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Friday, September 11, 2009

Only-begotten god (OBGOD)


(From the RDB files)

Jn 1:18 - "only-begotten god" - NWT

The NT Greek at this verse literally reads: "God [theon] no one has seen at any time; only-begotten [monogenes] god [theos] the (one) being into the bosom of the Father that (one) explained" - Westcott and Hort text; Nestle's text (21st ed.); and UBS' text (3rd ed.).

The obsolete and flawed text of the KJV reads: "The [ho] only-begotten Son
[huios] ...."
John 1:18 is translated in various trinitarian Bibles:

KJV - "The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father...."
- "The begotten Son who abides at the Father's side...."
- "The much-loved Son is beside the Father."
- "The only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father...."
- "it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father's heart...."
- "it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart...."
- "his only Son has, for he is the companion of the Father...."
- "but God's only Son, he who is nearest to the Father's heart...."
- "it is the divine Only Son, who leans upon his Father's breast...."
Phillips - "the divine and only Son, the closest intimacy with the Father."
Mo - "the divine One, the only Son, who lies upon the Father's breast...."
- "The only Son, who is the same as God and is at the Father's side...."
- "the only son, Deity Himself, who lies upon his Father's breast...."
Beck (NT) - "The only Son who is God and close to the Father's heart...."
NAB (70) - "It is God the only Son, ever at the Father's side...."
- "It is God the Only Son, who is close to the Father's heart,...."
- "the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father...."
Lattimore - "the only-born God who is in the bosom of his father..."
NIV - "God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side...." 

It is understandable why the King James Version translators in 1611 published their Bible version with the rendering "the only begotten Son" at John 1:18. They did not have the very earliest and best manuscripts available to them that we have today. And because they were not nearly as accurate in dating the available manuscripts at that time, they were unable to discern the greater value of certain (older) manuscripts over others.
"The King James Version of the New Testament was based upon a Greek text that was marred by mistakes, containing the accumulated errors of fourteen centuries of manuscript copying." - from the Preface of the Revised Standard Version.
Today, however, it is not understandable why many modern translations still use "only-begotten Son" or its equivalent instead of the more accurate "only-begotten god [or 'God']". Even the very respected American Standard Version of 1901 tells in its footnote for Jn 1:18 that "Many very ancient authorities" have theos ('god') rather than 'son' at this verse. 

And, as noted above the very best modern NT Greek texts from which most of the modern Bibles are translated all have theos written here as being the original wording by John. But in spite of such knowledge many modern trinitarian translations still use "Son" at this verse. For example, the RSV, 1977 ed. which "as a rule" follows the Nestle text (p. 50, SMV) still uses "Son."

Being staunch trinitarians why would these translators not accept the overwhelming evidence of all the very earliest manuscripts (up through the 4th century A.D. at least) that John described Jesus as "an only-begotten God (or god)"? We should also wonder why the trinitarian copyists of the 5th century (the trinity doctrine was first introduced to the Church in the 4th century) should change "only-begotten God/god" to "only-begotten Son/son" in the copies they made!

At first thought it would seem that trinitarians would prefer the more honest translation of "only-begotten God"! (Although we can certainly understand why they wouldn't like the even more accurate "only-begotten god"!) But, as we can see above, many of the most-respected trinitarian Bibles either use "Son" in place of "God/god" or include it with "God." Why? 

First, it must be clearly understood that all the most ancient New Testament manuscripts available to us today that include John 1:18 are p66 (2nd/3rd century), p75 (3rd century), Aleph (4th century), and B (4th century). All of them have monogenes theos (in other words, "only-begotten god/God"). The very earliest manuscript to use "only-begotten son/Son" is Manuscript A (5th century)! (C also from the 5th century has monogenes theos.) Significantly, p66, Aleph, B, and C have an anarthrous (without the definite article, "the") monogenes theos (or "an only-begotten god").

Certainly it is not coincidental that all the ancient NT manuscripts of John 1:18 used "only-begotten god (or 'God')" up until the time the Roman Church officially proclaimed the trinity doctrine (begun in 325 A.D. but not completed until 381 A.D. and not popularly accepted until Augustine pushed it in the early 5th century). Why did trinitarian copyists actually change "only-begotten god/God" to "only-begotten son/Son"? And why do many trinitarians even today prefer that rendering in spite of the conclusive proof to the contrary?

Trinitarians Westcott and Hort in 1881 bowed to the overwhelming evidence, and in their famous New Testament text, which is the basis for many of the best modern Bibles, they selected an anarthrous (without "the") monogenes theos as the original wording by John. 

The trinitarian United Bible Societies also reluctantly recognized this fact when they prepared their highly-respected New Testament text, 3rd ed., and used the anarthrous monogenes theos. They didn't like the implications of this reading, however, and Professor Allen Wikgren, a member of the UBS text committee, tried to supply a way for Bible translators to "justify" a rendering of "only-begotten son" in spite of the UBS' official acceptance of "only-begotten god/God." He wrote: "It is doubtful that the author [of Jn 1:18] would have written [monogenes theos] which may be a primitive transcriptional error in the Alexandrian tradition (YC/QC)." - p. 198, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Metzger, 1971, United Bible Societies.

When Professor Wikgren said that a very early copyist's error may have been YC/QC, he meant that the Greek word for "God" or "god" (none of the early manuscripts used capitalization or punctuation) is theos and in the earliest manuscripts this was usually written in abbreviated form (YC/QC). The Greek word for "son" is "huios" and it would have been abbreviated as YC. His conclusion, since he doesn't want John to say that Jesus was "an only-begotten god/God," is that some very early copyist accidentally wrote QC ("god") instead of YC ("son") at John 1:18. And, strangely enough, all the very early manuscripts have that same "mistake", whereas the "proper" (according to this trinitarian conjecture) use of "son" only appears in later manuscripts by trinitarian copyists! 

But look what happens when we begin accepting such unsupported speculation in place of the real evidence: It is easy to see that if trinitarians insist on translating Jn 1:18 as "only-begotten son" because there could have been a copyist's error changing "son" to "God" (even though all real evidence clearly shows otherwise), it would be even more appropriate for non-trinitarians to insist that John 1:1 be translated "... and the Word was a son" instead of "... and the Word was theos [God or a god]." The context of John 1:1 makes the trinitarian interpretation of "the Word was WITH God, and the Word WAS God" impossibly difficult! Assuming a copyist error so that it should read "The Word was WITH God, and the Word was a Son" fixes the context difficulty and is a scripturally accurate statement as is confirmed over and over throughout the New Testament!

