Author Topic: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed  (Read 3866 times)

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Offline StGeorge

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I often visit and post at Catholic Answers. Recently, in reading one thread, I came across a post by an evangelical pastor in which he mentions that many Bibles are replacing the words "only begotten" in the NT with the word "unique." Supposedly modern Biblical scholars have discovered that the root for the word in the New Testmanet which we normally translated as "begotten" is not the true root. According to this person's post, the root was at first thought to be "genes" (to beget) but now is shown through linguistic analysis to be "gennao" (unique or one of a kind).

The evangelical pastor makes a slight hint that the Creed of Constantinople (Nicaea) is flawed because in using the words "begotten" to describe Jesus, we are making him subordinate to the Father.

Do any of you know about this situation? He mentions that the NIV, NET and the ESV Bibles, among others, have made this change.

What do Orthodox scholars have to say about this change? I understand that the Orthodox are busy at work with a new translation of the Greek New Testament. How are they responding to this "discovery"?

I appreciate any help from seminarians or those who know much about Greek :)

Thanks! God bless.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2005, 03:25:34 AM by StGeorge »

Offline BritishEnquirer

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2005, 08:47:49 AM »
According to my Analytical Greek Lexicon by Friberg, Friberg and Miller:

" monogenes - of what is the only one of its class, unique (1) an only child born to human parents [one and only  Luke 7:12; 8:42]; substantivally only child (Luke 9:38)  (2) as a child born in a unique way; (a) used of God's Son Jesus only, only begotten; substantivally (John 1:14) (b) used of Abraham's son Isaac only; substantivally his only true son (Hebrews 11:17)"

As a former Evangelical, I know that there is a myth among many about the Koine Greek of the NT. The myth is that the Greek is very precise, much more precise than English.

When I started studying Theology at an Evangelical College, I decided I was going to study Greek for 3 years so I could understand the NT precisely. What I learned, is that scholars of Greek, disagree over many words. The preciseness belief I had fallen for, was a myth.

From the above, from the Analytical Lexicon, the term monogenes (only begotten) is used for slightly different meanings, in different places, just as English words can have variant meanings.

As for the posters argument that the Creed is wrong because 'begotten' makes Jesus subordinate to the Father, well, IMO that is missing the point entirely. The fact that Jesus is Son makes Him subordinate to the Father.

There is no other Son who is uniquely begotten, because the begetting is in Eternity, where there is no time. No one can explain how the Son is begotten, it is a mystery.

Christina


Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2005, 08:48:34 AM »
Hi StGeorge.
I don't have time this morning to answer this. Seems this pops up periodically on all Orthodox fora. It consumed a lot of bandwidth at the Indiana List a year or so ago. I wonder what constitutes these "modern" Greek scholars? I'll see what I can give you later this week.

Demetri
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Offline BritishEnquirer

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2005, 08:52:46 AM »
PS In my NIV Interlinear, the word is translated 'only begotten' in the literal text, but not in the NIV text itself.

Offline troy

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2005, 05:38:37 PM »
I understand that the Orthodox are busy at work with a new translation of the Greek New Testament.  How are they responding to this "discovery"?
Ryan,
I believe the Church is making a new English translation of the Old Testament (the LXX) not the New Testament so this discovery shouldn't impact the new translation.

Offline Keble

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2009, 09:21:59 AM »
There are in fact two new translations from the LXX: one in the just-published OSB, and another (based on the NRSV instead of the NKJV) sponsored by OUP called the New English Translation of the Septuagint.

As for μονογενη, there's a good reason to translate it more literally: as against adoptionism. I'm not sure why most modern translations choose to omit begotten, but it seems to cut across many translational lines. Here's an extensive comparison and annotation from the NET group. It looks to me as though every group which takes a dynamic equivalence approach drops the "begotten", whether they are "liberal" or "conservative". I've come, over the years, to prefer a formal equivalence approach.

Offline xariskai

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2011, 04:57:10 AM »
The Only Begotten Son
(ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός)

My purpose here is to discuss the meaning of the word μονογενής (monogenes) as used in the New Testament, the Septuagint, and in other ancient writings. I am especially interested in its use by the Apostle John in his Gospel and in his first Epistle, and its use in the Nicene Creed of A.D. 325. I will argue that the rendering "one and only" is semantically reductionistic and theologically inadequate.


The rest of this essay can be read here:

http://www.bible-researcher.com/only-begotten.html




Excerpt of linked Web page added to make post compliant with forum policy regarding naked links. In the future, please give us a gist of where your link will take us by posting a relevant excerpt of the linked document.

Thank you.


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Faith Issues Section Moderator
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 06:29:17 PM by PeterTheAleut »

Offline Theophilos78

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2011, 06:44:12 AM »
I often visit and post at Catholic Answers.

You mean CAF? I wanted to visit that website last night, but my anti-virus software gave an alarm and blocked my access, saying that there was an attack of several Trojans from that address. If you do not have a strong anti-virus software, be careful. You could also inform the forum administration.

