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Robert  Hommel and "W W"

On John 1:1c, P.B. Harner, and Count Nouns

 

This discussion took place between Robert Hommel and one of Jehovah's Witnesses whose initials are W W on Robert Bowman's Evangelicals and JWs discussion board in the fall of 2005.  I think it illustrates well the points I raised in the article "Theos is a Count Noun," which you can find here

 

We begin with the closing paragraphs of a post WW made to another member of the forum:

 

From: "W W" 
Date:
Tue Sep 6, 2005  9:57 pm
Subject:
Re: Firstborn - D...R...

 

<snip>

You certainly mean "qualitative" and not "qualitive," don't you?

I have read Wallace many times but do not have his book with me at my
present location. I do recall from memory that Wallace defines a
qualitative noun as one that refers to the class and is neither
definite nor indefinite. I reply that if you instantiate a *member
of* that class, it MUST be definite or indefinite.

I used to buy the qualitative argument but I no longer do. The reason
why is that language does not function that way. A qualitative noun
is a quality. Period. I have come to the conclusion that a count noun
in language must be definite or indefinite. "God" is a count noun
because it can be made plural as in "You are gods" (John 10:34,35).
It is not a quality. To say that "Jesus is [a] god" in the sense
that "Andrew is man" is simply bad English grammar.

JW's warned Evangelicals for decades about following Colwell, which
they did. Eventually, Evangelicals realized that JW's were right and
sought another answer. They followed Harner. Now Harner has crumbled
because "theos" must still be definite or indefinite irrespective of
qualitative emphasis. If you respond "definite", then you are
arguably guilty of modalism. If you respond "indefinite," then
welcome aboard.

Sincerely,
WW

 

 

From: "Robert Hommel" <robert.hommel@...>
Date: Wed Sep 7, 2005  12:36 am
Subject: Count Nouns

 

Hi, W,

It's been awhile - how are you?

I'd like to ask you about a couple things you've written recently
(you've been busy!).

First:

"I reply that if you instantiate a *member of* that class, it MUST be
definite or indefinite."

I'm unclear on the referent of "it," here. Can you please tell me
what is the "instantiation" in John 1:1c - is it "logos" or "theos"
or both?

Second:

"God" is a count noun because it can be made plural as in "You are
gods" (John 10:34,35)."

If "God" is a count noun, it cannot be solely on the basis that it
can be pluralized - many non-count nouns can be pluralized in certain
contexts. Can you please provide the criteria that you use to
distinguish count terms from non-count terms? If you can support
your answer from a published study, that will help me in better
understanding your argument.

Thanks!

Robert


From: "W W"
Date: Wed Sep 7, 2005  2:44 am
Subject: Re: Count Nouns

 

Hi Robert,

I have been very busy the past few years. I am traveling on business
at present and so decided to make a return visit to this board
briefly. On Friday I must depart. I have found your posts to be
thoughtful in the past. However, I also know that you are
comfortable with your theological position and quite set in your
position. Therefore, I am unsure where our respectful interaction
will lead but I will share a few thoughts.

W[1]: "It" refers to "member."

To illustrate, class Dog describes attributes of dogs (count noun).
If I instantiate a particular member "Fido" of class Dog, Fido is
either A dog or THE dog. It is bad grammar to say "Fido is dog" -
whether one takes "dog" as a class or generically.

This is not to say that a count noun cannot receive Q[ualitative]
emphasis, such as "this man is a sinner" (John 9:24). But note
the "a" even though it receives such emphasis. The sinner was a
member of the class. Here is my point: any instantiated member of a
class is a definite or indefinite member of the class. This is why
Harner fails.

> Can you please provide the criteria that you use to
> distinguish count terms from non-count terms? If you can support
> your answer from a published study, that will help me in better
> understanding your argument.

