Fw: My concluding thoughts on MONOGENES

From: Martin A. Childs (economy1@intersurf.com)
Date: Tue Mar 18 1997 - 07:14:44 EST

I realize that you have aparently missed some of the prior fellowship.
I did not write to persuade but merely to inform.

> I have studied the use of MONOGENES, also, and while I find it can mean,
> "only," unique," and "only-begotten," I cannot conclude on the basis of
> material that the meaning "only-begotten" is not permissible in the
> Gospel. Here's why:

I notice that you begin from the presupposition and then refused to move in
the face of my evidence which is not presented as persuasion.
Is there a particular reason for that? Is it a KJV-only kind of thing?

> <<Here is what I find:
> 1) "Only begotten" in a context of many other "birthings" simply makes
> logical sense. While I would not rely solely on "reason" in
> of such a term, I see nothing to be gained by thrusting away common
sense. >>
> I acknowledge missing a good part of the dialogue on MONOGENES, but where
> it used "in a context of many other `birthings'"?

The context is the very point of my observation. How has your study failed
notice the immediate context?

>Of course, if the context
> involves some sort of "unique" generation, whereby God generated one
being in
> a manner different than any other (whether this be an "eternal
generation" or
> sole, direct offspring [not through a medium--i.e., the Logos himself]),
> we must allow such a connotation of MONOGENES to exist, regardless of
> or not others (angels) are said to be His "sons." (Job 38:7)

Indeed. But haven't you merely concluded your premise?

>But if "beloved"
> is the connotation one should associate with MONOGENES, then why should
> find this term restricted to offspring, and not to the parents, or the
> child's brothers or sisters?

Agreed. And this is why I have said that "beloved" seems an insufficient
And please note that you are discussion connotation.
I am discussing denotation.
But I maintain my conclusion concerning "only" or "only begotten".

>Why is the phrase MONOGENES ADELPHOS never
> found? Yet, we do find ADELPHOS AGAPETOS. (1 Cor. 15:58; Eph 6:21; Php
> al)

Because the word does have a connotative sense of a parent-child

> <<2) The LXX translators seem to have approved the sense of "beloved".
> terms "MONOGENES" and "AGAPETOUS" appear to be nearly synonymous. This
> especially enlightening when comparing LXX renderings of the status of
> Isaac in Genesis 22 with that employed in the Hebrews verse. >>
> How does the LXX demonstrate synonymy between MONOGENES and AGAPETOS?
> not in Gen 22. How does referring to Isaac as "beloved" (AGAPETOS) three
> times in this chapter constitute synonymy between MONOGENES and AGAPETOS?

Apparently you have not looked at the LXX very closely either in your
I will indulge this lacuna with a comment.

The underlying Hebrew word is variously translated.
It is translated using these two words.
Compare Gen. 22:16 and Psa. 22:20.

> <<3) The Old Latin rendering of "unicus" seems to contradict Jerome's
> understandable use of the cognate "unigenitus". >>
> The question here is, What is an accurate representation of the OL? Codex
> Vercellensis? Then what are we to make of Hilary's use of UNIGENITUS when
> quoting John 1:1-14, 18? Dahms ("The Johannine Use of Monogenes
> Reconsidered," NTS 29 [1983], 226) reasons: "It is hardly conceivable
that he
> [Hilary] could have made such a comment without more ado unless his
> were familiar with UNIGENITUS in their Latin New Testaments."

Well, I must admit that this sort of academic shiboleth is distasteful to
have to deal with, but I suppose answer must be made.

I find the situation entirely conceivable in an age before formal
Anyone who may have questioned it found the cognate in the Greek.
Of course, this presupposes literacy and availability probably beyond the
actual facts.
Furthermore, employing such a term would hardly cause a stir if it was a
foregone conclusion among those who were defining the orthodoxy.

> <<4) The Father's "begetting" of the Son of an eternally co-existent
> is self-defeating argumentation to Trinitarians.>>
> Well, I would ask that you explain just how this is self-defeating, but
> what of the possibility that it simply means "only-begotten" in a
> sense? Is this, too, "self-defeating"?

Well, I will not try to explain the Trinity any further than to point out
that if the
Father "begot" the Son, it is the Son's origin. Such a Son is not
co-existent with the Father.

If the thought of "only begotten" were intended to be attached to the fact
of the incarnation alone, it would seem justifiable to me as a translation.
The Johannine context always implies the incarnation. Nevertheless, the
context also always implies the operation of God's love.

I stress again: I am dissatisfied with "beloved" as a rendering except as
PREFERABLE to "only" or "only begotten".

> <<5) Matthew, Mark, and Luke use the phrase "beloved Son" (Strong's <27>
> <5207>), whereas John does not. >>
> The point here would be? Does the fact that only John uses THEOS of Jesus
> mean it must share a semantic equivalence with a term in the Synoptics?

