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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

John 3:16

The above is the King James "translation" of John 3:16. If we were to open up the Revised Standard Version of the Bible on this exact same verse we would find it now translated as

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, ...."

What is going on here? The RSV is the work of thirty two Biblical Christian scholars of the highest eminence backed by fifty cooperating Christian denominations. They produced the RSV in an effort to correct the "many" and "serious" errors they had found in the King James Bible. So why have they scrapped the word "begotten" from this cornerstone of Christian preaching? The reason is because they have decided to be honest with us when translating this verse.

The Greek term for "begotten" in ancient Greek is "gennao" {ghen-nah'-o} as found for example in Matthew 1:2. In the verses under consideration, however, the word used was not "gennao" but "monogenes" {mon-og-en-ace'}.

"Monogenes" is a Greek word which conveys the meaning "unique" and not "begotten." Thus, the true translation of this verse is "His unique son."

Some of the more honest translations of the Bibles, such as the New Testament by Goodspeed and J. M. Powis Smith (published in 1923) have indeed given the same translation as that of the RSV. However, such "tell it as it is" Bibles were not generally met with a lot of enthusiasm since they forced the reader to face the fact that much of what the translators of the KJV have "translated" for them was not in fact part of the Bible.

We have already seen in previous sections that the Bible bears witness that God has "sons" by the tons. So what does the Bible mean by "only son" or "unique son" when referring to Jesus? It means what the Bible has told us and the Qur'an has confirmed for us, namely, that Jesus was "unique" in that he was born of a human mother without a father. God merely said to him "Be!" and he was.

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