Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"The Grandville Sharp Rule and the Deity of Christ"

In our Church, just a few weeks ago, we had a visting preacher who made this statement that he had made to a Jehovah's Witness: "If I could show you from your bible (exphasis on lower case, because it is really NOT the Bible), the deity of Christ, would you believe me?" Now, I do not know the outcome of that meeting, but it sparked an interest in my mind.

So, I went and looked at a copy of the New World Translation and found the reference for Titus 2:13; one of the greatest examples of the Deity of Christ. Sure enough, it says almost identical to the true Word of God. Which is very suprising, seeing as how Charles Russell did not know Greek and could not even quote you the Greek Alphabet (which a couple of my sons can do). But another question was raised in my mind, "Well the JW would just say that the verse was referring to two different people". Thus we are introduced to the Granville Sharp Rule, a rule introduced to me my second year in Greek.

Basically, Granville Sharp's rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word "and," and the first noun has the article ("the") while the second does not, *both nouns are referring to the same person*. In our texts, this is demonstrated by the words "God" and "Savior" at Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. "God" has the article, it is followed by the word for "and," and the word "Savior" does not have the article. Hence, both nouns are being applied to the same person, Jesus Christ. This rule is exceptionless. One must argue solely on theological grounds against these passages. There is truly no real grammatical objection that can be raised. Not that many have not attempted to do so, and are still trying. However, the evidence is overwhelming in favor of the above interpretation. Lets look at some of the evidence from the text itself.

In Titus 2:13, we first see that Paul is referring to the "epiphaneia" of the Lord, His "appearing." Every other instance of this word is reserved for Christ and Him alone. It is immediately followed by verse 14, which says, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works. The obvious reference here is to Christ who "gave Himself for us" on the cross of Calvary. There is no hint here of a plural antecedent for the "who" of verse 14 either. It might also be mentioned that verse 14, while directly referring to Christ, is a paraphrase of some Old Testament passages that refer to Yahweh God. (Psalm 130:8, Deuteronomy 7:6, etc). One can hardly object to the identification of Christ as God when the Apostle goes on to describe His works as the works of God!

The passage found at 2 Peter 1:1 is even more compelling. Some have simply by-passed grammatical rules and considerations, and have decided for an inferior translation on the basis of verse 2, which, they say, "clearly distinguishes" between God and Christ. Such translation on the basis of theological prejudices is hardly commendable. The little book of 2 Peter contains a total of five "Granville Sharp" constructions. They are 1:1, 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, and 3:18. No one would argue that the other four instances are exceptions to the rule. For example, in 2:20, it is obvious that both "Lord" and "Savior" are in reference to Christ. Such is the case in 3:2, as well as 3:18. No problem there, for the proper translation does not step on anyone's theological toes. 1:11 is even more striking. The construction here is *identical* to the construction found in 1:1, with only one word being different. Here are the passages as they are transliterated into English:

1:1: tou theou hemon kai sotaros Iesou Christou

1:11: tou kuriou hemon kai sotaros Iesou Christou

Notice the exact one-to-one correspondence between these passages! The only difference is the substitution of "kuriou" for "theou". No one would question the translation of "our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" at 1:11; why question the translation of "our God and Savior, Jesus Christ" at 1:1? Consistency in translation demands that we not allow our personal prejudices to interfere with our rendering of God's Word.

Dr. A. T. Robertson examined this very subject, and in conclusion said,

Sharp stands vindicated after all the dust has settled. We must let these passages mean what they want to mean regardless of our theories about the theology of the writers.

There is no solid grammatical reason for one to hesitate to translate 2 Pet. 1:1, "our God and Saviour Jesus Christ," and Tit. 2:13, "our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus."... Scholarship, real scholarship, seeks to find the truth. That is its reward. The Christian scholar finds the same joy in truth and he is not uneasy that the foundations will be destroyed.

Hopefully all involved can echo Dr. Robertson's words. We need not think that God's Word is our enemy, or that we must twist it around to suit our needs. God's truth will stand firm, despite all of mankind's attempts to hide it, or twist it. Christians are looking for that blessed hope; the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. In the meantime, let us do good deeds to others, living in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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