One of the most emotional reactions from Muslims are received when the term "begotten" is mentioned, particularly in the phrase "only begotten Son" (of God). However, most of these verses as they refer to Jesus are actually a mistranslation of the Greek word monogenes (), which is therefore no longer found in the newer translations.
In The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia in Five Volumes, 1975, Vol A-C, p. 510, we find:
Christ, by contrast is , "son" of God, to John, but this verb is not used in the NT to describe God's relationship to Him. "Only-begotten" (1:14, etc.) is a mistranslation in older VSS of "only," "unique" prob. corresponding to Heb. , of which "beloved" is another NT tr. See also SON OF GOD.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. G. Abbot-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon of the NT (1937); W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon of the NT (1957). [R. A. COLE]
This means in particular that the term "only begotten" found in some translations of John 1:14,18, John 3:16, 1 John 4:9, Hebrews 11:17, etc. is a mistranslation and needs to be better translated as "one and only" or "unique".
Further articles of interest on this topic are:
The most detailed scholarly discussion of "monogenes" I have seen is found in "Jesus as God" by Murray J. Harris, pages 84-87, giving a very thorough examination of the linguistic data and references to various journal articles. It is today the scholarly consensus that the word has nothing to do with "begotten", the "genes" part is not even derived from "gennasthai", but from "ginesthai". Also, D.A. Carson's note on John 1:14 is helpful and less technical than Murray.
Murray J. Harris
Jesus as God
The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus
Baker Book House, 1992, ISBN 0-8010-4370-0, pages 84-87
The Gospel According To John
Eerdmans, 1991, ISBN 0-8028-3683-6, page 128
Dictionary of Christian terms and concepts
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