Only-begotten Son or Only-begotten God


In John 1:18, some translations have “the only begotten Son” has made God known. Others have “the only begotten God” has made God known. The only existing manuscripts from prior to A.D. 300 that contain John 1:18 are Papyrus 66 (from around A.D.150) and Papyrus 75 (from around A.D. 180). Both of them have “the only-begotten God.” In those days, in order to save writing space on papyrus, words were abbreviated by writing just the first and last letter,and then putting a stroke over them to show that they were abbreviated. This was done even for short words such as “θεος” (theos). Unlike modern Greek all words were written with capital letters. So the word for “God” namely “θεος” was written as “ΘC” with a stroke over the two letters. it is thought that later on some copyists omitted the stroke in the middle of the first letter so that it became the word “Son” in Greek rather than “God.” By the way, if you want to see that word for “God” in Papyrus 66, just examine the following photograph a page in the Greek of Papyrus 66. Then count down to line 14 and looks for the word with the stroke over it



The NRSV has this “18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son,[e] who is close to the Father’s heart,[f] who has made him known.”

The note e says “Other ancient authorities read It is an only Son, God, or It is the only Son

Do you think there is a theological implication if it says “the only begotten God” and not “the only begotten Son”?


. “Only Son” is an interpretation and not a translation. It may imply some other sense of “Son” rather than being a Son because His Father begat Him. It might even refer to His having been God’s only adopted son.

If He was the only-begotten God as the ancient papyri have it in John 1:18, the theological implications are immense. It means that God begets God (just as man begets man).