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Christ. And besides this little transposition, your rendering of 78'988 xar xupix by, 'the God and lord;' without any thing else to follow it, sounds so harsh to your own ear, that you are forced to pretend that the article sometimes has the power of a possessive pronoun, and to foist in, by way of accommodation, the word our.
The letter which the feeling philologer' has addressed to you upon this text, is chiefly occupied in attempting to get rid of Chrysostom's comment upon
passage, who explains it of two persons, and who thus, by barely giving his opinion, that the words may be so understood, ruins your whole theory of the article. I have already noticed the contents of this letter, (p. 57—60.)
Had your meaning been intended, the expression, if the writer had been careful to word his ideas so that we must understand them in that sense, should have been : ενωπιον Ιησε Χρις8 τε και θες και κυριε.
Our established version of this text is much better than your's : but I think the most obvious and the true rendering is :-“ Before the God and lord of “ Jesus Christ.”
Τα μεγαλε θεε και σωληρος ημών Ιησε Χρισε. Τit. ii. 13. In this text, Jeos is evidently a proper name.
Indeed the first and most obvious mode of understanding Jeos in the scriptures, is always to consider it as such, in whatever passage it occurs. It is only in consequence of some secondary and more remote considerations of connection, context, &c. that we can construe it as an appellative. But here the con
text pulls the other way; for it is expressly and distinctly pointed out to be a proper name, in this passage, by the nature of the adjective prefixed to it. Were we to understand it as an appellative, since appellatives are not particular, but general names, the first and obvious use and meaning of such an adjective, standing in such a connection, would be to particularise and modify the appellation, to restrain and limit its general sense to a more confined acceptation, and to distinguish, in point of greatness, the individual here described from other individuals to whom the same appellation may be given. The adjective, in this case, would denote a comparison between one god and another, and would indicate that the writer spoke of the great God, in opposition to smaller gods. And this sense of the words would so readily and naturally present itself to every reader, upon the supposition of Jeos being an appellative, or, as you term it, a noun of personal description, that every writer who had any pretensions to accuracy, would certainly guard against it, either by a transposition of the words Jesus Christ, by interposing some word of separation between the adjective and the appellative, or by some other means, if he did not mean to be so understood. But no christian writer, who admits of no God but one, much less any writer of the New Testament, could ever have such a meaning. The word geos, therefore, in this passage, cannot be an appellative, but must be used in its primary sense of a proper name: and then ó peyes Jecs will naturally mean, the great
being God, God who is great; just as we say in english, the mighty God, meaning thereby, God Almighty.
This observation would have a considerable effect upon the application of your rule to the words we are considering: but I shall not stop to notice it, because I look upon myself as having done with both rule and limitations, and therefore go on with my remarks on the text.
It appears then, from what has been said, that the text contains two proper names, God and Jesus. Each of these is attended by its appropriate description. To the one is prefixed the epithet of great, or mighty; and to the other is prefixed, in like manner and situation, the corresponding epithet of our saviour. The sentence, therefore, naturally and obviously, divides itself into two parts; and the structure, of it plainly points out two distinct and separate, beings.
But this is not all that forbids your interpretation, and convicts it of being far-fetched and unnatural. For if, according to your mode of construing, the, two nouns Jeas and owing be understood as descriptive appellations of one and the same person, then, as I have shewn you, when I investigated the nature of your general form for such expressions, the article which precedes the first noun must be supplied by ellipsis before the second. But the idiom of the language, if we would follow the natural and obvious construction, requires, that when we bring forward the article from the first noun to the second, we should also bring forward whatever intervenes
between that article and the first noun, that is, in this case, the adjective great. But that adjective is altogether inapplicable to the second noun, Saviour, and cannot be construed with it. Nay, the word saviour is never found throughout the New Testament accompanied with any adjective whatever. These two nouns, therefore, God and saviour, are not here intended to be descriptions of one and the same being
The position of nuw also militates against your interpretation. For though it may, in such a situation, be construed with both, and often is so construed, yet the most obvious and natural construction is to restrict and confine it to the noun to which it is immediately annexed, unless something forbids, or points out a different construction. And here there is nothing to forbid, but your fanciful, unfounded theory of the article.
The order of the words is likewise against your interpretation. For if the two nouns were both intended to describe the greatness of Jesus's person, it is natural to suppose the writer would rise in his description ; but here, on the contrary, he sinks. It is an anti-climax. There is also an odd mixture of a metaphysical description, God, with one that is moral, saviour.
Many other objections may be urged against your explanation of this text, such as, that the words ó Meyas 9:05, and other similar epithets and high titles of God are peculiarly characteristic of the God and father of Jesus, and are applied to him only, in the uniform language both of the sacred, and of the
carly ecclesiastical writers also, &c. &c. But for these objections I shall content myself with referring you to Clarke's Reply to Nelson, p. 85–89.*
Upon this text the compiler fears (p. 105), that he has accumulated authorities even to weariness :' an apprehension which, if you have attempted to follow him, step by step, you, I doubt not, have proved to be extremely well founded. He himself, in his character of a fecling philologer, professes to be, as he well might be, tired of amassing so much. He might have added, to so little purpose : for though in his ideal painting, all his authorities are decidedly for your interpretation, more than one half of them are, at least, neutral ; if some of them be not directly against you. For proof of this assertion, I refer you to Nos. 1-6. 8-13. 19-21. 23. 25. 28–30. 40. 42, 43. 45–49. and 53.t
* Erasmus, whose note is transcribed by your correspondent, delivers his sentiments upon this text with great candour and fairness. He is so far from contending, as you do, that it must be understood to speak of Jesus as God, that he says: Negari non potest quin sermo græcus sit ambiguus, plane anceps, imo magis pro Arianis facere videatur quam pro nobis ; though, as he observes, it has been produced by the fathers with great exultation against these impious heretics. He notices the omission of the article before the second noun, but seems to think it of little consequence. Quanquam omissus articulus facit nonnihil pro diversa sententia. Evidentius distinxisset
si dixisset xai T8 owlmpos, which I suppose every body will allow.
+ Of one of the passages in this fifth letter of your correspondent, viz. No. 52, your editor, Mr. Burgess, has given a translation in
Remarks ; but he has wrongly translated the latter part of it. He renders to de μεγας επι θεα λεγεται by, He is called great God, as if Theophylact was still speaking