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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eph. 5:5 and "Sharp's Rule"

In an attempt to prove the trinity doctrine, Granville Sharp made up a rule in 1798. It is often called "Sharp's Rule" by trinitarians. It says, in effect, that when two or more words (nouns) in the original Greek New Testament (NT) text are joined by the word "and," they all refer to the same person if the word "the" (the article) comes before the first noun and not before the other noun(s).

For example, if we saw "the king and _master of the slave" in the Greek text of the Bible, it would always mean, according to Sharp, that only one person was being called both "king" and "master." ("King" and "master" are joined by "and" - - but only "king" has the article 'the" with it.)

Sharp invented this rule after he noticed this particular construction (sometimes called a "Sharp's construction") was used with "God" and "Christ" in 5 places in the NT. If he could convince others that his "rule" was true, then they would think there was finally (after 1400 years of a "trinity" tradition) absolute grammatical Bible proof that God and Jesus are the same "person"! 

One of the 5 "proofs" of Jesus' Godhood according to Sharp is found at Eph. 5:5. 

... en th basileia tou cristou kai qeou [symbol font]

" the kingdom of the Christ and God"

Since the first noun ("Christ" here) has the article ("the") with it and the following noun ("God" in this scripture) does not have the article ("the"), then (according to Sharp) God and Christ are the same person!

There are a number of reasons why Sharp's Rule, as applied to these 5 "proofs," is invalid. One important strike against it is the fact that even many respected trinitarian NT grammar experts and translators have rejected it as a valid rule - e.g., see G. B. Winer; J. H. Moulton; C. F. D. Moule; Dr. James Moffatt (see Titus 2:13; and 1 Tim. 5:21); Dr. William Barclay (2 Thess. 1:12); and Roman Catholic scholar Karl Rahner (2 Peter 1:1).

For example, examine the following trinitarian Bible's renderings of these "Sharp's Constructions":

2 Thess. 1:12 - KJV; KJIIV; NASB; NAB (1970); MLB; LB; GNB; RSV; NRSV; NIV.

Eph. 5:5 - KJV; KJIIV; RSV; NRSV; LB; MLB; NIV; NEB; REB; GNB; TEV; NAB (`70,'91).

2 Tim. 4:1 - most trinitarian Bibles.

1 Tim. 6:13 - all trinitarian Bibles.

These many respected Bibles, translated by expert trinitarian New Testament scholars, clearly disregard Sharp's "Rule" at these (and other) places and show two persons being spoken of!

Notice Eph. 5:5, for example. Most trinitarian Bibles translate this example of Sharp's Construction: "in the kingdom of Christ and of God" - KJV; NRSV; RSV; NIV; NEB; REB; NAB; Douay; MLB; LB; GNB; TEV; The Amplified Bible; Third Millenium Bible; New Living Translation; New Century Version; God's Word; Holman Christian Standard Bible; Wesley's New Testament; Phillips; and the Webster Bible. This is not the way it would be translated if the two descriptions were of the same person! (At the very least it would be rendered more literally as "the kingdom of the Christ and God.") Instead it clearly shows two persons!

Also, 1 Tim. 6:13 is translated in trinitarian Bibles as: "before (in the sight or presence of) God ... and before Christ Jesus...". Although Sharp's Rule insists that this should be translated to show that it is speaking of the same person, it obviously is not! Most trinitarian grammar experts simply do not believe Sharp's Rule is a valid absolute rule! Of the many reasons invalidating Sharp's Rule grammatically there are at least two of extreme importance - each of which is conclusive by itself.

(1) Prepositional Constructions (with phrases containing prepositions: "of God;" "in the Lord;" "God of...;" etc.) are known by all NT grammarians to cause uncertainty of article usage. That is, if a prepositional phrase (including genitives) is attached to a word, that word may sometimes have the article ("the") and sometimes not have it -- without changing the intended meaning! (See A. T. Robertson, pp. 780, 790, 791; C. F. D. Moule, p. 117; J. H. Moulton, pp. 175, 179-180; et al.)

This means that the NT writers sometimes wrote, for example, "The God of me" (with article) and "_God of me" (without article) with exactly the same intended meaning. The definite article ("the") was ambiguous in such cases.

Therefore any grammatical rules which depend on the presence or absence of the article in the NT Greek must not use as examples those scriptures which use a prepositional construction attached to a word (noun) in question if they are to be used honestly and properly.

