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Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

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Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby muminustrollus » Tue May 11, 2004 6:06 am

Can I translate

Theos hn o logos: the Word was divine ?

Instead of The Word was God?
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Postby klewlis » Tue May 11, 2004 2:27 pm

That depends, do you want to do it that way for grammatical or theological reasons? ;)

(just kidding)

Wallace seems to think that divine is the best option. See pages 266-269.

(if you don't have access to Wallace's "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics" let me know and I will type this part up for you)
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby Ray » Wed Jun 23, 2004 10:11 pm

muminustrollus wrote:Can I translate

Theos hn o logos: the Word was divine ?

Instead of The Word was God?


No, Since when did Theos not mean God? And also when Thomas calls Jesus His Kurios and Theos it means My Lord and divine? How do we know when it means divine and when it means God? Apparently anytime it mentions Jesus as Theos.

Most SECULAR and CHRISTIAN scholars beleive that it says and the Word was God. Not divine. Not a God.
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby Kopio » Sat Jul 03, 2004 7:40 pm

Ray wrote:No, Since when did Theos not mean God? And also when Thomas calls Jesus His Kurios and Theos it means My Lord and divine? How do we know when it means divine and when it means God? Apparently anytime it mentions Jesus as Theos.

Most SECULAR and CHRISTIAN scholars beleive that it says and the Word was God. Not divine. Not a God.


Actually Ray, since antiquity QEOS did not always mean God. Turn to page 791 of your Liddell Scott Lexicon and see a rather long treatment of the word QEOS. Most of them have to do with spiritual and otherworldy things, but the word doesn't have to strickly mean God in the Greek language.

Now, if you are specifically addressing Biblical Greek, that does change the picture a bit. Specifically Jn 1:1, I would tend to side with Wallace....who is a CHRISTIAN scholar, at what I would consider probably one of the BEST seminaries to study Biblical Greek....that Divine is perfectly acceptable. It's an equative clause....the Logos is everthing that Qeos is.....divine! It in no way lowers The Logos' diety or makes him in any way inferior....everything God was (and IS for that matter) The Logos is.

FWIW, I am an evangelical (a Baptist for that matter), and I don't feel holding this view skews you into any sort of heresy :wink:

Just my two denarii worth
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Jewish writer using Greek

Postby hactx » Mon Jul 05, 2004 6:55 pm

From a purely Greek perspective "divine" would be appropriate. That is if you are in 1st century Corinth learning the philosophical meanderings of the meaning of theos. However not for a Jewish writer perspective using Greek.
In the same way we use the word god. The English language does not limit us to just speaking about a particular God, but is simply a word to describe a concept, e.g. John 10:34. So the context of the individual must dictate the intended meaning when the word is used.
For a Jewish Christian in the 1st century Theos can only be God, yahweh, kupios etc.
Jesus is divine. Preeminently, here, ho logos is/was God.
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Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby Iacobus » Tue Jul 06, 2004 12:27 am

1808 "and the word was a god" - The New Testament, in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishp Newcome's New Translation: With a Corrected Text, London.

1829 "and the Logos was a god" - The Monotessaron;or, The Gospel History, According to the Four Evangelists, by John S. Thompson, Baltimore.

1864 "and the god was the Word" - The Emphatic Diaglott (J21, interlinear reading), by Benjamin Wilson, New York and London.

1935 "and the Word was divine" - An American Translation, by J.M.P. Smth and E.J. Goodspeed, Chicago.

1950 "and the Word was a god" - New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, Brooklyn.

1975 "and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word" - Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Siegfried Schulz, Gottingen, Germany.

1978 "and godlike sort was the Logos" -Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider, Berlin.

1979 "and a god was the Logos" -Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Jurgen Becker, Wurzburg, Germany.


"These translations use such words as "a god," "divine," or "godlike" because the Greek word [face=spionic] qeo/j [/face] (theos) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article. This is an anarthrous theos. The God with whom the Word, or Logos, was originally is designated here by the Greek expression [face=spionic] o( qeo/j [/face], that is, theos preceded by the definite article ho. This is an articular theos. The articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone. Therefore, John's statement that the Word, or Logos, was "a god" or "divine" or "godlike" does not mean that he was the God with whom he was. It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same God himself.

In the Greek text there are many cases of a singular anarthrous predicate nouns preceding the verb (e.g. Mark 6:49,11:32; John 4:19, 6:70, 8:44, 8:48, 9:17, 10:1, 10:13, 10:33, 12:6, 18:37). In these places, translators insert the indefinite article "a" before the predicate noun in order to bring out the quality or characteristic of the subject. Since the indefinite article is inserted before the predicate noun in such texts, with equal justification the indefinite article "a" is inserted before the anarthrous [face=spionic] qeo/j [/face] in the predicate of John 1:1 to make it read "a god." The Sacred Scriptures confirm the correctness of this rendering.

In his article "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1," published in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92, Philadelphia, 1973, on p. 85 Philip B. Harner said that such clauses as the one in John 1:1, "with an anarthrous predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning. They indicate that the logos has the nature of theos. There is no basis for regarding the predicate theos as definite." On p. 87 of his article, Harner concluded: "In John 1:1 I think that the qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun cannot be regarded as definite.""

