Natural Antecedents (Essay) + meanings to certain words
posted about 5 months ago a study done by Daniel Wallace called “Greek Grammar and
the Holy Spirit” (see: source), which I have cited numerous times since – Which
focuses heavily on Greek antecedents. You may ask: What is an antecedent? (see:
antecedent, see footnotes for more info) simply put it is a noun that comes
before a pronoun in a sentence. In English (and most languages) We must have a
referent for "He" "She" or "They" otherwise they
are meaningless, as just saying one of those does not distinguish an identity
to a person or thing.
Greek has what we call grammatical gender (0.1) - Where words are divided into 3 separate groups Masculine, Feminine and neuter. Hebrew has only 2 Masculine and Feminine.
To start off with I'm going to make one thing abundantly clear - The Greek text will win out over ANY English translation; I am NOT saying go and read the bible in Greek (use some common sense) But if you are going to just cite Bible Hub (an evangelical Bias Website) that is not evidence... in reality it proves absolutely nothing, only that is how evangelicals interpret and translate the passage, there are other Bibles who translate it differently – It doesn’t prove the original writer’s intended meaning. Observe the scriptures discussed below and compare them in the NWT (see: NWT), original KJV* and Goodspeed's translation (An American translation) you will notice quite a difference in "opinion" However none of these actually prove what the writers meant - Only the Greek text does - and even then, disputes arise, because it may not be able to be settled by grammar alone. Hence sites like these all exist:
Fosters Theological reflections
examining the trinity
and more... many more for trinitarians, unitarians, "oneness" [pentecostals?], Catholics etc
While there are exceptions to this rule as Wallace even points out - generally the antecedent to a pronoun MUST match in gender, case and number (or amount)
“[Greek] grammatical concord would normally require that any reference to the Spirit also be in the neuter gender”
you can confirm this with a simple google search of modern day languages that use this system - Be aware however languages change over time. There may be “rules” I am simply unaware of and have not come across – I aim to provide as much information as I can and represent a fair argument where possible. (I fail at this epically, but that is my intention, else why would I say it?)
Antecedents in Greek can change in gender when what I call a "concept" is in focus. Such as what is written here:
or illustrative clauses arise for example:
"So if a woman were figuratively called "a rock" (masculine ending), it could read like this in the Hebrew: "Hannah (fem. ending) was a rock (masc. ending), and he (masc. pronoun referring to "rock") was immovable." Or we could see: "The Messiah (masc.) is Wisdom (fem. ending), and she (fem. pronoun) was created by God in the beginning." When we see such things in the original language, we know that an impersonal thing is being used to figuratively describe a person in some respect." (1)
There are “hundreds” of other such examples in the bible, none of which prove that sin, the oceans waves etc are that gender. We in English call cars and ships “she” does that make them a female? No, it does not. Cars and ships are “its” but when “personified” they assume the “she” gender.
I’ll use Edgar's example & Elijah’s as I find they explain it
the best & cannot find a better explanation at this point in time, Wallace
also lists a couple. (He [Edgar] also has a PH. D and quite advanced knowledge
of Greek, for those "qualifica-tarians" (see qualifica-tarians) out
I am primarily going to cite Wallace's study where applicable (in context, however - check for yourself) He raises some good points and some I personally disagree with before we get into the main examples - My aim is too do some form of write up on antecedents rather than to prove the holy spirit is a person or force, personally I think it could well be either. Another consequence of referring to Wallace’s study is a dominance on the subject of the Holy spirit will be present, however that is not my intention, and if I could think of a way to avoid it I would.
I am going to take a second and start with John 16:7 - 8 I am going to use the Kingdom interlinear (published on JW.org) along with others from Bible hub some take issue (don't entirely understand why, admittedly) with certain Greek texts so use which ever you please, too my knowledge they all say basically the same thing.
you will notice in John 16:7 we have (roughly transliterated, by me (2)) "parakletos" if we refer back to what I said before about Masculine and Feminine nouns, This noun in koine Greek is Masculine in gender - this does not correspond to ontological gender every time however, Gender of a word does not always match the Gender of the thing the word means.
