Re: Another Carson Question--Sort Of

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Tue Apr 14 1998 - 11:54:59 EDT

>>---"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).

        Many instances of this construction - QEOS associated with SWTHR,
referring to one person - are available online in the Perseus website's
papyrus database. I found this very interesting resource through Micheal
Palmer's "Greek Manuscript Gateway" which may be found at the following URL:

        Besides the 7th-century papyri that Moulton cites as attesting "Jesus
Christ our God and Savior" (_Prolegomena_, p. 84), there are also many
papyri that refer to one or another of the Ptolemies and which honor these
individuals with these same tiltles. See BGU 1735 from 99 BC and BGU 1736
from 78/77 BC. Papyrus BGU 2374 from 88-81 BC begins as follows: BASILEI
PTOLOEMAIWNI QEWI SWTHRI XAIREIN. Of special interest to us, because of
its date and its reference to a Roman emperoror, is PRein 95 from 49 AD
which cites the month of August with these words, MHNOS SEBASTOU ANIKHTOU

        A search for SWTHR between 100 BC and 100 AD in the Perseus papyrus
database search engine found the references above, although locating the
pertinent hits took some sifting. It appears that the Christian writers of
the NT documents believed such titles as QEOS and SWTHR could legitimately
be used in reference to Christ, even though earthly rulers illegitimately
appropriated such titles for themselves. And it is possible that their use
in reference to these rulers provided an impetus for Christians to
contemplate their appropriateness in reference to Christ.

David Moore

David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
Southeastern Spanish District of the A/G Dept. of Education
Home Page:


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