Wednesday, February 29, 2012

'Son of God' and the recent translation debate

I think one of the really difficult problems about the recent debates over Son/Father language and translations for Muslim-background believers is that 'Son of God' almost certainly means something different in the Scriptural context than it does in post-NT contexts. In my studies, I've been convinced that within the Scriptures 'Son of God' most often functions for 'Davidic King' and 'Davidic Messiah', not as a statement of Jesus' Divinity at all. I think the unqualified language of 'Son' in John's Gospel does draw on a Trinitarian ontological reality, and this is one of the reasons it is worth being careful about 'Son' vs 'Son of God'.

But overwhelmingly, post-biblical usage of 'Son of God' trades on it as a signifier of Jesus' Divinity as the Second person of the Trinity. Which I wholeheartedly believe in a very classical trinitarian framework. I think one danger, then, of the current debate is that pressure will be applied to make translations more theologically orthodox by importing the wrong theological category into certain contexts.

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