12. This rule (called "Colwell's rule") is covered as early as chapter 6 of a standard introductory Greek grammar: See John Wenham, The Elements of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), p. 35; also, BDF 273. The rule is simply that in sentences with the linking verb "to be" (such as Gk. d^i, G1639), a definite predicate noun will usually drop the definite article when it precedes the verb, but the subject of the sentence, if definite, will retain the definite article. So if John had wanted to say, "The Word was God," John 1:1 is exactly the way he would have said it. (Recent grammatical study has confirmed and even strengthened Colwell's original rule: see Lane C. McGaughy, Toward a Descriptive
Jehovah's Witnesses now acknowledges the relevant grammatical rule but continues to affirm their position on John 1:1 nonetheless.)13
Analysis of EINAI as a Linking Verb in the New Testament [SBLDS 6; Missoula, Mont.: SBL, 1972], esp. pp. 49-53, 73-77; and the important review of this book by E.V.N. Goetchius in JBL 95 : 147-49.)
Of course, if John had wanted to say, "The Word was a god" (with an indefinite predicate, "a god"), it would also have been written this way, since there would have been no definite article to drop in the first place. But if that were the case, there would have to be some clues in the context that John was using the word 9£oq (G2536) to speak of a heavenly being that was not fully divine. So the question becomes, what kind of God (or "god") is John talking about in this context? Is he speaking of the one true God who created the heavens and the earth? In that case, 9£oq was definite and dropped the definite article to show that it was the predicate noun. Or is he speaking about some other kind of heavenly being ("a god") who is not the one true God? In that case, 9£oq was indefinite and never had a definite article in the first place.
The context decides this question clearly. From the other uses of the word 9£oq to mean "God" in vv. 1, 2, 6, 12, 13, et al., and from the opening words that recall Gen. 1:1 ("In the beginning"), it is clear that John is speaking of the one true God who created the heavens and the earth. That means that 9£oq in v. 2 must be understood to refer to that same God as well.
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