Of course not.
This is inductive reasoning.
It is merely some evidence.

> Matthew uses AGAPETOS three times (3:17; 12:18; 17:5), Mark uses it three
> times (1:11; 9:7; 12:6) and Luke only twice (3:22; 20:13 [three times if
> count Acts 15:25]), while John uses MONOGENES five times (Jn 1:14, 18;
> 18; 1 Jn 4:9). None of the Synoptic or Johannine texts are of the same
> account, with the Synoptics using AGAPETOS and John using MONOGENES. If
> were the case, then you might have a point.

It would be far simpler if the word were employed as a direct substitution.
But not all the things in the Word or the world are so simple.

>But as it is, you do not.

Again, this is not deductive, but inductive.
It is not absolute proof. It is merely some evidence.
I do have a point.
Your failure to concede it and deal with it merely demonstrates bias.

> it must not be forgotten that Luke uses MONOGENES three times. (7:12;
> 9:38) How do you account for this? Why did he not simply use AGAPETOS?

Because the word DOES have a connotation of the parent-child relationship.
This is merely not its absolute "definition".

I notice that you do not concede here my sense of "beloved" as even implied
the word. This also exposes bias.

> <<6) Isaac is, in fact, not "only begotten" but is singularly
> Of course, that is the very point you must prove. If, from a human
> standpoint, a child must have two parents, then how is it that Isaac
> not be the "only-begotten" of Abraham and Sarah?

It is not a question of Abraham and Sarah.
Sarah is not mentioned.
The context in both Genesis and Hebrews is only the relationship between
Abraham himself and Isaac.
Abraham, in fact, had begotten another.

This also relates to the LXX again.
As you have pointed out, LXX Gen. 22 employs AGAPETOS.
Hebrews 11:17 employs MONOGENES.

> <<7) The "MONOGENES" use of "MONO" as a prefix is a most uncommon
> in the New Testament. While MONOPHTHALMOS, "one-eyed" clearly retains
> sense of "only", the concept of the "single eye" in context is obviously
> broader than the hyperbolic context of eye-plucking. This implies that a
> similar idiomatic use is likely in the case of "MONOGENES".>>
> No, it implies no such thing. I would hardly attempt to argue
> from MONOPHTHALMOS for a similar "idiomatic use" in MONOGENES in filial
> contexts!

These are conclusory statements and do not serve to support your position.

>If an argument from etymology is to be found, it is from those
> words ending in -GENES, but you will not find any help there either, as
> are words ending in -GENES that imply uniqueness _and_ generation;
> none will be found with the connotation of "beloved."

Of course, you cannot vigorously denouce my method and then employ it.
I will not address the merits of the argument.
If such argument may not be made, you may not make it.

> <<Therefore, if there is any thought of "onliness" or "begetting" in the
> term, it should be seen as secondary and connotative rather than
> denotative.>>
> Not from the evidence you have given. I appreciate your study, and thank
> for your presentation, but I am not convinced, for the aforementioned
> reasons.

I did not present to convince but merely to present.
You reject my findings, as is your right.
But you should note that I have considered each of your points before
reaching my conclusions.

>If anything, "beloved" is secondary in its relation to MONOGENES
> used in filial contexts, as the "only-begotten" child is beloved because
> is the sole child of the parents.

It is good that you almost concede the point.
But actually, you seem to assume it more deeply than you represent.
At least I am not all wrong!

> <<Surely Jesus as the Son of God is singularly beloved of the Father. I
> not entirely pleased with a rendering of "beloved" because it seems to
> underplay the connotative possibilities. But I would disgree with the
> translations of both "only" and "only begotten". >>
> It is not an easy question to answer.

And this is an honest man.
I have struggled with it greatly.
I am not finished struggling.

I spoke with a Modern Greek speaker about it.
He considered the word to mean "made only once" in the sense of a
"custom-built" automobile. If the word has any sense of "onliness" it
should be something like this.
Christ is the Firstborn of all creation. If the term is limited to its
application in the context of His incarnation, it should probably be
something other than "begotten".

>But I believe the meaning of MONOGENES
> must come from a careful study of the context in which it is used, and
> that is done I believe the two meanings that emerge, especially in filial
> contexts, are "only" and "only-begotten."

Which, again, you have stated in a conclusory fashion.
Perhaps it is because you never moved from your original conviction that
you were correct in your assumption.

Your appeal to "context" for such "careful study" amuses me in light of the
fact that you seem unaware of the contexts which must be addressed,
both Johannine and LXX.

Perhaps you should reconsider your "belief".
It appears to be unfounded.

The Lord be with your spirit,


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