In verse 8 we have (roughly transliterated, by me) "Ekeinos"(3). This word is also masculine the "natural"(4) antecedent is "Parakletos" in verse 7 because they are both masculine and match in case and number (nominative, singular)
We will now add another verse into the spotlight, John 16:13 - Where we have both "parakletos" & "Ekeinos" along with what most bibles have "he"
Like I explained before, in Hebrew we only have 2 genders Masculine and Feminine - it should be noted by ones (including myself) that the word "ruach" (meaning Breath, wind, spirit) is feminine and used in conjunction with what is thought to be Old testament (Hebrew scriptures) references to the New Testament (Greek scriptures) Holy spirit If we want to go by the logic of most trinitarians the Holy spirit is female in the Old Testament.
“the actual Old Testament Hebrew language of the inspired writers uses a feminine ending for "Holy Spirit" (whether it's `her' "personal" name or 'her' literal title or both)! And they actually used feminine pronouns ("she," "her," "herself") to describe "her"! So grammatically we know that to these inspired writers the Holy Spirit was either a thing or a female person! See Judges 3:10; 6:34; 1 Sam. 10:6; 11:6; and Is. 11:2 ” (5)
Is the Holy Spirit trans - gender? Assuming it is even a person, Neuter does not exist in Hebrew, but feminine exists in Greek (do they translate over exactly? I am not 100% sure).
look at Footnote (3) for a definition to "Ekeinos"
– roughly translating to whatever pronoun is needed or the neutral “that one”
“The first two passages, John 14:26 and 15:26, can be handled together. In both of them, “pneuma” is appositional to a masculine noun, rather than the subject of the verb. The gender of "Ekeinos" thus has nothing to do with the natural gender of “pneuma”. The antecedent of "Ekeinos", in each case, is “parakletos”, not “pneuma”.” (6) And later says of 16:13 “[16:13] …reveals essentially the same features as the previous two passages” (7) (8)
So we have a well-respected Greek grammarian(Wallace) saying they are essentially the same, good enough for me. Just reading John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:13 for yourself, you will see they are all basically the same however rather than parakletos being the subject of 16:13 "Ekeinos" is.
Before going further it should be noted between the initial mention
of parakletos in v 7 and the use of “Ekeinos” in v 13 The parakletos actually never
disappears as the subject of the discussion and points being made. Some think “parakletos”
is too far back to be still valid – However this is terrible reasoning as in
books such as Isaiah, Daniel, Ephesians and 1 John the antecedent can be verses
and verses back without ever really leaving the subject being discussed because
of the [John’s] prevalent use of pronouns and/ or demonstratives. Thus because
of never really leaving the discussion except for a single verse (V 12) and
then immediately being brought back into the spotlight via John’s use of "Ekeinos”–
We can explain this usage as something other than John’s apparent emphasis on
the spirits personality. We can further establish this just 12 verses later in 16:25,
Where there is never an apparent exception made that the holy spirit wasn’t being
spoken of in parables as well. In fact, to my knowledge the only time in John’s
gospel that the Holy spirit is spoken of with Masculine pronouns are the clauses
we are now considering – because generally we would use a neuter pronoun or demonstrative
as both “holy” and “spirit” are neuter in Greek.
Robertson points this out: "In 14:26 . . . the relative [neuter article] follows the grammatical gender of pneuma. Ekeinos, however, skips over pneuma and reverts to the gender of parakletos."(9)
This is true as has been plainly demonstrated above,
some might still be unconvinced and that is fine – I will let people far more
qualified than myself & how the languages work convince you. Anyway, in many cases when
someone/ something is being personified it assumes the gender of the thing
being personified rather than its natural-ontological gender.
