Search Related Sites

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The "Definite" John 1:1

The "Definite" John 1:1 (View Index to this and all related papers.)

(Note: I did the bulk of the personal research for this paper and wrote the first versions containing about 90% of the present one in the late 1970's. Since then I have changed some terms such as "possessive" to "prepositional" and "mass" or "amount" nouns to "non-count nouns," etc. – RDB.)

1  Of all the evidence used by English-speaking[1] trinitarians to support their teaching of a three-in-one God, the one that is probably most used and declared to be the most straightforward and conclusive is found at John 1:1. Since we must believe that God would make such an essential understanding (John 17:3; 2 Thess. 1:8) of exactly who God is perfectly and unmistakably clear, we need to examine very closely this "clearest" evidence trinitarians are able to point to and see if it really is as clear as it must be in order to prove "the essential Christian doctrine" (Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 637, vol. 5, 14th ed.). And if this evidence should prove to be less than unmistakably clear, where would that leave all the rest of the trinitarians' "evidence"?

2  Here is 
John 1:1 as found in the trinitarian New International Version (NIV):

(1a) "In the beginning was the Word, (1b) and the Word was with God, (1c) and the Word was God." You can easily see that, although at first glance it seems to be saying that the Word (Jesus) was God, it does not say "(1) The Father, (2) the Son, and (3) the Holy Spirit are three Persons who equally make up the one true God." But that is the clear statement (or its equivalent) which should be repeatedly stated throughout the Bible if such an essential teaching were true. John 1:1c, however, is only a clear statement that two individuals are apparently called "God." But how clear is it even for that?

3  As usually translated it says Jesus, the Word (ho logos), was with God (ho theos). In the next breath it says he was God (theos). This is hardly a clear statement!

As Count Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian novelist and religious philosopher, said:

"If it says that in the beginning was the ... Word, and that the Word was...with God, it is impossible to go on and say that it was God. If it was God, it could stand in no relation to God." - The Four Gospels Harmonized and Translated, p. 30.

Many trinitarian scholars, in fact, are forced to reject the interpretation that John 1:1c says that Jesus was the same "God" that he was with. Famed trinitarian scholars A. T. Robertson and B. F. Westcott, for example, were both forced to that conclusion - p. 96, Selected Notes On The Syntax Of New Testament Greek, Wallace, 3rd ed., 1981. Prof. Philip B. Harner also came to that conclusion, p. 85, JBL, vol. 92, 1973. (See the HARNER study.)

In fact, the best texts of the prologue [John 1:1-1:18] are so unclear and impossible [for trinitarians only] that some Bible scholars have even felt it necessary to say they believe there has been a copyist's error in a very early copy of this manuscript which has been copied and recopied into all the succeeding manuscripts which are still available today.

Professor Allen Wikgren (trinitarian) has shown one possibility for a copyist's error. Professor Wikgren commenting on a scripture (John 1:18) where Jesus is called "God/god" (theos) in the very oldest and best manuscripts now in existence writes:

"It is doubtful that the author would have written [`only-begotten god'], which may be a primitive, transcriptional error in the Alexandrian tradition (YC/QC)." - p. 189, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament, 1971, United Bible Societies (UBS).

4  When trinitarian Prof. Wikgren said that a very early copyist's error may have been YC/QC, he meant that the Greek word "God" (and "god" - none of the earliest manuscripts used punctuation or beginning capitalization [e.g. "God," "Word," "Christ," etc.]) - is theos and in the earliest manuscripts this was written in abbreviated form (`QC,'[with a line over the top] an ancient manuscript form of `ths''). He is saying that the Greek word for "son" (huios) was also often written in abbreviated form as `YC' with a line over the top to show it is an abbreviation. This is the ancient form for 'us (huios, "son"). So his conclusion is that it is doubtful that Jesus would be called QC ("God" or "god") in this scripture (see the OBGOD study paper on John 1:18 for reasons why trinitarian scholars don't like Jesus being called the only-begotten god or God), but that it is more probable that a very early copyist made a slip and accidentally wrote QC ("god") for YC ("son"). (Trinitarian scholar Philip Schaff notes this same possibility in his History of the Christian Church, Eerdmans, vol. 1, p. 552, f.n. #2.)

Thus, instead of "only-begotten god (or `God')" which would occur only here at John 1:18, we would have the more familiar "only-begotten son." Whether this hypothetical error was the result of an eye-to-hand error or sloppy handwriting on the part of John (or a very early copyist) or some other reason is beside the point.

5  It is easy to see that a YC/QC change at John 1:18 could also account for the even stranger (in context) use of QC ("god") at John 1:1c. In other words, the very same copyist who, according to Wikgren, may have misread John's handwriting (or made a natural slip of the pen or had sloppy handwriting, etc.) at John 1:18 might have easily made the very same "error" at John 1:1c and so have written "and the word was a god (or `God')" instead of what John may have intended instead: "and the Word was a son."

It is also worth considering that QC would also be an abbreviated form for 
theios or "divine." This could be another explanation for those trinitarian Bibles which have translated Jn 1:1c as, "And the Word was divine."

And yet, as with all scripture, we must not assume that an error has been made at John 1:1c (or John 1:18) just because it is a possibility, and we may not like what it seems to be saying in the earliest manuscripts at hand. If all the oldest and best manuscripts that are available today say "and the Word was theos," then we must accept that as scripture until some older manuscript (or other real evidence) shows otherwise. I would not want to be guilty of knowingly teaching with false scripture!

Therefore, assuming, as we must for the present, that John actually wrote "and the Word was theos," we have to discover which of the actual meanings for theos was really intended: "God" or "a god."

6  Let's look at some Bible translations that differ from the majority of trinitarian translations. Some use the term "divine." (1) Trinitarian Moffatt's highly acclaimed New Translation of the Bible and (2) trinitarian Smith-Goodspeed's An American Translation both say that the Word "was divine." The translations by (3) Boehmer, (4) Stage, and (5) Menge all say the Word was "of divine being." (6) John J. McKenzie, S. J., writes in his Dictionary of the Bible: "Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated `the word was with the God (equals the Father), and the word was a divine being.'" - p. 317, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1965, published with Catholic Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.

Why have these translators refused to make a more literal translation ("the Word was God"), as many other trinitarians have done? After all, if the original Greek of a scripture is written in such a manner that it can honestly be translated into English with several different meanings (as so frequently happens), an honest translator will invariably pick the meaning that is closest to his own beliefs and prejudices. And an honest trinitarian would, therefore, translate John 1:1c as "and the Word was God" If he felt he could honestly do so! So why have some trinitarian translators refused to so translate it?

7  The Greek words, grammar, and context clues used here by John have convinced them something else was clearly intended at John 1:1c. Rather than make a highly probable error (with extremely serious consequences - John 17:3 and 2 Thess. 1:8), they have very carefully selected a word ("divine") that has several meanings.

If they had honestly believed that John was saying that Jesus is God, they certainly would not have hesitated to say "the Word was God." Why, then, did some trinitarian translators of Christendom, some of the best Bible scholars and translators in the world, choose the word "divine"? Well, what does "divine" mean? According to the best authority on word meanings it means - "1a: of or relating to God: proceeding from God...b: of or relating to a god; having the nature of a god; like a god or like that of a god." - Webster's Third New International Dictionary, 1962.

Notice that the number one meaning is "of God" or "from God." It may be that these translators have honestly felt that this understanding is correct, and John originally wrote "and the Word was of God (QY –"of God" abbreviation - instead of QC)." Or they may even have believed that the abbreviated form of QC (ancient form of ths) found in all the earliest manuscripts of John 1:1c was an abbreviation for "divine" (theios) rather than "god" (theos).

We see that the #1b meaning for "divine" would make John 1:1c read "and the Word was like a god." If these translators had that definition of "divine" in mind, we could understand John 1:1c to mean "and the Word was like a god."

8  See how the word "divine" is used in the footnotes for Genesis 18:2-8 and Gen. 1:26 in the highly trinitarian New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977 ed.: The three angels are "divine beings" and,

"the plural us, our probably refers to the divine beings who compose God's heavenly court (1 Ki. 22:19; Job 1:6)."

Nelson's Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, Unger and White, p. 159, 1980 ed., speaking of an angel, says:

"... refers to a divine being or messenger sent to protect the three Hebrews (Dan. 3:28)."

9  Examine the explanation of the strongly trinitarian author of Christianity Through the Centuries which shows how the strongly anti-trinitarian Arius of the 4th century viewed God and Jesus:

"Arius believed that Christ was a being, created out of nothing, subordinate to the Father.... To Arius He was divine but not deity." - p. 143, Earl E. Cairns, Ph. D., 1977.

Even Arius' opponent, hyper-trinitarian Athanasius, believed that men can be divine: Speaking of Christ, "`He was made man,' said Athanasius, `that we might be made divine.'" [Some other trinitarian publications translate this as "that we might be made GOD" - A History of Christianity, Latourette, 1953.] - pp. 116-117, A Short History of the Early Church, Dr. H. R. Boer (trinitarian), 1976, Eerdmans Publishing. (Compare 2 Peter 1:4 TEV, GNB, JB, MLB, and the NT translations by Charles B. Williams, 1963 ed., and William F. Beck, 1964 ed.) Famous Christian of the 2nd century, Irenaeus, writing about certain exemplary Christian elders of the 1st and 2nd centuries, calls one of them "divine" (theios) - The Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot and Harmer, Baker Book House, pp. 539 and 553.

And the Apostle Paul could feel a divine jealousy - 2 Cor. 11:2 RSV, MLB, CBW, NEB, Moffatt. Yes, even the greatest defender of the doctrine of the trinity of all time, Augustine, said that the Scriptures themselves "were truly divine" and he spoke of "our true divine," Moses - Book xviii, chapters 37 and 42, The City of God, pp. 646, 651, Random House, 1950. 

Notice what the Encyclopedia Britannica reveals about John 1:1, Jesus, and the word "divine."

"The Logos [`the Word'] which having been in the beginning, and with God, and `divine,' had entered human life and history as the Word `made flesh.' .... but the identification of Jesus with the Logos was not tantamount to recognizing him as `God.' Neither the `Word of God' in Hebrew nomenclature nor the Logos in Greek speculation was `God,' though it was definitely `divine.'" - p. 25, vol. 13, 14th ed.

