[B-Greek] Jos. Ant. 20:20 under MONOGENHS in BDAG

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 11 09:18:15 EDT 2010

How is the English use or non-use of a particular phrase pertinent to the way 
Greek may or may not have used a somewhat similar phrase?  For purposes of the 
Greek meaning, who cares how English uses such a phrase?  Let's not get bogged 
down with how something is translated. 


… search for truth, hear truth, 
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, 
defend the truth till death.

- Jan Hus

From: Leonard Jayawardena <leonardj at live.com>
To: cwconrad2 at mac.com
Cc: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Sun, July 11, 2010 2:48:12 AM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Jos. Ant. 20:20 under MONOGENHS in BDAG

Please look again at the relevant part of the BGAG article on MONOGENHS:

"Of an only son (Plut. Lycurgus 31,8; Jos. Ant. 20,20) Lk. 7:12; 9:38..."

BDAG cites the above verses as illustrating the sense "an only son." Are you 
aware of any instance where a favourite son is called "the only son" in the 
English language? Have you come across a sentence like "Jack is the only son of 
Mr. Thompson" in the sense that Jack is Mr. Thompson's favourite son? I am not a 
native speaker of English but I am quite certain that the expression "only son" 
is never used in English in that way.

I have not been able to check Plut. Lycurgus 31:8, but in both Lk. 7:12 and 9:38 
a literally only son is meant. In Jos. Ant. 20:20, the word is used of a 
favourite son, as explained in my post.

Leonard Jayawardena

> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Jos. Ant. 20:20 under MONOGENHS in BDAG
> From: cwconrad2 at mac.com
> Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2010 07:24:46 -0400
> CC: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> To: leonardj at live.com
> On Jul 10, 2010, at 6:02 AM, Leonard Jayawardena wrote:
>> The 1957 and 1979 editions of "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and 
>>Other Early Christian Literature' (BDAG) has the following as part of its entry 
>> "Of an only son (Plut. Lycurgus 31,8; Jos. Ant. 20,20) Lk. 7:12; 9:38..."
>> Actually, as I mentioned in my (recent) post on MONOGENHs in the Fourth Gospel, 
>>Josephus uses MONOGENHS in Ant. 20:20 in the sense of "best-beloved," not 
>>"only." Josephus calls Izates, a son of Monobazus (king of Adiabene) by Helena 
>>his MONOGENH, though Monobazus had an elder son by the same wife and other 
>>children by other wives. Clearly, Josephus calls Izates MONOGENHS in the sense 
>>of "best-beloved," or "favourite." The rest of the narrative also makes this 
>>very clear.
>> I wonder whether this error is corrected in later edition(s) of BDAG.
> BDAG has:
> 1. pert. to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship, one 
>and only, only (so mostly, incl. Judg 11:34; Tob 3:15; 8:17) of children: of 
>Isaac, Abraham’s only son (Jos., Ant. 1, 222) Hb 11:17. Of an only son (PsSol 
>18:4; TestSol 20:2; ParJer 7:26; Plut., Lycurgus 59 [31, 8]; Jos., Ant. 20, 20) 
>Lk 7:12; 9:38. Of a daughter (Diod. S. 4, 73, 2) of Jairus 8:42. (On the motif 
>of a child’s death before that of a parent s. EpigrAnat 13, ’89, 128f, no. 2; 
>18, ’91, 94 no. 4 [244/45 AD]; GVI nos. 1663–69.)
> In English usage the adjective "unique" and the adjectival phrase "one and 
>only" are commonly used to indicate the only real object of one's affection, 
>regardless of how many individuals -- children, lovers, etc. -- might actually 
>fall into a category. My system dictionary gives for "one and only": "only 
>unique; single (used for emphasis or as a designation of a celebrity) : the 
>title of his one and only book | the one and only Muhammad Ali." One of 
>Sinatra's great hits was "My One and Only Love."
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
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