I am going to briefly knock what some like to argue out of the water and that is the nearest mentioned person is the antecedent to a pronoun. Leon Morris tries to make this exact argument in his book “The Gospel according to John”. Morris is wrong for two main reasons (1) Parakletos agrees in gender with ekeinos not pneuma (2) pneuma is not the subject of the sentence rather is being modified by parakletos (which is the subject, We know this because it is marked with the article) they do not match in gender because it is not an adjective rather what I call an “illustrative clause”
albeit a flawed example, let’s take 1 John 2:22 as an example – The context here is regarding the antichrist, however the last mentioned person is Jesus Christ. So, Jesus being the last-named person in relation to the word “this” would make Jesus the Antichrist. However, we know this to be wrong as frequently Jesus is identified as the Messiah (Or the Christ) in scripture
So from this very short example (extremely short in fact) that the nearest antecedent is not necessarily who the writer had in mind and can jump and refer to the “main subject” (10) rather than a” subject of action or consequence” (11) In fact as outlined briefly by Robertson/ Wallace and based on what Wallace said regarding Matt 28:19 houtos is masculine because certain individuals are in view and refers back to “the [one] denying” earlier in the verse. You can take this conclusion with a gain of salt, it is an opinion and I would welcome correction. (12)
Wallace sums up by saying:
“In sum, in John 16:13 the ekeinos is best explained as reaching back to v. 7, where parakletos is mentioned. Thus, since parakletos is masculine, so is the pronoun. Although one might argue that the Spirit's personality is in view …, the view must be based on the nature of a parakletos and the things said about the Counselor, not on any alleged grammatical subtleties. The fact is that, in all of John's Gospel, the only time a masculine pronoun is used concerning the pneuma is in relation to O parakletos. This suggests that the philological argument in John 14-16 may be a case of petitio principii.”
bit of Evidence is Wallace’s footnote 50
“Besides these three texts, one other passage from the Upper Room Discourse could possibly be used to offer grammatical support for the personality of the Spirit. John 14:17 reads to_ pneu=ma th=j a)lhqei/aj, o$ o( ko/smoj ou_ du/natai labei=n o#ti ou) qewrei= au_to_ ou)de_ ginw/skei: u(mei=j ginw/skete au)to/, o#ti par ) u(mi=n me/nei kai_ e)n u(mi=n e!stai in NA27. However, in some witnesses both instances of the personal pronoun are in the masculine instead of the neuter (au)to/j instead of au)to/). Among these witnesses are P66* D* L 579 ()2 W Y can be added to the list in that they have the masculine pronoun in the second instance). As well, D L* add a third masculine pronoun after ginw/skei. None of these variants is likely to be original, for they are both lacking in external and internal support. (In particular, although P66 is early the scribe was often sloppy in his copying habits; cf. E. C. Colwell, "Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits: A Study of P45, P66, P75,” Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament [NTTS 9; Leiden: Brill, 1969], 106-24.) Nevertheless, even if original, this text would generally approximate John 14:26 and 15:26 in its structure, since the antecedent of such pronouns could easily be construed as the para/klhton mentioned in v. 16. The sentence structure here, however, is a bit more complicated than in the other two passages (the first personal pronoun is in a causal clause, while the second is in a new sentence), affording a bit more ambiguity in the pronouns' referent. But this most likely is what created confusion for the scribes: those who wrote the masculine pronoun probably took the antecedent to be para/klhton (and the relative clause to be explanatory of the appositional noun pneu=ma) while those who wrote the neuter pronoun regarded pneu/ma to be the antecedent. Further, evidence that these scribes were not thinking of the personality of the Spirit but were simply following normal grammatical conventions can be seen in their transcribing of the relative pronoun that immediately follows pneu=ma: it is neuter (6)” (13)
Mayes argues, "That a referent which is not in
concord, but a few words nearer in the text, should be chosen over a noun which
agrees strictly and gives just as good sense is nearly indefensible. Pronominal
referents by no means have to be the nearest noun. . . . It is difficult to
avoid the suspicion that theology has unduly influenced (perhaps unconsciously)
the grammatical analysis of this verse (as well as the others involved)."
Wallace also pints to John 6:71 – Where Jesus would be his own betrayer, if the nearest was always strictly meant as an antecedent.
