123: How do you get from one God to a three-in-One God? How do you relate to a God like that? Is it important that the Father and the Son are not confused? How much of what I believe is church tradition? Here are snippets of my journey, which to my greatest surprise has stumbled over some answers.
Having completed my main review of the New Testament (and some Old Testament) texts, cataloguing almost 500 passages, I am "celebrating" that milestone by publishing a part of the paper that helps me in the weighing of these texts, which is currently entitled Chapter 2: Key Notions Defined. It is also an opportunity for me to tidy up these definitions. Here is the next one, this time with footnotes (I have no idea why sometimes Blogger includes and excludes them):
This is essentially the study – I would even say a science –
of establishing the most likely original text written by the author via the
painstaking examination of masses of manuscript data. Its necessity flows from
the following two facts:
We have no originals manuscripts
The copies we have all differ
In fact, the extant Greek manuscripts alone currently number
close to 6000, and most evangelical or conservative scholars are not troubled
by the large number of differences (I will not scare the reader with the agreed
approximate number), as the vast majority of these are considered to be of no
importance. However, there are passages where textual variants affect meaning,
and some of these also concern the scriptural justification of Fourth Century
Trinitarianism. Furthermore, these kinds of variants are no longer considered
by textual critics to be all accidental.
For example, does John 1:18 say “the only begotten God”,
“only begotten God”, “the only begotten Son”, “only
begotten Son of God”, or “the only begotten”? In total there are
no less than thirteen different variants depending on the manuscript you are
This verse clearly got up several copyists noses! Copyists are not machines –
they are believers, followers of Christ, as Philip M. Miller is careful
to note as he references to the late “giant” of textual criticism, Bruce
“Metzger, while wrestling with the difficulties alterations
raised in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, likewise noted the
suppression of doctrinally difficult words, and secondary improvements
‘introduced from a sense of reverence for the person of Jesus’”.
This seemingly technical section will become relevant when
we treat one passage in Chapter 7.
P.M. Miller, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament: Manuscript,
Patristic and Apocryphal Evidence, p. 73 lists the manuscripts concerned.
The most attested source (which of course does not necessarily mean the
original) is “the only begotten son”
Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd
ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), 200, note on John 11.33
Miller, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament: Manuscript, Patristic
and Apocryphal Evidence, p. 64