Mk. 16:9-20 - An Obscure Old Georgian Witness
- The Martyrdom of St. Eustathius of Mzketha (also known as Eustace of Mtskheta, and there are probably other spelling-variants) is an Old Georgian text that's supposed to have been written in the 500's. In this text, the main character, Eustathius, is called before the authorities, and gives a speech in which, among other things, he summarizes the gist of the Old Testament, and the ministry, passion, and post-resurrection appearances of Christ.
When describing the post-resurrection appearances of Christ, St. Eustathius says:
"And the twelve disciples went with great gladness to Mount Tabor and saw Christ and worshipped Him and kissed His sacred feet. But Christ said to His disciples, 'Now you are no longer to be called disciples, but you are to receive the title of apostles. Now I shall ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.' Into His apostles, He breathed the living spirit and said to them, "Accept within yourselves the spirit of life, and go out among the towns and villages and country places from end to end of the world and perform miracles and marvels and feats of healing, and convert the heathen and baptize them in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and teach them all that I have told you. Behold, I am with you all the days of your life and until the end of the world. Freely you have received, and freely give to them also.' Then Christ ascended into heaven among the angels, but the twelve apostles departed and went about the villages and towns and country places, and spread abroad and preached the gospel of Christ, who had risen from the dead. They carried out miracles and marvels and feats of healing, and the people were converted and baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
(The whole account is accessible online in English with simple Googling.)
There are several interesting things in this quotation which are interesting. (It occurs to me that Justin, in 1Apol. 50, has a similar statement about the disciples becoming known as apostles.) But today I'll just focus on one thing: the author's awareness of Mark 16:9-20.
James Neville Birdsall has a chapter in his "Collected Papers on Greek and Georgian NTTC" called "The Martyrdom of St. Eustathius of Mzketha and the Diatessaron" (published by Gorgias Press LLC, 2006) in which he affirmed, "The form of the account is linked both with Matthew and with the longer ending of Mark into which Johannine sayings have also been interwoven."
The oldest Old Georgian MS, the Adysh Codex, isn't all that old; it was produced in 897. Here in the Martyrdom of St. Eustathius of Mzketha, we have a text preserved from the 500's. The use of Mk. 16:9-20 by the author of the Martyrdom of Eustathius of Mzketha should be mentioned in any textual commentary or apparatus if the Old Georgian evidence is also mentioned.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
P.S. Who can tell me about MS 1970 (Coislin. 25)?
- I don't often attempt a foray into text criticism (I prefer to learn from my betters, as I commented earlier), but I wrote this some time ago, and would appreciate any thoughts or comments:John 1:18
Internal Evidence for the Reading θεός (QEOS) vs. υἱός (hUIOS).It should be clear that there is always going to be a subjective element to
the internal witness, since it results largely from interpretation of the
text. The external witnesses, despite the claims of some critics such as
Emmanuel Tov, must always remain primary. Nevertheless, when the external
witnesses are close in terms of the readings, internal criteria may
sometimes help resolve the issues. In this brief essay, which at this point
is only effectively an outline, I wish to point out one major composition
issue that leads us toward the reading θεός (QEOS), and also discuss
syntactical considerations which show the consistency of the reading with
John’s understanding of the LOGOS-QEOS of John 1:1-18.Ring CompositionJohn 1:18 shows specific stylistic markers that indicate the necessity of
seeing it as a section, specifically as an introduction or a prologue to the
rest of John’s gospel. This includes the themeatic nature of the text, a
series of generalized statements in discourse style, but in observably
non-narrative format, that introduce the major themes that John will
reference time and time again throughout the document. Another stylistic
marker is “ring composition,” a form of parallelism in which the section
ends with a repetition or paraphrase of the language with which it began.
