Monday, January 31

Only Begotten

There's been a little discussion of the meaning of the term "only begotten" in the comments to this post, with Jeremy mentioning that Greek scholars no longer think the word translated "only begotten" in the older translations should be translated that way. In case you are curious, here are the NET notes that give a little bit of an explanation for the reasoning behind the change in the way this word (monogenes) is translated.
Although this word is often translated "only begotten," such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham's only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means "one-of-a-kind" and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (tevkna qeou', tekna qeou), Jesus is God"s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).
From the NET Bible.