But if you examine the 5 trinitarian "proofs" above, you will see that they all use such prepositional constructions: "of us" in (a) Titus 2:13 and (b) 2 Peter 1:1 is a "prepositional" genitive, and even "savior" itself is a genitive in both scriptures and literally means "of savior;" "Lord" in (c) 2 Thess. 1:12 is a genitive and literally means "of Lord" (as rendered in the Modern Language Bible; Living Bible; Good News Bible; Douay Version; New American Bible [1970 ed.]; and Barclay's Daily Study Bible); "Christ" in (d)1 Tim. 5:21 is a genitive and literally means "of Christ" (as in the Good News Bible [& TEV]; New American Standard Bible; Modern Language Bible; Revised Standard Version; and New Revised Standard Version); and "God" in (e) Eph. 5:5 is a genitive and literally means "of God" (as in the King James Version; Revised Standard Version; New Revised Standard Version; Living Bible; New English Bible; Revised English Bible; Modern Language Bible; New American Bible (1970 & 1991); Douay Version; New International Version; Good News Bible; and Phillips translation).

Therefore all 5 Sharp's "proofs" are invalid on the basis of prepositional constructions alone!

(2) New Testament scholars, including noted trinitarian NT grammar experts, point out that the use of proper names ("John," "Moses," "Jesus," etc.) also causes uncertain article usage in NT Greek. (A. T. Robertson, Grammar, p. 791, and Word Pictures, p. 46, Vol. iv; C. F. D. Moule, p. 115; J. H. Moulton [Turner], Vol. 3, pp. 165-167; et. al.)
So not only did the NT Bible writers sometimes use the article and sometimes not use the article with the very same intended meaning with the very same proper name (e.g. "the James" and "James"), but even when a proper name is used as an appositive it also causes irregular article usage with the other associated nouns. - Robertson, pp. 760, 791.

For example, when "Jesus" and "Christ" are in apposition to each other ("Jesus Christ" or "Christ Jesus"), they are nearly always (96% of the time - see SHARP study paper) written without the definite article in the writings of Paul regardless of "Sharp's rule" or any other grammatical/syntactical consideration!

If we examine the first 4 of the 5 "proofs" above, we see that the proper name "Jesus" is used as an appositive with the word in question in each case! In other words, "Christ Jesus" is the appositive for "savior" in Titus 2:13. This means sometimes "savior" will have "the" with it in such a situation and sometimes it won't (with no change in meaning). "Jesus Christ" is the appositive for "savior" in 2 Peter 1:1, and article usage (or non-usage) with "savior" in the original NT Greek in such circumstances is virtually meaningless. "Jesus Christ" is in apposition to (an appositive for) "Lord" in 2 Thess. 1:12. And "Jesus" is in apposition (at least) to "Christ" in 1 Tim. 5:21. These examples, therefore, are completely invalid as evidence for Jesus being God even if there were actually some validity to Sharp's "Rule" with proper examples! And the 5th example, Eph. 5:5, is incredibly poor in context alone. Even noted trinitarian scholar A.T. Robertson has to admit that the 'evidence' of Eph. 5:5 is doubtful - Word Pictures, Vol. 14, pp. 46 and 543. No objective person could accept it alone as real evidence of Jesus' Godhood!

Some PREPOSITIONAL examples found in NT Greek:

"The God of Abraham and _God of Isaac and _God of Jacob" - Luke 20:37.

"The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" - Matt. 22:32.

"James, _slave of God and _Lord Jesus Christ" - James 1:1

"By command of _God savior of us and _Christ Jesus" - 1 Tim. 1:1.

"I am the root and the offspring of David" - Rev. 22:16.

Some PROPER NAME examples found in NT Greek:

"having seen _Peter and _John" (no articles) - Acts 3:3.

"holding fast ... the Peter and the John" (both articles) - Acts 3:11.

"beholding the outspokenness of the Peter and _John" (Sharp's) - Acts 4:13.

"But the Peter and _John" (Sharp's construction) - Acts 4:19.

So we see the Bible writer who is recognized as the most knowledgeable in NT Greek (Luke) showing the great ambiguity of article usage with proper names. If we did not exclude proper names as valid examples, we would have to agree that either Luke believed Peter and John were the same person or that he was completely unaware of Sharp's Rule (or any first century equivalent)!

* * * * *

So, although we can find such constructions as "the king and master of the slave" where the first noun (with the definite article, `the') is the same person as the second noun (without the definite article), there is no grammatical reason that this must always be so. Such constructions as "the boy and girl" and "the President and Vice President" (found in Amendment XX [as ratified in 1933] of the Constitution of the United States of America), which refer to more than one individual, are just as grammatically correct in both English and NT Greek.

For much more concerning Sharp's Rule, see:

SHARP'S RULE - Pt 1 (Examining the Trinity)

SHARP'S Rule - Pt 2 (Endnotes) (Examining the Trinity)

'Sharp's Rule' Primer (Examining the Trinity)

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