TITUS 2:13 and 2 PETER 1:1: What Is the Long-Debated Controversial Granville Sharp Rule?

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02
Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 120 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

The primary purpose of a Bible translator or translation committee is to give the Bible readers what God said by way of his human authors, not what a translator thinks God meant in its place.—Truth Matters! The primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text. The meaning of words is the responsibility of the interpreter (i.e., reader), not the translator.—Translating Truth!

Those Christians who do not have a working knowledge of Biblical Greek, know that we have taken every measure to make this article easy to understand. We have used the Greek interlinear with the English above the Greek. We have translated all of the Greek herein. We have tried to define and explain uncommon terms. the vast majority of the article will be easy to understand. The very small percentage that may be a little more difficult to understand, please just read more slowly and ponder what is being said, understanding will come to you.

Translating Truth: Titus 1:4; 2:13

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΤΟΝ 2:13 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)

 13 προσδεχόμενοιawaiting τὴνthe μακαρίανblessed ἐλπίδαhope καὶand ἐπιφάνειανappearance τῆςof the δόξηςglory τοῦof the μεγάλουgreat θεοῦGod καὶand σωτῆροςof Savior ἡμῶνof us Χριστοῦof Christ Ἰησοῦ,Jesus, 

Titus 2:13 English Standard Version (ESV)

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Titus 2:13 New International Version (NIV)

13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Titus 2:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Christ Jesus,

Titus 2:13 New American Bible (NAB)

13 as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ,

When we look at the Greek New Testament Interlinear of Titus 2:13 above, we take note that Paul’s words seem a little ambiguous, which is why the translations below are rendering the verse in two different ways. The New International Version (NIV) and English Standard Version (ESV) render it “the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” which makes the phrase about Jesus Christ alone wherein, he is called both the “great God” and “Savior.” On the other hand, the Updated American Standard Version (UASV) renders it “the glory of the great God and our Savior, Christ Jesus,” and the New American Bible has it as “the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ.” These latter translations have both God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son mentioned as two distinct persons.

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

In short, over 220 years ago, Granville Sharp, an untrained theologian but serious student of the Scriptures formulated a biblical Greek grammar rule that would become known as Sharp’s rule and supposedly, it could be applied to the construction found here in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 as well. ( τοῦof the μεγάλουgreat θεοῦGod καὶand σωτῆροςof Savior ) The rule states that since the definite article (the) does not occur before the second noun (Savior); then the two nouns (God and Savior) are referring to the same person. This would mean that the “great God” and “Savior” would both be descriptively describing Jesus Christ. The formula is ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN. More on this below.

( τοῦof the μεγάλουgreat θεοῦGod καὶand σωτῆροςof Savior )
ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN

We have two nouns connected by καί (kai, “and”), the first noun is preceded by the definite article τοῦ (tou, “of the”) and the second noun is without the definite article. (ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN) Examples of this construction in the Greek text are found in Ac 13:50; 15:22; Eph. 5:5; 2 Thess. 1:12; 1 Tim 5:21; 6:13; 2 Tim 4:1. This construction is also found in the Greek Septuagint (LXX). (e.g., Pr 24:21)

Genesis 24:21 The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament: English Interlinear

21 φοβοῦFear τὸνthe θεόν,God, υἱέ,oh son καὶand βασιλέα, καὶking and μηθετέρῳ αὐτῶνneither of them ἀπειθήσῃς·may you disobey 

(τὸνthe θεόν,God, υἱέ,oh son καὶand βασιλέα,king )
ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN

Here “God” and “king” are connected by kai “and.” The definite article occurs before the first noun only, with both nouns being in the same case, the accusative.

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Still considering Titus but now looking at chapter 1, verse 4, the ESV, CSB, and the NRSV, and almost all other Bible translations that make the phrase in Titus 2:13 all about Jesus Christ alone, wherein he is called both “great God” and “Savior,” now show a distinction in Titus 1:4.

ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΤΟΝ 1:4 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)

 4 Τίτῳto Titus γνησίῳgenuine τέκνῳchild κατὰaccording to κοινὴνcommon πίστιν·faith;

χάριςgrace καὶand εἰρήνηpeace ἀπὸfrom θεοῦGod πατρὸςFather καὶand Χριστοῦof Christ ἸησοῦJesus τοῦof the σωτῆροςSavior ἡμῶν.of us.

