I voted for Trump. He was my last choice (I originally wanted Rubio but would have been fine with Cruz). I am college educated (Ancient Studies, it doesn’t get more liberal arts than that), and have three masters degrees in related fields (Classical Languages and Biblical Studies). My children are adopted from China, I taught 8 years at a HBC, and currently teach at Jewish day school. I’m now racist because I voted for Trump? I don’t think so. In saying that it was the non-college educated whites (male and female) who turned out for Trump doesn’t exclude the multitudes of college educated who voted for him. It also doesn’t exclude millions of blacks and Latinos who voted for him (and yes, there were). Maybe it’s time to eschew identity politics (don’t the same people who use identity politics claim to hate profiling?), and look to the issues and what really motivates people.
I recently saw Independence Day: Resurgence. If you are a fan of the original movie, there are moments in the film you will love (really). The other two hours are absolute torture.
Now, this is not a movie review. I’m not going to talk about the really sub-par CGI and how this movie had all the flaws of the original (which were many) but none of the redeeming features that made us forgive the flaws and love the movie. I want to talk about the whole concept of alien invasion. Now, I do like alien invasion movies. They are the most implausible science fiction scenario, but they are also just plain good fun. But why are they implausible?
Well, think about it. If you are a member of an alien race that has mastered interstellar travel, then you are probably approaching class 1 civilization, and there is literally nothing that you would need that you would have to obtain by conquering another race. Not only could you literally produce it with little difficulty, but there are plenty of uninhabited exoplanets for the taking. No need at all to bother primitives such as ourselves.
But lets say there is a species out there that needs an inhabited planet. A literal military invasion is probably the stupidest thing you can do. Your species finds a nice planet named, say earth, and you want it. It looks good, all blue and green with nice fluffy clouds. The alien equivalent of bean-counters say “Nuts! An invasion costs money, and those indigenes are just advanced enough that one or two of us could actually lose our lives.”
So what’s an alien to do? Well, let’s say your species wants Lebensraum. Send some scouts ahead. Grab some natives, from the dominant species, and then maybe some of their allied species, like cows or dogs. Experiment on them. Collect DNA. Make crop circles. Then design a nice, unstoppable and fast acting retro-virus. Make sure the vector is simply air, and then seed the atmosphere with it. Wait a few years for the smell to wear off, and then move in with just a little clean up necessary. Any survivors will be a tiny amount and easily handled or ignored.
Instead of Lebensraum, let’s say we want minerals and heavy metals. Set up a mining operation and fight off the natives? Stupid. Instead, go grab an asteroid, a fairly good sized one. Accelerate it to, say 10 percent of light speed. Aim it at the planet. Boom! Instant asteroid field, no natives to fight, and much easier to mine.
Another absurd trope in these movies is that we humans, despite being centuries or millennia behind in comparison to galactic tech, always manage to figure out a way to defeat the aliens, some weakness or flaw that can be exploited. Really? H.G. Wells imagined that our little bacteria friends would do the job. A civilization able to cross interplanetary space and mount an invasion doesn’t figure alien microbes into the the situation. What, they missed microscopes and vaccines in their technological development? I don’t think so. Or in the original Independence Day, they take that idea but change it to a computer virus. So the aliens never had cyber warfare or the need to develop firewalls and antivirus? Sure.
Look, if they ever come like that, let’s hope we can negotiate. How advanced does their tech have to be to trash ours? How much more advanced were the conquistadors than the Aztecs? In the first gulf war, the Iraqis had 1960’s/70’s mostly Soviet era military technology. We had state of the art 80’s stuff. One decade difference, and they didn’t stand a chance, nor did they find some weird weakness to exploit which put an end to our victory and sent us packing (that took political actions). No, we’re doomed…
Of course, all this assumes that extra-solar intelligent biological entities or their equivalent exist. Fermi paradox, anyone? But if they do, they are probably about as interested in invading as you are in invading the ant nest in your back yard. Not only don’t ants have anything we need, but if they become a problem, we exterminate, we don’t invade.
And with all that, I still love a good alien invasion flick.
