Re[2]: Monogenhs etymology

Date: Sun Jan 05 1997 - 19:55:56 EST

  TO: B-Greek List cc: ecchst-list
FROM: Harry J. Harm
DATE: 5 January 1997
  RE: Monogenhs etymology

Dear B-Greekers,

Greetings. Below Timothy Dickens disagrees with D.A.Carson's
interpretation of monogenhs as "unique" and not as "only begotten".
Please note that the research methodology which I presented does not
presuppose the meaning of monogenhs. The methodology does eliminate, in
this case, any conclusion based on the (supposed) etymology of
monogenhs. In fact it gives no weight to the etymology and instead
considers contemporary usage to be most important. My personal
preference leans towards "unique" instead of "only begotten" but I am
withholding final judgement until I do or read an in-depth study of how
the word is used.

In such a study I would consider how the author uses the word in the
immediate context and then in other places. This would carry the most
weight. Then I would consider how the author's contemporaries used the
word, giving more weight to authors from the same background writing the
same kind of literature. If I knew to whom the author was writing I
would investigate how the word was used by the audience. (This is based
on the assumption that an author's intent is to be understood by the
audience and therefore the author would craft the text for that
audience. Such crafting would include word choice and word meaning.) I
would also give weight to intertextuality, i.e., to texts quoted by the
author. This would include the LXX and the Hebrew. I would also give
some weight to the interpretation of the word by later writers, but the
more distantly removed the later text is the less weight it would carry.

After all of these considerations then I would weigh the evidence and
come to a conclusion.


Harry J. Harm :{)

NB: I have posted this message to also, since my discussion
of the Greek word 'monoghnes' does raise exegetical concern among Justyn
Martyr and Origen.
Please forgive my crossposting.

At 12:43 PM 1/4/97 -0500, wrote:

>I encourage people to read or reread D.A.Carson's excellent book,
>"Exegetical Fallacies", which is published by Baker. Chapter 1 is on
>"Word-Study Fallacies" and on pages 29-30 he discusses monogenhs.
>This is an excellent book which I find myself returning to again and
>again. And each time I find my own exegetical fallacies.
>Harry :{)
TTD: While I second Harry's statement about D.A. Carson's book _Exegetical
Fallacies_, Carson's explanation is bent towards the type of
scientific-etymological approach that has been going on all day now
regarding which side of the coin should MONOGHNHS fall on: 'unique one' or
'begotten' i.e., caused/created by something other than itself.

Personally, I have asked myself the question "what is so troublesome in
reading 'monoghnhs' or monoghnhs qeos' as the latter option above?" While
I do not claim to be a patristic scholar, this is what I can remember
'monoghnhs' as meaning to Justin Martyr and Origen.

My point is that I think we all should remember that our contemporary
hermeneutical approaches are different from the ante-Nicene fathers. I do
not ever remember Justin or Origen ever spliting hairs about the
scientific-etymological appraoch to the meaning of a Greek word, unless, of
course, the ALLEGORICAL method was being used to give meaning. And these
allegorical approaches are far from scientific.

Peace and Love,
Timothy T. Dickens
Smyrna, GA Home School

Please visit my website at:

Near Eastern specialist and Egyptologist. . .are too aware of the
isolationism often seen in traditional classics--or more precisely in
studies of Greek civilization--with its emphasis on the events of a
relatively short period, primarily in a particular exemplar of a single
group of cultures. Studies that appear to see fifth-century B.C.E Athens as
the defining experience of all civilization puzzle those whose interest lie
in other areas of the Mediterranean antiquity, and still more those
concerned with other regions of the world.

                                "On The Aims And Methods of Black Athena"
                                by John Baines in Black Athena Revisited

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