Quoted from The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. 1985. :D
Last edited by Iacobus on Tue Jul 06, 2004 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Kopio » Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:10 am

And now for something completely theologically motivated......Nice JW cut and paste, here's the link http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/article_08.htm
...for the record Iakobus, do you know, or have you studied Greek AT ALL formally?... :roll:
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Postby hactx » Tue Jul 06, 2004 12:50 pm

From a theological perspective. Kopio would you say that the Israelites believe in more then one true God?
Sure there is the idea that the false gods of the nations were in fact bollstered by demonic forces. Whereas yahweh is the true and only God.
I don't have a problem with theos meaning divine, because he is/was. But theological precedence sets that God is One, whether you see that in purpose or person etc. the net result is God is One and Jesus/ the logos is part of that Oneness. If not then the bible is in contradiction.
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby Democritus » Tue Jul 06, 2004 4:10 pm

muminustrollus wrote:Can I translate

Theos hn o logos: the Word was divine ?

Instead of The Word was God?


A more interesting question is, what is the antecedent of [face=SPIonic]au)tou~[/face] in verse 1.3?

[face=SPIonic]pa/nta di) au)tou~ e)ge/neto, kai\ xwri\j au)tou~ e)ge/neto ou)de\ e(/n[/face]


If [face=SPIonic]au)tou~[/face] refers to [face=SPIonic]o( lo/goj[/face] then it's a pretty strong statement.

I'm no bible scholar, but I don't see what the fuss is about. Even if you translate using the word "divine," still, the sense of the entire text is to promote the [face=SPIonic]lo/goj[/face] pretty high up in the theological hierarchy. If you believe in one God, but you label someone else as "divine," then what are you saying about that someone else? [face=SPIonic]pa/nta di) au)tou~ e)ge/neto[/face]... those are strong words.
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby klewlis » Tue Jul 06, 2004 6:46 pm

Democritus wrote:I'm no bible scholar, but I don't see what the fuss is about. Even if you translate using the word "divine," still, the sense of the entire text is to promote the [face=SPIonic]lo/goj[/face] pretty high up in the theological hierarchy. If you believe in one God, but you label someone else as "divine," then what are you saying about that someone else? [face=SPIonic]pa/nta di) au)tou~ e)ge/neto[/face]... those are strong words.


The fuss has generally been about the debate between whether or not Jesus is in fact God, whether or not the Trinity is real, etc. Evangelical Christians prefer "The word was God" in order to make it perfectly clear that the word was truly God, so that there is no room for alternate explanations. The New World Translation (JW), on the other hand, says "The Word was a god", in order to disprove the deity of Christ.

In both cases the final result is based on theology. It is irksome to scholars on both sides that the grammar is ambiguous in a point that is seen by both to be crucial. And we can argue about it until the cows come home but no one will ever be convinced.

It is a good lesson in how our theology informs our translations. Some people balk at this but it is a simple fact and does not indicate any deficiency.

You're right that the second part is also a big deal. The Evangelicals take it to be further proof of Jesus' divinity. The Jehovah's Witnesses say that since Jesus was the "firstborn" of creation (Col 1:15, another hotly contested passage) he was created first and *then* through him everything else was created.
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby Bert » Tue Jul 06, 2004 10:24 pm

Iacobus wrote:In the Greek text there are many cases of a singular anarthrous predicate nouns preceding the verb (e.g. Mark 6:49,11:32; John 4:19, 6:70, 8:44, 8:48, 9:17, 10:1, 10:13, 10:33, 12:6, 18:37). In these places, translators insert the indefinite article "a" before the predicate noun in order to bring out the quality or characteristic of the subject. Since the indefinite article is inserted before the predicate noun in such texts, with equal justification the indefinite article "a" is inserted before the anarthrous [face=spionic] qeo/j [/face] in the predicate of John 1:1 to make it read "a god." The Sacred Scriptures confirm the correctness of this rendering.


Would you suggest translating [face=SPIonic]....o( qeoj fw=j e)stin[/face] in 1 John 1:5 as ....God is a light?
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby Iacobus » Tue Jul 06, 2004 11:03 pm

Bert wrote:
Iacobus wrote:In the Greek text there are many cases of a singular anarthrous predicate nouns preceding the verb (e.g. Mark 6:49,11:32; John 4:19, 6:70, 8:44, 8:48, 9:17, 10:1, 10:13, 10:33, 12:6, 18:37). In these places, translators insert the indefinite article "a" before the predicate noun in order to bring out the quality or characteristic of the subject. Since the indefinite article is inserted before the predicate noun in such texts, with equal justification the indefinite article "a" is inserted before the anarthrous [face=spionic] qeo/j [/face] in the predicate of John 1:1 to make it read "a god." The Sacred Scriptures confirm the correctness of this rendering.


Would you suggest translating [face=SPIonic]....o( qeoj fw=j e)stin[/face] in 1 John 1:5 as ....God is a light?


Well, according to Philip B. Harner (previously quoted): ". . . anarthrous predicate preceding the verb, are PRIMARILY qualitative in meaning." So, not always is there understood an "a". For further explanation, read the following, quoted from the 11/15/75 Watchtower (especially noting the fifth paragraph down from the question).

"Questions from Readers

• Does the rendering of John 1:1 in the New World Translation violate rules of Greek grammar or conflict with worship of only one God?

The New World Translation renders John 1:1 as follows: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” Some have objected to the translation “a god,” which appears in the final clause of this verse. They claim that the translators were wrong in putting an “a” in there before “god.” Is this really a mistranslation?

While the Greek language has no indefinite article corresponding to the English “a,” it does have a definite article ho, often rendered into English as “the.” For example, ho Khristos´, “the Christ,” ho Ky´ri·os, “the Lord,” ho The·os´, literally, “the God.”

Frequently, though, nouns occur in Greek without the article. Grammarians refer to these nouns as “anarthrous,” meaning “used without the article.” Interestingly, in the final part of John 1:1, the Greek word for “god,” the·os´, does not have the definite article ho before it. How do translators render such anarthrous Greek nouns into English?