In this case, the repetition of θεός (QEOS) in 1:18 would provide a perfect
reflection of the claims with which John begins his gospel, the Logos as the
Creator/Redeemer with the Logos become flesh as the Revealer/Redeemer.Exegetical NotesIt has been claimed that the language of John 1:18, if θεός is read, will
result in bitheism (a two gods theology) rather than a Trinitarian
understanding. The actual syntax of the the passage will not, however allow
this, any more than at John 1:1. Vs. 18 begins with the statement that “no
one has ever seen God,” a statement that itself must be very carefully
qualified. Monotheistic readers would at this point read the anarthrous
θεόν as the one true God, although if they had read or listened carefully,
might be suspicious that this is still part of John’s expansion of the term
begun at 1:1, and they would be correct. John then goes on to state that
the “the only begotten God (μονογενὴς θεός) the one being (ὁ ὤν) in closest
kinship with the Father, he has explained him.”1. Whether μονογενής should be translated “unique” or “only-born/generated”
is another discussion. What is clear from the lexical evidence is that the
term implies a unique relationship best suited to only children, and so I
have used the traditional rendering here. “Only begotten God” is no more
strange than the the claim at John 1:1, that the Logos is both with God and
is God himself, or that Jesus, despite his several claims to deity
throughout the gospel of John, should refer to his Father as “the only true
God” (John 17:3). The ancient church theologians, however, read this word
of the eternal relationship of the Father and the Son, that the Son is fully
God, being generated by the Father from all eternity. It certainly implies
the traditional Trinitarian belief that the distinction between the first
and second persons of the Trinity are the qualities of Fatherhood and
Sonship.2. The phrase translated above, “the one being” (ὁ ὤν) is reminiscent of
the language used at LXX Ex 3:14, and may be a deliberate attempt to recall
that language.3. The use of the participial phrase explains in part the lack of the
article for θεός. The participial phrase, is used substantively and is the
effective subject, with θεός acting as the predicate, the same syntax as at
John 1:1c, with λόγος as the subject and θεός as the predicate. The use of
the participial phrase in the non-attributive position emphasizes the
relationship of the only-begotten God to the Father.N.E. Barry Hofstetter, semper melius Latine sonat...
Classics and Bible Instructor, TAA
(2010 Salvatori Excellence in Education Winner)
V-P of Academic Affairs, TNARS
- Dear List,
Bart Ehrman's comments on this variant,should by no means be
overlooked. The following is a snippet from Bart D. Ehrman, The
Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press,
"This is not simply a case of one reading supported by the earliest
and best manuscripts and another supported by late and inferior ones,
but of one reading found almost exclusively in the Alexandrian
tradition and another found sporadically there and virtually
everywhere else. And although the witnesses supporting O MONOGENHS
UIOS cannot individually match the antiquity of the Alexandrian
papyri, there can be little doubt that this reading must also be dated
at least to the time of their production. There is virtually no other
way to explain its predominance in the Greek, Latin, and Syriac
traditions, not to mention its occurrence in fathers such as Irenaeus,
Clement, and Tertullian, who were writing before our earliest
surviving manuscripts were produced. Thus, both readings are ancient;
one is fairly localized, the other is almost ubiquitous." Then Ehrman
begins his discussion of intrinsic probabilities: "It is on internal
grounds that the real superiority of O MONOGENHS UIOS shines
forth. . . ."
