Re: Re. Is Christ declared to be God in Romans 9:5!

Carl W. Conrad (
Tue, 3 Dec 1996 19:24:29 -0600

At 9:57 AM -0600 12/3/96, Paul F. Evans wrote:
>Please comment on the following:
>wJn oiJ patere", kai ex wJn oJ Cristo" to kata: oJ wn epi pantwn qeo"
>In who are the fathers, and out of whom is Christ according to the flesh...
> euloghto" ei" tou" aiwna, amhn.

Comment #1: This is not very easy to read--looks like it was "pasted" into
a mail file and still showed as Greek characters on your screen, whereas on
mine it looks like ..., well, I'm not sure what it looks like, but nothing
I've ever seen before.

>The NIV seems to take this hO CHRISTOS... hO... QEOS... as a predicate,
>equivalent to "Christ is God." Am I even close here with the rationale?
>The NASB avoids directly asserting this, but indirectly ascribes deity with
>"who is over all...," taking the hO as a substantive reference to Christ.
>Does the separation between hO and QEOS mean that they are not connected
>and that the QEOS is therefore anarthrous? Or is the QEOS articular, in
>which case we are back with the NIV, it would seem to me. How can we deal
>with the phrase hO WN EPI PANTWN QEOS EULOGHTOS EIS TOUS...? How are we to
>understand EULOGHTOS, which in my simplistic understanding would be a key
>to unlock the phrase. If it is subjective of the blessedness Christ
>receives from God, then the NASB must be nearer the mark, if it is
>objective of the praise ascribed to Christ then the NIV is closer.
>It troubles me that the NASB seems to have divorced this phrase from what
>has gone before it so that it stands alone. However, something about the
>NIV just doesn't "click." I know that "clicking" is not a very scientific
>method, but believe me it about all I have to go on here with my pitiful
>understanding of Koine.
>How does the WV function? The nearest I can come in finding help is that
>it is an adverb, (present, part. of EIMI) meaning something like truly, in
>truth, really. Does it function in a way that reenforces the deity of
>Christ, so that it means something like, " who is really God...?"There is
>no hint of its force in either translations that I can detect, almost

For my own sanity's sake, let me transliterate anew in my own scheme:


The above shows the punctuation of UBS4/NA27. The real problem here is: how
should we punctuate, if at all, after TO KATA SARKA, after EPI PANTWN, and
after QEOS? Punctuation is a modern device, indicating how the editor
understands the syntax of the text. An honest editor, however, of the GNT,
will indicate in the apparatus criticus in some way alternatives to the way
he (i.e. the majority of the editorial committee for which he records the
interpretation) has determined to punctuate/interpret the text.

(A) UBS4 shows three alternatives following TO KATA SARKA as (1) no
punctuation at all, (2) period, (3) comma;
(B) UBS4 shows two alternatives following QEOS as (1) comma, (2) period;
(c) UBS4 shows three alternatives following QEOS as (1) comma, (2) no
punctuation at all.

In my judgment the absolutely crucial punctuation point here is the
position following immediately upon QEOS: IF we read a comma or significant
pause there, then the whole nominal group hO WN EPI PANTWN QEOS may be
understood as standing in apposition to the preceding nominal group, hO
XRISTOS TO KATA SARKA, and one may reasonably argue that Christi is indeed
equated with "God who is over all."

However, it appears to me that the UBS4 editor does NOT so understand it
that way, but rather thus: "Of whom [the Jewish people] are the fathers
[patriarchs], out of whom [the Jewish people] is the Messiah--so far as his
physical manifestation is concerned--blessed forever [be] God who is over
By this interpretation, Paul concludes his account of the fundamental
importance of the Jewish people in "salvation history" by breaking forth
into a doxology,and the phrase, "God who is over all" should not be seen as
appositive to hO XRISTOS TO KATA SARKA but rather as the subject of

There are other variants possible within the scheme, but these are, it
seems to me, the crucial alternatives bearing upon the question you raise:
"Is Christ declared to be God in Romans 9:51?" It is clear that practically
as many editors have found sufficient reason to understand it one way as
have found reason to understand it the other way. Is it possible to resolve
this question without bringing one's own theological presuppositions to
bear upon it? Maybe and maybe not. Certainly I can't decide the issue for
you. I will say for myself only, however, that it seems to me that the
sentence reads more comfortably and smoothly with hO WN EPI PANTWN QEOS
understood as the subject of EULOGHTOS rather than as an appositive to hO
then seems an almost inchoate second appositive to hO XRISTOS TO KATA
SARKA, rather strangely employed as an epithet for "the Messiah in his
earthly manifestation" (wouldn't one more readily use that epithet for the
risen and exalted, enthroned Messiah?), but quite normally used of God on
high in the traditional Jewish benediction, BARUCH ADONAI ELOHENU MELEKH

So ultimately the choice between the alternatives must fall to the
prayerful and thoughtful reader of the passage. I hope this may help a
little bit. I leave it to others to expound the more subtle possibilities
of the alternative punctuation schemes.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR