This "possessive" irregular usage of the definite article includes constructions where a noun is connected to a NT Greek genitive (e.g., "house of me" - "of me" is a genitive noun in NT Greek).
As Dana and Mantey tell us, "The use of prepositions, possessive ... pronouns, and the genitive case also tend to make a word definite. At such times, even if the article is not used, the object is already distinctly indicated." - p. 137, D and M Grammar.
This particular exception to regular article usage is so important in a proper examination of John 1:1c (or any other scripture which depends on the use or nonuse of the article for a proper interpretation) that I have included the following lengthy examination for those who need more evidence:
Ambiguous Article Usage Accompanies Nouns With "Prepositional" Constructions
It is well known by NT Greek scholars that there are certain things which may cause the use (or non-use) of the definite article to be so ambiguous and arbitrary as to make it nearly meaningless in those cases. Some of these include the use of abstract nouns (see study on "The 'Qualitative' John 1:1c" - QUAL), the use of numerals, the use of proper names, etc. These, of course, must be eliminated from any proper list that attempts to provide evidence for (or against) any grammatical rule which concerns the use (or non-use) of the definite article.
For example, most, if not all, NT Greek scholars would certainly agree that proper (personal) names (e.g., "John," "Mary," "Paul," etc.) in NT Greek may or may not take the definite article. It would, therefore, be extremely inappropriate to use examples containing proper names in an attempt to prove, for example, that a predicate noun is definite when it comes before the verb. You can see that the person attempting this "proof" could easily select some examples of a proper name used as a predicate noun coming after the verb which have the definite article (and ignore those without the article). He could also find some examples of a proper name used as a predicate noun coming before the verb which do not have the article (and ignore those which do have the article).
By selecting the ones which help "prove" his "rule," this person could easily convince others who are unfamiliar with NT Greek or unfamiliar with the ambiguous article usage found with proper names.
It is certainly not surprising, then, that most, if not all, NT Greek scholars do not use examples with proper names when they are attempting to prove Colwell's Rule (or its related "rules"). Even Colwell himself recognized this important fact. In a footnote to his article which attempted to establish "Colwell's Rule" he stated, "Proper names, also, have been excluded [as examples] because they regularly lack the article whether they appear before or after the verb" - p. 17. Of course, unlike English, proper names in NT Greek also are often found with the article with no apparent significance (compare John 6:3 and 6:5).
What may be surprising, however, is that all those trinitarians who attempt to prove those "John 1:1c trinitarian rules" use examples of predicate nouns with "prepositional" constructions (usually "possessive") - e.g., "the house of me," "servant of God," "son to me," etc. In fact, all the trinitarian defenses of John 1:1c grammatical "rules" that I have examined use such "prepositional" constructions almost exclusively! (I am considering here NT Greek usages that are normally translated into English as possessive or prepositional constructions. Mostly they're nouns modified by a genitive.)
This is certainly no more proper than using personal names because of the irregular, ambiguous use of the definite article with predicate nouns (and subjects) with "prepositional" (frequently "possessive") constructions.
In section VIII, 'The Absence of the Article,' Professor Robertson tells us, "prepositional phrases and other formulae may dispense with the article" - p. 790. And "(b) with genitives. We have seen that the substantive may still be definite if anarthrous, though not necessarily so." - p. 791. And "3. Repetition of Article with Genitive - The genitive may follow the other substantive with a repeated article .... 4. The Article Only with Genitive - cf. 'authority and permission of the chief priests' (Ac. 26:12) ... 5. Article Absent with Both - .... The context must decide whether the phrase is definite or not." - p. 780
And, finally, this highly respected trinitarian New Testament Greek authority tells us about prepositional constructions: "In examples like this (cf. ... Mt. 27:54) ONLY THE CONTEXT CAN DECIDE [whether the anarthrous noun is definite or indefinite]. Sometimes the matter is wholly doubtful.... [Please note that the example Robertson has given (Matt. 27:54) has the anarthrous predicate noun coming before the verb as in Colwell's Rule!] In Jo. 5:27 ['son of man'] may be either 'the son of man' or 'a son of man.' " - p. 781. Robertson says this in spite of the fact that John 5:27 also has an anarthrous predicate noun preceding its verb!! It's prepositional and, therefore, the use of the article is ambiguous! - A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, A. T. Robertson, 1934.