Regading external vs. internal evidences, internal evidence is not
such that it should only be applied when external evidence is
indecisive, for it is precisely internal evidence applied consistently
on variations *in sequence* throughout the entire NT that gives weight
to manuscripts of a certain class and diminishes the weight of
manuscripts of all other classes. It is for this reason that I have
come to support the increased weight of the manuscripts of the
Byzantine class of manuscripts, for their inherent superiority on
internal grounds when applied to variations on a sequential basis on
portions of text throughout the NT. See, e.g., Maurice A. Robinson,
"The Rich Man and Lazarus -- Luke 16:19-31: Text-Critical Notes," in
Stanley E. Porter and Mark J. Boda, Translating the New Testament:
Text, Translation, Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 111-116;
and my own experimental textual commentary on Matthew chapters 1-4: http://tcgnt.blogspot.com/
Jonathan C. Borland
- Barry and Jonathan,
Serendipitously, in the course of revising and updating my paper on Mark 16:9-20, I've included something about John 1:18, in part of a case for placing Sinaiticus' production at Caesarea in the mid-300's. My goal was not to sort out the reading in John 1:18 once and for all, but to point out why its presence in Sinaiticus is anomalous and suggestive. After establishing that Acacius, Eusebius' successor, had the means and the motive to create Codex Sinaiticus, I asked why John 1:18 has an island of the Alexandrian Text within a portion of John that Fee identified as Western:
"Perhaps another piece of evidence should be considered: within the part of John in א that has the Western Text, John 1:18 reads μονογενης θς (monogenēs ths), "only-begotten God," "θς" (qs) being the contraction for the nomen sacrum θεος, (qeos) "God." Although most manuscripts support a different reading, "only-begotten Son," support for the reading in א (Aleph) is found in the writings of Origen, Eusebius, Jerome's teacher Didymus, and Cyril of Alexandria, and in the Egyptian papyri P66 and P75.156 Not a single extant manuscript of John with the Western Text supports the reading "only-begotten God;" nor do any Old Latin copies do so. (Codex D, the flagship-manuscript of the Western Text, is unfortunately not extant here.) F. J. A. Hort, in a dissertation published in 1876, wrote, "It comes out with perfect clearness that υιός is one of the numerous Ante-nicene readings of a `Western' type (in the technical not the strictly geographical sense of the word) which were adopted into the eclectic fourth century text that forms the basis of later texts generally."157 [156 - See page 314 of the UBS Greek New Testament (fourth edition) for a fuller list of witnesses.]
[157 - See pages 7-8 of Hort's book Two Dissertations.]
One may justifiably wonder, therefore, if Hort is correct that υιός (huios) is the Western reading, why θεός (qeos) is in א (Aleph) instead, despite being in the `Western' portion. The answer may be that Acacius saw to it that "only-begotten God" was adopted because, as an Arian, he had a soft spot in his heart for that variant. A short text by Auxentius (c. 400) shows that the Arians used that term and interpreted it to support their doctrine that Christ was a created divinity. Auxentius stated that Wulfilas believed that the Father "created and begat, made and established, an only-begotten God," and that "the inexhaustible power of the only-begotten God is reliably said to have the power to have made all things heavenly and earthly," and, "The Father and Son were different in their divinity, unbegotten and only-begotten God."158
[158 - For a slightly different rendering see the text of Auxentius, translated by Jim Marchand, at http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/texts/auxentius.trans.html . The Latin text is at http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/texts/auxentius.html .]
Although orthodox writers such as Cyril of Alexandria used exactly the same phrase, it is easy to picture an Arian bishop (Acacius) favoring this reading so strongly that he would feel justified including it in his text of John, having seen it in other exemplars, even though his immediate exemplar resorted to as a second-string document read otherwise. The alternative to the theory that the copyist of א resorted to this slight editorial adjustment is that the copyist of א happened to use the only known copy of John 1 with a Western Text that read μονογενης θς. Possibly it was because he was distracted with this alteration that the copyist of א skipped the next two words in the text, ‛ο ων ("who is"), a singular mistake.
Barry, regarding the idea that John 1:18 cycles back to the word "God" used in 1:1, I don't think this is the sort of thing that any author would plan, or than any normal reader would be likely to perceive. Saying that the adoption of QS in v. 18 makes a thematic connection to verse 1 is not the same as saying that John would have composed the passage so as to form that thematic connection. One can just as easily say that if "Son" is read in 1:18, there's a thematic connection with verse 1 as well; the Word was with God in v. 1 and the only-begotten Son is with the Father in v. 18.
