googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Granville Sharp's Rule and Christologically Significant Verses

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Granville Sharp's Rule and Christologically Significant Verses

If any “rule” can exist in Koine Greek, the Granville Sharp Rule must qualify as the most contested yet most proven. Granville Sharp was the 18th century son of the Archbishop of York. He is best known for his work as an abolitionist but has left us a great legacy in his theological writings. Sharp had no formal education but, while working as a young apprentice to a London linen-draper, he taught himself Greek.

In his studies, Sharp discovered an important Greek idiom – the rule which now bears his name. He noticed that whenever an article+noun+“kai”+noun construction occurred, both nouns always referred to the same person. This construction is commonly called the “TSKS construction.” A key point to this rule is that only the first noun has the article (“the”) and the second noun is anarthrous. Additional points include that the nouns must be singular, personal, and not proper names.

The rule sounds more complicated than it really is. Here is an example in English so that you can see how the construction works: 2 Peter 2:20, “the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ σωτῆρος ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ). This short clause has the article (“the”), noun (“Lord”), kai (“and”), and noun (“Savior”). Therefore, according to Sharp's rule, both of these nouns refer to the same person. In this context, they obviously both refer to Jesus.

Here are a few more instances:

Matthew 12:22, τον τυφλον και κωφον (the blind and dumb)

2 Corinthians 1:3, ὁ Θεὸς και πατηρ (the God and Father)

Ephesians 6:21, ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἀδελφὸς και πιστος διάκονος (the beloved brother and faithful minister)

Hebrews 3:1, τον αποστολον και αρχιερεα (the Apostle and High Priest)

Revelation 16:15, ὁ γρηγορῶν καὶ τηρῶν (the one watching and keeping)

The context of these examples clearly demonstrates that both nouns in each verse are references to the same person. Setting aside textual variations, the TSKS construction occurs some 80 times in the NT and most scholars agree there are no exceptions to Sharp's rule.

Sharp's rule takes on considerable, theological significance when applied to two verses: Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. Here are the verses in the Greek:

Titus 2:13, τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ).

2 Peter 1:1, τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (our God and Savior Jesus Christ).

In both of these verses, “God” has the article and “Savior” is anarthrous so, according to Sharp's rule, they are references to the same Person. In these contexts, that Person is Jesus. Therefore, this explicitly means that Jesus is both God and Savior.

Those who deny the divinity of Christ refuse to see what should be obvious. The usual objection raised is to question the intent of the original authors: was this “rule” in the minds of the writers as they penned the New Testament? Considering the frequency where the TSKS construction appears and the large number of unambiguous examples that exist in the NT, I would say the writers understood well and precisely meant to say that Jesus is God and Savior. Indeed, where such a large number of unambiguous examples exist, to insist that these two passages are exceptions is nothing more than special pleading.


Anonymous said...

Indeed, one thing we often overlook, Who is the ultimate author of the scripture and, as such, these verses? God, Himself put these words in the minds of the authors to write down. Also, as I have read elsewhere, Grammars don't the language make. Grammars are a compilation of the discoveries of faithful people who have studied their texts and found such structures and meanings.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you'll want to get a twitter button to your website. Just bookmarked this blog, although I must do it manually. Simply my suggestion.

RKBentley said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments.

It probably would be a good idea for me to add a twitter button. Unfortunately, I don't have a twitter account. I looked at starting one but the name RKBentley is already being used by someone else so if I do start one, it will have to be under a different name than what I blog under. I'll have to think about it a little longer.

Of course, I do have an account on Facebook and I invite you to follow and friend me there.

Thanks again for visiting.

God bless!