DOXH (Eph. 1:6 and Luke 2:14)

James H. Vellenga (
Wed, 22 Jan 97 08:49:04 EST

> From: Randy Leedy <>
> Subject: Re: Ephesians 1:6 - EIS EPAINON DOXHS THS XARITOS AUTOU
> (snip)
> The key to this use of the genitive is the fact that the genitive
> word in question is semantically an abstraction that can be taken as
> attributing a quality to the pre-genitive, and the second genitive
> can also be construed with the original pre-genitive. When the first
> genitive (the abstraction) is anarthrous, which is not always the
> case, then the reasons for construing the grammar this way are all
> the more convincing.
> (snip)
> In a nutshell, with any given string of genitives involving an
> abstraction in the middle position and ending with a personal
> pronoun, try taking the abstraction as an adjective and construing
> any subsequent genitives with the original pre-genitive. If this
> construction seems to yield good sense, you're grammatically
> justified in taking it that way. I hope this is clear enough and
> accurate enough to be of help. If refinements or corrections are in
> order, I'm sure someone will step in.
While Randy's suggestion makes good sense, I was reminded, by his
description of DOXHS as an abstraction, of a discussion we had last
November of the meaning of DOXA in Luke 2.14. At that time, I had
objected to Carl's calling DOXA a "locution"; Carl had responded; and I
have been wanting to respond yet again, but had never gotten "a round

Let me suggest once again that for the NT writers DOXA often had a
concreteness, a "thinginess," that the word "glory" has lost in
contemporary English. (By concreteness, I'm talking about something of
the nature of "wind" or "sunshine," which seem to have more concreteness
than an abstraction such as "renown.")

DOXA may in fact often be abstract in the NT. It is most often paired
(I believe) with the word TIMH ("honor" or "value"), which does
generally seem abstract (although Strong's lexicon suggests thate TIMH
can also mean "money" or "valuables"). Where it is paired with TIMH, it
seems more natural to think of DOXA as an abstraction meaning something
like "renown."

However, DOXA is often described as visible:

-- Luke 2.9: a messenger of [the] Lord presented himself to them,
and a DOXA of [the] Lord shone around them, and they became afraid
from out of a great fear.

-- John 1.14: And the LOGOS came to be flesh and pitched his tent among
us, and we viewed his DOXAN, a DOXAN like [that] of an only child
from alongside [the] father (or [the] Father). (If lower-case
"father," the second DOXAN here does seem like an abstraction.)

(John 1.14 may be referring back to the Hebrew KAVOD, which in Ex.
40.34-35 is described as filling the Tent [of Meeting]. In that
context, KAVOD too seems to have "thinginess.")

-- Acts 7.55: [On] gazing into the sky, [Stephen] saw a DOXAN of God's
and Jesus standing at God's right.

Another instructive occurrence is Luke 9.30-31:

... Moses and Elijah, who, being seen EN DOXHi, were talking about
his exodus.

One can read this either as "being seen in a DOXA" -- sort of a visible
glow -- or given that OFQENTES is passive, as "being seen by means of a
DOXA" -- i.e., a medium that transmits visible images. Either way, DOXA
seems to be relatively concrete.

Finally (to avoid an unduly long e-mail), let's look at 2 Pet. 1.17,
where the author, apparently referring to the same incident as Luke 9,

... because [of his] receiving TIMHN and DOXAN (abstractions?) from
alongside God [the] Father, [with] such [an impressive] voice being
carried to him by the towering DOXHS.

This says that, to the author, DOXA

a) is really, really big, and

b) carries sound waves (?!)

In short, with texts like these, it ought not to surprise us that
Christian artists of centuries ago came up with the conception that
there ought to be a kind of holy glow surrounding angels, Jesus, and
other holy beings.

If we can allow for this kind of naive conception of DOXA as having a
concreteness or thinginess, we may need to look once again at phrases
such as


(Actually, whether DOXA is abstract or concrete, Randy's suggestion
makes sense if we're thinking literal translation from the Hebrew, but
I'm interested in what a Koine speaker might read this as.) One could
(as already noted) translate this as

[leading] to praise of a DOXA of his graciousness

That is, DOXA need not be an abstraction that modifies the preceding
noun, but could be something "thingy" that is generated by or
concomitant to the graciousness.

Now, in Carl Conrad's earlier response, he said
> I was also questioning, philosophically whether it makes sense to say that
> God's glory can be increased by anything human beings do or whether
> humanity can "give" God something that he has in infinite abundance and
> humanity does NOT have. In a sense, and here, I think, is the real point,
> "magnifying" God is not a matter of raising God to higher stature but of
> recognizing that stature and its implications for one's own lowly stature
> and creaturely obligation.

If DOXA has thinginess but is not intrinsic to God himself, then its
quantity, or perhaps its degree of penetration, could be limited, at
least in this KOSMOS. And if so, praising God could be a way of
increasing that quantity or degree of penetration.

By way of analogy, I ordinarily think of God's graciousness (ChARIS) as
being unbounded as well. But Paul says in Rom. 5.17, "Yet where the sin
increased, the ChARIS more than overflowed." So while God's ChARIS may
be unbounded, it seems to be able to increase in a sense in particular

On the one hand, philosophically Carl may be correct, but I'm not yet
convinced that the Biblical writers themselves saw things that way.