Monday, June 01, 2015

John 1:1-2 and Deixis

Written 2/4/2000; edited 3/3/2018:

By deixis, I mean what George Yule calls " 'pointing' via language" (Yule, George. The Study of Language. New York: Cambridge, 1996. P. 130).

As this publication points out, there are a number of deictic expressions (person deixis, place deixis, and time deixis). Demonstratives basically serve a deictic purpose in that--as my classics advisor likes to say--they are "finger pointers" ("this" and "that"). Sometimes the demonstrative pronoun can be used to emphasize what has already been said. This is called "the deictic reference." On p. 596 (hOUTOS 1.b), BAGD says that hOUTOS may have reference "to [something] that has immediately preceded" with the implied idea--"this one." The examples given there are Lk 1:32; Jn. 1:2; 6:71; 2 Tim. 3:6, 8; Jd 7.

"Nothing new is added in this verse [Jn 1:2], but two points are repeated from v. 1 and thereby given emphasis" (Morris, Leon. John [New International Commentary] p. 78).


Duncan said...


Found this presentation useful.



Couldn't the προς be seen as moving towards or moving along with?

Edgar Foster said...


that is a useful presentation on deixis, and Yule's introduction to linguistics is also pretty good: I used that work in undergrad studies, but no longer own it.

The LSJ lexicion at perseus does say that προς can mean "in the direction of" or "towards" and many other things (depending on the context). Smyth also has a good discussion on Greek prepositions, but I tend to agree with you about the meaning of προς.

Edgar Foster said...



Duncan said...

Just noticed something strange in the LXX, πρόσωπον & it's use at Gen 2:7 as opposed to ῥιζόω in Job 41:1 ?

Edgar Foster said...


could you please quote Job 41:1 (LXX) in its entirety and tell me which version you're using? Thanks.

Also, what do you find problematic about the readings in each account?

Duncan said...


Yes, its:-

ABP Job 41:1 αξεις δε δρακοντα εν αγκιστρω περιθησεις δε φορβεαν περι ρινα αυτου

Translated as

Job 41:1 And shall you lead the dragon by a hook, and put a halter around his nose

I would have expected a word to denote nose or nostrils as opposed to face in Gen 2:7?

Also at Eze 16:12 και εδωκα ενωτιον περι τον μυκτηρα σου και τροχισκους επι τα ωτα σου και στεφανον καυχησεως επι την κεφαλην σου

μυκάομαι translated as "nose".

Edgar Foster said...

Okay, thanks. That helps me see what issues might be going on with the text.

One suggestion to explain the LXX translation is given here:

See pp. 139-40.

Face in this context likely denotes the whole person.

I wonder if there's a certain nuance that the translator wanted to capture in Ezek 16:12 with the use of μυκτῆρά (i.e., "nostril" vs. "nose").