Friday, August 12, 2011
John 1:18 in the NIV
The latest revision of the NIV gives us a new episode of the misadventures of John 1:18 in the version. In 1978 the verse was translated: “No one has ever seen God, but God the only [Son], who is at the Father's side, has made him known.” In 1984 it was changed to “… but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.” The TNIV of 2002 had “… but the one and only [Son], who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” Now we have “… but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (without the brackets around “Son”). What the NIV fails to make known is that the Greek text they are translating here reads simply, “the only-begotten god [μονογενης θεος], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained,” as translated in the NASB. We see all this twisting and turning in the NIV because the Greek phrase μονογενης θεος is, on its face, polytheistic, and the translators are unwilling to give a straightforward translation of it; but they cannot find an exegetically plausible rendering which avoids the appearance of polytheism. They still have not found one, because it is not at all plausible that John would have written μονογενης θεος if he meant “the one and only Son, who is himself God.” Their theological problems would come to an end if they would only give up the impossible μονογενης θεος reading and go with the manuscripts that have μονογενης υιος “only-begotten Son” instead (as in the Vulgate, Luther, KJV, ERV, ASV, RSV, NKJV, HCSB, NJB).