Friday, October 7, 2016

The Johannine Use of Monogenēs Reconsidered by J. V. Dahms

I don't take a dogmatic stand on the controversy regarding the proper interpretation of monogenēs. There are days when I side with the traditional interpretation, and days when I side with the view of modern scholarly consensus. But there is a minority report among scholars for the traditional interpretation. Hence the link below to J.V. Dahms' paper The Johannine Use of Monogenēs Reconsidered. The displayed version at that link is illegible, but the downloaded version is legible.  Once downloaded fix the file name extension from .pdf ' (with the apostrophe) to .pdf (without it). Then your default PDF viewer will be able to recognize it.

Or download it from Scribd here. Or here.

See also Lee Irons' well known paper The Eternal Generation of the Son

I don't know how long J.V. Dahms' paper will be available at that link. So, I've copy and pasted the paper below. Keep in mind that pdf content doesn't copy and paste very well. The formatting will be terrible.

J. V. DahmsFrom New Testament Studies, Vol. 29, 1983, pp. 222-32Most modern scholars are convinced that monogenēs in John 1. 14, 18; 3. 16, 18; 1
John 4. 9, does not mean ‘only begotten’. As a result such modern English versions
such as RSV, NEB, NIV, GNB, present renderings like ‘only’ and ‘one and only’.
Extensive articles such as those by D. Moody, ‘God’s Only Son: The Translation of
John 3:16 in the Revised Standard Version’,
Journal of Biblical Literature, lxxii, Dec.
1953, pp. 213-19; P. Winter,
5 (1953), pp. 335-63; and Th. C. de Kruijf, ‘The Glory of the Only
Son (John 1:14)’,
Studies in John Presented to Professor Dr. J. N. Sevenster, pp. 113-
1 support such renderings. Notable exceptions to the view include those of F.
Büchsel in TDNT, IV, 737-741, who holds that it ‘probably includes also begetting by
God’; and of B. Lindars,
The Gospel of John, p. 96, who states that ‘“of the Father:
(1:14) . . . is decisive for “only begotten”’.
In this paper we re-examine the evidence and present what appears to be hitherto
unnoticed support for the view that in its Johannine use the word does include the idea
of generation. We begin with arguments which have been advanced by those who
hold the opposing position.
The first argument is etymological. It is stated that
monogenēs is related to ginomai,
“to become”. Thus
–genes means a “cagetory” or a “kind”, and monogenēs really
means “only one of its kind”.
2 But derivation from ginomai could have another
implication (as well?). The root
gen seems to be closely related to genn, the root ofgennaō, ‘to bring forth by birth’, so that the idea of derivation, even if not by birth,
may well be present. Of course, derivation of a person from parents is by birth, so that,
if a word from the root
gen were used of a person to convey the idea of derivation it
would be implied that that person had been begotten. (Properly speaking, only a man
can beget; a woman bears a child. For practical reasons, and because nothing relevant
to our study hangs upon it, we are disregarding the distinction.)
3 Moreover, there is
evidence that the root
gen did convey the idea of derivation, at least sometimes, asgēgenēs, diogenēs, eugenēs and suggenēs show.4In this connection it is to be noted that J. H. Moulton and G. Milligan, The
Vocabulary of the New Testament
, pp. 416-17, among others, state that ‘only
begotten’ would be
monogennētos, not monogenēs. But, if the lexicon of Liddell,
Scott and Jones may be trusted,
monogennētos does not occur.5 The possibility must
not be overlooked that it does not occur because
monogenēs was commonly used with
the meaning that
monogennētos would have had, if it had occurred. Moreover, even ifmonogennētos was used, this would not make the use of monogenēs with a more or
less synonymous meaning impossible.

