Friday, October 10, 2014

Aquinas--Gospel of John 1:14


Part I: Chapters 1-7 translated by James A. Weisheipl, O.P.
Magi Books, Inc., Albany, N.Y.

Lectio 7: καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν

"But if this were so, it would mean that God did not become man, for one particular suppositum cannot be predicated of another. Accordingly, if the person or suppositum of the Word is different than the person or suppositum of the man, in Christ, then what the Evangelist says is not true, namely, the Word was made flesh. For a thing is made or becomes something in order to be it; if, then, the Word is not man, it could not be said that the Word became man. And so the Evangelist expressly said was made, and not 'assumed,' to show that the union of the Word to flesh is not such as was the 'lifting up' of the prophets, who were not 'taken up' into a unity of person, but for the prophetic act. This union is such as would truly make God man and man God, i.e., that God would be man" (170).

(Sed secundum hoc Deus non esset factus homo; quia impossibile est quod duorum singularium, quae diversa sunt secundum suppositum, unum praedicetur de alio. Unde si alia est persona verbi, seu suppositum, et alia persona hominis, seu suppositum in Christo, tunc non erit verum quod dicit Evangelista verbum caro factum est. Ad hoc enim fit aliquid, ut sit; si ergo verbum non esset homo, non posset dici quod verbum sit factum homo. Et ideo signanter Evangelista dixit factum est, et non dixit assumpsit, ut ostendat quod unio verbi ad carnem non est talis qualis est assumptio prophetarum, qui non assumebantur in unitatem suppositi, sed ad actum propheticum: sed est talis quod Deum vere faceret hominem, et hominem Deum, idest quod Deus esset homo.)

"If you ask how the Word is man, it must be said that he is man in the way that anyone is, man, namely, as having human nature. Not that the Word is human nature itself, but he is a divine suppositum united to a human nature. The statement, the Word was made flesh, does not indicate any change in the Word, but only in the nature newly assumed into the oneness of a divine person. And the Word was made flesh through a union to flesh. Now a union is a relation. And relations newly said of God with respect to creatures do not imply a change on the side of God, but on the side of the creature relating in a new way to God" (172).

(Si vero quaeris quomodo verbum est homo, dicendum quod eo modo est homo quo quicumque alius est homo, scilicet habens humanam naturam. Non quod verbum sit ipsa humana natura, sed est divinum suppositum unitum humanae naturae. Hoc autem quod dicitur verbum caro factum est, non aliquam mutationem in verbo, sed solum in natura assumpta de novo in unitatem personae divinae dicit. Et verbum caro factum est, per unionem ad carnem. Unio autem relatio quaedam est. Relationes autem de novo dictae de Deo in respectu ad creaturas, non important mutationem ex parte Dei, sed ex parte creaturae novo modo se habentis ad Deum.)


Duncan said...

The news birthed flesh.

Dwelt within us.

Philip Fletcher said...

In simple terms the word became flesh not God became flesh. The assumption is the word is the God, not (indefinite article a) god.

Edgar Foster said...


Why the rendering "the news" and why say "birthed flesh"? Also, why "within" as opposed to "among"?

I agree with your approach, Philip. You are aware of the explanations offered by Dan Wallace, Aquinas, et al. But I believe you're right on point.

Duncan said...


I believe that the text of John was originally written in Aramaic along with many other NT books. With peshitta primacy the original terms flesh & news are effectively one and the same. This then harmonizes with all other introductions to the function of Jesus. 1 John 1:1-4, Mark 1:1.

"the beginning of the good news"

"the word births itself news."

Do you know how Aramaic (also Hebrew) can have multiple and wide variation in meaning?


Luke 18:25 - which is the better option - camel or rope? since the Aramaic term means both. According to the logic of idiom which is the plausible term?

Mat 26:6 - which is the better option - leper or potter? Since the Aramaic term means both. According to Torah which is the plausible term? Would a lepper be living in a house?

Joh 1:18 - God or son - its all in the over extension of one line in Aramaic terms.

There are many more examples like this.

As far as "within" & "among" us goes - i am just pointing out the possibilities bases on the word becoming good news.

Edgar Foster said...


Thanks for helping me understand your frame of reference a little more. There have been scholars who have argued that John or the other Gospels have an Aramaic substratum. One problem I have with that view when it comes to John's Gospel, however, is the lack of textual evidence for the claim along with the difficulty of reconstructing a supposed Aramaic Vorlage. There's also serious questions about the authorship and contextual setting of the Peshitta.

I don't claim to be an expert in Peshitta translation (of Syriac), but three notable Peshitta translations which I consulted for Jn 1:14 read as follows:

John 1:14 - And the Word flesh was made, and tabernacled with us; and we saw his glory, the glory as of the one-begotten who (was) from the Father, full of grace and truth (Etheridge).

John 1:14 - And the: Word became flesh, and tabernacled with us: and we saw his glory, a glory as of the only begotten from the Father, that he was full of grace and truth (Murdock).

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, a glory like that of the firstborn of the Father, full of grace and truth (Lamsa).

Edgar Foster said...

I do understand that Aramaic-Hebrew and Greek can have multiple and varied denotations. But one question in my mind was, why render LOGOS as "news" in Jn 1:14? I now see your basis for the rendering although there would now be questions I have concerning the supposed underlying Aramaic.

In Lk 18:25, camel is probably better than rope. The notion of Jesus talking about a "rope" as opposed to a camel has been called "far-fetched" by Craig Evans; others refer to it as "conjecture."

As for Mt 26:6, I don't believe the reading is seriously in doubt. One explanation for the leper having a feast at his house is the likelihood that Jesus had cured the man.

Jn 1:18 is also controversial in the Greek texts too.

Duncan said...


In Lk 18:25

I would say why would rope be a bad analogy when compared to string.

Matthew 7:5 straw vs rafter.

Edgar Foster said...


When Evans says the reading is "far-fetched," I believe he's questioning the textual and hermeneutical basis for such a rendering. So it's not that the analogy is bad, but "rope" seems to be conjectural.

Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible states:

"The suggestion that Gk. KAMELON ('camel') should be read KAMILON ('cable') lacks any serious basis and is disregarded by most scholars" (page 212).

Edgar Foster said...


this thread has been okay since it's somewhat related to the original post, but please remember that I made an annoucement a little while back about making comments directly relevant to the OP. Comments that do not deal with the OP directly will likely be rejected.

Thank you,


Duncan said...

I have no problem with not posting my comments. I just request that you consider them for future discussion.

With regards to the camel issue I have come across this site which has some information:-

It has a page on this hyperbole & also a page more generally on Matthew.

Thanks again for putting up with my fumbling efforts to convey these issues. Looks like I still have much to learn.

Edgar Foster said...


your comments are appreciated and I don't mean to discourage remarks on the threads. I just am trying to make sure the comments are directly related to the initial blog post. Thanks for the link: I will consider it later.

Best regards,