From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Mon Apr 06 1998 - 11:43:25 EDT

At 01:12 PM 4/5/98 -0700, you wrote:

>It seems from my research as well, that Omnipotent does not
accurately convey the thought behind PANTOKRATWR. PANTOKRATWR seems to
delineate an activity or position (ONOMA) whereas Omnipotent describes
an attribute or inherent quality of Being.<

>This definition is true for the literature of the Greeks; but the
word, as used by NT writers, has been influenced by the LXX. Thus, the
common rendering of "omnipotent" is acceptable because this rightly
reflects the >LXX use of the word. After all, no one is more "potent"
than the ruler!<

The LXX translates the Hebrew words SABAOTH and EL SHADDAI as
PANTOKRATWR. The Hebrew EL SHADDAI first appears in Gen. 17:1. There
it is discussed in the context of God's BERIT' with Abraham. God's
Almightiness assures the fulfillment of the Divine BERIT' concluded
with Abraham. EL SHADDAI is faithful and holds sway over all,
therefore He can bring His covenants to fruition. Consequently, It
seems that the Hebrew EL SHADDAI is semantically equivalent to the

> In
>other words, Omnipotens seems to convey the idea that God is
>inherently All-Powerful whereas PANTOKRATWR emphasizes His supremacy
>over all creation.

>This may very well be a false dichotomy. I suspect Carl would have
insight here than I.<

I would be interested to know. Let me say for now, however, that the
differences in the two words don't just seem aspectual. In one case,
we are discussing God in se (in His Immanence); whereas in the latter
case, we are discussing something that God becomes (God's action in
the OIKONOMIA). God becomes PANTOKRATWR when he creates! He
demonstrates His role as PANTOKRATWR when he begins to rule (Rev.
19:6). God becomes hO PANTOKRATWR.

>Emil Brunner notes: "The Biblical conception means God's power over
>the whole universe; but omnipotentia means the abstract idea that "God
>can do everything" (Dogmatics, Vol. 1, p. 248). I wonder about this

>True- again- only if one is accepting the word in its greek milieu- but
>again, the writers of the NT were semites using a language filtered
>through the LXX. (except Luke, who however is still semitically

According to Wenham, EL SHADDAI has an obscure MEANING and etymology.
The LXX translates EL SHADDAI as PANTOKRATWR, the Vulgate employs
omnipotens. Keil and Deliitzsch say: "El Shaddai is the God who so
constrains nature that it does His will, and so subdues it that it
bows to and subserves grace" (Wenham 2:20). According to early Jewish
etymologizing, EL Shaddai could also denote "He who is
self-sufficient" or "the God whose power resembles an active
mountain." Now depending on how we understand EL SHADDAI and the
employment of PANTOKRATWR to render it in the LXX, will determine the
Semitic usage of All-Governing. I have yet to see in what sense the NT
writers used PANTOKRATWR differently from the usages common in Greek

>At any rate, in the context of Rev. 19:8, Babylon the Great is
>adversely judged by God and annihilated. KURIOS hO QEOS hO PANTOKRATWR
>then begins his REIGN. It seems, therefore, that PANTOKRATWR is best
>understood in Revelation 19:6 as God's supremacy over creation.
>PANTOKRATWR should therefore be translated "Almighty" or "Ruler of

>But "almighty" is simply the english equivalent of omnipotent!

Not if "omnipotent" conveys an abstract notion foreign to the writers
of the NT. :)

>Any more thoughts,

>Oh, always!!! :)

If you got the answers, I've got the questions. ;-)


E. Foster (

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