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Sonship

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  • Robert M. Schacht
    GJohn alone of the canonical gospels asserts that Jesus alone was the son of God (John 1:18). First question: is this common understanding of John 1:18
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 14, 2000
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      GJohn alone of the canonical gospels asserts that Jesus alone was the son
      of God (John 1:18).

      First question: is this common understanding of John 1:18 correct? Or is it
      based on a misunderstanding of the Greek text?

      I have long thought that, if stated correctly, this must be in response to
      a claim of sonship that the author of GJohn took exception to. But who? The
      who could be either a particularly important someone, or perhaps a whole
      bunch of people claiming sonship and using this status inappropriately.

      Second question: Assuming that the answer to the first question is yes, who
      might have been a particularly important someone that the author of GJohn
      might have had in mind? Two names leap to mind:
      1. James, "The brother of the Lord". However, I cannot recall any instance
      of his claiming such a title, or of such a title being applied to him by
      someone else.

      2. Paul. Long before GJohn was written, Paul had already written about the
      faithful as children of God (Galatians 3:26; 4:6-7; cf. Romans 8:29; 9:8).
      But as with James, I can't recall any instance of Paul laying claim to his
      own Sonship, nor of anyone else attributing it to him.

      Second question, part b: If the author of GJohn had no one person in mind,
      did he have specific groups in mind? e.g.,

      * Paulinist Christians, who considered themselves Sons of God on the basis
      of Galatians, etc.;
      * The Desposynoi, who regarded themselves as relatives of Jesus;
      * Others?

      I note with regard to the above that

      * the synoptic gospels make no claim for the unique Sonship of Jesus
      * Two of the synoptic Gospels Matthew & Luke, contain a Lord's prayer
      addressed to "Our Father", perhaps implying sonship for all the faithful
      * Even GJohn, in 1:12-13, seems to grant widespread status as children of
      God.

      So this leads me to another question:
      Given the underlying Greek, is there a significant difference between being
      "children of God" and being a "son of God"? Are these qualitatively
      different? Or does one imply the other? Is there an important difference in
      this regard between being *adopted* as sons (Galatians 4:5-7) and being a
      son in some other sense?

      Bob
    • RSBrenchley@aol.com
      I understood theos with the article in GJohn to mean the ultimate God, ie the Father, while theos without the article, as applied to the Logos in 1:1,
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 24, 2000
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        I understood 'theos' with the article in GJohn to mean the ultimate God,
        ie the Father, while 'theos' without the article, as applied to the Logos in
        1:1, where the two agree, to be adjectival: 'The logos was divine'. Or is my
        dodgy Greek letting me down? Please feel free to correct me. If I'm right,
        then I imagine it's possible that auJohn thought of the Logos as something
        akin to an angel, rather than as an equal to the Father, which would not be
        compatible with Jewish belief as I understand it.

        Regards,

        Robert Brenchley

        RSBrenchley@...
      • Thomas A. Kopecek
        ... ultimate God, ... Logos in ... Or is my ... right, ... something ... would not be ... I ll let the NT experts handle the vast discussion of this from their
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 24, 2000
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          --- In crosstalk2@egroups.com, RSBrenchley@a... wrote:
          > I understood 'theos' with the article in GJohn to mean the
          ultimate God,
          > ie the Father, while 'theos' without the article, as applied to the
          Logos in
          > 1:1, where the two agree, to be adjectival: 'The logos was divine'.
          Or is my
          > dodgy Greek letting me down? Please feel free to correct me. If I'm
          right,
          > then I imagine it's possible that auJohn thought of the Logos as
          something
          > akin to an angel, rather than as an equal to the Father, which
          would
          not be
          > compatible with Jewish belief as I understand it.

          I'll let the NT experts handle the vast discussion of this from their
          point of view. Ancient Greek had better adjectives if the intent was
          to convey simply "divine." Second and third century "Logos"
          Christologians like Justin Martyr and Origen were thinking, rather,
          of distinguishing "the" God from "a" God--but without conveying
          polytheism, as Origen makes clear in the passage I quoted in a
          previous email. In one passage, for instance, which I can find for
          you if you like, Justin speaks of the pre-existent Christ as "another
          God," most probably reflecting on the prologue to the 4G.

          Now, the fourth century so-called early "Arians" read John 1:1-18 as
          conveying what amounts to Christos Angelos, as you suggest (though
          they didn't use the expression "angel" and thought Christ was God's
          "first" creation through whom he created everything else), so that
          was a possible direction to go in the ancient church. In the third
          century, the Bishop of Antioch, Paul of Samosata, was able to read
          the passage as denying any pre-existence altogether, except, perhaps,
          "in the plan of God," as it were, but, as I understand him at least,
          he thought that the Logos was "the" God, but in the sense of the
          *word* of "the" God which was expressed in Jesus as it had been
          expressed in the creation of the world, as it had come to the
          prophets, etc.

          Tom

          ___
          Thomas A. Kopecek
          Professor of Religion
          Central College, Pella, IA 50219
          kopecekt@centra
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