Recently, in reading one thread, I came across a post by an evangelical pastor in which he mentions that many Bibles are replacing the words "only begotten" in the NT with the word "unique." Supposedly modern Biblical scholars have discovered that the root for the word in the New Testmanet which we normally translated as "begotten" is not the true root. According to this person's post, the root was at first thought to be "genes" (to beget) but now is shown through linguistic analysis to be "gennao" (unique or one of a kind).

The evangelical pastor makes a slight hint that the Creed of Constantinople (Nicaea) is flawed because in using the words "begotten" to describe Jesus, we are making him subordinate to the Father.

Do any of you know about this situation? He mentions that the NIV, NET and the ESV Bibles, among others, have made this change.


I am an author at a website answering Islam. While quoting John 3:16 in one of my articles, I used the phrase "only begotten", but the boss asked me to replace it with the word "unique" and said that the phrase was erroneous. He later directed me to a comprehensive article on this issue: http://www.answering-islam.org/Who/jesus_monogenes.html
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Offline theo philosopher

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2011, 10:56:57 AM »
My view on it is a bit more simplistic - shall I trust the native-speaking English speaker who has never heard Koine Greek as it was spoken 2,000 years ago, or shall I trust the Fathers who spoke Koine Greek and went to great lengths to explain "begotten?"

Besides, "begotten" is far more intimate and speaks of the Father as the eternal source of the Son; though both are co-eternal, only the Father is unbegotten while the Son is begotten. To use the phrase "unique," while not wrong (after all, that is what "begotten" essentially means in this Greek context), could go the opposite direction of removing any distinctions between the Father and the Son.
“Wherefore, then, death approaches, gulps down the bait of the body, and is pierced by the hook of the divinity. Then, having tasted of the sinless and life-giving body, it is destroyed and gives up all those whom it had swallowed down of old." - St. John of Damascus

Offline StGeorge

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2011, 03:30:43 PM »
I often visit and post at Catholic Answers.

You mean CAF? I wanted to visit that website last night, but my anti-virus software gave an alarm and blocked my access, saying that there was an attack of several Trojans from that address. If you do not have a strong anti-virus software, be careful. You could also inform the forum administration.

Recently, in reading one thread, I came across a post by an evangelical pastor in which he mentions that many Bibles are replacing the words "only begotten" in the NT with the word "unique." Supposedly modern Biblical scholars have discovered that the root for the word in the New Testmanet which we normally translated as "begotten" is not the true root. According to this person's post, the root was at first thought to be "genes" (to beget) but now is shown through linguistic analysis to be "gennao" (unique or one of a kind).

The evangelical pastor makes a slight hint that the Creed of Constantinople (Nicaea) is flawed because in using the words "begotten" to describe Jesus, we are making him subordinate to the Father.

Do any of you know about this situation? He mentions that the NIV, NET and the ESV Bibles, among others, have made this change.


I am an author at a website answering Islam. While quoting John 3:16 in one of my articles, I used the phrase "only begotten", but the boss asked me to replace it with the word "unique" and said that the phrase was erroneous. He later directed me to a comprehensive article on this issue: http://www.answering-islam.org/Who/jesus_monogenes.html

I started the thread several years ago, but today and yesterday I tried to access CAF.  I didn't receive a Norton virus attack alert, but the page does not load and I cannot sign in.  I wonder if the forums site has been attacked.  I believe it has happened in the past. 

Thanks for the link. 

Offline ialmisry

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 04:05:00 PM »
I often visit and post at Catholic Answers.

You mean CAF? I wanted to visit that website last night, but my anti-virus software gave an alarm and blocked my access, saying that there was an attack of several Trojans from that address. If you do not have a strong anti-virus software, be careful. You could also inform the forum administration.

Recently, in reading one thread, I came across a post by an evangelical pastor in which he mentions that many Bibles are replacing the words "only begotten" in the NT with the word "unique." Supposedly modern Biblical scholars have discovered that the root for the word in the New Testmanet which we normally translated as "begotten" is not the true root. According to this person's post, the root was at first thought to be "genes" (to beget) but now is shown through linguistic analysis to be "gennao" (unique or one of a kind).

The evangelical pastor makes a slight hint that the Creed of Constantinople (Nicaea) is flawed because in using the words "begotten" to describe Jesus, we are making him subordinate to the Father.

Do any of you know about this situation? He mentions that the NIV, NET and the ESV Bibles, among others, have made this change.


I am an author at a website answering Islam. While quoting John 3:16 in one of my articles, I used the phrase "only begotten", but the boss asked me to replace it with the word "unique" and said that the phrase was erroneous. He later directed me to a comprehensive article on this issue: http://www.answering-islam.org/Who/jesus_monogenes.html
They shouldn't be having these conversations in front of Muslims.
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and urgent strife sheds blood.
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if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth

Offline Theophilos78

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Re: "genes" or "gennao" and the impact on "begotten" in the Creed
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 04:53:19 PM »

They shouldn't be having these conversations in front of Muslims.

I know, but Muslim debaters get familiar with this problem when we tell them that the Qur'an is in error since it claims Christians to consider Jesus the carnal/physical Son of God in the sense of His having been begotten by the Father. Muslims immediately refer to John 3:16 to defend their scripture.
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