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Another Response to Stafford - 5/25/99 (third)

Don Hartley, Th. M. (Ph.D student Dallas Theological Seminary)

It appears necessary to issue an immediate response to Stafford's comments on my most recent rejoinder. His explanations reveal, as the reader will see, a glaring example of an uncritical reading of my most salient points. It seems to me that he is more interested in getting a response out as quick as possible than either carefully considering what I have said or correctly representing the view that is obviously stated.

The reader should note, as well, the glaring ellipses between the labels placed by Stafford on my response like "his attempt to legitimize a Trinitarian understanding of John 1:1c" or having "several critical errors" or as "badly mishandling my treatment of Harner" and the failure in actually manifesting the coming attraction that these comments portend to produce. This failure to bridge the gap between the rhetoric and the evidence should indicate the vacuous nature of these meaningless "sound bites."

He [Stafford] cites me again, "It is illogical and absurd, however, to insist that whenever Q as a semantic category is invoked, indefiniteness must be by necessity a part of the semantic package."

Thank you for telling us that. Now, I have two requests: 1) Where do I make such a claim, and 2) please provide, for purposes of discussion and illustration, what you consider clear examples of purely qualitative count nouns, in ananarthrous precopulative position.

Need I refer back to his "semantic signaling" in demonstrating his antagonism to this idea?

I am sure all of you who are following this realize that my question #1 above was asked in reference to Hartley's comments about my BOOK, and that my comment on the mass noun being a semantic signal for a count noun in John 1:14 was written AFTER Hartley's assertion: "It is illogical and absurd, however, to insist that whenever Q as a semantic category is invoked, indefiniteness must be by necessity a part of the semantic package."

So, why, then is Hartley quoting a statement made after the fact (which he misunderstands anyway--see below)? Is Hartley admitting that he misspoke in reference to my book? Again, "Where do I make such a claim?"

The comments to Stafford's book are answered in full in the response to which he refers. The reference to "semantic signaling" is only the latest attempt of Stafford to get out of the semantic nuance of Q-d. Apparently Stafford hasn't carefully read my responses when he first attempts to cloud what I have said then presumes to assume for others that I have not clearly answered him. As any one who reads my responses can tell, my original assertion was based on his book and his subsequent reference to "semantic signaling" is a confirmation of his antagonism towards acquiescing to the semantic category of Q-d (Q).

Now Stafford wants to have it both ways. He quotes Harner in substantiating his view of Q as Q-I (I-Q), a fact to which I point out, then he goes on in an attempt to circumvent the implications of Q-d (or the semantics of mass nouns) by his lexical tagging and semantic signaling scheme. He denies that he used Harner to arrive at this fallacious idea, accuses me of wrongly identifying his abuse, goes to extreme lengths to define what abuse of Harner really is, then continues to invent tactics in order to promote the very idea that Q = Q-I(I-Q)! I know he insists that what he is denying is the specific charge that he used Harner this way in his book. But my last response proves that this is exactly what he does. So the beat goes on.

It should be remembered that Stafford does not affirm the semantic category that my study proves exists.

Hartley's study proves absolutely nothing in relation to count nouns being purely qualitative. THAT is why I asked the various questions I did in my last on-line reply, which I will further explain in my forthcoming on-line reply. But, I ask: To what examples can you refer, in Scripture, where indefiniteness is not part of the "semantic package"? Why do I get the feeling that you will not be providing any such examples?

My study first substantiated the idea of pure quality as an undisputed semantic category. This is exhibited most clearly and undeniably in mass nouns. It was then shown that there is no reason why a semantic category of qualitativeness could not apply to singular count nouns. My article and thesis (which he says he read) show clear cases of qualitative singular count nouns in the NT to which Stafford evokes class (another way of saying Q = Q-I/I-Q) to import an indefinite sense into the semantic category of Q. Is anyone surprised? My point in discussing John 4:24 was simply to demonstrate the fact that his appeal to class (or the type of class he was conjuring) was not a given. There are no other beings who are omnipresent. If Stafford knows of any beings (other than God) that are omnipresent I would like to know who they are. Furthermore, the issue of "class" itself is subject to various understandings of what kind of class the subject referred to is. Is it a class of beings or a class of persons? My point in discussing John 4:24 was to show that there was not a class of beings (the idea Stafford imports into the term "class" to personal nouns) that exude the quality of omnipresence to which "Spirit" points to. And this is a singular count noun.

