“Son Of God” Or “God’s Chosen One” (John 1:34)? A Narrative-Critical Solution To A Text-Critical Problem -- By: Christopher W. Skinner

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 25:3 (NA 2015)
Article: “Son Of God” Or “God’s Chosen One” (John 1:34)? A Narrative-Critical Solution To A Text-Critical Problem
Author: Christopher W. Skinner


“Son Of God” Or “God’s Chosen One” (John 1:34)? A Narrative-Critical Solution To A Text-Critical Problem

Christopher W. Skinner

University Of Mount Olive

A reasoned-eclectic approach to NT textual criticism examines both external and internal evidence when evaluating textual problems. This study explores the value of narrative criticism as another internal criterion when discussing intrinsic probabilities; specific attention is given to resolving the textual problem in John 1:34 (“Son of God” versus “God’s chosen one”). After examining the external evidence, the discussion turns to the motif of incomplete understanding that emerges over the first four days of the narrative proper (1:19-51). Against the backdrop of the Johannine prologue (1:1-18), which provides the literary audience with a complete description of Jesus’ identity, this pattern of misunderstanding suggests that “God’s chosen one”—an otherwise unattested term in the Fourth Gospel—is to be preferred over the “Son of God” reading.

Key Words: John, textual criticism, narrative criticism, son, chosen, misunderstanding

Author’s note: I would like to thank Francis J. Moloney and Chris Keith, both of whom read earlier drafts of this article and made suggestions for improvement.

Introduction

A difficult textual problem arises at John 1:34, where the standard critical editions of the Greek NT read ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (“the Son of God”).1 Though the external evidence for this reading is impressive, the internal

evidence strongly favors the variant reading, ὁ ἐκλεκτὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (“God’s chosen one”). Translation committees and commentators are divided over this difficult verse.2 This essay aims to examine the textual evidence using a reasoned-eclectic approach, while also introducing narrative-critical concerns that are generally ignored by textual critics. This two-pronged approach is employed with the belief that a narrative hermeneutic can inform text-critical methodology and in the process offer a plausible solution to the textual problem in John 1:34.3

Analyzing The Textual Problem

The standard eclectic t...

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