I can sense hostility.
Some translations of John 1:1 read "the word was a god." The translators say god is used like its used for Paul in Acts and the Jewish leaders in John 8.
| 2004/4/21 23:13||Profile|
The 'Church' established it? This is the same 'church' that started batizing babies around the same time. The same church that start forcing people to be christians. To say the church established this long ago is not a valid agruement unless you go before the Nicene period.
| 2004/4/21 23:17||Profile|
I'm getting a little ahead of what I was going to type; however, I will attempt to answer your questions.
John's Gospel was written very late in his life. The early form of Gnosticism was taking shape about this time. Gnostics claimed that Jesus did not come in the flesh, but was spirit, because flesh was evil. In John chapter 1 the author is emphatically saying that God came in the flesh.
I assume that you are a Jehova's Wittness since you sited their false interpretation of John 1:1. They make much of the article missing in front of God in the last part of that verse. If that is true then the Father cannot be God because there are multiple times in the Greek where the word for God is used referring to Him, but the article is missing.
The Greek word in question here is "Theos." What is the significance of Theos with or without the article? Not much.
[b]The New Testament's Usage Of The Word Theos[/b]
The Septuagint's usage of the word "Theos" formed the basis of its usage in the New Testament as a generic term indication any and all deities in general, including the true God. It was a title of diety and not a personal name of God. Thus, it is used of Satan(IICor. 4:40), men(Acts 14:11),pagan deities(ICor 8:4), and even the belly, i.e., fleshly appitites(Phil.3:19)
One question frequently asked is "If the word Theos does not have a definite article, does this mean that something less than true deity is in view? Could Jesus be "Theos" but not "the Theos"?
The word theos appears 1,315 times in the New Testament. Seventy-eight percent of the time it appears with a definite article and 21.6 percent of the time without an article. Those unfamilliar with the Greek language often assume that when the true God is in view, the word Theos will have the article. When Theos appears without the article, the word Theos does not referr to the true God. Thus, the typical Jehovah's Wittness defends his organization's translation of John 1:1c "the Word was a god," on the basis that the word Theos does not have the article.
After his detailed analysis of the presence or absence of the article, Murray Harris concludes that generaly speaking:
"The Theos" and "Theos" are often used interchangable. It is therefore not possible to maintain that whenever Theos is without the article, it differs from "the Theos" in meaning or empasis.
The statistical evidence bears this out. For example, the Father is referred as Theos without the article in such places as John 1:6, while Jesus is referred to as Theos with the article in such places as John 20:28. [b]If the presence or absence of the article indicates whether true deity is in view, then the Father is only "a god" and Jesus is the true "God!"[/b] :-D
| 2004/4/22 0:10||Profile|
Quote:I wasn't the one who presented that argument, as far as I recall. Instead, I presented Scriptures that seem to contradict Jesus-only Oneness. Do you have explanations that resolve those apparent contradictions? Or shall we defer dealing with those problems with your position (and what exactly is your position? I'm arguing against Jesus-only because I'm used to arguing with Oneness Pentacostals if I have to defend the Trinity at all), and move on to other difficulties it faces?
The 'Church' established it?
And, for the record, I'm not trying to be hostile or mean towards you, though obviously I am obligated to "contend" for what I believe is "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).
| 2004/4/22 0:15||Profile|
| Re: Why there is no article before Theos in John 1:1c|
The word Theos in John 1:1c does not have a definite article in front of it. This does not mean that we should follow the Jehovah's Witnesses and downsize it to "a god." We have already pointed out that the word "Father" is modfied by Theos without the article. Do the Arians (JW's are Arians) downsize Him into "a god" because of this? No. Then on what grounds do they do this to Christ?
The article was not placed in front of Theos for two very good reasons. First, in terms of Greek grammar and syntax, Colwell's Rule 20 states that when a noun is taken out of its normal word order and placed [b]before[/b] its verb, 97% of the time it does not have an article. This is what we find in John 1:1c.
What this means is that instead of beginning with the a priori assumption that Theos should have the article and then seeking to explain why it does not have one, we should begin the other way around and assume that it should not normally have the article (In John 1:1c Theos appears before the verb invoking Colwell's Rule 20). The Arian is pressed to explain why there should be an article in front of Theos here when according to Greek grammar there should not be one.
The second reason Theos does not have the article is that it would lead the reader to the mistaken idea that the Word [i]was[/i] the Father. Murray Harris exlpains in a rather technical way:
Having just distinguished the Logos(the Son) from the Father in vers 1b, would he be likely immediately afterward to dissolve that personal distinction? For him to have used the article in the predicate of verse 1c would have implied either that subject and predicate were identical or coextensive or that this predicate referred to none other than the Father in the preceeding clause. As it is, in verse 1c John maintains the distinction between the Logos and the Father that he has drawn in verse 1b, while at the same time affirming the participation of the Logos in the divine essence.
John did not place the article in front of Theos in order to maintain the distinction between the Father and the Son. This is why he made that distinction once again in John 1:2.