W[1]: Robert, the point is axiomatic since it is taught in fifth
grade English textbooks in the US. True, there are "special
problems" but let us not overlook the rule. I have several English
grammars but one that does an excellent job with count/ noncount
nouns is: "The Grammar Handbook," Oxford, 1985, pp 43-53. It says on
p. 44: "Countable nouns have two forms: *singular* (one book, an
idea, the word) and *plural* (two books, ideas, the words)." It also
deals with some "special problems" such as scissors, clothes, etc.
These are not really exceptions though.

"The Little Brown Handbook," HarperCollins is to the point on
p. 248: "A *count noun* names something that is countable in English
and can form a plural: _girl/girls, apple/apples, child/children._ "

Since it is axiomatic, there are numerous ESL scholarly sites. For
instance, here is the subject on Purdue's web site:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/esl/eslart.html#count
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/esl/eslcount.html and
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/esl/eslcount2.html

Of course, I am quite aware that some nouns have both a count and
noncount sense, such as paper and business. But such detail was
unnecessary for the simple point I was stating at the time.

Even a monadic noun can be a count noun, such as "sun" and "moon".

"You are gods" (John 10:34) is indeed countable.

The problem with the more modern Harner, Wallace, Dixon, et al
arguments is that they stop at the class or a generic sense. The
Word is not the entire "God" classification! Yes, it may have
qualitative emphasis but since QEOS is a count noun, it must be
indefinite or definite. Since Evangelicals finally disregarded
Colwell, as JW's encouraged them to do so for decades, the only
logical choice for them is "a god." Harner has already died,
in my
opinion and this conclusion is unavoidable. Leaving it to QEOS as a
classification or even generically is contra-language usage.

As a specific example, Wallace GGBtB, p. 244 says:

"The Semantics of Indefinite Nouns

b. Qualitative

A qualitative noun places the stress on quality, nature, or essence.
It does not merely indicate membership in a class of which there are
other members (such as an indefinite noun), nor does it stress
individual identity (such as a definite noun). "

Wallace does not really intend to formulate an entirely new category
of English use, does he? What is limiting about his definition is
that he fails to state that count nouns must be definite or
indefinite. In my research of researching English grammar, a
qualitative noun is a quality. Period. Love, joy, wisdom, etc. These
are qualitative. A count noun that receives qualitative STRESS is
not a qualitative noun. It is a count noun with qualitative stress.

Hopefully you will agree and we can move on quickly to what
Christians must do to be saved.

Sincerely,
W

P.S. I must time box our thread since I will be departing on Friday
afternoon.

 

From: "Robert Hommel" <robert.hommel@...>
Date: Wed Sep 7, 2005  4:32 am
Subject: Re: Count Nouns

 

Hi, W,

I want to be respectful of your time, so I will try to be brief in my
comments.

You said:

> W[1]: "It" refers to "member."

OK - I asked you about John 1:1. So "it" (the instantiation) must be
HO LOGOS? In that case, I agree that "Logos" must be either definite
or indefinite, because the Logos is an (or the) instantiation of
QEOS. But I do not agree that this necessarily means that QEOS must
be indefinite. I think you are assuming that QEOS is a class and HN
is equating the Logos with a member of that class. In other words,
you are assuming an indefinite semantic force. But since you are
assuming it, you cannot use that assumption as your conclusion.

You continued:

> This is not to say that a count noun cannot receive Q[ualitative]
> emphasis, such as "this man is a sinner" (John 9:24). But note
> the "a" even though it receives such emphasis. The sinner was a
> member of the class. Here is my point: any instantiated member of a
> class is a definite or indefinite member of the class. This is why
> Harner fails.

So, a noun can have both a meaning (member of a class) and an
emphasis (predication of the qualities of the class to the member)?
How is 'emphasis' different than 'meaning?' How does that work, in
light of what we know about lexical semantics, whereby a word conveys
only *one* of it's possible denotations in a given context (unless
the speaker intends ambiguity)?

In answer to my request for your definition of a count noun, you
replied:

> W[1]: Robert, the point is axiomatic since it is taught in fifth
> grade English textbooks in the US. True, there are "special
> problems" but let us not overlook the rule.

