Born Again?

I was reading my New Testament translated by Richmond Lattimore and I came to John 3, where Nicodemus visits Jesus. Jesus tells him he must be “born from above”.

Born from above? This is a very common phrase used by evangelical Christians, but we are very used to hearing it as “born again”. We hear all the time how important it is to be “born again”, although this phrase is puzzling, and I can’t blame Nicodemus for walking away perplexed. “Born from above” on the other hand to me means something a lot different.

Looking it up at, almost all translations in English and Spanish use the phrase “born again”. (Other languages are available, but those are the only ones I’m familiar with.) Exceptions are the God’s Word translation; The Message; the Names of God Bible; and Young’s Literal Translation. The Message is a paraphrase translation, the Young’s a literal translation, so it can’t be a matter of style of translation, but some other choice.

Richmond Lattimore was a well-known translator of Greek- you will probably see his translations of the Iliad and Odyssey in the bookstore- and I picked up his NT translation when I saw it as a skeptic because it seemed to me from him I would get the most unbiased translation. And in fact I found it very powerful and persuasive.

One reason it reads better is that it doesn’t have chapter and verse breaks, which are distracting.


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3 responses to “Born Again?

  1. Yes, the “from above” is the correct translation. If you have a Greek NT or an interlinear, notice that Matthew 27:51, where the veil in the temple is torn in two at the moment of Christ’s death, the phrase is the same: “from above,” or from the top down. This is significant, too. The “born again” mentality implies that a person’s destiny is suddenly changed when he “accepts” Christ. The truth is that the person who comes to faith in Christ was selected and loved by God before the creation even existed, and that certain good works were foreordained for him, and that when he is “converted,” he is merely awakening to a truth that was there all along. Thus, he was born “from above,” not “again.”

  2. Pingback: Born Again vs. Born From Above | A Cry In The Dark

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