If you've talked much with Jehovah's Witnesses, you know they have at their disposal a slew of arguments which undermine the deity of Christ. Perhaps their favorite tactic is to note that in John 1:1c ("and the Word was God"), there is no article before "God" in the Greek text. Therefore - they maintain - we should supply an indefinite article, and translate John 1:1c "and the Word was a God." This argument can seem quite intimidating, especially if you haven't studied koine Greek. On the other hand, if you've taken some Greek, or just read some good cult apologetics, you have in your arsenal a devastating rejoinder; Colwell's Rule. First set forth by emanent text-critic E.C. Colwell, the rule is as follows;
[E.C. Colwell, "A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Creek New Testament, JBL 52 (1933); 20].
Definite predicate nouns which precede the verb usually lack the article...a predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as an indefinite or 'qualitative' noun soles because of the absence of the article, it should be translated as a definite noun...
Nouns that should be translated as definite (i.e. with the definite article) which occur before the verb usually do not have the article. We have just such a noun in John 1:1c. Therefore, many see Colwell's Rule as demonstrating that an indefinite article cannot be placed before "God" in John 1:1c, and therefore Jesus is God, the Arians are wrong (including JW's, Mormons, and a smorgasbord of other cults), end of story. But does Colwell's rule actually demonstrate that which most assume it does?
Colwell's rule does not prove the deity of Jesus. Now before you pick up stones, let me quickly add a few disclaimers...
(1) I worship all three members of the Trinity as equally and fully God.
(2) I think inserting an indefinite article before "God" in John 1:1c is grammatically absurd, grossly inimical to the context (which is all about Jesus being...well...God), and driven by prior theological commitments.
Hopefully your blood pressure is now subsiding. So what's wrong with using Colwell's rule to demonstrate the deity of Christ in John 1:1c? Two things, and I will address these on Tuesday.