Begotten not made


#1

Is it acceptable as a Catholic to interpret Proverbs 8:22, Sirach 24 (the part that speaks of wisdom being the firstborn and then again about being created before the ages), Sirach 1:4 and 1:9, Colossians 1:15, and Revelation 3:14 as referring to Jesus’ eternal begetting?

It seems like wisdom being eternal yet “created” describes in essence what begotten means… obviously God always possessed wisdom and yet, God is the source of all wisdom; wisdom would also be of the same divine essence as God
ie Wisdom 7:26

The Father is the source of the Son, eternally begetting him, and yet the Son is eternal.

I’ve been reading a lot of Philo’s works; the apostles and ante nicene fathers used a lot of language that Philo used about wisdom to refer to Jesus.

Any help would be appreciated, I’m wondering if the Church has ever condemned interpreting the above as referring to the eternal begetting of Jesus; potentially in an ecumenical council etc.

I’m aware of multiple different interpretations but I’d like to know if the above is acceptable.

Thanks!


#2

The quote below was found here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/633/how-should-i-understand-the-emphasis-on-begotten-not-made-in-the-nicene-creed

and it sums up what I am trying to ask/say nicely…

"This answer focuses on the Pre-Nicene and Nicene period of High Christology. It explains the paradoxical phrase “begotten not made” of the Nicene Creed in light of the Scriptures and of the Ante-Nicene church.

The early church was not afraid to use Proverbs 8:22 (LXX) as their proof text that Christ is of same nature with the Father [1].

PROVERBS 8:22 GREEK OT: Septuagint with Diacritics:

22 ΚΎΡΙΟΣ ἔκτισέν με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ

23 πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐθεμελίωσέν με ἐν ἀρχῇ

Translation:

22 The Lord created me the first of his way before his ways.

23 I was made from eternity, and of old before the earth was made.
Exegesis:

The Lord created Jesus – the first creation — from eternity before all things (Proverbs 8:22-23 LXX).The language of “creating” has more than one meaning in the Biblical context.

The Scriptures reveal two types of creating (making, producing) [2]:

  1. Creation ‘ad extra’ (from outside one’s being).

  2. Creation ‘ad intra’ (from one’s being).

Creation ‘ad extra’ (from outside one’s being)

To make something or someone that is non-existent to become existent. This type of creation goes hand in hand with creation ex nihilo (Hebrews 11:3). The product is always not the same in nature with its maker.

Example: God created the trees (Genesis 1:12). The trees were created outside God’s being (Hebrews 11:3).The trees do not have the nature of being God.

Creation “ad intra” (from one’s being)

To make someone have one’s nature. This is about “begetting” in and of itself. The offspring is always of same nature with the parent.

Example: Abraham begat Isaac (Matthew 1:2).Isaac was created from Abraham’s being. Isaac is of same nature with Abraham. Isaac is fully human the way Abraham is. Isaac has the nature of being human.

Man begets man (Matthew 1:2-16).God begets God (John 1:18). This biblical paradigm shows that Jesus had no beginning of existence.

Both Trinitarians and Arians agree that the Son is produced from the Father. But they do not agree on what it means to be ‘begotten.’ For Arians, it means “to make someone have a beginning of existence” but for Trinitarians, it means “to make someone have one’s nature.”[3]

The earliest Christians believed that Christ, who was identified as Wisdom in Proverbs 8:22 (LXX), was the first creation (Protoktistos) of God [4] but they did not view it in the sense of creation ex nihilo but rather, only in the sense of creation ad intra [5].

That is, the early church believed that Jesus was the first begotten (Prototokos) of every creature just as the NT teaches [6]. It means that Jesus was the first creation – ad intra (begetting) and all other creation were created – ex nihilo [7].That is, Jesus was “made” in the sense of “begetting” (i.e. to make someone have one’s nature) and not in the sense of ex nihilo (i.e. creating someone or something from non-existence to existence).Therefore, we may only call Christ an “offspring” and never a “creature.”

