Date: Fri Jan 02 1998 - 11:02:10 EST
Rolf Furuli writes on 1/1/98:
> "By definition there can be only one MONOGENHS: the word means "unique",
> "one of a kind". The problem, of course, is that Jesus can be the unique
> God only if there is no other God; but for the Fourth Gospel, the Father is
> God as well. Indeed, even in this passage the MONOGENHS is said to reside
> in the bosom of the Father. How can the MONOGENHS QEOS, the unique God ,
> stand in such a relationship to (another) God?"
> Ehrman`s problem can be solved by accepting the points in the last posting
> of Wes, that inside the Judeo-Christian sphere is there a genus QEOI apart
> from hO QEOS where the angels belong; and in this group is there one who is
> unique (also in relation to the angels) both because he was God`s first
> son, and because he was the mediating agent when God created, and this one
> is MONOGENHS QEOS. Only if we pray to and worship this one in addition to
> hO QEOS will the above view become polytheism or henotheism. But if we pray
> to and worship hO QEOS alone THROUGH this one, and give hO MONOGENHS QEOS
> the honour he deserves (Phil 2:9-10; Rev 5:12.13), then we keep our
> monotheism undiluted. I have often wondered how dogmas made in the 4th and
> 5th centuries can have such a profound effect upon modern Christians that
> even their logic and imagination are affected to the point that they cannot
> see there exists a fully logical alternative to these dogmas.
There is, I think, an equally obvious alternative, one based on time. Being
a son of God, the son is "created". Having the power to incarnate, the son
"dies". Such a being exists in time, therefore the uniqueness can be serial,
i.e. the *current*, only-begotten son of the series of sons, unique both
because of having its own identity and because of being the only one at
the moment. In this case, the son is not the first of the series, but the last,
another claim to uniqueness.
> Regarding John 1:18, many arguments have been used to avoid a translation
> corroborating the the subordinationistic view that LOGOS is a part of the
> genus QEOI.
A "son" is, of course, a separate individual of the genus of the "father" by
definition. But, because of the copying mechanism postulated by the ancients,
the son is an inferior, imperfect copy; even if perfect in every other way,
losing the "deathless" attribute merely by virtue of being a copy--a created
"thing". As any ancient Hellenist would affirm, any "deathless" thing is
to and of a different genus than any "created" thing.
> Harris ("Jesus as God" p 88) refers to one Bible translation
> (NASB) and 15 commentators who takes MONOGENHS as an adjective qualifying
> theos ( suggesting the rendering "the only begotten God" or something
> similar); this accords with subordinationism. He refers to 7 translations
> (TCNT, NAB, NIV(1973,1978), NRSV and NAB, Goodspeed and Phillips) and 9
> commentators who takes MONOGENHS as a substantivized adjective ("God, the
> only Son" or something similar), and two translations (NIV 1984 and GNB
> 1966,1971) and 15 commentators who in different ways avoids using MONOGENHS
> as an adjective qualifying theos ("the only One, who is the same as God" or
> something similar).
The point overlooked by such analyses is that while the son is the same as the
father, he is also different--this is, in fact, the whole point of a divine
intermediary, and especially of Logos, which purpose is to join spirit and
In other words, either way, the son is subordinate. And, it doesn't matter at
all, since the only connection this world has with the divine is through the
> You ask for constraints, and there is a grammatical one. The word MONOGENHS
> is an adjective, and any adjective can be substantivized. However, I am not
> aware of any example in the NT of an adjective which immediately precedes a
> substantive in the same gender, number and case and which do not qualify
> that substantive. So it seems to be somewhat forced to take it as most
> translations do. Says Buchsel (TDNT IV 740, n 14) "/monogenes theos/ can
> only mean "an only-begotten God"; to render "an only-begotten, one who is
> God" is an exegetical invention. It can hardly be credited of Jn., who is
> distinguished by monumental simplicity of expression."
I wonder if there are any comparable usages of Allogenes in the gnostic gospels
which might shed light on the problem.
> Taking John 1:18 in the most natural way we have three passages (1:1 amd
> 17:3) in the gospel of John pointing to another individual who is existing
> in addition to hO QEOS, and this one is "a god/divine" or god with
> qualification, namely "the onlybegotten/unique god".
I agree that this is the only reasonable interpretation consistent with ancient
thought, given that "the onlybegotten/unique god" is understood to be the
unique lord of the age (and of the future, but not of all past times).
Will Wagers email@example.com "Reality is the best metaphor."
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