Often they add the English indefinite article “a” to give proper sense to the passage. For example, in the concluding portion of John 9:17 the Greek text literally states, according to the interlinear literal translation by clergyman Alfred Marshall, D.Litt: “And he said[,] — A prophet he is.” There is no definite article before the Greek word for “prophet” here. The translator, therefore, rendered the word as “a prophet,” as do many other English translations.—Authorized Version, New American Standard Bible, also translations by Charles B. Williams and William F. Beck.

This does not mean, however, that every time an anarthrous noun occurs in the Greek text it should appear in English with the indefinite article. Translators render these nouns variously, at times even with a “the,” understanding them as definite, though the definite article is missing. At Matthew 27:40, for instance, several English Bible versions have the phrase “the Son of God,” though the Greek word for “son” is without the definite article.

What about John 1:1? Marshall’s interlinear translation of it reads: “In [the] beginning was the Word, and the Word was with — God, and God was the Word.” As noted above, no “the” appears before “God” in the final clause of this verse. The New World Bible Translation Committee chose to insert the indefinite article “a” there. This helps to distinguish “the Word,” Jesus Christ, as a god, or divine person with vast power, from the God whom he was “with,” Jehovah, the Almighty. Some persons familiar with Greek claim that in doing so the translators violated an important rule of Greek grammar. Why so?

The problem, they say, is word order. Back in 1933 Greek scholar E. C. Colwell published an article entitled “A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament.” In it he wrote: “A definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb. . . . A predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as an indefinite or a ‘qualitative’ noun solely because of the absence of the article; if the context suggests that the predicate is definite, it should be translated as a definite noun in spite of the absence of the article.”

At John 1:1 the anarthrous predicate noun the·os´ does precede the verb, the Greek word order being literally: “God [predicate] was [verb] the Word [subject].” Concerning this verse Colwell concluded: “The opening verse of John’s Gospel contains one of the many passages where this rule suggests the translation of a predicate as a definite noun.” Thus some scholars claim that the only really correct way to translate this clause is: “And the Word was God.”

Do these statements of Colwell prove that “a god” is a mistranslation at John 1:1? Perhaps you noticed this scholar’s wording that an anarthrous predicate noun that precedes the verb should be understood as definite “if the context suggests” that. Further along in his argument Colwell stressed that the predicate is indefinite in this position “only when the context demands it.” Nowhere did he state that all anarthrous predicate nouns that precede the verb in Greek are definite nouns. Not any inviolable rule of grammar, but context must guide the translator in such cases.

The Greek text of the Christian Scriptures has many examples of this type of predicate noun where other translators into English have added the indefinite article “a.” Consider, for example, Marshall’s interlinear translation of the following verses: “Says to him the woman: Sir, I perceive that a prophet [predicate] art [verb] thou [subject].” (John 4:19) “Said therefore to him—Pilate: Not really a king [predicate] art [verb] thou [subject]? Answered—Jesus: Thou sayest that a king [predicate] I am [verb, with subject included].”—John 18:37.

Did you notice the expressions “a prophet,” “a king” (twice)? These are anarthrous predicate nouns that precede the verb in Greek. But the translator rendered them with the indefinite article “a.” There are numerous examples of this in English versions of the Bible. For further illustration consider the following from the Gospel of John in The New English Bible: “A devil” (6:70); “a slave” (8:34); “a murderer . . . a liar” (8:44); “a thief” (10:1); “a hireling” (10:13); “a relation” (18:26).

Alfred Marshall explains why he used the indefinite article in his interlinear translation of all the verses mentioned in the two previous paragraphs, and in many more: “The use of it in translation is a matter of individual judgement. . . . We have inserted ‘a’ or ‘an’ as a matter of course where it seems called for.” Of course, neither Colwell (as noted above) nor Marshall felt that an “a” before “god” at John 1:1 was called for. But this was not because of any inflexible rule of grammar. It was “individual judgement,” which scholars and translators have a right to express. The New World Bible Translation Committee expressed a different judgment in this place by the translation “a god.”

Certain scholars have pointed out that anarthrous predicate nouns that precede the verb in Greek may have a qualitative significance. That is, they may describe the nature or status of the subject. Thus some translators render John 1:1: “The Logos was divine,” (Moffatt); “the Word was divine,” (Goodspeed); “the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God,” (Barclay); “the Word was with God and shared his nature,” (The Translator’s New Testament).

Does the idea that Jesus Christ is “a god” conflict with the Scriptural teaching that there is only one God? (1 Cor. 8:5, 6) Not at all. At times the Hebrew Scriptures employ the term for God, ’elo·him´, with reference to mighty creatures. At Psalm 8:5, for example, we read: “You also proceeded to make him [man] a little less than godlike ones.” (Hebrew, ’elohim´; “a god,” New English Bible, Jerusalem Bible) The Greek Septuagint Version renders ?elo·him´ here as “angels.” The Jewish translators of this version saw no conflict with monotheism in applying the term for God to created spirit persons. (Compare Hebrews 2:7, 9.) Similarly, Jews of the first century C.E. found no conflict with their belief in one God at Psalm 82, though verses 1 and 6 of this psalm utilize the word ’elo·him´ (the·oi´, plural of the·os´, Septuagint) with reference to human judges.—Compare John 10:34-36.""
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Postby Ray » Sat Jul 10, 2004 2:19 am

Iacobus, I find it amusing how you try to bring a polytheism out of the Greek and even the hebrew scriptures. The verses you quote are out of context. For example (1 Cor. 8:5, 6) Paul is talking to the Corinthians about the Gentiles evil idol worship and polytheism. Read verse 6 and the truth is clarified. I dont know where you get more than one God out of verse 6. Paul clearly says there is but one God. Psalm 8.5 says nothing of Gods. It only speaks of how God has given men power over the earth.

