John 1:9 ἐρχόμενον

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David Lim
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Re: Verb to be - circumstantial adverbial - pointed hat

Post by David Lim » June 25th, 2014, 6:08 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
David Lim wrote:I suggested that "ερχομενον ..." describes the situation in which the event described by "φωτιζει ..." occurs, in the same way as "οντα υπο την συκην" in John 1:48 specifies that it was with Nathaniel being under the fig tree that Jesus saw him, and both "συ ιουδαιος ων" and "γυναικος σαμαριτιδος ουσης" in John 4:9 specify the unusual circumstance that it was a Jew requesting to drink from a Samaritan woman. Likewise in John 1:9 my reading would mean specifically that it was in coming into the world that the light illuminates every man, whereas the reading as a periphrastic would simply assert two separate things, firstly that the light illuminates every man, and secondly that the light was coming into the world. So when I said "adverbial" I just meant that, firstly that clause could be omitted without changing the basic meaning of the sentence (which is not true for the other reading), and secondly that it modified the whole phrase (which I consider as headed by the main verb)
All those examples are with the verb to be and if one were to break things down into units, the noun and circumstantial adverbial are contiguous. There is a little incongruity between them and John 1:9.
Sure I'll give you examples where the verb isn't "ειναι" and the circumstantial adverbial (underlined) is not next to the explicit or implicit noun (italics):
[John 8:6 Byz variant] τουτο δε ελεγον πειραζοντες αυτον ινα εχωσιν κατηγοριαν κατ αυτου ο δε ιησους κατω κυψας τω δακτυλω εγραφεν εις την γην μη προσποιουμενος
[John 8:9] οι δε ακουσαντες [και υπο της συνειδησεως ελεγχομενοι] εξηρχοντο εις καθ εις αρξαμενοι απο των πρεσβυτερων και κατελειφθη μονος [ο ιησους] και η γυνη εν μεσω ουσα
[John 12:12] τη επαυριον οχλος πολυς ο ελθων εις την εορτην ακουσαντες οτι ερχεται ιησους εις ιεροσολυμα [Here the noun is the implicit subject of "ελθων", and the circumstantial adverbial tells us why they "came to the feast".]
[John 21:14] τουτο ηδη τριτον εφανερωθη ο ιησους τοις μαθηταις αυτου εγερθεις εκ νεκρων
Stephen Hughes wrote:
David Lim wrote:in the same way an aorist participle is often used for the same purpose, such as "στραφεις δε ο ιησους και θεασαμενος αυτους ακολουθουντας" in John 1:38.
Let me plead dunce here too. Which one are you referring to?
Sorry I didn't pick a good example. I was referring to "στραφεις" and "θεασαμενος ...", both of which agree with "ο ιησους" and describe the circumstances in which "λεγει ...".
Stephen Carlson wrote:So, something like, "The true light is that which illuminates every person as it comes into the world"?
Yes that would be essentially the same meaning.
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moon jung
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Re: John 1:9

Post by moon jung » June 25th, 2014, 9:09 pm

[John 1:9] ην το φως το αληθινον ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον

(1) "το φως το αληθινον ο ..." is the subject of the periphrastic "ην ερχομενον ..."; "the true light which illuminates every man was coming into the world"
(2) "ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον" adjectivally modifies "παντα ανθρωπον", and "το φως το αληθινον" is subject of "ην" with predicate as the indefinite relative "ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον"; "the true light was that which illuminates every man who comes into the world"

(3) "το φως το αληθινον" is subject of "ην" with predicate as the indefinite relative "ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον", and "ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον" is a circumstantial adverbial modifying "φωτιζει"; "the true light was that which, coming into the world, illuminates every man"
==
When I read the above verse in context, it seems the most natural way to take the verse is:

He was the true light who shines every person coming into the world.

Here "coming into the world" is a circumstantial clause construed with ὅ ( the subject of φθτιζει),
rather than with παντα ανθρωπον. This seems clear because of v.10 ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν.

το φως is introduced early in verse 4, and in v. 6-8, John is introduced as a person who came
ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ τοῦ θωτόσ. So, το φως is firmly established as the main topic in the context, and v. 9
identifies this φως in further details.

Moon Jung
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David Lim
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Re: John 1:9

Post by David Lim » June 26th, 2014, 11:36 am

moon wrote:When I read the above verse in context, it seems the most natural way to take the verse is:

He was the true light who shines every person coming into the world.

Here "coming into the world" is a circumstantial clause construed with ὅ ( the subject of φθτιζει),
rather than with παντα ανθρωπον. This seems clear because of v.10 ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν.