However, Jehovah's Witnesses do not take such an improper approach to Bible translation. We must use a scriptural text as the best evidence shows it to be. If we begin rewriting the best available Greek text based on conjecture and what we want it to say, then we no longer have any guide other than our own desires! A Christian must not do that!

We must, therefore, accept that John wrote: "an only-begotten god (or God)" until older, better manuscripts are discovered which prove otherwise. This has been done by some trinitarian Bible translators. As early as the late 19th century, Rotherham, in his Emphasized Bible translated Jn 1:18 as "an Only Begotten God." The list at the beginning of this paper shows a few other trinitarian translators who give recognition of the original theos in their translations of this scripture. Being trinitarians they choose, of course, to translate theos as "God" rather than "god." But this interpretation ignores the absence of the definite article ("the") as originally written by John.

The United Bible Societies' comments about the anarthrous (without a definite article) use of theos at Jn 1:18 not only recognize it as the oldest form found in the ancient manuscripts, but adds: "There is no reason why the article ['the'] should have been deleted." - p. 198.

In other words, if a copyist were to make a change, it would not have been to remove the definite article but instead to add it! This is because John (as well as all the other Gospel writers) always used the non-prepositional nominative form of "God" (theos) with a definite article (ho, "the") when it referred to the only true God (ho theos) ! - (see DEF study paper, end note #5.)
That is why the anarthrous use of theos at John 1:1 and Jn 1:18 is so significant! If John had meant to identify Jesus as the Most High God (equally God with the Father), he would have used the definite article with the non-prepositional nominative form of theos as he does everywhere else when he speaks of God! The distinguished trinitarian Bible authority Dr. James Moffatt showed this understanding when he translated John 1:1 ("and the Word [logos] was divine") and John 1:18 ("the divine one the only Son"). Everywhere else in John's writings (where theos does have the article with it) Moffatt properly translated this form of theos as "God."

So not only does the proper translation of John 1:18 confirm and emphasize the great distinction made by John in John 1:1c between an anarthrous "a god" and the articular "God," it also makes clear that "God" is the Father only (compare Jn 1:18 with Jn 6:46 - also see Jn 17:1, 3). And the Son, the Word (ho Logos) who is an anarthrous "a god," is also declared to be an "only-begotten" or "only-born" god! 

Yes, that is the real problem for trinitarians. (1) The anarthrous, non-prepositional, nominative case theos (as found in Jn 1:1c and Jn 1:18, etc.) is never used for "God" (at least as used by John and the other Gospel writers). It means, literally "a god." And this helps confirm the proper rendering of Jn 1:1c that trinitarians hate: "The Word [ho Logos] was a
god [theos]."[1]

And (2) monogenes (only-begotten) tells us that this "god" did not always exist (as the only true God has), but was actually brought into existence by the Father at some point in time. This was no problem for the first Christians, but when the trinity doctrine (which insisted on the ETERNAL pre-existence of Jesus who was "equal in every way to God") began to be adopted during the 4th century (see HIST study paper) and was popularized in the 5th century, then the Church did something about it: the manuscript copyists (who were by this time trinitarians) changed the copies they made of the original manuscripts.[2]

And even when modern scholars discovered this changing of God's word, many of them continued to use the improper interpretation invented by trinitarians in the 5th century because the actual wording of the original denies the trinity doctrine!

"Begotten" and "Son"

"Begotten" and "created" are English words carefully chosen by Bible translators to convey the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words of the original manuscripts as closely as possible. So first we should determine what the words "created" and "begotten" actually mean in English. The Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1963 ed. that I have at home says:

"create ... 1: to bring into existence...3 : cause , make" - p. 195. And beget ... begot ... begotten ... 1 : to procreate as the father : sire 2 : cause" - p. 77.
These two words can share the identical meaning of "cause to be." That is, we may say the mother (or father) has created a child or (more often) someone has begotten something that he built or produced somehow.

The Hebrew word yalad means "to bear, bring forth, beget" but it can be used (as the equivalent English word also can) for "cause to be." For example, when God says he "begot"/"fathered" (yalad) the nation of Israel (Deut. 32:6, 18), he clearly means that he caused it to be or created it
as a nation. There is no implication that it was somehow begotten out of the very substance of his body. In like manner God calls the nation of Israel his son, his firstborn because it was the very first nation created by him and for him (cf. Ex. 4:22). Again, anything Jehovah causes to be may be said to be "begotten" by him and is his "offspring."
"Is this the way you treat Jehovah? O foolish people, is not God your Father? Has he not created you?" - Deut. 32:6, Living Bible.

"You forsook the creator who begot [yalad] you and cared nothing for God who brought you to birth." - Deut. 32:18, NEB.

"Men of Athens [nonChristians], .... The God who made the world and everything in it ... does not live in shrines made by man. .... Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold or silver, or stone..." - Acts 17:22, 24, 29, RSV.

It's especially important to note the dual application of Psalm 2:7. Here Jehovah speaks to the Israelite king and says "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten [yalad] thee." It's true that the Israelite king (David?) prefigures Jesus Christ here, but notice that this scripture must directly apply to David also. Jehovah hasn't really begotten him out of his very own substance so that now King David's very body and substance are identical to God's.

No, the king has, at this point, been accepted by God in a new way. God has caused him to be in a new status. So when this scripture is also applied to the Christ, it is to be applied in a similar (although greater) manner.

In Ps. 90:2 we also see yalad used in the sense of created: "Before the mountains were born
[yalad] or you brought forth the earth" - NIV, AT, JB, NJB, NAB (1991), NASB; "begotten" - NAB (1970); "were given birth" - MLB. Or, "Before the mountains were created, before the earth was formed." - Living Bible, cf. TEV. So, the Hebrew word most often translated "begotten, brought forth" may also be understood (as in English) to mean created or produced. And whether or not God means that the earth ("mountains") was literally "begotten" from his very own spirit body or created out of nothing really matters very little. The point is that at one time it did not exist and then was brought into existence by the Creator, God! 

