The Nicene Creed, produced at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, was later amended (see Wikipedia) at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 AD and states :

( I am quoting excerpts from the original Greek and the literal English) :

Πιστεουμεν εις ενα θεον Πατερα [...]. . . . I believe in one God (the) Father [...]

και εις ενα Κυριον Ιησουν Χριστον . . . . . and in one Lord Jesus Christ,

τον υιον του θεου, τον μονογενη. . . . . . . the son of God, the only-begotten,

τον εκ του Πατρος γεννηθεντα . . . . . . . . that of the Father begotten

προ παντων των αιωνων [...] . . . . . . . . . . . before all the ages [...]

Francis Warden wrote a Ph.D. dissertation in 1938 which was summarised in 1953 in a journal and led to a publication by Dale Moody (also 1953) in the Journal of Biblical Literature which argued against the Nicene Creed's expression of 'only begotten' for the Greek word monogenes (used nine times in scripture) and argued that the meaning should be 'one of a kind' or 'unique'.

This is a strange thesis as that is what monos, by itself, means. Moody has failed to translate the -genes suffix and has ended up conveying the concept of solitude, rather than expressing the fact of a relationship, especially considering the nine contexts of intimate relationship recorded in scripture :-

Luke 7:12, 8:42, 9:38 Hebrews 11:17 John 1:14,18 3:16,18 I John 4:9.

Subsequently, Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kentucky) argued strongly against Dale Moody's conclusions. Also, Charles Lee Irons of the Fuller Theological Seminary argued against it and contributed to a book Retrieving Eternal Generation, Zondervan 2017, in which ten University Professors and three Assistant Professors argued unanimously in favour of the Nicene stance on the subject.

I am interested to know if there has been any response to the extensive research work of Burk, Irons and their compatriots and am interested to know if any further arguments, from the opposing faction, have been presented against this considerable resistance to Dale Moody's theory.

Denny Burk - Monogenes and Eternal Generation

Charles Lee Irons - The Only Begotten

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    … as they say in the house of Commons, "I stand by my previous answer" and the venerable authority of BDAG. – user43409 Jul 30 '19 at 11:46
  • while biblical hermeneutics may not be the right place to ask, they do have more questions involving Greek, so you may find more of an answer – depperm Jul 30 '19 at 18:34
  • Agreed - that is why the modern consensus is that monogenes means "only type" or unique as translated by the earliest Latin versions such as Jerome in Luke 7:12, 8:42, 9:38 – user43409 Jul 31 '19 at 21:00
  • @NigelJ Except, the Latins could not have been so far removed from the Greeks as to not know what monogenes meant to early Christians. Any look at the meaning of the Greek usage done in deliberate ignorance of the Latin is an inherently broken approach, especially where etymological ambiguity is present. – Sola Gratia Aug 1 '19 at 17:00
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    TL;DR this word was used idiomatically (for lack of a better term) for an only-begotten son, but the begotten part is practically redundant, even in English, and is only by implication—there are no sons in existence not begotten in some sense by the father, so all quibbling over the Son being 'begotten' is the very definition of futility (clearly the begetting is meant in the very same sense as that in which He is a Son in the first place...). – Sola Gratia Aug 1 '19 at 18:50

Warden's thesis is not strange at all. That is what the word was used for in a several ancient Greek texts:

μονο-γενής, ές, Ep. and Ion. μουνο-, (γένος): the only member of a kin or kind: hence, generally, only, single. Used as such in Hes.Op.376, Hdt.7.221, cf. Ev.Jo.1.14, Ant.Lib.32.1; of Hecate, Hes. Th.426.

The association with "begotten" is logical for a Latin speaker, as the Greek γενής shares the same IndoGermanic root as the Latin verb genere, which can both mean to be born and to beget.

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  • Have you read the exensive treatment of the argument in the paper 'Retrieving Eternal Generation' ? The implications of your statement are quite considerable within the doctrine of Christ. – Nigel J Apr 24 at 16:07
  • I'm argumenting from factual philological & historical aspects. When you say "the doctrine of Christ", you are somewhat implying there is only one universal doctrine within Christianity, which is certainly not the case. Doctrine, etablished as for example by the Nicene Creed, was not universally accepted even within the churches, take for example the Filioque controversy that resulted from the creed. Therefore, doctrine, since it is not universaly held, or the implications thereupon, should be considered irrelevant when examining the facts and presenting arguments. – Codosaur Apr 25 at 11:18
  • Within what calls itself 'Christianity' there are multiple expressions of doctrine. But if there be but one Christ there can only be one truth concerning him. ... strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it ... Matthew 7:14, KJV. – Nigel J Apr 25 at 22:26
  • That's a doctrinal argument as well. At the time, there were Christian sects who did not accept the premise that Jesus was divine, like Arianism and Psilanthropism. It's a non sequitur to use a canonized verse to illustrate your doctrine, since we know that "heretical" texts with alternative interpretations were chosen to be ignored in several councils, like those of Hippo and Carthage, where the canon was composed. – Codosaur Apr 26 at 8:30
  • The doubt and unbelief (of the word of God and of the truth conveyed by Christ and his apostles) of others does not - in any way - cause me to wish to follow them. Quite the opposite. So we shall go our separate ways as we seem to have no point of agreement. – Nigel J Apr 26 at 11:19

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