In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

Reasoning John 1:1

By Mohd Faudzee Abd Hamid

Ahlussunah Wal Jamaah Research Group (ARG)

John 1:1:

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

This verse is the favorite verse quoting by the missionaries whenever they try to defend their trinity doctrine. The question is, is it the real meaning in Greek? Lets prepare to examine John 1:1.

About the Article

The noun is always taken the article, “the”, “a” or “an”. Lets do some revisions about what is the article in English, please consider these two sentences:

1. I see a man in the car

In English, “a” here is an article that is the indefinite article. The word ‘man’ is a noun. This sentence is refer to any man – indefinite, uncertain.

2. I read the book

In English, “the” here is an article that is the definite article. The word ‘book’ is a noun. This sentence refer to some particular book already known – definite, certain.

What about the article in Koine Greek?

We will refer to several books written by Christian’s scholars about the article in Greek:

1. “Greek has no word for “a” (indefinite article) but it has the word for “the” (definite

article)” pg. 19, New Testament Greek (Teach Yourself) by D.F. Hudson, pub. by Hodder & Stroughton Ltd, UK, 1960.

2. “We are now in a position to consider the forms of the definite article “the” (there is no

indefinite article “a”)” pg 10, VINE’S you Can Learn NT Greek by W.E. Vine, pub. by Thomas Nelson pub., USA, 1997.                    

From these references we can conclude that Greek has the definite article but no indifinate article at all, so how Greek want to describe about anything that has no clear meaning?

The using of indefinite article (“a”) in translation from Greek to English

Let us again refer to the Greek scholars in this:

1. “The meaning of the article: The article is like a finger pointing; it says, “this one”,

and should generally be translated “the”. For instance, in our passage, oJ lovgoV means

“the word”.”

    “What does the lack of an article mean? Many beginning textbooks suggest that a

noun without an article should be translated with “a”, e.g. that lovgoV should be

    translated “a word” if the article does not appear. This is often the useful way to

    translate, and a reasonable rule of thumb, but it is not always appropriate. Whereas the

article has a clear meaning, the lack of an article has no clear meaning.

Taken from: www.biblio.org/koine/greek/john1.htmlby Jonathan Robie

2. “Greek, as you know, has a definite article-the. It lacks, however, an indefinite article,

which for some reason was never developed in the history of the language.

    Indefiniteness may be shown by the absence of the article, or by the indefinite

pronoun tiV, or by the numeral ei|V with practically the same force as the English a or

    an: nomikovV tiV, “a lawyer” (Luke 10:25); ei|V grammateuvV, “a scribe” (Matt. 8:19).”

      pg. 75, It’s Still Greek to Me by David Allan Black, pub. Baker Book House Co, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, 1999.

It is clear here that eventhough there is no such indefinite article in Greek but during the translation from Greek to English the word “a” and “an” are using to show the indefiniteness. These “a” and “an” in English have the very same syntax effect as in Greek to express the indefiniteness.

Let us examine some verses that are using the definite article “the” or “ho” ( “oJ” Greek) before the noun. Please notify that the words order in Greek sometimes are not similar as in English.

1. Matthew 4:8 (“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain”) – NIV

   Again,          took               him        the     devil      to    mountain     high        a very

Pavlin  paralambavnei  aujtovn   oJ   diavboloV  eijV   o“roV    uJyhlo;n   livan

Palin     paralambanei       auton      ho   diabolos    eis     orosh      upselon     lian

Note:   1. ho diabolos = the devil

2. ‘ho’ is used before ‘devil’ (a noun) so become ‘the devil’

2. Matthew 7:12 (“..the Law and the Prophets”) – NIV

the     Law    and     the      Prophets

 oJ   novmoV  kai   oiJ    profh:tai

                                            ho   nomos    kai     hoi     profetai

Note:   1. ho nomos = the Law

2. hoi profetai = the Prophets. “hoi” (oiJ) is also mean “the”, the definite article.

In Greek, “ho” has to change to “hoi” because ‘prophets’ is in plural form so it

has to take the plural article.

3. Luke 4:27 (“…..Naaman the Syrian”) – KJV

Naaman    the   Syrian

 Naima;n  oJ   SuvroV

Naiman   ho   Suros

Note:   1. ho Suros = the Syrian

2. ‘ho’ is used before ‘Syrian’ (a noun) so become ‘the Syrian’

Let us examine the noun in several verses which normally have to translate by using the indefinite article “a” (or “an”) to give the same meaning in English as what in Greek is. Please focus to the underline word.