The Shema, so called because it is the first word in Hebrew and means Listen! Or Hear!, is the earliest biblical creed and one of the most famous for both Jews and Christians. Its very brevity belies its immense profundity:
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יהוה אֶחָד
Ἄκουε, Ἰσραήλ· Κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν Κύριος εἷς ἐστιν.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
In the local context of Deut 6, it functions as the bedrock foundation for hearing, obeying and teaching the commandments and instructions of the Lord. It is not without its own interpretive questions, however, the most discussed being whether or not it means that Yahweh alone is God versus all the false gods of the ANE, or whether God is one in nature, undivided, again vs. the polytheism of the nations of the ANE. I believe that both are valid interpretations and applications of the text.
With this in mind, consider Paul’s use of the Shema in 1 Cor 8:4-6
Περὶ τῆς βρώσεως οὖν τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων, οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ καὶ ὅτι οὐδεὶς θεὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς. 5 καὶ γὰρ εἴπερ εἰσὶν λεγόμενοι θεοὶ εἴτε ἐν οὐρανῷ εἴτε ἐπὶ γῆς, ὥσπερ εἰσὶν θεοὶ πολλοὶ καὶ κύριοι πολλοί, 6 ἀλλʼ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατὴρ ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς διʼ αὐτοῦ.
4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Like practically all the good theology in the NT, 1 Cor 8:4-6 arises from a very practical ethical issue facing the church, whether or not it was proper to eat food that had been offered first to idols. That raises the question of the existence of the θεοί (gods) whom the idols are supposed to represent (the pagan belief was that the god really was present in the idol). Paul’s answer to that is to give an obvious paraphrase of the Shema, especially:
οὐδεὶς θεὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς, “there is no god except the One.”
Paul then goes on to expand on his statement, first making clear that while there may be many things that are called (λεγόμενοι) gods and lords in the minds of the various pagan cultures of ancient Rome, there is in fact, only one Lord – well, that’s what we would expect him to say if in fact he is contrasting the truth of the Shema with pagan understanding, but instead he claims that there is one God, and that is the Father, and with special emphasis on the Father as the source of all things (ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα, “from whom are all things”). But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς διʼ αὐτοῦ, “and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.”
One could preach multiple sermons on the truth of this passage or write a book length treatise, but here I just want to make a few simple observations. The connection with Deut 6:4 is here obvious, and the truth of one God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ stands in contrast to the many gods and lords of paganism. What Paul does is take the Shema and split it into two parts, referring to the Father as one God and the Son as one Lord. Anyone familiar with the OT background here, and particular the LXX translation of the OT, would know that in the original context κύριος, Lord, translates Yahweh. We are getting some profound new revelation here, that the Father is God and that Jesus is Lord, Yahweh. The special title of the Father which designates his role in the Trinity is that of God, and the special title of Jesus is that of Lord. Notice also the prepositional phrases which indicate that the Father is the source of creation and that Jesus is the instrumental means of creation. In the OT it is simply Yahweh who is presented as the creator who brings all things into existence. In the NT it is both the Father and the Son, with differing roles in creation, but both treated as creator. It is language like this which informed the creed:
Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν Πατέρα παντοκράτορα
ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων·
καὶ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν
τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν Μονογενῆ,
τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων,
Φῶς ἐκ Φωτός,
Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ,
γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα,
ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί,
δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο·
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one substance with the Father,
through Whom all things came into existence…
One more observation, and that is the description of the Father and the Son are in two rather nicely balanced clauses, identical word order emphasizing their “oneness” and the prepositional phrases perfectly aligning with one another. Beginning with ἀλλά in vs. 6, there are exactly 20 syllables in each clause. This rhetorical balance further highlights the equality between the Father and the Son.
I have only received one substantive response to my Eugenius postings at CARM. Here is my King James Version Only interlocutor’s response to part of part 1 (the original is here):
Let’s return to Smyth, your key grammarian, and lets take what looks to be your key example (albeit, in a limited sense.)
