Some Final Thoughts on GS

From: GregStffrd (
Date: Thu Apr 16 1998 - 17:43:24 EDT

It was not my intention to get this involved in the discussion concerning
Sharp's rule, but I will here make what I hope will be a useful and
enlightening contribution to this forum.

Before we get into the meat of Sharp's rule, there is another issue that came
up with respect to Dan Wallace's comments regarding my published discussion of
GS, Wallace's thesis, and all other relevant literature on this topic.

Most of you may recall that David McKay posted a response from Wallace that
was apparently given to him in response to McKay's inquiry about my work.
McKay said:

<< Greg Stafford wrote:
 [big snip]
  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 mind.
I was interested to find out what Dan Wallace thinks of the use of his work
 in Greg Stafford's book "Jehovah's Witnesses Defended" so I wrote to him,
 and he has given me permission to quote from his reply to me.>>>>

After asking David for Wallace's complete reply (as the portion we were given
contained several ellipses), a member on this list was told that such could
not be given. There seems to be an attempt by some to create contention among
myself and Wallace, as well as with some members on this list. Whether or not
Wallace intended for his comments to find their way here, via ellipses, is not

I respect Wallace, but I disagree with some of his conclusions on a number of
fronts, and I respectfully outline my differences with him in my book. Because
I am not particularly fond of providing a response to people through second-
or thrid-hand sources, I have copied Wallace on my reply, so that he knows how
his response has been used and is aware of what I am saying about his reply,

In the part of the reply that we all received from David McKay, Wallace

The results of Stafford's method are completely predictable ... He has
selectively quoted from my works, ignoring the accompanying data given in
many places ... His argument that "Savior Jesus Christ" is a title was dealt
with quite adequately in Murray Harris' Jesus as God, as well as my
dissertation, but Stafford ignores the arguments ...>>>>>

As I said before, I address both Harris' and Wallace's arguments on this issue
in my book (and to some degree below). So, unless he offers any specifics, I
cannot take Wallace seriously, here.

<< He fails to note, for example, that (1) no proper names are ever used in
 NT in conformity to the Granville Sharp rule, and (2) THEOS comprises the
 Single largest set of examples that DO fit the Granville Sharp rule...>>>>

It is the above assertion that made me think, "You have got to be kidding,
Wallace." That is why I titled my initial reply the way I did. I certainly
meant nothing other than to express my shock and disappointment at what I
perceived to be an utter failure to appreciate the position I have taken on
this matter involving THEOS as a proper name. In fact, I will here refer to a
footnote in my book that clearly states my position on this matter:

... "Kuehne's sole objection to this is that if CRISTOU is taken as a
_quasi_ proper name in this passage, then it should be anarthrous and in
the second position. 52

52 Kuehne, "The Greek Article," Theology 14 (June, 1974), 20. Of course,
even if this were true, the possibility would remain that QEOS, standing
in the second position, could have the force of a proper name. But there
are problems with seeing QEOS, _by itself,_ as the equivalent of a
proper name. Wallace offers several reasons why QEOS is not a _quasi_
proper name, but none are as convincing, or intriguing as 2Th 2:16. UBS4
and NA26 contain the reading, hO KURIOS hHMWN IHSOUS CRISTOS KAI [hO] QEOS hO
PATHR hHMWN ("our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father"). The article before
QEOS is enclosed in brackets, for it is lacking in B D* K
33 1175 1739 1881 and other witnesses, though it is found in `aleph* D2 F G
and others. The article also occurs before QEOS in several other
witnesses (including A I Y[Psi]), but these readings contain different
variants of hO PATHR hHMWN (see, B.M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the
Greek New Testament, 3d edition [New York: United Bible Societies,
1971], 637). If hO QEOS is the true reading, it is difficult to
understand its articularity, being in the second position, if indeed
QEOS is the equivalent of a proper name. On the other hand, if hO KURIOS
hHMWN IHSOUS CRISTOS KAI QEOS hO PATHR hHMWN is the true reading, with an
anarthrous QEOS following KAI, then several possibilities exist: 1) Jesus
Christ is identified as "God the Father"; 2) it is an exception to
Sharp's rule; 3) it is an invalid example of Sharp's rule because QEOS,
standing in the second position, has the force of a proper name; 4) the
entire phrase QEOS hO PATHR is taken together as the equivalent of a
proper name, as hO PATHR restricts the anarthrous QEOS to a person who
is everywhere in the New Testament distinguished from "our Lord Jesus
Christ" (see, for example, Ro 15:5-6; 1Co 1:3; Eph 1:3, 17); or 5) hO
KURIOS hHMWN IHSOUS CRISTOS is a compound proper name and is, therefore,
distinct from what follows. Thus, we can see that whereas some nouns _by
themselves_ may not constitute _quasi_ proper names, they may, together
with accompanying terms, be viewed independent of all that preceeds or
follow them. More will be said about this as the three other
christologically significant texts are considered."-- "Jehovah's Witnesses
Defended - An Answer to Scholars and Critics," p. 235-236, note 52, on the
discussion of Ephesians 5:5.