Titus 1:4 English Standard Version (ESV)

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

 

Titus 1:4 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

To Titus, my true son in our common faith. Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

 

Titus 1:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

 

Titus 1:4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

To Titus, my loyal child in the faith we share: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

 

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2

Translating Truth 2 Peter 1:1 and 1:2

ΠΕΤΡΟΥ Β΄ 1:1 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)

ΣίμωνSimon ΠέτροςPeter δοῦλοςslave καὶand ἀπόστολοςapostle Ἰησοῦof Jesus ΧριστοῦChrist τοῖςto the (ones)  ἰσότιμονequal value ἡμῖνwith us λαχοῦσινhaving obtained) πίστινfaith ἐνby δικαιοσύνῃrighteousness τοῦof the θεοῦGod ἡμῶνof us καὶand σωτῆροςof Savior ἸησοῦJesus Χριστοῦ·Christ;

( τοῦof the θεοῦGod ἡμῶνof us καὶand σωτῆροςof Savior )
ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN

2 Peter 1:1 English Standard Version (ESV)

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

 

 

2 Peter 1:1 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Simeon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have received a faith equal to ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

2 Peter 1:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Simon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have acquired a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ:

 

 

 

2 Peter 1:1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: [c]

[c] Or of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ

Above in our Greek text, the apostle Peter refers to “the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” according to the ESV, the CSB, and the NRSV. However, the UASV reads of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ, which the NRSV has as a footnote alternative.

However, still considering 2 Peter chapter 1 but now looking at the very next verse, verse 2, the ESV, CSB, and the NRSV and almost all other Bible translations, which makes the phrase in verse 1 all about Jesus Christ alone, wherein he is called both “God” and “Savior,” now show a distinction in verse 2. They did this even though the grammatical construction verse both verse 1 and verse 2 are identical (not the words).

ΠΕΤΡΟΥ Β΄ 1:2 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)

2 χάριςgrace ὑμῖνto you καὶand εἰρήνηpeace πληθυνθείηmay (it) be multiplied ἐνin ἐπιγνώσειaccurate knowledge τοῦof the θεοῦGod καὶand Ἰησοῦof Jesus τοῦthe κυρίουLord ἡμῶν,of us, 

( τοῦof the θεοῦGod καὶand Ἰησοῦof Jesus τοῦthe κυρίουLord )
ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN

2 Peter 1:2 English Standard Version (ESV)

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

 

2 Peter 1:2 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

 

2 Peter 1:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the accurate knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;

 

2 Peter 1:2 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

2 May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

 

With the grammatical construction (not the words) being identical, there is no good explanation for them being translated two different ways. So, herein the ESV, the CSB, the NRSV, and the UASV, we have “of God and of Jesus our Lord in verse 2 but in verse 1 we have “of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” in the ESV, the CSB, the NRSV but only the UASV remains consistent with “of God and of Jesus our Lord.” In our English grammar, we would place a definite article before the common noun Savior (the Savior) but not before a proper noun, Jesus. While this is true of English grammar, it is not true of Greek grammar.

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

Again, we return to Granville Sharp’s grammar rule that has been around since 1798 (dates from here forward are important), which has been used to justify the renderings for Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 in almost all translations. In a little more detail, the rule goes something like this, when there are two nouns of the same form (case) connected by “and” (καὶ) and the article comes before only the first noun, the nouns are recognized as referring to the same person when the construction meets three requirements. In other words, the second noun refers to the person as the first noun when (1) neither of them are impersonal, (2) neither is plural and (3) neither is a proper name. On this, David Alan Black writes,

The Granville Sharp Rule states that if a single article links two or more singular substantives, the second and subsequent substantives further describe the first. first.[2] Compare, for example, προσδεχομενοι την μακαριαν ελπιδα και επιφανειαν της δοξης του μεγαλου θεου και σωτηρος ημων χριστου ιησου, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearance in glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Thus, “the blessed hope” is “the appearance in glory,” and “our great God and Savior” is “Jesus Christ.” Note that Sharp’s rule does not apply to personal names: τον πετρον και ιακωβον και ιωαννην τον αδελφον αυτου, “Peter and James and John, his brother” (Matt. 17:1). Nor does it apply to plurals: τινες των γραμματεων και φαρισαιων, “some of the scribes and Pharisees” (Matt. 12:38).[1]

If we dig beneath the surface of this Granville Sharp Rule what will we find? Remember, the truth matters and we are about translating truth. The translation of God’s Word from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek is a task unlike any other and should never be taken lightly. It carries with it the heaviest responsibility: the translator renders God’s thoughts into a modern language. Ponder the idea that we have a grammar rule with three exceptions. Are the exceptions tagged on later because they would negate the idea of such a rule?