Etymology provides no objection to the meaning ‘only begotten’; it may even
provide some support for it. But, of course, meaning is determined by usage, not by
The meaning of
monogenēs when not used of persons is sometimes set forth as an
6 In Ps. 21 (22). 20 (21) LXX, ‘Deliver my soul from the sword, mymonogenē from the power of the dog’, and Ps. 34 (35). 17 LXX, ‘Deliver my soul
from their mischief, my
monogenē from lions’, the meaning must be something like
‘my unique possession’ or ‘my specially valued possession’. When Parmenides, to
take an extra-biblical example, describes ‘being’ as unbegotten, incorruptible, whole
(not in parts),
mounogenēs, and without end’,7 our word evidently means something
like ‘unique’. Further illustrations of a similar nature can be adduced.
But such evidence may not be decisive for the meaning when persons are being
Arguments are frequently advanced to show that our term is sometimes used of
people, divine beings, etc., in such a way as to imply that the idea of derivation is not
Various writers
8 draw attention to Heb. 11. 17, ‘Abraham, when he was tested,
offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up
ē.’ They point out that Abraham had another son at the time, Ishmael, and,
on this ground, argue that
monogenēs cannot mean ‘only begotten’, even when used
of people. They contend that the meaning must be that Isaac is called
monogenēs to
signify that he was unique and/or beloved.
9But the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan contains what may be a hint that the argument
is invalid. Though Ishmael is referred to therein as a son of Abraham, according to the
Targum on Gen. 21, ‘In Izhak shall sons be called unto thee; and this son of the
handmaid shall not be genealogized after thee.’
10 In addition, it may not be without
significance that the Targum on Gen. 22 describes Isaac as the son of Abraham’s wife,
whereas Ishmael is said to be the son of Sarah’s handmaid: ‘Izhak said, It is right that
I should inherit what is the father’s, because I am the son of Sarah his wife, and thou
art the son of Hagar the handmaid of my mother.’ (Cf. Gen. 21. 10.)
More to the point is a passage in Philo which discusses the sacrifice of Isaac, and is
evidently dependent on Gen. 22 in a Greek version
11 which, unlike LXX, described
Isaac as
monogenēs.12 According to de Abr., 194, ‘He (Abraham) had begotten no son
in the truest sense but Isaac (
gnēsion te huion pepoiēmenos monon touton euthus
). (Cf. de Sac., 43.) Other Philonic descriptions of Isaac to the effect that he was
Abraham’s ‘only and dearly cherished (
agapētos kai monos) son’ (de Abr., 168; cf. de
., 196; Quod Deus Imm., 4) suggest that monogenēs meant ‘beloved’, but make it
clear that it implied ‘only (child)’ as well.
Not only does the foregoing evidence indicate that the common argument based on
Heb. 11. 17 is unfounded, it indicates that
monogenēs means ‘only’, if not ‘only
According to P. Winter, loc. Cit., p. 342, on one occasion ‘Josephus uses the term
in the sense of “favourite”, “best-beloved”, - so in
Ant., XX.ii.1.22 where he records
that king Monobaz of Adiabene bestowed his parental affections upon his “only-

