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Monday, November 29, 2010

κόσμος (kosmos) in Johannine writings

 John 1:3 πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν

John 1:9 Ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον, ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον.  10 ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω.

Ronald post this as part of an extended comment 

Likewise, there is an indication of the same limitation of the scope of panta in John 1:3. John 1:10 speaks of the world (kosmos)that Logos came into as the world that was made through the Logos. That world did not recognize Jesus. It is this same "world" that Jesus spoke of as recorded in John 17:5. Matthew 24:21 and Mark 13:19 refer to the beginning of the world (kosmos); this world is described in John 1:10 as the world into which the Word came, but which world did not recognize the Word in their midst. Thus, it is speaking of the world of mankind, not the entire material universe, nor of the angels. This is the "world" that the Word came into, and that did not recognize him. (John 1:10) Thus, it can be seen that the NT writers in connection with "the beginning" of creation understood that this beginning was in reference to things upon the planet earth, not to the entire universe itself.
I think we disagree on the scope of πάντα in Jn 1:3. I demonstrated that πάντα is not always used with a universal scope, but I am confident that John intended πάντα to have a universal scope in Jn 1:3. The alternate reading of Jn 1:3b where ὃ γέγονεν is read as a relative clause attached to the end of verse three does not require a limited scope for πάντα. It can be read that way, H. A. W. Meyer suggests it, but it isn't required. I consider it sort of torturous logic to read it that way but it isn't beyond the realm of possibility.
 κόσμος (kosmos) does not have the same referent or meaning everywhere it is used in John's Gospel and Epistles. When John says that Word came into the World it has one meaning but when the World rejects the Word it has a slightly different meaning, and when the Word makes the World it has yet another meaning. World is the best we can do in English, but it is not very precise. κόσμος is both a physical and a metaphysical reality.

I would agree that the creation of the κόσμος (kosmos) may not be identical in scope to πάντα in Jn 1:3. However, based on Louw & Nida[1]  it is possible for κόσμος (kosmos) and πάντα to coreferential.

A Universe, Creation (1.1–1.4)

1.1 κόσμοςa, ου m: the universe as an ordered structure — ‘cosmos, universe.’ ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν κόσμον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ ‘God who made the universe and everything in it’ Ac 17:24. In many languages there is no specific term for the universe. The closest equivalent may simply be ‘all that exists.’ In other instances one may use a phrase such as ‘the world and all that is above it’ or ‘the sky and the earth.’ The concept of the totality of the universe may be expressed in some languages only as ‘everything that is on the earth and in the sky.’ 
There are several  semantic domains for κόσμος relevant to John's writing, I list them somewhat abbreviated since this is copyrighted material.

9.23 κόσμοςd, ου m:   people associated with a world system and estranged from God  

1.39 γῆa, γῆς f; οἰκουμένη, ης f; κόσμος, ου m: the surface of the earth as the dwelling place of mankind, in contrast with the heavens above and the world below

41.38 κόσμοςc, ου m; αἰώνc, ῶνος m: the system of practices and standards associated with secular society

[1] Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains

Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Editors
Copyright © 1988, 1989 by the United Bible Societies, New York, NY 10023
Second Edition.  Used by permission.

Landkarten zur Bible, prepared by Karl Elliger, revised by Siegfried Mittmann. Designed by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart and Kartographisches Institut Helmut Fuchs Leonberg. Copyright ©1963, 1978, 1990 by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.


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