10  Now let's see how some other translations have rendered John 1:1c.

(1) The New Testament in an Improved Version (Unitarian) says: "the Word was with God, and the Word was a god."

(2) The New World Translation (Jehovah's Witnesses) says: "and the Word was a god."

(3) The Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson (Christadelphian?) says in the interlinear section: "a god was the Word."

(4) The Four Gospels - A New Translation by Prof. Charles C. Torrey says: "the Word was with God, and the Word was god."

(5) Das Evangelium nach Johannes by Siegfried Shultz says: "and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word."

(6) Das Evangelium nach Johannes by Johannes Schneider says: "and godlike sort was the Logos [Word]."

(7) Das Evangelium nach Johannes by Jurgen Becker says: "and a god was the Logos."

Notice how these 7 different translations use the word "god" (or `godlike'), clearly differentiating between it and the only true God!

Even the very trinitarian Greek expert, W. E. Vine, (although, for obvious reasons, he chooses not to accept it as the proper interpretation) admits that the literal translation of John 1:1c is: "a god was the Word". - p. 490, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1983 printing.

Equally trinitarian Professor C. H. Dodd, director of the New English Bible project, also admits this is a proper literal translation:

"A possible translation [for John 1:1c] ... would be, `The Word was a god.' As a word-for-word translation it cannot be faulted." - Technical Papers for the Bible Translator, vol. 28, Jan. 1977.

11  The reason Prof. Dodd still rejects "a god" as the actual meaning intended by John is simply because it upsets his trinitarian interpretations of John's Gospel! - See WT, p. 28, Oct. 15, 1993.

Highly trinitarian NT scholar Murray J. Harris also admits that grammatically John 1:1c may be properly translated, `the Word was a god,' but his trinitarian bias makes him claim that "context" will not allow such an interpretation! - p. 60, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.

Trinitarian Dr. Robert Young admits that a more literal translation of John 1:1c is "and a God[2] (i.e. a Divine Being) was the Word" - p. 54, (`New Covenant' section), Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, 1977 printing.

Highly respected trinitarian scholar, author, and Bible translator, Dr. William Barclay wrote: "You could translate [John 1:1c], so far as the Greek goes: `the Word was a God'; but it seems obvious that this is so much against the whole of the rest of the New Testament that it is wrong." - p. 205, Ever yours, edited by C. L. Rawlins, Labarum Publ., 1985.

Professor Jason David BeDuhn tells us, “Grammatically, John 1:1 is not a difficult verse to translate. It follows familiar, ordinary structures of Greek expression. A lexical (‘interlinear’) translation of the controversial clause would read: ‘And a god was the Word.’ A minimal literal (‘formal equivalence’) translation would rearrange the word order to match proper English expression: ‘And the Word was a god.’ The preponderance of evidence, from Greek grammar, from literary context, and from cultural environment, supports this translation….” - p. 132, Truth in Translation, University Press of America, 2003.
And as we saw above, John J. McKenzie, S. J., writes in his Dictionary of the Bible: "Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated `the word was with the God (equals the Father), and the word was a divine being.'" - p. 317, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1965, published with Catholic Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.

12  You see, in ancient times many of God's servants had no qualms about using the word "god" or "gods" for godly men, kings, judges, and even angels.

Yes, as trinitarian scholar Dr. Robert Young tells us in the preface to Young's Analytical Concordance in the section entitled "Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation":

"65. God—is used of any one (professedly) MIGHTY, whether truly so or not, and is applied not only to the true God, but to false gods, Magistrates, judges, angels, prophets, etc., e.g. Ex. 7:1; ... John 1:1; 10:33, 34, 35; 20:28 ...." - Eerdmans Publ., 1978.

Notice how John 1:1 has been listed as an example of "God" (or "god") being applied to someone other than the true God (as in the case of "judges, angels, prophets, etc."). Dr. Young also specifically tells us that John 1:1 is literally "and a God (i.e. a Divine Being) was the Word." p. 54, Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary. Certainly a trinitarian scholar such as Dr. Young would interpret John 1:1c to mean "the Word was the true God" if he could honestly do so! Obviously he felt there was something wrong with that interpretation.

New Testament Greek expert Joseph H. Thayer also defined theos:

"[Theos] is used of whatever can in any respect be likened to God or resembles him in any way: Hebraistically, i.q. God's representative or vicegerent, of magistrates and judges." - p. 288, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.

Angels are literally called "gods" (Hebrew - elohim) at Ps. 8:5, 6. We know angels are called "gods" here because this passage is quoted at Heb. 2:6, 7, and there the word "angels" is used in New Testament Greek. In fact, the highly trinitarian NKJV actually translates the elohim of Ps. 8:5, 6 as `angels' ("For you have made him a little lower than the angels.")

The very trinitarian New American Bible (1970), St. Joseph ed., states in a footnote for Ps. 8:6:

"The angels: in Hebrew, elohim, which is the ordinary word for `God' or `the gods;' hence the ancient versions generally understood the term as referring to heavenly spirits [angels]." So how does noted trinitarian Dr. James Moffatt translate (at Ps. 8:6) this word that means "God" or "gods" and which is here applied to angels? Again, as at John 1:1, he translates the word for "God/god" as "divine"! "Yet thou hast made him little less than divine [elohim]." ("Heavenly beings," NIV - see NIVSB footnote for Heb. 2:7.)

The equally trinitarian New Bible Dictionary tells us:

"Sons (children) of God" - "a. Individuals of the class `god'.... `Son of God' in Heb. means `god' or `godlike' rather than `son of (the) God (Yahweh)'. In Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Ps. 29:1; 89:6, the `sons of God' [angels] form Yahweh's heavenly train or subordinates." - p. 1133, New Bible Dictionary, (second ed.), 1982. Also note p. 1134. And see "Sons of God" in Today's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 591 and An Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 726, (1945 ed.).

The NIV Study Bible [1985 ed.] states:

"In the language of the OT ... rulers and judges, as deputies of the heavenly King, could be given the honorific title `god' ... or be called `son of God'." - footnote for Ps. 82:1. And, in a footnote for Ps. 45:6, this same highly-respected trinitarian publication says: "In this psalm, which praises the [Israelite] king..., it is not unthinkable that he was called `god' as a title of honor (cf. Isa. 9:6)."

And trinitarian Murray J. Harris also admits that Ps. 45 calls the ancient Israelite king "God" (Elohim).

"It should be observed, to begin with, that to address the king as Elohim ["God" or "god"] was not to deify him. As surely as Israelites believed that the king was distinct from other men, they believed he was distinct from Elohim ["God"]. In whatever sense the king was `divine,' it was not an actual or intrinsic divinity that he possessed. Nor was the king regarded as an incarnation of Deity. Rather, he was `Yahweh's anointed {"christ" or "messiah"},' in the sense that he served as Yahweh's deputy on earth, exercising a delegated yet sovereign authority.

{Harris' footnote here says: "[Mettinger] observes that since the king does on earth what God does in heaven `one is almost tempted to speak of the king as the "image and likeness of God on earth"' (263). According to A. R. Johnson (`Divine Kingship' 42), `in Israelite thought the king was a potential "extension" of the personality of Yahweh.'"} And as anointed leader {a "messiah"} of God's chosen people, the king was, by the gracious divine will, God's adopted SON (2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:7; 89:27-28 [Engl. vv. 26-27]). Yet, in accounting for this unique application of the title Elohim {Ho Theos in the Septuagint} to a king, one must reckon with more than simply the king's divine election and his unique role in standing in loco dei {`in place of God'}. The king may exceptionally be addressed as `God' also because, endowed with the Spirit of Yahweh, he exhibits certain divine characteristics. .... {The psalmist} forestalls misunderstanding by indicating that the king is not elohim without qualification. Yahweh is the king's `God.' {Ps. 45:7, be sure to compare Micah 5:4 (esp. NIVSB f.n.); 2 Cor. 11:31; Eph. 1:3, 17; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rev. 3:12 where the Father is called Jesus Christ's God! - RDB} Such an explanation does not rule out the possibility that the {psalmist} is also stressing the intimate and unique relationship that exists between the king and Yahweh..." - pp. 200-201, Jesus As God.

And on p. 202 Harris also tells us:

"Another consideration that may partially explain this unique form of address {`God' or `god' in Ps. 45:6} is the relative fluidity of the term Elohim in the Hebrew Bible, where on occasion it is used of the heavenly beings around Yahweh's throne (Ps. 8:6 [Engl. v.5] [LXX, aggelous]; 97:7; 138:1), judges (Ps. 82:1, 6; cf. Ps. 58:2 [Engl. v.1] and also John 10:34-36), Moses (Exod. 7:1; cf. 4:16), and the apparition of Samuel (1 Sam. 28:13; cf. Isa. 8:19). It is also relevant to note that Isaiah 9:5 [Engl. v.6] combines the two terms used in Psalm 45 to address the king (viz., {`mighty' and `God'}) and applies the title to the ideal king of the future .... Because, then, Israelites regarded the king as God's viceroy on earth, his legitimated son who exhibited divine qualities, it is not altogether surprising that ... a Davidic king should exceptionally be given a title that was in fact not reserved exclusively for Deity." {The footnote for this point in the text says: "It is proper to speak of an `identity' between the king and God (as Egnell does, 175) only in the sense that ideally the king is godlike in his character and conduct. He is not `one' with God by nature but may become partially `one' with him in practice and may therefore not inappropriately, if only exceptionally, be called `God.'"} - p. 202, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.

Lest anyone should still think the ancient Israelite king should actually be considered absolutely equal with the one true God, Harris quotes another scholar:

"`Royal ideology reaches its highest point in this passage {Ps. 45:6}, but doubtless it is entirely right to remember in connection with this text that `one swallow does not make a summer,' and that Old Testament teaching viewed as a whole always clearly asserts the king's subordination to Yahweh'." - Harris quotes E. Jacob here in footnote #61, p. 200.

But many trinitarian apologists rarely take such sensible advice when it concerns the Bible's use of the same rarely-used terminology in connection with the king and Christ, Jesus! Carefully compare the explanations above for the ancient Israelite kings (who are also called "son," "christ," etc.) being infrequently called "God" with the equally infrequent use of that same term for Jesus.