<snip>

The count/non-count distinction has been the subject of some debate
among linguists for the past couple decades. Linguists are far from
reaching a consensus about how to define them; the processes by which
count nouns can exhibit non-count meanings in certain contexts and
vice versa; if unmarked nouns in English (nouns without "a" or "the")
are count, non-count, or neither; and if the phenomenon is purely
linguistic, or has some application to "real world entities." I can
provide some references for each of these, if you'd like.

I hope you will agree that the count/non-count distinction is only
superficially dealt with in fifth grade English textbooks and ESL
websites. IMHO, to make meaningful arguments about something as
significant as the proper translation of John 1:1c, we should rest
them on a more substantial foundation.

To illustrate the problem as I see it, let me offer an example in
English: "God is spirit." By your definition, since "spirit" can be
pluralized ("spirits"), it is a count noun. But does the fact
that "spirit" can be plural is certain contexts *demand*
that "spirit" must be indefinite in this context? Why can't the
qualities or nature of "spirit" be predicated to God?

You continued:

> "You are gods" (John 10:34) is indeed countable.

Yes, 'gods' in this context is countable. Why is 'God' countable in
John 1:1c? Is it because it is always a count noun, regardless of
the context?

You wrote:

> The problem with the more modern Harner, Wallace, Dixon, et al
> arguments is that they stop at the class or a generic sense. The
> Word is not the entire "God" classification! Yes, it may have
> qualitative emphasis but since QEOS is a count noun, it must be
> indefinite or definite. Since Evangelicals finally disregarded
> Colwell, as JW's encouraged them to do so for decades, the only
> logical choice for them is "a god." Harner has already died,
> in my
> opinion and this conclusion is unavoidable. Leaving it to QEOS as a
> classification or even generically is contra-language usage.

<snip>

Of course the Word is not the entire "God" classification. Why must
we accept your premise that if "God" is a qualitative noun, the
entire classification must be equated with the Logos? I don't follow
your reasoning, here. Why can't the qualities of QEOS simply be
predicated to the Logos, as Harner says they are?

Finally, you wrote:

> Wallace does not really intend to formulate an entirely new
> category of English use, does he? What is limiting about his
> definition is that he fails to state that count nouns must
> be definite or indefinite.

<snip>

I suspect Wallace intended to further define a qualitative noun in
Greek use. After all, Wallace did not invent the term "qualitative
noun," it's been around for quite some time (long before Harner or
even Colwell). Wallace does not deal with count nouns at all, AFAIK,
but perhaps that's because he doesn't think there's a problem to be
dealt with.

You asked if we could proceed to the requirements of salvation. I'd
be happy to discuss these with you, if you have time.

Take care,

Robert

 

From: "W W" 
Date: Wed Sep 7, 2005  8:57 pm
Subject: Re: Count Nouns

 

Dear Robert,

I will try not to create huge responses with long threads as some
have made in the past.

> OK - I asked you about John 1:1. So "it" (the instantiation) must be
> HO LOGOS? In that case, I agree that "Logos" must be either definite
> or indefinite, because the Logos is an (or the) instantiation of
> QEOS. But I do not agree that this necessarily means that QEOS must
> be indefinite. I think you are assuming that QEOS is a class and HN
> is equating the Logos with a member of that class. In other words,
> you are assuming an indefinite semantic force. But since you are
> assuming it, you cannot use that assumption as your conclusion.

W[2]: Robert, I am lost with your opening sentence. Real world
objects have classifications. QEOS is indeed a classification as
ANQROPOS is a classification. If you think that I "assume" such a
self-evident concept and you do not accept this as a starting point
for this discussion, then we will need to start elsewhere. I do
not "assume" indefiniteness either.

If you continue to assume what I "assume," then this thread may
indeed deteriorate very quickly. What I wrote (that you snipped) was:

"I reply that if you instantiate a *member of* that class, it MUST be
definite or indefinite."

