...continued from The Son of God : Act III
In a recent Homily, Pope Benedict XVI referred to a blatantly false and nonsensical translation of John 1:18 to perpetuate the Christian churches' claim that the man Jesus of Nazareth is divine.
"...Today as in the past, it is not enough to be more or less like everyone else and to think like everyone else. Our lives have a deeper purpose. We need God, the God who has shown us his face and opened his heart to us: Jesus Christ. Saint John rightly says of him that only he is God and rests close to the Father's heart (cf. Jn 1:18); thus only he, from deep within God himself, could reveal God to us -- reveal to us who we are, from where we come and where we are going..."
John 1:18 warrants close examination for it is in recent English translations of this verse that we see personified the distortion of scripture to serve the interests of doctrine even though such distortions can be readily shown to be deceptive and nonsensical.
Most older English translations of the Greek, such as the KJV and the ASV, are based on the majority Byzantine/Eastern-type texts whereas many modern versions are now based on the minority Alexandrian/Western-type texts such as Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus.
Even though these two major divisions of texts have been subjected to further sub-division by scholars, we will cut a path through the resulting complexity by comparing the radically different translations of John 1:18 according to the two general categorisations.
"No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son,* which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (KJV)
"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (ASV)
"No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." (NASB)
"No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." (NIV)
Consider the mutually exclusive ideas in these ludicrous 'Alexandrian' translations:
Jesus was "seen" by humans;
God cannot be "seen" by humans;
If Jesus of Nazareth is God, as claimed by these translations, then he can be both "seen" and "unseen" at the same time. Perhaps it is the translators who have "eyes to see but see not!"
Consider also the Arius**factor. To hold to Arianism is considered 'heretical' by Orthodox Christianity. The NASB translation "only begotten God" unwittingly revives this ancient 'heresy.'
Translations of John 1:18 such as those presented to us by the NASB make a mockery of scripture. John was obviously drawing on Psalm 2:7 to justify his several descriptions of Jesus as the only-begotten Son of the Father:
"I will tell of the decree: YHWH said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee."
As always, any translation or interpretation of individual original verses must take into account the entire witness of scripture - if a particular translation or intepretation is in conflict with the whole, then it is the the fault of the translator or interpreter, not the authors of scripture.
Pope Benedict XVI is often described as an eminent theologian. His comment "Saint John rightly says of him that only he is God and rests close to the Father's heart cf. Jn 1:18)" shows that he is employing one of the 'Alexandrian' translations of this verse. Theologians and translators continue to ruthlessly and fearlessly wrest the words of scripture to prop up their unscriptural doctrines.
NOTE: Seeing we are speaking of the man who wishes to re-introduce the Tridentine (Latin) Mass, it is interesting to observe that Jerome's Latin Vulgate, commissioned by Pope Damasus in 382 AD, and the version used by the faithful in Western Chrisendom for over a thousand years, contains the "the only begotten Son" reading.
* It has been demonstrated in The Son of God : Act III that Jesus became the only-begotten Son of the Father by his resurrection.
** "He described the Son as a second, or inferior God, standing midway between the First Cause and creatures; as Himself made out of nothing, yet as making all things else; as existing before the worlds of the ages; and as arrayed in all divine perfections except the one which was their stay and foundation. God alone was without beginning, unoriginate; the Son was originated, and once had not existed. For all that has origin must begin to be." (Catholic Encyclopaedia: Arianism)