Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby John Brainard » June 29th, 2012, 9:20 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
John milton wrote:Respectfully, I don't see how Barry's notion of "studied ambiguity" answers the question of why apostle John failed to jettison grammatical gender in verse 5 for natural gender . Was τὸ φῶς not personal at this time?


Maybe, maybe not, but it's irrelevant to the speech-act of v.5. All the use of grammatical gender concord means is that personality is not part of the assertion in v.5. It says nothing about whether it is personal in v.5. It does not deny it; it does not assert it. Don't read more into it than is there.



I agree

John
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby John Brainard » June 30th, 2012, 11:04 am

In another forum John Milton had a discussion with a gentleman named Johan.

Johan presented this argument

I cannot find any constructio ad sensum in verse 10. Verse 9 begins with ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, where ἦν refers to an implied subject (we find the subject in the previous verses). This implied subject is the λόγος, which is a masculine noun. τὸ φῶς is not the subject of verse 9, but the entity with which the λόγος is identified. In John 8:12 we read

ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου ("I am the light of the world")

and in that sentence we have an explicit pronoun (ἐγώ) followed by a copula (εἰμι) followed by the noun with which the pronoun is identified. Basically the same construct as in 1:9. The subject of 8:12 is ἐγώ and the subject of 1:9 is ὁ λόγος. There is therefore no gender shift between 1:9 and 1:10.


Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

John
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby cwconrad » June 30th, 2012, 2:05 pm

John Brainard wrote:In another forum John Milton had a discussion with a gentleman named Johan.

Johan presented this argument

I cannot find any constructio ad sensum in verse 10. Verse 9 begins with ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, where ἦν refers to an implied subject (we find the subject in the previous verses). This implied subject is the λόγος, which is a masculine noun. τὸ φῶς is not the subject of verse 9, but the entity with which the λόγος is identified. In John 8:12 we read

ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου ("I am the light of the world")

and in that sentence we have an explicit pronoun (ἐγώ) followed by a copula (εἰμι) followed by the noun with which the pronoun is identified. Basically the same construct as in 1:9. The subject of 8:12 is ἐγώ and the subject of 1:9 is ὁ λόγος. There is therefore no gender shift between 1:9 and 1:10.


Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

John


Verse 9 has been misconstrued:
Ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον, ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον.

The subject is τὸ φῶς, the predicate is ἦν ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον. Despite the fact that ἦν is separated from ἐρχόμενον by the relative clause that clarifies the function of τὸ φῶς, we have a periphrastic imperfect here:ἦν ἐρχόμενον = ἤρχετο.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ἄτοπον, ἔφη, λέγεις εἰκόνα καὶ δεσμώτας ἀτόπους.
ὁμοίους ἡμῖν, ἦν δʼ ἐγώ. Plato, Rep. 7 (515a)
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby John Brainard » June 30th, 2012, 9:40 pm

Thank you for the well prepared and excellent answer.

John
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » July 1st, 2012, 2:09 am

Professor Conrad:

Is it impossible to construe ἐρχόμενον as modifying ἄνθρωπον and understanding to the effect of "He/It was the true light, which enlightens every person as he [the enlightened person] enters the world"?
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby cwconrad » July 1st, 2012, 7:11 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:Professor Conrad:

Is it impossible to construe ἐρχόμενον as modifying ἄνθρωπον and understanding to the effect of "He/It was the true light, which enlightens every person as he [the enlightened person] enters the world"?


It is not impossible, obviously -- the KJV translators have done so -- "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."

But (a) such a construction is awkward and unusual, and (b) the authority of the KJV translators does not make this way of understanding ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον really meaningful.

Again I cite the text, omitting any punctuation:

Ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον.

(a) It is possible to construe ἦν as an existential form of εἶναι, but I would expect the subject, particularly an arthrous noun, to precede the verb. Could ἦν be a copula and τὸ φῶς be a predicate noun? Then what's the subject? The proposal earlier in the thread is that ὁ λόγος is the implied subject, but there's nothing to suggest that (something like an ἐκεῖνος that might refer back to ὁ λόγος), and by verse 9 ὁ λόγος hasn't been mentioned or referred to since verse 4. The real difficulty, I think, lies in the notion that τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν is a predicate word to ἦν. I don't think you can have an implied subject of ἦν with τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν as a predicate word. I think that you'd have to have some sort of demonstrative pronoun like ἐκεῖνος indicating the referent expliciltly.

