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What are the translations of the Greek word μονογενής in Ancient Versions?

  1. What are the rendering of μονογενής into Ancient Versions of the *NT passages?

    • Hebrew
    • Arabic:
    • Ethiopic:
    • Syriac (Aramaic):
    • Latin (Old Latin/ Latin Vulgate):
    • Egyptian (Coptic):
    • Georgian:
    • Gothic:
    • Slavonic:
  2. Does it mean "only" or "only-begotten"?


*The following Bible verses have μονογενής in it:

John 1:14; John 1:18; John 3:16; John 3:18 and 1 John 4:19.

Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42 and Luke 9:38.

Hebrews 11:17

Note

Ancient Versions are the ancient translations of the NT Greek into another language.

share|improve this question
1  
I guess the answer should include all those languages? Latin Vulgate has "unigenitus" in John 1:18. Full text can be found on vulsearch.sourceforge.net – david brainerd Jul 26 '14 at 23:48
1  
There is an interesting article on this: middletownbiblechurch.org/sonship/monogene.htm – david brainerd Jul 27 '14 at 7:00
3  
Are you looking for an answer which attempts to translate each foreign translation (e.g. Coptic) into English? I'm assuming yes. Note that this will increase the translation error by a factor of 2. I would suggest either looking at the Greek and corresponding Hebrew (to LXX) or commentary on the Coptic etc. (if you can find it) instead. – Jas 3.1 Dec 9 '14 at 6:45
up vote 2 down vote accepted
+100

Table of Contents

  1. Amharic (Ethiopic)
  2. Coptic
    1. Bohairic
    2. Sahidic
  3. Georgian
  4. Gothic
  5. Hebrew
  6. Latin
  7. Slavic
  8. Syriac (Aramaic)

Amharic (Ethiopic)

According to Wikipedia,

Although Christianity became the state religion of Ethiopia in the 4th century, and the Bible was first translated into Ge'ez at about that time, only in the last two centuries have there appeared translations of the Bible into Amharic.

Accordingly, there are no extant early Amharic manuscripts of the New Testament.


Coptic

Coptic translations of the Greek New Testament occur in a variety of dialects, two primarily being Bohairic and Sahidic.

Bohairic

For examination of the Bohairic, I reviewed the multi-volume The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect, Otherwise Called Memphitic and Bohairic, compiled by George William Horner.

  1. John 1:14 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 2, p. 334, John 1:14

  2. John 1:18 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 2, p. 336, John 1:18

  3. John 3:16 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 2, p. 354, John 3:16

  4. John 3:18 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 2, p. 356, John 3:18

  5. 1 John 4:9 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 4, p. 110, 1 John 4:9

  6. Luke 7:12 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 2, p. 89, Luke 7:12

  7. Luke 8:42 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 2, p. 114, Luke 8:42

  8. Luke 9:38 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 2, p. 132, Luke 9:38

  9. Heb. 11:17 Horner, Bohairic, Vol. 3, p. 534, Heb. 11:17

Analysis of the Bohairic

The Bohairic manuscript is interesting in that it does not consistently use the same word to translate the Greek adjective μονογενής. Rather, in 6 of the 9 verses,x it uses the adjective mawaa. According to Crum in A Coptic Dictionary,z the Bohairic adjective mawaa means "alone, single."

Crum, p. 198, mawaa

On the other hand, in 3 of the 9 verses,y it uses the adjective monogenēs which is actually a loanword derived from the Greek adjective μονογενής.

Sahidic

For examination of the Sahidic, I reviewed the multi-volume The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Otherwise Called Sahidic and Thebaic, by George William Horner.

  1. John 1:14 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 3, p. 4-6, John 1:14

  2. John 1:18 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 3, p. 6, John 1:18

  3. John 3:16 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 3, p. 36, John 3:16

  4. John 3:18 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 3, p. 36, John 3:18

  5. 1 John 4:9 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 7, p. 148, 1 John 4:9

  6. Luke 7:12 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 2, p. 122, Luke 7:12

  7. Luke 8:42 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 2, p. 160, Luke 8:42

  8. Luke 9:38 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 2, p. 184, Luke 9:38

  9. Heb. 11:17 Sahidic, Horner, Vol. 5, p. 98, Heb. 11:17

Analysis of the Sahidic

Each of the verses used a declension of the Sahidic adjective ⲚⲞⲨⲰⲦ (nouōt). According to The Sahidica Lexicon: A Basic Sahidic-English Lexicon, the Sahidic adjective ⲚⲞⲨⲰⲦ translates into English as "one, the only, alone."

