Re: John 3:18 and English "article"

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Mar 12 1997 - 20:06:36 EST

At 12:21 PM -0600 3/12/97, lakr wrote:
>> Carl W. Conrad (
>> Mon, 10 Mar 1997 08:33:41 -0600
>> In reply to: Martin A. Childs: "John 3:18 and English article "of""
>> >Similarly, the relationship between "only begotten" and "Son". The Greek
>> >article before "Son" is suppressed in translation. Does Koine ever use the
>> >appositive?
>> 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 a
>> 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 3:18
>I have been looking at alternitive translations to those commonly
>provided in the major English translations and wonder if this example
>fits the criteria of substantivizing of the adjective
>Could the 'TON MONON' in 'TON MONON ALHQINON QEON' (John 17:3) be
>translated as "the only (one) who is truly God", considering the
>lack of the article before QEON ?

No, because here we have two adjectives BETWEEN the article and the
noun;the substantivization of the adjective in this instance would require

        TON QEON TON MONON ALHQINON (assuming that MONON is adverbial)
        "God, the only true one"

But the phrasing of the extant reading TON MONON ALHQINON QEON is just as
surely attributive: "the only true God."

>Or, perhaps given the definition in Thayers of alethinos as
> ["alethinos ... that which has not only the name and semblance,
> but the real nature corresponding to the name ... in every
> respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real
> and genuine .. a. opp (oposed) to what is fictitious, counterfeit,
> imaginary, ... Jn xvii. 3 ... it contrasts realities with
> their semblances ... Heb viii. 2; the sanctuary, Heb ix. 24."
> Thayer's lexicon, page 27.],
> "the only (one) who is by nature God". ?

You are reading MONON as a second adjective; but (I think) the Johannine
phrase for the notion you've just expressed is, in fact: hO MONOGENHS QEOS,
the conjunction that appears (albeit without the article) in John 1:18.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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