Re: Luke 2:14: en uyistois qew, en anqrwpois eudokias

Paul Zellmer (
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 23:55:37 -0800

Carl W. Conrad wrote:
> At 9:30 AM -0600 11/22/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
> >Isn't God just the indirect object? Glory be to God is just another way of
> >saying *give* glory to God, but the subject is omitted. I don't see any
> >reason to get fancier than that.

Carl and Jonathon (and Randy),

I confess that I was the one who first called this an indirect object.
And I *was* a bit hasty in my identification in the face of a lack of

> It cannot quite be called an "indirect object" unless there's a transitive
> verb that will take an accusative "direct object" and indicate by means of
> the dative the recipient of that direct object. Your view that "God" is
> indirect object here has to assume something like a 3rd person passive
> imperative such as DOQHTW. But is it possible for anyone to "give" God
> glory? Or to "take away" glory from God? It doesn't take much reflection to
> realize how anthropomorphic such thinking about God must be. We do speak of
> "glorifying" God, but is that an action that "enhances" or renders God
> "greater"? There is the strange phrase (strange if you think about it, at
> any rate), "for the greater glory of God" (ad majorem Dei gloriam) which
> seems predicated upon the notion that God's glory can be lesser or greater.
> Anyone who wants to think through the logic of this might do well to read
> the Euthyphro of Plato, written originally to expose the difficulty of
> explaining what "piety" and "impiety" may actually mean in terms of some
> advantage accruing to God from human worship or service (Plato affirms that
> the giving of anything of value is all done from the divine side, not from
> the human side). We "praise" God or "celebrate" God, but when we do so, is
> God enhanced in any way? Or is it rather our own discernment and
> recognition of God?
> Actually this is an age-old Hebraic locution, is it not? "Glory be to God"
> -- BARUCH ATAH ADONAI ELOHENU MELEKH OLAM, etc., etc.: "Blessed art thou,
> Lord our God, King of the Universe, etc., etc." But can human beings
> "bless" God?

What really throws those of us who wrestle with this word BARUCH is that
it is also used to receive blessing, to be blessed or honored. Doctoral
dissertations have been written over this problem!

> Therefore Randy's question really IS in order. What kind of a dative is it?

I'm assuming that we are using a five case system, that the locative and
instrumental are being lumped in with the dative in our classification.

> I've just thumbed through Wallace's chapter on the dative and I honestly
> don't find anything that fits. My impression is that what we have here is a
> Greek dative of the noun QEOS representing the Hebrew L'YHWH or L'ADONAI,

Would not this be closer to an accusative-type usage, the direction
toward which the blessing is directed?

> behind which locution ultimately is an anthropomorphic conception of God's
> nature as one who can receive greater glory than He already has. The old
> hymn that says "changed from glory into glory" is a little bit more
> sensible, but it doesn't bear much rational exploration either; rational
> exploration is futile. It would appear thaat what we have here is an
> ancient Hebrew liturgical phrase that was carried over into Greek and that
> we still maintain in our liturgies today. I'm not saying we should dispense
> with it, only that it won't bear much serious reflection.

A formula, yes, but with something definitely omitted. Could that
omission be a transitive verb, which would return this to the
possibility of indirect object?

> The last thing I intended to do here was start a theological discussion.
> But I think the question of the dative of TWi QEWi is not so easily
> resolved. The dative of possession makes the best sense, "The glory BELONGS
> to God." But that's not the normal understanding of the phrase, is it? I
> heard a pretty good sermon on the petition, "Hallowed be Thy Name" a couple
> weeks ago, but it seems to me that it threw more light upon the behavior
> and attitudes of those who hallow than upon the One whose name is supposed
> to BE hallowed.

Paul Zellmer
Southern Methodist Missions