Laelius Socinus argued in Brevis explicatio in primum Johannis caput that the "beginning" (arche) in John 1:1 refers not to a Genesis beginning, but rather a new beginning related to Jesus' human life, ministry, and establishment of the Kingdom—Socinus' work was published in 1562. A contemporary advocate of the Socinian view of John 1:1's 'beginning' is Bill Schlegel, a Biblical Unitarian.

Of course, much is lost from the early church period—perhaps especially views that didn't conform with later orthodoxy—which is why I always take arguments from lack of early church tradition with a big block of salt.

But are there any known instances of someone arguing John 1:1's "beginning" is a new beginning (not Genesis or even a pre-Genesis beginning) before 1562?

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    If it was prevalent early on, even if it hasn't survived, I would expect to find a church Father arguing against it. Much of the details of early "heresy" are only known in this fashion. Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


Op asks,

But are there any known instances of someone arguing John 1:1's beginning is a new beginning (not Genesis or even a pre-Genesis beginning) before 1562?

Here are some interesting things that pertain to beginnings.

As God always was, there is no absolute beginning right before us in the Scriptures. Both here in John 1:1 "The" article Is lacking in the originals, showing that it refers to the commencement of the subject in hand. In Genesis it is the beginning. Here it is the beginning of revelation. Concordant commentary

The Definition Article

What Are Articles? (with Examples) The articles are the words "a," "an," and "the." They define whether something is specific or unspecific. There are two types of article: (1) The Definite Article (The). "The" is called the definite article.

It may be surprising to many to know that the larger portion of the passage reading "In the beginning" have no article in the original. Many go to Genesis 1:1 for "the" beginning, yet the definite article "the" is not found in the original here, therefore it most certainly does not refer to the beginning in the absolute.

Others will quote John 1:1 as a reference to "the" beginning, yet we find no article in the original. In both instances, the "beginning" is simply in reference to the commencement or beginning of the subject that is being considered.

Genesis 1:1 is the "beginning of the physical universe, while John 1:1 speaks of the beginning of revelation, yet, in neither instance is there reference to "the" beginning of the absolute, but simply "a" beginning of the subject under consideration.

Many Beginnings

There are many "beginnings" recorded in God's Word. John 1:1, Genesis 1:1, Mat.24:21; Mk14:18; 2Peter3:4; Mk 10:6; Mark 1:1; Mat 24:8; Mark 13:8.

One will observe that in all these instances of "beginning", not one of them refers to "the" beginning in the absolute. In each case, it means only "a" beginning or "in" beginning of the subject at hand.

By observing the fact of the absence the definite article "the" in these Scriptures, one can see the truth of the real beginning of the creation of God......

What was the "original" or "beginning". of God's creation?

In the Unveiling (Revelation) Of Jesus Christ 3:14 It is written:

Now this He is saying, Who is The Amen, The faithful, and True Wltness, And God's creative original.

The underlying original and a literal sublinear of the latter part of the verse, "God's creative Original," reads Hee archee tees ktiseoos tou Theou, THE ORIGINAL OF-THE CREATION OF-THE God. Five times in the Unveiling we are expressly told that Jesus Christ is "the Alpha," "the First," "the Origin," "the Beginning of the creation of the God" (Rev.1:8,18; 3:14; 21: 6; 22:13).

Nowhere else in all the sacred original writings do we find the definite article "the" used in connection with "beginning" except in these references which point exclusively to the Lord Jesus Christ.

This should settle the question of "the Beginning of the creation of the God." The faithful and True Witness, Jesus christ, Himself, is "God's creative Original." Adlai Loudy

It's amazing that definite article "the" makes all the difference when using the word beginning. Every other time it has to do with beginnings of something that is shown in the context it is used.

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    Your right!. At Genesis 1:1 and at John 1 "the" has been supplied. In both case it reads, "in beginning." Both verses start out with the same words, "en arche." Genesis 1:1 is on WHAT HAPPENED in the beginning. At John 1:1 the emphasis is on WHO EXISTED "in the beginning." This is why at John 1:2 it says, "He/that one was in the beginning with God." "That one who was with God at John 1:3 is identified as creating all things, and without Him nothing came into being that has come into being. Colossians 1:16 backs it up. God's plan all along was for Jesus to show up at the appointed time
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 1:13
  • An interesting answer that I think misses the point of, 'the earliest known argument' as required.
    – steveowen
    Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 1:28
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    @steveowen Your right, got caught up on studying beginnings as I was researching for a answer and amazed at what I learned in the process. Thought it was still pertinent to the question.
    – Sherrie
    Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 3:22
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    @steveowen Thanks for the edit!
    – Sherrie
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 1:10

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