The very title of God ("Father") used as "source of all things" shows this common meaning throughout both testaments. God is the Father of all. What does this mean? He is the Father of the Universe, the Father of all creation, and even the Father of the Angels. (They truly are called "sons of God" and they were in existence before the earth was created - Job 38:4, 7, cf. Living Bible and NIVSB f.n.) They are spirit persons. Should we assume then that the angels were "begotten" from God in the sense that they have existed eternally and are actually composed of his very own spirit substance, etc.? After all, it doesn't actually say that they were "created." We know they were created because their Father created/"begot" everything: He is the "Father of all" including the spirit persons in heaven. - Eph. 4:6; Heb. 1:7; 12:9. 

1 Cor. 8:6 tells us, again, that God is the Father of ALL things. He is the Creator of all things. The very common usage of "Father," "son," "begotten," "born," etc. is again used here for creation. Not only is God the Father of all created things here, but these things have literally "come out" (ek) from him. ("But to us there is but one God, the Father, [out of - ek] whom are all things".) Yes, the original New Testament word used here is "ek" which literally means "out of" (W. E. Vine, p. 1270) and is commonly used in the sense of generating, begetting. For example, Matt. 1:3 literally reads in the original manuscripts: "Judah generated Perez and Zerah out of [ek] Tamar." Judah was the father, but the children were literally out of the body (essence, flesh) of their mother Tamar.

Someone could speculate that since God existed alone before creation, he used some of his own substance (Spirit), which apparently is an incomprehensibly powerful and infinite energy "substance," to create or produce the other spirit creatures in heaven (his 'sons,' the angels - yes, angels are called 'sons of God' - e.g., Job 38:7; Ps. 89:6). If so, he may have modified it before producing them (just as he must have modified somewhat the earth 'substance' from which he created Adam's substance), so that their spirit "substance" is different from his own (just as there are different forms of energy found within this universe). Then we might speculate that he directed his "Firstborn Son" (through whom he created everything else) to use more of that Spirit (unlimited energy) to create the material universe which scientists know started in an incomprehensible blast of energy ("the Big Bang") which then converted into the matter and energy of our universe. God then (through his firstborn son) created (or "begot") all the complex details within that universe, including mankind.
{Does it help to consider Adam and Eve? Eve "existed" for quite some time as a part of Adam - his very own rib. She was "begotten" out of (ek) Adam from his very substance. Her new existence began her own conscious life - she was not aware of her previous existence "within" Adam. She was not equal to Adam in authority. She did not know everything he did. She was not as powerful as he.

She shared his "substance" (literally), but she was by no means equal to him in any real sense. She was his "only-begotten" in the sense of being truly "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh" and being the only one so "begotten," but we must not consider them as both equally Adam. She was an entirely different person, created (or "begotten") some time after Adam, and in subjection to him.

Whether Jesus was literally created out of Jehovah's own substance is pure speculation, but even if he had been, it wouldn't have to mean anything more than this example of Adam and Eve does.}

If these assumptions are correct, then, in a sense, everything that exists came initially from (or "out of") God's very essence or being and was converted into its present state of different forms of matter and energy (in the universe) and different forms of spirit (in heaven). Therefore everything was "begotten" from God in a more literal sense than if he created everything from nothing. Everything would have been a part of God eternally until it was "begotten" in a new form. And if God produced his first creation (his "Firstborn") from his own Spirit substance (whether he altered that substance or not) and then produced everything else (including angels) through that "firstborn Son" as His Master Worker, then the only thing that God would have created personally and directly would have been his "only-begotten Son" - see the BWF study. But what does it really matter to us at this time? We will know these things someday, but it doesn't mean eternal life to know it now.

We do know that Jesus existed before he came to earth. We don't know exactly when or how he was first produced or from what initial substance, if any. We know that, like other things created or produced by God (who is the Creator, or the Father), he has been described as "born" and "begotten" and "son."

Col. 1:15, 18 is notable as an example of this.

"He [Christ] is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, .... As he is the beginning, he was first to be born [first-born] from the dead, so that he should be first in every way" - The Jerusalem Bible.
So how is Jesus "the first-born of all creation"? In the same way that the parallel second half (Col. 1:18) of this comparison shows it to be: the very first one produced in that category. That is, just as Christ was the very first one of all the dead to be resurrected (or re-born or re-created) to enjoy eternal life ("firstborn from the dead" - Col. 1:18), so he is also the very first one of all things created ("firstborn of all creation" - Col. 1:15). 

We should also consider that in whatever manner Christ is to be considered "firstborn," he has others like him to follow. As "firstborn of creation" there were more created ones to follow (and they were created through him). As "firstborn from the dead" there were others to follow (and they were to be raised to eternal life through him). Also as firstborn Jesus was to have many brothers: "that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." - Ro. 8:29. 

The point is that "firstborn" often does not mean a literal "begetting" in the sense of literal fleshly offspring from a literal parent. (Israel was the "firstborn" nation of God because it was the first one brought into existence by him to serve him exclusively: "Thus saith Jehovah, 'Israel is my son, my first-born.'" - Ex. 4:22, ASV.) It is frequently used (especially by God) in the sense of creating. And it always means the first thing produced or created in the sense that others will eventually follow. If Jesus was called "firstborn Son of God" because he was literally begotten from the very substance of God, then (because of the inherent meaning of "firstborn") others have been (or will be) produced in the same manner. Isn't it most probable that "Firstborn Son" merely means the very first actual creation by God (and the only one directly by his own "hands") and then the rest of the sons of God (and all creation after that) were produced from God through that "only-begotten" Son?

Be sure to compare Jesus' own description of himself at Rev. 3:14. He calls himself "the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." Doesn't this also tell us that Jesus was the very first one to be created? - See BWF study paper. Since God was never created, Jesus must be an "only-begotten god" at Jn 1:18! 

"Onlybegotten " (monogenes)

Anything that is "begotten" or "born" (or a "son"), then, is something that at one time did not exist and then was brought into existence. (E.g., Adam, the creation of God was called the "SON of God" - Luke 3:38.) This does not refer simply to Jesus' earthly existence but also to his original heavenly existence as shown by 1 John 4:9 which refers to the time when Jesus was "in the beginning with God," even "before the world was." - (John 1:1, 2; 17:5, 24). At that time he was already "the only-begotten [monogenes] Son." - 1 John 4:9, NASB, ASV, KJV. Even the highly trinitarian NT Greek scholar, W. E. Vine, in his An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 813, admits that Jesus was the Father's "only-begotten Son" before he came to earth.