begotten son” Izates thus provoking the envy of Izates’ ‘brothers.’ But such an
understanding of the passage, found also in Whiston’s translation, is to be questioned.
L. H. Feldman in the Loeb edition of Josephus’ works translates, ‘It was clear that all
his favour was concentrated on Izates as if he were an only child (
hōs eis monogenē).’
Surely Feldman’s translation represents what Josephus wrote, and renders Winter’s
argument invalid
Attention has been drawn to some passages, however, which are more
1. Psalm 24 (25). 16 LXX, ‘Look upon me and have mercy upon me for I am
monogenēs and poor.’ We think it not impossible that the meaning ‘only child’, i.e.
one who has no sibling to provide help, is (also?) intended. (Cf. Gen. 4. 9; 38. 8; Lev.
21. 2; 25. 25, 48; Deut. 25. 5; 28. 54.) But perhaps such a description as ‘solitary’ or
‘lonely’ is intended.
2. Wisdom 7. 22, ‘In her (wisdom) there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy,
monogenēs . . .’ In view of the dependence of Wisd. 7-8 on Prov. 8, it is entirely
possible that the idea of generation is included in this use of our term, since Prov. 8.
25 LXX speaks of the Lord begetting (
gennai) wisdom.133. 1 Clem. 25. 2, ‘There is a bird which is called the Phoenix. This is monogenēs,
and lives 500 years.’ It is not impossible that the legend that there was only one
Phoenix at a time, and that it came forth from the ashes of its predecessor, made it
appropriate for it to be described as ‘only derived’. As we have seen, ‘only derived’ is
possibly the proper meaning of
monogenēs, and ‘only begotten’ is the implication of
‘only derived’ when birth is in view.
4. R. Bultmann,
The Gospel of John, pp. 71 ff. n. 2, points out that such ‘divinities’
as Hecate, Core, Persephone and Demeter are described as
monogenēs. (Once only
Phanes, though probably in error for
prōtogonos.) Demeter is of special interest for us
because she is described in Greek mythology as a daughter of Cronos and Rhea, who
are credited with such further offspring as Hestia, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus. It
is to be noted, however, that Bultmann thinks that the description of these divinities as
monogenēs is ‘probably on the basis of old tradition’, and one wonders whether it
may not be that it harks back to a period before the relationship of the various
divinities to one another was developed to the extent familiar to us. Perhaps there was
a time when each of the divinities was thought of as only begotten, though we must
admit that the idea of uniqueness is peculiarly appropriate to Demeter.
145. In O. Kern, Orphicorum Fragmenta, 247, 23, the Biblical Moses is described asmounogenēs. The Pentateuchal record concerning Aaron and Miriam makes it clear
that ‘only begotten’ cannot be the meaning of our term in this instance.
The foregoing constitutes all the evidence we have found supporting the view that
monogenēs, when used of persons, does not include the concept of generation. When
contrasted with what is to be said on the other side, the evidence is not very
impressive. It is certainly not impressive enough to be decisive concerning the
ordinary meaning of our term.
In addition to the evidence already adduced on the other side, there is the fact that,
during the controversy with the Arians and thereafter,
monogenēs is represented as
including the idea of generation. Of a number of examples, perhaps the most notable
is Jerome’s Vulgate version of John 1. 14, 18; 3. 16, 18; 1 John 4. 9; Heb. 11. 17,
where our term is translated
unigenitus.15It has been argued that it was at this time that it was first thought that monogenēsincludes the idea of generation.16 In support of this view it has been noted that the old
Latin Codex Vercellensis (a) has
unicus as the translation of mongenēs, a practice to
which Jerome’s Vulgage conforms except in the Christologically significant passages
cited above. It has also been noted that the versions of the Apostles’ Creed found in
Augustine and the
Sacramentum Gallicanum (A.D. 650) have unigenitus whereas
older and later versions have
unicus in describing Christ. And it has been pointed out
that in the second credal statement at the end of Epiphanius’
Ancoratus (A.D. 374)
Christ is described as
gennēthenta ek theou patros monogenē. That a form of gennaōas well as a form of monogenēs is thus used is said to be because monogenēs by itself
did not include the idea of generation.
17It is perhaps to be expected that the orthodox would be eager to find the doctrine of
the generation of the Son in as many Scriptures as possible, even though the Arians
could speak of the divine Son as ‘begotten (gegenn
ēmenon) before all ages’.18 But it
is difficult to believe that
monogenēs could be newly understood to have or to include
this meaning under such circumstances. Many of the people concerned were welleducated and thoroughly familiar with Greek. The controversies in which they were
engaged involved them in consideration of the precise meaning of various terms,
including the one presently of interest to us.
19 Such circumstances would be
unfavourable to the penetration of new meanings into these terms. Indeed, they would
militate against such a development. Moreover, one would have expected such
evidence of objection if someone had newly intimated that our term included the idea
of generation. I know of no such evidence.
On the other hand, given the nature of the Arian controversy, it is understandable
that the idea of generation, if implicit in our term, would be brought to the fore. This
would explain Jerome’s use of
unigenitus in Christological passages of the New
Testament, if it be true that the Old Latin versions always rendered
monogenēs byunicus, as was apparently the case with the Codex Vercellensis, which was
‘supposedly written in A.D. 365 by Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli’.
20 But that this
codex is typical of the Old Latin version(s) is questionable. When Hilary of Poitiers,
On the Trinity (before 358),21 I, 10, quotes John 1. 1-14, he uses unigenitus. He does
likewise when quoting John 1. 18 in ibid., VI, 39, where he appends the comment,
‘He not only calls Him the Son, but adds the further designation of the Only-begotten
unigenitum), and so cuts away the last prop from under this imaginary adoption. For
the fact is that He is Only-begotten (
unigeniti) is proof positive of His right to the
name of Son.’ It is hardly conceivable that he could have made such a comment
without more ado unless his readers were familiar with
unigenitus in their Latin New
Testaments. At a later point we shall quote a passage from Tertullian which raises the
question whether
unigenitus did not occur in a (the) Latin version commonly used in
his day.
unigenitus appears in the versions of the Apostle’s Creed found in the
writings of Augustine and in the
Sacramentarium Gallicum and not in earlier Latin
Versions is easily explained as due to the influence of the Arian controversy. That the
final form of the Western Creed reads
unicus is no doubt due to the power of tradition.
The widespread persistence of ‘trespasses’ in modern recitation of the Lord’s Prayer
among English-speaking people is somewhat comparable.
That an early credal statement should describe Christ as
gennēthenta ek theou
patros monogen
ē is not necessarily because the idea of begetting was absent from the
meaning of
monogenēs. Prōtotokon in eteken ton huion autēs ton prōtotokon (Luke 2.
7) includes the idea of bearing (a child) even though it is used with
eteken in a way
more or less similar to the way in which
monogenē is used with gennēthenta in the
phrase with which we are concerned.