In Titus 2:13 I believe that THEOS, together with hO MEGAS, is a case where
THEOS has the force of a proper name, as it is a description used frequently
of Jehovah in the LXX OT. See my book for details. I also believe "Savior
Jesus Christ" does not require an article to stand on its own when it follows
KAI (see below).

The majority of examples Wallace offers for a pool of comparison do NOT have a
proper name in the second position, whether taken in apposition to the second
KAI-joined noun or not. Neither do his examples from the papyri provide any
exact parallels.

As for THEOS in 2 Peter 1:1, it does not have a proper name used in connection
with it, and I am not arguing for THEOS as a proper name in this instance.

This brings me to the issue of grammar versus theology. What I mean is best
illustrated by two posts from Dale Wheeler. All on this would surely agree
that Dale is a fine scholar who makes excellent contributions to the list, and
also does fine work in helping with computer-aided study tools, like GRAMCORD.
Recall that he made the comment, regarding GS constructions, that he is
"solely translating grammar"? But when we were discussing John 1:1 a few
months ago, Dale stated:

From: "Dale M. Wheeler" <>
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 1997 10:26:38 -0700
Subject: Re: Jn 1:1, Colwell, Nelson Stdy Bible


A final observation about theology and exegesis; personally I
really don't care what the theologians throughout history have
said about a passage anymore than I care what Carl Conrad has
said about a passage, ie., I care about both equally...they are
the learned discourse of other interpreters. Nevertheless,
theology *does* have an important bearing on how I interpret
the text, but its not systematics (which was NEVER designed for
that purpose), but Biblical Theology. There is an *internal*
theological perspective of the text (which for me extends to the
whole of the NT and OT; for some of you it would only extend to
the one document under analysis...I can't see that it makes that
much difference for this discussion), and it is that internal
theology which must be taken into account when narrowing down
the possibilities presented by the grammatical and lexical
phenomena of any given passage...unless, of course you assume
that writers are either schizophrenic, massively confused about
what they are discussing, or just too stupid to remember what
they have written on the topic elsewhere. In this case, the
question I ask myself is, does John (or any other NT writer)
refer to Jesus as "a god among many/others" or does anyone refer
to him as if he were in fact "fully divine"? If the answer to
both is negative, then I'm left with no help on that front; but
if the answer to either is affirmative, then I'm presented with
some additional help in determining what is going on in the
specific passage I'm analyzing. Such queries won't totally
solve my problem, but they, when added to the rest of the
probablistic data, tend to make one choice much more likely
that any other.


END OF QUOTE>>>>>>>>

With this in mind, in 2 Peter 1:1 we have THEOS in the first position,
by the article, followed by a KAI-joined SWTHROS IHSOU CHRISTOU. If the author
had simply written, hO THEOS KAI SWTHROS ("the God and Savior") then there
would be little keeping us from applying both nouns to the same person,
although we would still have to determine to what degree THEOS and SWTHROS may
have the force of proper names, in view of their use in NT. But with the
addition of "Jesus Christ" to SWTHROS, the reference is able to stand on its
own without the use of the article, as BDF say in their Grammar (p. 145, sec.
276 [3]). In addition, it is possible that, given Peter's preference for using
THEOS of the Father, which is a preference found throughout NT, one might
argue that THEOS functions with the force of a proper name in the first
position. If nothing else, it is certainly a title that Peter prefers to give
the Father, for when referring to the Father, he 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). But nowhere else
does he call Jesus THEOS. There is also the matter of an opening salutation to
God and Jesus, which we find in the majority of the NT epistles, and the fact
that Peter shows an overwhelming preference for calling Christ "Lord," doing
so several times in texts grammatically similar to 2 Peter 1:1.