And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives,
the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God
with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
Originally Posted by Barry Hofstetter
Luke 19:37 …ηρξαντο απαν το πληθος των μαθητων χαιροντες αινειν τον θεον φωνη μεγαλη περι πασων ων ειδον δυναμεων…
“the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen…”
Here πλῆθος (plethos) is neuter singular and is referred to by χαίροντες (chairontes, rejoicing) a masculine plural participle, so once again a neuter substantive is referenced by a masculine (plural) participle..
For a quasi-rigorous exposition, you surprisingly omitted including the grammar for των μαθητων (of the disciples).
On the road (Austin, TX currently ) my time is limited, library closing, so let’s start with a simple question, just using the English equivalent. (And feel free to tweak anything I write here in quick-mode.)
“the whole multitude of the disciples … they had seen…”
Alternatively, the same inspired Greek writer could have grammatically used phrases with the meanings:
“the whole multitude .. they had seen”
“the disciples .. they had seen”
Let’s take the middle one. “the whole multitude .. they had seen”. Do you have any doubt that in that expression the pronoun would be neuter, referring to the multitude?
Similarly “the disciples .. they had seen” – here do we agree that our pronoun would be masculine, not because the disciples were men, but because the word for disciples is masculine.
(Please allow us to go step-by-step, it is the helpful methodical way. Although you are welcome to give value-added in your exposition.)
And here is my response:
Smyth is not my “key grammarian.” He is a standard reference, and I cited him in particular in order to show the fact that masculine modifiers with neuter substantives are a regular feature of the language. Nor is Luke 19:37 a “key example.” It is one of many, but it helpfully illustrates the point.
I didn’t mention τῶν μαθητῶν (of the disciples) for the same reason that I didn’t mention τὸν θεόν (God). It doesn’t affect the grammatical point.
“Of the disciples” is in the genitive case dependent on “the crowd.” It functions essentially as an adjective here, determining the consistency of the crowd, i.e., that it consists of disciples. For the word to modify disciples, it also would have to be in the genitive case, χαιρόντων. Now, Luke could have so had the participle modify the word disciples, and no one would have batted an eye. It would have been good Greek, and the sense would have been the same. But Luke, writing good idiomatic Greek, instead writes the word in the nominative case, and so shows that he is thinking of the word πλῆθος, crowd. He puts it in the masculine plural because the crowd does indeed consist of disciples, grammatically masculine, and it’s also good Greek to indicate mixed groups in the masculine. That’s where the ad sensum comes in. He could just as easily have omitted the genitive, written his nominative masculine plural participle, and it would have been just as good, idiomatic Greek. Of course there are plenty of examples where just such a thing occurs. Here’s another example also using the word “crowd” and a qualifying genitive:
Acts 5:16 συνηρχετο δε και το πληθος των περιξ πολεων εις ιερουσαλημ φεροντες ασθενεις…
There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks…
Here crowd is modified by the masculine plural participle φέροντες, bringing. The qualifying genitive phrase “out of the cities round about Jerusalem,” is actually feminine, since “cities,” πόλεων, is a grammatically feminine word.
Here’s a slightly different type of example to show that it’s not peculiar to having a crowd and a genitive plural:
Rom 2:14 οταν γαρ εθνη τα μη νομον εχοντα φυσει τα του νομου ποιη ουτοι νομον μη εχοντες εαυτοις εισιν νομος
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves
In this case “Gentiles” is neuter plural, and the pronoun referring back to them, “these” is masculine plural. There is no qualifying genitive to offer any confusion.
You need simply to accept the fact that masculine adjectives/pronouns/participles can and do modify neuter substantives, in plain contradiction to Eugenius’ claim.
In part one, I demonstrated that neuter substantives can indeed by modified by masculine modifiers, contrary to Eugenius’ claim. In part three, I suggested an alternative, that “the three bearing witness” is treated itself as a substantive, and thus there is no need for it modify the three neuter nouns, since they stand in apposition. Here I hope to show that Eugenius’ argument is really the claim that the three neuter nouns are personalized through their association with the Trinity, and thus the masculine participle is repeated. This is really the argument that many modern commentators use, the difference being that they see no need for added text. For Eugenius, the added text is what forces the spirit, the water and the blood to be taken as earthly representatives of the heavenly witnesses.
