Coptic John 1:1, Revisited

by rmnnoute 30 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • PSacramento


    It is certainly ONE point of view.

    Have you read the Apostolic Fathers and their views? some who knew and were taught by John personally? ( supposedly)

  • rmnnoute

    Thanks. Yes, I have read the Apostolic Fathers, as well as the Greek New Testament itself. Of interest is the fact that the church father Origen wrote a "Commentary on the Gospel of John" which mentioned the significance of the use and non-use (anarthrous construction) of the Greek article in John 1:1. Origen, who lived for a while in Egypt, was also roughly contemporaneous with the Egyptian Sahidic Coptic translators, and they may have held theological concepts similar to those of Origen.

  • PSacramento

    And Ignatious said," But our Physician is the only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word

    And to polycarp he wrote:

    "Jesus is God", "God incarnate,"

    And Clement wrote:

    “We ought to think of Jesus Christ as of God.” (2nd Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 1:1)

  • rmnnoute

    The problem with the Apostolic Fathers is that they were not the Apostles, and the teaching of the Apostles themselves takes precedence over what came later. The apostle Paul warned of later deviations of the truth. So, to the extent that the Apostolic Fathers agree with what the Apostles themselves wrote, well and good. Where they deviate, that also must be taken into account. But this is going off-topic. The topic is the Sahidic Coptic text and its rendering of John 1:1 from the Koine Greek. The Coptic text is just as valuable for Bible students as are the Syriac Version and the Latin Vulgate, or the Greek Septuagint.

  • PSacramento

    yes, the apostolic fathers were NOT apostles, though they were their students ( Ignatius was Peter's disciple) and yes one must be mindful of what could be "lost in the translation" just as we are mindufl of what can be lost in the "generation".

    Which is applcable to the coptic text as well.

  • rmnnoute

    Agreed. The Coptic text should not be accepted without research and examination. But it appears that Coptic John 1:1 agrees with what is known about the Greek text of that same verse.

    For example, instead of the common translation "the Word was God" at John 1:1c, the Coptic has "the Word was a God" (Lance Jenott) or the Word was "a-god." (Bentley Layton, Coptic in 20 Lessons, 2007). Alternatively, the Coptic could support "the Word was divine." But the Coptic does not support a translation like "the Word was God."

    According to Greek scholar William Barclay, neither does the Greek text support the reading, "the Word was God." Barclay writes: "When a Greek noun has not got the article in front of it, it becomes rather a description than an identification, and has the character of an adjective rather than of a noun....John is not here identifying the Word with God. To put it very simply, he does not say that Jesus was God." -- Many Witnesses, One Lord, pp. 23, 24

    Other Greek scholars also prefer a "qualitative" reading for John 1:1c, rather than the definite reading that is found in the King James and similar versions. The Coptic reading is well within the "qualitative" range.

  • PSacramento

    Here is the thing, IF John doesn't say that Jesus is God, whatis he saying?

    To say "a god" he woudl have written "a God", but that would not have been in line with t he rest of his Gospel.

    Yes, I agree that John was stating that Jesus was divine, of the same nature, in perfect union with what God is and that is based by what John wrote in the rest og the GOJ.

    However, if we take 'a god" we are not being true to the rest of what John wrote, not to mention for his time it would have been borderline polytheisim.

    Indeed, "and what God was, the word was" is probably the best way to read it, or "all that God was, the word was".

    The word was distinct from all the rest and was in perfect union with God, a true representation of God, to say that the word was "a god", which insinuates "one of many", is NOT inline with Johanine thought.

  • rmnnoute

    Fair enough, but Johannine thought would have to be based on what his Master taught. And according to John's Gospel, his Master taught that the Father was "my God and your God." (John 20:17) And if John also wrote the book of Revelation, we find there that the resurrected Jesus in heaven continues to refer to his Father as "my God." (Revelation 3:12)

    According to John, the life of Jesus comes from the Father: "I live because of the Father." (John 6:57) Origen and other church fathers made the same point. But nowhere do we read that the life of the Father comes from, or depends on, the Son. Really, if that were the case, the terms "Father" and "Son" would have no rational meaning.

    As a Hebrew, a Jew, John would know that the Hebrew Scriptures call God's representatives (angels and men) "gods" because of the authority which He invests in them to speak in His name and perform His will. It would have nothing at all to do with polytheism; it was a mere acknowledgment of how God delegates His authority. (John 10:34, 35)

    Jesus is "a god" rather simply, he is God's Son. He is a divine being, and unique as God's only-begotten Son. But the Bible, including the Johannine writings, make it clear that, not only is Jesus not God Almighty, but Jesus is subordinate to God Almighty.

    John is saying that Jesus is the Son of God. Not that Jesus is "God the Son." It's not complicated at all.

  • leavingwt


  • ShadesofGrey
    I prefer the interlinear translation of John 1: In beginning was the Word and the Word was with the God and God was the Word.
    Without Him came into being not even one thing.
    In him life was and the life was the light of men.
    And if John also wrote the book of Revelation, we find there that the resurrected Jesus in heaven continues to refer to his Father as "my God." (Revelation 3:12)

    Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, he beginning and the end.” 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.

    Revelation 1:5-17 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

    To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

    8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

    12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man,

    17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

    Also see Isaiah 40:10 10 Behold, the Lord [i] GOD will come with might,
    With His arm ruling for Him.
    Behold, His reward is with Him
    And His recompense before Him.

    Revelation 22:12,13.

    12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

    14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

    16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches.

    The Lord, who has taken up your cause, and who gave you life in your mother's body, says, I am the Lord who makes all things; stretching out the heavens by myself, and giving the earth its limits; who was with me? Isaiah 44:24

    But of the Son he says: You, Lord, at the first did put the earth on its base, and the heavens are the works of your hands. Hebrews 1:10

    22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.

    23 By myself have I sworn, the word is gone forth from my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Isaiah 45:22,23

    10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phillipians 2:10;11

    whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
    In order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.*

    *1 John 2:23;John 5:23

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