Note that I did not assume indefiniteness. I was stating a generality
that is supported by Grammar. You assumed that I assumed
indefiniteness. I did not as shown above.

Perhaps as a starting point, do you accept the premise that a given
real world object belongs to a classification and that classification
can be represented by a word? Yes or No?

> So, a noun can have both a meaning (member of a class) and an
> emphasis (predication of the qualities of the class to the member)?
> How is 'emphasis' different than 'meaning?' How does that work, in
> light of what we know about lexical semantics, whereby a word conveys
> only *one* of it's possible denotations in a given context (unless
> the speaker intends ambiguity)?

W[2]: I thought that A. Wakefield Slatten had a good example of
this with "Henry is a soldier." Do you agree with Slatten's example
showing how shades of qualitative emphasis works with classification?
Or do you not agree?

Further, "in light of what we know about lexical semantics" seems to
be arguing by appealing to authority. There are several theories of
word meaning depending on which branch of lexical semantics one
follows. I, for one, do not follow the popular thinking that words
have no meaning with out a context. This may not have been what you
intended but it was not clear to me.

> The count/non-count distinction has been the subject of some debate
> among linguists for the past couple decades. Linguists are far from
> reaching a consensus about how to define them; the processes by which
> count nouns can exhibit non-count meanings in certain contexts and
> vice versa; if unmarked nouns in English (nouns without "a" or "the")
> are count, non-count, or neither; and if the phenomenon is purely
> linguistic, or has some application to "real world entities." I can
> provide some references for each of these, if you'd like.

<snip>


W[2]: I stand by the count noun explanation in the grammars of
Oxford, Purdue, HarperCollins, etc. I think that it is fairly
straightforward and it is not needed to obfuscate an elementary
grammatical concept. This would seem to me to be like a public
personage asking "What is 'is'?" It is not incumbent on me to prove
the matter. What is incumbent on me is to demonstrate that my
statement is backed up by authority, which I have done with three
citations.

Since "spirit" can be pluralized, it is indeed a count noun when
referring to spirit creatures (Heb 1:7), or different kinds of spirits
(1 John 4:1). This is basic. When used of God's active force, it is a
mass noun (John 3:6).

"Why can't the qualities or nature of "spirit" be predicated to God?"
They can and they are since God belongs to class "spirit." But by
belonging to class "spirit", God is also a member of class "spirit"
and as such, an indefinite member of that class. Thus, God is *a*
spirit (John 4:24 NWT).

I consider the following axiomatic as well. If you need further
references, please refer to the sources I cited for you earlier. A
mass noun converts to a count noun by introducing a counter or
quantifier. "The drink is wine" (mass) converts to "The drink is *a
glass of* wine." The drink becomes indefinite. If you assert that God
is spirit (generic or mass), then you ipso facto conclude that God is
*a* spirit.

So also with "I am man." When you predicate the qualities of generic
predicate "man" to the subject, this is fine, but it ipso facto means
that I am **a** man, a human being. Similarly with "The Word became
flesh." (John 1:14) By predicating the substance of flesh to the
Word, the Word becomes *a human being.*

> Of course the Word is not the entire "God" classification. Why must
> we accept your premise that if "God" is a qualitative noun, the
> entire classification must be equated with the Logos? I don't follow
> your reasoning, here. Why can't the qualities of QEOS simply be
> predicated to the Logos, as Harner says they are?

Who says that they cannot be? Certainly not I. By predicating such
qualities, the LOGOS is **a** QEOS since he is now a member of the
class.

Also Robert, Harner??!! You cautioned me about assuming earlier but I
believe that are you are assuming much here by your implied support
of Harner. I need you to please substantiate for me a use of non-
metaphorical language (unless you hold that the LOGOS is not truly
QEOS) that you just described from Harner using a standard English
language grammar where the noun is not a quality. Oxford will
suffice, as will any broadly authoritative English grammar that does
not align itself with a narrow ideology (e.g. Wallace). If you assume
that such use is called "qualitative," then please provide references
for me to consider as to how language called "qualitative" can be
used in this way. If you cannot find an example in English, then BDF
will be fine. Cite specific examples.