Since angels are called "gods" and "sons of God" in the Bible itself (see DEF-4, 5), Jesus cannot properly be called the "only" god or the "only" Son of God as some trinitarians want to translate monogenes ("only-begotten") at John 1:18. But they (as trinitarians) still don't like Jesus being described as "only-begotten" because they insist on his eternal existence (as God).

So some try to claim that the last half of the word monogenes is not from ginomai ("to come into being" ['born']) but from genos ("kind"). Hence, they claim, the term refers to "the only one of a class or kind." Thus some trinitarian translations speak of Jesus as the "only Son" (see RSV, NEB, JB, AT quotes at beginning) rather than the "only-begotten Son" of God (John 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 Jn 4:9) - KJV, ASV, NASB.

However, even if we accept the claim that genos is the correct source word for monogenes, we need to examine the claim of some trinitarians that genos does not include the meaning of begotten" or "made." The Greek word genos has "offspring" and "birth" as some of its meanings even in my trinitarian NT Concordances (Young's Analytical Concordance of The Bible; Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible; and New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, p. 1640).

The very trinitarian W. E. Vine in his highly-regarded An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 805, admits that genos is "(akin to ginomai, to become), [and] denotes an offspring."

Yes, even the trinitarian RSV and NEB (noted above as rendering monogenes as "only" in certain verses relating to Jesus - including Jn 1:18) were forced to use the proper meaning of "offspring" for genos itself at Rev. 22:16 - "I Jesus the root and offspring [genos] of David." Compare Acts 17:28, 29 - "'For we indeed are his offspring [genos].' Being then God's offspring [genos], we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, silver or stone..." - RSV

According to certain trinitarians, then, the above scriptures plainly state that Jesus must be one of the kind [genos] of David [or of the David kind]- Rev. 22:16, and Christians and non-Christian Athenians must be of the God kind [genos] - Acts 17:28, 29. This is obviously ridiculous and the proper meaning of "begotten" or "made/produced" cannot be avoided in these scriptures! Christians (and the men of Athens whom Paul was speaking to) were made or created by God and are His genos ("offspring" or "begotten") in that sense!

And, if we want a more neutral source, we could go to a secular authority - the ultimate authority for speakers of American English - Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged). In tracing the source of the prefix gen- this outstanding reference book tells us it comes from the Greek genos which comes from "the stem of [the Greek] gignesthai to be born." We can see then that the Greek word genos literally must include the meaning of "birth," "production," "creation" [whether you choose to translate it as "race," "kind," etc. or not] and cannot mean an only kind (which has always existed)!

And, perhaps more important, that same highly-regarded authority tells us that the suffix -gen comes from the Greek suffix -genes [as in monogenes above] which means "born, fr[om] root of gignesthai to be born." (Also see -gen in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.) Here we can see that the Greek suffix in monogenes actually comes from gignesthai (not genos which some trinitarians prefer but which also comes from gignesthai anyway) and it truly, properly means to be born. Gignesthai itself is simply the infinitive form ("to be born") of gignomai [3] (or ginomai) which are present tense forms of this same passive verb. - see pp. 168, 85, 86, and 97 in Marshall's New Testament Greek Primer, Zondervan, 1962.

Even the very trinitarian NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible agrees that genos comes from ginomai [or gignomai [3]] which means "to come into being" - p. 1640. And respected trinitarian scholars Liddell and Scott tell us (under "monogenes") that monogenes is from gignomai .. Then (under "gignomai") they say that gignomai means "to come into being, Lat. gigni: 1. of persons, to be born .... 2. of things, to be produced" - An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford University Press.

Notice what famed trinitarian scholar of New Testament Greek, Dr. Alfred Marshall, tells us about ginomai (also written gignomai):

"The verb now before us [ginomai], on the other hand, denotes the coming into existence of what did not exist before.... This verb is therefore not used of God, save as He is relatively to the creature, as in Heb. 11.6 ['God... becomes (ginetai) the rewarder of those seeking Him.']."
Dr. Marshall goes on to say that even though it seems necessary for translators to sometimes use verbs such as "is," "are," etc., for the ginomai/gignesthai verbs because of the peculiarities of English, we must remember that the idea of "come into existence" must still be understood!

"The discrimination between eimi and ginomai [or gignomai] is one of the most fruitful subjects of N.T. study, and the student should never ignore it." - p. 106, New Testament Greek Primer, Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.
Therefore, the scripture mentioned by Dr. Marshall (Heb. 11:6), for example, is sometimes translated in English as, "God ... is [ginetai] a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." - KJV and others. This must be understood, however, (because of the actual meaning of ginomai/ginetai), not that God rewards certain individuals throughout their entire existence, but that he becomes a rewarder of them some time after they have begun diligently seeking him.

In the same way, other related forms of this verb should retain this same understanding ("born," "created," "brought into existence") even though the translator may use a more familiar rendering for English-speakers. So, even though some translators sometimes render genos as "race" or "kind," it must, nevertheless, retain the meaning of a "race" or "kind" that has "come into existence" or the "race" or" kind" that one has been created in or born into[4] and not something that has always existed. And it cannot be applied directly to God (for He has always existed), but only to his creation.

For example, the KJV renders genos as "kind" in only 3 places: Matt. 13:47; Matt. 17:21; and Mk. 9:29. But it must be with the understanding that these are "kinds" that have come into existence or been created. Matt. 13:47 says "like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering [fish] of every kind [genous]." - NASB. This means, of course, "every created thing ["fish" is not in the original text] found in the sea." And Matt. 17:21 says "this kind [which has come into existence] goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." - KJV. (Mark 9:29 is a parallel account.)

E. Robinson's A Greek- English Lexicon of the New Testament gives the definition of monogenes as "only born, only begotten, i.e., an only child."

W. E. Vine says about monogenes: "only begotten ([monos] and genos, offspring)" - p. 811.

W. J. Hickie's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1963 ed.) also gives: "only begotten."

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament edited by G. Kittel (Vol. iv, pp. 738-741, 1967 ed.) says, speaking of the use of monogenes in the New Testament,

"It means 'only-begotten.' ... In [John] 3:16, 18; 1 Jn 4:9; [and John] 1:18 the relation of Jesus is not just compared to that of an only child to its father. It is the relation of the only-begotten to the Father.... In [the writings of John, monogenes] denotes more than the uniqueness or incomparability of Jesus. In all these verses He is expressly called the Son, and He is regarded as such in 1:14. In John 'monogenes' denotes the origin of Jesus. He is 'monogenes' as the only-begotten."
And even the very trinitarian Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and the equally trinitarian New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible both tell us that monogenes is derived from monos ("alone") and ginomai ("to come into being") and means "only begotten"! - p. 1667, NAS Exhaustive Concordance (cf. Strong's #3439 and #1096). 

