Friday, April 06, 2012

The Abuse of Colwell's Rule (John 1:1c)

I want to make it known from the outset that I think Colwell's rule has generally been abused by NT exegetes and GNT grammarians. But the following quotes primarily are for informational purposes:

"Although there are exceptions, the Colwell rule does
seem to be correct for the majority of cases. Colwell
(1933:13) states, 'A definite predicate nominative has
the article when it follows the verb; it does not have
the article when it precedes the verb.' For example, a
definite predicate nominative with the article follows
the linking verb in John 8:12 EGW EIMI TO FWS TOU
KOSMOU, whereas the same predicate nominative without
the article precedes the verb in John 9:5 FWS EIMI TOU
KOSMOU. The problem in applying the Colwell rule is to
determine when the predicate nominative is definite.
The rule itself does not establish the definiteness of
a noun, an observation sometimes ignored when applying
it to John 1:1. We have already mentioned that monadic
and proper nouns are definite. The same applies to
nouns qualified with a genitive. Colwell notes that
proper names in the predicate regularly do not have
the article. Other examples of the Colwell rule
include Matthew 13:37 (cf. John 5:27), 27:42, John
1:49, and 19:21" (Intermediate NT Greek, p. 65).

The next quote is taken from Daniel B. Wallace's GGBB, page 260, ftn. 18:

"This is not to say that his [Colwell's] rule is
invalid. Rather, it is to say that its validity is for
TEXTUAL CRITICISM rather than for grammar. Textual
criticism was Colwell's real love anyway (he is
frequently regarded as the father of modern American
NT textual criticism). The rule's validity for textual
criticism is as follows: If it is obvious that a
pre-verbal PN is definite, the MSS that lack the
article are more likely to support the original
reading. The issue of meaning is not in view; rather,
the presence or absence of the article is."

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