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Note re: John 1.3-4

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For the passage from John, I have followed the puncutation preferred by Croy in the Exercises at section 1.7. However, this is one of the most controversial editorial issues in New Testament studies.

Below you will find a note from A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Bruce M. Metzger (1971; second edition 1994). The first part of the note represents the decision to puncutate ὃ γέγονεν [the made thing] with the following words ἐν αὐτῷ [in him]. Metzger himself disagrees with this reading, so there follows a second note in which he argues that the phrase should be taken with the preceding sentence.

It is worth learning Greek so that you can understand the different factors involved here, and appreciate the different options! There can be no unarguable "right" answer to this fascinating question!

Should the words ὃ γέγονεν be joined with what goes before or with what follows? The oldest manuscripts have no punctuation here, and in any case the presence of punctuation in Greek manuscripts, as well as in versional and patristic sources, cannot be regarded as more than the reflection of current exegetical understanding of the meaning of the passage.

A majority of the Committee was impressed by the consensus of ante-Nicene writers (orthodox and heretical alike) who took ὃ γέγονεν with what follows. When, however, in the fourth century Arians and the Macedonian heretics began to appeal to the passage to prove that the Holy Spirit is to be regarded as one of the created things, orthodox writers preferred to take ὃ γέγονεν with the preceding sentence, thus removing the possibility of heretical use of the passage.

The punctuation adopted for the text is in accord with what a majority regarded as the rhythmical balance of the opening verses of the Prologue, where the climactic or "staircase" parallelism seems to demand that the end of one line should match the beginning of the next.

[On the other hand, however, none of these arguments is conclusive and other considerations favor taking ὃ γέγονεν with the preceding sentence. Thus, against the consideration of the so-called rhythmical balance (which after all is present in only a portion of the Prologue, and may not necessarily involve ὃ γέγονεν ) must be set John's fondness for beginning a sentence of clause with ἐν and a demonstrative pronoun. It was natural for the Gnostics, who sought support from the Fourth Gospel for their doctrine of the origin of the Ogdoad, to take ὃ γέγονεν with the following sentence ("That which has been made in him was life" - whatever that may be supposed to mean). It is more consistent with the Johannine repetitive style, as well as with Johnannine doctrine, to say nothing concerning the sense of the passage, to punctuate with a full stop after ὃ γέγονεν . Bruce M. Metzger]

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Biblical Greek Online. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. Page last updated: April 9, 2005 8:06 PM

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