John 1:8

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Chris Engelsma
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John 1:8

Post by Chris Engelsma » July 18th, 2011, 11:38 am

John 1:8
οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς...

Is there any grammatical reason why ἐκεῖνος is the subject here and not adjectival with φῶς? I know that in predicate nominative situations like this, the pronoun is usually the subject, but......I can't think of any grammatical reason why it can't be "He was that light..."

thanks
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Randall Tan
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Re: John 1:8

Post by Randall Tan » July 18th, 2011, 12:17 pm

ἐκεῖνος (ἐκεῖνος, η, ο) is masculine in grammatical gender and φῶς is neuter. Demonstrative pronouns should match the nouns they modify in case, gender, & number. In a predicate nominative situation, only case and number (with exceptions like collectives) would be required to match.
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Randall Tan

cwconrad
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Re: John 1:8

Post by cwconrad » July 18th, 2011, 12:45 pm

To what Randall has said I would add that ἐκεῖνος is not an adjective but a demonstrative pronoun. When used with a noun, the noun most commonly takes an article: e.g. ἐκεῖνος ὁ ἄνθρωπος. But the pronoun can readily function, as it does here, as the subject of a clause.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Sarah Madden
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Re: John 1:8

Post by Sarah Madden » July 19th, 2011, 5:19 am

Chris --

Regarding John 1:8
οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς...

The pronoun ἐκεῖνος is the subject: "That one was not the light ..." Note that ἐκεῖνος (masculine) is not the same gender as φῶς (neuter), and thus "that light" would not be an acceptable translation. Translating ἐκεῖνος as "He" could also make sense ("He was not the light"), but in the English you would lose the contrast that seems to be intended by the demonstrative pronoun.
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  • Sarah Madden ><>
    Maryland

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