February 13, Those who have pre-ordered, The Sharpest Rule : A Review and Restatement of Greek s Most Tragic Rule. Publication update.

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1 February 13, 2013 To: Re: Those who have pre-ordered, The Sharpest Rule : A Review and Restatement of Greek s Most Tragic Rule. Publication update. In my two prior publication updates for The Sharpest Rule (October 31, 2011, and July 16, 2012) 1 I have summarized some of the issues and I given some examples involved in Granville Sharp s Rule and Daniel B. Wallace s Sharper Rule, as well as define what I call the Sharpest rule. Both Sharp s rule and the Sharper rule involve exceptions, ranging from plural nouns to proper nouns or names to other nouns. Yet, one example currently believed by Wallace to fit the requirements of the Sharper rule is James 3:9. But when this text s nouns are reconsidered against the actual requirements for Sharp s rule or the Sharper rule, this text should be viewed as an exception to both. This is because the nouns in James 3:9 are not common, but proper nouns, both having fixed reference to one or perhaps to two different but equally well-known, fixed persons in close association with one another, namely, the Lord (ton kyrion) and (kai) the Father (patera). While the Lord could either apply to Jesus or to the Father (though in each case it would be with a restricted, defined, and accepted meaning within the early Christian community), Father is restricted as a proper name to someone other than Jesus in the New Testament writings. So much is this accepted among Trinitarians and Christian Witnesses of Jah I will not discuss it further, here, though I do provide a complete analysis of the biblical term for F-father (and for G-god ) in The Sharpest Rule. My analysis will further show the term for F-father was most readily used and accepted for someone other than Jesus, except in a few texts which speak of Jesus and of others as F-father in a unique sense. Isaiah 9:6; John 8:39, 41; 1 Corinthians 4:15. The use of proper nouns or nouns used as names in what are otherwise often considered legitimate Sharp s rule or Sharper rule texts is not unique to James 3:9. Other New Testament examples frequently cited as legitimate examples of both Sharp s rule and the Sharper rule include Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. Yet, both of these texts also have proper nouns with fixed references, namely, God, the great God, 2 and Savior Jesus Christ, the 1 Both updates are available for viewing or for download on the Elihu Books Topical Index page under S, Sharpest rule (link: 2 Though God may stand alone as a proper noun with a fixed reference to the Father (605 out of the 616 times G-god is used for the Father in Paul s writings alone, including Hebrews), in Titus 2:13 it is modified to create a further descriptive reference for the one who was known as the great God in biblical and in related writings of the first century CE and earlier (and later). According to numerous LXX Old Testament Greek texts the great God is Jaho(h)-ah (Deuteronomy 7:21; 10:17; Nehemiah 4:14; 8:6; Psalm 76[77]:13; 85(86):10; 94[95]:3; Ezra 5:8 [2 Ezra

