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Sunday, May 01, 2011

scenarios & ambiguity in Titus 2:13

Titus 2:13 προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,

“conjoined nouns with a single article always opens up a single scenario which includes both concepts.” [1]

This construction  τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is ambiguous. For the sake of high Christology, we the orthodox would like to know for certain if μεγάλου θεοῦ and Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ are coreferential. But certainty is probably an unrealistic goal.  Murray J. Harris[2]   did a very fine job of exploring the exegetical options. R. A. Hoyle brings a different framework to bear on the question. Hoyle and Harris reach similar conclusions traveling somewhat different roads. Neither have claimed anything approaching certainty. 

… in the more theologically weighted verses, Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, where there is a single article for both “God” and “Saviour Jesus Christ”, we must apply the same principle that these conjoined items refer to a single scenario.

… the parallel construction in Titus 2:13 τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ‘of the great God and Saviour of us Jesus Christ’, and 2 Peter 1:1 τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ‘of the God of us and Saviour Jesus Christ’ also refers to a single scenario, and the conjoined terms are most naturally understood as coreferential, Jesus Christ who is both God and Saviour.

— R. A. Hoyle  [3]

The claim that conjoined nouns with a single article open a single scenario is not a simple rewording of the Granville Sharp rule. A scenario is a semantic structure within a cognitive framework. The claim that μεγάλου θεοῦ, σωτῆρος ἡμῶν and Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ are members of the same scenario reaches a level of certainty which unattainable with the claim that μεγάλου θεοῦ and Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ are coreferential. We can demonstrate the stronger claim (... members of the same scenario) from within Titus and the Pastorals.

Titus 1:3 ἐφανέρωσεν δὲ καιροῖς ἰδίοις τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ ἐν κηρύγματι, ὃ ἐπιστεύθην ἐγὼ κατ᾿ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ,  4 Τίτῳ γνησίῳ τέκνῳ κατὰ κοινὴν πίστιν, χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν.

Note in Titus 1:3-4 σωτῆρος is combined with both θεοῦ and Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. If we take ὁ σωτὴρ as the title of a scenario, we can see that both θεοῦ and Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ are members of that scenario. This is demonstrated by τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ in Titus 2:10, 3:4, 1Tim. 2:3 and Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν in Titus 3:6,  τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ 2Tim. 1:10.  

Titus 2:10 μὴ νοσφιζομένους, ἀλλὰ πᾶσαν πίστιν ἐνδεικνυμένους ἀγαθήν, ἵνα τὴν διδασκαλίαν τὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ κοσμῶσιν ἐν πᾶσιν.

Titus 3:4 ὅτε δὲ ἡ χρηστότης καὶ ἡ φιλανθρωπία ἐπεφάνη τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ,

Titus 3:6 οὗ ἐξέχεεν ἐφ᾿ ἡμᾶς πλουσίως διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν,

1Tim. 2:3 τοῦτο καλὸν καὶ ἀπόδεκτον ἐνώπιον τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ,

2Tim. 1:10 φανερωθεῖσαν δὲ νῦν διὰ τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, καταργήσαντος μὲν τὸν θάνατον φωτίσαντος δὲ ζωὴν καὶ ἀφθαρσίαν διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου

The use of σωτῆρος with both θεοῦ and Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (see especially Titus 1:3-4) closely associates God The Father, with Jesus Christ in the salvation scenario.[4] This, in and of itself, is a significant christological contribution. Whether μεγάλου θεοῦ and Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ are coreferential in Titus 2:13 is another question. The attempts by apologists to absolutely nail this down with an air tight argument are unconvincing. R. A. Hoyle’s “… most naturally understood as coreferential”[3] is a fair statement all things considered.

[1]  Richard A. Hoyle, Scenarios, discourse and translation, SIL 2008, p.233.

[2] Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God, pp. 173-185.

[3] Hoyle:2008, p. 498.

[4] see I. H. Marshall, Pastoral Epistles, ICC, p135.


Anonymous Mike Aubrey said...

I'm somewhat at a loss as to why you think its ambiguous. The native speakers of the language are unanimous on the Sharps rule being completely unambiguous.

2:09 PM  
Blogger C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Mike Aubrey left a new comment on your post "scenarios & ambiguity in Titus 2:13":

“I'm somewhat at a loss as to why you think its ambiguous. The native speakers of the language are unanimous on the Sharps rule being completely unambiguous.”

Hello Mike,

Not certain if I should detect some irony here. The second sentence certainly sounds like irony. Did the greek church fathers have a copy of Granville Sharp? Anyway, I suspect that someone else will be wondering what is ambiguous so I will explain. First of all any chain of genitives like τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is inherently ambiguous. Depending on who you read, I. H. Marshal, M. J.Harris, W. Mounce, there are four to six permutations for parsing the construct chain. Reciting them all would amount to nothing more than pure plagiarism.

The ambiguity that everyone tend to focus on is the referent of τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ. The Granville Sharp rule comes in different flavors. The true believers have a list of constraints which appear to make the rule work within the confines of the NT canon. That is not a very impressive rule. The constraints include: the nouns must be personal, non-proper, singular (Mounce, Pastorals WBC p427). If you drop the first constraint the rule easy to break.

1Th. 2:12 ... καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν.

In this example two nouns which are not coreferential “open up a single scenario”, R. A. Hoyle[1]. The true believers form of the Granville Sharp rule with all the constraints isn’t general enough to be very interesting.

[1] Richard A. Hoyle, Scenarios, discourse and translation, SIL 2008, p.232.

9:34 PM  
Blogger The Apologetic Front said...


Have you checked out Stafford's arguments on this? One recent response by him to Dan Wallace can be found here:

Supposedly, Stafford is writing a book on the Sharp rule.

5:50 AM  
Blogger The Apologetic Front said...


I'm aware of your differences with Stafford, as I would probably place myself similarly to your stance on Christology. Stafford's basic argument is that Sharp's rule is not without exception and therefore should not be argued with such certainty as many apologists have done. I'm not so sure I agree, but its something worth thinking about and should be proceeded with caution. This is why I try to reserve most of my apologetic in defending texts which have lesser grammatical controversy.

9:05 AM  
Blogger C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Thank you Mike,

I think we understand each other. I trashed my last comment because it contained an internal contradiction. I spent some time yesterday with TLG and Diogenes (search engine) and also Accordance to see if I could find some good samples of exceptions from extra biblical greek sources. This isn't an easy project due to the status of the search engines and the form of the TLG texts.

I am pleased that Stafford has come up with some of these old authors who being scholars and having leisure time to read extensively in classical texts came across examples without the need of search engines. I will get my InterLibLoan people working on getting a copy of those books.

I will probably post some more on R. A. Hoyle's treatment of the article noun KAI noun construction.

9:16 AM  

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