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In Phil 2:7, what does εν ομοιωματι ανθρωπων γενομενος mean? Is it "made", "became" or "born"?:

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος·

Translators are divided:

http://biblehub.com/philippians/2-7.htm

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Bauer's A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature devotes 10 columns in very small type to the meaning of γίνομαι (the verb behind γενόμενος), which suggests there might not be a completely straightforward answer to your question.

But the general meaning is of coming into existence, whether in an intransitive or transitive sense (i.e. come into existence as something; become). Thus, "born" (looking at the translations you link) is not an unacceptable translation, nor is "made" in the present context (i.e. "in the likeness of man"). "Takes the form of" is not a literal translation, but I think it is an acceptable paraphrase.

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Short Answer: there is no clear answer.

Long answer: The word "γενομενος" is "to become" - but that could be "become" as an event, or "become" as an identity change.

That is, someone may "come into my house", but I don't believe they were "birthed into" my home - they simply came to the house. But I could also say "she came into the world" as a way of saying she was birthed into the world. Or again, "she became an addict" - she underwent and identity change; something about her fundamentally changed so she is now "an addict".

As such, it's not perfectly clear which is the correct interpretation here - did Jesus "become the likeness of a human" (ομοιωματι ανθρωπων γενομενος), as in an identity change? Or did he "become the likeness of a human" as an event? That is, "Jesus transformed into a human being" or "Jesus, as God, showed up looking like a human"? This word (γενομενος) is not enough context to give a firm answer, hence the translation differences.

FWIW, it's my personal opinion that the following phrase - καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος - suggests that Jesus transformed or "literally became" a human being. The Greek "σχήματι" doesn't have an obvious English word to translate into; it refers to the "total essence" of a person. Your senses, thoughts, physical body - everything. So καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος, or "by becoming the total essence of a human being", suggests that in every way possible, Jesus was indeed human.

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  • (-1) Did you consult a lexicon before providing the implication of the words σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς?
    – user10231
    Jul 20 '16 at 4:28
  • @WoundedEgo: yes, I did. Did you? Why the downvote? I clearly specified that I was giving my personal opinion as a reference point.
    – cegfault
    Jul 20 '16 at 18:27
  • Please cite the source that says that σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς means anything remotely like "by becoming the total essence of a human being" and I'll happily remove the dv.
    – user10231
    Jul 21 '16 at 21:08
  • @WoundedEgo: how about Strong's? "strong:4976 - Definition: 1) the habitus, as comprising everything in a person which strikes the senses, the figure, bearing, discourse, actions, manner of life etc. Synonym : See Definition 5865 and 5933" lumina.bible.org/resource/definitonsFromStrongs/4976
    – cegfault
    Jul 21 '16 at 22:47
  • Sorry for JSON/API link; didn't have a direct URL, but you can browse the Greek and just click on the word here: lumina.bible.org/bible/Philippians+2
    – cegfault
    Jul 21 '16 at 22:47

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