But more important is the evidence, in addition to that found in Philo, thatmonogenēs was understood to include the idea of generation prior to the days of the
Arian debates:
1. When
monogenēs is used of persons, the context usually makes it clear that the
descent of the person described by it is in view. Phrases like ‘
monogenēs son’ (Luke 7.
12), and ‘I am the
monogenēs of my father’ (Tob. 6. 14 .a), are common. (Cf. Tob. 6.
14. B, ‘I am the
monos of my father.’22) Apart from the few references discussed
above, every occurrence of our term with respect to persons is in a context in which
the idea of descent is either implied or is appropriate. Such phrases as ‘
monogenēsbrother’ are notably non-existent.
2. Tob. 8. 17, ‘Thou hast had compassion on two
monogeneis.’ Tob. 3. 10-15 and 6.
14 make it clear that what is meant is that each of the two mentioned, namely Tobias
and Sarah, is an only child. But these verses are so far removed – 84 lines between 6.
14 and 8. 17 in Rahlfs’ edition of the Vaticanus text – that it is unlikely that
monogenēs would be used absolutely, as it is in 8. 17, unless it was understood as
itself including the ‘child’ idea.
3. Justin,
Dial. with Trypho, 105, quotes Ps. 22. 20 LXX, ‘Deliver my soul from
the sword, and my
monogenē from the hand of the dog’, and insisting on a Messianic
prophecy therin, comments on
monogenē: ‘I have already proved that he was themonogenēs of the Father in all things, being begotten in a peculiar manner Word and
Power by Him (
idiōs ex autou logos kai dunamis gegennēmenos), and having
afterwards become man through the Virgin . . .’ Concerning this passage note (a)
Unless it is in
monogenēs, there is nothing in the Psalm which intimates that what is
spoken of is a son, or is begotten of God; and (b) The conception of the begotten
‘Word’ is surely owed to the use of
monogenēs of the Logos in John 1. (It may be
added that the reference to previous demonstration apparently looks back to chapters
61 and 62 in which Prov. 8. 22 ff. is interpreted as teaching the begetting of the Son
by the Father.)
4. Justin,
Apol., I.23, ‘Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by
God (
monos idiōs huios tō theō gegennētai), being His Word and first-begotten, and
Power; and becoming man according to His wil . . .’ This passage, with its reference
to the Son of God as the ‘Word’of God, is probably dependent on John 1. But, if so,
Justin understood
monogenēs to mean ‘only begotten’.
5. Tertullian,
Against Praxeas, vii, ‘By proceeding from Himself He became His
first-begotten Son, because begotten before all things; and
unigenitus because alonegenitus of God.’ Besides the reminiscence of Johannine usage in unigenitus, the
context specifies that the ‘Word’ is being described, providing further evidence that
monogenēs in John 1 is understood to mean unigenitus.
It seems clear that
monogenēs, when used of persons, was always understood to
include the idea of generation. This understanding did not have its beginning at the
time of the Arian controversy.
On the basis of the context of John 1. 14, 18, and of 1 John 4. 9, P. Winter loc. cit., p.
336, has argued that
monogenēs in the Johannine writings must mean ‘unique’.
Of the former text he says, ‘Although Jn 1:14, 18 speaks of one who is
monogenēsin relation to God, v. 12 does not exclude others from the possibility of “becoming
children of God”.’ He has overlooked the fact that ‘children’ in 1. 12 is
tekna, and that
in the Johannine literature
teknon is never used of Christ’s relation to God, just as
huios is never used of the relationship of Christians to God. Moreover, the term
‘Father’ occurs of God in 1. 14, and in a way which seems applicable only to the
divine Son in the Johannine usage. Those who are Christ’s are described as ‘children
of God’ (John 1. 12; 11. 52; 1 John 3. 1, 2, 10; 5. 2), as ‘born of God’ (John 1. 13; 1
John 3. 9; 4. 7; 5. 1, 4, 18), as ‘born of the Spirit’ (John 3. 5, 8), and as ‘of God’ (1
John 3. 10; 4. 4, 6; 3 John 11; cf. 1 John 4. 1, 2, 3). But ‘Father’, common as it is as a
designation of deity in these writings, never occurs in such contexts. The nearest to an
exception is in John 20. 17, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God
and your God’, but on this passage such a comment as the following is typical: ‘It
seems as though He is of set purpose placing Himself in a different relationship to the
Father from that which His followers occupy.’
23 On the other hand Christ frequently
speaks of God as ‘my Father’ (John 5. 17-18 is especially instructive), and is often
described as the Son of ‘the Father’. (E.g. John 3. 35; 1 John 4. 14; 2 John 3.) We
suggest, therefore, that the
para patros in John 1. 14 (contrast the para theou of John
the Baptist in John 1. 6) provides further reason to believe that Winter’s argument is
Concerning the occurrence of our term in the Johannine epistle, Winter says, ‘After
1 Jn IV.9 has explicitly spoken of the
hios (sic) tou theou ho monogenēs, V.1 goes on
to say:
pas ho pisteuōn . . . ek tou theou gegennētai. No exclusiveness in number, but
a distinctive quality is here . . . indicated by the expression,
µονογενής.’ Again he has
overlooked the fact that
huios and teknon describe different relationships to God in
Johannine thinking. The use of
huios in the former and of teknon in the immediate
context of the latter verse (i.e. in 5. 2) implies ‘a distinctive quality’ so that such need
not be implicit in
Winter’s arguments lose their cogency in light of the Johannine use of
huios,teknon and patēr.
On the Basis of Heb. 11. 17, P. Winter, loc. cit., pp. 343 ff., and Th. C. de Kruijf, loc.
cit., pp. 113 ff., suggest that
monogenēs may have been used absolutely of Isaac, and
that there may have developed the use of
monogenēs and of monogenēs para patros(cf. John 1. 14), as a designation of Israel. John 1. 14, 18, are therefore to be
understood as containing an allusion to the understanding of Israel as God’s
monogenēs. Evidence is drawn from Pss. Sol. 18. 4 and 4 Ezra 6. 58 to show that
Israel was so described. Note is also taken of the evidence in Philo,
De Mutatione
, 81, that Israel was known as the God-seer, and therefore as the one who
makes Him known. It is suggested that there is an allusion to this in John 1. 18, ‘No
one has ever seen God; the
monogenēs Son (or ‘God’) . . . he has made him known.’
Of course, if such is the case, the application of our term to Christ would hardly imply
derivation in anything like the sense of offspring from a parent.
Winter is correct in suggesting that
monogenēs in John 1. 14, 18, may owe
something to the view that Isaac was known as Abraham’s
monogenēs. He is quite
incorrect, however, in seeing Christ as somehow identified with, or the counterpart to,
the nation of Israel in the Prologue of John. In John 1. 14-18 Christ is clearly
contrasted with the leader of Israel in the time of the Exodus, not with the nation of
Israel. Moreover, it is not the nation of Israel as the God-seer which is in view, as
Winter believes, but Moses as the God-seer, or at least as the one who sought to see
God. As A. T. Hanson has pointed out, ‘The law was given through Moses, grace and
truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1. 17), is immediately followed by ‘No man

