Re: Sharp's Rule and Quasi-Proper Names

From: GregStffrd (
Date: Sat Apr 11 1998 - 20:26:32 EDT

Regarding the G. Sharp rule, with particular reference to its application in 2
Peter 1:1, the following questions came up:
      <<Can you quote the gk references produced in Stafford's book
         as evidence for excluding "quasi-proper names" from the GS
         rule? Presumably there are some from contemporary sources?
         Steven >>

Mark replied, in part:

<<You've posed two questions here. I do not have the time to type in large
amounts of text from the book "Jehovah's Witnesses Defended" to answer your
fine questions. He has 28 pages on the GS rule and six paragraphs on 2 Peter
1:1 with copious footnotes and references. I am looking at his discussion on
2Pet 1:1 and do not see anywhere I can quote him out of the context because he
has already dealt with the issue of quasi-proper names in the preceeding
subheadings. >>

I have not been able to participate on this list as often as I would like, and
this is not the best time for me to enter into a lengthy discussion of these
rather complicated issues. But, I think I can provide a general introduction
to the points made in my book, relative to G. Sharp and the issue of proper
names or the equivalents thereof.

I am not the first to exclude quasi-proper names from the G. Sharp rule.
Bishop Middleton in his monumental treatise concerning the Greek article
states, "KYRIOS I. CH. is a common title of Christ, and is often used
independently of all that precedes it." He then concludes that 2 Thessalonians
1:12 "affords no certain evidence in favor of Mr. Sharp." (Middleton, The
Doctrine of the Greek Article, 1833, pp. 381, 382) Wallace agrees with
Middleton's conclusions concerning the use of "Lord Jesus Christ," and admits
that it is "outside the pale of Sharp's principle."---D. B. Wallace, "The
Article With Multiple Substantives Connected by KAI in the New Testament:
Semantics and Significance," Ph.D. diss., DTS 1995, p. 250, note 211.

In my book I argue that, like "Lord Jesus Christ," "Christ Jesus," or even
"Christ," "Savior Jesus Christ" similarly functions as a compound proper name,
and therefore cannot be grouped together with most of the eighty-seven texts
listed by Wallace ("Multiple Substantives," Appendix, 283-288) as fitting the
requirements of Sharp's rule. Except for Jude 4 and several examples from the
writings of Peter, not one of these examples parallels 2 Peter 1:1, 2 Thess
1:12 or any of the other christologically significant passages in containing a
compound proper name in the first or second position. I believe these examples
should comprise a separate group that must be investigated and interpreted in
light of their own context and with special attention to the type and grouping
of substantives used.

Again, Most of the 87 examples listed by Wallace are article-noun-KAI-noun
constructions. Other passages, like 2 Peter 1:1, are more accurately
considered article-noun-KAI-compound name/proper name equivalent. Those that
contain compound proper names in the second position, like Jude 4, show that
it is not impossible to have such constructions apply both nouns to the same
person, but this is also true for those passages where the article is
repeated. Thus, it is a non-sequitur to argue that all Peter or Paul had to do
to separate two nouns in a GS construction was to insert the article before
the second of the two KAI-joined nouns, for examples such as John 13:13, and
perhaps even John 20:28, to which E. Foster referred, reveal that even the
repetition of the article may not have separated the two nouns from applying
to the same individual. Thus, context and an interpretation of the passages in
light of there own peculiarities is fundamental to a proper understanding of
these texts.

Getting back to 2 Peter 1:1, the use of the proper name "Jesus Christ" is
quite enough to make "Lord" or "Savior" specific, without the use of the
article. Perhaps that is why BDF, p. 145, sec. 276 (3), tells us, "SWTHROS
hHM. I. CHR. may be taken by itself and separated from the preceding."

Additional cotextual and contextual considerations provide further food for
thought. Consider these examples from 2 Peter:





>From the above comparison we can see that four out of the five articulated
nouns are the same; one is significantly different. In 2 Peter 1:1 we have
THEOS and in the other four Peter uses KYRIOS. The question I ask is, why
would Peter call Christ "God" in verse 1, but in 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, and 3:18 use
"Lord"? That he might do just that is, of course, not impossible. But he uses
"Lord" for Jesus in a number of instances. In addition to the four passages
above, he refers to Christ as KYRIOS in 1 Peter 1:3, 2:3, 13, 3:15, 2 Peter
1:2, 8, 14, 16, a total of 12 times. Yet nowhere else in his letters (let us
assume Petrine authorship for the moment) does he call Jesus THEOS. However,
when referring to the Father, Peter uses THEOS 45 times, excluding 2 Peter 1:1
(1Pe 1:2-3, 5, 21 [twice], 23; 2:4-5, 10, 12, 15-17, 19-20, 3:4-5, 17-18,
20-22; 4:2, 6, 10-11 [three times], 14, 16-17 [twice], 19; 5:2 [twice], 5-6,
10, 12; 2Pe 1:2, 17, 21; 2:4, 3:5, 12).

Thus, it is quite likely that in 2 Peter 1:1 the apostle did not repeat the
article before the second noun because the use of THEOS in the first verse
made it clear enough to his readers that he was speaking of the Father, while
the addition of "Jesus Christ" after SWTHROS would have stood on its own as a
second subject. This would give us another example of an opening reference to
both God and Jesus, which is typically made in the epistles of the New
Testament. As Karl Rahner observed: "St Paul often speaks of the Father as the
THEOS where he predicates KYRIOS of Christ; and a mention of the Father as
well as the Son is to be expected at the beginning of 2 Peter, in accordance
with the usual practice at the beginning of a letter."--Karl Rahner,
Theological Investigations, vol. 1, trans. Cornelius Ernst [Baltimore: Helicon
Press, 1961], 136.

Of course, it would appear that Peter removes all doubt as he goes on to
distinguish Christ and God in the very next verse. (2Pe 1:2) But this cannot
be used to say that he could not have called Christ THEOS in verse 1, and then
use THEOS of the Father in verse 2. However, this seems unlikely given his
preference for calling Christ "Lord," and reserving the term "God" for the
Father. And, again the second noun, "Savior," is joined to "Jesus Christ,"
creating a compound proper name, which makes it sufficiently definite to stand
on its own as a second subject, without the article.

There is much more that could be said on this subject, but I recommend that
anyone interested in the G. Sharp issue obtain Wallace's thesis, or at least
his Grammar, and consider what he has to say. Then, to round out your
understanding, read the Excursus in my book, which contains a consideration of
all relevant literature, including Wallace's thesis, and make up your own

Greg Stafford
University of Wisconsin

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