There are three possible translations you could get from John 1.1 The word "was divine" "was a god" or "was god".

To the Jewish mind based on hebrew scriprues i.e. Deut. 6.4 and Isaiah 45.5 they had no conception of more than one God. So if it was meant to mean "a god" it would totally contraidct the biblical teaching of one God.

Deuteronomy 13.2 says if any prophet comes in support of poltheism i.e. JWs and mormons stay away from them. It also says if the prophet makes a false prophecy i.e. watchtower, Joseph smith and his contemporaries to have nothing to do with them.
I could go on and on. The evidence is stacked against you both historically and Biblically.
James 2.19
Isaiah 45.5
Deut. 6.4
I would love to see you rectify these verses. Just three of countless verses testifying to one God. :wink:
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Postby callee » Mon Jul 12, 2004 3:03 am

Hello everybody.

Not to interupt the raging revival of Arius' last stand, but turning back to the OP for a minute,

The number one reason I would prefer "god" over "divine" as a translation for [face=SPIonic]qeoj[/face] in John 1:1 is simply that "divine" is an adjective whereas "god" is a noun. Likewise, in John 1:1, [face=SPIonic]qeoj[/face] is a noun, as opposed to [face=SPIonic]qeioj[/face] which would be the adjective. Although nouns can surely function adjectively, I think a good general rule is that unless there is legit reason to do otherwise, try to translate nouns with nouns, adjectives with adjectives. My $.02.
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Postby dbreed » Mon Aug 16, 2004 2:24 am

I consider Theos to only mean God based on the word Theotokos which means Godbearer which is our Blessed Virgin Mary. To translate it as divinebearer would not have the same meaning in the Orthodox Church.
However, this is my opinion based only on this example. I am not familiar with Greek usage otherwise.
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Postby grok » Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:31 pm

Posting with trepidation mostly because I'm new, but also because I don't speak with any familiar authority on Greek yet (also, forgive me for being unable to render Greek no the screen yet), but..

I. A. Dorner said, "The verb is also chosen to state eternity as the word "was" (Greek en archei (with a long over the e, sorry)) implies continued existence. As Marcus Dods states, "The Logos did not then begin to be, but at that point at which all else began to be He already <i>was</i>.' "

Is this true? Does "en" imply already was? If that is true, it implies that the Word always existed, and can only be God.

I can respect the possible translation of Theos to divine, and honestly it wouldn't bother me if it were the case because the nature of Jesus does not rise or fall on this verse alone, but doesn't the context and culture play as much a part of translation as direct technical form?
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Postby John L » Wed Aug 25, 2004 4:44 pm

In the New Testament we find it addressed not alone to God the Father, but to Jesus Christ (II Timothy 4:18; II Peter 3:18; Revelations 1:6; Hebrews 13:20-21), and to God the Father and Christ in conjunction (Revelations 5:13, 7:10). Not less convincing is the use of the title Lord (Kyrios). This term represents the Hebrew Adonai, just as God (Theos) represents Elohim. The two are equally Divine names (cf. I Corinthians 8:4). In the Apostolic writings Theos may almost be said to be treated as a proper name of God the Father, and Kyrios of the Son (see, for example, I Corinthians 12:5-6); in only a few passages do we find Kyrios used of the Father (I Corinthians 3:5; 7:17) or Theos of Christ. The Apostles from time to time apply to Christ passages of the Old Testament in which Kyrios is used, for example, I Corinthians 10:9 (Numbers 21:7), Hebrews 1:10-12 (Psalm 101:26-28); and they use such expressions as "the fear of the Lord" (Acts 9:31; II Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:21), "call upon the name of the Lord," indifferently of God the Father and of Christ (Acts 2:21; 9:14; Romans 10:13). The profession that "Jesus is the Lord" (Kyrion Iesoun, Romans 10:9; Kyrios Iesous, I Corinthians 12:3) is the acknowledgment of Jesus as Jahweh. The texts in which St. Paul affirms that in Christ dwells the plenitude of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9), that before His Incarnation He possessed the essential nature of God (Philemon 2:6), that He "is over all things, God blessed for ever" (Romans 9:5) tell us nothing that is not implied in many other passages of his Epistles.

But I speak from a Catholic point of view, and I honestly believe that we have 2000 years of Tradition that fully points to Biblical meaning of THEOS meaning God in the form of God the Father, and I find it very unlikely that a modern Greek exegete will discover any new revelations that has not been already discovered by great scholars such as Origen, St. Jerome, St. Clement of Rome, and especially some of the Early Greek Church Fathers.
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Postby callee » Sun Oct 31, 2004 5:34 am

John L wrote:I find it very unlikely that a modern Greek exegete will discover any new revelations that has not been already discovered by great scholars such as Origen, St. Jerome, St. Clement of Rome, and especially some of the Early Greek Church Fathers.


I'm anglican, so I also respect tradition, and I can agree with you that generally speaking the odds of any one scholar thinking up something original are pretty slim, but I think you are brushing away the possibility a little too hastily.
First, the early Greek fathers may have had a distinct advantage in that they spoke Greek, but then again their Greek was a century or two removed from the NT era. Much akin to the popular example of us moderns trying to interpret shakespeare, likewise NT greek would not have been the exact same tongue that these early patristics were weaned on. Thus, it is often cautioned that when consulting patristics on linguistic matters we give most credit to the things they appear to assume, rather than the things they labour to prove, since the very fact of their labour demonstrates that it was no longer commonly accepted knowledge.

