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"Born of God" or "begotten by God"? A Translation problem in the Johannine writings

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Chapter Summary

According to the Gospel and the First Epistle of John, believers find their spiritual origin in God. One of the ways in which this idea is worded, is by means of the expression ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεννᾶσθαι, which is translated either as &t;to be born of God&t; or as &t;to be begotten by God.&t; The question is which translation of γεννᾶσθαι should be preferred in all these instances: should we translate &t;to be born&t; or &t;to be begotten&t;? There are real differences between them as regards the sexual role ascribed to God. This chapter looks at the translation of relevant Johannine passages in a selection of Bible translations and biblical studies, to get an idea of the spread and influence of two possible translations. It then presents relevant lexical, grammatical and ex-egetical considerations, and these leads to a conclusion on translation to be preferred and some further thoughts on it.

Keywords: ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεννᾶσθαι; begotten by God; bible translations; born of God; epistle of John; gospel; Johannine writings; translation problem



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