> I suspect Wallace intended to further define a qualitative noun in
> Greek use. After all, Wallace did not invent the term "qualitative
> noun," it's been around for quite some time (long before Harner or
> even Colwell). Wallace does not deal with count nouns at all, AFAIK,
> but perhaps that's because he doesn't think there's a problem to be
> dealt with.

I am aware that there was discussion of it, especially from Slatten
and Harner. It smacks of Trinitarian word use that carries fuzziness
and obscurity to try to describe what they already believe rather
than citing established Koine grammar and letting doctrine naturally
result from the grammar and words. Of course, this will easily be
resolved by our mutually analyzing what you find from BDF.

Sincerely,
W

 

 

From: "Robert Hommel" <robert.hommel@...>
Date: Fri Sep 9, 2005  3:57 am
Subject: Re: Count Nouns

 

Hi, Wes,

[W]
Robert, I am lost with your opening sentence. Real world
objects have classifications. QEOS is indeed a classification as
ANQROPOS is a classification. If you think that I "assume" such a
self-evident concept and you do not accept this as a starting point
for this discussion, then we will need to start elsewhere. I do
not "assume" indefiniteness either.

If you continue to assume what I "assume," then this thread may
indeed deteriorate very quickly. What I wrote (that you snipped) was:

"I reply that if you instantiate a *member of* that class, it MUST be
definite or indefinite."

[Robert]
No, I did not snip that sentence. That's the one I was asking you
about.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evangelicals_and_jws/message/19501

I had asked:

"I'm unclear on the referent of "it," here. Can you please tell me
what is the "instantiation" in John 1:1c - is it "logos" or "theos"
or both?"

You did not directly answer that question. Instead, you replied:

"'It' refers to "member."

By this answer, I concluded that "it" was the Logos. If that is
wrong, please clarify for me. You would term the Logos
an "instantiation of a member of a class." How is this *not*
assuming indefiniteness (unless you want to offer a definition
of 'indefinite' apart from a member of a class)?

[W]
I did not assume indefiniteness. I was stating a generality
that is supported by Grammar. You assumed that I assumed
indefiniteness. I did not as shown above.

[Robert]
It appears to me that despite your denials, the very terminology you
are using ("instantiation of a member of a class") assumes the very
thing you are trying to prove.

Of course "real world objects" can be classified. I suppose the One
True God could be classified into a category of one. I'm not sure
what this metaphysical truth has to do with the grammar of John
1:1c, though. More on this, below.

[W]
Perhaps as a starting point, do you accept the premise that a given
real world object belongs to a classification and that classification
can be represented by a word? Yes or No?

[Robert]
Yes.

I questioned how a noun count have both a semantic force
(indefinite/definite) and a qualitative emphasis, and how emphasis
differed from "meaning." You replied:

[W]
I thought that A. Wakefield Slatten had a good example of
this with "Henry is a soldier." Do you agree with Slatten's example
showing how shades of qualitative emphasis works with classification?
Or do you not agree?

[Robert]
I don't think Slaten demonstrates the proof you need. Slaten says:

"to predicate the noun of an individual, strictly speaking, both
assigns it to the class and ascribes to it the attributes which
distinguish the class. But in actual usage this strictness is not
always maintained" (Slaten, p. 7).

Thus, he seems to support the idea of a Q-I noun *in theory,* but
when he deals with the pragmatics of the nouns (his "Henry is a
soldier" examples), he actually describes distinct categories of
meaning:

Slaten's "a" category is indefinite (membership in a class, without
regard to qualities).


His "b" category is also indefinite (membership in a class, even
though the member lacks certain qualities).


His "c" category is qualitative (qualities assigned to a member of a
class, without regard to the class).


His "d" category is also qualitative (qualities assigned, even
though *not* a member of the class).