Daniel B. Wallace writes, “Thayer’s lexicon, published in 1886, was consequently outdated shortly after it came off the press—yet, ironically, it is still relied on today by many NT students.”[2] Why? We must first remember that Sharp formulated or discovered his famous Sharp Rule in 1798. Hermann Cremer shortly thereafter (1834-1903), called the Greek of the New Testament “Holy Ghost Greek.” One online author makes the important observation, “Prior to the discovery of the papyri, it may have been possible to think of the Greek of the New Testament as a specialized ‘Holy Ghost’ language. But thanks to Adolf Deissmann’s efforts, it is now universally acknowledged that this is not at all the case and that the essential linguistic structure of New Testament Greek is no different from ordinary Koine Greek.”[3]

Philip Comfort tells us briefly of the great discovery among the garbage heaps in Egypt, “Beginning in 1898 [100 years after Sharp formulate his rule] Grenfell and Hunt discovered thousands of papyrus fragments in the ancient rubbish heaps of Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. This site yielded volumes of papyrus fragments containing all sorts of written material (literature, business and legal contracts, letters, etc.), together with biblical manuscripts. Nearly half of the 115 New Testament papyri have come from Oxyrhynchus. The Oxyrhynchus papyri were discovered between 1898 and 1907 by Grenfell and Hunt and then by the Italian exploration society from 1910 to 1913 and 1927 to 1934.”[4] In the end, the documents discover number 500,000 or more. This would forever change our understanding of Biblical Geek. This too is why Thayer’s lexicon became dated so quickly. We now return to Wallace,

In 1863, J. B. Lightfoot anticipated the great discoveries of papyri parallels when he said, “If we could only recover letters that ordinary people wrote to each other without any thought of being literary, we should have the greatest possible help for the understanding of the language of the NT generally.”

Thirty-two years later, in 1895, Adolf Deissmann published his Bibelstudien-an innocently titled work that was to revolutionize the study of the NT. In this work (later translated into English under the title Bible Studies) Deissmann showed that the Greek of the NT was not a language invented by the Holy Spirit (Hermann Cremer had called it “Holy Ghost Greek,” largely because 10 percent of its vocabulary had no secular parallels).

Deissmann demonstrated that the vast bulk of NT vocabulary was to be found in the papyri. The pragmatic effect of Deissmann’s work was to render obsolete virtually all lexica and lexical commentaries written before the turn of the century. (Thayer’s lexicon, published in 1886, was consequently outdated shortly after it came off the press—yet, ironically, it is still relied on today by many NT students).

James Hope Moulton took up Deissmann’s mantle and demonstrated parallels in syntax and morphology between the NT and the papyri. In essence, what Deissmann did for lexicography, Moulton did for grammar. He noted that some previously unparalleled NT constructions were found in the papyri (e.g., instrumental ἐν).[5]

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

When Granville Sharp formulated his rule in 1798 he stated that the rule only applies to titles, not personal names. This would explain why he cited Titus 2:13 but not Titus 1:4, as well as 2 Peter 1:1 but not 2 Peter 1:2. Since the days of Sharp, the rule has had to be modified even further with even more exceptions because it was too broad. Thus, Sharp’s rule is only applicable when (1) neither of the nouns joined by “and” (και) are impersonal, (2) neither is plural and (3) neither is a proper name. In some ways, it begins to appear as though one might have looked at the construction of Titus and maybe even 2 Peter 1:1 and then went to look for the same construction elsewhere that would give them justification for the rendering they desired. When the broad rule was found to be too broad, others began adding exceptions to it.

What is being ignored here is, Sharp developed his rule during the era where language scholars believed in Holy Ghost Greek, i.e., that the New Testament Greek was a special Greek given by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Sharp had no reason to look outside of the Greek New Testament. Really, for Sharp, there would not have been the mountains of the first three centuries of papyri that we have today, so no fault lies with Granville Sharp. For a century now, we have known that the Authors of the New Testament did not have their own special New Testament Greek, with its special rules. Rather, the authors were using the same Koine (common) Greek linguistic and literary environment. If we want to establish a “rule” of Greek grammar and syntax that isn’t merely a fluke, we must go outside of the small sample of the first century Greek.

A Grammar of New Testament Greek (Moulton-Turner, 1963) states, “One must look critically at the common view that in Ti 2:13 we have two clauses in apposition: τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ [sc. τοῦ] σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰ.Χ. The same is true of 2 Pt 1:1 τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ [sc. τοῦ] Ἰ.Χ. (S κυρίου for θεοῦ). In Hell., and indeed for practical purposes in class[ical] Greek the repetition of the art[icle] was not strictly necessary to ensure that the items be considered separately.”[6]

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

Dr. Nigel Turner states:

Another controversial passage is Tit. 2:13, wherein its text the N.E.B. happily adopts the entirely natural translation, “our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” This way of reading the Greek has the support of most of the early Greek fathers as well as great names in more recent times: Ellicott, Bernard Weiss, Christopher Wordsworth, and R.V. (text). The celebrated Greek father, St. John Damascene, for instance, discussing the title Theotokos, explains that to give Jesus the title of God is by no means to ignore his humanity. Anyone born of Mary must be a man. But what the title involves is simply and starkly the deification of humanity. At that moment, a man becomes God. What says the writer to Titus? According to the A.V., which follows the Vulgate closely, he does not say that Christ is God. He distinguishes them. Grammatically it might all seem to depend on the Greek definite article. There is only one article, and that is at the beginning of the phrase “God and Saviour”; it seems thus to join the two nouns closely together and to exclude the possibility of a distinction such as “God and the Saviour.” Unfortunately, at this period of Greek we cannot be sure that such a rule is really decisive. Sometimes the definite article is repeated even where there is clearly a separation in idea. “The repetition of the article was not strictly necessary to ensure that the items be considered separately,” Nevertheless, if there be ambiguity, as there is here, correct grammatical principles ought to be decisive.[7] [Bold and underline mine]

While we have two of the most respected Greek New Testament commentaries and two highly regarded grammarians being completely honest with us that  “the repetition of the art[icle] was not strictly necessary to ensure that the items be considered separately.” As far as Sharp’s rule’ it is admitted: “Unfortunately, at this period of Greek we cannot be sure that such a rule is really decisive.” Moreover, “if there be ambiguity, as there is here, correct grammatical principles ought to be decisive.” Yet, both grammars and grammarians then reach into the hemisphere of wishful thinking because of their heart motive of wanting the text to say something that it does not. Nigel Turner muses, “Moreover, there are other considerations besides the grammatical. ‘God and Saviour’ was in fact a phrase in use at this period and applied to the Roman emperors. What more natural than that Christians should have appropriated it on behalf of their own Lord Jesus, their only potentate, their lord of lords, their king of kings?”[8] James Hope Moulton and Nigel Turner ponder, “The relevant consideration on the other side is that the phrase God and Saviour in contemporary language referred to only one person, c. A.D. 100. Moreover, the art. could have been repeated to avoid misunderstanding if separate individuals had been intended.”[9] There seems to be a reluctance to let the grammar speak for itself. Before looking at another source, let us be honest at this point. Knowing the apostle Paul’s letters, it is utterly unthinkable to even fathom that he could have called Jesus Christ “the great God.” Another piece of honesty, at this point, is the fact, in our examples above, in this construction, the definite article occurs before the first noun, but it is not necessary before the second noun, so it was omitted.

INVESTIGATING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation

G. B. Winer, whom grammarian, textual scholar Daniel B. Wallace called, “the great NT grammarian of the nineteenth century,”[10] wrote:

In Tit. 2:13, ἐπιφάνεια τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, considerations derived from Paul’s system of doctrine lead me to believe that σωτῆρος is not a second predicate, co-ordinate with θεοῦ,—Christ being first called ὁ μέγας θεός, and then σωτήρ. The article is omitted before σωτῆρος, because this word is defined by the genitive ἡμῶν, and because the apposition precedes the proper name: of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ.[*] Similarly in 2 P. 1:1, where there is not even a pronoun with σωτῆρος. So also in Jude 4 we might suppose two different subjects to be referred to, for κύριος, being defined by ἡμῶν, does not need the article: κύρ. ἡμῶν Ἰης. Χρ. is equivalent to Ἰης. Χρ. ὅς ἐστι κύριος ἡμῶν. (In 2 Th. 1:12 we have simply an instance of κύριος for ὁ κύριος.)

[*] In the above remarks it was not my intention to deny that, in point of grammar, σωτῆρος ἡμῶν may be regarded as a second predicate, jointly depending on the article τοῦ; but the dogmatic conviction derived from Paul’s writings that this apostle cannot have called Christ the great God induced me to show that there is no grammatical obstacle to our taking the clause καὶ σωι … Χριστοῦ by itself, as referring to a second subject. As the anonymous writer in Tholuck’s Lit. Anz. (1837, No. 5) has not proved that my explanation of this passage would require a second article before σωτῆρος (the parallels adduced are moreover dissimilar, see Fritz. Rom. II. 268), and still less that to call Christ ὁ μέγας θεός would harmonise with Paul’s view of the relation of Christ to God, I adhere to the opinion expressed above. Any unprejudiced mind will at once perceive that such examples as are adduced in § 19. 2[**] prove that the article was not required with σωτῆρος, and the question whether σωτήρ is elsewhere applied to God is nothing to the purpose. It is sufficient that σωτὴρ ἡμῶν, our Saviour, is a perfectly definite predicate,—as truly so as “his face:” πρόσωπον indeed is applied to many more individuals than σωτήρ is! The words on p. 38, “If σωτὴρ ἡμῶν were used in the N. T. of one definite individual only, etc.,” contain an arbitrary assumption. Matthies has contributed nothing decisive towards the settlement of the dispute. [This passage is very carefully examined by Ellicott and Alford in loc.; and though these writers come to different conclusions (the latter agreeing with Winer, the former rendering the words, “of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”), they are entirely agreed as to the admissibility of both renderings in point of grammar. See also Green, Gr. p. 75, Scholefield, Hints, Middleton p. 393 sq.]

