Thursday, July 05, 2007

John 3:1-21

I'm taking a Greek review class this week and next to help me get ready for Greek II. We've been translating John 3 for practice. Here's my translation of 3:1-21:

And there was a man from the Pharisees, his name was Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this one came to him at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one could do these signs which you do, unless God was with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born again, he cannot behold the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can an old man be born? Is he able to enter into his mother's womb a second time and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born from water and Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born from the flesh is flesh, and that which is born from the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'It is necessary for you to be born again.' The Spirit blows where is wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from and where it goes; thus it is with all who are born from the Spirit."

Nicodemus answered and said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and you do not know these things? Truly, truly I say to you that what we know we speak, and what we have seen we testify, and you do not receive our testimony. If I said earthly things to you and you do not believe, how will you believe if I say heavenly things? For no one has gone up into heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, thus it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up, in order that all those believing in him may have eternal life.

"For God loved the world in this way, that he gave the only Son*, so that everyone believing in him may not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order that he might judge the world, but in order that he might save the world through him. He does not judge the one who is believing in him; the unbelieving one is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God*. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. For the one practicing evil hates the light and does not go toward the light, in order that his works may not be disclosed; but the one practicing the truth goes toward the light, in order that his works may be disclosed--that it is in God they have been done."

* A note on my translation of verses 16 and 18 ("he has given the only Son"): The traditional translation "only begotten" resulted from an unfortunate historical misunderstanding of the Greek word monogenes. For a long time the word was understood as "only begotten" but twentieth century scholarship has revealed that the meaning is closer to "the only Son"(or "the one-of-a-kind Son" or "the one-and-only Son"--some term which conveys uniqueness). Wayne Grudem helpfully summarizes the problem this way:
For many years [the Greek word monogenes] was thought to be derived from two Greek terms: mono, meaning "only," and gennao, meaning "beget" or "bear". . . But linguistic study in the twentieth century has shown that the second half of the word is not closely related to the verb gennao (beget, bear) but rather to the term genos (class, kind). Thus the word means "one-of-a-kind" Son or the "unique" Son. . . . The fact that the word does not mean "the only son that someone has begotten" can be confirmed by noticing its use in Hebrews 11:17, where Isaac is called Abraham's monogenes--but certainly Isaac was not the only son Abraham had begotten, for he had also begotten Ishmael. The term there means rather that Isaac was Abraham's "unique" son, that there was none other like him. (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 1233.)
In this passage the accusative definite article ton (the) precedes the word and the prefix mono (one or only) is added to the front so that the term is rendered in English simply as "the only son". My translation omits the possessive pronoun "his" (as in "his only begotten Son") because it does not appear in the Greek. It is probably implied though and therefore is commonly included. That Jesus is the only son of God is made explicit later in this same passage (3:18: "the only son of God").