Also, one could argue (subjectively) that if a thematic loop back to 1:1 was intended, it should be expressed in 1:14, too, not just 1:18.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
- Hi Folks,
Jonathan C. Borland
Bart Ehrman's comments
"... one reading found almost exclusively in the Alexandrian tradition and another found sporadically there and virtually everywhere else. O MONOGENHS UIOS ... predominance in the Greek, Latin, and Syriac traditions, not to mention its occurrence in fathers such as Irenaeus, Clement, and Tertullian ... Thus, both readings are ancient; one is fairly localized, the other is almost ubiquitous." (p. 79)
The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture:
The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (1995)
Thank you Jonathan.
monogenhV uios - Begotten Son - Affirming the Majority Text
Question: Is Bart Ehrman consistent in rejecting localized Alexandrian-support readings, or is this verse, John 1:18, a special case in that regard ? Or is just a matter of a measured higher degree ?
And isn't the above essentially the John William Burgon argument for many variants against the Revision and the Westcott-Hort Greek text in Revision Revised ? Anyway, may I applaud the new and unusual Bart Ehrman insight, and hope that it is not simply a case of special pleading to match doctrinal-textual purposes !
However it is important to point out that the rest of Bart Ehrman's analysis is very dubious.
Jonathan C. Borland
> Then Ehrman begins his discussion of intrinsic probabilities: "It is on internal
> grounds that the real superiority of O MONOGENHS UIOS shines forth. . . ." (p. 79)
This is an involved section, with strengths and weaknesses, beyond my current scope.
However let us first look at the basic underlying argument.
PROBLEMS WITH "monogenhV qeoV AS ORTHODOX CORRUPTION
Ehrman's basic argument- ...
"The variant reading of the Alexandrian tradition, which substitutes "God" for "Son," represents an orthodox corruption of the text in which the complete deity of Christ is affirmed" (p. 78)
This is a very strange theory on multiple counts.
The first two are simple.
1) The original corruption had to be early, likely by the early 2nd century, so an early Orthodox corruption of this nature goes against what I understand as Bart's own ideas that the high Christology doctrines developed late.
Note: personally, I believe the high Christology is imbued in the NT text, such as "God was manifest in the flesh..", which is rejected by Bart Ehrman. However I am looking at this in the classical ad hominem sense, asking if Bart Ehrman's analysis is consistent.
And is an Orthodox corruption creedal ? The only creed in the 2nd century was the simply-stated in Biblical-language Apostle's Creed. The Nicean and Athanasian and Chalcedon statements were far in the future, often using quasi-philosophical and neo-Platonist language that was very different than the Bible
2) Alexandria was a gnostic center (discussed by Aland, The Text of the New Testament p. 59) .. so why would a gnostic center institute anti-gnostic corruptions ? This simply makes no sense and is history and doctrine stood on its head.
monogenhV - UNIQUE ... ONLY BEGOTTEN
Beyond these two we have (3) .. the rest of Bart Ehrman's understanding is in translation ..
"the unique God (o monogenhV qeoV ).. who is in the bosom of the Father, that one has made him known."
and falters on a major unstated premise, the denial of MONOGENES as only-begotten (at least in this verse) the historic verse understanding. And well-affirmed in the early church writings.
Many in fact consider the only-begotten God as the literal translation of the critical text. As in the NASV, Emphasized and NWT. This is seen as a gnostic and Arian favored reading, totally non-orthodox. Early example .. John Burgon, Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text, p. 215-218. So what we have is the ultra-dubious translational substitution of unique for the historic understanding... based on highly questionable modernist translation attempts. To add to the confusion Daniel Wallace has even changed the modernist retranslation once again to "The only one, himself God", more on this at bottom).
And thus Ehrman is building first a historical construct, and then a textual argument, on shifting sand.
For those who want to research this further, I strongly suggest as a starting point the superb article by Michael Marlowe that reviews the scholarship :
The Only Begotten Son - o monogenhV uios
... Dahms concludes, "the external evidence, especially from Philo, Justin, and Tertullian, and the internal evidence from the context of its occurrences, makes clear that 'only begotten' is the most accurate translation after all." ...