I hope you can see why I am still not persuaded that words can have
multiple meanings in a given context. When people use words, they
typically intend only one meaning, as Slaten demonstrates. Whether
you term this meaning "meaning" or "stress," the result is the
same: "Henry is a soldier" is indefinite when placing Henry the
class "soldier;" it is qualitative when the qualities of the class
are attributed to Henry. Really, quite simple!

[W]
Further, "in light of what we know about lexical semantics" seems to
be arguing by appealing to authority. There are several theories of
word meaning depending on which branch of lexical semantics one
follows. I, for one, do not follow the popular thinking that words
have no meaning with out a context. This may not have been what you
intended but it was not clear to me.

[Robert]
No, I was appealing to the widely-held linguistic understanding that
when a word is used in a specific context, the speaker intends one
and only one meaning, unless he/she intends some form of ambiguity.
Your argument relies significantly on the understanding that a word
can have more than one meaning in a given context (or a "meaning"
and an "emphasis," which, by the way, I'm still unclear as to how
you think are distinct); I'm asking you for proof of this
understanding. If there are, indeed, different 'branches' of
lexical semantics, how does this fact establish your position? Why
should I follow your understanding over my own, if mine is equally
(or even predominantly) supported by the relavent literature?

[W]
I stand by the count noun explanation in the grammars of
Oxford, Purdue, HarperCollins, etc. I think that it is fairly
straightforward and it is not needed to obfuscate an elementary
grammatical concept. This would seem to me to be like a public
personage asking "What is 'is'?" It is not incumbent on me to prove
the matter. What is incumbent on me is to demonstrate that my
statement is backed up by authority, which I have done with three
citations.

[Robert]
I had hoped that you would agree that 5th Grade grammars and the
Purdue ESL site address the count/non-count phenomenon in a
necessarily rudimentary fashion. I offered a summary of how
linguists who have written on the subject are divided on a number of
its aspects, and offered to provide citations. This is not to
obfuscate anything; it is to call into question your assertions
regarding QEOS being a count noun and the implications thereof. If
linguists who have researched the count/non-count phenomenon cannot
agree among themselves, why should we accept your assertions, Wes?
It cannot be merely on the basis of two basic English grammars and
an ESL website.

You originally said that if a noun can be pluralized, it is a count
noun. You later professed this definition of a count noun to
be "axiomatic." Let's see if you actually follow this definition in
the next portion of our discussion:

[W]
Since "spirit" can be pluralized, it is indeed a count noun when
referring to spirit creatures(Heb 1:7), or different kinds of spirits
(1 John 4:1). This is basic. When used of God's active force, it is a
mass noun (John 3:6).

[Robert]
"When referring....when used of..." Really? But I thought you said
it is axiomatic that nouns that can be pluralized are count nouns.
That was a lexical definition of a count noun. But now you are
*changing* your definition to a referential one. Which is it? As I
said in another post, Wes, I'm willing to follow the evidence
wherever it leads; but you have yet to give me solid evidence I can
follow.

If you want to argue that the referent determines whether a term is
count or non-count, how do you know that QEOS in John 1:1c refers to
something countable, without begging the question?

I had asked:

"Why can't the qualities or nature of "spirit" be predicated to God?"

[W]
They can and they are...

[Robert]
OK, let's stop here for a minute. You agree that the qualities or
nature of "spirit" are predicated to God in the sentence "God is
spirit." Right? That means that God has the qualities of "spirit;"
that He has the nature of "spirit." But then you go on:

[W]
...since God belongs to class "spirit."

[Robert]
No, you have it backwards. The grammar attributes the qualities
of "spirit" to God; therefore, we may metaphysically place Him in a
class with others who may have those same qualities. You have
accused me of being overly philosophical, but that is precisely
what you are doing, here.

[W]
But by belonging to class "spirit", God is also a member of
class "spirit" and as such, an indefinite member of that class. Thus, God is *a*
spirit (John 4:24 NWT).

