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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“direct translation” μονογενης θεος, John 1:18

John 1:18  θεον ουδεις εωρακεν πωποτε· ⸂μονογενης θεος⸃ ο ων εις τον κολπον του πατρος εκεινος εξηγησατο. SBLGNT,   Michael W. Holmes ed.

I was wandering in the wasteland this morning and ran across a post by a pastor-translator taking issue with the NASB’s treatment of John 1:18b. This is a text critical (TC) issue of a complex nature. A very full treatment will be found in “Jesus as God,” M. J. Harris, pp. 73-103. I am going to accept Harris’ decision to read μονογενης θεος. Having dispensed with the TC issue, what would a “direct translation” (E. A. Gutt et. al) of μονογενης θεος look like in American English as is it used by native speakers in 2011 on the streets of Seattle? Two popular versions I found that appear to follow this reading are the NIV1984[1] and NASB:

NASB “the only begotten God”
NIV1984 “God the One and Only”

My question: do either of these constitute a “direct translation”? The question is limited to the expression μονογενης θεος only, not the rest of the verse or the Gospel of John or the entire version. Really, what on earth is a “direct translation” of μονογενης θεος supposed to look like? Answers should be stated in terms of what E. A. Gutt and his colleagues have been saying about “direct translation.”       

[1]Michael W. Holmes’ SBLGNT apparatus indicates that the the text behind the NIV1984 is  μονογενης θεος. The TNIV follows a different text “the one and only Son”


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