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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Shamrock, St. Patrick and The Trinity

The following quote shows how the great symbol of St. Patrick and St. Patrick's Day (the shamrock or clover) was used to explain the Trinity:

"The doctrine of Three Gods in One, each separate and distinct, yet each totally God, is claimed by Christians to be a mystery and is accepted on faith. In trying to teach his converts about the trinity, St. Patrick held up a shamrock explaining that the three leaves represented the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, while the stem was the Godhead itself from which they proceeded. This is said to be the origin of the use of the shamrock which is customarily worn on St. Patrick's Day.

"Scholars have discovered that the shamrock, or trefoil, was initially used in ancient Celtic fertility rites. It represented a triad of goddesses..." - pp. 79-80, Celebrations - The Complete Book of American Holidays, Robert J. Myers, Doubleday; Co., 1972.

Though it is clear that the shamrock was used as a symbol to explain the Trinity and represented a triad of pagan goddesses, this should in no way associate the clover itself as pagan. The history of the Trinity Doctrine certainly shows that the concept of the only true God being comprised of three persons is not a Bible teaching. It is not found in the Bible and developed gradually over several centuries after Christ.

The Trinity Has Pagan Origins

"The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians .... Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology." - Egyptian Religion. (For much more, see Trinity And Pagan Influence.)

Historian Will Durant said that

"Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. . . . From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity."

And Arthur Weigall stated that

"Nowhere in the New Testament does the word `trinity' appear. The idea was only adopted by the Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord; and the origin of the conception is entirely pagan." - The Paganism in our Christianity, pp. 197, 198.

How Does God View Paganism?

True Christians should avoid pagan associations and view them as serious because God views these things very seriously. (Lev. 19:2) God Himself said: "You must not have any other gods against my face. Because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion." (Ex. 20:1-5) NWT

Notice how exclusive the worship of God must be: "Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips." - Exodus 23:13, NIVSB.

1 Tim. 3:16 God "manifest in the flesh" KJV

1 Tim. 3:16 ("God was manifest in the flesh")

(From the RDB Files)

As this is translated in the KJV it makes Paul say that Jesus is God “manifest in the flesh.”

Although the KJV translates 1 Tim. 3:16 with “God” as above, nearly all other translations today use a word which refers, not to God, but to Jesus: “he (NIV; RSV; NRSV; JB; NJB; REB; NAB [‘70]; AT; GNB; CBW; and Beck’s translation), “he who (ASV; NASB; NEB; MLB; BBE; Phillips; and Moffatt),who,” orwhich.” Even the equally old Douay version has “which was manifested in the flesh.” All the very best modern NT texts by trinitarian scholars (including Westcott and Hort, Nestle, and the text by the United Bible Societies) have the NT Greek word ὃς (“who”) here instead of θεὸς (“God”).Why do the very best trinitarian scholars support this NON-trinitarian translation of 1 Tim. 3:16?

     Noted Bible scholar Dr. Frederick C. Grant writes:

“A capital example [of NT manuscript changes] is found in 1 Timothy 3:16, where ‘OS’ (OC or ὃς, who’) was later taken for theta sigma with a bar above, which stood for theos (θεὸς, ‘god’). Since the new reading suited …. the orthodox doctrine of the church [trinitarian, at this later date], it got into many of the later manuscripts .....” – p. 656, Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 3, 1957 ed. (This same statement by Dr. Grant was still to be found in the latest Encyclopedia Americana that I examined – the 1990 ed., pp.696-698, vol. 3.)

A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by the United Bible Societies (1971 ed.) tells why the trinitarian UBS Committee chose ὃς [‘who’ or ‘he who’] as the original reading in their NT text for this verse:

“it is supported by the earliest and best uncials.” And, “Thus, no uncial (in the first hand [by the ORIGINAL writer]) earlier than the eighth or ninth century supports θεὸς [“God”]; all ancient versions presuppose ὃς [or OC, “who” - masc.] or [“which” - neut.]; and no patristic writer prior to the last third of the fourth century [370 A.D.] testifies to the reading θεὸς. The reading θεὸς arose either (a) accidentally, through the misreading of OC as ΘC, or (b) deliberately....” - p. 641.