[Robert]
Yes, you can draw that conclusion. But it is a conclusion *outside*
of grammar. It does not change the fact that 'spirit' in the
sentence "God is spirit" is a non-count noun (assuming a referential
definition of count nouns), signifying the qualities or nature *you
just admitted* were predicated to God. You have to create *another*
sentence to demonstrate that 'spirit' is indefinite - one in
which 'spirit' is specifically marked as indefinite ("a spirit")!

[W]
I consider the following axiomatic as well. If you need further
references, please refer to the sources I cited for you earlier. A
mass noun converts to a count noun by introducing a counter or
quantifier. "The drink is wine" (mass) converts to "The drink is *a
glass of* wine." The drink becomes indefinite. If you assert that God
is spirit (generic or mass), then you ipso facto conclude that God is
*a* spirit.

[Robert]
Quantifiers are, indeed, one way non-count terms convert to count
terms. But your conclusion does not follow from this fact. Your
conclusion is based on your ability to group together things with
like attributes. But your ability does not change the fact
that 'spirit' is a non-count term when it refers to the qualities or
attributes *you agree* are predicated to God in the sentence, "God
is spirit."

[W]
So also with "I am man." When you predicate the qualities of generic
predicate "man" to the subject, this is fine, but it ipso facto means
that I am **a** man, a human being. Similarly with "The Word became
flesh." (John 1:14) By predicating the substance of flesh to the
Word, the Word becomes *a human being.*

[Robert]
This is a repeat of the same error.

I had asked: "Why can't the qualities of QEOS simply be predicated
to the Logos, as Harner says they are?"

[W]
Who says that they cannot be? Certainly not I. By predicating such
qualities, the LOGOS is **a** QEOS since he is now a member of the
class.

[Robert]
I can't disagree that we may include the LOGOS in the category QEOS,
but again, it does not follow that simply because we may draw this
conclusion, QEOS must be indefinite for the reasons already stated.

[W]
Also Robert, Harner??!! You cautioned me about assuming earlier but I
believe that are you are assuming much here by your implied support
of Harner. I need you to please substantiate for me a use of non-
metaphorical language (unless you hold that the LOGOS is not truly
QEOS) that you just described from Harner using a standard English
language grammar where the noun is not a quality. Oxford will
suffice, as will any broadly authoritative English grammar that does
not align itself with a narrow ideology (e.g. Wallace). If you assume
that such use is called "qualitative," then please provide references
for me to consider as to how language called "qualitative" can be
used in this way. If you cannot find an example in English, then BDF
will be fine. Cite specific examples.

[Robert]
I'm sorry, W, but I detect an attempt to change the subject. You
have asserted that Harner is wrong on the basis of your claim that
QEOS is a count noun, and count nouns must be definite or
indefinite. I have defended Harner at length in my dialog with
Jason BeDuhn, in the dialog I had here with Kevin, and in several
articles on my website. The simple answer to your challenge is the
second use of "spirit" in John 3:6.

But the issue really is this: I have been asking you to to
demonstrate a reliable methodology for determining that QEOS in John
1:1c is a count noun in the first place. After all, we should
always define terms in any discussion, and I am simply asking for
clarification of yours. The fact that you originally defined count
terms on the basis that they could be pluralized, and now switch to
a referential definition does not give me confidence that your
assertion about QEOS is well-founded.

I suggested that the reason Wallace did not deal with count nouns is
perhaps because he does not believe there is a problem with them.
You replied:

[W]
I am aware that there was discussion of it, especially from Slatten
and Harner. It smacks of Trinitarian word use that carries fuzziness
and obscurity to try to describe what they already believe rather
than citing established Koine grammar and letting doctrine naturally
result from the grammar and words. Of course, this will easily be
resolved by our mutually analyzing what you find from BDF.

[Robert]
I'm very familiar with Harner, and I've read Slaten. Harner does
not discuss count nouns qua count nouns. I don't recall Slaten
doing so, either. The rest of your comments are just poisoning the
well (again).