When I approach passages like 2 Peter 1:1, I do not see article-noun-KAI-noun,
throw up my hands and say, "GS rule! Translate as referring to one person."
First, we do not have a precise parallel to the majority of GS constructions,
for the majority to not contain a compound proper name in the second position,
or a proper name used appositionally to the second KAI-joined noun. Second, I
have to consider other patterns of NT language that are just as important as
the presence of basic GS constituents, such as the author's habitual use of
language. (It is worth mentioning that most appeal to such "use of language"
when attempting to explain the LXX and Patristic examples. See my book for
details on these exceptions.) Third, I look for other patterns that might
indicate how many persons are meant. Another consideration, which was
mentioned previously, is the fact that these words occur at the opening of an
epistle. Again, in such a situation we generally find a reference to two
individuals, which seems to be confirmed in this case by the following verse
(vs. 2)!

Apparently, we all seem to agree that "Lord Jesus Christ" may be considered a
compound proper name, and it therefore exists outside the pale of Sharp's
rule. There is also the fact that when following KAI, KYRIOS has the article
only once (1Th 3:11) and this may be due to the repetition of hHMWN, while
every other time it is anarthrous (Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:3; 2Co 1:2; Ga 1:3; Eph 1:2;
6:23; Php 1:2; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1, 2, 12; Phm 3).

Sharp's rule states, in essence: When two singular nouns, of the same
grammatical case are joined by KAI, if the first noun has the article, but the
second one does not, then both nouns have the same referent. Sharp noted
several exceptions to his rule, including proper names. Since Sharp's
articulation of this rule, others have excluded numerals, generic nouns, and
made other revisions to his rule.

So, if we have, for example, hO THEOS KAI KYRIOS ("the God and Lord") we
would, according to Sharp, understand one person, not two. There are, however,
some serious problems with this reasoning, for if we were to argue that the
use of the article before KYRIOS would separate the two nouns, then what are
we to think when we see compare 2 Tim. 4:1 (TOU THEOU KAI CHRISTOU) with Rev.
20:6 (TOU THEOU KAI TOU CHRISTOU)? CHRISTOS is considered by just about
everyone to be the equivalent of a proper name, since it is almost always
restricted in its application to Jesus. That is why Ephesians 5:5 is generally
excluded from the pale of Sharp's rule, which does not apply to proper names.
But if it is a proper name, and being a proper name it is able to stand on its
own without the article, then why does it have the article in Rev. 20:6? This
is just one of the reasons why proper names, or the equivalents thereof,
should not be considered in the same group as the more simple GS
constructions, that is, those that do not include a proper name in the first
or second position. That such examples do not, in fact, conform to GS, can
best be seen from 1 Tim. 6:13, where we have TOU ZWOGONOUNTOS TA PANTA in
apposition to TOU THEOU, and TOU MARTYRHSANTOS KTL in apposition to CHRISTOU
IHSOU. This example is not considered in Wallace's Grammar of his thesis. I
had a phone conversation with him a couple years ago and I mentioned this text
to him. He looked it up and said he viewed CHRISTOU IHSOU as a proper name. He
didn't mention anything about the appositional phrase separating THEOU from
CHRISTOU IHSOU, which to me is the greatest indication that a separation is
here intended. Similarly, the restrictive force of the proper name "Jesus" or
"Jesus Christ," when used in apposition to SWTHR, must be given special
consideration, and not lumped together with other GS constructions that do not
have a similar use of a proper name.

But how do we determine whether SWTHR, KYRIOS, and other nouns are used as
part of a compound proper name in passages like 2 Thess. 1:12 and 2 Peter 1:1?
What constitutes a proper name? Some titles and descriptive terms were in use
more frequently than others during the writing of certain parts of NT, and so
we do not have as great a pool of examples for some terms as we do others, in
order to help us determine to what extent they may have functioned as proper
names. Perhaps I should not say "functioned as proper names," for some seem to
think that a genuine proper name can not be pluralized. I suppose that is true
of actual proper names (like John, Mark, or Paul), but I don't think it has
any real significance when considering whether or not a particular noun may be
used with the force of a proper name. What I mean is certain substantives in
certain "cultic" circles could carry the same "weight" as proper names, being
almost universally restricted to one individual. Such usage likely gave
certain nouns special significance, a significance that was understood and
recognized only when the noun was used of this special person.