Second, as for the remainder of the great leaders of the past, they simply did not have access to all the resources we have. First, we have discovered more manuscripts, at oxyrhincus, qumran, etc..., this century than ever before, and this has given us unprecendented new insight into not just the interpretation of this or that text, but of the Greek language itself. Just look back to all those pre-1900 Gk texts that do not know that koine greek was just that, "koine," and theorize about it being "holoy ghost greek" or the like. Second, our technology also gives us an edge, Computer assisted research allows us to correlate data like never before and see new patterns and statistics where before we could only conjecture. Not to mention advances in manuscript analysis, what with x-ray imaging and what not, which helps us to better discern what some of these fragmented scraps say.

All this to say that while the early fathers and leaders of the tradition have passed much on to us, there is no reason to dismiss entirely the possibility that we too will find something to pass on, since we have a better advantage than any other generation of scholars in history.

wow, rant over.
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby BadDog » Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:59 pm

Iacobus wrote:1808 "and the word was a god" - The New Testament, in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishp Newcome's New Translation: With a Corrected Text, London.

1829 "and the Logos was a god" - The Monotessaron;or, The Gospel History, According to the Four Evangelists, by John S. Thompson, Baltimore.

<etc. Notice the abundance of German translations. Can't find many English?>


"These translations use such words as "a god," "divine," or "godlike" because the Greek word [face=spionic] qeo/j [/face] (theos) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article. This is an anarthrous theos...


Iacobus,

I've read this stuff many times, cut-n-pasted from JW sites. DeBuhn is just about the only modern Greek authority supporting this view. (And his advanced degrees are not in the original languages.)

But you can't have it both ways... either it's indefinite or qualitative. Actually, arguments have been made to show that a lack of an article does not at all prohibit a definite meaning in a PN construct.

But the most likely way to understand this is "qualitative," since there is no article. BeDuhn acnowledged that, BTW.

Hard to know for sure since John could not have had an article here or it would be required to be reversible. An article before THEOS would have meant that not only was it saying, "and the Word was God," but it would also be saying "and God (the Father) was the Word." But as has been said, that would be modalistic. Most JWs do not realize this: John could not have placed an article there. So, how else could he have made it clear? The way he did express it was VERY clear.

God is not just appearing in different forms, different modes here. Jesus is a distinct person, as is the Father. They are one in essense. They are distinct in person.

If you think about what John could have done, this is about as strong a way of proclaiming that Jesus is "fully God" as he could have done with a PN.

OTOH you argue that there is but one God, but then you are referring to Christ as divine and as a sort of lesser "god." That would just not work with the Jewish understanding of God. That would be, to the Hebrew mind, polytheism. Why in the world would John attempt to say something like that?

And the context is so clear... In fact, here in John we see that John doesn't even mention Jesus by name for several vss., but instead refers to Him as "the Word." Because Jesus Christ was God's expression of Himself to the world. Jesus was born at a point in time. He became a man at a point in time in history. But He was ALWAYS God... has always existed... is the self-existant One. That is clearly a point that the Holy Spirit is making here through John.

"All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."
So the Word is the creator of all things. The very wording of John 1:1-3 was meant to make one think back to Genesis 1. TheWord created everything. If anything exists, it is as a result of the Word.

"In Him was life and that life was the light of men."
So the Word (Jesus) is life to all men. He is the One who enlightens the world.

"The light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness has not overcome it." (or "understood" it)
His sovereignty (or perhaps"omniscience") is implied here.

So the context is clearly of One who is God. How could John have made that more clear? That's what I ask, and I've never heard a satisfactory answer yet. In the Greek, how could John have made it more clear?

So since the idea of polytheism is out of the question, the qualitative meaning should be assumed. "and what God was, the Word was," or "And the Word was fully God."

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John 1:1 & Watchtower$$$

Postby SpanishFromSpain » Fri Nov 19, 2004 7:01 pm

Jehovah's Witnesses deny the deity of Christ, and claim that John 1:1 merely calls him "a god," but not full deity. They rest their case on three facts of Greek grammar:

There is no such word as "a" or "an" in Greek, so we sometimes have to add "a" to translate into English, (Acts 28:6).

The Greek word used here (theos) has two meanings: usually the supreme God revealed in Scripture, but sometimes lesser beings like the gods of Greek mythology.

The Greek word "the" is often attached to the word "God" or theos, but it does not appear in John 1:1. Hiding behind the Witness rendering of the verse is an unspoken equation: God + "the" (ho theos) = Jehovah, the Almighty God, God - "the" (theos) = a created being with divine qualities. Witnesses claim that the apostle John deliberately omitted a "the" in the final phrase to show the difference between God and the Word. As the New World Translation (p. 775) explains:
"John's inspired writings and those of his fellow disciples show what the true idea is, namely, the Word or Logos is not God or the God, but is the Son of God, and hence is a god. That is why, at John 1:1,2, the apostle refers to God as the God and to the Word or Logos as a god, to show the difference between the Two.

Is this the proper translation?

No. The equation underlying the Witness rendering breaks down within a few verses. John 1:18 contains theos twice, without "the" either time. According to Watchtower assumptions, we would expect to translate both as "god" or "a god." Instead, the New World Translation says "God" the first time and "god" the second time. The context overrules their rule.

Why did John choose not to put "the" on the word God?


To show which word was the subject of the sentence. In English, we can recognize the subject of a sentence by looking at word order. In Greek, we must look at the word endings. John 1:1 is trickier than most verses, because both "God" (theos) and "Word" (logos) have the same ending. The usual way to mark off the subject clearly was to add "the" to the subject and leave it off the direct object. That is precisely what John did here.