13  Let's back up for a moment and look at Exodus 7:1 which Dr. Young (above) put in the same category as John 1:1c (i.e. "God" or "god" scripturally referring to one other than the true God). Ex. 7:1 is literally translated: "So he said, Yahweh to Moses, `See, I made you God to Pharaoh'" - The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament. The word "God" (or "god") here is elohim in Hebrew and is the same word used for "God" when describing the only true God, Yahweh (or `Jehovah' in the English form of His Name). However, it may also be translated "a god."[3]

That is why we see so many different versions of this scripture even in trinitarian Bibles: "I have made thee a god to Pharaoh" - KJV. "I appoint you a god to Pharaoh" - MLB. "I have made you like a god for Pharaoh" - NEB. "I have made you like God" - NIV. "I made you as God" - RSV and NASB. "I have made you as God" - NAB. The Greek Septuagint Version uses the very same Greek word for "God" (or "god") as is used at John 1:1b and it too is translated "I have made thee a god to Pharao" - Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton translation published by Zondervan, 1980 printing.

Now if trinitarian Bibles can translate the literal "I made you God/god" at Ex. 7:1 into "I have made thee a god" or "I have made you like a god," then it is no less honest to translate John 1:1c as "the Word was a god" or even, "the Word was like a god" (cf. the #1b. definition for "divine" quoted above).

The meaning of Ex. 7:1 is perfectly clear to all Jews and Christians. God is telling how he made Moses a very powerful person, more powerful than any other human being at that time and a direct representative of the only true God. But suppose that some sect of Judaism or Christendom had decided to worship a multiple "God." They could have picked Moses to be one of the multiple personalities of that "God." Therefore they could worship both the Father and his Chosen One, Moses, (Ps. 106:23) as a "Binity" (two persons making up the "one" true "God"). To do this they would search the scriptures for justification. There are many they could use (or misuse); but let's examine Ex. 7:1 in this respect. They would, of course, translate it very literally: "I made you God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother is your prophet." So not only did the Father make Moses God, they would say, he even gave that God his own prophet. What could be a clearer statement, these "Binitarians" would say, of Moses' Godhood? One of them could even describe Moses who was "with God" (2 Chron. 15:2; Ex. 3:12; Josh. 1:5) in the beginning (of the formation of the nation of Israel) like this: "In the beginning was the Chosen One (Ps. 106:23), and the Chosen One was with God (Josh. 1:5), and the Chosen One was God (Ex. 7:1)." In view of the scriptures cited Moses could have been described that way in Biblical Greek or Hebrew, but the more appropriate translation would be "In the beginning was the Chosen One, and the Chosen One was with God, and the Chosen One was a god (or `like a god')."

14  The Hebrew word elohim is the word most often translated "God" in the Old Testament. It is also used at 1 Sam. 28:13. It is used to describe what the spirit medium told Saul that she "saw." In describing what she said was the "spirit" of the dead Samuel, she called it elohim.

Here is how that word (elohim) has been translated in various Bibles at 1 Sam. 28:13:

1. "gods" - KJV
2. "a god" - RSV - "the word `god' here [in the RSV] means a being from another world."
(footnote in The New Oxford Annotated Bible - An Ecumenical Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 1977).
3. "a god" - ("or `a divine being'." - footnote) Rotherham's Emphasized Bible.
4. "a godlike being" - The Holy Scriptures, JPS.
5. "a godlike being" - ("a divine being" - footnote) Englishman's Hebrew-English Old Testament, Zondervan.
6. "a preternatural being" - NAB.
7. "a godlike form" - MLB.
8. "a spirit" - NIV, GNB, and NKJV.
9. "a DIVINE BEING" ("or, god" - footnote, NASB) - NASB and NRSV.
10. "a god" - King James II Version; Moffatt; and Byington.

It's not too surprising, then, that even the famed trinitarian Lutheran Bible scholar, Franz Delitzsch, in his translation of Acts 28:6 into Hebrew has used elohim without the article for "a god"! Also, in that same translation Delitzsch has used elohim without the article at John 1:1c - "the Word was [elohim]" - Hebrew New Testament, Franz Delitzsch, The Trinitarian Bible Society, London.

15  We see influential members of Christendom calling other godly men "god" in the very early history of the Church.[1] (See the MYGOD study paper.) St. Augustine, for example, showed this understanding of the meaning of "god." Writing around 410 A.D. and speaking of godly men, he said:

"For created gods are gods not by virtue of what is in themselves, but by a participation of the True God." - The City of God, Book XIV, Chapter 13, as quoted in On The Two Cities, pp. 60-61. (Also see Book IX, Ch. 23, where Augustine says that godly men and angels are gods!)

Even earlier was the Christian who wrote the Epistle to Diognetus. Dr. Boer in his A Short History of the Early Church, p. 50, 1976 ed., says:

"The Apologists presented the Christian faith to their readers with dignity and simplicity. The author of the Epistle to Diognetus, writing about 150 A.D., describes the manner in which the Father sent the Word into the world in this way: `Did he send him, as a man might think, on a mission of domination and fear and terror? Indeed he did not, a King sending his own son who is himself a king; he sent him as God'."

16  Now trinitarian Boer himself admits that this letter was written long before the trinity doctrine had even been developed by "the Church" (see HIST study). And Boer further admits:

"Justin and the other Apologists [including, of course, the writer of the Epistle to Diognetus] therefore taught that the Son is a creature. He is a high creature, a creature powerful enough to create the world, but nevertheless, a creature. In theology this relationship of the Son to the Father is called Subordinationism. The Son is subordinate, that is, secondary to dependent upon, and caused by the Father." - p. 110, A Short History of the Early Church, Eerdmans (trinitarian), 1976.

"Before the Council of Nicaea (AD 325) all theologians viewed the Son as in one way or another subordinate to the Father." - pp. 112-113, Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity (Trinitarian), 1977; and p. 114, The History of Christianity, A Lion Handbook, Lion Publishing, 1990 revised ed.

It is therefore more than a little strange that the author of this very early Christian letter would actually call Jesus "God"!

17  When we examine the actual Greek text of this very early Christian letter the mystery is solved. The writer of this letter has used theos without the article ("a god") at this verse (7:4) and at 10:6. In fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica translates verse 10:6 as

"If thou too wouldst have this faith, learn first the knowledge of the Father [see John 17:3]...knowing Him, thou wilt love Him and imitate his goodness; and marvel not if a man can imitate God: he can if God will. By kindness to the needy, by giving them what God has given to him, a man can become a god [theos without the definite article] of them that receive, an imitator of God." - p. 395, vol. 7, 14th ed. (Also see Early Christian Writings, Staniforth, Dorset Press, p. 181, and The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Roberts and Donaldson, p. 29, vol. 1, Eerdmans, 1993 printing.)

So, not only has this early Christian author taught that a Christian who truly helps his neighbor "becomes a god [theos without the article and coming before the verb in the Greek]," but at the verse in question (7:4) he clearly says about Jesus that the Father "sent him as a god [theos without the article]." - see The Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot and Harmer, pp. 495, 498, Baker Book House.

Yes, when we see how this first (or second) century Christian used theos without the article for men (10:6), we then know that he really said at verse 7:4: "The Father sent the Word into the world in this way:....he sent him as a god"! - - - - - Compare this description of "the Word" with that of John 1:1.

Also, Clement of Alexandria (circa 150 A. D. - 215 A. D.) was "one of the most learned fathers of the church". - Encyclopedia Americana, 1957, vol. 7, p. 87a.

The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that Clement of Alexandria taught that the object of Christ's incarnation and death

`was to free man from sin ... and thus in the end elevate him to the position of a god.' - p. 799, vol. 5, Britannica., 14th ed.

Yes, Clement wrote:

"that man with whom the Logos dwells...becomes ['a god']" (Compare John 1:1). And "the Logos of God became man that from [a] man you might learn how man may become ['a god']." - quoted in The Mystery Religions by S. Angus, p. 106, 1975 ed., Dover Publications.

This same publication explains,

"We should remind ourselves that though `God' [or, more properly, `a god'] is the literal rendering of theos [Greek] or deus [Latin], `Divine' might better convey to our minds what these terms conveyed to the minds of men living in the Graeco-Roman world [of the first centuries A.D.], to whom they were of a more fluid nature than they have since long become in scholastic theology." - p. 107.

18  All of this shows (for the first 400 years of Church history, at least) that many of those early writers (including Origen, Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus[4], Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus, the writer of `The Epistle to Diognetus,' and even super-trinitarians Athanasius and St. Augustine of the 4th and 5th centuries) continued to use the term theos (without the article) as John sometimes did ("a god"). They saw nothing wrong with calling certain men "gods" if they were sincerely trying to follow God and be his representatives or ambassadors. Just because it sounds strange to our ears today in modern English is no reason to ignore the facts!

This is a fact acknowledged by even the most trinitarian experts:

Some of these trinitarian sources which admit that the Bible actually describes men who represent God (judges, faithful Israelite kings, etc.) and God's angels as gods (or a god) include:

1. Young's Analytical Concordance of the Bible, "Hints and Helps...," Eerdmans, 1978 reprint;

2. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #430, Hebrew & Chaldee Dict., Abingdon, 1974;

3. New Bible Dictionary, p. 1133, Tyndale House Publ., 1984;

4. Today's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 208, Bethany House Publ., 1982;

5. Hastings' A Dictionary of the Bible, p. 217, Vol. 2;

6. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, p. 43, Hendrickson publ.,1979;

7. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, #2316 (4.), Thayer, Baker Book House, 1984 printing;

8. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, p. 132, Vol. 1; & p. 1265, Vol. 2, Eerdmans, 1984;

9. The NIV Study Bible, footnotes for Ps. 45:6; Ps. 82:1, 6; & Jn 10:34; Zondervan, 1985;

10. New American Bible, St. Joseph ed., footnote for Ps. 45:7, 1970 ed.;

11. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, Vol. 5, pp. 188-189;

12. William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 1, pp. 317, 324, Nelson Publ., 1980 printing;

13. Murray J. Harris, Jesus As God, p. 202, Baker Book House, 1992;

14. William Barclay, The Gospel of John, V. 2, Daily Study Bible Series, pp. 77, 78, Westminster Press, 1975;

15. The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible (John 10:34 & Ps. 82:6);

16. The Fourfold Gospel (Note for John 10:35);

17. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Jamieson, Fausset, Brown
(John 10:34-36);

18. Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible (Ps. 82:6-8 and John 10:35);

19. John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible (Ps. 82:1).

20. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament ('Little Kittel'), - p. 328, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1985.

