b-greek-digest V1 #875
b-greek-digest Tuesday, 26 September 1995 Volume 01 : Number 875
In this issue:
Re: Hebrews 1:8
From: David Moore <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 00:39:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Hebrews 1:8
John Albu <email@example.com> wrote:
> Hebrews 1:8, 9 is a quotation taken from Psalm 45:6, 7.
>When this entire Psalm is considered, it is evident that the king
>mentioned in verse 1 who has God's blessing is a different one
>than God himself who does the anointing, as shown in verse seven.
>However, it is mentioned in this same verse that God has anointed
>this one with the oil of exultation more than his partners. If
>the Son is the one addressed here as God, then who are the
>partners that "God, _your_ God," anointed his King-son to excel in
>his gladness? At Hebrews 1:9, when many translations read "God,
>your God, anointed you," clearly the one addressed in verse eight
>is not God, but the one who worships God and the one who is anointed
Many commentators see Ps. 45 as Messianic. For an explanation of
what this term may mean in the context of the Psalms, see Derek Kidner,
_Psalms_ (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity, 1973) vol. a, pp. 18-25. I
assume that "above his fellows" is a reference to Messiah's dignity above
others of kingly rank. On the anointing by "God, thy God," cf. Jn. 20:17
where Jesus says, "Go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to
my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Frankly, I don't see
this kind of wording as a problem relative to the deity of Christ.
> Also the context shows that the contrast between Hebrews [chapter 1]
>verses 7 and 8 is not to _essential being_ but to _function_.
If one takes into account the whole context from v. 5 through v.
13, isn't the main contrast one of the dignity and dominion of Christ as
compared to the angels. In v. 5, He is called the *Son*: in v. 6 He is
called the *Firstborn*: in vv. 8 and 9 He is called *God* in the context
of the Messianic psalms: v. 10 asserts that He is the *Creator*: and vv.
11 and 12 refer to Him as the *Eternal*, the *Everlasting*. This dominion
over all things created is expressed and summed up in v. 13 with a
portrait of the Son seated at the right hand of the Father.
> This fact is
>brought out in that Christ, and not the angels, was bestowed divine
>kingship, as stated in verses 8 and 9. Thus James Moffatt's translation
>reads at Hebrews 1:8, 9: "God is thy throne for ever and ever, and thy
>royal sceptre is the sceptre of equity; thou hast loved justice and hated
>lawlessness, therefore God, thy God, has consecrated thee with the oil
>of rejoicing beyond thy comrades."
> Commenting on Hebrews 1:8, 9, B. F. Westcott wrote in his work
>"The Epistle to the Hebrews," London, 1892, pp. 25, 26:
> "ho thronos sou ho theos...dia touto...ho theos, ho theos sou...
>It is not necessary to discuss here in detail the construction of the
>original words of the Psalm. The LXX admits of two renderings: ho theos
>can be taken as a vocative in both cases (_Thy throne, O God,...
>therefore, O God, Thy God..._) or it can be taken as the subject
>(or the predicate) in the first case (_God is Thy throne,_ or _Thy
>throne is God..._), or in apposition to ho theos sou in the second
>case (_Therefore God, even Thy God..._). The only important
>variation noted in the other Greek versions is that of Aquila, who
>gave the vocative thee [i.e. QEE] in the first clause (Hieron. _Ep._ lxv. _ad
>Princ._ 13) and, as it appears, also in the second (Field,
>_Hexapla ad loc._). It is scarcely possible that 'elohim in the
>original can be addressed to the king. The presumption therefore
>is against the belief that ho theos is a vocative in the LXX. Thus
>on the whole it seems best to adopt in the first clause the
>rendering: _God is Thy throne_ (or, _Thy throne is God_), that is,
>'Thy kingdom is founded upon God, the immovable Rock'; and to take
>ho theos as in apposition in the second clause.
> "The phrase 'God is Thy throne' is not indeed found elsewhere,
>but it is in no way more strange than Psalm lxxi. 3 _[Lord] be Thou to
>me a rock of habitation...Thou art my rock and my fortress._ Is xxvi. 4
>(R.V.) _In the LORD JEHOVAH is an everlasting rock._ Ps xc. 1 _Lord,
>Thou hast been our dwellin-place._ Ps xci. 1 _He that dwelleth in the
>secret place of the Most High..._ v. 2 _I will say of the Lord, He is my
>refuge and my fortress,_ v. 9; Deut. xxxiii. 27 _The eternal God is thy
>dwelling-place._ Comp. Is. xxii. 23.
> "For the general thought compare Zech. xii. 8. This interpretation
>is required if we adopt the reading autou for sou.
> "It is commonly supposed that the force of the quotation lies in
>the divine title (ho theos) which, as it is held, is applied to the Son.
>It seems however from the whole form of the argument to lie rather in the
>description which is given of the Son's office and endowment. The angels
>are subject to constant change, He has a dominion for ever and ever; they
>work through material powers, He--the Incarnate Son--fulfils a moral
>sovereignty and is crown with unique joy. Nor could the reader forget the
>later teaching of the Psalm on the Royal Bride and the Royal Race. In
>whatever way then ho theos be taken, the quotation establishes the
>conclusion which the writer whishes to draw as to the essential
>difference of the Son and the angels. Indeed it might appear to many that
>the direct application of the divine Name [actually divine title] to the
>Son would obscure the thought."
Brooke Foss Westcott was an eminent 19th-century scholar and
exegete, so his opinions should not be taken lightly. Nevertheless, there
are a couple of points in his exegesis of this passage that call for
comment and, IMO, call into question his conclusions.
Westcott's statement that, "It is scarcely possible that 'elohim
in the original can be addressed to the king," does not take into account
passages like Ex. 21:6; 22:7f. and Ps. 82:1, 6 in which rulers are
definitely addressed as, or referred to as 'ELOHIYM. (If Westcott is
referring to the Hebrew Grammar of Ps. 45:7 with his statement he is
mistaken. I'll assume he's talking about a perceived problem in the
theology.) These passages bring to mind the answer John ascribes to Jesus
when He is challenged about making Himself out to be God (Jn. 10:33-36).
This oversight in Westcott's reasoning places in jeopardy his conclusion
that "the presumption therefore is against the belief that ho theos is a
vocative in the LXX." Since he formulates his argument in such a way that
this conclusion rests on the premise about the use of 'ELOHIYM in
addressing to the king being "scarcely possible," his conclusion falls
with his premise.
Another matter that should be pointed out is the testimony of the
Greek version of Aquila which Westcott mentions but does not explore. The
significance of Aquila's translating 'ELOHIYM as a vocative in Ps. 45:6
(MT 7) should not be given short shrift. Given a trustworthy report by
Jerome, that a 2nd-century proselyte of strong Jewish convictions such as
Aquila should render "God" decisively in the vocative case in this passage
suggests that there may have been a strong tradition of this
interpretation even as late as that time among the Jewish community.
Aquila's interpretation may also be suggestive of how the hO QEOS of the
LXX was read by contemporaries of the writer of Hebrews.
David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God
firstname.lastname@example.org Department of Education
End of b-greek-digest V1 #875
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