[**] 19.2. (b) The article is often omitted with a noun that is followed by a genitive which indicates the singly existing object as belonging to this individual4. Thus Mt. 17:6, ἔπεσον ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὑτῶν· comp. 26:39 (Is. 49:23, ἐπὶ πρόσωπον τῆς γῆς; contrast Mt. 26:67, εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ· Rev 7:11), L. 1:51, ἐν βραχίονι αὑτοῦ· Rom. 1:1, εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ (where Rückert still raises needless difficulties), E. 1:20, ἐν δεξιᾷ αὑτοῦ (H. 1:3, Mt. 20:21), L. 19:42, ἐκρύβη ἀπὸ ὀφθαλῶν σου· 1 C. 2:16, τίς γὰρ ἔγνω νοῦν κυρίου; 1 P. 3:12, 20, Ja. 1:26, Mk. 8:3, 13:27, Rom. 1:20, 2:5, L. 1:5, 2:4, 11, 13:19, 19:13, H. 12:2, 1 C. 10:21, 12:27, 16:15, Ph. 2:16, 4:3, E. 1:4, 6, 12, 4:30, 1 Th. 5:8, 2 Th. 1:9, 2 Th. 2:2, 2 P. 2:6, 3:10, Jude 6 (A. 8:5), al. This is a very common usage in the LXX: 1 S. 1:3, 7, 4:6, 5:2, Ex. 3:11, 9:22, 17:1, Cant. 5:1, 8:2, Judith 2:7, 14, 3:3, 9, 4:11, 5:8, 6:20, 1 Macc. 2:50, 5:66, 3 (1) Esdr. 1:26. But in 1 C. 4:14, ὡς τέκνα μου ἀγαπητά, the article was necessarily omitted, since the Corinthians were not the only beloved children of Paul: in L. 15:29, οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον, the meaning is a command of thine; and A. 1:8, λήψεσθε δύναμιν ἐπελθόντος τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. must be rendered, Ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost shall have come down.[11]

In Herbert Weir Smyth’s A Greek Grammar for Colleges, the most thorough one-volume Greek grammar at 784 pages, we find no “sharp Rule” at all. However, we find several rules that may be of the pattern sharp thought he discovered. “A single article, used with the first of two or more nouns connected by and, produces the effect of a single notion: οἱ στρατηγοὶ καὶ λοχᾱγοί the generals and captains (the commanding officers) X. A. 2. 2. 8, τᾱ̀ς μεγίστᾱς καὶ ἐλαχίστᾱς ναῦς the largest and the smallest ships (the whole fleet) T. 1. 10, ἡ τῶν πολλῶν διαβολή τε καὶ φθόνος the calumniation and envy of the multitude P. A. 28 a.”[12]  Here we have a rule that sounds very similar to Sharp’s Rule and Smyth goes on to give us two examples of what he meant by “a single notion.” When we look at the two examples of nouns joined by “and” (και), they are not referring to the same thing or person (the generals and captains/the largest and the smallest ships). Thus, so, the construction of article-noun-“and” (και)-noun can combine persons or things into a larger whole: generals and captains (commanding officers) and the largest ships and smaller ships (fleet), but it does not necessarily make two or more things or persons the same thing or same person.

Smyth goes on to further explain 1144, “A repeated article lays stress on each word: ὁ Θρᾷξ καὶ ὁ βάρβαρος the Thracian and the barbarian D. 23. 132 (here the subject remains the same), οἱ στρατηγοὶ καὶ οἱ λοχᾱγοί the generals and the captains X. A. 7. 1. 13.”[13] What Smyth is saying is if the author wants to stress (distinguish) each word that has been joined by “and” (καὶ), he will use a definite article before each word. However, when the two things or persons being spoken of are a part of a wide-ranging unified whole, the second article is not necessary. When considering more than the New Testament Greek of the first century Smyth gives us another rule that can explain why the definite article need not be used before “Savior” at Titus 2:13 in 1129, “Words denoting persons, when they are used of a class, may omit the article. So ἄνθρωπος, στρατηγός, θεός divinity, god (ὁ θεός the particular god). Thus, πάντων μέτρον ἄνθρωπός ἐστιν man is the measure of all things P. Th. 178 b.”[14] Here Smyth gives us the examples of “man,” “soldier,” and “god.” This perfectly matches our missing article before “Savior.” We should also consider 1140, “Several appellatives, treated like proper names, may omit the article: βασιλεύς the king of Persia (ὁ βασιλεύς is anaphoric (1120 b) or refers expressly to a definite person). Titles of official persons: πρυτάνεις the Prytans, στρατηγοί the Generals. Names of relationship, etc.: πατήρ father, ἀνήρ husband, γυνή wife (but the article is needed when a definite individual is spoken of). Thus: ἧκον δὲ τῷ μὲν μήτηρ, τῷ δὲ γυνὴ καὶ παῖδες to one there came his mother, to another his wife and children And. 1. 48. So also πατρίς fatherland.”[15] An example used by Smyth is “king” which would certainly align with “Savior.”

