The Virgin Birth in the Fourth Gospel

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by icthus, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. icthus

    icthus
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    There is no doubt in my mind, that the original reading of John 1:13, was a clear testimony to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. This reading is not found in any English version ( or any other language). But the evidence speaks for itself.

    The Greek of the passage is very interesting:

    Verse 12 ends in the Greek: “tois pisteuousin eis to onoma autou”, literally, “to those that believe on Name His”. “autou” of course is in the singular number.

    John then begins verse 13 (there were no verse divisions in the original), “hos…egennethe” (Who…was born). This reading is the singular, and a clear reference to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Support for this is given below. The reading as found in the Greek manuscripts, and Greek texts like TR, USB, N-A, is the, what I believe to be, the corrupted reading, “hoi…egennethesan”, which is in the plural number.

    Other considerations from verse 13 will also show that the singluar reading is the original.

    A. The phrase: “ouk ex haimaton” (not of blood). This is wrong, as the Greek is literally “not of bloods (plural)”. Dr Samuel Green, in his Greek Grammar says this: “ouk ex haimaton, not of blood, lit., bloods – a pecular phrase, with reference, perhaps, to both parents” (p.203). If this were a reference to those mentioned in verse 12, the singular would have sufficed, as it does in Acts 17:26, “made of one blood (“haimatos”, singluar) all nations of men” But, when used of the birth of Jesus Christ, He was not born of “bloods”, since He has no human father. Language that would support the singular here.
    B. Then we have the phrase: “oude ek thelematos sarkos”, (nor of the will of the flesh). Literally, “not from sexual desire”.
    C. And also the phrase: “oude ek thelematos andros” (nor of the will of man). Literally, “nor of the will of the male”. It is not the common Greek word used here, “anthropos” (man), which does also include “woman”. The denial here is of any involvement of the “male” , which is true in the birth of Jesus Christ, though not true in human births, which usually are the decision of both parents. Again, if this did refer to the “re-birth” of the believer, the Greek “anthropos” would have been sufficient.

    We have verse 14 begin with the Greek particle, “kai” (and), which is used here as “to connect” this what follows, which that which preceeds. Again, verse 13 ends in the Greek with “egennethe” (was born), in the singular; and the “kai” (and the Word became flesh…) of the beginning of verse 14 fits this perfectly. It does seem rather forced in the Greek, to have the 13th verse end with the plural, “egennethesan”, referring to those “born-again” of verse 12, and then begin verse 14 with the copulative, “kai”.

    For the singular reading, we have Tertullian as early as the middle of the second century, quote from it as part of the Gospel. Where he also charges the heretic, Valentinus, of corrupting the singular to the plural.


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    Tertullian, De Carne Christi, Chapter XIX (160-220)

    “What, then, is the meaning of this passage, “Born not of blood, nor of the
    will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God?” I shall make more
    use of this passage after I have confuted those who have tampered with it.
    They maintain that it was written thus (in the plural) “Who were born,
    not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of
    God,” as if designating those who were before mentioned as “believing in
    His name,” in order to point out the existence of that mysterious seed of
    the elect and spiritual which they appropriate to themselves. But how can
    this be, when all who believe in the name of the Lord are, by reason of the
    common principle of the human race, born of blood, and of the will of the
    flesh, and of man, as indeed is Valentinus himself? The expression is in the
    singular number, as referring to the Lord, “He was born of God.” And very
    properly, because Christ is the Word of God, and with the Word the Spirit
    of God, and by the Spirit the Power of God, and whatsoever else
    appertains to God. As flesh, however, He is not of blood, nor of the will
    of the flesh, nor of man, because it was by the will of God that the Word
    was made flesh. To the flesh, indeed, and not to the Word, accrues the
    denial of the nativity which is natural to us all as men, because it was as
    flesh that He had thus to be born, and not as the Word. Now, whilst the
    passage actually denies that He was born of the will of the flesh, how is it
    that it did not also deny (that He was born) of the substance of the flesh?
    For it did not disavow the substance of the flesh when it denied His being
    “born of blood” but only the matter of the seed, which, as all know, is the
    warm blood as converted by ebullition into the coagulum of the woman’s
    blood. In the cheese, it is from the coagulation that the milky substance
    acquires that consistency, which is condensed by infusing the rennet. We
    thus understand that what is denied is the Lord’s birth after sexual
    intercourse (as is suggested by the phrase, “the will of man and of the
    flesh”), not His nativity from a woman’s womb. Why, too, is it insisted on
    with such an accumulation of emphasis that He was not born of blood, nor
    of the will of the flesh, nor (of the will) of man, if it were not that His
    flesh was such that no man could have any doubt on the point of its being
    born from sexual intercourse? Again, although denying His birth from such
    cohabitation, the passage did not deny that He was born of real flesh; it
    rather affirmed this, by the very fact that it did not deny His birth in the
    flesh in the same way that it denied His birth from sexual intercourse.
    Pray, tell me, why the Spirit of God descended into a woman’s womb at
    all, if He did not do so for the purpose of partaking of flesh from the
    womb. For He could have become spiritual flesh without such a process,
    — much more simply, indeed, without the womb than in it. He had no
    reason for enclosing Himself within one, if He was to bear forth nothing
    from it. Not without reason, however, did He descend into a womb.
    Therefore He received (flesh) therefrom; else, if He received nothing
    therefrom, His descent into it would have been without a reason,
    especially if He meant to become flesh of that sort which was not derived
    from a womb, that is to say, a spiritual one.”