A very solid article with scholarship references and analysis.
This includes separate sub-articles, only the Berkhof one is essentially doctrinal:
Büchsel on monogenhV - (1967)
John R. Wilson, "Parmenides, B 8. 4," The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 20, No. 1. (May, 1970), pp. 32-34.
Berkhof on the Eternal Generation of the Son - (1949)
There are other resources as well, such as the 2009 b-greek discussion where an Athens resident offered some thoughts on this very issue that were well-received. And the earlier article by Scott Jones. However, for the scholarship overview, Marlowe is superb.
Developing textual theories and texts on dubious translation and historical constructs is hardly a sound methodology !
CONSISTENCY, THE JEWEL
Notice that Bart Ehrman actually uses an only-begotten translation, from Harry Bettenson of monogenes from the Council of Chalcedon.
"one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten "
"one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ"
And of Irenaeus:
thus wander from the truth, because their doctrine departs from Him who is truly God, being ignorant that his only-begotten Word ...
had a different name and function (e.g., Logos, Only-Begotten, Truth, Life, Christ).
Ehrman's only direct reference to this translation issue that I have found is a small footnote about Dale Moody, whom he accepts without interacting with the scholarship refutations pointed out by Marlowe.
Dale Moody, "'God's Only Son." ... argues convincingly against the rendering "only-begotten," on the grounds of etymology and usage.
Michael Marlowe interacts with Dale Moody's article "The Translation of John 3:16 in the Revised Standard Version" in his articles above. Perhaps Bart Ehrman would like to show what he considers the flaws in the careful and well-researched article by Michael Marlowe.
Ironically, Ehrman and Wallace (The Text and Grammar of John 1.18. 2004) duke it out in a modernist pot and kettle match of the two translation rewrite attempts. All these attempts started in the 20th century (!) and I believe are largely doctrinally motivated, looking to change historic Greek-->English understandings to match preferred doctrines and history. And were spurred by the awkwardness of "only begotten God" and the desire to have a more comfortable doctrinal phrase in the English modern version New Testaments, based on the Critical Text.
In this context Ehrman says "monogenhv ...Outside of the New Testament the term simply means one of a kind or unique, " and writes against the Wallace attempt (see above), which he puts as .. the unique one, who is also God, who is in the bosom of the Father.
However, the scholarship carefully given by Michael Marlowe shows that both attempts are simply errors, and that the proper translation of monogenes in John 1:18 is the historic one of the early church writers, the Reformation believers and the translations to other languages (e.g. unigenitus ) ... "only begotten"
Even if one disagrees with that simple declaration, the scholarship should be properly and carefully addressed.
And, either way, the Bart Ehrman attempt to develop convoluted textual and historical theories on dubious translation and erroneous church history should be noted and rejected.
> Regading external vs. internal evidences, internal evidence is not such that it should only be applied when external evidence is indecisive, for it is precisely internal evidence applied consistently on variations *in sequence* throughout the entire NT that gives weight to manuscripts of a certain class and diminishes the weight of manuscripts of all other classes. It is for this reason that I have come to support the increased weight of the manuscripts of the Byzantine class of manuscripts, for their inherent superiority on internal grounds when applied to variations on a sequential basis on portions of text throughout the NT. See, e.g., Maurice A. Robinson, "The Rich Man and Lazarus -- Luke 16:19-31: Text-Critical Notes," in Stanley E. Porter and Mark J. Boda, Translating the New Testament: Text, Translation, Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 111-116; and my own experimental textual commentary on Matthew chapters 1-4: http://tcgnt.blogspot.com/
This is an excellent point, but I have to pass on it for now ! :)
- Hi Folks,
No man hath seen God at any time;
the only begotten Son,
which is in the bosom of the Father,
he hath declared him.
First, I want to note that James Snapp touched on one aspect of this Bart Ehrman - John 1:18 doctrinal issue years ago.
