Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CUTTING STRAIGHT THE WORD OF GOD
...understanding the Granville Sharp rule and why it matters

Granville Sharp's rule, according to Granville Sharp, is:

"When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case [viz. nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connexion, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill,] if the article ho, or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e., it denotes a farther description of the first named person."(4)

The vital point that is available to the reader of Sharp's work is this: *Sharp's rule is valid only for singulars, not plurals; and it is not intended to be applied to proper names*. His rule only applies to persons, not things. As you can see, Granville Sharp's rule is much more limited in its scope than the more modern definitions reveal.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a worker who has no need to be ashamed,
rightly handling [cutting it straight] the word of truth.
-2 Tim. 2:15


A few days ago a young man sought to make some spurious assertions about my commitment to orthodoxy and homage to church history. He mentioned in specific the Granville Sharp rule; claiming I didn't affirm it, all the while he completely misapplied it to a passage of Scripture (Eph. 4:11) concerning the offices and gifts of pastors and teachers for which he was willing to casually throw me under the bus. Though he seemed sincere, his passion trumped precept; what the Apostle Paul would call having "zeal without knowledge." This brother finally agreed that he had misapplied the GS-R to Eph. 4:11. My prayer for us both is we remain faithful students of God's Word, teachable, and willing to invest the time to really understand some of the more difficult passages of Scripture before pulling the trigger against another.

Why does this really matter? Because rightly dividing the truth is an important duty for all believers - especially pastors and teachers in the body of Christ. The GS-R was originally discovered to defend a biblical Christology. Though a technical tool of interpreting Scripture; it can be very helpful and beneficial for all believers to learn and enjoy in their Bible study and devotions before the Lord. No greater person to explain this important theological tool to us than my dear friend and reformed apologist - Dr. James White. I would encourage you to read a bit of Granville Sharp's story - it is fascinating and stirring!

___________


Granville Sharp's Rule
Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1
by Dr. James White

This information sheet is divided into two sections. The first is a brief, basic discussion of what is known as "Granville Sharp's Rule." This rule is very important in translating and understanding Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 (as well as other passages), and as these passages bear directly on the discussion of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, we feel Christians should be informed on the subject. The second section of this paper is a much more in-depth discussion of the same subject, providing references for those familiar with the Greek language and the translation of the New Testament.

Section 1
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.(1) 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 deeds." 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.(2) 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.

1 comment:

anirudh said...

Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator, this paper I presented at the 1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, held at The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), Lonavla, Pune in 2006. The Abstract of this paper is given below:

The Universe includes everything that exists. In the Universe there are billions and billions of stars. These stars are distributed in the space in huge clusters. They are held together by gravitation and are known as galaxies. Sun is also a star. Various members of the solar system are bound to it by gravitation force. Gravitation force is the ultimate cause of birth and death of galaxy, star and planets etc. Gravitation can be considered as the cause of various forms of animate and inanimate existence. Human form is superior to all other forms. Withdrawal of gravitational wave from some plane of action is called the death of that form. It can be assumed that gravitation force is ultimate creator. Source of it is ‘God’. Gravitational Field is the supreme soul (consciousness) and its innumerable points of action may be called as individual soul (consciousness). It acts through body and mind. Body is physical entity. Mind can be defined as the function of autonomic nervous system. Electromagnetic waves are its agents through which it works. This can be realized through the practice of meditation and yoga under qualified meditation instruction. This can remove misunderstanding between science and religion and amongst various religions. This is the gist of all religious teachings – past, present and future.

AND

‘In Scientific Terminology Source of Gravitational Wave is God’ I have presented this paper at the 2nd World Congress on Vedic Sciences held at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi on February 9-11, 2007. The Abstract of this paper is given below:

For Centuries, antagonism remained between science and religion. Science and spirituality require to be fused. An integrated philisophy is to be developed. It is written in the scriptures that entire creation is being maintained only through love or force of attraction. In Persian it is known as quvat-i-jaziba. It is on account of this force that the entire creation, which come into existence through the combination of small particles and atoms, is being maintained and sustained. The creation or universe includes everything that exists. In the universe there are billions and billions of stars. They are held together by gravitation and are known as galaxies. Sun is also a star. Various members of the solar system are bound to it by gravitation force. Gravitation force is the ultimate cause of birth and death of a galaxy, star and planet etc. and various forms of animate and inanimate existence. Gravitation force is the ultimate creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe. These are the three attributes of God. Providence has located within the human body a spiritual faculty. When this faculty is developed like physical and mental faculties we find that Truth-the goal of science and God-the goal of religion are one and the same thing.