Re: Another Carson Question--Sort Of

From: J. Ed Komoszewski (
Date: Sun Apr 12 1998 - 16:38:17 EDT

On Sun, 12 Apr 1998 12:13:40 -0700 (PDT) Edgar Foster
<> writes:

>---"J. Ed Komoszewski" wrote:
>> Dear Mr. Foster,
>> I do not personally see a parallel between KURIOU IHSOU XRISTOU and
>> SWTHROS IHSOU XRISTOU. Whereas the former has taken on the
>> characteristics of a proper name through repeated use in the
>> the latter is not predominant enough to warrant the same. Thus due
>> frequency of usage, I view the former as proper and the latter as
>> (since MEGAS is nowhere else used as a description of the Father in
>> New Testament, I do not view the phrase MEGALOU QEOU as proper


>I would respectfully disagree here. It is my observation that Peter is
>quite fond of calling Jesus KURIOS and SWTHR. As for MEGAS, while it
>may not be proper per se, QEOS would certainly be quasi-personal. The
>NT uses it frequently with regard to hO PATER.

Could there be a difference between Peter's fondness for calling Jesus by
the title SWTHR and incorporating the word into a proper compound name?
The sense I get from Peter's usage of SWTHR in 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2;
and 3:18 is that the word is used independently as a title, not as part
of a fixed proper name. Regarding QEOS, I guess I would say that where
it appears fixed with hO PATER it may be considered a proper compound
name akin to KURIOU IHSOU XRISTOU, but I would personally hesitate to
call it quasi-proper when it stands alone. I suppose my inclination
toward this is based upon the monadic force of the phrase QEOS hO PATER
as opposed to QEOS which can be pluralized when standing alone.

>> I also think it is important to consider work done by Moulton,
>> Harris and Wallace which argues for the idiomatic force of the
>> QEOS KAI SWTHR, thus making a separation of this combination in Tit.
>> and 2 Pet. 1:1 difficult. It is my humble opinion that this idiom
>> antedates the New Testament and always deifies one person places the
>> burden of proof on one wishing to break the construction in the New
>> Testament.


>I would be interested to examine this work you speak of. Do you have
>any Biblical examples besides the ones we've been discussing which
>demonstrate this idiomatic construction?

Moulton gives several examples of this idiom as applied to Roman emperors
in Vol. 1 of "A Grammar of New Testament Greek," p. 84. Cullmann
discusses both the form and content of this idiom in "The Christology of
the New Testament," p. 241, and Harris argues that QEOS KAI SWTHR was a
stereotyped formula used by Diaspora and Palestinian Jews in "Jesus as
God," pp. 178-79. Wallace discusses this idiom in his dissertation, pp.
254-56, and it may be helpful to consult Moehlmann's dissertation, "The
Combination Theos Soter as Explanation of the Primitive Use of Soter as
Title and Name of Jesus" (University of Michigan, 1920).

Regarding the few biblical examples of the idiomatic construction,
Wallace states in his dissertation (p. 256 n. 233): "We may conjecture
that the use of the phrase in emperor-worship was hardly an adequate
motivating factor for its use by early Christians, because such an
expression butted up against their deeply ingressed monotheism. Rather,
it was only after they came to recognize the divinity of Christ that such
a phrase became usable. This would explain both why SWTHR is used so
infrequently of Christ in the NT, and especially why hO QEOS KAI SWTHR
occurs only twice--and in two late books."


>As for scholars, it is good to note that BAGD says that the
>translating of 2 Pet. 1:1 (regarding QEOS) is questionable.
>Furthermore, E. Abbot and Winer say that there was no need for Paul to
>place an article in front of the second substantive. By using IHSOU
>CRISTOU, Paul's meaning would have been clear without such additions
>to his writings.
>alone in Tit. 2:13. He also points out that "there was no need of the
>repitition of the article to prevent ambiguity."
>Raymond Brown also says:
>>"The NT does not predicate "God" of Jesus with ANY FREQUENCY. V.
>Taylor, E.T. 73 (1961-62), 116-18, has asked whether IT EVER calls
>Jesus God, since almost every text proposed has its dificulties...Most
>of the passages suggested (John 1:1, 18, 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8; 2
>Pet. 1:1) are in hymns or doxologies--an indication that the title
>"God" was applied to Jesus more quickly in liturgical formulae than in
>narrative or epistolary literature. we are reminded again of Pliny's
>description of the Christians singing hymns to Christ as God. The
>reluctance to apply this designation to Jesus is understandable as
>of the NT heritage from Judaism. For the Jews "God" meant the heavenly
>Father; and until a wider understanding of the term. was reached, it
>COULD NOT readily be APPLIED to Jesus. This is reflected in Mark
>10:18 where Jesus refuses to be called good because ONLY GOD is
> John 20:17...Jesus calls the Father "my God"; and in Eph.
>4:5, 6 where Jesus is spoken of as "one Lord," but the Father is "one
>God." (The way that the NT approached the question of the divinity of
>Jesus was not through the title "God" but by describing his activities
>in the same way as it describes the Father's activities...)" (AB, p.
>E. Foster

I have looked carefully at both Abbott and Winer in relation to Tit. 2:13
and 2 Pet. 1:1, but I'll have to resist the temptation to enter into a
discussion of their grammatical arguments at this point. We're entering
the final few weeks of the semester here, and I'm swamped with projects
yet to be completed. Perhaps if any interest remains, we can pick up the
discussion in a few weeks.

Thanks, Mr. Foster, for your cordial dialog.


Ed Komoszewski

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