So it is not surprising that the famous NT scholar (and a trinitarian, of course), the Rev. Alfred Marshall, translated monogenes in his most literal, word-for-word rendering of John 1:18 as "only begotten," p. 265, The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1975. And since God has always existed and was never created or "begotten," Jesus must be an "only-begotten god" at Jn 1:18! 


When the actual sense of "only one of its kind" is intended (especially if it is to be used for one who has existed eternally), the word chosen by the inspired Bible writers is monos.

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, one of trinitarian Christendom's most-respected reference works, tells us about the word monos:

In the ancient Septuagint (The OT version frequently quoted in the NT),

"monos is frequently used for God's uniqueness; e.g. ... Job 9:8 (as Creator). It occurs in the confessional statements in 2 Ki. [4 Kings in Sept.] 19:15, 19; Isa. 37:16, 20. It is frequently found in Pss. (... 83 [82]:18; 86 [85]:10 ... 148:13)."
And, in the NT,

"monos becomes theologically significant when it is used in the confession of the one and only God, especially in doxologies (Rom. 16:27; 1 Tim. 1:17; ... Jn. 5:44). .... It is significant that the confession of the one holy God in Rev. 15:4 is found in the song of praise of the martyrs who 'had conquered the beast.' Similarly in Jn. 17:3, monos is linked with alethinos, true, in contrast to the deceptive appearance (pseudos) of all alleged gods and revealers, and in Jn 5:44 it stands in contrast to the false doxa (- glory) of the world, which does not seek the true doxa of the one and only God." - Vol. 2, p. 724.
By actually examining a good Bible Concordance (I used the highly-praised and highly trinitarian NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible which is the concordance for the equally praised, and equally trinitarian, New American Standard Bible), you will find that John (and all other inspired NT Bible writers) NEVER used monogenes for God, but only for Jesus (Jn 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; and 1 Jn 4:9) and other creations by God.

On the other hand, as shown above, the inspired Bible writers did repeatedly use monos for God to show that he is the only one of his kind: "O [Jehovah] our alone [monos] are God" - Is. 37:20, Sept. "Father,.... thee who alone [monos] art truly God" - John 17:1, 3, NEB. "from the one who alone [monos] is God" - John 5:44, TEV, cf. NEB, AB. "he alone [monos] is God" - 1 Tim. 1:17, LB. "to the one only [monos] God" - Jude 1:25, AB, cf. LB.

Yes, monos, by itself, means "only one." It may be qualified by context (i.e. "give it to Mary only [or 'alone']") in which case we know that the individual identified is not necessarily the only one of its kind, but that it alone (out of all others of its kind) is set aside in some certain way. But context tells us that John does not use it that way in Jn 17:3 (and Jn 5:44 in modern translations). He intends monos in those scriptures to mean "only" in the absolute, unqualified sense: the only one of its kind
. If he had intended that same meaning for Jesus at John 1:18, he would have used monos to describe him also. He did not, however.

Monos may also be qualified by adding another word to make it a compound word. For example, monophthalmos is a NT Greek word formed by combining monos ("only") and ophthalmos ("eye"). It means "having one eye only" - Matt. 18:9; Mk 9:47. So in what sense is monos ("only") used in this compound New Testament word? The second (qualifying) half of the word (ophthalmos, "eye") tells us.

Obviously it would be a terrible distortion of God's inspired word to say that monophthalmos actually means an unqualified monos ("only one") and, therefore, we may properly translate Mark 9:47 as "the only one to enter the Kingdom of God."

In the same way, monos is qualified by ginomai (or genos, if you prefer) in the compound word monogenes. And it is a terrible distortion to ignore that and insist that monogenes merely means an unqualified monos ("only one")! Monogenes means "only one brought into existence, produced, begotten, created" and this meaning must not be taken away from God's word! 

Therefore, monogenes, which is never used to describe God, means "the only one [in some sense] to be brought into existence"! We can certainly understand why some trinitarian scholars want to deny its actual meaning (when it is applied to Jesus, at least). 

Since we know that everything was created by God, the only real question is: In what way is Jesus the only one created by God?

God very often refers to his creation with the "begotten"/"born" metaphor. He is frequently called the Father in the sense that he has created everything and everyone. The angels are his "sons" - e.g. Job 38: 4, 7 and also are "gods" - Ps. 8:5, NEB (elohim - "gods," see footnotes in NIVSB and (Ps. 8:6) NAB, St. Joseph ed., 1970, and compare Heb. 2:7 - see DEF 4-5). Humans are his "children." (Remember Paul's teaching that we are God's offspring [genos], for example - Acts 17:28-29.) The first man to be created by God was "the son of God." - Luke 3:38. The Hebrew word for "born" is used at Ps. 90:2 - "Thou [God] didst give birth to the earth" - NASB.[5] So when Jesus is called the "Firstborn" it is clear that he was the very first creation produced by God. Proverbs 8:22-30, which has been applied to Jesus as the figurative "Wisdom" by the very first Christians[6]
down to today, shows this understanding (as does Rev. 3:14). Since he was the Father's very first creation (at which point in time Jehovah actually became the Father), he must have been created directly by the Father (Jehovah) --- by His own hands, so to speak. It is in this same sense that Jesus is the only-begotten. Jesus was the first (and the only direct) creation by Jehovah. All other things created by God were done THROUGH an intermediary, Jesus himself.
"There is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we exist through him." - 1 Cor. 8:6, NASB. " these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." - Heb. 1:1-2. NASB.
This, therefore, is the way that Jesus is the "only one created [monogenes] by God" or the "only-begotten son" and "only-begotten god": he is the only one created directly by God Himself.  

Since a proper rendering of monogenes theos ("only-begotten god") proves the falsity of the trinity doctrine, and also helps verify the proper rendering for John 1:1c - 'the Word was a god'
- (otherwise a favorite trinitarian "proof"), it is understandable (though tragic) that some trinitarian scholars take various steps to deny it.

