Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Robert Bowman, Philippians 2:13 and QEOS as Subject

Contra Robert M. Bowman, there is sufficient reason to construe QEOS in Philippians 2:13 as the subject rather than the predicate of the syntactical construction. Rogers and Rogers Linguistic and Exegetical Key points out that QEOS (Philippians 2:13) is fronted which indicates that it's the subject rather than the predicate (see p. 452).

John Calvin also seems to understand QEOS as the subject in this verse. Calvin writes: "God,'says he, 'is hO ENERGWN TO ENERGEIN he that worketh in us to do.' He brings, therefore, to perfection those pious dispositions which he has implanted in us, that they may not be unproductive, as he promises by Ezekiel, --'I will cause them to walk in my commandments.'"

(Ezekiel 11:20.) See his commentary on Philippians.


Anonymous said...

Hey Edgar,

What was the point of Bowman's objection to the NWT's rendering?


Edgar Foster said...


Here is what Bowman wrote in full:


Yes, in my 1989 book _Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John_ I pointed out Philippians 2:13 as one of several
grammatical/syntactical parallels using QEOS:

For the one working in you is God...

Now, some commentators argue that QEOS is the subject (contrary to the usual practice of QEOS as the subject being articular) on the grounds that the articular ENERGWN is a participle rather than a noun. I think this is a mistake, though. In verse 12, Paul has just said that his Christian readers
should "work" out their salvation in fear and trembling. He then notes that the one who is working in them is God. So, in light of verse 12, I take hO ENERGWN as the subject and the anarthrous QEOS as the predicate, just as we
would normally expect.

Anonymous said...

Ah, it's about John 1:1c. Now that I see the context, I think I participated in that dialogue, though it could be another that touched on the same verse.

First, I note that he's offering a disputed text as a supposed syntactical parallel. There's nothing wrong with that, necessarily, as long as one provides a compelling case for the interpretation one favors, but I would think that it would add more force to the argument if the verse were clearly in harmony with his interpretation.

In this case, I don't think it's relevant whether QEOS is the subject or the predicate; the important question, IMO, is whether QEOS is definite or indefinite. Jason BeDuhn has offered a plausible case for the rendering "a god" here (Truth in Translation, p. 127), but, in this context I take QEOS as a proper noun (i.e. definite).

It seems that Bowman's only point is to show that QEOS can be an anarthrous predicate nominative that occurs before the verb and properly rendered "God". Well, o.k., but so what?


Anonymous said...

Hi Edgar,

I said:

"In this case, I don't think it's relevant whether QEOS is the subject or the predicate; the important question, IMO, is whether QEOS is definite or indefinite."

I thought I should clarify that by "In this case..." I meant vis a vis this verse's potential bearing on John 1:1c. I didn't mean to suggest that it's not important to accurately determine the subject and predicate when doing translation.


TJ said...

FWIW, the ancient Sahidic Coptic translation of this verse clearly makes "God" the subject and uses the definite article along with it. So those Greek-speaking translators didn't see this as a parallel to John 1:1c (where they translated "god" as an indefinite predicate).