21. The Expositor's Greek Testament, pp. 794-795, Vol. 1, Eerdmans Publishing Co.

22. The Amplified Bible, Ps. 82:1, 6 and John 10:34, 35, Zondervan Publ., 1965.

23. Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, John 10:34, 35.

24. B. W. Johnson's People's New Testament, John 10:34-36.

(also John 10:34, 35 - CEV: TEV; GodsWord; The Message; NLT; NIRV; David Guzik -

Pastor Jon Courson, The Gospel According to John -

19  Even distinguished NT scholar (trinitarian) Robert M. Grant, when discussing the writings of the noted 2nd century Christian, Theophilus, said that this respected early Christian wrote that if Adam had remained faithful, he would have become `perfect' and would have been `declared a god'! Dr. Grant then added that this corresponds with Jesus! So this highly respected trinitarian NT scholar admits that Jesus himself was called a god in John's Gospel. - p. 171, Greek Apologists of the Second Century, The Westminster Press, 1988. being `declared a god' elsewhere in the Gospel of John
A careful study of the Logos [Word] concept, as the first readers of John's Gospel were already familiar with it, shows that they clearly understood the Word [Logos] to be "the Son of God," "Firstborn of God," "with God," and "a god" but certainly not God Himself.

Remember what the Encyclopedia Britannica said about the Logos of Jn 1:1:

"The Logos [`the Word'] which having been in the beginning, and with God, and `divine,' had entered human life and history as the word `made flesh'. .... but the identification of Jesus with the Logos was not tantamount to recognizing him as `God.'

Yes, and this is highly significant for a proper understanding of Jn 1:1 - those Hellenistic Jews to whom John was first writing his Gospel were very familiar with the only Bible-based, Jewish concept of the Logos at that time.

20  The writings and teachings of the famed Jewish philosopher Philo were known throughout the world of the Hellenistic Jews. Philo taught that only the Father was God (ho theos - "the god") and that the Logos ("the Word") was "the Son of God," the "mediator between God and man," "the firstborn Son," the one "through whom the cosmos was created," the one who was created by God and who was "with God" in the beginning but was not God.

Philo used the word theos to describe this Logos, but he always used it WITHOUT the article: theos, "a god." And he always used theos WITH the article (ho theos), "the god" to describe the one who alone was truly God (the Father). - See the LOGOS study paper.

This is what was already understood by those for whom the Gospel of John was written. When they read the Prologue of the Gospel of John there was no mystery, no need of explanations. They already had a concept of the Logos, and that is why John made no explanations concerning his use of the term (which seems so baffling to so many trinitarian apologists today). And the understanding of these Hellenistic Jews was that "the Logos was with God in the beginning, and he was a god"!

If John didn't want this understanding, he would have made it very certain by carefully wording it and explaining that he was using the Logos concept differently from the way they would naturally understand it. But he makes no changes, no explanations! The Logos is"a god"!

21  William Barclay, "world-renowned Scottish New Testament interpreter, was noted as a profound scholar and a writer of extraordinary gifts. .... He was the minister of Trinity Church, Renfrew, Scotland, and later, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow."

Barclay comments on John 1:1c in Many Witnesses, One Lord, 1973 ed., pp. 23, 24:

"theos [at John 1:1c] has not got the definite article in front of it. When a Greek noun has not got the article in front of it, it becomes rather a description than an identification, and has the character of an adjective rather than of a noun.... John is not here identifying the Word with God. To put it very simply, he does not say that Jesus was God."

This world-renowned scholar, translator, and trinitarian minister of the Trinity Church has written a famous study guide on the New Testament called The Daily Study Bible Series.

Barclay, like a number of other respected trinitarian scholars and translators (see the QUAL and HARNER studies), has attempted to resolve the impossibilities of the "orthodox" trinitarian interpretation of John 1:1.

In his Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John (volumes 1 and 2), Westminster Press, 1975, Barclay tells us:

"When John said `the Word was God' he was not saying that Jesus was identical with God; he was saying...that in him we perfectly see what God is like." - p. 39, vol. 1.
He further clarifies this understanding on pp. 143-144, 161-162, of vol. 2:

"An ambassador does not go out as a private individual armed with only his own personal qualities and qualifications. He goes out with all the honour and glory of his country upon him. To listen to him is to listen to his country; to honour him is to honour the country he represents; to welcome him is to welcome the ruler who sent him out." - pp. 143-144.

"Jesus goes on to say something else. One thing no Jew would ever lose was the grip of sheer loneliness of God. The Jews were unswerving monotheists [they believed God is one single person, the Father alone, Jehovah]. The danger of the Christian faith is that we may set up Jesus as a kind of secondary God. But Jesus himself insists that the things he said and the things he did did not come from his own initiative or his own power or his own knowledge but from God. His words were God's voice speaking to men; His deeds were God's power flowing through him to men. He was the channel by which God came to men.

"Let us take two simple and imperfect analogies, from the relationship between student and teacher. Dr. Lewis Muirhead said of that great Christian and expositor, A. B. Bruce, that men `came to see in the man the glory of God.' Every teacher has the responsibility of transmitting something of the glory of his subject to those who listen to him; and he who teaches about Jesus Christ can, if he is Saint enough, transmit the vision and the presence of God to his students. That is what A. B. Bruce did, and in an infinitely greater way that is what Jesus did. He transmitted the glory and the love of God to men."

".... Sometimes if a divinity student has been trained by a great preacher whom he loves, we will see in the student something of the teacher and hear something of his voice. Jesus did something like that only immeasurably more so. He brought God's accent, God's message, God's mind, God's heart to men.

"We must every now and then remember, that all is of God. It was not a self-chosen expedition to the world which Jesus made. He did not do it to soften a hard heart in God. He came because God sent him, because God so loved the world. At the back of Jesus, and in him, there is God." - pp. 161-162, vol. 2.

22  This particular trinitarian "defense" tells us that Jesus is not actually God himself but instead perfectly represents that God. The ambassador is representing the one who sent him and speaks that one's thoughts and commands, but the ambassador is not the ruler who sent him - merely a representative!

This type of defense by some of the very best trinitarian scholars probably explains such popular Bible translations of John 1:1c as: "What God was, the Word was." - NEB, and "He was the same as God" - TEV and GNB, and may also be the reason for "divine" in some translations of John 1:1c.

But, remember, no matter how well anyone (whether man, angel, or Jesus himself) represents God he is still not God! And if we want everlasting life we must know God (John 17:3) and not confuse him with his representative (no matter how good that representative may be)!

23  As this highly respected trinitarian scholar, Barclay, puts it:

"Jesus's glory lay in the fact that, from his life, men recognized his special relationship with God. They saw that no one could live as he did unless he was uniquely near to God [Jn 1:1; 1:18]. As with Christ, it is our glory when men see in us the reflection of God." - p. 220, vol.2.

Or, as he more succinctly states it: "in Jesus we see the picture of God" - p. 153, vol. 2.

But we must never forget: we must never give the worship due God himself to a picture of God!! No matter how good the picture, it is still idolatry! (See "Christ, who is the image of God")

John 1:1 and the Use of the Article With Theos

24  The importance of the definite article (the word "the" in English; ho in NT Greek) when it is used with the Greek word for "God"/"god" (theos in Greek) is a major point of disagreement between non-trinitarians and some trinitarians when they discuss John 1:1 where theos appears without the article.

A few trinitarians will even deny the significance of the article ("the") and say that theos is usually translated as "God" whether it has the article or not, and, therefore, even though there is no article with theos at John 1:1, the probability (they say) is very high that theos in John 1:1 means "God" and not "god" (or "a god").

25  Most trinitarian scholars, however, will admit the importance of the article when distinguishing between "the only true God" and "a god" ("a mighty one"). However, some of them will attempt to prove that the article is properly understood to be there because of the "peculiarity" of the Greek grammar used at John 1:1c. Therefore, they will tell you, since the article is "understood" to be with theos at John 1:1c, then the Word is the God (the "understood" article showing that the only true God was meant)!

26  Let's start by looking at the first statement. Is it true that the use of the article with theos (in the nominative case, theos, as used at John 1:1c) makes little or no difference in distinguishing between "god" and "God"? - (See the THEON ["RDB's Rule"] study for significance of the article usage in the accusative case - theon - and lack of significance of the article usage in the genitive case - theou.)

Here's what Professor J. G. Machen says in his New Testament Greek for Beginners, p. 35:

"The use of the article in Greek corresponds roughly to the use of the definite article in English. Thus [logos,] means `a word'; [ho logos] means `the word'."- Macmillan, 1951.

So, basically, the word "the" (the definite article, ho in NT Greek, when used with a singular masculine nominative case noun - such as theos) shows that the noun it is used with is one certain, special thing. "The boss" is one certain individual, whereas "a boss" is indefinite and could be any one of millions of individuals.

If we examine all the uses of "God" and "god" in the nominative case (theos - the same form found at Jn 1:1c, not theou, theo, etc.) in all the writings of the Gospel writers, we see that it always has the article ("the" or ho in NT Greek) with it when the inspired Bible writer is referring to the God of the Bible [5]. Therefore it is of essential importance to know if John intended that the definite article really should be "understood" to be with theos at Jn 1:1c.

Grammatical "Rules" for a Definite John 1:1c

27  Many trinitarian defenses (or offenses) for their favored translation of John 1:1c pretend to refer to rules of Greek grammar. Many people, trinitarian and non-trinitarian alike, are afraid to begin a study of anything that sounds so difficult. But take heart! It really isn't nearly as difficult as it sounds to understand the so-called rules of Greek grammar that are involved and to prove them false to anyone who is willing to listen.

28  The first thing you need is any good interlinear Greek-English version of the New Testament Christian Greek Scriptures. You can obtain a trinitarian-biased interlinear from most Bible book stores. Or you can get a non-trinitarian-biased interlinear from any Jehovah's Witness (at a much more reasonable cost).

You may also need the use of several different Bible translations (public libraries usually have these for checkout) and a very brief refresher course in the meaning of a few words that may sound intimidating at first but that are really quite simple.