το φως is introduced early in verse 4, and in v. 6-8, John is introduced as a person who came
ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ τοῦ θωτόσ. So, το φως is firmly established as the main topic in the context, and v. 9
identifies this φως in further details.
Your reasoning based on the context is what I meant in my original question, but that still depends on whether it is grammatical plausible. The context doesn't control absolutely everything otherwise communication would simply break down. (If words have no meaning except what I want them to mean, then no words of mine will mean anything to others. For to others my words have no meaning except what they what them to mean.) Hence my question is really whether it is a grammatically likely option, since John is full of metaphorical expressions and perhaps plenty of puns, and none of the three options I listed contradict the context, hence I think interpretation isn't really a good basis to assess the grammatical structure of John 1:9. For example, it would be silly to argue that since the second "κοσμος" in John 1:10 did not know him, therefore the first "κοσμος" must be the people and so "εν τω κοσμω" must mean "he was among the world's people". So John 1:10 should not be brought to bear on John 1:9 so definitively.

As for your rendering, sorry it's really indecipherable to me. As I said before, you should express yourself in the clearest possible way, otherwise others may not be able to understand you. And if you're using an interlinear (and it seems you are, from the strange renderings you produce), please don't continue.
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moon jung
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Re: John 1:9

Post by moon jung » June 27th, 2014, 12:50 am

David's suggested rendering:

The true light was that which, coming into the world, illuminates every person.

My rendering [ to borrow some part from yours^^. Thanks for pointing to my wooden rendering] :

He was the true light which, coming into the world, illuminates every person.

David said:
Your reasoning based on the context is what I meant in my original question.

But, both renderings are different. The reason that I came up with this rendering almost without effort.
may be that I am a native speaker of a language with "null pronouns" like Greek and Japanese.

In such languages, people do not use explicit noun phrases or pronouns in place of null pronouns,
when the referents of the null pronouns are saliently established in the prior discourse,
UNLESS there is some need to give emphases to them.

So, in our case, the candidates of the null subject of verb ην are the word,
the light (which is identified with the word in v. 7, τοῦ φωτος = αυτοῦ = a person ), John.
One of them will be bound to the null subject pronoun,
unless the subject phrase is provided within the sentence itself.
Now, the phrase το φως το αληθινον is unlikely to be the subject,
because it is not obvious to which referent in the prior discourse the "true light" should be bound.
There is the referent of the "light", but it is not smooth to refer to it by the "TRUE light".
In verses 4b - 8, it/he was referred to by the "light" or "the light of people"
after being introduced in v. 4a. But it is smooth for him to be further identified/described
as the "true light which shines every person".

Once I introduced the notion of "discourse referents", I would like to emphasize that "sentence processing"
is an incremental process in which the hearer interprets each item in a given sentence as soon as possible
by using all the available information, before reaching the end of the sentence,
and backtracks if the attempt is not successful. This is what happens when we hear texts.
In short, the set of discourse referents should be always involved in the interpretation of the current
sentence. They affect the way we parse the current sentence.
Syntax, semantics, and pragmtics are dependent on each other. We do not choose one of the
possible multiple sentence structures, but we determine one along the way in a greedy manner.

Moon Jung
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David Lim
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Re: John 1:9

Post by David Lim » June 27th, 2014, 10:32 am

moon wrote:David's suggested rendering:

The true light was that which, coming into the world, illuminates every person.

My rendering [ to borrow some part from yours^^. Thanks for pointing to my wooden rendering] :

He was the true light which, coming into the world, illuminates every person.

David said:
Your reasoning based on the context is what I meant in my original question.

But, both renderings are different.[...]
Ah okay yours would be a fourth option then. But I don't quite see what is so unusual about the subject of "ην" being "το φως το αληθινον". Prior to that the writer already refers to "το φως" as if it is a unique entity, not just any "φως", and usually it would be taken to indeed mean "the true φως". Thus it is alright for the writer to now use "το φως το αληθινον" as an explicit subject of "ην" because he hasn't referred to it that exact way before.
moon wrote:Once I introduced the notion of "discourse referents", I would like to emphasize that "sentence processing"
is an incremental process in which the hearer interprets each item in a given sentence as soon as possible
by using all the available information, before reaching the end of the sentence,
and backtracks if the attempt is not successful. This is what happens when we hear texts.
In short, the set of discourse referents should be always involved in the interpretation of the current
sentence. They affect the way we parse the current sentence.
Syntax, semantics, and pragmtics are dependent on each other. We do not choose one of the
possible multiple sentence structures, but we determine one along the way in a greedy manner.
I do agree with this, and in fact this happens with written text as well, not just heard utterances. I'm just not convinced that "το φως το αληθινον" is too unusual to be taken naturally as the subject.
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moon jung
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Re: John 1:9

Post by moon jung » June 27th, 2014, 9:49 pm

David Lim wrote:
moon wrote:David's suggested rendering:

The true light was that which, coming into the world, illuminates every person.

