"born again" and "rebirth" (n)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Sep 15 00:24:19 UTC 2010

How can the OED (admittedly 2nd ed.) have under "born again" only
from 1961 and "orig.U.S."?

In the King James version of the Bible: "Jesus answered and said unto
him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3).

More pertinently:  From the late 17th-early 18th century (say George
Fox and Jonathan Edwards) -- to Samuel Wright's "A Little Treatise of
being Born Again" (actually cited in the OED under "raisedness"),
which appeared in at least 4 editions from 1715 -- to the Methodists
(John, Charles, and Samuel Wesley) and the Great Revival and George
Whitefield of the 1730s-17450s.

Many of these are surely not simply references to the resurrection of
Christ, or to entering heaven, or metaphorical uses, but rather to a
religious experience testified to by a mortal that qualifies as a
"rebirth" or "conversion".


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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