But consult the statement Stafford quotes above again. I said my study validated the category of Q-d (Q) of which he refuses to admit exists. He then jumps ahead by stating that I have not proved this is true of count nouns being qualitative (Q). But to answer the question of clear instances of nouns that don't conjure indefiniteness is straightforwardly ALL MASS nouns. He refuses to admit this and then squabbles over whether singular count nouns exhibit this same semantic domain. Whether a count noun could conjure up indefiniteness is part of its lexical identification. Whether it exhibits it semantically is a matter of context and statistical predilection based on authorial proclivities (style). But, as indicated in my previous response, Stafford first denies the semantics of mass nouns then finds fault in pointing to clear singular count nouns as exuding this semantic nuance. Simply pointing to its (count nouns) lexical identity does not invalidate its semantic possibility to exhibit this nuance.

In regard to giving examples, they are dealt with in the thesis and listed (for John's Gospel) in the article. But Stafford wants to get to second base (singular count nouns) before tagging first base (admitting to the semantic notion of mass nouns). My advice: go back to first base before moving on to second.

As for clear examples, the chart at the end of the article listed them. Isn't his request just begging for a repeat here?

There is not one example of count nouns in your chart that could not be taken in an indefinite sense, and so your "proof" is no proof at all, but merely your contention based on a rejection of the context, which is indeed, as will be illustrated in Appendix D to my second edition, and in my Chapter Two, necessary for the proper tagging of such nouns in the precopulative and other positions. In your study you are forced to exclude those factors that undermine your preferred view, and this is where your contention comes full circle, not proving anything in relation to the count nouns having a purely Q semantic tag. You simply deny this, and are left with your contentions.

Notice what he says. "There is not one example of count nouns in your chart that could not be taken in an indefinite sense" (emphasis added). Now why does Stafford think I would disagree here? That is how one arrives at the lexical identification of what a count noun is. Can it be indefinitized? Can it be semantically pluralized? If the answer to both questions is in the affirmative then it is a count noun! Thus to state that nouns found to exhibit the semantic feature of quality could be taken in an indefinite sense is quite beside the point.

Now he states that I reject context in regard to singular count nouns. Once again he either hasn't carefully read my material, or he is deliberately misconstruing my methodology. Context indeed comes into play, as I have repeatedly stated, when the issue is determining the semantic predilection of singular count nouns. I don't reject context here. Stafford is confused between lexical identification, which is established apart from context, and determining the semantic nuance of a singular count noun which requires the consulting of context. What makes a mass noun a mass noun is simply its inability to do either (can't be pluralized or indefinitized). One wonders why he both fails to understand this very simple concept, and why he outright rejects it.

As to the rest of his statement he says, "In your study you are forced to exclude those factors that undermine your preferred view, and this is where your contention comes full circle, not proving anything in relation to the count nouns having a purely Q semantic tag" I confess I have only a vague idea of what he could be talking about. What are the factors that I exclude? Is Stafford still referring to his misguided procedure to identify the lexical category of nouns by context? How am I forced to exclude anything? Isn't it Stafford who is forced to exclude the obvious and make inventions at every turn? How does the way I classify nouns into either mass or count somehow defer to my "preferred" view as Stafford seems to maintain? All of his comments come across as pure nonsense.

Now if I were omitting things or going about methodologically in a way predetermined and dictated by my "preferred" view, then one would think that Stafford could prove it. Yet my method, as one can clearly follow in my article, proceeded from the bottom-up (grammar to semantics) rather than from the top-down (theology to grammar). In my view Stafford consistently opposes grammatical studies that challenge his Arian beliefs and rather reads into grammar his own Watchtower theology. It seems quite apparent that it is he who has a "preferred" view that gets in the way of seeing the obvious.

Now just a quick point on what makes up a clearly qualitative count noun. As I illustrated above it is perfectly viable to understand a count noun as purely qualitative, i.e., to exhibit the same semantic nuance of a mass noun. For example, one can say, "God is a Spirit" (I, I-Q [Q-I]) or "God is Spirit" (Q) among several other options where the nominal "Spirit" is a singular count noun (John 4:24). I would consider this text a clear instance of the Q nuance.

Yes, of course YOU would consider it as such, but there is nothing restricting it to a purely Q nuance, and no one can rightly deny the indefinite nuance. So this, again, is no PROOF at all. What is more, you have to use an example that does not even fall into the category of your study, namely, where the noun is used with EIMI verbs. Finally, you again use contextual factors in your tagging of "spirit" in this verse, though you say that such is not necessary for the proper tagging!

The disconnect between what I have said and Stafford's response is amazing.  Who can rightly argue with my wording on this subject? Why is it not a perfectly viable option for a singular count noun to exhibit the semantics of a mass noun? Stafford denies the possibility! I would like him to explain how this passage could exhibit his Q-I category without positing other beings having omnipresence.

