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Greg Stafford on John 1:1 and Mass-Count Nouns


After inviting Greg to this board to discuss Mass/Count Nouns and John 1:1 he sent the following email, which I'm sure is of interest to many here.

Regards, Dean


Thank you for your email.

You may post the following to the board in my behalf, if you wish:

I think it is best if I stay focussed on finishing a very important project right now, after which I will respond to Hartley's latest submission. Hartley repeats many of the same errors I have already highlighted in his thesis and reasoning. I am not sure how he continually overlooks the salient points I have made. (Anyone reading his last response in light of my previous replies should have little trouble seeing where he frequently ignores the true import of what I have said.)

Indeed, shortly after David Sherrill sent me notice of Hartley's latest response, I emailed Hartley and CC'd Sherrill, giving Hartley an opportunity to explain his mishandling of Luke 7:39, which I discuss on pages 341-342 of my book, as follows:

QUOTE FROM JWD_2, pages 341-342:

Another example where Hartley's preferred view for PN-V texts overrides good judgement is Luke 7:39. Here a Pharisee observes the treatment given to Jesus by a woman whom he considers "a sinner" (hamartolos esitn). Hartley believes that this example is "clearly qualitative." He reasons: "That this last example is qualitative and not indefinite is brought out further by the preceding clause, If he were a prophet (i.e., exercising prophetic abilities) he would have known what kind of woman this was who touched him, that she is sinful. The kind of woman she was is answered by the predicate construction, she was sinful" (Hartley, "Criteria for Determining Qualitative Nouns," 62). But Hartley's conclusion is based primarily on a misquotation of Luke 7:39, which he translates above, in accordance with his misquotation. Though Hartley's translation only has the Pharisee reflecting on "what kind of woman" she is, the text actually has the Pharisee thinking, "If this man were a [or 'the'] prophet he would have known who [tis] and what kind of woman [kai potape he gune] is touching him, that she is a sinner." Because Hartley ignores the reference to who she is (there are no variants that omit tis) and focuses only on what kind of woman she is, he can give the impression that his switch from a noun ("a sinner") to an adjective ("sinful") is justified per the context. Obviously, "sinful" does not answer the question concerning who the woman is. Hartley's attempt to obfuscate this point by omitting relevant portions of the text from his translation is alarming, to say the least.


This is the kind of "research" supporting Hartley's thesis.

Again, after noticing that Hartley did not touch on this subject in his last reply (though I mentioned it in my reply to Hommel and in my book [see above]), I sent him the aforementioned email asking him to please explain why he mishandled the text this way, but he has never replied. It has been about 3 months since that email was sent.

Since I gave Hartley this opportunity to explain himself prior to my forthcoming reply, and he utterly ignored it, he is not a very high priority on my list of things to do.

Getting back to the issue of count nouns and John 1:1, there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory that singular count nouns placed before a copulative verb convey ONLY the idea of qualitativeness. This is a forced view that is predicated on salvaging an unbiblical view of God and the Word in John 1:1. Indeed, even if we accepted a qualitative-only sense for THEOS in John 1:1c (and that is what the Society argues for in their Appendix in the 1984 Reference Bible, based on the studies of Harner and others [though the sense in which they view the qualitativeness of THEOS is different from Harner, of course]), then that would mean that the Word is "with God" (thus he is not the God he is "with" [not simply "the person"]), and is himself an owner of divine nature.

However, if the qualities that define godhood belong to the Word, and they do, then that means he is either a God or a god. John 1:18 and many other texts point to the latter, but there is no sense in which THEOS in John 1:1c (or 1:1b!) can be used in support of Trinitarianism. Trinitarians attempt to make use of both clauses only after redefining THEOS in 1:1b and 1:1c to mean the first and second "persons" of the Trinity, respectively.

In other words, Trinitarianism is assumed at the outset and used as a grid for (re)interpreting this and a host of other texts. That is why we often go around and around with these folks, because they are trapped in an endless circle of interpretation that is predicated on an assumed truth.

Thus, while Trinitarians for years misled each other and the scholarly community about the meaning of THEOS (considering it a definite noun per Colwell's thesis), they are now doing everything in their power to force a qualitative-only sense onto a singular count noun used of a personalistic subject (the Word), because they now see that that view (the qualitative-only view) is the only one they can possibly attempt to associate with the assumed truth of Trinitarianism, which cannot survive a definite or indefinite semantic for THEOS in John 1:1, or elsewhere.

This last point (about other uses of THEOS for Jesus) is very important, for how will Trinitarians get a qualitative-only sense out of its use, say, in Hebrews 1:8, even if their preferred translation ("Thy throne, O God...") were granted? They cannot appeal to the fronting of a PN before a copula, but they really don't need to! Regardless of the grammatical construction of the text, any verse that they accept as an instance where Jesus is called THEOS MUST MEAN that he shares in the nature of God, as "God the Son the second person of the Trinity." Again, an assumption is used to override the sense of any such passage, so that, ultimately, it can be brought into harmony with Trinitarian theology.

Therefore, other than responding to Hommel, Hartley, Bowman, and others, in online replies, in my books, and elsewhere, there is little else that can be done to convince our Trinitarian friends that they have accepted a false Jesus and that they are worshiping a false God.

We can only hope that they will eventually come to their senses, and put their love for God and Christ to good use. But do not let their present failure to accept the above facts dishearten your or any of the other brothers and sisters who choose to "fight the fine fight of the faith" online. If Trinitarians don't accept what we have to say, then there is little else we can do but continue proclaiming to them Jehovah's name and kingdom, and the good news about His Son's coming rule over the earth.

I hope the above helps bring some clarity to the confusion that often is a part of Trinitarians' attempts to undermine the grammar of the Scriptures.

Your brother,


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