C. F. D. Moule says: "9. Finally, note that the use or non-use of the article may, in some cases, be due to the influence of Semitic idiom rather than deliberate desire to modify the sense. A noun in the construct case [similar to a noun modified by a genitive in NT Greek, e.g., 'man of God'] in Hebrew is never allowed to carry the article, and this may sometimes be sufficient to explain an anarthrous noun in a Greek equivalent phrase: aggelos kuriou might be a Hebraism for the angel of the Lord; so doxa kuriou." - p. 117, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, Cambridge University Press, 1990 printing.
J. H. Moulton tells us: "the matter [of identifying an anarthrous 'spirit'] is complicated threefold by the question of the non-use of the art[icle] with proper nouns, and in prepositional expressions ..., and even (in Biblical Greek through influence of the Heb. construct state) before a genitive. In none of these situations need the lack of the art[icle] indicate any indefiniteness of reference" - p. 175. And, "(d) Absence of Article before a noun Which Governs a genitive. .... In Heb. a noun may be in the construct state or have a suffix attached to it, and in either case it would be anarthrous. This influenced the LXX [Septuagint] and, in turn, the NT writers in varying degrees. Thus aggelos kuriou ['angel of lord'] is not 'an angel' but 'the angel', doxa laou sou is 'the glory'." - pp. 179-180, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. III, J. H. Moulton, 1963.
"The article ... is sometimes missing, especially after prepositions ... and with a genitive which depends on an anarthrous noun (especially a predicate noun)." - Blass and Debrunner, p. 133, 135, University of Chicago Press, 1961.
Henry Alford wrote concerning Titus 2:13 in his The Greek Testament, “It [‘saviour’] is joined with [hmwn, ‘of us’ (genitive)], which is an additional reason why it may spare the article: see Luke 1:78; Ro. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3” - p. 420, The Greek Testament, by Henry Alford.
“….(2) definiteness is not expressed only by the article but may [not always] also be indicated by an accompanying genitive or possessive pronoun; …(4) Biblical Greek sometimes reflects the Semitic idiom in which the noun in the construct state [comparable to ‘angel of Lord’], even if definite, is anarthrous … and (5) there is a tendency for nouns to be anarthrous that are used in familiar or stereotyped expressions that may date from the prearticular age of Greek - expressions such as idiomatic prepositional phrases.” - p. 304, Jesus as God, Murray J. Harris, Baker Book House, 1992. (Emphasis added)
Since John 1:1c does not have its predicate noun with a "prepositional" construction anyway, it is necessarily a part of proper research to select parallel examples (i.e., without "prepositional" constructions) in any attempt to show a similar effect as claimed for John 1:1c.
But, in spite of this, for the benefit of those who are still insistent upon using examples with "prepositional" constructions as evidence, you should simply examine the many inconsistencies of article usage found with such constructions. Some of these inconsistencies are examined in the following pages.
We have already examined the Gospel writers' use of the word theos ("God/god"). We discovered that all 4 Gospel writers used the article ("the") with theos when they were speaking of the only true God. And the only apparent exceptions to this rule occurred when they used theos with "prepositional" constructions.
We found that the Gospel writers used theos for the only true God 84 times. Only 6 of those 84 times did they omit the definite article and each one of those 6 occurred when theos was used with a "prepositional" construction!
It is noteworthy that these Bible writers used theos with "prepositional" constructions only 18 times altogether. So, they always (all 66 times) used theos with a definite article when speaking of the Almighty God if it was not with a "prepositional" construction, but they used theos without the article 1/3 of the time (6 out of 18) when it was with a "prepositional" construction! (This information is examined in detail in the main text of this study paper.) This evidence is clear and strong enough to prove, by itself, that the NT Gospel writers' intentions cannot be determined from article usage with nouns modified by "prepositional" constructions. The article usage (or non-usage) is irregular and ambiguous with such constructions.