Now I appealed to John 4:24 which, as I stated in my earlier response, is an example of an implied Colwell construction. The semantics are the same when the copulative is either implied or explicit although in most instances it is difficult to determine whether the copulative verb would be pre or post-PN. In this instance it wouldn't matter but I proposed that it is probably an example where the verb is to be supplied in-between the predicate nominitive PNEUMA and subject O THEOS. Having noted this, do I need to be reminded by Stafford that the example "does not even fall into the category of your study . .. where the noun is used with EIMI verbs?" a fact that I myself mentioned in the response? Having stated that, what militates against its employment as a clear instance of a singular count PN used in a purely qualitative sense in an implied EIMI construction? Stafford's desire to avoid the implications is patently obvious.

Now, as I mentioned, this verse and other a-copulative occurrences were not in my study because I decided to work with explicit rather than implicit EIMI verbs (as well as other implied copulative verbs). The reason why I chose this example is because it is a clear instance (not yet dealt with) of this type of construction where the class to which Stafford insists is always there, is impossible to posit! And, it is a singular count noun. Thus it is a clear instance of a singular count noun exhibiting the qualities of a mass noun.

What Stafford next says is almost beyond belief. He says, "Finally, you again use contextual factors in your tagging of "spirit" in this verse, though you say that such is not necessary for the proper tagging!" This statement borders on the pathetic. But once again Stafford has failed to understand my method of lexical tagging verses determining the semantic nuance of singular count nouns through contextual means.

To make it clear, I did not "tag" the noun as count based on contextual features. I tagged it as count because PNEUMA can be semantically pluralized and indefinitized (spirits, a spirit). It is singular, thus it is a singular count noun. The question then is how it is to be understood from context (or statistical predilection). Here, the context is clear that the noun is to be understood as Q (= Q-d), thus it becomes a basis (if it were to be done) for other less clear singular count nouns in John's Gospel. Now let the reader understand (even if Stafford does not) my method of "tagging" and my use of "context" and be warned how Stafford misunderstands at best and perverts at worst my procedures.

God is not simply a Spirit relegated to spatial confines or a member of a class of other spirits. God is Spirit in the sense of omnipresence, an attribute essential to the statement and exclusively bound to His essence. No other being shares this feature therefore no other beings can be inferred to which class He would be a member.

Not only do you import your view of God as "omnipresent" but you apparently fail to notice that the context identifies this God as the "Father." (Verses 21, 23) So, will you substitute "the Father" in place of "God" and the pronouns "His" and "He" in your above comments?

Three issues are presented here. First where is omnipresence derived from the context? Second, how is one to understand "God"? Lastly, is the pronoun "He" restricted to PATROS and not THEOS or is this an unwarranted disjunction?

The first issue is solved when context is consulted. The woman relegates the worship of the Father to a location based on whether one is a Samaritan (this mountain) or a Jew (Jerusalem, 4:20). After denying that the Samaritans worship the true God (4:22) he informs her that the Jews do worship the true God. But does Jesus point her to Jerusalem as the place of worship? No. Instead he points her rather to a state or a sphere in which worships takes place, namely, "in the spirit" or simply "in spirit" (4:23). But how can this be done irrespective to physical place? It is because "God is Spirit" and not confined to physical localities whether it be Mount Gerizim or Jerusalem. God is everywhere personally present throughout all time and space (omnipresent). We worship "in spirit" but God is "Spirit." Context demands that omnipresence be taken as one necessary connotation to the predicate PNEUMA. This is plain. Now, are there other "spirits" to which omnipresence applies? If not, then there are no other beings that belong to the category of "Spirit" as used here. Thus this is a clear instance where not only a singular count noun is used in a qualitative fashion, but also to which no other beings can be implied without stating they are too God. This alone refutes Stafford's claim that qualitativeness always implies other members or an indefinite sense to the PN because other members can be inferred.

The second issue is whether to restrict THEOS to the Father only. Let me point out first of all that the statement does not read, "God the Father is Spirit" or "The Father is Spirit" but rather "God is Spirit." Further, it should be noted that the text does not specify "this God as the Father" as much as it identifies the referent of God as "Spirit." It would have been quite simple for John, who used PATROS a number of times already (4:21, 23), to simply state what Stafford insists it should. But in making these points, I am certain that "God" here is used to refer to the Father, thus "God the Father is Spirit" is no doubt demanded by the context. However, this still would not militate against its semantic predilection or rule out other personal members of PNEUMA. Thus if God the Father is PNEUMA in the sense (Q) ) I have argued, other personal members who share the attribute of omnipresence can certainly be inferred without insisting on a category of beings "spirits." Furthermore, the stress of my point in the previous response was on PNEUMA not THEOS. So Stafford's insistence about the reference to THEOS as the Father is a red herring. It speaks nothing to the point that the PN is PNEUMA and is a singular count noun used in a purely qualitative sense without reference to other beings in the same class. However, other members of a personal sort can indeed be inferred. Thus God the Father is Spirit, the Son is Spirit and the Holy Spirit is Spirit. These three are Spirit. The fact that the Father is define as Spirit no more rules out the the Son and Holy Spirit as does saying the Word is God rules out the Father as God.

