Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jason on John 1:1 and Parallelism

Jason writes:

Hi Hollis,
If hO GEGONEN is to be taken as belonging to what follows it instead of what
precedes it, then why is it that it is not preceded by KAI, as is the case with
all of the other 'connected' phrases in John 1:1-5? Also, note that if hO
GEGONEN is taken as belonging to what follows it instead of what precedes it,
then St. John's otherwise perfectlyconsistent [SIC] usage in John 1:1-4 of only
one tense of verb, not only per clause, but also per series of 'connected'
clauses, is thereby 'broken'.

In view of these remarks, I find the following observation from the Catholic NAB interesting (see the notes for the Johannine Prologue):

The prologue states the main themes of the gospel: life, light, truth, the world, testimony, and the preexistence of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Logos, who reveals God the Father. In origin, it was probably an early Christian hymn. Its closest parallel is in other christological hymns, Col 1:15-20 and Philippians 2:6-11. Its core (John 1:1-5, 10-11, 14) is poetic in structure, with short phrases linked by "staircase parallelism," in which the last word of one phrase becomes the first word of the next. Prose inserts (at least John 1:6-8, 15) deal with John the Baptist.

The operative portion of this quote above is how the NAB defines the expression "staircase parallelism." The definition is important in view of Jason's claim. But contra the assertions of Jason, we read further in the NAB notes:

What came to be: while the oldest manuscripts have no punctuation here, the corrector of Bodmer Papyrus P75, some manuscripts, and the Ante-Nicene Fathers take this phrase with what follows, as staircase parallelism. Connection with John 1:3 reflects fourth-century anti-Arianism.

Let one assume that John 1:1ff does contain staircase parallelism. Notice that the Ante-Nicene Fathers or the pre-Nicenes took the phrase in John 1:3 with what follows, yet they understood this passage to contain "staircase parallelism." Hence, the fact that this verse may contain the poetic features of staircase parallelism does not subvert the notion that hO GEGONEN goes with what follows rather than with what precedes it.Notice that the NAB points out that connecting hO GEGONEN with what precedes the phrase resulted from "fourth-century anti-Arianism."

For the record, I have done extensive research on this issue before. Jason need not try to upbraid this post since I am quoting another source.Those familiar with the relevant issues admit in which direction the textual evidence points.

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