On the other hand, in the early fourth century, Arius began to teach a new doctrine that Jesus Christ was the first creation in the sense of creation ad extra and ex nihilo [8].But the church stood still. The Nicene Creed was a reaction against the new doctrine taught by Arius’ [9]. The church upheld the ancient faith that the Son was “begotten (made ad intra) not made (ad extra/ex nihilo), of same substance (nature, essence) with the Father” [10].

Bottom Line: Man begets man (Matthew 1:3). God begets God (John 1:18). This biblical paradigm is useful for teaching doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16-17).This biblical paradigm supports the biblical teaching that Jesus Christ had no beginning of existence because he is the [only] begotten Son of God (John 1:18; 3:16).

Conclusion: In Proverbs 8 (LXX), Verse 25 explains verse 22: Jesus is begotten from the Lord. God shared his whole nature to Son. The Son is the exact likeness of God’s being (Hebrews 1:3).

Proverbs 8:22-25 teaches that Jesus Christ was the first activity inside God’s being, that is, He the first creation “ad intra” (the first begotten) from the Father. This reveals that Colossians 1:15-16 is an allusion to Proverbs 8:22-25."

References

[1] [christian-history.org/trinity-heresy.html]](http://www.christian-history.org/trinity-heresy.html]) biblehub.com/commentaries/proverbs/8-22.htm

[2] academia.edu/11702700/Opera_Trinitaris_ad_extra_tanquam_Providentia_Dei–A_Dogmatic_Adumbration_of_Gods_Teleological_Triune_Activity tektonics.org/guest/psnicea.html

[3] newbirthnewlife.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/eternally-begotten-nicene-creed/ christian-history.org/the-trinity.html christian-history.org/definition-of-the-trinity.html

[4] biblehub.com/commentaries/proverbs/8-22.htm Clement of Alexandria. Who is the Rich Man that Shall be Saved? Section 12. Proverbs 8:22 (Septuagint) Sirach 24:9 (Septuagint)

[5] Psalm 110:3 (Septuagint), Proverbs 8:25 (Septuagint), John 1:18; 3:16

[6] christian-history.org/doctrine-of-the-trinity.html academia.edu/13545787/The_Jesus_Paradox_Begotten_Not_Made Colossians 1:15-16 (GNV, 1599).

[7] Genesis 1:11-12, Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2, 10;11:3

[8] britannica.com/topic/Arianism

[9] britannica.com/biography/Arius christian-history.org/homoousios.html

[10] google.de/search?q=nicene+creed newadvent.org/fathers/2821.htm


#3

I wish I knew more about this I would like to help you


#4

My friend, you have opened a huge “theological” can of worms. Like the above poster, I’d love to help, but I’m not on the level of the classic philosophers and Church Doctors that have wrestled with this through the ages.

The only thing I could add is that I hear the words of the Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 1 through 5, and I believe and accept it on faith. And I move on. I think life is too short to try to understand the unknowable.

Good luck


#5

Salutations Assyrian412,
Well, you must be working on a Masters thesis.
I am humbled by your knowledge and hunger for detail. I cannot help you except to ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and clarity and energy. This is a task for an Apologist.
When I was born again and received gifts of the Holy Spirit, I was consumed w the need to read scripture. God and I traveled through the New Testament in 7
Days. It is sealed in my soul. The Old Testament rattled me in judges 11 where Jepthet sacrificed his daughter on returning from combat for winning.
I have different Bibles. I crossed referenced and went to Priests and a Rabbi.Some felt she was dedicated to the temple like a nun. The Rabbi went for the death thing. Lesson to be learned was, the Israelites married outside their faith and human sacrifice contaminated their faith and practices.
Anyway, that is my knowledge base which would be infantile next to where you are.
Dear Lord,
Be with Assyrian412 during his/her studies on the topic she is researching. Lead correct people who can share this topic to its fulfillment.in Jesus name. Amen.
But to think on this, skipping the ex’s and in’s, is was Jesus created or begotten. Could this be semantics, as Jesus is God, as a personage in the one God we worship (w 3 persons-Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
“I AM” INFINITY." " He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and became man! "
Though when He emerged Emanuel “God is with us”
from Mary’s womb, I’d go w created, not begotten.
BEGOTTEN seems a human action. Created is a Godly action --Speaking of humankind or life forms.
Your question is sooo deep, I’m not sure I’m right in myInterpretation and answer to you.
This could be fun but I’m too tired to research other books,etc.
God loves you. Jeremiah 29 / 11 I HAVE A PLAN…
in Christs love
tweedlealice


