genitive 1Jn 1:1

richard smith rbsads at
Sat Mar 23 17:10:05 EST 2002

One of the real benefits for me of studying NT Greek is that some of the
phrases which had always seemed to me to be so abstract in the English as
to have no real significance, now offer the promise of being understood by
me in meaningful terms.

This is especially true of genitive constructions.


The translations all seem to give a generic "word (Word) of life"
translation, but how is this construction to be understood?

Some possibilities seem to me to be attributive - "living word" ;
apposition - "the word which is life" ; genitive of product- "word which
produces life" ; genitive of content - "word that is about life."

How should we understand AP' ARCHS? From the beginning as in John 1 or
from the beginning of the ministry?

Does TOU LOGOU refer to Jesus or to a report about eternal life?

The question comes to me because of the shift in verse 1 from "what we
have heard and seen concerning the word of life" to, in verse 2, "the
eternal life which has been manifested and we have seen and we witness and
declare." This shift moves the focus from the word to the life.

This eternal life is described as being with the Father, in terms that are
reminiscent of Christ as the Divine Logos, QEOS HN hO LOGOS.  These terms
seem to personalize the concept of eternal life, which I tend to
understand more as a gift of a state rather than as a tangible person who
has existed with the Father.

Then, is it that we should understand TOU LOGOU and THS ZWHS in verse one
as being in apposition?

"what we looked on and our hands touched concerning the word, which is
life.  And this life has been manifested...We have seen and we witness and
declare to you this life, which is eternal, and which was with the Father
and manifested to us."

I have been rambling, but it is difficult to express my question.  The two
verses seem to combine to make eternal life as that which was with the
Father from the beginning and which has been manifested. Eternal life is
personified and is the focus, rather that the word.

This might make the genitive construction fit a nominal genitive of
content useage, but would de-emphasize the LOGOS as being descriptive of
Christ, leaving the word as being the means of reporting about the Eternal
Life. And the function of personifying Christ here being taken up by hH

"what we have looked upon and our hands have touched concerning the word
that teaches about life. And this life has been manifested, and we have
seen and we witness and proclaim to you this life which is eternal, which
has been with the Father."

If this is so, have I been reading 1 John with John 1 too much in mind?


Richard Smith
Chattanooga, TN

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