From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Fri Sep 11 1998 - 11:06:14 EDT

First off, I wish to thank everyone who has responded to my question.
Your comments have certainly shed abundant light on this topic for me.

Wes Williams wrote:

>I'm not sure why we think it necessary to distinguish MAKARIOS
between man and God but for theological reasons, as Randy helpfully
posted from the
LOGOS software. We say God is loving. I see no linguistic reason why
we should not say God is also happy. It seems straightforward. Why is
more to this?<

While researching this text in both lexicons and other Biblical
literature, I found that many scholars see a need to either establish
a strict dichotomy between "blessed" and "happy" in relation to
MAKARIOS or they side with the "blessed" aspect of the word.

Unwisely (I think), Zodhiates rejects translating MAKARIOS as "happy"
for etymological reasons. Happy in his eyes, indicates a chance
occurrence. Clearly this is an example of the etymological fallacy.

Furthermore, while I think that looking back to the classical use of
MAKARIOS (i.e., Aristotle, et, al.) can be informative in this case, I
don't know that I would view the classics as normative here. The God
of the Bible differs immensely from either the Olympian or Chtonic
gods (B. Pascal). Whether that is a true statement or not, I like the
point that the Interpreter's Bible makes concerning Matt. 5:3ff:

"The Greek word rendered blessed is used in pagan literature to denote
the highest stage of happiness and well-being, such as the gods enjoy.
Here it stands for the Hebrew ASHRE^, "how happy!" as in Ps. 1:1;
32:1; 112:1" (7:280-281).

The aforementioned definition is a matter I admittedly need to do
further study on. But the question is my mind is, can the word
MAKARIOS carry both of these ideas simultaneously? Could God be both
blessed and happy? Or, could he be seen as only "happy" in the context
of 1 Tim. 1:11? This suggestion has been raised by a participant on
this list. Maybe some might consider this type of theologia,
"primitive anthropomorphism," but I personally think its an awesome
thought that hO PANTOKRATWR could be "happy" or joyful in a sense
analogous to humans.

Any other thoughts would certainly be appreciated.

Edgar Foster

Lenoir-Rhyne College

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