The desire of Stafford to replace "God" with "Father" only is a converse of Colwell's rule applied to the subject! Since the "Father is the God" referred to here, then "God is the Father only." But if the text refers to the Father, the appropriate sense would be to translate the verse as, "God the Father" rather than simply "the Father." If he admits that the reference is to the Father, why omit the fact that it is God the Father?

His third point is how to take the personal pronouns referring back to either PATROS or THEOS the Father. There is no problem with understanding the pronoun AUTON (4:23b, 24b), for example, as referring to the Father. Why Stafford thinks there is a problem here is beyond me.

Having denied the category he later turns around and limits its existence to the mass noun lexis-an admission that is detrimental to his view.

You mean just like the inclusion of an indefinite nuance to count nouns is detrimental to your view? Of course, this is precisely why you are attempting to create a tag for count nouns that cannot be illustrated by concrete examples. For example, you will note that Hartley refers to 1 John 4:8, "God is love" to illustrate a purely Q tagging for an abstract mass noun, and I certainly do not dispute this. Who would? But why can Hartley not produce a similar, indisputable example for his claim regarding purely Q count nouns?

Stafford's response here is desperate. How can an indefinite sense be detrimental to count nouns exuding a Q (Q-d) sense when that is the very means by which they are identified lexically? So indefiniteness is not detrimental "just like" the sense that the semantics of mass nouns is to Stafford's view of refusing to admit of that semantic category without indefiniteness. I have a category of indefiniteness. Does he have one for Q-d (Q)? He seems to concede to the semantics of AGAPH in 1 John 4:8, but what semantic tag does he put on this noun? How can indefiniteness be detrimental to my view of count nouns when it is part of my view both lexically and semantically? Furthermore, he cannot produce one example of a mass noun being indefinite. It is simply impossible. But it is possible for a singular count noun to exude the sense of a mass noun. This is absolutely clear. So Stafford's analogy doesn't fit. The fact that the semantics of mass nouns excludes indefiniteness does not mean that the lexical identity of count nouns as including indefiniteness precludes them from exuding a semantic meaning of a mass noun.

Now I have produced a biblical example above (John 4:24) of a clear instance of a purely qualitative count noun. I could produce plenty more as referral to the article and thesis indicate. But Stafford's problem is rather absurd. He asks, "But why can Hartley not produce a similar, indisputable example for his claim regarding purely Q count nouns?" Is he saying that a count noun can never be used in a purely Q fashion? If this is so, we can never use ANTHROPOS in the sense "John is human" but only as "John is a human." Should we change the phrase, "He's only human" to "He's only a human" based on Stafford's insistence that since "human" can be taken as indefinite therefore must be taken as indefinite? Is this sentence therefore not a clear instance of a qualitative sense?

My study asked if singular count nouns could be used in the first sense. Examples in English show the fact that they not only can be used this way, they are used this way all the time. The fact that mass nouns, as Stafford seems to concede above, are Q-d irrespective of either a pre or post-copulative anarthrous occurrence leads one to question why they are switched to either side of the PN to begin with (for that matter plural counts). But with singular count nouns, the issue is whether John or any other author had a semantic purpose for putting the noun in a pre-copulative anarthrous construction (Colwell construction) as opposed to the post-copulative construction. My conclusion, based on clear instances and comparisons of both sides of the verb, is that John did just that. The pre-copulative anarthous PN in John is not always exclusively Q, but it usually is. And it is against probability to argue as Stafford does for some indefinite sense to THEOS in John 1:1c.


1.  "Revisiting the Colwell Construction in Light of Mass/Count Nouns" by Donald E. Hartley Th.M, Ph.D (student), Dallas Theological Seminary.
2.  Don Hartley's Misunderstanding of My View of Qualitative Nouns and P. B. Harners JBL Article By Greg Stafford
3.  Hartley responds with "Hartley's Second Response To Stafford" on May 25, 1999.
4.  Partial Response to Hartley, By Stafford: 5/25/99
5.  Another Response to Stafford - 5/25/99 (third)
6.  Greg Stafford on 5/26/99 says: "Hartley's theory, regardless of what he tells you, is hopelessly without substantiation, as I will explain shortly."
7.  Greg Stafford to Hartley on 5/26/99: "Please cite an example of a singular count noun in the precopulative position, that CANNOT be indefinitized." in Clarity, Please...
8.  Specifically...I would like Hartley to list the 19 Q-class nouns to which he refers on page 65 of his thesis (par. 2, line 5), for our consideration.
9.  Greg Stafford on 6/3/99: Surrejoinder to Don Hartley: Q-Class Count Nouns , John 1:1c, and Other Related Matters

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