2 last of which even includes a proper name ( Jesus ) as a part of the fixed description, along with two other proper nouns ( Savior and Christ ) which are also fixed terms for Jesus in the New Testament (compare Acts 2:36 [ Christ ]; 1 John 4:9, 14 [ Savior ]). Hence, Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, and James 3:9, should not be considered legitimate examples of either Sharp s rule or the Sharper rule. Because of the wording and the extent of the Sharpest rule (see my July 16, 2012, update, pages 2-3), and due to the actual terms used in both Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, the Sharpest rule leaves the interpretation of these texts to the determined fixed reference(s) or signification of the nouns assessed by the reader or by the translator. Therefore, while G-god could still be applied to Jesus in Titus 2:13 and in 2 Peter 1:1 (though I believe this is unlikely in both texts), it would not be because of Sharp s rule or because of the Sharper rule but, rather, because of the Sharpest rule. In the balance of this update I want to write about the chosen, final part of the book s title (Greek s Most Tragic Rule). One way to look at the beginning and further results of Sharp s rule since the late eighteenth century until now is how we might view one aspect of Greek tragedy as defined by Aristotle, who in Poetics 1453a wrote (underlining added): [T]he result will arouse neither pity nor fear. There remains then the mean between these. This is the sort of man who is not pre-eminently virtuous and just, and yet it is through no badness or villainy of his own that he falls into the fortune, but rather through some flaw in him, he being one of those who are in high station and good fortune, like Oedipus and Thyestes and the famous men of such families as those. it must not be due to villainy but to some great flaw in such a man as we have described, or of one who is better rather than worse. 3 Sharp s rule has become like a Greek tragedy because it goes from being in a high station and good fortune, so to speak (since for over two hundred years it has been promoted as near irrefutable evidence for an important belief about Jesus), to worse. The worse is not, I believe, due to villainy but, rather, because the rule has some great flaw in its application to several New Testament texts, texts which if understood according to Sharp s in Rahlfs]; Isaiah 26:5; Jeremiah 39[32]:19; Daniel 2:45 [compare with 9:4 in Rahlfs]). See also 3 Maccabees 7:2, which uses the great God (tou' megavlou qeou'). In Philo s work On the Special Law Books (4.177) he quotes Deuteronomy 10:17-18, where the great God (oj qeov" oj mevga") is used. Compare Philo s On Dreams (1.94), the infinitely great God (tou' pavnta megavlou qeou'). More specifically, in the famous Son of God text (4Q246), which is similar to Luke 1:32-35, the great God (Aramaic: abr la) is clearly distinguished from his Son (see column 2, line 1; column 2, line 5, 7). There are even inscriptions and coins where the two terms used for the great God (abr la) are combined to form the proper name labr, Rabel (see G.A. Cooke, A Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903], page 250). The distinction between the great God and his Son is also made clear in other earlier Jewish and later Christian traditions. For example, see the use of the great God in the Sibylline Oracles (the Jewish portion of which is dated to between 30 BCE and 250 CE with the Christian portion dated to no later than 150 CE) and (dated to between 163 and 45 BCE), both of which are believed to contain Christian interpolations, showing the continued understanding of Jesus as the son of the great God, language which is very similar to 4Q Aristotle. Aristotle in 23 Volumes, W.H. Fyfe, trans., Vol. 23 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; William Heinemann Ltd., 1932), online at the Perseus Library site: 2

3 rule or the Sharper rule actually end up contradicting the very teaching Sharp and many Trinitarians since him believe these rules support, the Trinity. Further, Sharp s rule has become a highly misunderstood and frequently misused rule for over two hundred years, including by the rule s apparent founder (Sharp), and in large part since him by many others, including by many Trinitarians. 4 Therefore, instead of making clearer a New Testament teaching about Jesus or about God, the rule has increased the divide among Christians and others when it comes to Jesus, God, and the Trinity. Further, the rule s high station in use has become worse in a tragic sense due to some great flaw which has caused the rule to fall, namely, from its previously useful position to one of inconsistency in application and even to resulting contradiction in thought or belief for many of its strongest advocates. In large part, where it concerns the use of Sharp s rule in unnecessarily increasing a Christian divide, most often this has resulted from the attempted use of Sharp s rule by Trinitarians in texts which actually use proper nouns or names, or both, but not common nouns. This is also the great flaw in the rule which was not fully considered or property exposed by Sharp, or by Wallace and many others so as to exclude texts like Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, rather than include them in Sharp s canon or its kin. Wallace has certainly done more than many since Sharp to consider and discuss the flaws with Sharp s rule, even producing the Sharper rule. Still, neither of these rules has resolved all of the problems with inconsistent acceptance of proper nouns, names, and fixed terms or expressions, nor has either rule led to a Trinitarian understanding consistent with a definite use of G-god to Jesus in any Sharp or Sharper rule texts. Indeed, the present and past divide among Christians over the identities of Jesus and God is directly related to more than one understanding Trinitarians using Sharp s rule give to the biblical terms for G-god. For example, in Wallace s work, Granville Sharp s Canon and Its Kin, Professor Wallace begins with an opening part on Sharp s rule and historical issues, including a four page Preface titled, Jesus as Qeov" in the New Testament. Wallace writes in his Preface (with my underlining), Many would argue that the orthodox affirmation of the deity of Christ does not in any way depend on isolated proof texts that make this doctrine explicit. 5 It is critical to recognize this orthodox affirmation Wallace writes about means Jesus is a Person of God, not God, that is, the Trinity, or even a god, as in a separate divine being alongside of God. This special, orthodox understanding of the Greek term for G-god takes the term for G-god and converts it into an expression in concept if not in verbal or written articulation as, Person of God. Yet, this understanding for G-god is nowhere explained in the New Testament, nor is it expressly assumed in the New Testament by any writer from any prior, referenced or quoted texts (such as from the Old Testament or from other ancient, related texts). 4 See Daniel B. Wallace, Granville Sharp s Canon and Its Kin: Semantics and Significance, ed., D.A. Carson (SBG 14; New York: Peter Lang, 2009), pages Wallace, Granville Sharp s Canon and Its Kin, page 29. 3