(b) Actually the KJV translators didn't quite take ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον in the way you're suggesting; they took it as an adjectival participle, while you're suggesting that it's adverbial: "illuminates every person when he/she enters the world." What is that supposed to mean? That the illumination takes place at the moment of birth? That sounds very strange to me. On the other hand, the KJV understanding of ἐρχόμενον as adjectival -- i.e. as the equivalent of a relative clause -- seems (to me, at least) a strange expression. Does it mean "every person who is born? Then why not write γεγονότα?

In sum, the sentence is perfectly intelligible if we understand ἦν ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον as the predicate to the subject τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ἄτοπον, ἔφη, λέγεις εἰκόνα καὶ δεσμώτας ἀτόπους.
ὁμοίους ἡμῖν, ἦν δʼ ἐγώ. Plato, Rep. 7 (515a)
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby John milton » July 1st, 2012, 12:19 pm

In the prologue of John's Epistle which really is a commentary on the prologue of John's Gospel the author goes nuclear, as it were, by using neuter pronouns multiple times in short order to refer to the masculine Λόγος. By constructio ad sensum the apostle seems to be telling us that what was with the Father in the beginning was the impersonal Λόγος :

ἦν ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, ἀκηκόαμεν, ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν, περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς ...


Here's A Workbook for Intermediate Greek: Grammar, Exegesis, and Commentary on 1-3 John, by Herbert W. Bateman, IV:


(A) The relative pronoun could refer to "the Word" in the phrase "the Word of life". "This "Word," like the "Word" in John's Gospel ( 1:1) was from the beginning. But as you already know, the relative in the phrase is neuter and not the masculine form you might expect in order to be in agreement with Logos. This view is not impossible (W 336-45), but it remains an awkward grammatical construction (HJS, 21-22).

(B) Another possibility is that the relative pronoun refers to "life," which als occurs in the prepositional phrase of verse 1. However "life" also lacks agreement with the pronoun , and this along with the awkward grammatical construction, may argue against this view.

(C) It is probable that the relative pronoun refers to Jesus and his whole career (perhaps as it is described in the GJohn). All the relative pronouns in vv. 1-3 appear to be a comprehensive reference to the Incarnation of Jesus, whose existence as a man and career the author "witnessed" and thereby bears "testimony" about to his readers (Brown, 154). Thus the object of the author's proclamation is the person, words, and deeds of Jesus (NET). So then, in your own words, what do the relative clauses refer to in vv. 1-3?


I don't understand why Bateman would even entertain option (C), let alone say that it is "probable" (since it imposes ideas into the text), save to salvage his theology.

JM,






.
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby MAubrey » July 2nd, 2012, 12:41 pm

John milton wrote:I don't understand why Bateman would even entertain option (C), let alone say that it is "probable" (since it imposes ideas into the text), save to salvage his theology.


There are worse things than following the view of one of the greatest Johannine scholars of the 20th century. If (c) is also Brown's view as Bateman claims (I don't have his commentary to check for sure), there must be a decent reason for it. I've seen more unusual uses of the neuter in my day...
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby John milton » July 2nd, 2012, 1:39 pm

MAubrey wrote:
John milton wrote:I don't understand why Bateman would even entertain option (C), let alone say that it is "probable" (since it imposes ideas into the text), save to salvage his theology.


There are worse things than following the view of one of the greatest Johannine scholars of the 20th century. If (c) is also Brown's view as Bateman claims (I don't have his commentary to check for sure), there must be a decent reason for it. I've seen more unusual uses of the neuter in my day...


The demands of 4th Century homoousion Christology perhaps ? Is there any doubt at all that had the pronoun in 1 John 1:1-4 been personal, option (C) would have been laughted out of town ?

JM,
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Re: Constructio ad Sensum in the prologue of John

Postby MAubrey » July 2nd, 2012, 2:55 pm

John milton wrote:Is there any doubt at all that had the pronoun in 1 John 1:1-4 been personal, option (C) would have been laughted out of town ?


No, there is no doubt about it.

But the pronoun *isn't* personal, so your little hypothetical here is irrelevant to the meaning of the passage.

I'm not necessarily saying option (c) is correct. As it happens, Bateman and I have had conversations about this text in particular and we came to different conclusions. Minimally, I wouldn't have worded (c) the way he did (yes, he's a friend of mine). I'm saying that your determination to not take it seriously at all is more ridiculous that Bateman's determination that it be the most "probable" option.
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