Best regards,

Robert

 

 

From: "Robert Hommel" <robert.hommel@...>
Date: Thu Sep 8, 2005  7:01 pm
Subject: Q Nouns (Was Count Nouns)

 

W,

Some Greek grammars and grammarians that have talked about qualitative
nouns prior to Harner:

Burton, (p. 23); Slaten, (pp. 6-7); Westcott (GJohn, p. 3); Dana-
Mantey (p. 149); BDF (252); Moulton, (vol. III, p. 184); Robertson (p.
794 [j]); Zerwick, (171, 176).

I'm not sure why the requirement is pre-Harner; afterall, isn't
knowledge progressive?

As for Harner, I have yet to see you provide evidence that any
recognized Greek scholar has said his study has been overturned on the
basis of the count/non-count distinction (or for any other reason for
that matter). But I haven't followed all your posts, so maybe you have
done so.

In any event, scholars of no less stature than Louw and Nida apparently
agree with Harner (Lexicon entry for QEOS). Of course, many others
could be cited.

Robert

 

From: "W W"
Date: Fri Sep 9, 2005  6:30 am
Subject: Re: Q Nouns (Was Count Nouns)

 

Dear Robert,

Thank you for these citations. I have only a quick post at this time
because I have limited resources. I happen to have a scanned page of
BDF (252) that someone kindly sent to me and I have a copy of
Zerwick to access.

BDF is of little help because they cite no examples and so it is
unclear of their reference. Suffice it to say that no category
of "qualitative nouns" existed as it does today in popular mindsets.

Zerwick affirms my suspicion that the category was created to serve
the purposes of trinitarians. 171 contains no specific examples and
so is of no value. But on 172 he gives one and only one example.
What is that? Why John 1:1! So, the reasoning is: "QEOS at John 1:1
is a qualitative noun. Qualitative nouns exist (172). What is the
proof? Why, John 1:1!"

Zerwick does not create a new classification called "qualitative
nouns" that are count nouns that are not qualities or metaphor as
has developed in modern popular trinitarian thinking.

Still, I believe that Zerwick has a truthful generality, that
predicates serve to emphasize classification of things. But this
certainly does charter one to go the the extreme and rob a member of
the predicate class of indefiniteness or indefiniteness when
instantiated! Nor does it serve to create an entirely new
classification of count nouns that are not qualities
called "qualitative nouns."

I will present comments on the rest when I can gain access to those
resources. If others already have these references, Please feel free
to post their comments but more importantly, their specific examples.

Sincerely,
W W

 

 

From: "Robert Hommel" <robert.hommel@...>
Date: Sat Sep 10, 2005  4:10 am
Subject: Re: Q Nouns (Was Count Nouns)

 

W,

You will no doubt draw whatever conclusions from the grammars I cited
that seem reasonable to you.

You wrote:

> Zerwick affirms my suspicion that the category was created to serve
> the purposes of trinitarians. <snip>

Those nefarious Trinitarians! LOL!

If you read beyond the first two paragraphs of the Omission of the
Article section, I think you'll find Zerwick actually offers a number
of examples, not just John 1:1c. I made light of your accusation,
above, and don't want to make a big deal out of it, but you might
want to think about doing more thorough research before making such
comments in the future.

I know you're short of time, so perhaps you could just address this
one point for me from my previous post to you:

> > As for Harner, I have yet to see you provide evidence that any
> > recognized Greek scholar has said his study has been overturned
> > the basis of the count/non-count distinction (or for any
> > other reason for that matter). But I haven't followed all
> > your posts, so maybe you have done so.

Thanks,

Robert

This brought our discussion to a close.  W W and I had begun a second thread on another topic, and John 1:1c, Harner, and count nouns appeared there briefly.  You can find a transcript here. W W never did provide evidence that any Greek scholar thought that Harner had been overturned, nor a reliable methodology for determining that theos in John 1:1c was, indeed, a count noun that could only be definite or indefinite.