In episode 7 of this series, we take a close look at John 1:12-14. Verse 13 contains a textual variant which most Christians are not familiar with. The common versions translate this verse as if it referred to Christians, “who were begotten (plural) … out of God.” However, three lines of evidence point to the singular reading, “who was begotten (singular) … out of God,” meaning the “Logos” who afterward “became flesh and dwelled among us.” Thus there were two begetting events, the first “out of God” as Son of God and later from Mary as Son of Man.
1. The oldest patristic quotes of this verse all use the singular, “who was begotten.” Tertullian claimed that the plural reading was a corruption of the Valentinian Gnostic sect. The patristic quotes are older than the oldest Greek copy of John (p 66).
2. Very early translations from the Greek into other languages have the singular reading, showing that the Greek copies used to translate them had the singular reading.
3. If the plural reading is what John actually wrote, it would be the only time John referred to Christians as “were begotten out of God” using the aorist tense (which refers to a singular historic event). Every other time John used the expression “begotten out of God” he distinguished between Christ as “was begotten out of God” (aorist tense – historical event) and Christians “having been begotten out of God” (perfect tense – a present state which is the result of a past action).
The ancient reading has the Son first “begotten out of God” and afterwards He “became flesh.”
If you have comments or questions, please click the “Watch on YouTube” link in the video above, and post comments under the video there.