My rendering [ to borrow some part from yours^^. Thanks for pointing to my wooden rendering] :

He was the true light which, coming into the world, illuminates every person.

David said:
Your reasoning based on the context is what I meant in my original question.

But, both renderings are different.[...]
Ah okay yours would be a fourth option then. But I don't quite see what is so unusual about the subject of "ην" being "το φως το αληθινον". Prior to that the writer already refers to "το φως" as if it is a unique entity, not just any "φως", and usually it would be taken to indeed mean "the true φως". Thus it is alright for the writer to now use "το φως το αληθινον" as an explicit subject of "ην" because he hasn't referred to it that exact way before.

=>
David: "and usually it would be taken to indeed mean "the true φως".

No. "το φως" simply refers to a particular φως introduced in v. 4a.
It seems too much that it would mean "the TRUE φως"
in this context, although it could in some other contexts.

However, I concede that the writer can refer to this light already introduced as the "true light" somewhat
"aggressively". He believes it and would think that the reader would not object to it. The problem is that
"The true light was that which, coming into the world, illuminates every person" does not make a good sense
in this context. Was the writer defining/explaining what the "true light" means? If so, it does not
fit the following statements well.

According to my rendering, the writer says:
He was the true light which, coming into the world, shines every person.
[ It describes who he was and what he was doing, having come to the world].
He was in the world. The world was made through him, but the world did know him.

If you really want to make the "true light" the subject, then you would want to render the verse as
"The true light which shines every person was coming into the world" . It betters fits the following
statements.

Moon Jung
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Iver Larsen
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Re: John 1:9

Post by Iver Larsen » June 28th, 2014, 2:53 am

David Lim wrote:[John 1:9] ην το φως το αληθινον ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον

I've always thought that there were only two possibilities:
(1) "το φως το αληθινον ο ..." is the subject of the periphrastic "ην ερχομενον ..."; "the true light which illuminates every man was coming into the world"
(2) "ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον" adjectivally modifies "παντα ανθρωπον", and "το φως το αληθινον" is subject of "ην" with predicate as the indefinite relative "ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον"; "the true light was that which illuminates every man who comes into the world"
And I previously thought that (1) was more likely given how it would flow naturally into the next sentence, although (2) could be arguable given John's liking for using similar words in different places in close proximity with different meanings.

But I happened to look at that verse again today and thought of a third possibility:
(3) "το φως το αληθινον" is subject of "ην" with predicate as the indefinite relative "ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον", and "ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον" is a circumstantial adverbial modifying "φωτιζει"; "the true light was that which, coming into the world, illuminates every man"

On thinking of that it seemed similar to other occasions of such present tense circumstantial adverbials in John's writing such as 1:48 ("οντα υπο την συκην ειδον σε"), 4:9 ("πως συ ιουδαιος ων παρ εμου πειν αιτεις γυναικος σαμαριτιδος ουσης").

So which do you all think is the most likely, if we make the assumption that John isn't intentionally trying to make an ambiguous sentence? I'm thinking (3) now.

My search turned up only two results:
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =46&t=1461, which didn't clearly identify the grammatical structure, and where there wasn't really a clear consensus
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/test-arch ... 23803.html, where Carl concluded on (1) but didn't mention (3). Any comments, Carl? :)
A couple of comments.
The verb "to be" is commonly connected with a participle both in John (29 times) and in the NT as a whole (199). It is not unusual to have a number of other elements intervening as in
Mat 8:30 ἦν δὲ μακρὰν ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν ἀγέλη χοίρων πολλῶν βοσκομένη
Mat 24:38 ὡς γὰρ ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις [ἐκείναις] ταῖς πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ τρώγοντες καὶ πίνοντες ...

When the verb "to be" is placed initial in the sentence it is likely to be used in an existential sense rather than equative or descriptive. It is then used without a predicate.

In John 1:9 there is only the subject intervening between ἦν and ἐρχόμενον, albeit a complex subject with a head noun (φῶς) and two modifiers (ἀληθινόν and a relative clause).

The previous verses talked about John the Baptizer coming to be a light, but only introducing the (true) light that was still to come. The larger context talks about the coming of the Word/Life/Light etc.