Misquoting Jesus - Some Notes About Chapter 6 01-2006
Bart Ehrman ..variants which the author claims are doctrinally motivated alterations...Are these ten variants definitely cases of doctrinally motivated changes? ... John 1:18 - A nomina sacra -related change. One ends up with a high Christology whichever variant is original.
While I do not specifically agree with James (since I do not consider "only-begotten God" a "high Christology", it appears to be most in tune with an Arian Christology, which is hardly a high Christology, and posits a lesser begotten "God". Or it can alternatively be gnostic, which is even more unusual).
However, I understand the point of James. Which is basically that on John 1:18 especially , it is very easy to special plead virtually any doctrinal case, Alice's Restaurant style. This could be documented with a review of articles in the last decade.
And this is true especially as you have the full matrix of textual and translational variants (4 or 5 or 6 or possibly more radically different alternatives). And by the time you throw in the differing examiners own presuppositions and biases or simply analysis, virtually every claim should start as possibly suspect (even John William Burgon!) and has to be examined carefully.
Now, when reading Bart Ehrman's piece, I just thought that his claims on this verse were far more incredulous and impossible than most, as I described on my last post. With Bart Ehrman positing an ultra-early Alexandrian "orthodox " (!) corruption. And that absurdity, as I see it, simply highlights with more specificity the boomerang point of James.
Now the egg-face part.
On the post I put in a few days ago, May-04-2011
John 1:18 - translation errors --> rewriting church history --> textual theory (Bart Ehrman presentation)
One correction is needed.
> Ironically, Ehrman and Wallace (The Text and Grammar of John 1.18.2004) duke it out in a modernist pot and kettle match of the two translation rewrite attempts. All these attempts started in the 20th century (!) and I believe are largely doctrinally motivated, looking to change historic Greek-->English understandings to match preferred doctrines and history. And were spurred by the awkwardness of "only begotten God" and the desire to have a more comfortable doctrinal phrase in the English modern version New Testaments, based on the Critical Text. :)
All these attempts can only refer to the new Wallace translation. The other side .. "only Son" (or "only God") idea has historical precedent, it was argued e.g. by Westcott looking at the ECW and the unicus-unigenitus Latin translations. (Westcott seems a bit self-contradictory on these issues, however he is an example of a scholar arguing that specific point in one spot, even though he then moves to unigenitus deus). All this is without getting into the distinction between only and unique, which is a qualitative discussion beyond any current post.
Anyway, I wanted to get this correction in for the record, before it gets stale. While I fully believe that "only begotten" is the right translation, and "Son" the right text, I do want to acknowledge that the "only" idea has a real history, without going into all the details, and giving Westcott as an example of a discussion on that point, giving his view of the early church writings and translations.
I thought I would stir the John 1:18 pot a bit....
It seems to me that the place to start in the Theos/Huios debate is with the definite article before monogenes that is omitted in P66 and B, but is present in P75 and A.
Apparently a corrector added the def. articles and rel. pronoun to Aleph.
The Def. art. after Theos strikes me as just plain weird; it isn't needed as a weak rel. pronoun because the rel. pronoun immediately follows it. The def. art. preceding monogenes could easily have been lost by a homoioarchton. My sense is that the articles preceding and following monogenes XXXX are either both 'original,' or neither is original. At this point, I'm leaning towards them both being original per P75.
In scripta continua the two def. articles would read as framing devices forming an inclusio around monogenes XXXX. Why do that unless you want to call attention to the phrase? My guess (and it is just a guess) is that the readers/hearers would have found the phrase challenging. For this reason I think monogenes Theos would have been the more difficult reading to the first or second century ear; it's pretty easy to conceive a monogenes huios, especially in a world populated by the Greek and Roman pantheons, but much harder to conceptualize a monogenes Theos.
my 0.02 (break out the rotten fruit and vegetables and have at it)
2nd year MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary