From: Mr. Timothy T. Dickens (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Jan 03 1997 - 23:47:55 EST
At 11:26 AM 1/3/97 -0600, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>At 9:06 AM -0600 1/3/97, DENNY A DIEHL wrote:
>>Denny Diehl here
>>with a question on MONOGENHS. In John 3:16 Jesus is
>>described as "TON hUION TON MONOGENH". We have
>>association with some who contend that should be
>>translated: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON; and that it is wrong
>>to translate it: ONE AND ONLY SON (NIV).
>>?1) What is the derivation of MONOGENHS? And does
>>that derivation help in understanding and translating this
[Major snip of prof. Conrad's explanation to the above question]
>>?2) What are the theological implications in translating
>>it ONE AND ONLY SON as opposed to ONLY BEGOTTEN SON?
>I think one would have to go to a hair-splitting Patristic scholar for an
answer to this question, and I rather suspect that two or more of them would
split the hair in different ways. The Nicene Creed makes a distinction
between Christ as GENNHQENTA and as POIHQENTA (for precision's sake, let me
cite the whole thing from the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: "EIS hENA
KURION IHSOUN CRISTON, TON hUION TOU QEOU, TON MONOGENH, TON EK TOU PATROS
GENNHQENTA PRO PANTWN TWN AIWNWN. FWS EK FWTOS, QEON ALHQINON, EK QEOU
ALHQINOU, GENNHQENTA OU POIHQENTA,hOMOIOUSION TWi PATRI, DI' hOU TA PANTA
EGENETO"). This is certainly the point at which the interpretation of
MONOGENHS as "only begotten" enters definitively into theological
tradition--but however one weighs the authority of the creeds over against
the authority of the NT text, it would seem that there's a great distance
between the sense of MONOGENHS in the text of John's gospel and the
interpretation of MONOGENHS in the Nicene Creed.
TTD: I think this is so, but there is the question that I have about this
MONOGHNHS business in the early church fathers. To begin, the Nicene creed
(4th century) tends to put the emphasis on Jesus as "begotten but not made"
or "created." "Made," "Created," or "to come into being at some time
indefinitely" --before the time of creation, seem to have been the ideas of
at least Justin Martyr and Origen. Actually, as I remember it from my
church history course at union, NY, the ante-Nicene fathers (Justin, Origen,
and certain others) tended to subscribe to the notion that Christ had a
begining, in the sense of MONOGHNHS can mean "begotten," or "created."
As a matter of fact, a rather astute student from another list noticed this
when the individual said:
Ignatius come[s] across as the most "doctrinal" of the so-called
Apostolic Fathers--and the most normative in his approach to
doctrine? When Athanasius had to find someone in ante-Nicene days to
justify applying the term ungenerated or ingenerate (agennetos) to
the Son, he had a hard time finding any. Ignatius was his man.
From Thomas A. Kopecek, Email: kopecekt@CENTRAL.EDU
It is interesting that the term that Thomas uses here is 'a/gennetos' which
I know is related to gennaw to 'beget.' I am interested to find out more
specifically what MONOGHNHS or MONOGHNOS QEOS may have meant to the
Christians of the first three centuries, prior to Nicene. Regardless of
what this word may mean in light of contemporary etymological pursuits, the
ante-Nicene fathers thought --until the fourth century at least-- that
Christ had been begotten before the creation of the world, perhaps for the
purpose of creating the world itself, cf. Jn 1:3, Prov.8:22-31.
Peace and Love,
Timothy T. Dickens
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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