[B-Greek] Participle Gender Semitisms in the Johannine Epistles
Albert & Julia Haig
albert_and_julia at yahoo.com.au
Thu Apr 20 10:09:33 EDT 2006
I came across something interesting when investigating 1 John 5:7-8, which I thought some of you might be interested to comment about. I know there are not likely to be any KJV-onlyists on this list, but I know some personally, and of course one of the most difficult texts for them is the Johannine Comma. Anyway, the best argument they can come up with in favour of inclusion of the Comma is what they call "the grammatical argument". They point out that the participle MARTUROUNTES in verse 7 is masculine plural, but the nouns which do the witness bearing which the participle refers to (PNEUMA, hUDWR, and hAIMA) are all neuter. They argue that this is grammatically incorrect. They then argue that if this participle refers to hO PATHR, hO LOGOS and TO hAGION PNEUMA, the masculine gender does make sense. Hence they think that this grammatical irregularity indicates a textual omission.
Anyway, the suspicion immediately arose on my part upon reading this that this may be a Semitism. Since Hebrew and Aramaic have only masculine and feminine participles, it would be easy to see why a native Hebrew/Aramaic speaker might use the Greek masculine participle instead of the neuter. But I decided to go through the Johannine epistles looking at this question. Have a look at these two verses:
2 Jn 1:4: ECARHN LIAN hOTI hEURHKA EK TWN TEKNWN SOU PERIPATOUNTAS EN ALHQEIAi ...
In this verse the author seems to use the masculine plural participle PERIPATOUNTAS with the neuter plural noun TEKNWN as subject. So this seems to kill the KJV-onlyists argument, because it is another example of essentially the same phenomenon as in 1 John 5:7-8, as far as I can tell. Do you agree that this is also likely to be a Semitism? There are no textual variants on PERIPATOUNTAS listed in UBS, and in any case the TBS Textus Receptus reads the same way so there is no way out for them. Do you agree this successfully refutes the grammatical argument for inclusion of the Johannine Comma?
Interestingly, in another place the author uses exactly the same verb as a participle with exactly the same neuter plural noun as subject, but seems to get it right:
3 Jn 1:4 ... hINA AKOUW TA EMA TEKNA EN THi ALHQEIAi PERIPATOUNTA.
This time the participle is neuter plural. Do you think the author may have brushed up on his Greek grammar between 2 John and 3 John?
All the best,
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