The Sahidica Lexicon, ⲚⲞⲨⲰⲦ


Georgian

The earliest extant Georgian manuscript is known as the Adysh Gospels (Geo. ადიშის ოთხთავი), dated to the late 9th century A.D.

  1. John 1:14
  2. John 1:18
  3. John 3:16
  4. John 3:18
  5. 1 John 4:9
  6. Luke 7:12
  7. Luke 8:42
  8. Luke 9:38
  9. Heb. 11:17

Analysis of the Georgian

...


Gothic

The earliest extant Gothic manuscript is known as the Gothic Bible or Wulfila Bible, which was translated by Wulfila (𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰) in the 4th century A.D. According to Wikipedia,

Surviving fragments of the Wulfila Bible consist of codices from the 6th to 8th century containing a large part of the New Testament and some parts of the Old Testament, largely written in Italy. These are the Codex Argenteus, which is kept in Uppsala, the Codex Ambrosianus A through Codex Ambrosianus E, containing the epistles, Skeireins, and Nehemiah 5–7, the Codex Carolinus (Romans 11–14), the Codex Vaticanus Latinus 5750 (Skeireins), the Codex Gissensis (fragments of the Gospel of Luke) and the Fragmenta Pannonica, and fragments of a 1 mm thick metal plate with verses of the Gospel of John.

It does contain the Gospel of John, but it omits the relevant verses. It also omits 1 John and the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The text of the Wulfila Bible is available at www.wulfila.be with corresponding interlinear of the Greek NA26th/27th ed., Latin Clementine Vulgate, English King James Version, Dutch Statenvertaling, and/or French Louis Segond Version. It also features lexical linking to Gotisch-Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch by Wilhelm Streitberg. In addition, facsimiles of the Codex Argenteus are available at:

http://app.ub.uu.se/arv/codex/faksimiledition/contents.html.

  1. John 1:14

    omitted

  2. John 1:18

    omitted

  3. John 3:16

    omitted

  4. John 3:18

    omitted

  5. 1 John 4:9

    omitted

  6. Luke 7:12 Codex Argenetus, Luke 7:12 Single red dots encompass the word 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌷𐌰 (ainaha); double red dots encompass Luke 7:12. Facsimile of entire page of manuscript containing Luke 7:9-14 (Ms. 147 r.) is available [here].

𐌱𐌹𐌸𐌴𐌷 𐌸𐌰𐌽 𐌽𐌴𐍈𐌰 𐍅𐌰𐍃 𐌳𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌰 𐌸𐌹𐌶𐍉𐍃 𐌱𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌲𐍃, 𐌸𐌰𐍂𐌿𐌷 𐍃𐌰𐌹, 𐌿𐍄𐌱𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌰𐌽𐍃 𐍅𐌰𐍃 𐌽𐌰𐌿𐍃, 𐍃𐌿𐌽𐌿𐍃 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌷𐌰 𐌰𐌹𐌸𐌴𐌹𐌽 𐍃𐌴𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌹, 𐌾𐌰𐌷 𐍃𐌹 𐍃𐌹𐌻𐌱𐍉 𐍅𐌹𐌳𐍉𐍅𐍉, 𐌾𐌰𐌷 𐌼𐌰𐌽𐌰𐌲𐌴𐌹 𐌸𐌹𐌶𐍉𐍃 𐌱𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌲𐍃 𐌲𐌰𐌽𐍉𐌷𐌰 𐌼𐌹𐌸 𐌹𐌶𐌰𐌹. Gothic

biþeh þan nehva was daura þizos baurgs, þaruh sai, utbaurans was naus, sunus ainaha aiþein seinai, jah si silbo widowo, jah managei þizos baurgs ganoha miþ izai. Romanization

  1. Luke 8:42 Codex Argenteus, Luke 8:42 Single red dots encompass the word 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐍉𐌷𐍉 (ainoho); double red dots encompass Luke 8:42. Facsimile of entire page of manuscript containing Luke 8:38-43 (Ms. 155 r.) is available [here].