"In The Bosom"

Some of the extreme "reasoning" by these trinitarian scholars can be illustrated by the following concerning the "interpretation" of "in the bosom" of Jn 1:18.

"What did John mean when he affirmed (Jn 1:18) that 'the only Son, who is all that God is [?] and who resides [?] eis ton kolpon tou patros ['in the bosom of the Father'] - he has revealed him'? The imagery (kolpos, 'bosom') suggests the exclusive and privileged intimacy of a deeply affectionate interpersonal relationship, but what is the import of eis? .... For [Bible scholar] de la Potterie it is not simply a matter of 'filiation' (as in Jn. 1:1b and 1 Jn. 1:1), but of 'eternal generation'[7] ... 'the eternal act of receiving divine life from the Father' ....
"But few [trinitarian] scholars are content to affirm that the phrase denotes simply the personal juxtaposition of Son and Father. For G. B. Winer, the phrase indicates that the Son 'is laid upon' or 'rests against' the bosom of the Father, which would imply personal intercommunion [?] .... Some of the Greek Fathers, giving eis a static sense, believed that the verse described the consubstantiality ["oneness of essence"] of the Father and Son. Chrysostom [347-407 A.D.], for example, speaks of the Son's dwelling [?] in the Father's bosom as involving 'affinity of essence'...." - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 1185, 1186, Zondervan Publishing.

So certain trinitarians claim there is some great significance to Jesus being in the bosom of the Father in heaven. And they further claim there is also deep significance in the use of eis ("into" or, sometimes, "in") instead of the more usual en ("in" or, sometimes, "into").

Generally, the prepositions en and eis in NT Greek, though very closely related, have this distinction: eis usually indicates movement into something and thus is usually translated "into." En usually indicates a position already within something and is therefore usually translated as "in."
However, NT Greek experts acknowledge these two words can be (and are) used interchangeably at times in the NT. It happens frequently in the writings of Mark and Luke especially. And in the writings of John it appears that the usual meaning of these two words has been interchanged at Jn 3:35; Rev. 11:11; Jn 19:13; and Jn 1:18. - p. 1185, TNIDONTT

So, in spite of such trinitarian straw-graspings as those quoted above, the same article also tells us:

"Now, however, the view that prevails among grammarians..., lexicographers..., and commentators... is that eis ton kolpon [Jn 1:18] is equivalent to en to kolpo (Jn 13:23) [cf. Lk. 16:22,23]." - pp. 1185-86, TNIDONTT. Also see p. 69, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, Moule, 2nd ed., 1959.
So what does en (or eis) to kolpo ("in the bosom") mean anyway? Should some trinitarians continue to claim that it shows Jesus' "oneness in essence" with God, etc.? Here's what one highly-regarded trinitarian NT Greek expert has to say:

"to recline in the bosom was said of one who so reclined at table that his head covered, as it were, the bosom of the one next to him, John 13:23. Hence, figuratively, it is used of a place of blessedness with another, as with Abraham in Paradise, Luke 16:22,23 ... from the custom of reclining at table in the bosom, a place of honour". - W. E. Vine, p. 133.
Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House, tells us of Jn 1:18 ('The one in [or 'into'] the bosom of the Father'):

"lying (turned) unto the bosom of his father (God), i.e. in the closest and most intimate relation to the Father, Jn. i.18." - p. 354.
So "in (or 'into') the bosom" refers to a position of honor. It correlates very well with Acts 2:32, 33 (and other scriptures) where God has raised him from the dead and placed Jesus at the right hand of God. The position of greatest honor was at the right side of the king (cf. Acts 7:55). These scriptures, including Jn 1:18, show Jesus' position of great honor in heaven, but certainly do not show an equality with God in any sense. In fact when Luke, the writer of Acts, states that Jesus is at the right hand of God, it clearly shows that Jesus is NOT God!


Monogenes theos, if properly translated, shows that a spirit creature (the first and most powerful 'angel') was created directly by the hand of God as His very first creation. This cannot be admitted by trinitarians since they insist that Jesus is actually God in every way and has existed forever (not created). Therefore, in desperation, they attempt to "interpret" monogenes as either the "only God" or as an "only-begotten son" (who is still somehow absolutely God and not created). To use the latter interpretation trinitarians have accepted the irrational "eternal generation" of Jesus. That is, Jesus has always been "generated" by the Father and therefore has always existed. An understanding of the actual language used at Jn 1:18, however, and a knowledge of how the very first Christians understood these concepts, make it clear what John intended by "only-begotten god," Logos ("Word"), and "the Word was a god."

Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research and conclusions to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian ¡®proof¡¯ being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the information in this paper, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian "proofs," may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah¡¯s Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. - RDB


Some trinitarian scholars themselves tell us that John's use of "the Word" (the Logos) in his prologue of the Gospel of John [Jn 1:1 - 1:18] came primarily from the famed Jewish teacher of the first century, Philo. (see the LOGOS study.) Most Jews were familiar with this renowned teacher's "Logos" concept. And since John, as admitted, again, by the best trinitarian scholars, was writing his Gospel directly for a Jewish audience [see the LOGOS study], he would naturally draw upon figures of speech, illustrations, comparisons, phrases with which Jews of the time were most familiar.
The concept of the Logos as Philo taught it made it very clear that the Logos ("the Word") was not God! In addition, this Logos was described by Philo as "firstborn son of God"; "the image of God"; "the mediator between God and man"; "the Angel of the Lord [who appeared to Abraham, Moses, and the first Israelites]." But most importantly for the purposes of this paper: Philo clearly and repeatedly taught that the Logos was "a god" [scripture itself teaches that angels were called "gods" by the Bible writers - see the BOWGOD study] and used theos without the definite article ("the") to describe him, whereas he always used theos WITH the definite article to describe God (ho theos)! - see the LOGOS study.

So, when John described Jesus as the Logos ("the Word") in his prologue and used theos WITHOUT the article (twice in the prologue) to describe him, there could be no doubt that he intended the meaning of "a god" (Jn 1:1c. and Jn 1:18)!