We can also see the irregularity of article usage with such "prepositional" constructions by comparing how they are translated in various trinitarian Bibles:
John 1:13 (WITHOUT article in NT Greek) is translated "the will of..." in the ASV, RSV, and NASB translations. But it is "a will of..." in Young's.
John 1:23 (WITHOUT article): "the voice of..." - RSV, ASV, NIV, TEV. But "a voice of..." - NASB, NEB, JB, LB.
John 3:10 (WITH the definite article): "the teacher of..." - ASV, NASB, Young's, Beck. But "a teacher of..." - RSV, JB, NIV, TEV, MLB, Moffatt.
And there are many more such examples in the rest of John's Gospel! (Of course there are also many other instances where most Bible writers are able to agree on the significance of article usage - or non-usage - with "prepositional" constructions, but that agreement is attained only from context and obviously not from the actual use - or non-use - of the article!)
We can also discover that of the 31 anarthrous (without the article) "prepositional" predicate nouns coming before the verb that are found in the writings of John (see listing at beginning of this Appendix) the King James Version translates 14 as definite, none as indefinite, and 17 as ambiguous (capable of either definite OR indefinite interpretation: "his son;" "my servant;" etc.).
But in those very same 31 "prepositional" verses in the RSV, for example, there are only 7 definite and 9 indefinite. And in the same verses in the TEV there are 10 definite and 5 indefinite! In many of these verses, in fact, the King James Version translates one way, and the RSV or TEV translates it in another. We even see, at John 8:33, the KJV rendering the anarthrous "prepositional" predicate noun ambiguously, the RSV as an indefinite plural, and the TEV as a definite plural! (Also compare Jn 1:12.) And the more Bible translations we look at the more disparity we find among the various translations of "prepositional" constructions.
More importantly, when we look at John's use of the article with "prepositional" constructions, we see the same problem. Of the 14 times John uses the article with a pre-copulative (before the verb) predicate noun (see first part of this Appendix) 9 are in non-"prepositional" constructions, and they are nearly always translated as definite by all trinitarian Bible translators. (I'm not certain if John 17:17 has the definite article with the predicate noun or not. However, it is an abstract noun anyway).
But, of the 5 articular (with the article) "prepositional" constructions, only 2 are consistently translated as definite (Jn 10:21 and Rev. 19:8). The other three are most often translated as indefinite nouns or in the ambiguous "possessive" form ("his," "their," "John's," etc.). So, John 6:51, for example, is always translated "my flesh" (ambiguous). Revelation 19:9 is translated "are true words of..." (indefinite plural) just as frequently as it is translated "are the true words of..." (definite plural) or "God's true words" (ambiguous). And Revelation 21:23 is translated "a lighted torch for..." once and "the lamp of..." once, with all the other translations using the ambiguous "its lamp." So, again, we find that pre-copulative predicate nouns in "prepositional" constructions frequently cannot be positively identified as either definite or indefinite whether they have the definite article or not!
In fact, when we examine all the 65 (disregarding the 11 abstract nouns) anarthrous pre-copulative predicate nouns in this list of John's writings (see above), we see that 31 of them are in "prepositional" constructions. And we find that in nearly every one of these "prepositional" constructions (30/31 or 97 per cent) some of the 16 trinitarian Bible translations I have examined have translated it as indefinite and some as definite or with the ambiguous possessive form! Only in John 9:5 (where context makes it clear) do all these trinitarian translations agree that the anarthrous "prepositional" construction should be understood to be definite (3 per cent).
This is in strong contrast to the translations of proper, non-"prepositional" construction examples, as we have seen. Remember, all of all those proper non-"prepositional" pre-copulative examples were translated as indefinite!
So we can see that, among other things, there is an extreme inconsistency among translations of nouns found in "prepositional" "Colwell constructions" versus a highly consistent rendering among translations of non-"prepositional" "Colwell constructions"! Therefore, trinitarian translators themselves show that "prepositional" constructions cannot be used to determine whether the Gospel writer intended a definite or indefinite meaning for the noun in question. Obviously, then, such "prepositional" constructions cannot be used as evidence for a rule that depends on article usage (including Colwell's Rule, the General Rule, the "Qualitative" Rule, Sharp's Rule, etc.)!!
