A response to

Because God "gave His only begotten Son"?

Al-Kadhi is basically correct in the first part where he reports facts. He is wrong in his conclusions he tries to draw from them at the end.

Al-Kadhi is actually quite subdued in this section. Often the argument is made with much more viciousness, using the changes in newer translations as evidence for the corruption of the Bible. However, since this is such a common Muslim argument here is the appropriate place to respond to those as well as to al-Kadhi in one article.

The irony of this argument is that Muslims tell us constantly that the Qur'an is what is written in Arabic and all the rest is only translations of the meaning, and translations are never perfect and have mistakes.

But if Christian scholars correct translation mistakes in the newer Bible translations then this is the occasion for making a lot of noise and elaborate theories how this proves corruption and change in the Bible.

However, the original Greek text has not changed. Instead scholars have in this century come to a deeper understanding of some linguistic issues.

Languages change over time, and in the fourth century people did no longer understand correctly the term "monogenes" which was then understood to mean "only-begotten". And the word looks indeed very much like it could mean this.

This misunderstanding led for example to the change from the Old Latin Version where "monogenes" was translated as "unicus" (unique) to the "unigenitus" (only born, only begotten) in the later Vulgate translation.

However, today we know that this word had nothing to do with begetting in the first century when the Biblical texts were written.

Since all scholars agree on this today, newer translations are made on the basis of this better understanding. The text in its original language has not changed. Only the translation has become more accurate. One might point to the differences in translation of various Qur'an passages. Earlier man was created from a clot of congealed blood. In newer translations we find that he is created from a leech. Is that evidence for the change and corruption of the Qur'an? No, the Arabic text has not changed, but the understanding or interpretation of this unchanged text has changed.

Is it not something to commend the Christian scholars for when they update the translations according to current knowledge and scholarly insight?

Al-Kadhi tells us in his section that the KJV (translated in AD 1611) is mistaken, and that John 3:16 actually means: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, ...."

Al-Kadhi is correct in this point. However, he goes astray when he continues with:

The Biblical author knows very well that there are many sons. That is the very reason to single Jesus out as the "unique, one of a kind" Son of God. He is not a son like all the others, he is the Son of God.

Since the meaning of "Son of God" has already been discussed twice in the sections 1.2.3 and there is no need to repeat this now all over again. Al-Kadhi and our readers are asked to carefully read the discussion there, and they will see that it does not refer to the virgin birth but to his essential nature and his pre-existence before all creation. Indeed, the very passage containing the discussed verse John 3:16 makes a similar statement:

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?
I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

Jesus can speak with authority about the heavenly things, because he is the one who came from heaven. While all of us are born from the flesh, and are from "below", Jesus is the only one who can give birth by the spirit, because he is from "above", he has come from heaven (verse 13). That makes him unique. He is the heavenly Son of God by nature and origin, while we can only become sons of God "by adoption" and transformation through the gift of the Holy Spirit when we are born again spiritually.

  • A dictionary entry on monogenes.
  • The passages where we nevertheless find the term `begotten' in the Bible and in reference to the Son of God.

    The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
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