A god?

A god?

Postby David Robinson » September 14th, 2011, 5:44 pm

Dear B Greekers

Putting aside all doctrinal considerations, for or against, is it possible according to the grammar/syntax of the Greek to render the qualitative anarthrous predicate noun “theos” of John 1:1, “a god”?

Ethos
David Robinson
 
Posts: 14
Joined: June 17th, 2011, 2:15 pm

Re: A god?

Postby MAubrey » September 14th, 2011, 6:29 pm

No.
Mike Aubrey
Canada Institute of Linguistics & Trinity Western University Graduate School
MAubrey
 
Posts: 634
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 8:52 pm
Location: British Columbia

Re: A god?

Postby Ken M. Penner » September 14th, 2011, 7:04 pm

I'm surprised, Mike. I would have said the exact opposite. It's hard to prove something is impossible unless it's a logical impossibility.
Ken M. Penner
St. Francis Xavier University
Ken M. Penner
 
Posts: 621
Joined: May 12th, 2011, 7:50 am
Location: Antigonish, NS, Canada

Re: A god?

Postby MAubrey » September 14th, 2011, 7:55 pm

Ken M. Penner wrote:I'm surprised, Mike. I would have said the exact opposite. It's hard to prove something is impossible unless it's a logical impossibility.


Billions of people throughout history successfully say, "yes" and "no" to similar questions everyday. And it's good, language would quickly become highly ineffective if the words yes and no were only available for things that could be empirically proven. Maybe we can't prove it definitively, but I would hope that you and I would both recognize that as an approximation of knowledge, "No." works quite well indeed.
Mike Aubrey
Canada Institute of Linguistics & Trinity Western University Graduate School
MAubrey
 
Posts: 634
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 8:52 pm
Location: British Columbia

Re: A god?

Postby Ken M. Penner » September 14th, 2011, 9:16 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Ken M. Penner wrote:I'm surprised, Mike. I would have said the exact opposite. It's hard to prove something is impossible unless it's a logical impossibility.


Billions of people throughout history successfully say, "yes" and "no" to similar questions everyday. And it's good, language would quickly become highly ineffective if the words yes and no were only available for things that could be empirically proven. Maybe we can't prove it definitively, but I would hope that you and I would both recognize that as an approximation of knowledge, "No." works quite well indeed.


Take it easy! I didn't say empirically. And I didn't say "no" was not an available answer. I said I was surprised; it was an unexpected answer, especially coming from someone whose opinion I greatly respect.

Here are some relevant parallels:
Aristotle, On Prophesying by Dreams: εἰ θεὸς ἦν ὁ πέμπων (the sender should be God/a god). I'd sat this one is probably definite.
Philo, De fuga et inventione 167: οὐ γὰρ ἄνθρωπος ἦν ὁ γεννώμενος (For the one being brought forth was not a man ...). I'd say this one is probably indefinite.

I'm just pointing out that all that is needed to show something is possible is one example. But no number of examples is sufficient to show something is impossible.
Ken M. Penner
St. Francis Xavier University
Ken M. Penner
 
Posts: 621
Joined: May 12th, 2011, 7:50 am
Location: Antigonish, NS, Canada

Re: A god?

Postby Jonathan Robie » September 14th, 2011, 10:24 pm

David Robinson wrote:Putting aside all doctrinal considerations, for or against, is it possible according to the grammar/syntax of the Greek to render the qualitative anarthrous predicate noun “theos” of John 1:1, “a god”?


Ignoring the other things John said about Jesus, you mean? Are you asking if "a god" is grammatically possible, or if it's a likely meaning in the Gospel of John?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
Posts: 1494
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm

Re: A god?

Postby MAubrey » September 14th, 2011, 10:30 pm

Ken M. Penner wrote:Take it easy! I didn't say empirically. And I didn't say "no" was not an available answer. I said I was surprised; it was an unexpected answer, especially coming from someone whose opinion I greatly respect.


Sorry, Ken. I hadn't realize how that response of mine sounded. The tone in the text wasn't in my head. Sorry about that.

Ken M. Penner wrote:I'm just pointing out that all that is needed to show something is possible is one example. But no number of examples is sufficient to show something is impossible.


Agreed. I would say, however, that the issue is more context dependent than it is "parallel example" dependent. If you have it handy, Steve Runge's grammar has an extremely useful discussion of John 1:1-5 on pages 210-12 showing that the lack of the article is highly discourse dependent.

Ken M. Penner wrote:Aristotle, On Prophesying by Dreams: εἰ θεὸς ἦν ὁ πέμπων (the sender should be God/a god). I'd sat this one is probably definite.
Philo, De fuga et inventione 167: οὐ γὰρ ἄνθρωπος ἦν ὁ γεννώμενος (For the one being brought forth was not a man ...). I'd say this one is probably indefinite.