4 This is because the understandings which Trinitarians give to G-god, whether it is G-god in John 1:1c or G-god in a Sharp s rule text like Titus 2:13, came about hundreds of years after the New Testament documents were actually written. Therefore, while an isolated proof text is not always necessary to establish a point, a belief should not contradict isolated texts or any collection of texts from the very same writings which are claimed to teach the belief in question. Yet, this is what happens with some alleged Sharp s rule/sharper rule texts and, indeed, with every New Testament text which calls Jesus Ggod definitely or indefinitely, when it comes to the Trinity. For over two hundred years a grammatical rule has been used to help establish the deity of Jesus of Nazareth as a Person of a triune God, and yet if either Sharp s rule or the Sharper rule is applied to texts like Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, it is the doctrine of the Trinity which cannot be made to stand and which is, in fact, contradicted by the use of any rule requiring the definite (or indefinite) application of G-god to Jesus (or to the Father), since there is only one God to Trinitarians, the Trinity. Therefore, in spite of much useful and instructive material brought forth and exchanged over the past two plus centuries, Sharp s rule and the Sharper rule have each been wrongly used in the debate over the question of whether the New Testament calls Jesus G-god, and even over what it means to call Jesus G-god. Instead, Sharp s rule could have been presented consistently from the start or at least at some point since Sharp long before now, with texts containing exceptions simply excepted, regardless of whether it means there will be fewer texts calling Jesus or the Word G-god. One text is enough (John 1:1). Two is a confirmation (John 1:18). Three or more validate even more a teaching for Christians (John 20:28) in the light of biblical, Judeo-Christian theism, since the biblical documents are consistent with and teach very plainly the belief in many heavenly beings in the service of God, who represent God, and who speak and who receive words as if they are God. 6 In light of the Old Testament emphasis on the right of the real firstborn, which means the beginning of one s reproductive power [LXX, children ] (Deuteronomy 21:17), who better to represent and even to be God to us than the one whose being or essence is an exact copy or image of the one God? Matthew 1:23; John 20:17; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-3. As of this update The Sharpest Rule is scheduled for release on or about May 1, 2013, possibly sooner. I am working on finalizing the content and I am also considering how much information I can include at this point from evidence in early New Testament manuscripts use of punctuation marks in some of the subject texts, without changing much of the content that is already in place. 6 In Judges 13:22 Manoah associates the majestic term God or a god (Hebrew: *elohim) with what he saw, namely, the flame ascended from off the altar heavenward and Jaho(h)-ah s angel ascend in the flame (verse 20). The LXX translates*elohim in verse 22 by using the singular theos in reference to the angel. But the angel is acting on Jah s behalf, so he may be identified as a god in this sense (compare John 1:18) or even as God, since here he is God to Manoah and to his wife with God s permission. 4

5 Otherwise, I will continue to provide updates to all of you who have pre-ordered until the book is released. By preordering you will also save on the later book cost increases and you secure your place in the shipping order. My continued best regards to you all, Greg Stafford 5

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