Re: [John_Lit] A Grammatico-theological Question
----- Original Message -----
From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges@...>
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2000 8:26 AM
Subject: Re: [John_Lit] A Grammatico-theological Question
> Thank you Paul, for that explanation. This is
> interesting to me if somewhat disconcerting. I would
> have preferred to hear that there is a legitimate
> grammatical reason for preferring "what God was, the
> word was".
If I gave you that impression, I apologize. The NEB rendering is not
only perfectly legimate grammatically, but is (IMO) to be preferred to
the traditional rendering of most translations.
> It's also interesting to learn that the translation
> "and what a god was, the word was" is not a usual
> rendering of the Greek.
I think I may have confused you. What I was meaning to say is that
the rendering "And the Word was a god" is an unusual translation. As
Felix Just points out, the use of QEOS here is most likely intended to
> Incidentally, does this make it an impossible
> rendering? Your following point makes me think that
> you imply that it is possible:
Each of the translations that have been mentioned is possible, and all
are grammatically acceptable:
And the word was god.
And the word was divine.
And what God was, the word was.
The reason verses like this get discussed over and over again is
because the Greek is ambiguous, as Leonard points out, and it's simply
not possible to definitively say it should be thus or it should be so.
For this reason, the theological implications are often considered
when translating, bearing more or less weight based on the
translator's purposes and theology.
Were I to translate the phrase, I would render it "And the Word was
divine.", but that position is routinely attacked because it exists in
the NWT and is therefore considered suspect. (Why a non [or anti if
you will] -trinitarian, theologically influenced translation is
considered suspect, while a trinitarian theologically influenced
translation is not considered suspect is left as an exercise for the
> > "Jesus answered, 'Is it not written in your own Law,
> > "I said: You are
> > gods"? Those are called gods to whom the word of
> > God was
> > delivered--and Scripture cannot be set aside. Then
> > why do you charge
> > me with blasphemy because I, consecrated and sent
> > into the world by
> > the Father, said, 'I am God's son'?" NEB
> Lurking in the background to my question is the
> Pauline reference to "the god of this world". John
> uses a parallel expression: "the ruler of this age".
> I suppose that I'm trying to get a handle on the
> Johannine Christology by thinking about the status of
> other spiritual beings referred to in the New
I believe that Johannine Christology firmly places Jesus Christ in the
role of God's Son. I think it is a leap to then make him God, but I
can understand the issues that theologians struggled with and how it
was possible to come to that conclusion. I just happen to disagree
Since Paul refers to "the god of this world", it is evident that his
use of QEOS there cannot refer to God the Father. There must have
been, therefore, an understanding of the word QEOS that meant
something other than THE God. And this was the point I was trying to
make with the reference to John 10:34. The use of QEOS is not
strictly limited to God the Father, and its meaning must be derived
from the context and usage rather than presupposition or assumption.
> Since the term "god" can refer to human beings and
> angels, then what does it imply here in John 1:1c?
I think Felix answered this well when he proposed the translation of
"divine", both here and in other Johannine passages. Perhaps, due to
the corrupted nature of "divine" in our modern understanding, it would
be better to understand it as "godly" or "godlike".
> Is the Logos superior to "the god/ruler of this
> world/age" by virtue of being the "only-begotten" son?
> Does this make him a sort of superior angel or
> something intrinsically greater?
I'm not sure this is within the scope of this list, but to answer you
briefly from my point of view, Jesus clearly does not become ruler of
this world until the events discussed in II Cor, Thess, and
Revelations have taken place. (Setting aside the pre and post
millenial discussions, at some point in time, Jesus returns to earth
as ruler.) He could not have been, at the time of his sojourn here on
earth, superior to "the god/ruler of this world/age", else he would
not have needed to be elevated later.
> What does the term "only-begotten" imply? A
It certainly does to me. It does not to the traditional view. Or I
should say it only does partially. The trinitarian view is that he
came into human existence at that time, but existed in another form
prior to that.
> Does the term Logos, on the other hand, suggest
> eternal existence? Or does it imply a coming into
> existence at the moment of creation, when God 'spoke'?
That depends greatly upon a number of things. First, what do you
understand the Logos of John 1:1ff to be? Second, do you see the
preexistence theme to be a uniquely Hebrew view of preexistence, which
refers to God's foreknowledge of things to come rather than the
western understanding of literally existing before.
Genesis says "In the beginning, God...". He, therefore, predates
"existence". Anything God "thought", therefore, would also predate
"existence". Certainly, He knew His plan for His Son before the world
was created. In that sense, at least, Jesus Christ preexisted the
> If the Hebrew-scripture background here is speculation
> on the female figure Wisdom, then one would suppose
> that the Logos came into existence at creation as the
> first of God's creatures.
This was certainly a view that became significant in the early church.
In my view, it was a corruption of the Hebrew view of preexistence by
the Greek influx into the church. To the Jews, Wisdom was a concept,
a manifestation of God, if you will, but not a being separate from
God. To the Greeks, Wisdom was a heavenly being, existing somewhere
between the earth and the God of all, who could not bear to interact
directly with the creation.
> Any thoughts?
Many, but I doubt they are appropriate here.
> Jeffery Hodges
> P.S. No, I'm not some crypto-Jehovah's Witness -- in
> case anyone was wondering.
Frankly, I don't wonder about those sorts of things, and I have no use
for labeling people. I'm here to learn from others and to increase my
understanding of the Word. I exposed my biases simply because I think
it's only fair that the reader know what they are. What other
people's opinions of those biases might be do not concern me.
- In a message dated 9/18/2000 5:39:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
[Responding to Leonard, who wrote:]
<< > Antonio, no matter how highly elevated a creature is, no matter how
> to God a creature comes, he is still infinitely -- yes, infinitelyinferior
> to God. If this were the case for Jesus it would have been incumbent onthe
> NT authors to make this point perfectly clear. Now there are texts inwhich
> they do not do so, and in fact many of them confound Jesus quitedeliberately
> and quite thoroughly with God. If it is true that Jesus is not God, eitherThe only problem is that Luke and the other synoptic writers did not
> these writers were terribly misled, or they are terribly misleading.
have to contend with a 20th century highly orthodox chap from America
who is so infatuated with trinitarianism that he has to force it on the texts
at all price. Leonard, why don't you take a close look at Peter's speech
in Acts 2:22-36 again and see if you find any support at all for your
This is as close to Luke's and the early Jerusalem church's Christology as
we will ever get, and Jesus is never called or likened to God. He is a MAN
(v.22) SENT by God (v.22) to fullfill God's plan for humanity (v.23). God
resurrected him (v24) and MADE him into LORD and MESSIAH (v. 36).
How do you explain that somebody who is God (as you claim Jesus is) has
to be made Lord and Messiah by God? >>
Antonio, it seems you didn't read my post carefully enough (which makes me
wonder how carefully you read the biblical texts that challenge your
understanding). What I said was that "there are texts" in the NT in which
Jesus is thoroughly confounded with God. This is quite compatible, logically,
with the existence of other texts in which he is not (and was carefully
formulated precisely so as to accommodate these). The Acts text you cite is
clearly one such, and, in Chalcedonian terms, it could be said that it is
simply talking about Jesus as man, under which formality he is of course
thoroughly subordinated to, distinct from and inferior to God. My only point
is that there are other texts in which the NT authors, or most of them,
express a kind of fuzzy identity between Jesus and God. So the God-Man
construct of the later patristic writers and church councils seems to me to
do justice the whole of the biblical evidence about Jesus while you seem able
to handle only one side of the paradox. Keep trying though! It is wonderful
that you invest so much mental effort in the search.