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Re: [John_Lit] Colwell's Rule

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  • Peter Phillips
    Hi Mart Wallace bases a lot of his stuff on an article by P.B. Harner: P.B. Harner, Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1 , JBL (76,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 17, 2003
      Hi Mart

      Wallace bases a lot of his stuff on an article by P.B. Harner:

      P.B. Harner, 'Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1', JBL (76, 1973)

      I don't think there is a lot of argument against this view nowadays. But I may be wrong. The issue is really complex in that it involves a conceptual shift between Greek Grammar and English Grammar over the use of the (definite and/or indefinite) article.

      But someone is bound to come in and say there is a huge debate still...


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: <big_mart_98@...>
      To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 10:46 AM
      Subject: [John_Lit] Colwell's Rule

      > Wow!
      > Not only had the point I raised been raised many times before, a
      > common newbie error, but it had been raised by, among others, the
      > Jehovah's Witnesses. No wonder there were some glutei maximi in
      > tractione. Disclaimer: I am not a Jehovah's Witness. However, I got
      > the following from William Arnold at apostolic.net. Of course their
      > views may have been raised and dismissed many times as well, but here
      > goes:
      > A Greek scholar named E. C. Colwell discovered a rule which applied
      > to certain uses of the Greek article (in English this is the
      > word "the"). His rule stated that "definite predicate nouns which
      > precede the verb usually lack the article."1 The word theos (God) in
      > John 1:1c is a predicate noun and it is anarthrous (it lacks the
      > article). The question I would like to address is: "How does this
      > rule apply to John 1:1 and how does this relate to a Oneness
      > perspective of this passage?"
      > In the past, Trinitarians have argued that Colwell's rule proves that
      > the anarthrous theos in John 1:1c (the Word was God) must be taken as
      > definite. They have done so to combat Arianism and modern day
      > Jehovah's Witnesses. The New World Translation, the official Bible of
      > Jehovah's Witnesses, translates John 1:1c as "the Word was a god." So
      > we can see why Trinitarian scholars would object to such a
      > translation and instead argue for a definite theos, thus proving the
      > deity of Christ in this passage. However, as Daniel Wallace has
      > pointed out, simply appealing to Colwell's rule alone does not prove
      > that theos must be taken as definite.2 His rule would only say that
      > if theos is definite then it would probably lack the article (and it
      > does). But the reverse is not necessarily true. Simply lacking the
      > article in this construction does not make the noun definite.
      > Wallace goes on to argue that theos should not be taken as definite
      > but instead as qualitative, thus emphasizing "the nature of the Word,
      > rather than his identity." The glosses which he suggests bring out
      > this idea are, "What God was, the Word was" (NEB), or "the Word was
      > divine" (a modified Moffatt translation).3 He also states that a
      > definite theos in this passage would imply Sabellianism or Modalism
      > (making Jesus to be God the Father, i.e., a Oneness perspective). In
      > a footnote he quotes several other Greek scholars which concur, some
      > even more emphatically (Westcott, A. T. Robertson, Lange, Chemnitz,
      > Alford and even Martin Luther).4
      > The work by Wallace referred to is "Greek Grammar beyond the
      > Basics". Naturally I do not know how well thought of he is at
      > Oxford, so maybe I have made another blooper.
      > Martin Edwards.
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