𐌿𐌽𐍄𐌴 𐌳𐌰𐌿𐌷𐍄𐌰𐍂 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐍉𐌷𐍉 𐍅𐌰𐍃 𐌹𐌼𐌼𐌰 𐍃𐍅𐌴 𐍅𐌹𐌽𐍄𐍂𐌹𐍅𐌴 𐍄𐍅𐌰𐌻𐌹𐌱𐌴, 𐌾𐌰𐌷 𐍃𐍉 𐍃𐍅𐌰𐌻𐍄. 𐌼𐌹𐌸𐌸𐌰𐌽𐌴𐌹 𐌸𐌰𐌽 𐌹𐌳𐌳𐌾𐌰 𐌹𐍃, 𐌼𐌰𐌽𐌰𐌲𐌴𐌹𐌽𐍃 𐌸𐍂𐌰𐌹𐌷𐌿𐌽 𐌹𐌽𐌰. Gothic

unte dauhtar ainoho was imma swe wintriwe twalibe, jah so swalt. miþþanei þan iddja is, manageins þraihun ina. Romanization

  1. Luke 9:38 Codex Argenteus, Luke 9:38 Single red dots encompass the word 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌷𐌰 (ainaha); double red dots encompass Luke 9:38. Facsimile of entire page of manuscript containing Luke 9:36-42 (Ms. 160 v.) is available [here].

𐌾𐌰𐌷 𐍃𐌰𐌹, 𐌼𐌰𐌽𐌽𐌰 𐌿𐍃 𐌸𐌹𐌶𐌰𐌹 𐌼𐌰𐌽𐌰𐌲𐌴𐌹𐌽 𐌿𐍆𐍅𐍉𐍀𐌹𐌳𐌰 𐌵𐌹𐌸𐌰𐌽𐌳𐍃: 𐌻𐌰𐌹𐍃𐌰𐍂𐌹, 𐌱𐌹𐌳𐌾𐌰 𐌸𐌿𐌺 𐌹𐌽𐍃𐌰𐌹𐍈𐌰𐌽 𐌳𐌿 𐍃𐌿𐌽𐌿 𐌼𐌴𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌼𐌼𐌰, 𐌿𐌽𐍄𐌴 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌷𐌰 𐌼𐌹𐍃 𐌹𐍃𐍄. Gothic

jah sai, manna us þizai managein ufwopida qiþands: laisari, bidja þuk insaihvan du sunu meinamma, unte ainaha mis ist. Romanization

  1. Heb. 11:17

    omitted

Analysis of the Gothic

Each of the three Lukan texts found in the Wulfila codices use a declension of the Gothic adjective 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌷𐍃 (ainahs) to translate the Greek adjective μονογενής. According to Streitberg,2 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌷𐍃 (𐌰𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌷𐌰) is equivalent to the Greek adjective μονογενής and German adjective einzig (which translates into English as "only, sole; unique").

Streitberg, p. 4, 𐌰𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌷𐌰


Hebrew

There are no extant early Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament.


Latin

The earliest extant Latin manuscript of the gospels is perhaps the Codex Vercellensis dated to the 4th century A.D. According to Wikipedia,

Old Latin Codex Vercellensis Evangeliorum, preserved in the cathedral library is believed to be the earliest manuscript of the Old Latin Gospels. Its standard designation is "Codex a" (or 3 in the Beuron system of numeration).

It does not contain the First Epistle of John or the Epistle to the Hebrews. I could not find the digitized manuscript of the Codex Vercellensis available online, but I found a book entitled Codex Vercellensis Iamdudum Ab Irico Et Bianchino Bis Editus Denuo Cum Manuscripto Collatus In Lucem Profertur, by Francis Aidan Cardinal Gasquet, which contains the collated text of the Codex Vercellensis.

  1. John 1:14

    nati sunt et verbum caro factum est et inhabita uit in nobis et vidimus gloriam eius gloriam sicut unici filii a patre plenus gratiae et veritate

  2. John 1:18

    Dm nemo vidit unquam nisi unicus filius solus sinum patris ipse enarravit

  3. John 3:16

    nam sic eni dilexit deus hunc mundum ut filium suum unicum daret ut omnis qui credit in eum no pereat sed habeat vitam aeternam

  4. John 3:18

    Ideo qui credit in eum non iudicatur qui autem non credit iam iudica tus est quia non credidit in nomine unici filii dei

  5. 1 John 4:9

    Omitted

  6. Luke 7:12

    Factum est autem cum adropinquaret portae civtatis et ecce efferebatur mortuus filius unicus matris suae et haec erat vidua et turba civitatis magna cum illa