Trinitarians themselves should have great difficulty with Colwell's Rule if they insist on using "prepositional" constructions: 1 John 3:2 (compare John 1:12), for example, tells us "children of God we are" (also Romans 8:14 -"Sons of God they are" and Gal. 3:26 - "Sons of God you are"). "We" here, then, (according to the misapplied Colwell's Rule) must be absolutely equal (in the highest sense) to others who are the Children of God (or the Sons of God). Therefore these men and women "must be" absolutely equal not only to the heavenly angels who are also called "the sons of God" but even to "the Son of God"! And, carrying it one step further, since, they say, the Son of God is God, then these human "children of God" "must be" ABSOLUTELY EQUAL TO GOD!
In all honesty, however, even if Colwell's Rule really worked, it couldn't properly be applied here because 1 John 3:2 (and Ro. 8:14 and Gal. 3:26) uses a "prepositional" construction!
Article uncertainty for "prepositional" constructions may be further illustrated by the phrase "the word of God." Matthew and Paul obviously had identical meanings in mind for this phrase in the following scriptures. There are no "qualitative," figurative, abstract, etc. considerations here. Just the clearly understood literal, concrete statement: "The word of God."
And yet, notice how this same clear statement may be written in NT Greek with various uses (and non-uses) of the definite article simply because of the "prepositional" construction involved:
Matt. 15:6 - "the word of the God" is translated: "the word of God."
1 Thess. 2:13 (a) - "_word of the God" is translated: "the word of God."
1 Thess. 2:13 (b) - "_word of _God" is translated: "the word of God."
Another interesting phrase in John's writing is "the high priest." Notice at John 11:49 that the anarthrous predicate noun "high priest" comes before the verb as required by Colwell's Rule: "Caiaphas, _high priest being of the year." And, sure enough, many translations supply the definite article: ""Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year" - KJV. But, we also find the anarthrous predicate noun "high priest" coming after the verb at John 18:13: "Caiaphas, who was _high priest of the year." And it is still translated: "Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year" - KJV.
It is obvious from studying the above two scriptures that article significance is not determined by the position of the predicate noun in the sentence. So, why did the translators not make both verses indefinite ("a high priest") instead of definite ("the high priest")? Well, grammatically, they certainly could have since "prepositional" constructions such as these may go either way. But the context of the Gospel of John convinces many that it should be definite: John 18:15, 18:16, 18:19 (nominative case), 18:22, 18:24, and 18:26 all use the definite article with "high priest" and they are not in "prepositional" constructions in those verses!
Another example may be found at Revelation 21:7. This scripture reads in the original NT Greek: "I shall be to him _God and he will be to me _son." This is understood to mean "I shall be (the) God of him (or 'to him')." There is no doubt that "the God" is intended here, but, since it comes after the verb, it is not "Colwell's Rule" which makes "the" understood! Grammatically, "the" may or may not have been intended since it is with a "prepositional" construction. It was context alone (the true God is speaking) which decided which interpretation was required.
Now let's examine the second half of that scripture. One might suspect that since the first half required an understood "the" for the predicate noun (even though it came after the verb) that the second half would also. But that is not the case. Article usage with "prepositional" constructions is unpredictable! Although the second half of this very same statement by God is in exactly the same construction, it is not to be considered definite!
As we all know, the only one who is to be understood (in the most definite sense) as "the Son of God" is Jesus. There is no doubt that "son" in this scripture is indefinite and must be considered "a son" not "the son": "and he will be a son to me." There is only one way to account for such a clear-cut "discrepancy" in article usage in this verse: "prepositional" construction article ambiguity!
We are especially concerned with nouns that are definite in the sense of being unique, one-of-a-kind such as: "the Bible," "the Messiah," "the Law," and, of course, for an examination of John 1:1, "the God." We should not be misdirected, in this case, by the very limited "definite" sense found in most "prepositional" (usually "possessive") constructions (see Dana and Mantey quote at beginning of this note above). For example, in NT Greek - "your slave" is written "the slave of you" or " _slave of you." Even if it is written "the slave of you," it is not considered definite in the unique, one-of-a-kind sense. There very well may be (and usually are) others in that same category ("slaves of you").