From my translation of the Eugenius fragment:
What reason can therefore be given for this failure to comply with the rule? It can only be the expression of the preceding 7th verse, which through the immediately following 8th verse is set forth symbolically and obviously restated, an allusion made to that which precedes. Therefore the three who give witness in heaven are first placed in the 7th verse, τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν. Then immediately the very same three witnesses are brought in, to confirm on earth the same witness, through these three symbols, in vs. 8: και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν. And so our Evangelist might say “They are the same as those giving witness in heaven.” (This is sufficiently indicated through the particle καί, the force of which here is not simply connective but plainly identifying. [At this point, Eugenius shifts to Greek] Concerning what was said in the text [perhaps = manuscript] above, clearly the Father, the Word and the Spirit. These are the ones giving witness also on the earth, and they are made manifest to us through symbols. These symbols are the spirit, through which the Father is revealed, the blood, through which the Son is revealed, and the water, through which the Holy Spirit is revealed. But these three, who above by way of revelation through the divine names themselves are presented as giving witness in heaven, are the same on earth through remembrance in the divine plan presented repeatedly by way of symbols.
Eugenius refers to the three earthly witnesses as “symbols,” a word which develops quite a technical sense in the centuries following the writing of the NT as “that which represents divine truth in another format” (so the word is used of creeds and confessions). Here, however, Eugenius seems to use it not in that technical sense but much the way we use the word in English, as that which represents something else. Tantalizingly, he does not tell us what he thinks these symbols actually are, although his Greek Orthodox provenance might indicate a Eucharistic interpretation.
The important point here, however, is that Eugenius sees these earthly witnesses as essentially the same as the heavenly witnesses. The question here is whether the heavenly witnesses need to be there in the text. I would suggest not. John simply needs to be thinking of the witnesses as those who actively give witness, οἱ μαρτύρες, “the witnesses.” Did John in fact intend a Trinitarian allusion? Given the way he expresses himself both in this epistle and in his gospel concerning the Father, Son and Holy Spirit I personally think it’s quite likely, although impossible to prove definitively. Eugenius in principle then simply uses a variety of the personification argument, that the assumed natural gender of “witnesses” would be masculine. Note, however, that the argument is one which is heavily theological, and not really grammatical.
Now, several 19th century apologists for the added text have taken Eugenius’ argument to be primarily grammatical, and seen it under the category of grammatical attraction, that the second expression is overwhelmed, as it were, by the previous and so naturally becomes masculine rather than the expected neuter. Now there is grammatical attraction in Greek, but it usually works with pronouns, and especially in relative clauses. It would be highly unusual to see such an attraction between two parallel clauses. In this discussion on attraction:
There is nothing at all related to any kind of grammatical attraction between parallel clauses, and rightly so, since there are no such examples in the language. Several variations of a morphological search using Logos in the Perseus collection showed no parallel among hundreds of ancient Greek authors. The argument that this is a special, one of kind case is simply special pleading. Languages just don’t work that way.
While my math skills are limited, I actually wrote part 3 before part 2…
Eugenius, Part 3, A Better Way
Eugenius is apparently the source of much of the grammatical speculation that has been cited in this forum regarding 1 John 5:8. Part 2 will consist of a more detailed response to Eugenius’ argument. Here I’m simply going to suggest that there is a fairly simple alternative. As before, NT texts are taken from the TR to forestall the objection that there is some sort of text critical difficulty that, in the mind of the KJO, will invalidate the argument, and English from the KJV.
Have a look at 1 John 5:8:
και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν.
