From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Dec 01 1999 - 09:01:54 EST

At 10:25 PM -0600 11/30/99, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
>To: Bart Ehrman,
><< So, would you translate Ps. 2:7, "You are my son, today I have produced
>you" ? >>
>(That almost sounds like show-biz terminology. "What production was he in?")
>I think what we have going on at Ps 2:7 is a double entendre of a sorts.
>According to Hans-Joachim Kraus, the king is being installed and adopted as
>a "son of God." And yet the Hebrew verb used is one that would be common
>for human procreation, the LXX translators chose a similar Greek term. The
>double sense of the word seems meant to cover the notion of physical birth,
>while legally making the king a "son" (of God) through adoption. Perhaps
>one way of conveying this double sense in English would be: "You are my
>son, today I have fathered you." Here one has a term which suggests a male
>parent in reproduction, and yet it might also serve as a metaphor for
>adoption. But I suspect that the real problem here is twofold, namely that
>in English we normally don't speak of males giving birth, nor do we
>normally speak of an adoption as a form of begetting, and so any
>translation of this is bound to sound strange to our ears.

Yes, of course this is a coronation psalm and the sense of the original was
"I have adopted you"--it is all in accordance with the prophecy of Nathan
in 1 Samuel 7, "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me" (more
or less). But there is no term for 'ADOPT' actually applied here. The term
hUIOQESIA is used five times in the GNT (Rom 8:15, 23, 9:4; Gal 4:5, Eph
1:5), but there's no instance of a corresponding hUIOQETEW or hUION TIQHMI;
instead GENNAW is used.
I've always understood this (I don't know where I read this, it's not my
own invention) "adoption" of the king in terms of the personalization of
the relationship between God and anointed King of the original adoptive
relationship between YHWH and Israel; there too there is the fiction of
biological birth: "Israel is my first-born son ... I will destroy your
first-born son" (Exodus 4:22-23). I've checked the reverse index for
"adopt-" in LSJ at the Perseus site (that capacity and checking synonyms
speedily is awesome!) and am amazed at the great variety of terms used for
adoption. Yet the Biblical language seems intent on using the biological
word for "beget" or "generate" even where the language would seem to be
understood best in a metaphorical sense.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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