Grammarian and New Testament textual scholar Daniel B. Wallace support Sharp’s Rule and offers a defense for it. Wallace makes the following observations about Granville Sharp, “Though untrained theologically, he was a student of the scriptures. His strong belief in Christ’s deity led him to study the Bible in the original in order to defend more ably that belief. Through such motivation he became a relatively good linguist, able to handle both the Greek and Hebrew texts. As he studied the scriptures in the original, he noticed a certain pattern, viz., when the construction article-substantive-καί-substantive (TSKS) involved personal nouns which were singular and not proper names, they always referred to the same person. He noticed further that such a rule applied, in several texts to the deity of Jesus Christ.”[16] (Bold and underline are mine) Earlier we intimated that Sharp had a motivation behind his Rule. Did sharp discover a constant grammatical construction and then notice that it just so happened to be applicable in texts dealing with the deity of Christ, or did he take note of Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 and then go looking for a grammatical construction to support his premise. When we look at Wallace’s description of the man, it makes us wonder. Then, when we consider the title of Sharp’s book, it only strengthens our concern. In 1798, Sharp published the title, Remarks on the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament, Containing Many New Proofs of the Divinity of Christ, from Passages Which Are Wrongly Translated in the Common English Version. (Bold mine) It is similar to the Moulton and Turner above, where both grammarians give us valid reasons why ‘the second article was not necessary in order to consider them separately’ and that ‘Sharp’s rule is not decisive in the first-century period of Koine Greek,’ who then reach into the hemisphere of wishful thinking because of their heart motive of wanting the text to say something that it does not.

HOWEVER, Wallace claims that this rule is often too broadly applied. “Sharp’s rule Number 1” does not always work with plural forms of personal titles. Instead, a phrase that follows the form article-noun-“and”-noun, when the nouns involved are plurals, can involve two entirely distinct groups, two overlapping groups, two groups of which is one a subset of the other, or two identical groups. [Wallace 1983, pp. 72–78] In other words, the rule is of very specific and limited application.

Of Granville Sharp’s most successful critic, Calvin Winstanley, Wallace says:

“Winstanley conceded ‘There are, you say, no exceptions, in the New Testament, to your rule; that is, I suppose, unless these particular texts [i.e. the ones Sharp used to adduce Christ’s deity] be such … it is nothing surprising to find all these particular texts in question appearing as the exceptions to your rule, and the sole exceptions … in the New Testament’ [Winstanley, Calvin (1819) (2nd ed.). pp. 39–40.] – an obvious concession that he could find no exceptions save for the ones he supposed exist in the christologically pregnant texts.” [Wallace, Daniel B. (1997). Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. p. 273, n.50.]

What Wallace neglects by use of ellipses (…) is the flow of Winstanley’s argument, as well as the character of his theology. [Winstanley passim] Winstanley’s quote argued that one could not apply Sharp’s rule to the possible exceptions unless it could be shown that extra-biblical literature also followed Sharp’s rule. Through multiple examples Winstanley showed that in classical Greek and in patristic Greek – all the literature surrounding the New Testament, the rule simply did not apply consistently. Wallace’s quote comes from the end of Winstanley’s argument, in which he clearly is not conceding the point. To complete Winstanley’s argument:

“There are, you say, no exceptions, in the New Testament, to your rule; that is, I suppose, unless these particular texts be such; which you think utterly improbable. You would argue, then, that if these texts were exceptions, there would be more. I do not perceive any great weight in this hypothetical reasoning. But, however plausible it may appear, the reply is at hand. There are no other words so likely to yield exceptions; because there are no other words, between which the insertion of the copulative, would effect so remarkable a deviation from the established form of constructing them to express one person; and of course, would so pointedly suggest a difference of signification.” [Winstanley, p. 39]