    And, also in chapter 24 uses the singular reading against the Ebionites: “Again,
    there is an answer to Ebion in the Scripture: “Born, not of blood, nor of
    the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.””

    The following evidence for the singular reading is from a very early date:

    EPISTULA APOSTOLORUM (A.D.150) – Greek Work

    IREANEUS, BISHOP OF LYONS (A.D.120-202) – Greek Church father

    ORIGEN (A.D.185-254) - heretic - Greek

    AMBROSE, BISHOP OF MALAN (A.D.339-397) – Latin

    AUGUSTINE, BISHOP OF HIPPO (A.D.354-430) – Latin

    THE LATIN CODEX VERONENSIS (b)- OLD LATIN (5th Century)

    LIBER COMICUS (LECTIONARY) - (6th Century) – Latin

    JOHN OF DAMASCUS (A.D.675-740)
     
  2. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    So all Greek MSS and all Latin MSS (save one) with the original reading have perished?

    Yours, Bluefalcon
     
  3. icthus

    icthus
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    I would not say perished, but the reading was changed at a very early time, as Tertullian indicates, from the singular to the plural. Because the change is just a matter of some Greek characters, and the change was not glaring, in that it seemed to fit in with the new birth of believers, that it was one that "got away". But, the twin facts, of the testimony of Greek writings as early as 150 A.D, some 60 years after the Gospel was written, and the Greek of the present passage, is enough in my mind to say that the reference to the Virgin Birth was clearly the original. The singular has even been supported by liberal scholars like, Harnack and Loisy; as does the conservative scholars, Blass and Zahn.
     
  4. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    First, the primary evidence (Greek MSS) is unanimously for the plural reading, referring to believers, not the singular reading, referring to Christ. Second, the error is more easily accounted for in the Latin tradition (needing only one change) than in the Greek tradition (needing two changes). These two observations make it more probable that the plural is original, regardless of what the Fathers say whose main motivations had to do with defeating heretics by any and every apologetic conceivable to mankind.

    In Latin, the only change necesssary has to do with changing the last word of Jn. 1:13 only slightly, from SUNT to EST, something that might have been easy to do if one were expecting to see EST, even if EST was not there. In Greek it is different. No MSS read the singular, but even if they did originally, it would have required three steps, first changing the hypothetical singular OS to OI at the beginning of Jn. 1:13, and second changing the hypothetical singular EGENNHQH to plural EGENNHQHSAN at the end of Jn. 1:13, and third obliterating every last Greek MS on the face of the earth that read the singular and that had been multiplying themselves up until the time the corruption had been introduced.

    In my opinion, the probability of these three necessary steps occuring is too minute to demand anyone's serious consideration, and thus the plural (referring to believers) in Jn. 1:13 must stand.

