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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Only-begotten or unique? John 3:16

(John the Evangelist)

Somehow Tim Tebow’s 316-yards throw in last Sunday’s game became “proof” that John 3:16 is true.  The trouble is - no one seems to know exactly what John 3:16 is saying.

The controversy hinges around the Greek word monogenes - which is sometimes translated as the English word “unique,” and other times translated as the English words “only-begotten.”  An article on the website offers this pertinent quote from then Assistant Professor of Religion at The George
Washington University, Paul B. Duff:  “John 3:16 and John 1:18 each have the word monogenes in Greek.  This word ordinarily means ‘of a single kind.’  As a result, ‘unique’ is a good translation.  The reason why you sometimes find a translation that renders the word as ‘only begotten’ has to do with an ancient heresy within the church.  In response to the Arian claim that Jesus was made
but not begotten, Jerome (4th century) translated the Greek term monogenes into Latin as unigenitus (‘only begotten’).”

An article from further points out that the term monogenes also appears in John 1:14.  The author of this article goes on to dispute claims that genes from monogenes is rooted in the Greek verb gennao (“to beget”).  Since gennao has a double n and genes has a single one - the author instead links genes to the Greek word for “kind/species,” which is genos.  Therefore, mono (“single”) plus genes (“kind/species”) would mean “one of a kind” or “unique” rather than “only-begotten.”

Of course, not everyone agrees with these interpretations.  Those who post John 3:16 on everything from billboards to coffee cups (to cheekbones) most likely favor the “only-begotten” translations.  For example - John Hinton, in his article partially-titled Ridiculous KJV Bible Corrrections, spells gennao (genao) with one n rather than with two.  He then goes on to explain that the genes part of monogenes is (obviously, incontestably and invariably – thus say he) “drawn from the verb genao, which means to beget or cause
to be produced.”  From there, it’s just a short hop and a skip over to this conclusion:  The two words together (mono and genes) mean only-begotten…  any other translation is “perverted.”  According to Hinton, these so-called perversions began with the Gnostics, who “had to lie through their teeth in order to
suggest that the second half of this compound word didn’t count.”

OMG (whatever that means)!  Imagine the complications all this could cause for die-hard Tebow fans...


Copyright January 11, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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