For example, "the slave" of God at Rev. 1:1 is John. But "the slave of God" at Rev. 15:13 is MOSES ! In both cases the word "slave" has the definite article. But since it is with a "prepositional" construction ("the slave of God"), the "definiteness" of the statement is so severely limited that we know there can be (and are) many others in this same category: other "slaves of God - see Rev. 1:1. Because of this, the same meaning may be conveyed by omitting" the definite article. Thus, Paul may be described as "a slave of God" (Titus 1:1) and James may be described as "a slave of God" (James 1:1), and, because they are both with "prepositional" constructions, the usage is just as "definite" (or indefinite) as that of Rev. 1:1 and Rev. 15:3 even though they don't actually have the definite article! Notice that Revelation 19:10 (a) in spite of "Colwell's Rule" is translated "I am a fellow slave of you..." (TEV, NIV, RSV) even though the NT Greek says: "_fellow slave of you I am and of the brothers of you."
So, with "prepositional" constructions there is often no real difference between the noun with a definite article and the noun without one. The description "Moses, the slave of God" is definite only in the respect that that particular "slave" (one of many) has been identified and is being spoken of here. The meaning is virtually identical to the description "James, a slave of God," and either could be properly interpreted with or without the definite article!
And, for a final example of "prepositional" article irregularity, we can look at Ecclesiastes 3:21. In the KJV translation of the Hebrew it says: "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"
However, in the literal Greek of the Septuagint Version, it says: "Who has seen _spirit of _sons of the man...? and the spirit of the beast...?"
Notice that the original Greek of the Septuagint at Eccl. 3:21 has no article before "spirit of sons of man" but does have the article before "spirit of the beast." And yet the two are parallel! That is, the context shows that both should be understood to have similar meanings in spite of the irregularity of the article usage. That is why the Septuagint translation published by Zondervan (Brenton translation) translates this verse from the ancient Greek into English as: "who has seen the spirit of the sons of man, whether it goes upward? and the spirit of the beast, whether it goes downward to the earth?"
So even the Greek of Ecclesiastes 3:21 in the ancient Septuagint shows the lack of significance for article usage with "prepositional" constructions.
Again we should be reminded that the article (whether actually present or merely understood) in these circumstances (with "prepositional" constructions) does not make the noun definite in the same absolute sense as when it is with theos ("God") or pneuma ("Spirit") in non-"prepositional" constructions. In this latter case it makes the noun definite in the highest, one-of-a-kind sense of the word: "the only true God" and "the Holy Spirit."
Therefore, even though the article is with "spirit" in the second half of this verse in Eccl. 3:21, we don't imagine "the spirit of the beast" is the same as "the Spirit" (designation for the Holy Spirit - Acts 8:18; 8:29; Ro. 8:16; 8:26; 1 Cor. 2:10; 1 John 5:6) simply because we know it is with a "prepositional" construction ("of the beast"). Nor would we insist that "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4 - RSV) has to be the only true God because it has the definite article. Since it is in a "prepositional" construction, it can mean either the true God OR someone else (as it does here) despite article usage.
This fact of article irregularity (which is even more pronounced in so-called "Colwell" prepositional constructions - See HARNER REFUTED, f.n. #3) found with "prepositional" constructions explains such apparently odd usages as the lack of the article for "the Son of God" at Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39; Jn 10:36; and Jn 19:7 as contrasted with the "normal" article usage as found at Luke 4:41; Luke 22:70; and Jn 1:49. As we have seen, however, this does not hold true for proper examples without "prepositional" constructions (including Colwell Constructions).
The examples of irregular article usage and ambiguous meanings for nouns with "prepositional" constructions are so numerous that you would have little difficulty in finding many more of your own. There is no reason not to exclude such examples as evidence for John 1:1c and, as we have seen, many reasons for excluding them.
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