Re: Translation of Jn 1:18

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Sat Sep 20 1997 - 03:51:41 EDT

On Sat, 20 Sep 1997 00:53:20 -0500 writes:
>Dear B-Greeks,
>I hope you will forgive my primitive attempts at translating the
>Prologue, and I would appreciate grammatical comments on this verse with
>which I am having several problems:
> 1:18 A god no one has ever seen before:
> the only-begotten [from one and the same Mother],
> a god, the one being unto the bosom of the Father--
> that is the one named [--Jesus Christ].
>I consider "being unto the bosom of the Father" to be an
>anthropomorphization (there must be a better word) of PROS TON QEON.
>And, the route from Mother to Father echoes the intermediary function of
>logos between Cosmos and God.


Your translation of QEON is problematic for two reasons. First, QEON is
a predicate. The placing of QEON at the beginning of the sentence in the
Greek is probably for emphasis, but putting it first in the English
might give the impression it is the subject. It probably should be
translated in English so its predicate nature is clear, that is, at the
end. Hence, "no one has ever seen" QEON (so most translations). The
second problem is your translation implies the anarthrous QEON is
indefinite. Now, while an anarthrous noun can have an indefinite nuance,
the nuance here seems more likely to be definite, because of its
reference to TOU PATROS in the second half of the verse. This reference
seems undeniable. The verse seems to be saying though no one has ever
seen QEON, He has been exegeted (EXHGHSATO) by MONOGENHS QEOS.

Also, the second occurrence of QEOS (in MONOGENHS QEOS) is also definite,
though anarthrous. The preceding MONOGENHS makes QEOS here definite, the
only begotten. Doesn't that refer to one particular QEOS? How and where
do you get "from one and the same Mother"? Verse 14, rather, has
MONOGENOUS PARA PATROS and refers to the Logos (14a). By the way, PARA
with the genitive, as here, "denotes a person., and indicates that
something proceeds from this person" (BAG, p. 614). So, the only
begotten God, (the Logos) who proceeds from the Father (v. 14), He
(EKEINOS) has exegeted the Father (v. 18b). As Christ said to Phillip,
"he who has seen Me has seen the Father" (14:9). The meaning of this is
clear from 1:18. Nobody has ever seen God the Father, but the Logos has
explained Him to us to such an extent that Christ could say these words
in 14:9.

Paul Dixon

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