Winstanley was Trinitarian but cautioned that a rule that held true only in the New Testament in all but the disputed cases was too flimsy a ground on which to try to prove the divinity of Christ to the Socinians (Unitarians). Instead he said, “[I think] there are much more cogent arguments in reserve, when [Sharp’s] rule of interpretation shall be abandoned.”[ Winstanley, p. 42] His biggest criticisms of Sharp’s rule rest in the fact that 1) the early church fathers do not follow it and 2) the early church fathers never invoked this rule to prove the divinity of Christ (though it would have been an obvious tool against such heresy). He concludes, “Hence it may be presumed that the doctrine then rested on other grounds.” [Winstanley, p. 43]

However, just because Wallace exaggerates Winstanley’s concession does not mean that he has no evidence to refute Winstanley. Wallace argues that, for various reasons, the only two passages from Granville’s eight that truly follow Sharp’s rule (for textual reasons, among others) are Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1.[26] Wallace interacts in depth with Winstanley’s critiques of Sharp and shows from grammatical, textual, linguistic, and Patristic evidence that Sharp’s rule is truly valid across Classical, Biblical, Papyrological, and Patristic Greek – with some slight modification to the rules. [Sharp Redivivus by Wallace] Here is how Wallace restates the issue:

“In native Greek constructions (i.e., not translation Greek), when a single article modifies two substantives connected by καί (thus, article-substantive-καί-substantive), when both substantives are (1) singular (both grammatically and semantically), (2) personal, (3) and common nouns (not proper names or ordinals), they have the same referent.”

ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 21:12 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)

12 ΚαὶAnd εἰσῆλθενwent in ἸησοῦςJesus εἰςinto τὸthe ἱερόν,temple, καὶand ἐξέβαλενthrew out πάνταςall τοὺςthe (ones) πωλοῦνταςselling καὶand ἀγοράζονταςbuying ἐνin τῷthe ἱερῷtemple καὶand τὰςthe τραπέζαςtables τῶνof the κολλυβιστῶνmoney changers κατέστρεψενhe turned over καὶand τὰςthe καθέδραςseats τῶνof the (ones) πωλούντωνselling τὰςthe περιστεράς,doves,

The formula is ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN.

( τοὺςthe (ones) πωλοῦνταςselling καὶand ἀγοράζονταςbuying )
ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN

We have two nouns connected by καί (kai, “and”), the first noun is preceded by the definite article τοὺς (tous, “the ones”) and the second noun is without the definite article. (ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN) In this construction, the definite article occurs before the first noun (the sellers), but it is not necessary before the second noun (the buyers), so it was omitted. On this Dr. Ezra Abbot writes on page 452, “Take an example from the New Testament. In Matt. xxi. 12 we read that Jesus ‘cast out all those that were selling and buying in the temple,’ τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ ἀγοράζοντας [tous po·lounʹtas kai a·go·raʹzon·tas]. No one can reasonably suppose that the same persons are here described as both selling and buying. In Mark the two classes are made distinct by the insertion of τούς before ἀγοράζοντας; here it is safely left to the intelligence of the reader to distinguish them. In the case before us [Tit 2:13], the omission of the article before σωτῆρος [so·teʹros] seems to me to present no difficulty,—not because σωτῆρος is made sufficiently definite by the addition of ἡμῶν [he·monʹ] (Winer), for, since God as well as Christ is often called “our Saviour,” ἡ δόξα τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν [he doʹxa tou me·gaʹlou The·ouʹ kai so·teʹros he·monʹ], standing alone, would most naturally be understood of one subject, namely, God, the Father; but the addition of Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ to σωτῆρος ἡμῶν [I·e·souʹ Khri·stouʹ to so·teʹros he·monʹ] changes the case entirely, restricting the σωτῆρος ἡμῶν to a person or being who, according to Paul’s habitual use of language, is distinguished from the person or being whom he designates as ὁ θεός [ho The·osʹ], so that there was no need of the repetition of the article to prevent ambiguity. So in 2 Thess. i. 12, the expression κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου [ka·taʹ ten khaʹrin tou The·ouʹ he·monʹ kai ky·riʹou] would naturally be understood of one subject, and the article would be required before κυρίου if two were intended; but the simple addition of Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ to κυρίου [I·e·souʹ Khri·stouʹ to ky·riʹou] makes the reference to the two distinct subjects clear without the insertion of the article.”[17]