#6

I appreciate all your replies, they were all very kind :slight_smile:

I’ve been struggling with all of the above for a long time, I was raised a “non-denominational” Christian; I never attended Church growing up but have been attending Mass for a couple years now that I’m older. I’ve put a lot of time into studying and see the Catholic Church as the true Church but “begotten not made” has been something I have always struggled with mainly because I was always taught Jesus was created using mainly the verses I shared with you all in my original post; the views I used to hold were very similar to the heretic Arius.

The ante nicene fathers seemed to have no problem referring to Jesus’ generation from the father with those verses and after putting many hours into researching the idea of the “logos” before Christianity, I realized that all of the descriptions of wisdom fit perfectly with the pre-Christian ideas of the logos and the ante nicene fathers. Philo, a Jewish philosopher before Christ described the logos using the verses about wisdom, the angel of the Lord (just like Justin Martyr), and called the Logos the firstborn of creation… sounds like what the apostles described Christ as; the logos and the firstborn of all creation, the beginning of creation etc. Of course, Jesus Christ is the Logos who was in the beginning. After all my reading I’m quite confident the wisdom literature is what the apostles were referring to by speaking of Jesus as the Logos, the beginning of creation, and as the Firstborn. I’ve accepted most doctrines protestants struggle with; if I can simply interpret the verses mentioned in my 1st post to refer to “born of the Father before all ages; begotten not made” in the Nicene Creed then I will finally be able to comfortably get confirmed as a Catholic, which I have for some reason become obsessed with…

I know this view fits into the creeds and cannot be contradicted by scripture; I just want to make sure the interpretation of those scriptures in this way has not been declared heretical… for example, if an ecumenical council anathematized those who interpret the scriptures I referenced to refer to Christ’s eternal begetting from the Father etc.

I guess to sum it up: Has it ever been condemned by the Church to interpret any of the verses from the original post as referring to the eternal begetting of the Son by the Father?

EDIT: An answer to the above would be extremely helpful for me but a simpler question may be: Has the Church ever infallibly interpreted any specific verses from scripture and if so, which ones?


#7

St Thomas Aquinas must have dealt with this

There’s a book titled “Reality” by Fr Garrigou-Lagrange who was a Thomist.
The book is available online, and can be downloaded, along with at least one other of his books.
Every so often during a sermon our PP quotes Fr Garrigou-Lagrange.

Five or six years ago, i both downloaded and purchased “Reality” on the advice of a Thomist lecturer, but only skimmed through it, :blush: But, it goes deep into the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.

In any case, the Son is the Father’s Self-Knowledge: “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made”, possessing the fullness of the Godhead, because everything that the Father is is in the Son. The Father’s Wisdom would presumably be the Son, as well…?

That book might help, anyway.
If you find anything, please get back.
So, best wishes with your quest! :thumbsup:

PS
Why the depth of the Church’s understanding of the Trinity isn’t made more “public”/accessible is a mystery. Anti-Catholic groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses are full of ex-Catholics who had no idea of the Truth.