29  A "rule" preferred by some trinitarians for "proving" that Jesus is called "God" at John 1:1c is called "Colwell's Rule." This "rule" was first developed by E. C. Colwell and published by him in the Journal of Biblical Literature in 1933.

To understand Colwell's Rule we need to learn (or review) the meanings of 5 terms:

(1) The DEFINITE ARTICLE is simply the word "the" in English. In NT Greek the definite article is oJ (or ho) when it used with a singular masculine predicate noun (such as "God").

(2) The INDEFINITE ARTICLE is simply the word "a" (or "an") in English. There is no indefinite article in Greek. However, it is usually provided by the English translator when there is no definite article present with a noun in the original Greek - see below.

(3) The BE VERBS are all the different ways we use "be" in English. For example, we say "I am tall" instead of "I be tall." Instead of "they be tall" we say "they are tall" or "they were tall." Here, then, are the most-used "be verbs": Am, is, are, was, were, be, been.

(4) The SUBJECT is the person or thing which is "doing" the verb in a sentence. For example: "He is a man." Who or what is "doing" the "be verb" in that sentence? "He" is; so the word "He" is "doing" the verb "is," and, therefore, "He" is the subject.

Therefore, "cow" in "the purple cow was his pet" is the subject. And "house" in "my old house is now a restaurant" is the subject.

(5) The PREDICATE NOUN (also called the predicate nominative) is the person or thing which is the same as the subject and usually follows a be verb in the English language. If the sentence has a be verb as the only verb (or as the main verb), then the predicate noun (if there is one in that sentence) can easily be found by following this formula:

(A) Say the subject.

(B) Say the be verb.

(C) Ask, "What?".

For example: "He is a man." "He" is the subject (it's "doing" the be verb "is"). So (A) say the subject ("He"), and (B) say the be verb ("is"), and (C) ask "what?": "He is what?"

The answer is "man," so "man" is the predicate noun. Remember that, like the subject, the predicate noun must be a person or thing (not a describing word like "tall," "green," "good," "seven," etc.).

Word Order

30  The predicate noun in English is nearly always found after the be verb. In the ancient Greek manuscripts of the Bible, however, the predicate noun frequently comes before (precedes) the be verb. For example, at John 18:37a John writes in NT Greek: "king are you." Notice that the subject "you" comes after the verb and the predicate noun "king" is before the be verb "are." This is correctly translated into English as "You are a king" - NIV. Since there is no definite article ("the") with "king," English-language translators properly supply an indefinite article ("a king"). - see any Bible, John 18:37a. This is also the case at John 1:1c where the predicate noun (theos) comes before (precedes) the be verb ("was"): "and god [theos] was the word." We see that here at John 1:1c the predicate noun precedes the verb and the subject follows the verb.

If you have gone over the 5 terms above until you are certain of their meanings, you will have no trouble understanding Colwell's Rule (and no trouble disproving it!).
Here, then, is how Bowser (What Every Jehovah's Witness Should Know) quotes Colwell's Rule:

"`The absence of the [definite] article does not make the predicate [noun] indefinite when it precedes the verb.'" - p. 57, material in brackets added for clarity.

Bowser then adds:

"Even a casual look at the Greek text in John 1 shows that the predicate [noun] `God' precedes the verb `was' and consequently the testimony of John is that `the Word was God.'"(Cf. p. 99, So Many Versions, Kubo & Specht, Zondervan Publ., 1983.)

31  Remember that we have already seen in all the Gospels and all the writings of John that when "the only true God" is intended (in non-"preposition-modified" nominative form) a definite article is used with it: "the God."[5] And, when "a god" is meant, there is no definite article with the word. So Bowser, by adding his own interpretation, has made it appear that Colwell's Rule insists that, if the predicate noun comes before the verb, it must be translated as though it had a definite article! In the case of John 1:1c that would mean that even though "god" (theos) does not have an article with it in the Greek (which would normally mean that "a god" was intended), it must be translated as though it did and therefore must be translated "The Word was the god." And since the definite article coming before "god" (theos) means the only true God is being spoken of, then John 1:1c must mean "The Word was God."

It's obvious, then, that it all boils down to whether a definite article ("the") must be understood to be with theos or not at John 1:1c.

32  But notice what Colwell himself really said. Colwell published his rule in a 1933 JBL article entitled, "A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament." In that article he wrote: "A predicate nominative [or predicate noun] 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." - p. 20, JBL, 1933, vol. 52.

Nowhere did Colwell ever say that all (nor even most) predicate nouns that precede the verb in NT Greek are definite nouns. Not any inviolable rule of NT Greek grammar, but context alone, says Colwell, must guide the translator in such cases. And, as we have already seen (and according to some of the best trinitarian scholars themselves - see the QUAL study), the context of John 1:1 makes it clear that if the Word were with the God of the Bible he could not himself be that God. Even context alone makes it certain that John meant "the Word was a god."

33  But let's return to the trinitarian misinterpretation of Colwell's Rule: "a predicate noun that has no definite article must be considered definite anyway when it comes before the verb in NT Greek."

One of the first things a beginning student of New Testament Greek learns is that word order has very little, if any, significance as far as the meaning is concerned. (This is especially true when one is examining nominative case nouns - see the THEON study.) For example, respected NT Greek authorities, Dr. Alfred Marshall and Prof. J. Gresham Machen tell us in their NT Greek primers that, unlike English, NT Greek does not use word order to convey meanings but instead uses the individual endings on each word (inflections).

"The English translation must be determined by observing the [Greek word] endings, not by observing the [word] order." - New Testament Greek for Beginners, Machen, p. 27. (cf. New Testament Greek Primer, Marshall, pp. 7, 22 and p. 417, A. T. Robertson.)

And in a later example illustrating predicate nouns Prof. Machen gave this example: "ho apostolos anthropos estin [word-for-word translation: `the apostle man is']," and he translated that sentence (which has an anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb as in John 1:1c) as "the apostle is a man." - p. 50, New Testament Greek For Beginners, The Macmillan Company, 1951. Also see p. 148, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, where trinitarians Dana and Mantey translate an example they admit is parallel to John 1:1c as "And the place was a market," The Macmillan Company (see PRIMER pp. 1-2 for similar examples).[6]

34  But even if you haven't even begun studying NT Greek, you can prove the trinitarian misinterpretation of Colwell's Rule to be completely false simply by actually going through the Gospel of John in a Greek-English Interlinear New Testament and finding all the places where a predicate noun precedes the be verb. (Skim through and find all the `be' verbs, then see if there is a predicate noun that has no definite article coming before that verb. Then check all Bible translations to see if that predicate noun is translated with a definite article or not.) - For a detailed examination of all proper examples (those most equivalent to Jn 1:1c) see the Appendix of this paper.

35  Personal names such as "Jesus," "Abraham," "Mary," etc. should not be included as they may take a definite article in NT Greek or not according to the whim of the writer and yet in English are always translated without the definite article.[7]

We also need to be aware that a definite plural noun when translated into English uses the definite article ("the men"), but the indefinite plural noun does not take an indefinite English article ("men").

And more confusing yet are nouns which are not "countable" (that is, they are things that are found in indeterminate amounts: "soup," "flesh," "blood," "wine," "honey," etc. rather than things we can count: "three cows," "two peas," "ten prophets," etc.) but may also be treated as plurals. Since the use of plural examples can be so confusing concerning the definite and indefinite articles in English translations (and since plurals were not used at Jn 1:1c anyway), I try to avoid using them as proper examples. And I avoid even more strongly the ambiguous, confusing "amount" nouns as proper examples. [[More recently, I have discovered that others have called these "amount" nouns "non-count" nouns. Examples of count nouns include "flesh," "blood," "wine," "wheat," "soup," "water," "gold," "silver," etc. Most confusing are words which have more than one meaning: one as a count noun and one as a non-count noun. For example, "stone" may be considerd as a mass: "the house was made of stone." In that example "stone" would be a non-count noun. But when used in a different sense ("he picked up a stone"), it is a count noun! We find these examples in English: "spirit," "hair," "marble," "light," etc. ]]

36  We must also remember the problem with "possessive" (or prepositional) constructions.[8] They, like personal names, should not be included in our listing of all the proper examples of John's use of predicate nouns coming before the verb. Colwell used such improper "prepositional" examples almost exclusively to "prove" his rule.

We should also know that some scholars, like trinitarian P. B. Harner, exclude predicate nouns that are with numerals ("three angels") as also having irregular article usage - see p. 76 f.n., JBL, vol. 92, 1973 [or HARNJBL]. (Some writers even had irregular article usage with nouns modified by any adjective.) I have also noticed that trinitarian scholars Wallace (1981), Harner, and even Colwell himself (and perhaps all Bible language scholars) do not include the 5 "TIME/SEASON" predicate nouns (John 5:10; 10:22 [10:23 in some Bibles]; 19:31; and 1 John 2:18 [2 occurrences]) [9]. Appositives, too, exhibit article irregularity [10]. Therefore, I have excluded these from my lists of article-dependent constructions.

37  You will find that when John uses an unmodified predicate noun (without a definite article) before the verb (as in Jn 1:1c), most Bible translators (trinitarian and non-trinitarian alike) translate it as an indefinite noun (often even in spite of ambiguous contexts) just as the New World Translation has done at John 1:1c. For example: John 4:19 " are a prophet" (compare all Bible translations). Also see John 6:70; John 8:44 (a); John 9:24; John 10:1; etc.

Let's look in more detail at John's use (or lack thereof) of the definite article with other titles applied to Jesus which are used as in Colwell's Rule.

All the uses of the word "prophet" in which John used the predicate noun ("prophet") before the verb are (1) John 1:21, (2) John 4:19, and (3) John 9:17. According to Colwell's Rule, then, it would be senseless for John to have used the article with "prophet" since it is automatically "understood" to be there! In other words, Colwell's Rule (as "interpreted" by some trinitarians, at least) would have "prophet" written without a definite article and translated as "the Prophet" (not "a prophet")! So, let's examine every usage of "prophet" when used this way by John.

(1) John 1:21 reads literally in the original NT Greek: "The prophet are you?". Why would John have used the article ("the") here when Colwell's Rule virtually precludes it? He used the definite article because John did not know of Colwell's "rule" or anything even remotely similar.