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
Now, a bit of a grammar lesson (sorry, but once a teacher…) better to understand the argument. “That bear witness” in English is actually a relative clause, but in Greek it’s a participle. A part of what? A participle. Participle comes from the Latin “to have a share in”, and what participles do is share in the qualities of both an adjective and a verb – they are verbal adjectives. Another thing that adjectives get to do from time to time is to pretend to be nouns. We do this with proverbial statements in English, “The good die young” or “The poor shall always be with you.” The latter example shows that Greek does it too, since it’s a quotation from the NT. In Greek (and Latin – I have to mention Latin in everything I write, or I turn into a turnip) it’s done much more frequently, and not just with proverbial statements.
Greek does this most often by planting a definite article in front of the adjective or participle. That’s the syntax of “there are three that bear witness.” It’s a substantive participle, standing in where one might expect a noun instead. Had the author written οἱ μαρτύρες, “witnesses,” it would mean essentially the same thing, the difference being that the participle describes the referent in terms of the action inherent in the verb. Greek does this all the time, such as at John 3:16, “everyone who believes” is actually a substantive phrase parallel to “three who bear witness.”
Now, why is this important? It means that the substantive functions more like a noun than like an adjective. That means it doesn’t modify another noun (or nouns) in the sentence, but gets its number and gender from its understood antecedent, and its case from how it’s used in the sentence. There is therefore no need for it to agree with anything in the sentence. Here, the author is clearly thinking of “witnesses, those who give witness.”
Notice also that “the spirit, and the water, and the blood” all have the definite article. This not only suggests that they are discrete elements, but that they are to be associated with the the subject and with each other without being the same as each other. They are three different types of witnesses. Instead of the participle modifying them, they stand in apposition with the substantive participle. They are the particular examples of the witnesses. Since the substantive is acting as a noun, there is no need for “grammatical concord” between the substantive participle and the nouns which stand in apposition to it. It doesn’t matter that “those who give witness” is masculine and that the three nouns are neuter.
Are there other examples of this? Actually there are many throughout Greek literature, but two stand out in the NT:
Matt 23:23 … τα βαρυτερα του νομου την κρισιν και τον ελεον και την πιστιν …
…the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith…
Here, we have an adjectival substantive which is in Greek neuter plural, “the weightier matters” which is then particularized by three nouns in apposition, law, which is masculine, mercy, which is feminine, and faith, also feminine.
1 John 2:16 οτι παν το εν τω κοσμω η επιθυμια της σαρκος και η επιθυμια των οφθαλμων και η αλαζονεια του βιου…
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life…
“All that is in the world” is a neuter substantive phrase that is then particularized by three nouns in the feminine, lust (twice) and pride.
Why didn’t Eugenius, whose Greek was supposed to be so good, come up with this? I believe that he was so strongly theologically motivated to keep the “received text” here that he either didn’t see any other grammatical options or that he deliberately ignored them. This then set the tone for the 19th century apologists who similarly desired to protect the text.
I found the following from Meyer after I thought through this:
τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες] The masculine is used because the three that are mentioned are regarded as concrete witnesses (Lücke, etc.), but not because they are “types of men representing these three” (Bengel), or symbols of the Trinity (as they are interpreted in the Scholion of Matthaei, p. 138, mentioned in the critical notes). It is uncertain whether John brings out this triplicity of witnesses with reference to the well-known legal rule, Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, etc., as several commentators suppose. It is not to be deduced from the present that ὕδωρ and αἷμα are things still at present existing, and hence the sacraments, for by means of the witness of the Spirit the whole redemptive life of Christ is permanently present, so that the baptism and death of Jesus—although belonging to the past—prove Him constantly to be the Messiah who makes atonement for the world (so also Braune). The participle οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, instead of the substantive οἱ μάρτυρες, emphasizes more strongly the activity of the witnessing.
Nice to know that a smart guy agrees with me!
First, let’s consider Eugenius’ claims on the agreement of nouns, adjectives and participles:
“It is very well known, since all have experience with it, and it is clearly a peculiar genius of our language, that masculine and feminine nouns may be construed with nouns, adjectives and pronouns in the neuter, with regard to the actual sense (τὰ πράγματα, ta pragmata). On the other hand no one has ever claimed that neuter noun substantives are indicated by masculine or feminine adjectives or pronouns.”