To conform to standard Greek grammar. E.C. Colwell demonstrated in an article in the Journal of Biblical Literature in 1933 that it was normal practice to omit "the" in this type of sentence. John was simply using good grammar, and making it clear that he intended to say, "The Word was God" rather than "God was the Word," a statement with some theological drawbacks. John constructed his sentence in the one way that would preserve proper grammar and sound doctrine, declaring that "the Word was God."
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Postby Kopio » Fri Nov 19, 2004 11:30 pm

For the love of all things.....PLEASE LET THIS THREAD DIE!!!!!
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Postby Bert » Sat Nov 20, 2004 1:53 am

Kopio wrote:For the love of all things.....PLEASE LET THIS THREAD DIE!!!!!

I don't think it has been that bad.
It has been a controversial text and it made for an interesting (and mostly civil) discussion.
If this thread dies, fine. If not, that is okay with me too.
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Postby Kopio » Sat Nov 20, 2004 4:48 am

The thing that kills me is that a good majority of the posts have been sent in by *new* members of textkit, who have ONLY posted on this thread, and haven't really added much to the discussion, other than cutting and pasting from their favorite theological web-sites....if we're gonna talk Greek.....fine....if we're gonna talk Theology, take it to the Open forum, or the Academy.......there hasn't been a cogent point made about the Greek Syntax and Grammar since the first several posts.

Hence my frustration
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Postby Bert » Sat Nov 20, 2004 1:08 pm

Got ye.
I agree that cutting and pasting without making clear that the sender is quoting rather than composing is bad taste , probably worse.
Now I understand your empaphatic.....PLEASE LET THIS THREAD DIE!!!!!
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Postby cweb255 » Tue Nov 30, 2004 12:53 pm

Has anyone bothered checking with the Syriac or Coptic versions? From what I understand, Coptic has both definite and indefinite articles, plus they might have translated it as divine or God.
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Postby cole » Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:41 pm

Here I am, a *new* member, about to copy and paste some stuff. But I feel it's relevant. Hope you guys don't mind. (btw, I intend to participate in this forum)

The NET Bible translation has this:

"and the Word was fully God."

And in the footnotes:
[square brackets are my additions]

tn [translator note] Or “and what God was the Word was.” Colwell’s Rule is often invoked to support the translation of qeov" (qeos) as definite (“God”) rather than indefinite (“a god”) here. However, Colwell’s Rule merely permits, but does not demand, that a predicate nominative ahead of an equative verb be translated as definite rather than indefinite. Furthermore, Colwell’s Rule did not deal with a third possibility, that the anarthrous predicate noun may have more of a qualitative nuance when placed ahead of the verb. A definite meaning for the term is reflected in the traditional rendering “the word was God.” From a technical standpoint, though, it is preferable to see a qualitative aspect to anarthrous qeov" in John 1:1c (ExSyn 266-69) [Wallace's GGBTB]. Translations like the NEB, REB, and Moffatt are helpful in capturing the sense in John 1:1c, that the Word was fully deity in essence (just as much God as God the Father). However, in contemporary English “the Word was divine” (Moffatt) does not quite catch the meaning since “divine” as a descriptive term is not used in contemporary English exclusively of God. The translation “what God was the Word was” is perhaps the most nuanced rendering, conveying that everything God was in essence, the Word was too. This points to unity of essence between the Father and the Son without equating the persons. However, in surveying a number of native speakers of English, some of whom had formal theological training and some of whom did not, the editors concluded that the fine distinctions indicated by “what God was the Word was” would not be understood by many contemporary readers. Thus the translation “the Word was fully God” was chosen because it is more likely to convey the meaning to the average English reader that the Logos (which “became flesh and took up residence among us” in John 1:14 and is thereafter identified in the Fourth Gospel as Jesus) is one in essence with God the Father. The previous phrase, “the Word was with God,” shows that the Logos is distinct in person from God the Father.

sn [study note] And the Word was fully God. John’s theology consistently drives toward the conclusion that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is just as much God as God the Father. This can be seen, for example, in texts like John 10:30 (“The Father and I are one”), 17:11 (“so that they may be one just as we are one”), and 8:58 (“before Abraham came into existence, I am”). The construction in John 1:1c does not equate the Word with the person of God (this is ruled out by 1:1b, “the Word was with God”); rather it affirms that the Word and God are one in essence.
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Postby cweb255 » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:16 am

By the way, not that anyone cares or anything but the Word actually was the Torah, not Jesus. Jesus was described as the Living Word, i.e. he fulfilled the Torah, but who the hell cares about anything. I mean, it's all what your pastor says, right?
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Postby Bert » Sat Dec 11, 2004 6:29 pm

No comment
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John's Influences

Postby swiftnicholas » Fri Jan 07, 2005 7:17 pm

I don't have any answers to share, but this interesting discussion sparked some questions.

Is there any agreement about John's knowledge of the Old Testament? Does the Gospel's text suggest a knowledge of Hebrew? (The Hebrew employs several different terms for God, one of them plural--elohim.) Did he depend exclusively on the LXX? How is elohim treated in the LXX? What is the LXX usage of theos? John--especially in the opening of the Gospel--shows strong traces of Gnosticism; is there anything to learn from the Gnostic tradition, or Gnostic texts about the term theos, or the concept of God?

An interesting note: the ambiguity of the Greek here reminds me of the ambiguity of the Trinity: is it singular or plural? or both? Could this have been intentional? as a matter or philosophy or mystery?
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Postby Dunedain » Fri Feb 11, 2005 6:46 pm

It seems to me that this would really depend on what you are trying to do with your translation. Are you trying to keep the translation as closely "word for word" to the Greek as possible; or are you going to sacrifice this to bring out a more "reader friendly conceptual" translation?

Personally, I would always lean toward the former. Whatever the method, I feel it's good to acknowledge that something is going to be lost in translation. This is why I do not really like "divine" or "godly" because these are adjectives, and theos is a noun; so I would like to keep this understanding intact when I translate.