Some other such changes include 1 John 5:7 (as found in the KJV) - see the 1JN5-7 study paper; 1 Timothy 3:16 (as found in the KJV) - see the MINOR study paper; the deletion of "neither the Son" from the majority of later manuscripts of Matthew 24:36 (as found in the KJV) - see p. 62, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, United Bible Societies, 1971; etc.

p. 106, Marshall - "The original stem of ginomai...was gen, with a kind of reduplication gi, making gigen [gigenomai]; this became shortened to gign [gignomai] and then to gin [ginomai]." - cf. Thayer, #1096; and The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, p. 181, Zondervan, 1986. So gigenomai, gignomai, and ginomai are all the very same word.

A good comparison might be "allogenes". Although this Bible Greek word literally means "foreign-born," it is most often translated as simply "foreigner" or even "stranger." Nevertheless, to get the full meaning which was intended by the inspired Bible writer, we must know that this "stranger" is one that has been born in a foreign land, even though he may have lived among us for years and is well known to us and is, therefore, not a "stranger" in that respect at all. Therefore, Jesus is asking at Luke 17:18 - "Were none found that turned back to give glory to God but this foreign-born ['allogenes'] man?" Although some translations, including the KJV, KJIIV; ASV, Douay, etc. render this merely as "stranger," it was intended by the inspired Bible writer to convey the further description of one born in another land! All 10 of the men healed here by Jesus were probably strangers to him. But the one who came back to give thanks was one who was also foreign-born, a Samaritan! (Compare Gen. 17:27; Ex. 12:43; Is. 56:3, 6; 60:10; Zech. 9:6, Septuagint Bible. In fact the footnote for Jer. 49:17 in Zondervan¡¯s The Septuagint, 1976 ed., tells us that allogenes literally means "aliens by birth.") 

Even the terms "generated" and "begotten" had different meanings for Christians before the 4th century advocates for a trinity idea transformed them into the trinitarian terms that are generally used today. Church historian (and trinitarian) Dr. Williston Walker writes in his classic work, A History of the Christian Church, 4th ed.: "[The beginning of the 4th century debates over the deity of Christ] hinged in turn on interpretation of the Greek term gennetos ['generated'] as that was applied to the Son. [Although] traditionally translated 'begotten,' in Greek philosophical terminology [as well as in Scriptural terminology: Luke 7:28; Jn 3:5; 1 Jn 5:1; Ps. 90:2; Prov. 8:25] it had a broader and hence vaguer sense. It denoted anything which in any way 'came to be' and hence anything 'derivative' or 'generated.' Christian thought had early learned to express its monotheistic stance by insisting that God is the sole agennetos ('underived,' 'ungenerated' ['unbegotten']): that is, the unique and absolute first principle. By contrast with God, all else that exists - including the Logos, God's Son - was described as generated ['begotten']." - p. 132, Charles Scribner's Sons, Macmillan Publishing Co., 1985.

Justin Martyr (c. 100-165 A.D.) wrote:

God alone is unbegotten and incorruptible, and therefore He is God, but all other things after him are created and corruptible {Justin has just concurred that the world itself was begotten by God} .... take your stand on one Unbegotten, and say this is the Cause of all. - ANF 1:197 ('Dialogue').

But, Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by God, being His Word and first-begotten - ANF 1:170 ('Apology').

And thus do we also, since our persuasion by the Word, stand aloof from them (i.e., the demons), and follow the only unbegotten God through His Son - ANF 1:167 ('Apology').


"NT 1. ginomai is used in the NT in a variety of connections.

"(a) It means to be born (Gal. 4:4); .... to be made, be done (Jn 1:3; Matt. 11:21) ....
"3. genesis means birth in Matt. 1:18 and Lk. 1:14. It also means created life or being." - p. 181, Vol. 1, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan, 1986.

Bara is the Hebrew OT word which means, according to Gesenius, "(2) to create, to produce" and (3) "to beget" and "NIPHAL - (1) to be created, Gen. 2:4; 5:2; .... (2) pass. of Kal No. 3, to be born, Eze. 21:[30]...." - p. 138, 139, Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, Baker Book House, 1979. 

6. To show further that Jesus is the first creation of God ("beginning of creation"), we should carefully examine Prov. 8:22-30. The understanding that "Wisdom" in these verses is, in reality, figurative of Jesus in his pre-human existence has always existed in the majority of churches that call themselves Christian. It was commonly noted in the writings of the Church Fathers of the first centuries of Christianity (including such noted scholars as Origen, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc.) Many Bible scholars (trinitarians included) have even said that this connection was made in the New Testament at 1 Cor. 1:24.

For example, trinitarian scholar Edmund Fortman writes:

"Paul applied it [Prov. 8:22-30] to the Son of God. The Apologists [Christian writers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries] used it to prove to Gentile and Jew the pre-existence of the Word and his role in creation." - (See CREEDS 5-16: quotes from the writings of Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Justin Martyr which equate the Son with "Wisdom" speaking at Prov. 8:22-30 and admit that he had been created by God as the beginning of God's works - Prov. 8:22.)
Trinitarian scholar Dr. W. H. C. Frend agrees:

"By the time he wrote to the Corinthians in c. 53, Paul had developed in his mind the equation of Christ with the divine Wisdom incarnate ('Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God' [1 Cor. 1:24])." - p. 102, The Rise of Christianity, Fortress Press, 1985.
We even find the extremely trinitarian New Bible Dictionary, 1982, p. 1257, saying:

"it is not unexpected that Paul would view Jesus ... as the Wisdom of God. That Paul saw in Christ the fulfilment of Pr. 8:22 ff. seems apparent from Col. 1:15 ff., which strongly reflects the OT description of wisdom."
And the Gospel writers, according to the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, also may have made the Jesus/Wisdom connection: Luke 11:49 speaks of "a word of the wisdom of God" and the parallel account in Matt. 23:34 ff. "is understood as a word of Jesus." Also, in connection with the Gospels at Matt. 12:42 and Luke 11:31, this trinitarian reference work says:

"This can be understood most easily by thinking of the heavenly wisdom whom men despise: in Jesus this wisdom has finally appeared." - p. 1030, Vol. 3.
The very trinitarian The Ante-Nicene Fathers admits:

Prov. viii 22-25. This is one of the favourite Messianic quotations of the Fathers, and is considered as the base of the first chapter of St. John's Gospel. - ANF 1:488, f.n. #10, Eerdmans, 1993 reprint.
And even that staunchest of trinitarian supporters (and probably the most influential and honored of trinitarian scholars), Augustine, made the "Word/Wisdom" connection with Jesus about 410 A. D. in his famous De Civitate Dei (The City of God), Book XI, Chapter 24.

