Re: DOXA (Eph. 1:6 and Luke 2:14)

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Jan 22 1997 - 09:34:42 EST

At 7:49 AM -0600 1/22/97, James H. Vellenga wrote:
>> 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
> [much very good stuff omitted]
>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.

I need to say here that I readily agree that the Biblical writers didn't
see things in the manner I expressed it, nor, I suspect, do most believers
see them thus either today. I don't think that we can dispense with
anthropomorphism in the language of worship and probably not wholly in the
language of theology--how, after all, are we to talk about what is
transcendant but in the language of our own realm of experience? However, I
think that there may well be a degree of self-deception and vagueness in
some of the way this language of "glory" is used. I do think that
worshipers endeavoring to "give God the glory" are often, in fact, giving
expression to their sense of creaturehood and servanthood rather than
actually making God in any sense greater than God is. On the other hand,
and I suspect this is the real point of the language, and perhaps it is the
point that you were trying to make last month: the endeavor to "give God
the glory" intends to enhance the discernible presence or rather the
discernment of the presence of God in our world. Perhaps that's it: our
language talks about "glory" as the discernible presence of God in our
world, but what we endeavor to do in worship--at least inasmuch as we talk
about "giving God the glory"--is to point other human beings toward
discernment of God's presence in our world and all that it implies.

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

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