has ever seen God . . .’, and so reflects Ex. 33. 12-34. 9, a passage in which ‘the
giving of the law is associated with a man (Moses) seeing God.’
24 Moreover, he
observes (1) that in this Exodus passage Moses is promised that God will cause His
‘goodness’ (33. 19) and His ‘glory’ (33. 22) to pass by, both words being rendered
doxa in the LXX (cf. John 1. 14); and (2) that plērēs chariots kai alētheias in John 1.
14 is a ‘more literal translation’ of
rabh chesedh we’emeth than we have in Ex. 34. 5-
6 LXX, ‘And
kyrios passed by before his face and called, Kyrios the merciful and
compassionate God, long-suffering and full of mercy and true (
polueleos kai
ēthinos).’25There can be no objection to the idea that descent is implied in monogenēs on the
basis that Israel was known as God’s
monogenēs, because such a designation for
Israel is not reflected in John 1. 14-18.
We have shown that the view that
monogenēs in the Johannine literature does not
mean ‘only begotten’ has very little to be said in its favour. In discussing the
arguments advanced to support that view, we have brought forth strong reasons
favouring the other side. We now proceed to draw attention to a further consideration
supportive of our thesis.
Each time
monogenēs is used in John and 1 John it is in a context in which it is
preceded by a prominent occurrence or occurrences of
gennaō in reference to the
‘spiritual birth’ of men. (See John 1. 13-18; 3. 3-18; 1 John 4. 7-9.) That it follows
such a use of
gennaō in John 1. 13 is noted by M. Dods in The Expositor’s Greek New
, I, 690. He comments, ‘The expression is no doubt suggested by the
immediately preceding statement that as many as received Christ were born of God.
The glory of the Incarnate Logos, however, is unique, that of an only begotten.’ What
seems not to have been noted hitherto is that the other occurrences of our term support
the judgement that the term
gennaō suggested the use of monogenēs and thatmonogenēs therefore means ‘only begotten’.
But not only does Dods have the support of the other Johannine passages in which
our term is found. He has the support of 1 John 5. 18, ‘We know that anyone
gegennēmenos of God does not sin, but he who is gennētheis of God keeps him.’ Here
reference to the ‘spiritual birth’ of men is followed by reference to Christ as born of
God. The parallel with the passages in which
monogenēs is found is evident, except
that this time a form of
gennaō is used instead of monogenēs! (The distinction
between the two kinds of sonship is preserved in that the perfect participle is used of
men, the aorist participle of Christ.)
D. Moody, loc. cit., p. 219, disputes the rendering of 1 John 5. 18 given above, and
argues that we should read ‘any one born of God keeps himself’.
The problem is a textual one, the question being whether we should read ‘keeps
him (
auton)’ or ‘keeps himself (hauton or heauton)’. The codices aACKPΨ and
numerous other witnesses, including some early versions, read
heauton. In support of
this reading Moody asserts that the idea of ‘keeping (
tērei) oneself’ is repeated in 1
John 5. 21, ‘keep (
phulaxate) yourselves from idols’. (John 17. 12 shows that tēreōand phulassō can be used synonymously.) But to say that we have ‘the repetition of
the same idea’ in 5. 21 as in our clause in 5. 18 is to be unaware of the difference in
meaning when a verb is used absolutely from when it is not. It is also to be noted that
the concept of ‘keeping oneself’ in the absolute sense does not occur elsewhere in the
New Testament.