Your sense (1) makes perfect sense and is the simplest solution, both grammatically and contextually. I had not realized until now that the KJV introduced an implied subject "that", but it seems to me that KJV went astray, apparently because it took the definite article as a demonstrative: (8 He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light. 9 [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.) It was corrected in the RSV.
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Re: John 1:9

Post by David Lim » June 28th, 2014, 4:47 am

moon wrote: However, I concede that the writer can refer to this light already introduced as the "true light" somewhat
"aggressively". He believes it and would think that the reader would not object to it. The problem is that
"The true light was that which, coming into the world, illuminates every person" does not make a good sense
in this context. Was the writer defining/explaining what the "true light" means? If so, it does not
fit the following statements well.
As I said concerning the meaning of the circumstantial participle, this reading would express that it is in coming into the world that the true light illuminates every man. If my assumption that "το φως" is indeed meant to refer to "the true light" is correct, then this expression would not define or explain the meaning of "the true light", which would already be understood through the previous verses as "the light of men", but rather it would further describe how the true light illuminates men, not by just shining from afar but specifically by coming into the world.
moon wrote:If you really want to make the "true light" the subject, then you would want to render the verse as
"The true light which shines every person was coming into the world" . It betters fits the following
statements.
That would be option (1).
Iver Larsen wrote:A couple of comments.
The verb "to be" is commonly connected with a participle both in John (29 times) and in the NT as a whole (199). It is not unusual to have a number of other elements intervening as in
Mat 8:30 ἦν δὲ μακρὰν ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν ἀγέλη χοίρων πολλῶν βοσκομένη
Mat 24:38 ὡς γὰρ ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις [ἐκείναις] ταῖς πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ τρώγοντες καὶ πίνοντες ...
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Yes I understood this, which is why I don't have any grammatical issue with option (1).
Iver Larsen wrote:When the verb "to be" is placed initial in the sentence it is likely to be used in an existential sense rather than equative or descriptive. It is then used without a predicate.
I'm not sure that we can say much about what is likely. After all the immediately preceding statement was "ουκ ην εκεινος το φως αλλ ινα μαρτυρηση περι του φωτος" which was equative, although there it is clear because the genders do not match and the statement wouldn't make sense at all if there was no predicate. Out of curiosity I did a simple search to find all verses beginning with "ην". (I know this would miss some instances that we want, but it's the easiest.) It turns out that there are 55 in the entire LXX+NT, 19 of which are in John, with Matt, Mark and Luke only having 5/6 each. Those 19 instances divide as follows:

Predicative (12): John 1:9(?),40,44, 4:6, 6:4, 7:2, 9:14, 11:2,18,55, 18:14, 19:14
Existential (5): John 3:1, 5:5, 11:1, 13:23, 19:41
Periphrastic (2): John 3:23, 18:25

Thus if anything this suggests that when John uses "ην" at the start of a sentence it is most commonly predicative, and not usually periphrastic. In any case I won't rest my case on such small samples, but I can't accept your claim either, for John at least.
Iver Larsen wrote:The previous verses talked about John the Baptizer coming to be a light, but only introducing the (true) light that was still to come. The larger context talks about the coming of the Word/Life/Light etc.
The previous verses actually say that John the immerser was not the light, so I presume you mean it in the sense of merely being a witness rather than a "source of illumination".
Iver Larsen wrote:Your sense (1) makes perfect sense and is the simplest solution, both grammatically and contextually. I had not realized until now that the KJV introduced an implied subject "that", but it seems to me that KJV went astray, apparently because it took the definite article as a demonstrative: (8 He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light. 9 [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.) It was corrected in the RSV.
According to my understanding KJV takes it as Moon does, not as I do, since they put "That" in italics, implying that it is the implicit subject of "was". But Darby explicitly renders John 1:9 according to my suggestion (3), which I previously didn't notice as I had not looked closely at translations. Now that I look at the translations the ASV and NASB use an option (5). In summary here are the options:

(1) { the true light which illuminates every man } was coming into the world [ASV alt., ESV, RSV, NIV, NET, NLT]
(2) the true light was { that which illuminates every man who comes into the world } [those who consider "every man who comes into the world" as a Jewish idiom]
(3) the true light was that which, ( coming into the world ), illuminates every man [mine, Darby]
(4) [he] was the true light which, ( coming into the world ), illuminates every man [KJV, NKJV]
(5) [there] was the true light which, ( coming into the world ), illuminates every man [ASV, NASB]

Haha.. I still think (3) is the most likely, since it actually fits the flow of the writing better in my opinion. Of course, I'd be glad to know any other more compelling reasons you may have.
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Re: John 1:9 ἐρχόμενον

Post by moon jung » June 28th, 2014, 11:08 pm

David wrote:

As I said concerning the meaning of the circumstantial participle, this reading would express that it is in coming into the world that the true light illuminates every man. If my assumption that "το φως" is indeed meant to refer to "the true light" is correct, then this expression would not define or explain the meaning of "the true light", which would already be understood through the previous verses as "the light of men", but rather it would further describe how the true light illuminates men, not by just shining from afar but specifically by coming into the world.


