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I was reading John 1:3-4 and was surprised to see the placement of a particular period.

3 πάντα δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν

4 ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων·

All things were made through him, and not one thing was made without him that was made.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men;

The period is in the third verse, immediately before the phrase ὃ γέγονεν. It is a little hard to see, but if you check two different sources, Nestle-Aland and Sacred-Texts, you will see it there too.

I am curious to know, why is the period placed before ὃ γέγονεν and not after, as ὃ γέγονεν is clearly part of the same sentence as the rest of verse three?

3 Answers 3

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P66, Middle of the second century (150 AD) Papyri, does not have the period. It also appears that the Textus Receptus does not have the period.

Comfort Commentary states: "The earliest manuscripts (𝔓66 𝔓75✱ ℵ✱ A B) do not have any punctuation in these verses."

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  • Interesting. Seems like the Antoniades edition does not have it either: apostoliki-diakonia.gr/bible/bible.asp?contents=new_testament/….
    – ktm5124
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 6:32
  • But I just checked the Society of Biblical Literature Greek New Testament (freely available here: sblgnt.com/download) and it also has the odd-looking period. That makes three sources (Nestle-Aland, Sacred-Texts, and SBLGNT) that have it.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 6:35
  • 1
    This is good information, but do you have an answer for why it is included in modern texts?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 4:46
  • P66 does not date before 200AD. Be careful in stating the dating of the mss. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus_66
    – Michael16
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 17:53
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The text notes on the NET translation give some clues to this, with historical discussion. Those notes are freely available on NetBible.org but I will post them here for direct reference:

tc There is a major punctuation problem here: Should this relative clause go with v. 3 or v. 4? The earliest mss have no punctuation (P א* A B Δ al). Many of the later mss which do have punctuation place it before the phrase, thus putting it with v. 4 (P C D L W 050* pc). NA placed the phrase in v. 3; NA moved the words to the beginning of v. 4. In a detailed article K. Aland defended the change (“Eine Untersuchung zu Johannes 1, 3-4. Über die Bedeutung eines Punktes,” ZNW 59 [1968]: 174-209). He sought to prove that the attribution of ὃ γέγονεν (ho gegonen) to v. 3 began to be carried out in the 4th century in the Greek church. This came out of the Arian controversy, and was intended as a safeguard for doctrine. The change was unknown in the West. Aland is probably correct in affirming that the phrase was attached to v. 4 by the Gnostics and the Eastern Church; only when the Arians began to use the phrase was it attached to v. 3. But this does not rule out the possibility that, by moving the words from v. 4 to v. 3, one is restoring the original reading. Understanding the words as part of v. 3 is natural and adds to the emphasis which is built up there, while it also gives a terse, forceful statement in v. 4. On the other hand, taking the phrase ὃ γέγονεν with v. 4 gives a complicated expression: C. K. Barrett says that both ways of understanding v. 4 with ὃ γέγονεν included “are almost impossibly clumsy” (St. John, 157): “That which came into being—in it the Word was life”; “That which came into being—in the Word was its life.” The following stylistic points should be noted in the solution of this problem: (1) John frequently starts sentences with ἐν (en); (2) he repeats frequently (“nothing was created that has been created”); (3) 5:26 and 6:53 both give a sense similar to v. 4 if it is understood without the phrase; (4) it makes far better Johannine sense to say that in the Word was life than to say that the created universe (what was made, ὃ γέγονεν) was life in him. In conclusion, the phrase is best taken with v. 3. Schnackenburg, Barrett, Carson, Haenchen, Morris, KJV, and NIV concur (against Brown, Beasley-Murray, and NEB). The arguments of R. Schnackenburg, St. John, 1:239-40, are particularly persuasive. (Source: NET Bible Learning Environment)

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  • Hi Scotty, welcome to the site. Perhaps you could add a summary at the end in your own words, synthesizing the source you've cited? Please be sure to take the site tour, and thanks for contributing! Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 21:09
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  1. It's my understanding that none of the original authors included
    punctuation marks, chapter numbers, or verse numbers.
  2. Therefore, the period in John 1:3 was placed by some human, and not divinely inspired.
  3. Therefore, we are free to ignore it.
  4. The period doesn't make any sense, adding to our freedom to ignore it.
  5. "God is not the author of disorder, but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33). The period causes disorder, so we should ignore it.

Why do some manuscripts have it? I'd guess because some human made a mistake.

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