The discourse issues are pretty clear when you look at Philo's text (I don't have access to Aristotle's text--is it online anywhere?). The introduction of the anarthrous predicate ἄνθρωπος is dramatically different than what we see in John 1:1. The question, then, for relevant examples would be to find a clause with an anarthrous predicate nominative that had a highly specific and identifiable usage the same lexeme just before as we have in John 1:1, where we have a very identifiable and specific referent--the Jewish monotheistic God--being referred to directly before (separated only by καί) our predicate nominative θέος.

Well, I'll be back after dinner...
Mike Aubrey
Canada Institute of Linguistics & Trinity Western University Graduate School
MAubrey
 
Posts: 634
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 8:52 pm
Location: British Columbia

Re: A god?

Postby Mark Lightman » September 14th, 2011, 11:25 pm

ἔγραψεν ὁ Δαυιδ:
Putting aside all doctrinal considerations, for or against, is it possible according to the grammar/syntax of the Greek to render the qualitative anarthrous predicate noun “theos” of John 1:1, “a god”?


Yes, David, it's not only possible but to me, all doctrinal considerations put aside, it seems the most natural way to read the text. I would paraphrase John 1:1 thus:

πάλαι μὲν οὖν ὑπάρχων σὺν τῷ θεῷ, ὁ λόγος θεῖος ἦν.
Mark Lightman
 
Posts: 258
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:30 pm

Re: A god?

Postby David Robinson » September 15th, 2011, 3:34 am

MAubrey wrote:No.


That is quite a short reply? Why so?

This is some of the infomation I have found on this question:-


The following are various comments from theologians and scholars on the Greek grammar pertaining to the above verse from the Gospel of John.

1)
The LINGUISTIC KEY TO THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT by Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers on page 217 published by Zondervan States the following on the Greek grammar of John 1:1:-
"theos ,God. The word is with out the article and is the predicate emphasising quality, "the word had the same nature as God" (s. Philip B, Harner, "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns," J[ournal of] B[iblical] L[iterature], 92 [March 1973], 75-78."

2)
'A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek N.T.' by Max Zerwick S.J. - Mary Grosvenor, Editrice Pontifico Istituto Biblico Roma 1996 on page 285 states:-
"theos, "the Word was divine", pred. wt art., insisting on the nature of the Word § 175."

3)
'Those Incredible Christians' by Hugh J. Schonfield on page 247, and in his 'The Original New Testament on page 479 he reproduces John 1:1 as follows:-
"In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. So the Word was Divine."

4)
Earnest William Barnes Sc.D. Camb., Hon. D.D. Aber. and Edin., Hon. LL.D. Glas, F.R.S. Bishop of Birmingham in his book 'The Rise of Christianity' page 94-95:-
"The gospel opens with sentences familiar to, and beloved by every Christian. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. More accurately, as the definite article is absent from the Greek, the last phrase should read "and the Word was divine." The Word was with God and partook of His nature without being identical with Him."

5)
Corresponding with the theology of the foregoing comments of various theologians is this comment of Origin's understanding of Jesus Christ in relationship to Jehovah form the book 'Christian Fathers' by Maurice Wiles page 36:-
"The divine unity is preserved by firmly subordinating the Son to the Father; he is "god" and not "the god", as Origen puts it; "god" and not "God", as we may more freely translate him. The declaration of Jesus that "my Father is greater than I" (John 14:28) is true, say Origen, in every respect of the Son's being in relation to the Father."

6)
Newbberrry Reference Study Bible (K.J.V.) N.T. page vii:-
“THE GREEK ARTICLE … THE ABSENCE OF THE ARTICLE before a word in Greek, signifies, that this word is not to be understood as objective, but characteristic; that is it is not simply an object before the mind, but it expresses the charater of something with which it is connected. For example John 1. 1, “The Word was with God. Here the word God with the article is objective.
“And the Word was God.” Here God is without the article is characteristic; that is, it signifies the Word was divine”


Using "divine" (godlike in character or the same "nature" as God (ho theos) but not the same person) for "theos" in John 1:1 seems to be an approved rendering by some theologians etc..

Many say the there is only one way to render "theos" of John 1:1, that is "God" but that statement is not supported by many scholars for grammatical reasons, re the above!

DR
Last edited by David Robinson on September 15th, 2011, 3:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
David Robinson
 
Posts: 14
Joined: June 17th, 2011, 2:15 pm

Re: A god?

Postby David Robinson » September 15th, 2011, 3:37 am

Mark Lightman wrote:
ἔγραψεν ὁ Δαυιδ:
Putting aside all doctrinal considerations, for or against, is it possible according to the grammar/syntax of the Greek to render the qualitative anarthrous predicate noun “theos” of John 1:1, “a god”?


Yes, David, it's not only possible but to me, all doctrinal considerations put aside, it seems the most natural way to read the text. I would paraphrase John 1:1 thus:

πάλαι μὲν οὖν ὑπάρχων σὺν τῷ θεῷ, ὁ λόγος θεῖος ἦν.



I am new here so would you please help me to understand the Greek sentance please?
Thanks

DR
David Robinson
 
Posts: 14
Joined: June 17th, 2011, 2:15 pm

Next

Return to Pragmatics and Discourse

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest