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Monogenes Theos


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#1 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:04 AM

John 1:
18  No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.


Two readings of this passage are known - this reading, and the reading which replaces 'Son' with 'God'. What is the evdience for each reading?

#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:05 AM

In the Nestle-Aland 27 (the text of the UBS 4), the reading 'monogenes Theos' is in angled brackets, indicating that it is a disputed reading.
Not only that, but it is given the designation 'B', indicating that it is a disputed reading of the second order, where the order of likelihood ranges from A to D.

This reading was decided upon on the basis that P66 and P75 (two recently discovered fragmentary parchments which are primary Alexandrian texts), gave further external support to the later MSS which read 'Theos'. The weighting in this decision is clearly very slender, and the committee acknowledged that the evidence these texts provides is still doubtful:

'A majority of the Committee regarded the reading 'monogenos uios', (only begotten son) which undoubtedly is easier than 'monogenes Theos' (only begotten God) to be the result of scribal assimilation to John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9.'


The decision was made on the basis of the slight weighting provided by these two fragments, even though the reading 'monogenes uios' was considered by all to be 'undoubtedly easier'. The decision to give this reading the designation 'B' (a disputed reading of the second order), was a reflection of the Committee's dissatisfaction with the incompatibility of then slender external evidence (the added weight of P66 and P75), with the more robust internal evidence (an easier reading is almost always considered superior to a more cumbersome reading, since the latter is almost always the result of textual corruption).

#3 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:05 AM

A formal objection was recorded by Allen Wikgren, one of the Committee members:

'It is doubtful that the author would have written monogenes Theos, which may be a primitive, transcriptional error in the Alexandrian tradition.
At least a D decision would have been prefereable.'

Nestle-Aland Committee Member Allen Wikgren, quoted in Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament, 2nd edition, pg. 170.



#4 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:05 AM

Support for the reading 'uios' ('son'):

- Uncials: A (5th century), E, F, G, H, Delta, Theta, Psi (these last 7 codices from the 8th and 9th centuries);

- Miniscules: family 1, family 13, 28, 157, 180, 205, and numerous others;

- Lectionaries: majority;

- Ancient versions: several Old Latin mss. (including "a," 4th century), the Vulgate, the Curetonian version of the Old Syriac (3rd-4th century), the Harclean and Palestinian Syriac, the Armenian and Ethiopic versions, the earlier of two Georgian versions (9th century), and the Old Church Slavonic version;

- Church fathers: Hippolytus (d. 235), Letter of Hymenaeus (about 268), Alexander, Eustathius, Chrysostom, Theodore, Tertullian, Jerome, and countless others.

#5 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:06 AM

The Old Latin manuscripts of John 1:18 read, "deum nemo uidit umquam. unigenitus filius. qui est in sinu patris. ipse narrauit." The word "unigenitus" means, "only begotten, only; of the same parentage."

(Dr. John C. Traupman, Latin Dictionary, 323).


In 202 AD, Irenaeus wrote,

"For 'no man,' he says, 'hath seen God at any time,' unless 'the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared [Him].' For He, the Son who is in His bosom, declares to all the Father who is invisible."

(Against Heresies, 3:11:6).


"the only begotten Son, who. . ."

(Against Heresies, IV:20:6).


Finally, this anomaly:

"the only begotten God, which . . ."

(IV:20:11).


Which serves to make the point.

#6 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:07 AM

In 324 AD, Alexander of Alexandria wrote:

"Moreover, that the Son of God was not produced out of what did not exist, and that there never was a time when He did not exist, is taught expressly by John the Evangelist, who writes this of Him:

'The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.'
The divine teacher, because he intended to show that the Father and the Son are two and inseparable from each other, does in fact specify that He is in the bosom of the Father."

(W.A. Jurgens, The Faith Of The Early Fathers, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, p. 300).


Alexander's grammar was correct, even if his theology was off.