Grammarian and textual scholar Dr. Daniel B. Wallace seems to have been highly invested in the defense of Granville Sharp and his rule (ARTICLE + NOUN + “and” (καὶ) + NOUN), the nouns are recognized as referring to the same person when the construction meets three requirements. In other words, the second noun refers to the person as the first noun when (1) neither of them are impersonal, (2) neither is plural and (3) neither is a proper name. Of Course, Ezra Abbot’s example is negated by the plural exception. On this Daniel Wallace says Abbot’s example fails because the “plural substantives are involved; and (2) he [Abbot] argues that English syntax is wholly analogous to Greek with reference to Sharp’s rule.”[18] Wallace further defends Sharp’s Rule on the bible.org website, stating “Granville Sharp is widely known in evangelical circles for his famous Greek rule which has been used to defend the deity of Christ in various NT passages.” (bold mine) This same motivating factor keeps coming to light. Is it that Ezra Abbot got it wrong and misunderstood or that we have a vague pattern that was developed for a sole purpose and then the exceptions to the rule followed because they got in the way of ‘defending the deity of Christ.’ In an entire book dedicated to Granville Sharp, chapter 2, titled Two Centuries of Misunderstanding, Wallace begins by informing his readers that “A. T. Robertson named George Benedict Winer as the catalyst behind the neglect of Sharp’s canon in application to Christological significant texts.” (Granville Sharp’s Canon and Its Kin: Semantics and Significance, Wallace, 69) Wallace would have us believe that numerous leading Greek grammarians for the past 140 years have all misconstrued (misinterpreted) Sharp’s Rule (Abbot, Turner, Moulton, Danna, Mantey, to mention just a few of the great ones). The problem that this author has is, you have a supposed rule that is not absolute until you discover all of the exceptions; then, the rule is stated as an absolute except when (1) neither of them are impersonal, (2) neither is plural and (3) neither is a proper name.

Lastly, let us simply say that God does not need our help in developing Bible doctrines. Thus, translators should render verses as they should be and textual scholars should follow the external an internal evidence as opposed to following their desired outcome. In the history of copying the New Testament manuscripts, some copyists took liberties with the text to strengthen doctrine and so it is true of Bible translators, translation committees, and the publishers of these Bibles. The vast majority of Bible translations have been guilty of a little theological bias, as no imperfect human can escape it entirely, but some translations have been far more guilty than others. Let us state clearly here that theological bias is not evil per se, it is a desire that can go unnoticed as it conceals itself because the person sees themselves as they likely are, honest-hearted researchers, seeking the truth. It becomes problematic, more intentional, though, when the textual scholar or the translator ignores the evidence or minimizes the evidence for the sake of their desired outcome. For example, say we have a particular grammar rule that is absolute, which shows up numerous times in a Gospel for example and in every verse but one the translator is faithful to that rule. Now, the obe verse where the translator chose to ignore the grammar rule he has been faithfully obeying, it is verse with enormous theological baggage. The translator may think he is defending the faith, the Word of God, while the objective outside observer may see it as it is, theological bias.

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[1] David Alan Black, It’s Still Greek to Me (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 1998), location 1587 Kindle Edition.

[2] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 25.

[3] Retrieved Saturday, August 3, 2019

https://upper-register.typepad.com/blog/2009/08/hermann-cremers-reply-to-harnack.html

[4] Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 57.

[5] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 25.

[6] James Hope Moulton and Nigel Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Syntax., vol. 3 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1963–), 181.

[7] Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1966), 15–16.

[8] Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1966), 16.

[9] James Hope Moulton and Nigel Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Syntax., vol. 3 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1963–), 181.

[10] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 272.

[11] G. B. Winer, A Treatise on the Grammar of New Testament Greek: Regarded as a Sure Basis for New Testament Exegesis (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1882), 155–156, 162.

[12] Herbert Weir Smyth, A Greek Grammar for Colleges (New York; Cincinnati; Chicago; Boston; Atlanta: American Book Company, 1920), 291.

[13] IBID., 291.

[14] IBID, 289.

[15] IBID, 290.

[16] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 270–271.

[17] Ezra Abbot, The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel and Other Critical Essays, Boston, 1888, 452.

[18] Daniel B. Wallace, Granville Sharp’s Canon and Its Kin: Semantics and Significance (Studies in Biblical Greek) (New York, NY: Peter Lang Inc., 2008), 74.

4 thoughts on “TITUS 2:13 and 2 PETER 1:1: What Is the Long-Debated Controversial Granville Sharp Rule?

Add yours

  1. Thanks! This article does a good job sticking close to the grammatical facts. Discussing Winer without acrimony, and Smyth, is excellent.

    “Grammarian and textual scholar Dr. Daniel B. Wallace seems to have been highly invested in the defense of Granville Sharp and his rule”

    A good way of making the point :).

    Personally, I believe there are other points that completely sink the idea of a “rule”. Even if a person felt that Titus 2:13 should have an identity translation, let it be based on a combination of solid grammatical and contextual reasons, not the supposed Rule that is based on cherry picking and special pleading.

    Some material is from Wikipedia, not clear who put it there, and it seems to be of high quality. Maybe that could be clearer.

    Thanks!

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