Though the unambiguous reading of auton is not well-attested, it is found in a
number of minuscules, and is supported by the Old Latin, the Vulgate, and some other
versions. Moreover, it is probable that the codices A* and B, which could be read as
auton or hauton, should be read auton, since hauton had become relatively
uncommon by the first century A.D.
26 (But see John 2. 24.) Even more important: (1)
The change from the perfect participle
ho gegennēmenos in the first part of the verse
to the aorist participle
ho gennētheis in the second is strange if reference is being
made to the same person; (2) Elsewhere John always uses
γεγεννηµένος, never γεννηθείς of the believer’;27 and (3) There is a close parallel in John 17. 12, ‘I kept
etēroun) them in thy name which thou has given me; I have guarded (ephulaxa)
them.’ (Cf. Rev. 3. 10.)
28 It may be noted that the United Bible Societies Greek New
Testament, Third Edition, and most, if not all, of the recent translations into English
accept the reading
auton. (Cf. RSV, NASB, NEB, JB, NIV, GNB.)
In connection with his argument Moody states that
gennaō is used in Ps. 2 LXX
with reference to a ‘coronation idea, not a conception idea’. But there seems to be no
evidence that Ps. 2 influenced the Johannine Gospel or Epistles.
29 On the other hand
Prov. 8 is significant for this literature. Indeed, it is especially significant for the
Prologue of John where
mongenēs occurs twice. Though it is likely that its occurrence
with respect to Isaac had much to do with the description of the Logos as
monogenēsin this passage and elsewhere in our literature, it is probable that Prov. 8. 25 LXX was
also influential. (It is there stated that God begets [
gennai] Wisdom. Moreover, the
origin, not the coronation of Wisdom, is clearly in view.) What we have said of 1
John 5. 18 strengthens this probability and is strengthened by it.
We have examined all of the evidence which has come to our attention concerning
the meaning of
monogenēs in the Johannine writings and have found that the majority
view of modern scholarship has very little to support it. On the other hand, the
external evidence, especially that from Philo, Justin, Tertullian, and the internal
evidence from the context of its occurrences, makes clear that ‘only begotten’ is the
most accurate translation after all.
1 See also R. Bultmann, The Gospel of John, pp. 71 ff. n. 2.2 E. A. Nida, Good News for Everyone, p. 64.3 D. Moody, loc. cit., p. 217, seems to overlook the fact that gennaō can have a female as well as a
male for its subject.
4 Cf. F. Büchsel in TDNT, IV, 737-738.5 So also B. F. Westcott, The Epistles of St. John, Fourth Edition, p. 171 n. 2.6 E.g. D. Moody, loc. cit., pp. 217, 219.7 Qu. By Büchsel in TDNT, IV, 738 n. 5.8 E.g. D. Moody, loc. cit., p. 217; E. A. Nida, op. cit., p. 64; L. Morris, The Gospel according to
, p. 105.9 See P. Winter, loc. cit., pp. 338 ff., re ‘beloved’ as a translation of monogenēs.10 Trans. by J. W. Etheridge.11 Philo used the Old Testament in a Greek translation. Cf. O. Zöckler in The New Schaff-Herzog
Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge
, IX, 41.12 For the rather considerable evidence of such a text, see P. Winter, loc. cit., pp. 337-8.13 This assumes with U. Wilckens in TDNT, VII, 500 n. 219, that ‘σοφία is expressly defined asπνεύµα in Wis. 7:22 f.’ Cf. W. Bieder in TDNT, VI, 371 n. 188.14 R. Bultmann, loc. cit., states that any influence of this usage on the Fourth Gospel could only be
‘very indirectly, if there is a connection between it and the use of
µονογ. as a cosmological attribute’.
Bultmann’s judgment is especially significant in view of the fact that he is prone to derive Johannine
concepts and usages from Hellenistic sources.

