RE: [John_Lit] A Grammatico-theological Question
- Try these references for starters:
E.C. Colwell, "A definite rule for the use of the article in the Greek New
Testament", Journal for Biblical Literature 52, 1933, pp.12-21
P. Harner, "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John
1:1", Journal for Biblical Literature 91, 1973, pp.75-87
Blass-Debrunner-Funk, 273 talks of predicate nouns being "as a rule"
anarthrous but it's pretty thin stuff.
Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pp.257ff.
Brown's Anchor Commentary hesitates over the anarthrous predicate (p.5f)
but Hoskyns (141), Schnackenburg (234), Barrett (156) and Sanders (69f) are
happy with it. I don't think Bultmann bothers to mention it. Moloney
(Belief, 28) points out that the reader needs to be aware of the subtleties
of Greek grammar to get what he is on about.
Hope this helps.
New Testament Lecturer and Director of Studies,
Hope Valley, Derbyshire, UK
Tel: +44 1246 582321 x122
Fax: +44 1246 583739
From: Horace Jeffery Hodges [SMTP:jefferyhodges@...]
Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 03:40
Subject: RE: [John_Lit] A Grammatico-theological Question
Pete Phillips <p.m.phillips@...> wrote:
> I've been following this thread over the last coupleNo, I haven't read all of those scholars on this
> of days and have
> become increasingly perplexed by it. Has anybody
> read the secondary
> material on all this lot? Colwell's article on
> anarthrous predicates,
> Harner's redefinition of Colwell's rule, Wallace's
> extended discussion in
> his Grammar beyond the basics, Blass-Debrunner-Funk.
> How about the
> comments by Bultmann, Brown and Barrett? There is
> ample reading for the
> most avid bookworm in this lot - all defining why
> the translation should be
> "God" rather than "a god" or "the god" or "divine".
> There is a whole load
> of semantic evidence for translating this as a
> simple pre-verbal
> qualitative anarthrous predicate - the decision to
> translate it as anything
> else is the theological spin!
grammatical rule -- that's why I was asking about the
grammatical reason. Thanks for the references -- but
could you make them more specific, i.e., which texts,
etc? I'll keep them for future reference, i.e., when I
am again near a good library -- as I hope to be next
year if all goes well.
In retrospect, I think that I have probably confused
matters a bit. What I wanted was an explanation of the
grammatical rule that tells us whether to translate
with or without the indefinite article. If I have
understood others correctly, then Greek grammar allows
for either translation.
However, I agree that there are theological reasons
for choosing one or the other if there is a
grammatical choice -- and I agree with Malauf that the
fourth evangelist has a theology.
> And if we talk about pre-existence, as Meg DaviesIf we understand "pre-existence" to mean that the Son
> says, (Rhetoric and
> Reference in the Fourth Gospel) - there can be no
> such thing. You cannot
> exist before you exist. Eternally existent would be
existed prior to his incarnation, then I see no reason
to discard the term. This also allows one the simple
formulation "eternal pre-existence". (I suppose
"pre-incarnational existence" is more explicit, but it
seems a mouthful to me.) The expression "eternally
existent", by contrast, is ambiguous because it leaves
unclear whether this means from past eternity to
future eternity or merely from a point in time to
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- 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.