PPS!
The “Logos” (Word) is the Father’s Idea of Himself: the Thought in the Mind of the Thinker.
“In the beginning was the Word…”

PPPS!!!
Lousy close-focussing eyesight prevents me from having a decent read of everything you posted, so i may have botched up what you were asking…

Better shut up! :blush:


#8

Fiasco, thank you for your reply maybe I’ll check that out :slight_smile:

And yes I know, it is really unfortunate; I’ve spoken to many JWs, some of which are family members of mine. I have a lot of respect for their faith despite several disagreements. It is unfortunate but many who deny that Christ is fully God lump the Trinity and modalism together.

I was actually very surprised at how similar my prior beliefs were to what an orthodox understanding of the Trinity is once I took some time to study it.


#9

And thank you for YOUR reply. Looks like once you get onto a task, (quest?) you keep at it. So, hats off to you!
As an exercise for Lent i should make a determined attempt to read “Reality”. :blush:

Years ago, i read Frank Sheed’s “Theology and Sanity” (also downloadable) which devotes more than 30 pages to the Trinity, so it’s no slouch, either. Hard going for those 30+ pages! Every so often, i re-read parts of it, so that might be a good foundation for “Reality”. Anyway, it’s good to approach Truth from different angles.

The mystery of the inner Life of God is awesome in the right meaning of the word, and the more we know about Him, the more His Creation makes sense.

Genesis says that God creates (“eternal” tense!) Man in His image and likeness. Those anti-Trinitarian groups conceive of God in Man’s image and likeness! :eek:

Bon voyage!


#10

To me “begotten” means that he came out of the Father

John 8:42 “I proceeded and came forth from God”


#11

Pneuma,

I would say you’re right, it absolutely does. Begotten seems to essentially mean “created out of the same substance” and in Christ’s case, according to the Church, it is an eternal and natural action. I just want to see if those verses I mentioned previously can be interpreted to be referring to this as they use the word “created” and “creation.” Now, to say Christ is a creation is heresy but it seems to be more semantics. Begotten, Made, and Created can be considered synonyms and they can be used to describe each other as demonstrated above. It is nicely described by my 2nd post in this thread; created, in the Church’s eyes, seems to only refer to creation ex nihlo and so to use the word created to describe Christ would be wrong. This obviously wouldn’t be as much of an issue before the Church officially declared that God made everything from nothing.

But again… I just want to make sure those above verses can be used to described what I’m talking about; I’m worried that the Church has made some sort of anathema or prohibition against interpreting verses that use the word created/made to refer to Christ’s eternal begetting despite these said verses perfectly describing it.


#12

We have to keep in mind that Christ has** two** natures.

His human side/nature is of course created/made, in eternity from God’s perspective, and in time from our perspective.
His Divine Nature is** GENERATED** in eternity: ie His eternal begetting.
So, we’re looking at the two distinct natures.

With the Son, “GENERATED” (in eternity) is precise, and is used theologically, and leaves no room for confusion. It’s prudent to stay right away from the words “made” and “created” when referring exclusively to the Son.

The Son, the Eternal Word, can’t exist independent of the Father. Neither can the Father exist without the Son. A dim echo of this would be our own thoughts which, of course, are part of us. We generate them, so they depend on us for their existence. But we can’t exist without our thoughts: we’d be either dead or veggies! :eek: :shrug:

From God’s perspective, everything is eternal, confirmed by the aforementioned Thomist lecturer. It has to be that way, seeing He IS, in the eternal NOW.

End of another rave-on, a short one this time.:slight_smile:


#13

Fiasco,

With that being said, what do you think about my original question? Would you say that this rules out the verses I gave as referring to the Father eternally begetting the Son? Would it be acceptable in the Church’s eyes to interpret these scriptures to be referring to this generation you’ve described?

EDIT: Please keep in mind I am exclusively referring to Christ’s divine nature throughout this thread :slight_smile: Just in case anybody thinks I’m referring to the human nature.


#14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.