RE: What did Nicodemus hear?

From: Stevens, Charles C (
Date: Wed Jun 24 1998 - 12:50:38 EDT

>From another "itty bitty greek":

The NAB (UNrevised New Testament, as of 1970) has "begotten from above"
for John 3:3, and defends that choice in the notes (at least in part) on
linguistic as well as semantic grounds as follows:

<<*Begotten*: The Greek verb can mean "born" from a female principle,
or "begotten" by a male principle. As in 1:13, John primarily means it
as "begotten", though many early versions translate it as "born" or
even, with heightened baptismal symbolism, "reborn". *From above*: the
Greek term *anothen* means both "again" and "from above." V. 31 below
shows that Jesus means it as "from above", but Nicodemus misunderstands.
(A misunderstanding that brings out Jesus' teaching is a common literary
device in John.>>

I've always liked that explanation. I should note, though, that as I
remember it the Revised New Testament of the New American Bible reverts
to a more "traditional" translation here (I forget exactly what it is),
but retains a similar explanation in the notes.

What Nicodemus *heard* was exactly what Jesus said -- GENNHQH ANWQEN.
The contention of the editors is that Jesus *meant* it as "begotten from
above*, but Nicodemus *understood* those very words as "born again".

    -Chuck Stevens [SMTP:]

> ----------
> From:[]
> Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 1998 3:50 PM
> To: Biblical Greek
> Subject: What did Nicodemus hear?
> John 3:3 - GENNHQH ANWQEV - commonly translated "born again," but
> sometimes
> "born from above." It looks to me like "born from above" retaing the
> meaning
> of the root and is "more full equivalent" of ANWQEV, but I am puzzled
> by
> Nicodemus' response. Why would "born from above" make him think a
> person
> would have to enter a second time into his mother's womb? I suspect
> this is
> why "born again" is a popular translation of this word, but is that
> what the
> word is really saying? If your answer is theological, I would
> appreciate your
> thought's off line, but my question for the GREEKS is, am I missing
> something
> in the word "ANWQEN" that would imply repetition? Or am I hearing
> something
> that isn't there when I hear "born from above?"
> William Boyd (The little bitty Greek)
> Royal Palm Beach, Florida
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