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Monday, February 21, 2011

John 1:18 ἐκεῖνος: christology — part two

The first post presented Edgar Foster's brief foray into christology on b-greek. I think his question is worth exploring but before we get started on theology there are some linguistic issues that need some attention.

Foster's First post included:
Is it God with respect to his essence (in view of the anarthrous Θεὸν) that μονογενὴς θεὸς "explained" or is it more strictly speaking, the Father that was explained?
Foster approach to the anarthrous Θεὸν will probably have some supporters but recent developments in NT linguistics take a different approach. θεὸς is always "hearer old" in the NT therefore ὁ θεὸς is the unmarked form and the anarthrous θεὸς is a marked form. In John 1:18 Θεὸν is "hearer old", discourse-old and discourse-recent: 
... if a Discourse-old and Discourse-recent item lacks the article it marks salience ... [1]
John 1:18 Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο.

Iver Larsen (SIL, Africa, Denmark) is somewhat famous in the world of NT Greek for his promotion of fronted[2] salient constituents.  Θεὸν in John 1:18 couldn't be more fronted. So we have two different frameworks within NT linguistics that confirm each other. Θεὸν is marked for salience. We really don't need to go looking for another reason for the anarthrous state.

[1] Hoyle, Richard A. Scenarios, Discourse, and Translation  ©2008 SIL International, p.155.

[2] Word Order and Relative Prominence in New Testament Greek
Earlier version published in Notes on Translation Vol. 5 No. 1 (1991): 29-34 (© SIL Int.) This version is revised by the author in February 2001 Iver Larsen.


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