I tend to see this construct to be conveying the idea of a form of semantic qualitativeness. As in the saying, "I am light". This is neither definite, nor indefinite; but carries a sense of archetypical quality. "Any and all qualities of phos are summed up in/by me." There is no light, either definite or indefinite, that I do not sum up in quality.

So, I would, personally, translate the verse as it is usually translated, "the word was God". To my mind, this is stating that "any and all qualities of theos are summed up by/in the word." Whatever ho theos is in quality, the word must also be. The two may not be individually the same, but whatever their difference in individuality, their status, their quality of being theos, is the same.

There are some translations that say something like, "what God was, the word was" which does a good job of conveying the idea, even if it isn't exactly keeping the integrity of the words themselves intact.

At any rate, I do think it depends on what you are trying to do with your translation. Something will be lost in translation whatever road is taken.

Above are some good questions:

"Is there any agreement about John's knowledge of the Old Testament? Does the Gospel's text suggest a knowledge of Hebrew?"

Personally, I feel that the case for Aramaic primacy is very much more compelling than the case for Greek primacy. The text does suggest a knowledge of Semitic language; as the bulk of the New Testament. Much like the LXX, it shows signs of being more "Hebraic" in syntax and such, than Greek. To me, this guides toward understanding that the Greek is actually a form of "translational" Greek, like the LXX.

"(The Hebrew employs several different terms for God, one of them plural--elohim.) Did he depend exclusively on the LXX?"

I feel that John was written in Aramaic, and has no real reliance on the LXX. Many feel that the NT quotes are taken from the LXX, but I think this is an incorrect assumption, and that the NT quotes are actually being derived from the Peshitta OT.

"How is elohim treated in the LXX? What is the LXX usage of theos?"

I'm not really sure what that question is asking. Elohim is translated as theos (both articular and anarthrous) like it is in the NT. It isn't plural, if that is what is being asked.

"John--especially in the opening of the Gospel--shows strong traces of Gnosticism; is there anything to learn from the Gnostic tradition, or Gnostic texts about the term theos, or the concept of God?"

The word "Gnosticism" can be a little misleading as a dogmatic label. There were (and are) as many variations of Gnosticism as there are any other form of Christianity. Some taught Demi-urgic doctrine in application to o theos of the OT; some did not. But, as far as I can discern, there is not really much to learn from Gnostic doctrine concerning "God" that is not also able to be theologically derived from any other ideology.

That John's prologue shows "strong traces of Gnostic tradition" is a somewhat general statement, also.

"An interesting note: the ambiguity of the Greek here reminds me of the ambiguity of the Trinity: is it singular or plural? or both? Could this have been intentional? as a matter or philosophy or mystery?"

The Hebrew is generally a little more useful in this question. The word elohim is plural; but it doesn't act like a plural word when used of the God of Abraham. Like many languages, plural in Hebrew want plural verb/adjective use. But elohim, when used of the God of Abraham, doesn't want to do that. It is a plural word that wants singular verb/adjectiv use. So, it is uniquely odd in that respect. Any other elohim, aside from the elohim of Abraham, wants to act the way it should, with plural verb/adjective use.

So, when the trinity is applied, it looks at the odd plural/singular relation and applies it in the way that it can have one God, that is also more than one "person".

But, that is debatable, I suppose.
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Postby Yhevhe » Fri Aug 19, 2005 1:12 pm

Kopio wrote:For the love of all things.....PLEASE LET THIS THREAD DIE!!!!!


:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Erich » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:58 pm

cweb255

wrote

Has anyone bothered checking with the Syriac or Coptic versions? From what I understand, Coptic has both definite and indefinite articles, plus they might have translated it as divine or God.

Here it is

http://www.tjdefendidos.org/trinidad/ma ... -copto.htm
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Postby Kopio » Thu Feb 22, 2007 9:05 pm

Erich wrote:cweb255

wrote

Has anyone bothered checking with the Syriac or Coptic versions? From what I understand, Coptic has both definite and indefinite articles, plus they might have translated it as divine or God.

Here it is

http://www.tjdefendidos.org/trinidad/ma ... -copto.htm


ok...I'm confused....are you cwebb or are you Erich?? oh and yes...

For the love of all things.....PLEASE LET THIS THREAD DIE!!!!!
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After reading this thread........

Postby Turendil » Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:26 pm

I have two things to say. First pick up a good history book, Anyone from Durant to Keneth Scott Lahourette will answer you question. Secondly this debate has less to do with greek than it does with a person's world view. Let it rest. If you really care about the nature of the trinity go to seminary. Go home and rea d a history book.
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Postby Erich » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:58 am

To Turendil

Sorry, I do not agree with you. I am a philologist not a philosopher, so I am interested in languages, in a real and correct translation in accordance with the grammar rules , comparing with another languages and translations, and not with religious and philosophical ideas.

I am a teacher not a clergyman.

To Kopio

Sorry for my mistake
I am Erich I meant that the cweb
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Postby Erich » Wed Feb 28, 2007 12:07 pm

To Turendil

Sorry, I do not agree with you. I am a philologist not a philosopher, so I am interested in languages, in a real and correct translation in accordance with the grammar rules , comparing with another languages and translations, and not with religious and philosophical ideas.

I am a teacher not a clergyman.

To Kopio

Sorry for my mistake
I am Erich I meant the cweb255 opinion about a comparison with Syriac or Coptic versions , contribute to the explanation, if god or a god.