Mayes concludes “"The most obvious fact which
presents itself through this diagram is that the chief assertion of the verse
consists of two clauses—one independent and one dependent—of which the
grammatical subjects are e)kei=noj and o( para/klhtoj. All the rest of the
material simply describes or qualifies (o( para/klhtoj, and could be omitted
with no damage to the sense"; and (p. 32) "No constructio ad sensum
exists in this verse. There are three pronouns (o#n, o#, e)kei=noj), all of
which agree with their referent—two with para/klhtoj and one with
“KJV*” (https://searchforbibletruths.blogspot.com/2010/01/is-it-true-that-bible-describes-holy.html )
Wallace’s paper: http://orcuttchristian.org/Wallace_Greek%20Grammar%20and%20the%20Personality%20of%20the%20Holy%20Spirit.pdf
My original thread: https://www.jehovahs-witness.com/topic/4800037851234304/wallaces-personality-holy-spirit
(NWT): For those who dislike the NWT see favourable comments made by scholars such as Benjamin Kedar kopfstein, Alan Duthie, Edgar J Goodspeed, and others. see also an article written by Lesriv spencer "Does the New world translation committee know Greek" which covers most controversies surrounding it, including Fred Franz - at the end of the day the NWT is not written for evangelicals so it is not going to appeal and will never appear on evangelical websites for that very reason – this does not make it any less scholarly though.
But I say, use whatever translation you want - there are many good ones out there (users like Wonderment, Vanderhoven, Slimboyfat TTWSYF and many more I have seen, have all pointed out good ones at different times on this website) We are very much spoilt in English as we have a wide variety where-as some Languages only have a few. (This may be untrue today, but was true in the early 2000’s)
Two of my favourites are Moffatt’s and Goodspeed’s – I would 100% recommend!
THIS IS A JOKE - This term is not meant to be offensive at all, it refers to mainly trinitarians who like to set the bar so high for qualifications regarding biblical languages that practically no one can comment or be “authoritative” regarding the bible and the Greek text.
(This argument is mainly hurled at ones who agree with the Witnesses – Jason Beduhn (most known case), Rolf furuli (Hebrew professor), Greg Stafford (technically he is a scholar), Edgar Foster, Benjamin Kedar Kopfstein (Hebrew professor - NOT the other Benjamin Kedar))
(IGNORE the Wikipedia article, see the sources (or “Bibliography”))
(1) Taken from para. 5 https://searchforbibletruths.blogspot.com/2010/01/do-scriptures-personifying-holy-spirit.html
(2) This was done on a time crunch, so the words may not be spelt
right or transliterated correctly - Please be aware of this.
I can read Greek to some extent but am no expert on the alphabet or spelling of words, that said I have researched it extensively and have what I would like to think to be a grasp on the basics of koine Greek, as far as we know it.
(3) "Ekeinos" info https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/ekeinos
(4) OR the most likely (based on gender, case, number, and context)
(5) About halfway down https://searchforbibletruths.blogspot.com/2010/01/do-scriptures-personifying-holy-spirit.html
(6) Page 104 (http://orcuttchristian.org/Wallace_Greek%20Grammar%20and%20the%20Personality%20of%20the%20Holy%20Spirit.pdf )
(7) Page 109
(8) Read pages 105 -109 if desired, some reasoning will be
covered later, however not all & not in as much detail, since the actual post
is linked and avail. Instead, I will mainly summarise with needed evidence
rather than do a full in-depth breakdown like Wallace.
(Wallace) In the case of this study he is honest, as far as I can tell – in other places he tends to do what is prominent in the biblical scholarly field and that is selectively quoteing to prove a point. Regarding some scriptures though he either omits information that is important (also common) or jumps to conclusions. Conclusions that have already been not only disputed but pretty much “beaten into ground”.
See his comments on:
By this I mean the person or thing initially mentioned as the subject being spoken of.
by this I simply mean that a statement like “this is the antichrist” (or Romans 9:5) could be put at the end of a statement however a person could have said “My father is going to work and making my son help, he is cruel” this is not the best example, “son” is the last referent before “he” so some would assume “he” refers to “son” but “son” is the result of an action done by “My Father” -So on that basis “My Father” is who “he” refers to. Romans 9:5 has a similar construction to this. See Reasoning book published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. See Bible hub for trinitarian standpoint.
(12) This understanding may not be perfect, and likely is wrong – However it seems the most likely explanation to me, if someone more experienced can correct me, I would much appreciate it.
(13) Wallace Footnote 50
(14) Wallace Footnote 28
(15) Wallace Footnote 33