(1) If what is what John meant to say, the noun clause of form ην X Y [X is Y] is too indirect a way to say that.

What John wanted to say would be more clearly implied by a slight modification of my rendering:

He wa the true light, which, coming into the world, shines every person.

In the original rendering, the relative pronoun is taken to be restrictive. Here, it is
taken to be non-restrictive, so it is almost the same as:

He was the true light. He, coming into the world, shined every person.


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Re: John 1:9

Post by cwconrad » June 29th, 2014, 6:53 am

Iver Larsen wrote:
David Lim wrote:[John 1:9] ην το φως το αληθινον ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον

I've always thought that there were only two possibilities:
(1) "το φως το αληθινον ο ..." is the subject of the periphrastic "ην ερχομενον ..."; "the true light which illuminates every man was coming into the world"
(2) "ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον" adjectivally modifies "παντα ανθρωπον", and "το φως το αληθινον" is subject of "ην" with predicate as the indefinite relative "ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον"; "the true light was that which illuminates every man who comes into the world"
And I previously thought that (1) was more likely given how it would flow naturally into the next sentence, although (2) could be arguable given John's liking for using similar words in different places in close proximity with different meanings.

But I happened to look at that verse again today and thought of a third possibility:
(3) "το φως το αληθινον" is subject of "ην" with predicate as the indefinite relative "ο φωτιζει παντα ανθρωπον", and "ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον" is a circumstantial adverbial modifying "φωτιζει"; "the true light was that which, coming into the world, illuminates every man"

On thinking of that it seemed similar to other occasions of such present tense circumstantial adverbials in John's writing such as 1:48 ("οντα υπο την συκην ειδον σε"), 4:9 ("πως συ ιουδαιος ων παρ εμου πειν αιτεις γυναικος σαμαριτιδος ουσης").

So which do you all think is the most likely, if we make the assumption that John isn't intentionally trying to make an ambiguous sentence? I'm thinking (3) now.

My search turned up only two results:
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =46&t=1461, which didn't clearly identify the grammatical structure, and where there wasn't really a clear consensus
http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/test-arch ... 23803.html, where Carl concluded on (1) but didn't mention (3). Any comments, Carl? :)
A couple of comments.
The verb "to be" is commonly connected with a participle both in John (29 times) and in the NT as a whole (199). It is not unusual to have a number of other elements intervening as in
Mat 8:30 ἦν δὲ μακρὰν ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν ἀγέλη χοίρων πολλῶν βοσκομένη
Mat 24:38 ὡς γὰρ ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις [ἐκείναις] ταῖς πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ τρώγοντες καὶ πίνοντες ...

When the verb "to be" is placed initial in the sentence it is likely to be used in an existential sense rather than equative or descriptive. It is then used without a predicate.

In John 1:9 there is only the subject intervening between ἦν and ἐρχόμενον, albeit a complex subject with a head noun (φῶς) and two modifiers (ἀληθινόν and a relative clause).

The previous verses talked about John the Baptizer coming to be a light, but only introducing the (true) light that was still to come. The larger context talks about the coming of the Word/Life/Light etc.

Your sense (1) makes perfect sense and is the simplest solution, both grammatically and contextually. I had not realized until now that the KJV introduced an implied subject "that", but it seems to me that KJV went astray, apparently because it took the definite article as a demonstrative: (8 He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light. 9 [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.) It was corrected in the RSV.
I am reluctant to say anything here, but I have viewed the ongoing thread and thought about the matter. David cited my post of 1998 (16 years ago!) and asked my opinion. Much of my thinking on many matters has changed over those years, but upon consideration, I do still think that the simplest and best solution is to understand ἦν ... ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον as a periphrastic verbal construction, the predicate here; τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀλήθινον is the subject, and ὂ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον is an adjectival clause qualifying the subject, τὸ φὼς τὸ ἀλήθινον. I see ὂ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον as picking up the phrasing of v. 4 (ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων). I think, moreover, that ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον is better understood as picked up immediately in v. 10, ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν -- surely referring to τὸ φῶς, not to ἄνθρωπον. So -- regarding the construction of this verse I'm still where I was 16 years ago.
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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)

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