1. Mark 6:49 (“..supposed that it was a ghost…”) – KJV

supposed   that      a ghost         it was

e“doxan   o“ti   favntasmav    ejstin

edoxan    hoti     fantasma        estin

Note:   1. ‘Ghost’ or ‘fantasma’ is a noun

2. No article is used before the word ‘ghost’ so the best way to translate this is ‘ a

ghost’

2. John 9:17 (“…He is a prophet..””) – NIV

a prophet     He is

ProfhvthV  ejstivn

Profetes     estin

Note:   1. ‘Prophet’ or ‘Profetes’ is a noun

2. No article is used before the word ‘profetes’ so the best way to translate this is

‘a prophet’

3. John12:6 (“…because he was a thief ..”) – NIV

because    a thief      he was

o”ti    klevpthV    h\n

hoti       kleptes        en

Note:   1. ‘Thief’ or ‘kleptes’ is a noun

2. No article is used before the word ‘kleptes’ so the best way to translate this is

‘a thief’

So without the definite article “oJ” (“ho” = “the”) in the front of these nouns (ghost, prophet and thief) the translators have to translate such verses by using indefinite article “a”.

What about John 1:1?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

“ jEn arch:/ h\n oJ lovgoV, kaiv oJ lovgoV h\n provV to;n qeovn, kai; qeo;V h\n oJ lovgoV`”

En arche en ho Logos, kai ho Logos en pros ton Theon, kai theos en ho Logos.

Regard to the examples above, let us examine this verse closely from Greek point of view. We will try to get the right and just translation for this verse. In order to make the job easier, the verse will be devided into 3 sections; [a], [b] and [c]. Please focus to the underline word.

[John 1:1a]

In      [the] beginning        was        the    Word,

jEn      arch:/             h\n     oJ    lovgoV,

En         arche                     en         ho     Logos,

Note:   1. ho logos = the word

2. ‘ho’ is used before ‘word’ (a noun) so become ‘the word’

[John 1:1b]

and       the  Word        was        with        the      God

kaiv    oJ   lovgoV     h\n      provV     to;n    qeovn

kai       ho    Logos       en            pros        ton    Theon

Note:   1. ho logos = the word

2. ton Theon = the God. “ton” (to;n) is also mean “the”, the definite article. In

this section ‘the God’ is in the position of direct object; following the Greek

rule, “ho” has to change to “ton”, and “Theos” has to change to “Theon” as a

direct object (the accusative case).

[John 1:1c]

and   ?   God           was      the       Word.

kai;   ­  qeo;V      h\n      oJ      lovgoV`

kai     ­   Theos         en         ho       Logos.

                                                                        ­

Note:   1. The arrow shown the absence of the definite article in the front of ‘God’-

‘Theos’ (“qeo;V”), so the right translation should be “a god” (please refer to the

given examples in above for the indefinite article). In this section [c], we

noticed that the word structure is not in proper order. Actually word order in

Greek is different compare to English because the word order in Greek can

change and vary.

2. ho logos = the word

So the right translation of John 1:1 should be:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god

And this is supported by the book call ‘The Emphatic Diaglott’, an interlinear word for word English translation written by Benjamin Wilson in 1865 CE:

The Emphatic Diaglott

Here is the picture of the first book of John which we have discussed in above. Focus on the underline word, because the absent of the definite article, ‘Theos’ (“qeo;V”) is simply translated as ‘a god’.

      The Emphatic Diaglott, New Testament, by Benjamin Wilson , published by Fowler and Wells, New York 1865.

Conclusion

John 1:1d should be translated as “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was a god”. This translation is supported by ‘The Emphatic Diaglott’, an interlinear word for word English translation written by Benjamin Wilson which has been written in 1865. And this automatically has denied the divinity of Jesus Christ p.b.u.h. So who is Jesus p.b.u.h. then? The answer is in Matthew 21:11, “And the multitudes were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” (NAS). This proved that  the people at the time of Jesus p.b.u.h. believed that he was only a prophet or a messenger of God. This suit with the teaching by Holy Qur’an which says, “The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God….” (Qur’an 4:171). Keep in mind that Jesus p.b.u.h himself neither claimed to be God nor has asked anybody to worship him throughout the Bible.

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