This claim is so extraordinary that I once again checked the Latin to ensure that I had read it right. I’m particularly focusing on the second sentence, and there is no easy way to say it – it’s just simply wrong. In fact it’s a regular feature of the language that “neuter noun substantives” may be modified by adjectives or participles reflecting the “natural” gender of the word (i.e., the actual gender of the referent, that to which the noun actually refers). I will also note here that Eugenius does not specifically mention participles, but appears to group them under “adjectives,” since he is specifically in context talking about a participial construction. Here is Smyth:
- Construction according to the Sense (926 a).—The real, not the grammatical, gender often determines the agreement: ὦ φίλτατ᾽, ὦ περισσὰ τιμηθεὶς τέκνον O dearest, O greatly honoured child E. Tro. 735 (this use of the attributive adjective is poetical), ““τὰ μειράκια πρὸς ἀλλήλους διαλεγόμενοι” the youths conversing with one another” P. Lach. 180e, ““ταῦτ᾽ ἔλεγεν ἡ ἀναιδὴς αὕτη κεφαλή, ἐξεληλυθώς” this shameless fellow spoke thus when he came out” D. 21.117. (A Greek Grammar for Colleges, 1920).
The first example that Smyth gives shows a neuter noun, τέκνον, teknon, modified by a masculine participle, τιμηθεὶς, timetheis. The second example shows a has a neuter plural substantive, μειράκια, meirakia, modified by a masculine plural participle, διαλεγόμενοι, dialegomenoi, and further referred to by a masculine plural pronoun, ἀλλήλους, allelous. The third example has a feminine noun, κεφαλή, kephale, modified by the masculine participle ἐξεληλυθώς, exeleluthos. This is wide spread enough that it is mentioned in the grammar with no need to list more examples, and notice Smyth’s use of the word “often.”
So the next question is whether or not there are any NT examples, and actually, they are fairly numerous. Matt 25:32 (all texts are taken from the TR, all translations from the KJV):
και συναχθησεται εμπροσθεν αυτου παντα τα εθνη και αφοριει αυτους απ αλληλων…
“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another.”
Here, ἔθνη (ethne, nations) is neuter plural, but the pronoun referring to them, αύτούς (autous, them) is masculine. The neuter substantive is referred to by a masculine pronoun.
Luke 19:37 …ηρξαντο απαν το πληθος των μαθητων χαιροντες αινειν τον θεον φωνη μεγαλη περι πασων ων ειδον δυναμεων…
“the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen…”
Here πλῆθος (plethos) is neuter singular and is referred to by χαίροντες (chairontes, rejoicing) a masculine plural participle, so once again a neuter substantive is referenced by a masculine (plural) participle.
What was it Eugenius said? “On the other hand no one has ever claimed that neuter noun substantives are indicated by masculine or feminine adjectives or pronouns.” His claim does not appear to be borne out by the facts of the language. More examples may be culled from the NT text, but these will suffice.
So now that we have determined that neuter substantives may be modified by masculine modifiers as the sense indicates to the author of the text, we have removed one of the major objections to the text of 1 John 5:7-8 as it stands in the CT. If, as many have argued, the writer of 1 John was thinking of the witnesses as personified, it would be perfectly acceptable for him to use a masculine modifier to refer to the three witnesses, even though technically grammatically neuter.
“But I will show you a better way…” In the next note on this subject.
Recently I was invited on a mail list to reconsider the argument that 1 John 5:7 as it appears in the KJV of the Bible…
7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
Makes 1 John 5:8 grammatically impossible if it’s omitted, as it is in all modern versions. The big elephant here is that the text appears in no ancient Greek manuscripts, only in late medieval ones, so that defenders of the text, such as King James Bible Only supporters, have to cast about for reasons that the text should still be there, and one of them is the grammatical argument, from a text critical perspective, an internal argument (and for text critical discussion specifically related to 1 John 5:7, go here).