He used it because the article was needed even though the predicate noun came before the verb. At the very least John wanted us to be absolutely certain of what he meant and, therefore, had to use the definite article. By not using it, there would surely have been doubt (unless Colwell's Rule had really existed) as to whether he intended "a prophet" or "the Prophet." So John used the article to make sure we understood that John the Baptist was being asked if he were the Prophet. (Not only do all trinitarian Bibles make "the Prophet" definite at John 1:21, but many - including NIV, TEV, GNB, REB, NKJV, JB, NJB, NASB, AT, NAB [1970 & 1991 editions], LB, KJIIV, Moffatt, and Phillips - actually CAPITALIZE "Prophet" and, thereby, show the truly one-of-a-kind nature intended by this term: truly comparable to "God" vs. "a god.") Compare the articular post-verb "the Prophet" at Jn 7:40.

"The Prophet," of course, referred to the Messiah (see p. 894, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, 1983 printing; p. 130, Today's Dictionary of the Bible, 1982, Bethany House Publ.; and pp. 765, 770, 984, New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1982, Tyndale House Publ.). So this is a title which properly applies to Jesus (even though John the Baptist was the one being questioned at this point) and was understood in the highest, one-of-a-kind sense: "The Prophet of prophets."

Dr. William Barclay, highly-respected trinitarian NT scholar tells us about `the Prophet' of Jn 1:21 -

"[The Jews] waited and longed for the emergence of the prophet who would be the greatest of all prophets, the Prophet par excellence. But once again John denied that this honor was his." - The Gospel of John, vol. 1, revised ed., The Daily Study Bible Series, 1975.

This verse (Jn 1:21 - "The Prophet") probably, then, provides the best comparison with the "God"/"a god" understanding of the Bible writers. "The Prophet" of John 1:21 is a title for a prophet who is "The Prophet of prophets" in the highest, one-of-a-kind sense just as The God is "The God of gods" in the highest, one-of-a-kind sense. - Be sure to analyze Mark 11:32 also.[11]

(2) John 4:19 reads literally in the original Greek: "I am beholding that prophet are you." This time John did not use the article with "prophet." So, Colwell's Rule shows that "prophet" should be translated into English with an understood "the" because the predicate noun "prophet" came before the verb, right?....... WRONG! Look at any translation.

In the Bible translations I have examined (including KJV, RSV, NRSV, TEV, GNB, NEB, REB, NIV, NASB, JB, and NJB) it is always translated: "I see you are a prophet." (None of those translations have capitalized "prophet" at this scripture.) This is identical to the construction in John 1:1c. (Not only does the predicate noun come before the verb, but the subject comes after the verb exactly as in John 1:1c.)

Now let's examine the only other instance where John uses "prophet" as a predicate noun coming before the verb.

(3) John 9:17 reads literally in the Greek: "The [man] but said that `prophet he is.'" Again Colwell's Rule insists (according to some trinitarian interpretations) that the predicate noun "prophet" be translated with an "understood" definite article. So all trinitarian translations of this verse must say: "The man said, `He is the Prophet.'" Right?.... Wrong again! Look at any Bible translation of John 9:17.

In the 16 different translations I have examined it is always translated: "The man said, `He is a prophet.'" Notice that even the context is not decisive in this case!

So a person must ask himself, why would the Apostle John use the article with an important title for Jesus ("The Prophet") at John 1:21 and not use it with an even more important (according to some trinitarian interpretations) title for Jesus (theos) at John 1:1c ? If "prophet" must have the article with it before it can be translated "the Prophet" (John 1:21) even though it is a predicate noun coming before the verb, and it is consistently translated "a prophet" (John 4:19 and John 9:17) in trinitarian translations when it does not have the article with it, then it should certainly be no surprise to any NT Greek scholar or translator when an honest translator renders the identical construction at John 1:1c as "and the Word was a god"! A study of all John's writings simply does not allow for the trinitarian interpretation: "and the Word was God (or `the God')"!

We can also find that all the uses of the word "king" in which John used the predicate noun ("king") before the verb are found at John 18:37. (Actually he used one more, but it is with a "possessive" construction - Jn 1:49.) The two uses at John 18:37 read literally in the Greek: "said therefore to him the Pilate... `king are you?'." And Jesus answered "You are saying that king I am."

Again we would expect (if Colwell's Rule had any real significance) this to be translated: "Pilate said to him, `Are you the King?'" and Jesus answered "you are saying I am the King." But see how it is actually translated even by trinitarian translators: "Are you a king, then?" and "You are saying I am a king." Yes, all 16 Bible translations I have checked rendered it "a king." Not one of them even capitalized it (not "the King" nor even just "King"). Again, notice that not even context would be decisive in determining the proper meaning in this case. And still not even one of the trinitarian Bible translators chose to use "Colwell's Rule"!

38  It may be worthwhile to look at all the instances where John calls Jesus "Lord" under the conditions for "Colwell's Rule."

(1) John 21:7 says literally in the Greek: "the disciple...said `The Lord it is'."

(2) Later in John 21:7 it says literally in the NT Greek: "Peter, having heard the Lord it is...."

(3) John 21:12 says literally in the original Greek: "having known that the Lord it is...."

Some scholars feel that since "Lord" is being used somewhat more like a personal name for Jesus than were the above titles ("prophet" and "king") it may be subject to the same article irregularity problem as are personal names: that is, sometimes an article is used with it and sometimes it is not. But that would still not explain John's usage here. There would be no reason to use the article with "Lord" in the first place if it were being used like a personal name here, and Colwell's Rule (if it or an equivalent had really existed) would have made its use here doubly redundant! If John felt it necessary to use the definite article here to call Jesus "the Lord," he certainly would have felt it even more necessary under identical grammatical conditions to use it in calling Jesus "God"!

We see that, in spite of Colwell's Rule, John doesn't hesitate to use the definite article with a predicate noun that comes before the verb if he truly intends that noun to be considered definite!! In fact, trinitarian NT Greek scholar Philip B. Harner states:

"the fact that John sometimes uses this type of clause [articular predicate noun coming before the verb] supports the view that he did not necessarily regard an anarthrous predicate as definite simply because it precedes the verb." - p. 83, Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 92, 1973.

39  Respected trinitarian NT Greek scholar J. H. Moulton also states that predicate nouns are frequently without the article in the Scriptures. He adds, however, that the inspired Bible writers did use the article with a predicate noun "if the predicate noun is supposed to be a unique or notable instance"! - p. 183, vol. 3, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, 1963. John 1:21 examined above ("the Prophet are you") is a clear example of this.

Highly-regarded trinitarian scholar A. T. Robertson adds:

"If he [Moulton] had added ... that the article also occurs WHEN IT IS THE ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND, he would have said all that is to be said on the subject." - A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, p. 768. (Noted trinitarian scholars Blass & Debrunner also agree with Moulton and Robertson above - see p. 148 [#273], A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and other early Christian Literature, The University of Chicago Press, 1961.)

40  Now what could be more unique or notable (if John really intended a "trinitarian" interpretation at John 1:1c) than saying "the Word was God"? But John did not use the article here! And the prime example of "the only one of its kind" certainly must be the only true God, but, again, John does not use the article at Jn 1:1c to indicate such an understanding!

[[Other examples of "the only one of its kind" include "The Devil" and "The Christ." Even though both of these words are most often used in this "one of a kind" sense, they, like the word for God (theos), also may be used in a lesser sense for other persons. But when diabolos (devil) and christos (christ) are meant for the one of a kind individual (Satan or Jesus), we find that the definite article is always used with them (barring the same exceptions noted above in this study: appositives, used with personal name, connected to preposition, etc.). - See the CHRIST study. And here are the nominative uses of 'Devil': Matt. 4:5, 8, 11; 13:39; Lk 4:3, 6, 13; 8:12; 1 Pet. 5:8 (appositive); Rev. 2:10; 12:9 (appositive), 12:12; 20:2 (appositive); 20:10.]]

Why, then, if he really meant that Jesus is the One True God, didn't he use the definite article at John 1:1c ? Because, as he did with other terms sometimes used for Jesus ("prophet," "king"), he intended for them to be taken as indefinite nouns ("a prophet," "a king," and "a god") when the article was not used.

41  It should also be pointed out that 3 Kings 18:27 in the ancient Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament (1 Kings 18:27 in English Bibles) has a very similar construction to John 1:1c. It has theos as a predicate noun without a definite article and coming before the be verb: "for God [or `a god'] he is." But the Septuagint translation by Sir Lancelot Brenton (Zondervan Publishing) says "for he is a god."!! Compare other translations of 1 Kings 18:27: "a god" is obviously intended here! This is a clear (and very significant) "violation" of "Colwell's Rule"! - Cf. Judges 6:31 (and Ezek. 28:2 in many Bibles.)

Also notice the great parallel between John 1:1c and John 10:34. Even some of the staunchest trinitarians unwittingly make the comparison.

John 10:34 - "I said, `gods you are'" ("Colwell's construction").

Just as at John 1:1c, we find at John 10:34 an anarthrous predicate noun ("gods" - theoi) coming before the verb. Does this mean, then, that those so described at John 10:34 must be "the Gods" (in the highest sense) as "Colwell's Rule" would have it? Were these God-appointed judges of Israel, then, actually equal to God?

Footnotes for John 10:34 and 36 in the extremely trinitarian The NIV Study Bible, 1985, Zondervan Corp. say:

" `you are gods.' The words Jesus quotes from Ps 82:6 refer to the judges (or other leaders or rulers), whose tasks were divinely appointed (see Ex. 22:28 and NIV text note; Dt 1:17; 16:18; 2 Ch 19:6)." And, " can be spoken of as `gods' (as Ps 82:6 speaks of human rulers or judges), how much more may the term [`god'] be used of him whom the Father set apart and sent!" - (Cf. The Epistle to Diognetus, DEF- 7-8.)

42  How very true! just as God Himself called certain men "gods" (even with an anarthrous predicate noun coming before the verb as in John 1:1c) because their "tasks were divinely appointed" so, too, John calls Jesus "a god" at John 1:1c. Certainly Jesus' task was "divinely appointed"!

Or, as "world-renowned Scottish New Testament interpreter" and trinitarian minister Prof. William Barclay tells us: at John 10:34 Jesus

"quoted Psalm 82:6.... The judge is commissioned by God to be god to men. This idea comes out very clearly in certain of the regulations in Exodus. Exodus 21:1-6 tells us how the Hebrew servant may go free in the seventh year. As the Authorized Version [King James Version] has it, verse 6 says `Then his master shall bring him unto the judges.' But in the Hebrew, the word which is translated `judges' is actually elohim, which means `gods.' The same form of expression is used in Exodus 22:9, 28. Even scripture said of men who were specially commissioned to some task by God that they were gods." - p. 77, The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John (vol. 2), William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975.