    Yours, Bluefalcon
     
  5. icthus

    icthus
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    You are entitled to your opinion, but I disagree with you. You have failed to deal with the Greek grammar, which supports the singular, and not the plural.Verse 12 ends with "Him" (in the Greek text)in the singular, and verse 13 begins with the plural "who" (according to the reading you support). In Greek grammar there should be an agreement with number and gender. This is not there. Why? Why the plural "bloods" and not "blood"? Why "male" and not "man"? How can verse 13 in the Greek end with "were born" (reference to believers), and then verse 14 begin with the copulative "kai"?. Bearing in mind that there were not verse divisions in the original.

    Greek manuscripts are the work of copyists, as we do not have the originals for any of the Bible books. Errors and corruptions did occur.

    Are you aware, that the account of the woman caught in adultery in John, is found in the oldest Greek Mss, which dates from about the 5th or sixth century. No Greek Mss before this time has it. Yet Jerome writing about 100 years before this time, says that this account of the woman was found "in many Manuscripts both Greek and Latin". Where are these many Mss.?

    The singular reading in John 1:13 is found in a Greek work, the Epistula Apostolorum, which dates from around 150 A.D. And the testimony of Tertulian, who also used the Greek NT along with the Latin, about the same time, uses the singular to combat the heresies of the Gnostics, and actually charges the heretics of corrupting the reading to the plural. I see no reason to doubt Tertullian.
     
  6. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    Certainly you see that OI (1:13) agrees with TOIS PISTEUOUSIN (1:12) in gender and number. Simple and perfect Greek grammar, to those who have ears to hear.

    Yours, Bluefalcon
     
  7. icthus

    icthus
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    Certainly you see that OI (1:13) agrees with TOIS PISTEUOUSIN (1:12) in gender and number. Simple and perfect Greek grammar, to those who have ears to hear.

    Yours, Bluefalcon
    </font>[/QUOTE]What of the rest?
     
  8. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    Okay, I admit Jn. 1:13 sounds like it could or even should be talking about the Logos, and such is a reason one, even inadvertently, might have changed the text to make it refer to the Logos even though it originally referred to those who believe. Those born again are not born again by blood but rather by the Spirit, not by the will of the flesh but rather by God's will, not by the will of the male race which has dominated the world throughout history by his will but rather by God's will -- all in all, those who believe are born again of, by and through God himself.

    Yours, Bluefalcon
     
  9. icthus

    icthus
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    No, you have oversimplified the Greek of the verse. As I have pointed out, to denote human descent, as in "not of blood", the Greek "haimatos" in the singular, as used for this very purpose in Acts 17:26, would have been employed. Why use the plural, except to deny that "both parents" were inlvolved in the birth? Then, the express phrase, "nor of the will of the male", in this case, "the father", is so designed, as to exculde any involvement of the father in the birth. This agrees with both Mathew and Luke's accounts. In Matthew 1:16 we read: "and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, Who is called Christ" The words "of whom" (ex hes) are singular in number, and feminie in gender, excluding Joseph. Likewise in Luke 1:35; "the Holy One born of you (ek sou, singular, feminine), shall be called the Son of God"

    You simply cannot down-play the importance of the Greek in this passage in John.
     
  10. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    Here's a piece from Clarke's commentary on the plural AIMATWN (of blood):

    They allow that the Israelites had in Egypt cast off circumcision, and were consequently out of the covenant; but at length they were circumcised, and they mingled the blood of circumcision with the blood of the paschal lamb, and from this union of bloods they were again made the children of God. See Lightfoot. This was the only way by which the Jews could be made the sons of God; but the evangelist shows them that, under the Gospel dispensation, no person could become a child of God, but by being spiritually regenerated.

    Yours, Bluefalcon
     
  11. icthus

    icthus
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    Hi, I see you did not include the main part:

    "not of bloods-the union of father and mother, or of a distinguished or illustrious ancestry; for the Hebrew language makes use of the plural to point out the dignity or excellence of a thing" (Clarke)

    The first thing that Clarke says, is exactly what I am saying, and I believe what the Apostle John is also saying here.

    There is NO evidence that the plural was ever changed to the singular, but, we do know from Tertullian, of the opposite. Also, this reading was known in both Greek and Latin, and at a very early time.
     

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