  7. Luke 8:42

    quia filia unica erat ille fere annorum duodecim et haec moriebatur et factum est dum iret turba ... at et con[pri]me[bat]

  8. Luke 9:38

    et ecce virde [tur]ba exc[lam]avit dicens magister oro te respicias in filium meum quia unicus mihi est

  9. Heb. 11:17

    Omitted

Analysis of the Latin

Each verse examined contains a declension of the Latin adjective unicus which Lewis & Short define as "one and no more, only, sole, single (class)," as well as "unique."1

Lewis & Short, p. 1932, unicus Lewis & Short, p. 1932, unicus, II


Slavonic

The earliest extant Slavonic manuscript is ...

  1. John 1:14
  2. John 1:18
  3. John 3:16
  4. John 3:18
  5. 1 John 4:9
  6. Luke 7:12
  7. Luke 8:42
  8. Luke 9:38
  9. Heb. 11:17

Analysis of the Slavonic

...


Syriac

The earliest extant Syriac manuscript containing the gospels appears to be the Curetonian Syriac. For examination of the Syriac, I reviewed the two-volume Evangelion da-Mepharreshe: the Curetonian Version of the Four Gospels, with the Readings of the Sinai Palimpsest and the Early Syriac Patristic Evidence, by Francis Crawford Burkitt.

  1. John 1:14 Burkitt, Vol. 1, p. 422, John 1:14

  2. John 1:18 Burkitt, Vol. 1, p. 424, John 1:18

  3. John 3:16 Burkitt, Vol. 1, p. 430-432, John 3:16

  4. John 3:18 Burkitt, Vol. 1, p. 432, John 3:18

  5. 1 John 4:9

    Omitted

  6. Luke 7:12 Burkitt, Vol. 1, p. 280-282, Luke 7:12

  7. Luke 8:42 Burkitt, Vol. 1, p. 294, Luke 8:42

  8. Luke 9:38 Burkitt, Vol. 1, p. 306, Luke 9:38

  9. Heb. 11:17

    Omitted

Analysis of the Syriac

The Curetonian Syriac manuscript consistently translates the Greek adjective μονογενής by a declension of the Syriac adjective ܝܚܝܕܝܐ (yechidaya). According to Robert Payne Smith in A Compendious Syriac Dictionary,**** the Syriac word ܝܚܝܕܝܐ means "sole, only, only-begotten."

Smith, p. 191. yechidaya


Footnotes

1 p. 1932, ūnĭcus

2 p. 4

x Luke 7:12, 8:42, 9:38; John 1:14, 3:16; Heb. 11:17

y John 1:18, 3:18; 1 John 4:9

z p. 198

aa p. 191

References

Burkitt, Francis Crawford. Evangelion da-Mepharreshe. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1904.

Burkitt, Francis Crawford. Evangelion da-Mepharreshe. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1904.

Gasquet, Francis Aidan. Codex Vercellensis Iamdudum Ab Irico Et Bianchino Bis Editus Denuo Cum Manuscripto Collatus In Lucem Profertur. Vol. 1. Rome: Pustet: 1914.

Gasquet, Francis Aidan. Codex Vercellensis Iamdudum Ab Irico Et Bianchino Bis Editus Denuo Cum Manuscripto Collatus In Lucem Profertur. Vol. 2. Rome: Pustet: 1914.

Horner, George William. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect, Otherwise Called Memphitic and Bohairic. Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon, 1898.

Horner, George William. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect, Otherwise Called Memphitic and Bohairic. Vol. 3. Oxford: Clarendon, 1905.

Horner, George William. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect, Otherwise Called Memphitic and Bohairic. Vol. 4. Oxford: Clarendon, 1905.

Horner, George William. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Otherwise Called Sahidic and Thebaic. Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon, 1911.

Horner, George William. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Otherwise Called Sahidic and Thebaic. Vol. 3. Oxford: Clarendon, 1911.

Horner, George William. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Otherwise Called Sahidic and Thebaic. Vol. 5. Oxford: Clarendon, 1920.

Horner, George William. The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Otherwise Called Sahidic and Thebaic. Vol. 7. Oxford: Clarendon, 1924.

