Slightly ambiguous but stupendously persuasive (The trinity part 3)

Is Jesus God? A very good question. Perhaps “the question” so I’m going to list a few reasons why I think he really is starting with one of the most famous and fought over.

I was so excited when I realised I could read the first part of John’s gospel in Greek and see for myself both the minuscule ambiguity and the massive probability that John was saying “the word was God”.  John 1:1 is an example of a predicate nominative construction and I did that in chapter 8 of Bill Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar (page 60).

Predicate nominative. The second function of the nominative case is a predicate nominative. Just as it is in English, and noun that follows εἰμί is not receiving the action of the verb rather it is telling you something about the subject. Therefore the word is in the nominative case.

θεὸς ἐστιν κύριος. 

Notice that in this sentence both the first and the last words are in the nominative case. Context should make clear which is the subject and which is the predicate.

There is then a footnote which reads·

“this sentence would actually be written, κύριος ἐστιν θεός, the article also indicating the subject.”

My excellent text to speech software, Dragon 11, wasn’t expecting Greek and thought I was saying “curiosity testing home sales” which sounds rather profound but probably is a red herring. I had to go to my Keyman Desktop light program to type it out in unicode greek.

F. F Bruce, who isn’t phased by a bit of Greek has this to says:

The structure of the third clause in verse one, θεός ἦν λόγος demands the translation “the Word was God”. Since λόγος has the article preceding, it is marked out as the subject. The fact that θεός is the first word after the conjunction κια (and) shows that the main emphasis of the clause lies on it. Had θεός as well as λόγος been preceded by the article the meaning would have been that the word was completely identical with God, which is impossible if the word was also “with God.” What is meant is that the word shared the nature and being of God, or (to use a piece of modern jargon) was an extension of the personality of God. The NEB paraphrase “what was God, the word was,” brings out the meaning of the clause as successfully as a paraphrase can.

FF Bruce

James R. White makes three points in support of the deity of Jesus:

First,  θεός without the article is elsewhere translated “God” not “a god”. Second there is no other way to say “The word was God” and third that it fits the context of one who was eternal and always with God.

(NOTE : I have omitted an excellent three paragraph quote from  “The Forgotten Trinity” page 56 due to my understanding of copyright fair use. It seems quotes are ok if kept short, for non profit use, make up a small percentage of the publication, do not significantly add to it’s value, and do not undermine the authors sales of the original piece of work. The fact that they are quoted for educational, critical reasons or for comment is also a key factor. I am exploring ways I can store more extensive quotes in the cloud for personal use so my blogs are of maximum use to me. It will probably make my public posts more succinct anyway. I stumbled on this issue when checking out how you use quotes in a printed book. There I think there is pretty much no alternative but to get written permission from the people concerned unless it’s gone out of copyright or in the public domain).

The argument for “the word was God” may not be totally water tight but I think it floats rather well. The Greek is exactly  how you would say “the word was God” (you can’t say “the God” in that construction) and the meaning fits the context best. I also think it makes most sense of the emphasis placed on θεός by writing it first, ie “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and God was what the word was”. It’s a climactic statement of the deity of Jesus not a BTW aside about him being one of many gods.

In the next post I’ll rattle through a lot more reasons why I think Jesus is God.

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