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John 9:35; DRB;

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out: and when he had found him, he said to him: Dost thou believe in the Son of God?

John 9:35; ESV;

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

According to textual criticism, what is the most accurate translation: son of man or son of God?

2 Answers 2

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In John 9:35 there is a variation in the Greek manuscript evidence. Let me summarize it the data by saying:

  • that all the early manuscripts before the 5th century uniformly have "son of man", including the quotation of the church fathers of this time. Quite a number after that time also have the same reading.
  • Most of the manuscripts from the 5th century onwards have "son of God". This includes the Byzantine tradition (when most of the manuscripts were produced!)

For much more detail about precisely which manuscripts have which reading see UBS5 for an exhaustive list all the manuscripts involved. The TR also has "son of God".

UBS5 regards the reading "son of man" as {A} - essentially certain.

Bruce Metzger in the "Textual commentary on the GNT" says this:

The external support for ἀνθρώπου is so weighty, and the improbability of θεοῦ being altered to ἀνθρώπου is so great, that the Committee regarded the reading adopted for the text as virtually certain.

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“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

Some versions render this “Son of God” while others render it as “Son of Man.” Which is correct?

According to Ellicott's Commentary,

“The balance of MSS. authority (including both the Sinaitic and the Vatican MSS) are in favour of ‘the Son of man... although, 'The Son of God' is very strongly supported and is at least as old as the second century."

While I have not personally examined the evidence of the ancient MSS myself, I have examined about seventeen different Greek texts on this verse and the rendering is about evenly split. Since Jesus is both the Son of God and the Son of Man, this really has no impact on the verse.

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