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

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Nov 22 1996 - 12:01:45 EST

At 9:30 AM -0600 11/22/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 11:46 AM 11/21/96 -0500, Randy Leedy wrote:
>>QEWi, on the other hand, is dative, not because of the EN, but
>>because of its own function in relation to the kernal "Glory (be)."
>>(It's not "Glory be IN God," but "Glory be TO God.") I would be
>>interested to hear some comments on how this dative should be
>>construed: is it possessive, ethical, advantage, or something else
>>that I can't think of? Unfortunately, I'm away from my grammars at
>>the moment.
>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.

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?

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

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.

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

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