[textualcriticism] John 1:18 - translation errors --> rewriting church history --> textual theory (Bart Ehrman presentation)
- 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