But even with terms that are used quite frequently throughout NT, like THEOS,
there is not a universal acceptance that such terms always serve as proper
names. Still, it is not necessary for such terms to always be considered
proper names for them to be viewed as proper when used of certain individuals.
So, we might view CHRISTOS as a proper name when used of Jesus, but when used
of another person, we probably would not, unless we were part of a cultic
group who followed another leader whom we frequently referred to as CHRISTOS.

Regarding SWTHR, Alford believes"there is no doubt that SWTHR was one of those
words which gradually dropped the article and became a quasi proper name"
(Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, vol. 3, p. 420). I see the beginnings of
SWTHR being used as something similar to CHRISTOS or KYRIOS, with reference to
Jesus, but I would not embrace Alford's suggestion in toto. Harris states: "It
is not clear, however, that an appositional noun that precedes a proper name
is necessarily anarthrous. Second Timothy 1:10 has DIA THS EPIPHANEIAS TOU
SWTHROS hHMWN CHRISTOU IHSOU, while in four other passages in the Pastorals
[namely, 1Ti 2:3; Tit 1:3; 2:10; 3:4] SWTHR hHMWN is articular preceding the
anarthrous quasi-proper name THEOS" (M. J. Harris, Jesus as God, p. 182). But
none of the examples Harris gives are parallel to Titus 2:13, for only in
Titus 2:13 does "our Savior Jesus Christ" _follow_ KAI. The significance of
this can be seen in relation to the use of "Lord Jesus Christ" as it occurs
with and apart from KAI (see above).

Theological and contextual considerations must be equally considered when
translating any passage. Ironically, theological considerations are what most
appeal to when trying to explain the LXX and Patristic exceptions to GS, and
yet these exceptions have striking similarities with the christologically
significant passages in NT! See my book for details regarding the LXX and
patristic examples, and Wallace's attempts to explain them.

The bottom line is we must be careful that we are not merely looking for the
basic framework of GS, all the while neglecting additional constituents that
may have a serious impact on our understanding. We must also refrain from
giving priority to grammar in one instance, but then in other passages
emphasizing the theology of the author over the grammar.

The repetition of the article in what might otherwise be considered a GS
construction does not necessarily disconnect the two nouns joined by KAI.
Consider John 13:13 and Revelation 12:9. Neither does the use of a proper
name in the second position of a GS construction necessarily disconnect the
two nouns, as in the case of 2 Peter 1:11. In both types of constructions, we
must look at the grammatical, contextual, and theological factors in order to
properly understand and explain the meaning of the passage. We must not
perform "limited" exegesis by considering only the grammar or only the
theology of the author.

The idea behind GS is that the second of the two KAI-joined nouns needs
something to make it definite. Thus, if it does not have an article before it,
it must be governed by the article before the first KAI-joined noun. However,
in those cases where we have a proper name used in apposition to the second
noun, or used together with it as a compound proper name, which everyone
agrees is true of "Lord Jesus Christ" and "Christ Jesus," there is no reason
why we should not at least suspect something similar with regard to "Savior
Jesus Christ." This seems particularly appealing for 2 Peter 1:1, for the
passage begins a letter, and in such a situation we typically find a reference
to both God and Jesus. Peter everywhere else uses THEOS (45 times) of the
Father, and he specifically distinguishes Jesus from God in verse 2 of 2 Peter

In conclusion, I have no theological preference for translating 2 Peter 1:1 as
referring to one person or two. I have no problem with referring to Jesus as
THEOS, and I do not think Peter or any other NT author would have had a
problem doing so either, even though they seem to almost always restrict the
title to the Father. The concern I do have, which we can not discuss here, is
in what sense was Jesus considered THEOS? Was he a divine being in submission
to the Almighty? Or was he one of three persons who shared a single Godhead
Beingness? Of course, these questions are not meant to spark a discussion on
this forum, but merely to help all on the list appreciate what my position is
with respect to these and other passages of christological import.

Greg Stafford
University of Wisconsin

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