A Reflective Christian

All for God’s Kingdom

The Granville Sharp rule and Titus 2:13

One of the texts used to support the divinity of Jesus is Titus 2:13, where it says “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.” Used in support is a rule that itself is valid, the Granville Sharpe rule. Daniel Wallace defines Sharp’s rule as when two nouns connected by the conjunction kai (“and”) and the first has the article but the second does and neither of the nouns are impersonal, plural, or a proper name, then both nouns are a reference to the same thing.

But there are three problems with this application to Titus 2:13 in my mind, one of which is rooted in whether 2:13 technically qualifies for the rule.

1) Is it proper to say that the usage of “God” here is not actually be used as a proper noun? Proper nouns can be determined because proper nouns are never capitalized in ancient Greek. The greek word theos is in fact at times capitalized according to some of who done the research. It is concluded that its usage can not be a proper noun, but this forces the noun to be used always as a personal noun or never as a personal noun. I think it is conceivable that “God” can be used essentially as a proper noun as it seems to be in the New Testament, but there are other usages where it is not. If it is indeed used as a proper noun, then it is probably right to say Paul’s (if you affirm Pauline authorship) usage here is also proper noun, and the Granville Sharp rule would not apply here?

[Later edit: I have since been corrected by Tim that what is used to determine whether a noun is proper or not is whether it is pluralized, not capitalized. I made a mistake in remembering what I read on it in the past, plus I didn’t realize capital letters were not around when Titus was penned. Read the comments for more. However, the main thrust of the question remains at this point]

2) The possesive pronoun (or more precisely in the Greek, the plural genitive pronoun) in fact falls after the word for “Savior” (sotwHros). Is it possible that the genitive in fact gives a noun definiteness? The Greek article is used to make a noun definite, but can not a genitive that identifies possession, roughly speaking, also perform the function that the article does? If it can, then it is as if the article is used for the word “Savior” and Sharp’s rule does not apply here.

3) Probably a little less force behind this one, but does the fact that the nouns themselves are genitives perhaps make the rule need a little bit of an exception? Could the rule be expanded in the case of genitives to declare common “possession”? In other words, the glory is both God’s and Jesus’. In one sense, there is a unity between the nouns, but it isn’t in the beings described, but what they both commonly possessed.

All three of these are not absolute proofs that Sharp’s rule should not be applied here. Rather, there are curiosities in my mind as to perhaps weaknesses in its application. These thoughts may have been explored and answered and I do not know of them. I am not an expert at Greek. However, I am left wondering whether it is as sure of a thing as some people say it is.

But I need to append this by saying that even if I am correct, this doesn’t deny the divinity of Christ. Titus 2:13 would still affirm in a more implied sense Jesus’ divinity by saying that Jesus shares in the same glory God has. Similarly in 2 Peter 1:1 also.

Also, there are a couple exegetical issues that would have to be dealt with in Titus (especially in 2:11-15) if “God” and “Savior” do not refer to the same being, because the context seems to be in support of Jesus being viewed by the title of God explicitly. However, it is nothing that is absolute, but can potentially be explained in other ways.

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October 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments