Re: John 3:18 and English "article"

From: Martin A. Childs (
Date: Mon Mar 10 1997 - 15:35:29 EST

Thank you for your kind reply. Of course "of" is a preposition.
My second grade teacher would be disappointed.
Perhaps I should not write email so early in the morning before coffee!

>Yes: the genitive case ending on T/OU and MONOGEN/OUS (the case-ending is
>the part following the slash); "of" is not an article but a preposition
>that is normally required when translating a Greek genitive, unless one
>uses the "'s" form, which in many cases is awkward.

This is precisely the answer I was seeking!
Thank you.

>>In other words, must it be translated "the only begotten's name" or can
>>be understood as "the name, (comma) the only begotten"?

>This is an interesting question actually; there is such a thing as an
>"appositional genitive" but I don't know that anyone has ever argued that
>as an explanation of this particular construction.
[text deleted]
>At any rate, I believe this is a more significant question than an
>first reading of it (my innocent first reading, that is) seems to imply.

You have found me out.
Yes, I'm afraid theological questions lurk beneath the surface.
But I am content to conform theology to text rather than vice versa.

>>Similarly, the relationship between "only begotten" and "Son". The Greek
>>article before "Son" is suppressed in translation. Does Koine ever use
>Certainly; moreover, although it isn't usually explained this way by
>grammarians, I've always believed that the particular device of using the
>article before an adjective to indicate that it is attributive is in fact
>means of substantitivizing the adjective and making it an appositive:
> TON ANQRWPON TON AGAQON = "the man, i.e., the good (one)"
>However, when the adjective appears in the Greek BETWEEN the article and
>the noun, I think it would be more appropriate to say this is a
>straightforward attributive adjective. And that is what we have in John
Another wonderfully helpful elucidation.
Obviously, several of my budding misconceptions have been corrected.
Thank you again.

I suppose my whole inquiry really centers around the translation of the
word "MONOGENOUS" as "only begotten" in John 1:14 (and elsewhere) when
contrasted with the ocurrance of "EGENNEQESAN," [transliterated correctly?]
"born" in John 1:13. I was looking to other passages as a round about way
of getting at this problem.

The author seems to be trying to communicate something here by the
juxtaposition that I'm not quite getting. My pitiful resources fail to
distinguish these words sufficiently other than the obvious differences of
parts of speech and the "MONO" aspect of the former.

In other words, wouldn't an "only begotten" one be similarly "born" thereby
precluding "only begotten" after identifying other similar "birthings"?
Conversely, if these terms are semantically unrelated (which they do not
appear to me to be) how should one distinguish them? Certainly some
differentiation is required if only to support the sequence of the two

I realize that I am on the cusp of a full-scale theological inquiry in
asking this, but I am really only seeking the same helpful Greek insight I
have been graced with thus far. I am attempting to phrase my question so
as to satisfy a lexical interest rather than to solicit a doctrinal

I have been unable to locate a copy of Plato's Collegiate Dictionary Tenth
I am also prepared to accept an answer of "Nobody knows for certain."

A fellow crumb-gatherer,


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