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“Son” or “Chosen One”? A Textual Problem in John 1:34

December 10, 2012

I recently submitted an article in which I examine the textual problem in John 1:34 from a perspective informed by text critical and narrative critical methodologies. I attempted this sort of argument (in a more embryonic form) in an article I published nearly eight years ago, though I’m not really sure how convincing my argument is in that piece. However, I remain interested in exploring how a narrative hermeneutic can inform all kinds of historical critical concerns, especially textual problems. What I have attempted to do is introduce narrative critical concerns as another type of internal evidence in a way that takes into account themes as they develop diachronically. This, I think, has the potential to free discussions of internal evidence from superficial synchronic readings of a given text.

The external evidence clearly favors υἱόϛ (“son”) [P66, 75 A B C L Θ Ψ 0233vid f1,13 33 1241 aur c f l g bo], while the scantily attested reading, ἐκλεκτός (“chosen”) [P106vid  א * b e ff2* sys.c] is the more difficult for both the literary and theological presentation of the Fourth Gospel. This “stalemate” leads me to trace the development of a motif that emerges in the first four days of narrated activity (1:19-51). I won’t give it all away (just in case the article is accepted for publication), but I favor  ἐκλεκτός and I believe the Christological confessions in 1:29, 36, 41, 44, 49 help shed light on the solution to this difficult textual problem.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2012 2:56 pm

    Hi, Chris,
    ” I believe the Christological confessions in 1:29, 36, 41, 44, 49 help shed light on the solution to this difficult textual problem”: yes, exactly. Cf. the SBLGNT, which adopted, as you argue, the ἐκλεκτός reading.

  2. December 10, 2012 4:22 pm

    Might there be a subtle chiastic connection between 1:34 and 1:49? For instance (A) the “descending” of the spirit in 1:32-34 and the “descending” angels in 1:51, (B) a question about where Jesus is staying coupled with an invitation to come and see in 1:38-39 and 1:46, and (C) Andrew finding Peter and Philip finding Nathaniel in 1:40-41 and 1:45. It seems to me that if this is the case “Son of God” would be the preferred reading falling somewhere between A and B on this chiastic chain.

  3. December 10, 2012 7:34 pm

    Yes, Mike. I have cited your decision in the first footnote of my article.

  4. Chris Keith permalink
    December 10, 2012 9:04 pm

    Chris, I hope this gets accepted and will look forward to seeing how you develop narrative-critical perspectives on text-critical problems. I did some work in this area as well and find it very fruitful.


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