impossible, we would need to look more deeply at the grammar. It would be helpful to have what you think is the best translation of this verse and why an interpretation of this verse directly contradicts Jesus being God.

Which of these two ways do you want this discussion needs to go?

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Post #9

Post by tigger2 »

The Tanager wrote: [Replying to post 7 by tigger2]

If all you are saying is that there is some grammatical flexibility in interpreting John 1:1c, then we would then need to go to the context to better interpret this passage. I think that fuller context shows the Word to be God. This would make further discussion of the grammar itself needless, it seems to me.

But if you want to argue that the grammar makes such a contextual conclusion impossible, we would need to look more deeply at the grammar. It would be helpful to have what you think is the best translation of this verse and why an interpretation of this verse directly contradicts Jesus being God.

Which of these two ways do you want this discussion needs to go?


I don't care at this time to discuss pages and pages of different trinity 'proofs' and their answers. I'm open to it on separate discussions in the future, however (provided that I can still read and remember at that point). So, with your two choices, I choose: " if you want to argue that the grammar makes such a contextual conclusion impossible, we would need to look more deeply at the grammar."

In fact, that is what I have already outlined. How about the exceptions to valid examples of article usage to be used in English translations that I have listed above? Do you understand them and wish to continue? If so, the next step should be to see how John uses the article with theos when he intends 'God.'

Probably the most often misused irregular examples are found when the predicate noun in question is connected to a prepositional phrase, a genitive case noun, or a possessive pronoun - [/b “king of Israel,� “disciples of me,� etc. - see Robertson, pp. 790, 791; Moulton, Vol. III, pp. 179-180; Moule, p. 117; Richard A. Young, p. 67, Intermediate New Testament Greek, Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994; Dana & Mantey, p. 137; Jesus as God, p. 304, esp. (2) and (4) in 5b., Murray J. Harris, Baker Book House, 1992; Henry Alford, p. 420, The Greek Testament.

I will call such examples 'prepositional' examples.

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Post #10

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I'm not sure we are on the same page here. Two questions have come to my mind so far in our conversation. The first is:

(1) Is the grammar of John 1:1c such that there could only be one way to interpret "Theos" without the article before it, no matter where it is written.

The second depends on the answer to the first:

(2a) If you answer 'yes' to the first question, then we must determine what the grammar shows must be the interpretation. What is the valid rule that decides the question?

(2b) If you answer 'no' to the first question, then the context becomes crucial in interpreting the verse itself. This says nothing to me of "different 'trinity' proofs and their answers."

So, what is your answer to question (1)? You have seemed to me to bring up one positive answer to (1) and outlined why it is not correct. I'm asking what your answer to (1) is.

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