This passage of Scripture is believed to have been an ancient hymn of the early Church. It is also the clarion passage forever establishing the Bible's teaching of the Trinity. Oneness and Arian teachings are left totally bankrupt at the feet of the opening of the Gospel of John. John was so empatic about Jesus being the eternal God that the last part of John 1:1 should read "...and the Word was with God. [b]God[/b] was the Word." This also answers your second question as to where and when the belief in the triune nature of God came into being. It wasn't at Nicea, but from the Scriptures and the Apostles.
And finally, here is Kenneth Wuest's* translation of John 1:1
In the beginning the Word was exisiting. And the Word was in fellowship(the Greek word for "with" strongly denotes intimate fellowship) with God the Father. And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity. This Word was in the beginning in fellowship with God the Father. All things through His intermediate agency came into being, and without Him there came into being not even one thing which has come into existence.
*Kenneth Wuest was one of the best Greek scholars that ever lived in our time.
| 2004/4/22 0:44||Profile|
Thanks so much for your clear response, Jeremy! You took some pretty complex ideas and brought them down to where even I could understand. :-) I appreciate your spending the time - and your gifts - in helping us out on this one. Bless you!
| 2004/4/22 1:25||Profile|
| Re: the order of the words|
In English the order of the words determines the meaning. eg 'the dog bit the boy' can only mean one thing. However in Biblical greek the meaning is usually determined by the 'case endings' of the words. In the above example the ending of the word 'dog' would show the this was the subject of the sentence, and the ending of the word 'boy' would show that this was the object of the sentence. Consequently, in Biblical Greek the word order might be 'the boy bit the dog' but the case endings of the nouns would make it crystal clear that it was the dog that did the biting. The order of the words in Biblical Greek is not primarily to convey meaning but emphasis. So eg in our illustration if the full story was 'a boy and a girl were playing with a dog; the boy bit the dog'. If the case ending showed that 'the dog' was the subject then this would have the effect of saying "both were playing with the dog, but the dog bit the boy".
However in a sentence like 'god was the word' something else gives us the meaning. In these "equation" statements eg "the dog is an animal" the same case ending would be used for both; the nominative. This would make it impossible to know who bit whom, but the Greeks had a way around that too. The subject noun would be given the definite article 'the'. Now the word order of the sentance can be used to give the required emphasis but we can still identify the subject.
The Greek for John 1:1 is "and god was the word". This is an "equation sentance" so how can we know which is the subject? Easy, the subject has the definite article. So why not write "the word was God"? Because the writer wants to emphasize something else. It is a way of saying "what God was, the Word was". The lack of the definite article stops us from identifying the person of 'the Word'(Jesus) with the person of 'God' (the Father).
The word order tells us that the Word has all the divine attributes of the Father; the word order tells us that the 'the Word' is not 'the Father'. Martin Luther once wrote that the lack of the definite article disproves Sabellianism and the word order disproves Arianism.
Here's a little more Bible algebra. If it had said
"and the Word was the God"-> Sabellianism (Jesus-Only/Oneness)
"and the Word was a god"-> Arianism (and JWs etc)
"and god was the Word"-> orthodox trinitarian.
Biblical Greek is capable of mathematical precision.
[the essence of the above is quoted by William D Mounce in 'Basics of Biblical Greek' 2nd Edition; page 27. He is quoting Daniel B Wallace.]
| 2004/4/22 3:59||Profile|
Well, slap me silly with a Greek lexicon ... you guys are good, Ron! Thanks for the insight! I really enjoy working through posts like this. They give me a greater hunger and appreciation for the Word. (And a strange craving to - gulp - start studying Greek.) :-)
| 2004/4/22 4:33||Profile|
You can call it hostility if you want, but it's unbelievable that people are trying to reinvent the wheel. The NWT, which translates John 1:1 in your manner, is completely arbitrary in their use of the Greek text and is clearly prejudiced to diminish the glory of Jesus Christ. I think that is fine, because from their own Scriptures it can be shown that Jesus Christ is God.
Also, I was the one that referred to the Church having settled the issue long ago. It was in response to this heresy that Athanasius was contra mundum. He was the minority, but won the day. Remember, even the Scriptures teach that the Church is "the pillar and foundation of truth."
| 2004/4/22 8:58||Profile|
This is a teaching I shared in my Theology class some years ago. It is just an interesting observation that I borrowed from a scientist friend of mine who is also an apologist.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead (Theiotes) ; so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
Consider the following Scientific observation of Gods creation:
God created the Universe as a Trinity of Trinities
Everything we observe with our natural senses consists of MATTER, SPACE, AND TIME.
MATTER EXISTS AS: Solid, liquid, Gas
As solid is not a liquid, a liquid is not a gas, and a gas is not a solid; but they are all matter.
SPACE EXISTS AS: Length X Width X Height
Length is not height, height is not width, and width is not length; but they are all space.
TIME EXISTS AS: Past, Present, and Future
The past is not the present, the present is not the future, and the future is not the past; but they are all time.
Likewise: The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father; but they are all God.
Robert Wurtz II
| 2004/4/22 9:29||Profile|