Trinitarian scholar Barclay continues:

"Jesus claimed two things for himself [at John 10:36]. (a) He was consecrated by God to a special task [as were those men God called `gods' earlier because they `were specially commissioned to some task by God'].... The very fact that Jesus used this word [`consecrated'] shows how conscious he was of his special task. (b) He said that God had despatched him into the world. The word used is the one which would be used for sending a messenger or an ambassador or an army. Jesus did not so much think of himself as coming into the world, as being sent into the world. His coming was an act of God; and he came to do the task which God. had given him to do.

"So Jesus was possible for scripture to speak of judges as gods, because they were commissioned by God to bring his truth and justice into the world. Now I have been set apart for a special task; I have been despatched into the world by God." - pp. 77, 78.

It is very clear that Jesus explained at John 10:34-36 that he deserves the title "god" (see the New English Bible for a proper rendering of John 10:33) even more than all the others who had been "specially commissioned to some task by God" earlier and could be properly called "gods"!

And how significant it is that this admission should come only in the Gospel of John, and that it should be expressed in the same "Colwell's Construction" as found at John 1:1c!

43  So, just as trinitarian translators all follow the grammatical rules and the customary meanings of NT times for "god/gods" to translate John 10:34 as "you are gods," they obviously should follow the same grammatical rules and understanding of John's meaning for "god/gods" at John 1:1c to translate "the Word was a god"! (See The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3, pp. 187, 188. This same trinitarian work, in discussing Ro. 9:5, also admits: Even if Jesus were being called theos here, "Christ would not be equated absolutely with God, but only described as a being of divine nature [a god], for the word theos has NO ARTICLE." - vol. 2, p. 80.)

[The above example (Jn 10:34) has a plural predicate noun, and even though I try to avoid such examples, I couldn't resist this one which is the only "Colwell's example" in the NT which clearly concerns the distinction between "God" and "god" which is so important to the proper understanding of Jn 1:1c. (Even Harner and Wallace include them in their lists of "Colwell constructions." Wallace notes that it is a quote by Jesus from the Septuagint, however.) Also, I don't believe plural examples are improper if one takes into consideration (1) the fact that they are considered indefinite in English without an indefinite article ("a," or "an") and (2) the difficulties with "plural/amount" nouns. That is, "gods" as used in Jn 10:34 is truly an indefinite plural predicate noun ("the gods" would be a definite plural) rather than the confusing "plural/"amount" noun [also called a 'non-count noun'] (e.g., "soup," "wine," "honey," etc.]

The Diaglott "Defense"

44  Trinitarian apologist Bowser (What Every Jehovah's Witness Should Know) concludes his misinterpretation of Colwell's Rule with this further misinformation:

"Incidentally, the LITERAL translation that accompanies the Greek text [of John 1:1c] in the Emphatic Diaglott also bears witness to the fact that `the Logos (Word) was God.'" - pp. 57-58.

This is completely dishonest and Bowser must know that. He also knows that an uninformed person glancing at John 1:1 in the Diaglott would probably agree with his dishonest statement.

As you may know (and Bowser certainly knows), The Emphatic Diaglott is an interlinear translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. It has the literal, word-for-word translation along with the Greek text on the left-hand page and there it has "and a god was the Word" at John 1:1c. On the right-hand page it has an emphatic translation which is "based upon that in the left-hand column."

"In this [right-hand] column the EMPHATIC SIGNS are introduced, by which the Greek words of Emphasis are designated ....
".... [This peculiar system of emphasis] of the Greek language cannot be properly expressed in English except by the use of typographical signs, such as, Initial Capital Letters, italics, SMALL CAPITALS, and CAPITALS." - p. 8, Diaglott introduction.

45  So, you see, the literal left-hand column for John 1:1 in the Diaglott uses capitalization according to standard English usage: "In a beginning...the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word."

But, in the right-hand column the translator uses capitalization to show what degree of emphasis was being put upon the various words in the original NT Greek!

Therefore, in the right-hand column it reads: "In the Beginning...the LOGOS was with GOD, and the LOGOS was God."

Notice that "LOGOS" is all capitals and the first "GOD" is also all capitals. This merely shows a certain degree of emphasis found in the original Greek! Now notice the second "God" has only an initial capital letter. This, too, merely denotes another type of emphasis found in the original NT Greek!

Also, Bowser has dishonestly "quoted" the Diaglott: "the Logos (Word) was God." He didn't capitalize "LOGOS" as it actually was in the Diaglott (all capitals) but did capitalize "God" as it appeared—the second time (with an initial capital letter)...the first usage which actually denoted the only true God was in all capitals: "GOD."

To show that "God" in the right-hand column does not have to mean "the only true God," let's look at Acts 28:6 in the Diaglott. The literal left-hand column says: "they said, A god him to be." But the emphatic right-hand column says: "they said, `He is a God.'" I don't think any Bible translator has decided that these pagans were calling Paul "the only true God." (Check all translations.) It is clear (as shown in the left-hand column) that the Diaglott intends "he is a god," but, because of the method used to show Greek emphasis, "god" is written with an initial capital letter in the emphatic right-hand column!

The "General" Rule

46  In the appendices of the 1950 edition of the New World Translation, the 1971 large-print edition of the NWT, and the 1969 edition of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is a discussion of John 1:1. It also discusses a "rule" used by some trinitarians as "proof" for the interpretation: "the Word was God." This "rule" is similar to Colwell's Rule but is not so specific. This "rule" was explained in Green's Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament where it is called a "general rule." The same evidence used to explode the misinterpreted Colwell's Rule also does away with this "general rule."

However, since it is more specific, Colwell's Rule is not answered by all the evidence that disproves the "general rule" as found in the appendices noted above. Some of the evidence found there (all of which disprove the "general rule"), however, also disproves Colwell's Rule.

So, if Walter Martin (in his vague, unsupported attack on the New World Translation's rendering of the scripture that "taught the deity of Christ") really has questions based on the grammar of John 1:1c (as he implied in his cassette tape, Jehovah's Witnesses: Jesus Christ and the Trinity) that are not answered in the appendices noted above, then they are mysterious indeed! I have seen no other attempts at grammar justification for a "trinitarian" John 1:1 interpretation that wouldn't be answered there. (Including the "qualitative" interpretation: See the QUAL or HARNer study paper.)[12]

47  It's certainly strange that Dr. Martin was so vague and wouldn't even give us a hint as to what his "Greek-grammar based objections" actually are! He may be referring to Colwell's Rule (if anything), but, even though the NWT appendices were written to counter the "general rule," some of their evidence also disproves Colwell's Rule.

The "general rule" described in Green's Handbook is simply, "The subject takes the [definite] article, the predicate [noun] omits it."[13] In other words, according to this "rule," it doesn't even matter where you find the predicate noun (before or after the verb); it still may omit the definite article and be considered definite anyway. This is admittedly a general "rule" which means "sometimes it works (infrequently in this case), sometimes it doesn't"! I believe this "general rule" probably works only with improper examples (mostly "prepositional") as does Colwell's Rule.

48  The above-mentioned appendices of the NWT list many examples in the Gospel of John where the "general rule" does not work according to trinitarian wishes. Among these are many that also apply to Colwell's rule as we have already seen. These include John 4:19; 6:70;[16] 9:24, 28; 12:6; and 18:37.

Notice that there is never any hesitation by Bible writers to call the Father "the god." - John 6:27; John 8:42; John 17:1-3; Col. 1:3; 2 Thess. 2:16; James 1:27; and many more. But where is Jesus ever clearly called "the god," and where is the Holy Spirit ever clearly called "the god"?

It is highly significant, therefore, that John (as Dr. A. T. Robertson informs us) purposely omitted the definite article at Jn 1:1c and that that omission is "essential to the true idea"! - A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 768. In fact, trinitarian scholars Philip B. Harner (Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 92, p. 85, 1973); Daniel B. Wallace (Selected Notes on the Syntax of New Testament Greek, p. 96, 1981); and Dr. B. F. Westcott (see quote in the study paper NWT 16-17) specifically deny that John 1:1c could possibly be properly interpreted as having a definite theos: "the word was the god"! (See QUAL and HARNER studies.)

And let's not forget, as noted above, that one of the best and most-respected trinitarian works, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology candidly admits for another scripture where an anarthrous theos is applied to Jesus by some trinitarian interpreters: Even if it were proper to interpret it that way, still, "Christ would not be equated absolutely with God, but only described as a being of divine nature, for the word theos has no article." - vol. 2, p. 80, Zondervan Publishing, 1986.

We can see, then, that "the clearest statement of the trinity" in the scriptures is really no such thing. It's not even a clear statement that Jesus, alone, is equally God! So, if this "clearest" statement of a trinity doctrine is really so terribly poor, where does that leave the rest of the scriptural trinitarian "evidence"?

The "Definite" John 1:1 (Appendix)


In the following list if the predicate noun (p.n.) has no article, it has "an." (anarthrous) written before it. "Art." (articular) means the article ("the") is with it (making it an improper example for a John 1:1c - type rule, of course). Other improper examples have "prep.," "abstract," "numeral," etc. written after them.

"Prep." indicates that the p.n. has a phrase joined to it (prepositional), e.g., 'son of man'; 'slave to me'; etc. "Abstract #": the p.n. is abstract and/or an indeterminate amount (Today these are often called 'non-count nouns'). "No subject" means the subject is clearly understood only by the verb form used. "Participle"[14] means the subject is not present but only imperfectly identified by a participle ("having," "saying," etc.).

All Verses by John Where the Predicate Noun Precedes Its Verb

an. Jn 1:1 (verse under study)
an. John 1:12 - prep.
an. Jn 1:14 - plural (amount)
art. Jn 1:21 ("the Prophet" - NASB)
an. Jn 1:49 (b) - prep.
an. Jn 2:9 - accusative, not p.n
an. Jn 3:6 (a) - plural (amount)
an. Jn 3:6 (b) - abstract #
an. Jn 3:29 - participle

-an. Jn 4:9 (a)
an. Jn 4:9 (b) (adj.?)

