From: Albert Collver, III (
Date: Fri Jan 03 1997 - 12:10:39 EST

Hello Denny and List,
        I think it is helpful to compare MONOGENHS with PRWTOTOKOS.
        The translation of "only-begotten" for MONOGENHS is probably best. MONOGENHS
comes from MONO "one, single" and GIGNOMAI "becoming, be born." Someone who is
MONOGENHS has no siblings. They are the only child of the parents.
        PRWTOTOKOS, on the other hand means "first-born." It is from PROTO "first"
and TIKTW "to bear, or to beget." Someone who is PRWTOTOKOS is the first born
of a woman. This one opens the birth canal for others to follow. A PRWTOTOKOS
always has brothers or sisters.
        With this back ground, it is interesting to look at Luke 2:7 and John 3:16
(as well as other places where PRWTOTOKOS occurs -- first-born of the dead).
        In Luke 2:7, the text reads:
        "and she bore her first-born son..."
        This states that Jesus was the first-child of Mary to open the birth canal.
The first of others who followed him. The Synoptic Gospel writers do mention
Jesus' brothers and sisters who did not believe. Also, the book of Jude says
that he is the brother of the Lord.
        Another time that "first-born" occurs is in Paul (Col 1:8) where the text
reads PRWTOKOS EK TWN NEKRWN -- first-born from the dead. This implies that
Christ who rose from the dead was the first of many who would follow him. This
is one way that Paul states the hope in the bodily resurrection.
        In John 3:16, the text reads:
        "He gave his only-begotten Son..."
        Here Jesus is MONOGENH of the Father, not Mary. The Father has no other Son
than Jesus. This corresponses well with Jesus' sayings that he is the Way and
Truth and life... The sayings where he claims exclusivity.
        Regarding "one and only" or "only-begotten," I think "only-begotten" is the
best translation. I don't know if there is that much difference in the
implication between the two. Perhaps, "only-begotten" expresses the
exclusivity better.

Albert B. Collver, III

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