Why, even at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A. D. Arius quoted this passage as proof that Jesus was not equally God:

"[Arius] had a sharply logical mind and appealed to biblical texts which apparently backed up his arguments - for example, John 17:3....and Proverbs 8:22." - p. 157 (165), Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity, 1977.
And his trinitarian opponent, Athanasius, although sometimes also attempting to appeal to scripture, never refuted this usage of Proverbs 8:22 -

"Athanasius....did not refute Arius by rejecting the relevance of Prov. 8:22." (Even though he attempted to show that Jesus had not been created by quoting Ps. 110:3.) - p. 165 (173), Eerdman's Handbook.
In other words, when Arius quoted Proverbs 8:22 and applied it to Jesus, trinitarian Athanasius didn't dispute that application! Even Athanasius recognized that Wisdom in that scripture was intended to describe the Messiah! We even find Athanasius quoting a letter written by Dionysus, Bishop of Rome (259-268 A.D.) wherein he writes:

"if the Christ is Word and Wisdom and Power, as you know the Divine Scriptures say he is ..." - p. 32, Documents of the Christian Church, Bettenson, Oxford University Press.
7. "The well-known teaching of the eternal generation of the Son had its beginning with Origen [185-254 A.D.]." - A Short History of the Early Church, p. 92, Boer, Eerdmans Publ., 1976. 'The Son' in Origen's speculations, however, was not God nor equal to God, but a person who was subordinate to and less than God.
Origen wrote (as quoted in Should You Believe in the Trinity? - p. 7), "The Father and Son are two
substances ... two things as to their essence," and that "compared with the Father, [the Son] is a very small light." - quoted in Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 7. He also wrote, "The agent of redemption as of all creation is the Divine Logos or Son of God, who is the perfect image or reflection of the eternal Father though a being distinct, derivative, and subordinate." - An Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 551. [See HIST #88] Bernard Lohse in A Short History of Christian Doctrine, p. 46, tells us that Origen used the so-called "trinitarian" concept of homoousios to describe a unity and harmony of will between the Father and the Son rather than some mysterious union of "essence."

And as for Origen's development of the "Eternal Generation" of the Son - it is true that Origen used the term, but it is apparent that it did not mean to him what those later trinitarians used it to mean. Lohse tells us: "It has thus an entirely different foundation from that of a similar idea found in the later theology of the Trinity.... It is immediately apparent that this second feature ['eternal generation'] is considerably more problematical than the first."-p. 47[5]

"[Origen] was reproached with blending the Christian doctrines with Platonism, particularly in his book, 'De Principiis'; but he gives his opinions only as a possibility [though those who later developed the trinity doctrine accepted them whole-heartedly]; moreover, 'heretics,' he says, 'corrupted his writings.'" - p. 867, Encyclopedia Americana, 1957, Vol. 20.


Anonymous said...

In your discussion BOWNWT (John 1:18)there appears to be some confusion in the way it is presented. I understand that the presentation in this document (OBGOD)is correct, but BOWNWT seems to say the reverse. It does not show that the phrase "only begotten god" is more accurate than the Trinitarian preferred "Son".

Elijah said...

Good catch! BOWNWT was originally written years before OBGOD. In answering Bowman’s claim that the NWT purposely and erroneously mistranslated theos at John 1:18 as “god,” rather than “God,” I intended to show that other modern translations had also not rendered the verse as showing Jesus is “God.” Hence the emphasis on the renderings of “Son” by respected trinitarian Bibles, including the AT (which he claims to prefer to the NWT).

I did not intend to claim that I believed “Son” is the correct rendering, but, instead, that many of those Bibles which Bowman preferred also did not use “God” here (which was his criticism of the NWT‘s rendering of John 1:18.

We find that the UBS text committee discussed this scripture. They decided that theos was the preferred choice here. However, they only gave it a ‘B’ rating which means that there is “some degree of doubt” about that choice. In fact, one of the committee, Allen Wikgren, said, in disagreement, “At least a D decision would be preferable.” (The ‘D’ rating means that there is a “very high degree of doubt.”)

So, although I believe the evidence is certainly in favor of “only-begotten theos,” I don’t mind pointing out to trinitarians the different renderings in trinitarian Bibles.

Anonymous said...

I would prefer translating the verse in question this way:
"God no one has ever seen; a unique god, who rests tenderly upon the bosom of the Father, is the one who has interpreted Him."
"Only begotten" is archaic, and it makes no sense to retain it if the corresponding verbs are translated as "fathered" instead of begotten, as is done in all modern versions. Plus, a linguistic case can be put forth that the word just means unique.
I laughed at the ESV's translation: "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known."

Sam Brown said...

You say that "The anarthrous, non-prepositional, nominative case theos (as found in Jn 1:1c and Jn 1:18, etc.) is never used for "God" (at least as used by John and the other Gospel writers)." It is unusual for an anarthrous use of theos to refer to the Father, but there are several of these Him in the New Testament and even in John 8:54.

See Mk 12:27; Lk 20:38; Rom 8:33; 1 Cor 8:4; 8:6; 2 Cor 1:21; 5:5, 19; Gal 6:7; Eph 4:6; Phil 2:13; 1 Thess 2:5, 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 3:4; Rev 21:7.

tigger2 said...

I wrote in the study above: “In other words, if a copyist were to make a change, it would not have been to remove the definite article but instead to add it! This is because John (as well as all the other Gospel writers) always used the non-prepositional nominative form of "God" (theos) with a definite article (ho, "the") when it referred to the only true God (ho theos) ! - (see DEF study paper.)”

First, most of the scriptures you list are from Paul’s writings. Paul has his own idiosyncracies in grammar use. We are concerned with John’s usage here, but I did mention that the Gospel writers had the same usage for “God.” However, the real concern is just with John’s usage.

If you remove the verses from Paul, you will have John 8:54; Mk 12:27; Lk 20:38; and Rev. 21:7. As shown in the above study, I referred to my DEF study to explain this. If you go to end note 5 in that study you will see that all of these were explained.

John 8:54 - theos is ‘prepositional.’ That is, it is modified by a preposition (in this case the genitive “of you”).

Mk 12:27 and Luke 20:38 - theos is ‘prepositional.’ (“of dead” and “of living”).

Rev. 21:7 - ‘Prepositional’ (modified by dative “to you”)