Lewis, Charlton T.; Short, Charles. Harper’s Latin Dictionary: A New Latin Dictionary Founded on the Translation of Freund’s Latin-German Lexicon. New York: American Book, 1879.

Smith, Robert Payne. A Compendious Syriac Dictionary. Trans. Margoliouth, Jessie Payne. Oxford: Clarendon, 1903.

Streitberg, Wilhelm. Die Gotische Bibel. Zweiter Teil: Gotisch-Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch. Heidelberg: Carl Winter's Universitätsbuchhandlung, 1910.

The Sahidica Lexicon: A Basic Sahidic-English Lexicon. Ed. Wells, J. Warren.

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I will give you a bounty worth of 400 provided that you completed your answer. – Radz Matthew Brown May 22 at 9:46
2  
Not sure you can up the bounty, but I'll complete it anyway. It's what I do. Just going to take some time. Not to mention, I'll be finishing a paper on monogenes, so I'll incorporate some of my answer in the paper. 2 birds 1 stone. – Simply a Christian May 22 at 10:16
    
@SimplyaChristian - A.) Actually, The Aramaic/Syriac: "דיחידיא", from the word, "יחיד", (Transliterated "dyḥydyᵓ" or "yḥd"), does not mean, "only begotten" - BUT it can mean "Only child" in an idiomatically - when used in the context of: "son, daughter, child"; B.) I down-voted because none of this analysis considers the context in those texts - for idiomatic use; C.) Also, Because of all of the omissions, please set this as a community wiki answer - or add to the one already here - and I can fix the fonts. – elika kohen May 24 at 5:22
    
@SimplyaChristian - D.) Also - please remove all of the unnecessary images/citations - which use the same exact construction; E.) The assertion that there are no Ge'ez/Amharic Translations needs editing; see translation here: F.) Also where appropriate: please just say, "John x.x, x.x, Luke, x.x - all use the same word/construction"; It would make this answer much, much, more concise. – elika kohen May 24 at 5:37
    
@elika kohen: Thank you for your critique. While I do always appreciate feedback, I respectfully decline your recommendations. If you feel you can do better, please improve your answer according to your liking. – Simply a Christian May 24 at 10:30

Note: This question is very broad - so made into a community Wiki Post.

1. Question Restatement:

  • What are the most ancient translations of the Greek word: "μονογενής", in the New Testament?
  • Is it "only" or "only-begotten"?

Answer:

μονογενής never just means - "Only". The construction always implies "a Child".

  • μονο: Means "Sole", "Only", "Single", or "One".
  • γενοῦς: Means, "Race", "Tribe", "Genetic Line", etc. It does not literally mean "Begotten", or "Born".
  • μονο + γενοῦς: Is Idiomatic, and can mean: "only child", and also "sole heir".

Greek, "Sole Heir":

Ancient translations also understand - "μονο" to mean: "only one - out of all of the others". "A Single Heir".

Example: Of my two sons, there can only be one who inherits the kingship.

Plato, Laws: Plat. Laws 3.691e - [691e] your kingly line, (μονογενοῦς) no longer single but twofold. ...

Note: Usually, there was only one successor - which is the issue this passage is pointing out.

In Flavius Josephus, Isaac isn't the Only Child - but is the: "μονογενῆ":

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, J. AJ 1.222 - Ἴσακον δὲ ὁ πατὴρ Ἅβραμος ὑπερηγάπα μονογενῆ ὄντα καὶ ἐπὶ γήρως οὐδῷ κατὰ δωρεὰν αὐτῷ τοῦ

Now Abraham greatly loved Isaac, as being his only begotten and given to him at the borders of old age,

Note: But, Abraham didn't have just one child - from his own loins - there is is also Ishmael.

Ancient Translations:

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1  
(+1) for the informative answer on μονογενής but this did not fully answer my question at all. – Radz Matthew Brown May 21 at 6:23
    
I have edited your answer. I have omitted the citations from the OT since my question is only asking of the NT. You may freely proceed to complete your answer. – Radz Matthew Brown May 21 at 11:23
1  
@RadzMatthewBrown - A.) I made this a Community Wiki answer - because it is a very broad question, and still changing to include more languages; B.) Because it is a Wiki answer now - it can make sense that it's so boad. C.) The translations you removed of the Aramaic Old Testament - were translations that were contemporaneous with the Septuagint, Peshitta, and other Syriac New Testament translations. – elika kohen May 21 at 22:39

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