I have been discussing the intriguing textual variant found in Luke 3:23, where Jesus is said to be baptized.  When he comes out of the water the heavens open up, the Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove, and voice then comes from heaven.   But what does the voice say?  In most manuscripts the voice says exactly what it does in Mark’s Gospel: “You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased.”  But in a few ancient witnesses it says something slightly but significantly different:  “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” (or: “given you birth”).

I am arguing that the latter may in fact be the original text of Luke, but that it was changed by scribes who were alert to the problems it posed.  But if that’s what the voice said, then doesn’t that indicate that it was at that moment (Note:  “Today”!) that Jesus became the Son of God?

You may be able to figure out one objection to thinking that this is what Luke originally wrote.  Doesn’t Luke have a birth narrative in the preceding two chapters, where Jesus is born of a virgin?  How could Jesus become the Son of God in Luke 3:23 if he was already the Son of God at his birth?  In Luke 1 it is clear that Jesus is the son of God – literally – at the time of his conception, because it is God himself who makes Mary pregnant.  As the angel Gabriel tells her:  “The Spirit of God will come upon you and the Power of the Most High will overshadow you, SO, the one born of you will be called holy, the Son of God”  Luke 1:35).

Luke then understands that Jesus was the Son of God because of his miraculous birth.  Doesn’t that show fairly conclusively that he could not have become the Son of God at his baptism?  And doesn’t that show that the voice did NOT say “Today I have begotten you”?

It’s a very good argument, but I don’t think it’s fully persuasive, for a reason that probably would *not* occur to you.

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