#7 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:07 AM

The Nicene Creed (344 AD) states:

"We believe in one God the Father Almighty, . . . And in His Only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who before all ages was begotten from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, by whom all things were made, in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible . . ."

(as cited from Athanasius: De Synodis, II:26).



#8 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:08 AM

Athanasius (373 AD) states,

"If then He is Only-begotten, as indeed He is, 'First-born' needs some explanation; but if He be really First-born, then He is not Only-begotten and First-born, except in different relations; that is, Only-begotten, because of His generation from the Father, as has been said; and First-born, because of His condescension to the creation and His making the many His brethren."

(Discourse II, XXI:62).



#9 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:08 AM

Ambrose (397 AD) writes,

"For this reason also the evangelist says, 'No one has at any time seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.' 'The bosom of the Father,' then, is to be understood in a spiritual sense, as a kind of innermost dwelling of the Father's love and of His nature, in which the Son always dwells. Even so, the Father's womb is the spiritual womb of an inner sanctuary, from which the Son has proceeded just as from a generative womb."

(The Patrarches, 11:51).



#10 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:08 AM

Finally, Augustine (430 AD) wrote:

"For Himself hath said: No man hath seen God at any time, but the Only-Begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. Therefore we know the Father by Him, being they to whom He hath declared Him."

(Homilies On The Gospel According To St. John, XLVII:3).



#11 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:08 AM

It is critical to understand that many trinitarians today reject the reading 'monogenes theos', for the simple reason that it is considered heresy!

"We are offended at reading (against S. John 1:18) - ‘Many very ancient authorities read God only begotten:’ whereas the ‘authorities’ alluded to read ‘monogenes Theos’ - whether with or without the definite article prefixed - which, as the Revisionists are perfectly well aware, means ‘the only-begotten God,’ and no other thing. Why then did they not say so? Because, we answer, they were ashamed of the expression."

John William Burgon, Dean of Chichester College, The Revision Revised, pg. 182.



#12 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:09 AM

"It will be remembered that St. John in his grand preface does not rise to the full height of his sublime argument until he reaches the eighteenth verse. He had said (ver. 14) that ‘the Word was made flesh,’ &c.; a statement which Valentinus was willing to admit.

But, as we have seen, the heresiarch (Valentinus) and his followers denied that ‘the Word’ is also the Son of God. As if in order to bar the door against this pretense, St. John announces (ver. 18) that ‘the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him’: thus establishing the identity of the Word and the Only begotten Son. What else could the Valentinians do with so plain a statement, but seek to deprave it?"

John William Burgon, Dean of Chichester College, The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, pg.215.



#13 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:09 AM

"The Gnostics of the second century, especially the Valentinians and Basilidians, made abundant use of the fourth Gospel, which alternately offended them by its historical realism, and attracted them by its idealism and mysticism… Valentinus himself (according to Tertullian) tried either to explain it away, or he put his own meaning into it…

In the Gnostic systems, especially that of Valentinus, "pleroma" signifies the intellectual and spiritual world, including all Divine powers or aeons, in opposition to the "kenoma," i.e., the void, the emptiness, the material world… They included in the pleroma a succession of emanations from the Divine abyss, which form the links between the infinite and the finite; and they lowered the dignity of Christ by making him simply the highest of those intermediate aeons."

Philip Schaff, First Period: The Church Under The Apostles, Chapter XII. (emphasis added).



#14 Fortigurn

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:09 AM

"Valentinus or Valentine is the author of the most profound and luxuriant, as well as the most influential and best known of the Gnostic systems… He was probably of Egyptian Jewish descent and Alexandrian education… He made much use of the Prologue of John’s Gospel and the Epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians; but by a wild exegesis he put his own pantheistic and mythological fancies into the apostolic words, such as Logos, Only Begotten, Truth, Life, Pleroma, Ecclesia…

Tertullian says his heresy ‘fashioned itself into as many shapes as a courtesan who usually changes and adjusts her dress every day.’"

Philip Schaff, Second Period: Ante-Nicene Christianity, Chapter XI. (emphasis added).






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