Now, I’m not going to go into the several 19th century authors (among them Charles Dabney) who use this argument. Instead, I was referred to Eugenius Bulgaris, an 18th and (by a few years) 19th century figure who was quite important in the development of Katharevousa and the re-establishment of Greek culture leading eventually to independence from Turkey. It turns out that the argument in question was in his letters, which have never been translated from the Latin (and some Greek). There was quick kind of ad hoc translation that was not so good, so that I found it necessary actually to produce a translation of the relevant portion better to facilitate the discussion. I am posting that translation here, and the next several blog posts will be my short essays in response and one or two responses from the interlocutor who challenged me to do this. BTW, all of this is also at the CARM King James Only Forum, if you should want to wade through the rather difficult to navigate interface there.
This, however, I am able to add here, something which, to my knowledge, has not been heretofore observed. Surely if the passage is absent, if it is secreted away through alteration, the result is that not even verse 8, which follows, would stand, unless verse 7 came first. It is this I wish to discuss. In the Latin version this is correctly expressed with the phrase in the masculine gender, but in the original Greek text itself, if the prior verse is not there, it obviously by no means can stand without some violence to the syntax and through a most obvious solecism. Since τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα (the spirit and the water and the blood) are all neuter nouns, how will they agree with the preceding τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες (there are three who give witness) and the following καὶ οὑτοι οἱ τρεῖς κ.τ.λ. (and these three, etc.)? It is very well known, since all have experience with it, and it is clearly a peculiar genius of our language, that masculine and feminine nouns may be construed with nouns, adjectives and pronouns in the neuter, with regard to the actual sense (τὰ πράγματα). On the other hand no one has ever claimed that neuter noun substantives are indicated by masculine or feminine adjectives or pronouns. However, we read as follows in the 8th verse: και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισι. But, I ask, wouldn’t the natural and appropriate syntax here rather be: και τρια εισιν τα μαρτυρουντα εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και τα τρια εις το εν εισιν. But the former is written, not the latter. What reason can therefore be given for this failure to comply with the rule? It can only be the expression of the preceding 7th verse, which through the immediately following 8th verse is set forth symbolically and obviously restated, an allusion made to that which precedes. Therefore the three who give witness in heaven are first placed in the 7th verse, τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν. Then immediately the very same three witnesses are brought in, to confirm on earth the same witness, through these three symbols, in vs. 8: και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν. And so our Evangelist might say “They are the same as those giving witness in heaven.” (This is sufficiently indicated through the particle καί, the force of which here is not simply connective but plainly identifying. [At this point, Eugenius shifts to Greek] Concerning what was said in the text [perhaps = manuscript] above, clearly the Father, the Word and the Spirit. These are the ones giving witness also on the earth, and they are made manifest to us through symbols. These symbols are the spirit, through which the Father is revealed, the blood, through which the Son is revealed, and the water, through which the Holy Spirit is revealed. But these three, who above by way of revelation through the divine names themselves are presented as giving witness in heaven, are the same on earth through remembrance in the divine plan presented repeatedly by way of symbols. But alas! I have made a cup, not a jug.
 In the Latin text, spiritus and sanguis are both masculine, aqua feminine. Using the masculine in Latin of such a mixed gender list is common.
 Urceum institui, non amphoram. Cf. Jerome Letter 107.3, Paene lapsus sum ad aliam materiam et currente rota, dum urceum facere cogito, amphoram finxit manus. This refers to shifting subject matter, so that the contrast is between the type of pottery, and not the size.
Yes, it’s the summer, and free time for teachers. Among my academic/professional goals are:
- Start posting to this blog again, maybe once a week or every two weeks.
- Re-read Books 7-12 of Vergil’s Aeneid as part of getting a better context for teaching AP Latin.
- Read as much of the LXX as possible — I’d like to finish the Torah (currently in Exodus). Technically it’s a re-read, but it’s been a long time since I last worked through it.
- Daily NT Greek reading — I fell behind during the school year, so have to up the ante, at least 3 chapters a day.
- One extra-biblical Greek author, probably either Plato’s Republic or Homer’s Odyssey. I read through all of the Odyssey in Greek when I was in graduate school, and it would be nice to revisit it. Or maybe the Illiad…