DE in I John 1:3 (was Re: Periphrastic construction in I John 1:4)

Mike Sangrey mike at
Fri Jul 2 15:15:29 EDT 1999

cwconrad at said:
> On 07/02/99, ""Robert R. Monti" <robemon at>" wrote:

[some text deleted]

>> ...       I would
>> also appreciate it if somebody would discuss the use of DE to lend strength
>> to a statement or argument, as in I John ch. 1, v. 3b:


> This is a little bit awkward and seems almost like an afterthought in
> a  sentence that some might well consider a monstrous anacoluthon
> comparable  in its own way to Ephesians 1:3-10 [No, I DON'T want to
> start up the "bad  Greek" thread--I think this is intelligible but
> curiously, awkwardly  phrased].  We have to look at this as a
> clarification, I think, of the  preceding clause, hINA KAI hUMEIS
> KOINWNIAN ECHTE MEQ' hHMWN, and I'd be  inclined to put the entire
> clause of 3b in parentheses: "(even our own  fellowship with the
> Father and with His son Jesus Christ)".

> One COULD say that there is an implicit ESTIN in this clause and that
> it is  declarative: "even our own fellowship is with the Father and
> with His son  Jesus Christ." I think that's a legitimate alternative.

> OR alternatively one could say that this clause is an expansive
> description  of the KOINWNIA that the writer wants the addresses to
> share; it ought  perhaps, if thus understood, to be set in the
> accusative to agree with the  KOINWNIAN of the previous verse, but it
> might be understood as something I  rather despise to acknowledge the
> existence of: a NOMINATIVUS PENDENS; the  nearest parallel would be
> the final phrase of GJn 1:14, PLHRHS CARITOS KAI  ALHQEIAS, where one
> expects PLHRH, an accusative to agree with DOXAN, or  alternatively
> PLHROUS, a genitive to agree with AUTOU.

> Of course, I've been talking about a different problem than the one
> you  have raised, one that seems closely bound up with the function of
> that DE.  But I think the function of the DE is practically to turn
> the entire clause  in which it is imbedded into a parenthetical one;
> to convey its force VERY  LOOSELY, I'd convey the clause thus: "even
> the fellowship, that is, that we  ourselves have with the Father and
> with His son Jesus Christ."

> But there's something grammatically awkward in this phrasing,
> whichever  alternative explanation one accepts: either the whole
> phrase ought not to  be in the nominative, or else one must accept an
> implicit ESTIN. Perhaps  the second alternative is easier, but I
> rather suspect that the first  alternative may be more in accord with
> the composition as it stands (that  it's something of an anacoluthon).

May I share a thought about the use of DE here?  Read this as a question:
B-Greek being a sounding board to help with my understanding.

Could DE be thought of as a thoughtful pause?  The DE would tend
to lightly push the hH KOINWNIA away from the hH hHMETERA.  Or,
alternatively, one could think of it as connecting the two articular
words more loosely than they would normally be connected.  We don't have
a simple "our fellowship" because the DE is stuck in there.  This use of
DE--if it exists at all--would be similar to a "word" some untrained
speakers use, namely "ummmm" (which, to my ear, has a similar phonemic
quality to DE.)  As if John is about to convey something important which he
does not want his hearers to miss.  The result is that the DE adds
emphasis to the type of fellowship John wanted for his hearers.  (I
wonder, since DE frequently can't be translated as a word, should it not,
at least sometimes, be translated as a space?  Keep that thought in mind
as I proceed.)

Now, having said that the "our" is lightly separated from the
"fellowship", I note that the case pulls them together, and we would
naturally expect that from a possesive pronoun.  So, John *is* talking
about "our fellowship", but there is something more which is added by the
"space" which he has introduced by his sentence construction.

So, with the hH KOINWNIA, John first focuses his hearers attention on
fellowship and not just any fellowship, but a particular fellowship.
And then he proceeds, after the pause, with the expansive description of
that fellowship (as Carl has said above.)  Perhaps not great grammar, but,
if DE could be thought of as conveying a pause, and that was normal to
the Greek ear, then it would be perfectly good grammar in Greek, though
terrible grammar in English.  [Please don't pour the blood of starting
a 'good grammar/bad grammar' discussion at such a little greek's feet.
That would be most unkind. ;-) ]

If I could translate the pause, I would have, "...that you also may have
fellowship with us; even the fellowship ...ummm... [like] our fellowship
with the Father and with the son Jesus Christ."  Better English grammar
would produce, "...that you also may have fellowship with us; even the
fellowship very much like our fellowship with the Father and with the
son Jesus Christ."

And, again, I'm very much interested in feedback regarding this (positive
or negative).

Carl:  regarding the implied ESTIN, does Smyth 1183b apply to an implied

> This has been awkward writing on the web, where I'm in recurrent peril
> of  losing my connection. My home domain is down and I am connected to
> the net  by an alternative ISP. I hope it goes through. 'peril' an hyperbole or are you addicted? :-)  Actually, if
your Internet connection goes down it is I who am in peril.

I apologize for the longishness; thanks a head of time.

Mike Sangrey
mike at

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