Re: Context In Interpretation: was Sharp's Rule

From: Wes Williams (
Date: Fri Jun 28 1996 - 01:31:27 EDT

Dear David:

<< The use, by Roman emperors, of deifying names is a well documented
phenomenon. >>
Yes, and interestingly this custom even infiltrated the early church after the
death of the apostles when they started the deification of "saints," as well as
later when imperial figures rose to tremendous power, having the "authority of

<<If you were looking for an expression similar to what we find in 2Pet. 1:1, go
Moulton & Milligan, _The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament_, s.v. SWTHR.
They cite
an inscription of 48 A.D. in the city of Ephesus in which the Ephesian officials
those of other cities acclaim Julius Caesar as QEON EPIFANH KAI KOINON TOU
BIOU SWTHRA which I translate as, "God made manifest and providing saviour for
all the
necessities of human life.">>
Thank you for providing the reference. If I understand you correctly, your
inference is that modern translator should consider that both Peter and Paul
might have adopted a similar appeal to this Roman custom to persuade fellow
believers to think of Jesus in similar terms, since this was the Roman cultural
"context." I agree all such context be considered. And taking 2 Pet 1:1 or
Titus 2:13 ALONE BY ITSELF, I see how this might be persuasive. When we weigh
this on the scales with the context of Paul's habitual use of similar terms,
which way do the context scales tip?
Professor Abbot commented on context of these verses (in answer to Middleton's
arguments), from JBL and Exegesis, first number, 1882, pp. 11,12 [the very first
JBL article];
"To sum up: the reasons which makes 'the great God' a designation of Christ, are
seen, when examined, to have little or no weight; on the other hand, the
construction adopted in the common English Version [KJV] and preferred by the
American Revisers [ASV], is favored, if not required, by the [scriptural]
context; and it is imperatively demanded by a regard to Paul's use of language,
unless we arbitrarily assume here a single exception to a usage of which we have
more than 500 examples."

Wes Williams

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