Exodus 3:14 LXX and John 1:18

Are you learning Koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament and most other post-classical Greek texts? Whatever your level, use this forum to discuss all things Koine, Biblical or otherwise, including grammar, textbook talk, difficult passages, and more.
Post Reply
User avatar
Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1007
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Exodus 3:14 LXX and John 1:18

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:45 pm

Exodus 3:14 LXX Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν· καὶ εἶπεν Οὕτως ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραήλ Ὁ ὢν ἀπέσταλκέν με πρὸς ὑμᾶς

John 1:18 θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. 

It is well know that the second finite Hebrew verb in Exodus 3:14 MT, אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה is rendered by the substantive participle ὁ ὤν rather than the equivalent finite form in Greek, εἰμί, despite the fact that the first אהיה, identical to the second, is translated using εἰμί. Different explanations in the history of interpretation have been given. One is that Greek has trouble with such direct equivalencies, although one sees directly corresponding subjects and predicates throughout Greek literature, so this explanation is unlikely. More plausible is that the translators, possibly influenced by neo-Platonism, are giving an interpretive paraphrase to make it a statement of God's absolute existence. The writer of Revelation (traditionally John the apostle) certainly seems to have LXX 3:14 in mind in Rev 1:4:

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος...

There treated as indeclinable, perhaps to emphasize that he is using a form of the divine name. 

I believe the the writer of John also has the divine name LXX in mind at John 1:18, particularly as we consider the superior reading θεός vs. υἱός. Even if υἱός is read, the language connects to Ex 3:14 and further underscores the apostle's emphasis on the divine nature of the Logos begun in 1:1 of the prologue. This forms a ring composition which strengthens the theme, concludes the prologue and provides the transition to the narrative portions of John.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 3123
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Exodus 3:14 LXX and John 1:18

Post by jeidsath » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:03 pm

Does the world really need another thread about this?

I think that you may be right about ὁ ὢν but its usage in 2 John should give you some pause about being certain about anything.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

User avatar
Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1007
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: Exodus 3:14 LXX and John 1:18

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:51 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:03 pm
Does the world really need another thread about this?

I think that you may be right about ὁ ὢν but its usage in 2 John should give you some pause about being certain about anything.
Define "need..." :) However, could be more specific?
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 3123
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Exodus 3:14 LXX and John 1:18

Post by jeidsath » Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:11 pm

Philo and the Septuagint uses ὁ ὢν consistently to mean God. Paul too, though not quite the same way.

But there is one exception, which the TLG tells me that I was miss-remembering. Not 2 John, but the Gospel of John itself (was I thinking "secundum"?):

John 3:31: Ὁ ἄνωθεν ἐρχόμενος ἐπάνω πάντων ἐστίν· ὁ ὢν ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἐστιν καὶ ἐκ τῆς γῆς λαλεῖ. ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐρχόμενος [ἐπάνω πάντων ἐστίν·]

John 6:46: οὐχ ὅτι τὸν πατέρα ἑώρακέν τις εἰ μὴ ὁ ὢν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, οὗτος ἑώρακεν τὸν πατέρα.

John 12:17: ἐμαρτύρει οὖν ὁ ὄχλος ὁ ὢν μετ’ αὐτοῦ ὅτε τὸν Λάζαρον ἐφώνησεν ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου καὶ ἤγειρεν αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν.

John 18:37: εἶπεν οὖν αὐτῷ ὁ Πιλᾶτος, Οὐκοῦν βασιλεὺς εἶ σύ; ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Σὺ λέγεις ὅτι βασιλεύς εἰμι. ἐγὼ εἰς τοῦτο γεγέννημαι καὶ εἰς τοῦτο ἐλήλυθα εἰς τὸν κόσμον, ἵνα μαρτυρήσω τῇ ἀληθείᾳ· πᾶς ὁ ὢν ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας ἀκούει μου τῆς φωνῆς.

Out of all of the authors in the TLG, John is the one exception who uses ὁ ὢν as a more normal expression. So in Philo, John 1:18 would have meant exactly what you say it does. But in John, the "he who is" pattern is far more standard. And it becomes easy to see why a scribe familiar with the Septuagint (and Philo?) would have changed υἱός to θεός.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

User avatar
Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1007
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: Exodus 3:14 LXX and John 1:18

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:24 pm

Thanks, Joel, that's great feedback, and any developed writing on the subject would have to interact with all this. Philo, of course, roughly contemporaneous with the composition of the NT writings, and whether or not he influenced any of the NT authors directly (now that's a hotly debated topic), at the very least he shows a developing strain in Judaism apart from the influence of Christianity (but very much influenced by Plato!), which shows some similar themes. I really don't want a theological discussion, but very interested in the use of language and intertextuality.
Metzger wrote: μονογενὴς θεός {B}

With the acquisition of 𝔓66 and 𝔓75, both of which read θεός, the external support of this reading has been notably strengthened. A majority of the Committee regarded the reading μονογενὴς υἱός, which undoubtedly is easier than μονογενὴς θεός, to be the result of scribal assimilation to Jn 3:16, 18; 1 Jn 4:9. The anarthrous use of θεός (cf. 1:1) appears to be more primitive. There is no reason why the article should have been deleted, and when υἱός supplanted θεός it would certainly have been added. The shortest reading, ὁ μονογενής, while attractive because of internal considerations, is too poorly attested for acceptance as the text.

Some modern commentators take μονογενής as a noun and punctuate so as to have three distinct designations of him who makes God known (μονογενής, θεός, ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς …).

(It is doubtful that the author would have written μονογενὴς θεός, which may be a primitive, transcriptional error in the Alexandrian tradition (Υς/Θς). At least a {D} decision would be preferable. A.W.)
Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (pp. 169–170). London; New York: United Bible Societies.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
Posts: 3123
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Exodus 3:14 LXX and John 1:18

Post by jeidsath » Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:04 pm

For a more detailed version of the argument, see Hort's Two Disserations. Here he is on the possibility of a transcriptional error.
Spoiler
Show
Image
Image
Image
Basically, the riddle has been, why would υιος have been changed to θεος? The other direction is clear. θεος is corrected to υιος because of μονογενης. μονογενης θεος is too weird and must be original.

But here we have a candidate answer: Assimilation not to μονογενης, but to ο ων.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

User avatar
Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1007
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: Exodus 3:14 LXX and John 1:18

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:14 pm

I have no idea what you mean by "candidate answer." Do note, however, that there is better manuscript support for the reading than there was in W&H's time.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Post Reply