In Coptic
Auw pshaje nefshoop nnahrm pnoute
and the Word was wih the God (pnoute)

Auw neunoute pe pshaje
and a god (neunoute) was the Word
http://st-takla.org/Learn_Languages/01_ ... Fehres.htm

http://www.stshenouda.com/coptlang/copthist.htm

http://www.stshenouda.com/coptlang/cptlsn1w.htm


Definite Article: Coptic uses three distinct characters to define gender and number of a noun. They are 'p' for the singular masculine, 't' for the singular feminine, and 'n' for the plural. This arrangement occurs in many nominal prefixes. The first one that we will deal with is the "Definite Article".

Form: The Bohairic dialect has two distinct types of articles in the singular. The longer form is referred to as 'Strong' and the shorter one is labeled 'Weak'. The definite article is always prefixed to the noun it modifies. In English the definite article is equivalent to 'the'.

Type
Singular
Plural


Masculine
Feminine


Strong
pi-
]-
ni- nen-

Weak
p- v-
t- y



Uses:

Singular: Weak articles are used to specify the word in a less exact way, so they are used for generic nouns, abstract nouns, and nouns that are one of a kind. Strong articles on the other hand specify the word in a more exact way by referring to specific person or thing, as follows:

Weak
Strong

v.nou]
God
pi.nou]
the god

t.ve
Heaven
].ve m.beri
the new heaven


2.2.2.2 Plural: For plural articles (both genders) nen- is used only with prefixed nouns, while ni- is used everywhere else, example:
nen.s/ri m.p.icra/l The sons of Israel



Indefinite Article:

form: Coptic has two distinct indefinite articles, one for the singular ou- and one for the plural han-. Like the definite article, they are prefixed directly to the nouns they modify, examples:

Singular
Plural

ou.joi
a ship
han.ej/ou
ships, some ships

ou.rwmi
a man
han.rwmi
men, some men


uses:

Singular: The indefinite article for singular is used for both masculine and feminine. In English it is translated as 'a' or 'an' before vowel-sounding letters. It is sometimes deleted in Coptic but should always be written out when translating into English.

Plural: The indefinite article for the plural is always written out in Coptic. In English it is translated as 'some' or in most cases not translated. Care should be taken in translating the noun that follows it in the plural.
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Postby tkiriaka » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:12 pm

I'll have to agree with the last post - in fact if you consult Mounce's "Basics of Biblical Greek" he has an excellent Exegetical Insight based on this exact discussion which really clears it up - This is a Predicatate Nominative - to translate it means that the "subject" (nominative) is being described (predicated) BUT not by an adjective but by another noun - for example (if you don't have Mounce) John IS a man (or if you put it in mathematical terms John=a Man) in Greek you identify the SUBJECT (the nominative) by using the definite article ("the" or ho in Gk.) The predicate CAN NOT take the article otherwise the whole predicate nominative flies out the window - and in fact as Mounce points out Jesus would BE God the Father if it read "and the Word was the God"). So that is why it is "necessarily without the article" - you would never know what the subject was - So logically kai Theos ev ho logos - we see that the logos is the subject because it has the "ho" and the predicate is Theos (because it doesn't have a ho). Therefore we translate with subject first "The word was God" - not "a god" because that brings in a whole host of theological problems for people claiming to be monotheists.
- Or to god back to our mathematical illustration the Word=God what the Word is God is and what God is the Word is. If they wanted to say "godlike or divine" then I think John would have used the term "theotes" "godhead or divinity" from Col. 2:9.

- In John 17:3 Jesus affirms that there is only 1 true God - so if Jesus is "a god" (and most J.W.'s will not say he is the only True God of Jn. 17:3 - because that in their opinion is speaking about JHVH/YHWH) then he could not be the only True God and therefore a false god.
- On "divine or God" I would err on the side of literalism and go with God - it si the most logical and natural way to translate it.

- what is interesting is that Johannes Greber "a medium to god's spirit world" (obviously a spiritist) agrees with the J.W. translation of "a god" because he recieved it from spirits when he was in a trance! (for what that is worth...)
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby ThomasGR » Fri Apr 20, 2007 4:23 pm

muminustrollus wrote:Can I translate

Theos hn o logos: the Word was divine ?

Instead of The Word was God?


The best (literally) translation is "god is speech", and in the metaphorical sense, "Reason is divine". Logos has many meanings, aside from "word". I think from a theological aspect, Logos means reason, the ability for logical assumptions and conclusions.
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Re: Theos hn o logos: God, godly or divine?

Postby Bert » Fri Apr 20, 2007 11:08 pm

ThomasGR wrote:
muminustrollus wrote:Can I translate

Theos hn o logos: the Word was divine ?

Instead of The Word was God?


The best (literally) translation is "god is speech",
Assuming that "literal" is best.
ThomasGR wrote:and in the metaphorical sense, "Reason is divine". Logos has many meanings, aside from "word". I think from a theological aspect, Logos means reason, the ability for logical assumptions and conclusions.
Well, I'll be....
That would certainly require a total disregard of context.
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Postby tkiriaka » Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:46 pm

To translate it Reason is Divine is really not tenable. Would one say that "human" reason is divine? That is nonsense - the whole point of the the passage is that "the Word was God" - clarity - this passage is crystal clear and to translate it any other way really muddies the water.

Admittedly there are many ways to translate the word word BUT we always must look at the context and determine the authors intended meaning. The word board in english is used many different ways - we walked on board, we cut a board, we sat in the board meeting, I talked with the board... and only the context helps us figure out which meaning is the correct one.

John is constantly trying to bring out Christ's divinity - that he is God, from the front of the Gospel to the back end (Thomas said my lord and my God). So if he begins his Gospel with a statment to that effect that the "Word was God" and that the Word dwelt among us it seems to be the most logical choice of words. Let a Word be a Word and Let God be God!
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