#an. Jn 4:19
an. Jn 4:24 - abstr. # - NO VERB
an. Jn 5:27 - prep.
art. Jn 6:51 (b) - prep.
an. Jn 6:63 - abstract

-an. Jn 6:70
an. Jn 8:31 - prep.
an. Jn 8:33 - prep.
an. Jn 8:34 - prep.
an. Jn 8:37 - prep.
an. Jn 8:39 - prep.
an. Jn 8:42 - prep.
an. Jn 8:44 (a) (?? no subj.??)
an. Jn 8:44 (b) - no subject

#an. Jn 8:48
an. Jn 8:54 (a) - abstract
an. Jn 8:54 (b) - prep.
an. Jn 9:5 - prep
an. Jn 9:8 (a) - no subject
an. Jn 9:17 - no subject

-an. Jn 9:24
an. Jn 9:25 - no subject
an. Jn 9:27 - prep.
an. Jn 9:28 (a) - prep.

-an. Jn 10:1
an. Jn 10:2 - prep.
an. Jn 10:8 - plural
an. Jn 10:13 - no subject
art. Jn 10:21 - prep.

-an. Jn 10:33
an. Jn 10:34 - plural
an. Jn 10:36 - prep.
an. Jn 11:49 - prep.
an. Jn 11:51 - prep.
an. Jn 12:6 - prep
an. Jn 12:36 - prep.
an. Jn 12:50 - abstract
an. Jn 13:35 - (poss. pronoun)
art. Jn 15:1 (b)
an. Jn 15:14 - prep.
an. Jn 17:17 - abstract
an. Jn 18:26 - prep.

-an. Jn 18:35
#an. Jn 18:37 (a)
?an. Jn 18:37 (b) - no subject (except in TR and in 1991 Byzantine text)
an. Jn 19:21 -
art. Jn 20:15
art. Jn 21:7 (a)
art. Jn 21:7 (b)
art. Jn 21:12

an. 1 Jn 1:5 (b) - abstract #
an. 1 Jn 2:2 - prep.
an. 1 Jn 2:4 - participle
an. 1 Jn 3:2 - prep.
an. 1 Jn 3:15 - participle
an. 1 Jn 4:8 - abstract
an. 1 Jn 4:16 - abstract
an. 1 Jn 4:20 - no subject
an. 1 Jn 5:17 - abstract

art. 2 Jn :6 (b)

an. Rev. 1:20 (a) - prep.
an. Rev. 1:20 (b) - numeral
an. Rev. 2:9 - accusative, not p.n.
an. Rev. 3:9 - accusative, not p.n.
an. Rev. 13:18 - prep.
an. Rev. 14:4 - no subject/plural
an. Rev. 17:9 - numeral
an. Rev. 17:10 - numeral
an. Rev. 17:11 - numeral
an. Rev. 17:12 - numeral
an. Rev. 17:14 - prep.
an. Rev. 17:15 - plural
an. Rev. 18:7 - no subject
art. Rev. 19:8 - prep.
art. Rev. 19:9 - prep.
an. Rev. 19:10 (a) - prep.
art. Rev. 20:14 - numeral
an. Rev. 21:3 - prep.
an. Rev. 21:22 - prep.
art. Rev. 21:23 - prep. - NO VERB
an. Rev. 22:9 - prep.


91 total (excluding John 1:1c)

The 3 (or 4 for translations using the Received Text or the 1991 Byzantine text) closest examples to Jn 1:1c have the anarthrous predicate noun before the verb and the subject after the verb. These 3 (or 4) proper examples are shown above with a numeral sign (#) before them. And they also exclude personal names, abstract nouns, numerals, prepositional constructions (prep.), "time/season" nouns, clauses in which the subject is missing [but understood by the verb], clauses in which the subject is "represented" by a participle ["having," "saying," "hating," etc.], plurals [especially plural/amount: 'blood,' 'wine,' 'honey,' 'flesh,' 'fat,' etc.].

Here, then, are all the proper examples (truly comparable to Jn 1:1c) from the writings of John (W and H text)[15] for an honest examination of "Colwell's Rule" (or any related rules, including Harner's "qualitative" rule, concerning the simple, unmodified anarthrous predicate noun coming before the verb):

H,W 1. John 4:19 - ("a prophet") - all Bible translations

H,W  2. John 8:48 - ("a Samaritan") - all translations

 H,W  3. John 18:37 (a) - ("a king") - all

[H,W  4. John 18:37 (b) - ("a king") - in the Received Text (TR) and in 1991 Byzantine Text]

H = Also found in Harner's list of "Colwell Constructions"

W = Also found in Wallace's list of "Colwell Constructions"
These are all indefinite nouns. All modern trinitarian Bible translations I have examined render them as indefinite!

If we wish to supply more examples, we must include some which are less perfect than these three (or four). The best we can do is to include all those constructions (Westcott and Hort text) which comply with the other qualifications above but which, unlike Jn 1:1c, have the subject before the verb also. Since trinitarian scholars themselves include such examples, they should not object if we also include all such examples.

When we add those constructions to our list, we have:

H    1. John 4:9 (a) - indefinite ("a Jew") - all translations

H,W 2. John 4:19 - indefinite ("a prophet") - all

H,W 3. John 6:70 [16] - indefinite ("a devil"/"a slanderer") - all

H,W 4. John 8:48 - indefinite ("a Samaritan") - all

H,W 5. John 9:24 - indefinite ("a sinner") - all

H,W 6. John 10:1 - indefinite ("a thief and a plunderer") - all

H,W 7. John 10:33 - indefinite ("a man") - all

H,W 8. John 18:35 - indefinite ("a Jew") - all

H,W 9. John 18:37 (a) - indefinite ("a king") - all

[H,W 10. John 18:37 (b) - indefinite ("a king") - in Received Text and in 1991 Byzantine text]

These are all indefinite nouns (not definite, not "qualitative"). All trinitarian Bible translations I have examined render them as indefinite! We should have enough examples to satisfy the most critical (but honest) scholar now. (And I wouldn't strongly resist the use of those "no subject" examples above which clearly intend the subject as being a certain pronoun included with the verb, e.g., "[he] is," which would then bring our total of proper examples to around 20.)

So when all the proper (those most closely equivalent to the actual usage found at John 1:1c) examples found in John's writings [17] are examined in various trinitarian Bibles (KJV, NASB, RSV, NIV, etc.), we find they are always translated with indefinite concrete nouns such as "you are a prophet" (Jn 4:19) which perfectly corresponds with a rendering of John 1:1c as "The Word was a god"!


Since a proper understanding of John 1:1c is our real objective, only the writings of John can provide the answer.[18] However, other (trinitarian) scholars have also examined some of the writings of the other gospel writers in an attempt to justify a trinitarian rule for Jn 1:1c. Therefore let's also examine all the proper examples found in the synoptic gospels which are most nearly parallel to Jn 1:1c.

In the Gospel of Matthew here are all the predicate nouns I found which precede their verbs: Matt. 2:23; 4:3, 6; 5:9, 34, 35 (bis); 6:23; 8:9; 12:8, 27, 50; 13:39 (b), 13:39 (c); 14:26, 33; 16:23; 21:13; 22:32 (b); 23:8 (b), 31; 25:35, 43; 26:48; 27:6, 40, 42, 54.

According to Harner (see HARNER study) here are all the predicate nouns that precede their verbs in the Gospel of Mark: Mark 2:28; 3:35; 6:49; 11:17; 11:32; 12:35; 14:70; 15:39.

In the Gospel of Luke we find the following predicate nouns that precede their verbs: 1:32, 76; 4:3, 9, 22; 5:8; 6:5; 7:8, 39; 9:38; 11:19, 29, 35, 48; 13:16; 17:10; 19:9, 21, 22; 20:6, 38; 21:22; 22:59; 23:6, 50.

The underlined verses above are all the non-prepositional predicate nouns which precede their verbs in the synoptic gospels. Here is a closer examination of them and how they have been translated in the KJV and the four most-respected (for scholarship and accuracy - see, for example, the evaluation of theses Bibles in Zondervan's So Many Versions?) trinitarian Bibles (RSV, NASB, NIV, ASV):
1. Mt 2:23 - indefinite ("a Nazarene") - all (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, ASV) n.s.

2. Mt 6:23 - indefinite plural/amount ("darkness") - all - pl.
3. Mt 8:9 - indefinite - may be prepositional - ("a man") - all
4. Mt 13:39 (c) - indefinite plural ("angels") - all except KJV - pl.
5. Mt 14:26 - indefinite ("a ghost") - all - n.s.
6. Mt 23:8 (b) - indefinite plural ("brothers/brethren") - all - pl.
7. Mt 25:35 - indefinite ("a stranger") - all - n.s.
8. Mt 25:43 - indefinite ("a stranger") - all - n.s.
9. Mt 26:48 - pronoun - ("he") - cannot use articles with pronoun - n.s.
10. Mk 6:49 - indefinite ("a ghost") - all - n.s.
11. Mk 11:32 - indefinite ("a prophet") - all - n.s. ?
12. Mk 14:70 - indefinite ("a Galilean") - all - n.s.
13. Lk 5:8 - indefinite ("a sinful man") - all - n.s.
14. Lk 7:39 - indefinite ("a sinner") - all - n.s.
15. Lk 11:35 - indefinite plural/amount ("darkness") - all - pl.
16. Lk 17:10 - indefinite plural ("slaves/servants") - all - pl.
17. Lk 19:21 - indefinite ("a harsh man") - all - n.s.
18. Lk 19:22 - indefinite ("a harsh man") - all
(Lk 20:6 - accusative case)
19. Lk 22:59 - indefinite ("a Galilean") - all - n.s.
20. Lk 23:6 - indefinite ("a Galilean") - all
21. Lk 23:50 - indefinite ("a counsellor") - KJV,ASV - see interlinears
("a member") - NASB, RSV, NIV
n.s. = no subject; pl. = plural;

Notice that for the 4 most respected, most accurate Bible translations available today all of the non-prepositional examples in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are understood to have indefinite predicate nouns. Not definite - not "qualitative" - BUT 100% INDEFINITE !

Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research and conclusions to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian 'proof' being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the preceding information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian "proofs," 
may not completely reflect current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah's Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. - RDB.