15 Jerome’s revision of the New Testament was commissioned probably in 382. For evidence from
this period that
monogenēs means ‘only (begotten?)’ and not merely ‘unique’ and/or ‘beloved’, see
Four Discourses Against the Arians, II.xxi.62; Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, II, 7;
II, 8; Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture XI, 2.
16 B. F. Westcott, op. cit., p. 171; D. Moody, loc. cit., pp. 214-16.17 See D. Moody, loc. cit., pp. 214-15.18 ‘The Private Creed of Arius’ qu. In P. Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, II, 28; see also Gregory
of Nyssa,
Against Eunomius, II, 7.19 See n. 14.20 D. Moody, loc. cit., p. 214.21 F. Loofs in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge, V, 283.22 Because of Tob. 6. 14 B we doubt that B. Lindars, op. cit., p. 96, is correct when he states thatpara patros in John 1. 14 is decisive for ‘only begotten’.23 L. Morris, op. cit., p. 842. But see C. F. D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament, p. 110.24 Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, p. 110.25 Ibid., pp. 110-11.26 Cf. Blass and Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament, p. 35; A. T. Robertson, A
Greek Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research
, p. 226.27B. M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 719. The strength of this
point may be diluted by the fact that in John 1. 13 (most witnesses) the aorist indicative passive is used
of the believer. Ibid. states that A* and B support the reading
auton.28 See D. M. Scholer in Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation (Edited by G. F.
Hawthorne), p. 245 n. 72, for a fuller discussion of this matter.
29 That Christ is called the ‘Son of God’ could be derived from 2 Sam. 7. 14. Cf. 1 En. 105. 2; 4 Ezra
7. 28 f.; 13. 52; 14. 9. John 20. 29 is reminiscent of Ps. 2. 12 LXX but it is doubtful that it is dependent
thereon. (Cf. C. K. Barrrett,
The Gospel according to John, p. 477). C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of
the Fourth Gospel
, p. 271, suggests that the use of gennaō in John 1. 13 may owe something to Jewish
interpretation of Ps. 2. 7 as referring to the true Israel. (Cf. W. F. Howard,
Christianity according to St.
, p. 198.) In our opinion the fact that the tekna of God are being described, whereas Ps. 2 speaks of
huios of God, a term our author reserves for Christ, tells against any conscious dependence on Ps. 2.

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