In actuality it appears to be a combination of both (with the emphasis on the latter). You see, the word ὃς was written in the most ancient manuscripts as OC (“C” being a common form for the ancient Greek letter “S” at that time). Most often at this time the word for God (θεὸς) was written in abbreviated form as ΘC. However, to show that it was an abbreviated form a straight line, or bar, was always drawn above ΘC. So no copyist should have mistaken ὃς (or OC) for ΘC, in spite of their similarities, simply because of the prominent bar which appeared over the one and not over the other.

What may have happened was discovered by John J. Wetstein in 1714. As he was carefully examining one of the oldest NT manuscripts then known (the Alexandrine Manuscript in London) he noticed at 1 Tim. 3:16 that the word originally written there was OC but that a horizontal stroke from one of the words written on the other side of the manuscript showed through very faintly in the middle of the O. This still would not qualify as an abbreviation for θεὸς, of course, but Wetstein discovered that some person at a much later date and in a different style from the original writer had deliberately added a bar above the original word! Anyone copying from this manuscript after it had been deliberately changed would be likely to incorporate the counterfeit ΘC [with bar above it] into his new copy (especially since it reflected his own trinitarian views)!

Of course, since Wetstein’s day many more ancient NT manuscripts have been discovered and none of them before the eighth century A.D. have been found with ΘC (“God”) at this verse!

Trinitarian scholar Murray J. Harris also concludes: “The strength of the external evidence favoring OC [‘who’], along with considerations of transcriptional and intrinsic probability, have prompted textual critics virtually unanimously to regard OC as the original text, a judgment reflected in NA(26) [Nestle-Aland text] and UBS (1,2,3) [United Bible Societies text] (with a ‘B’ rating) [also the Westcott and Hort text]. Accordingly, 1 Tim 3:16 is not an instance of the Christological [‘Jesus is God’] use of θεὸς.” - Jesus as God, p. 268, Baker Book House, 1992.

And very trinitarian (Southern Baptist) NT Greek scholar A. T. Robertson wrote about this scripture:

He who (hos [or OC in the original text]). The correct text, not theos (God) the reading of the Textus Receptus ... nor ho (neuter relative [pronoun]), agreeing with [the neuter] musterion [‘mystery’] the reading of Western documents.” - p. 577, Vol. 4, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman Press.
And even trinitarian NT Greek scholar, Daniel B. Wallace uses the relative pronoun ὃς (‘who’) in this scripture and tells us:

“The textual variant θεὸς [‘god’] in the place of ὃς [‘who’ or ‘he who’] has been adamantly defended by some scholars, particularly those of the ‘majority text’ school. Not only is such a reading poorly attested, but the syntactical argument that ‘mystery’ (μυστήριον) being a neuter noun, cannot be followed by the masculine pronoun (ὃς) is entirely without weight. As attractive theologically [for trinitarians, of course] as the reading θεὸς may be, it is spurious. To reject it is not to deny the deity of Christ, of course; it is just to deny any explicit reference in this text.” [italicized emphasis is by Wallace]. - pp. 341-342, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Zondervan, 1996.

The correct rendering of 1 Tim. 3:16, then, is: “He who was revealed in the flesh ….” - NASB. Cf. ASV; RSV; NRSV; NAB; JB; NJB; NIV; NEB; REB; ESV; Douay-Rheims; TEV; CEV; BBE; NLV; God’s Word; New Century Version; Holman NT; ISV NT; Lexham English Bible; The Message; Weymouth; Moffatt; etc.

Even if we were to insist that those later manuscripts that used theos were, somehow, correct, we would have to recognize that it is the anarthrous (without the definite article) theos which we find. This is rarely, if ever, the form used for the only true God (when the known exceptions are taken into account - see MARTIN study). Instead, it either points to the probability that it is a corrupted OC (which of course would not have the article in the first place), or, less probable, but still possible, that Christ is being called “a god” - see the BOWGOD and DEF studies.

Also see:

Monday, April 1, 2013

'Sharp's Rule' Primer

Sharp's Rule: Primer

(From the RDB Files)

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" - - only "king" has the article.)

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 (see WALLACE study paper) that God and Jesus are the same "person"!

The 5 "proofs" of Jesus' Godhood according to Sharp are (in the literal wording of the original manuscripts):

(a) Titus 2:13: "of the great God and savior of us Christ Jesus"
τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ

(b) 2 Pet. 1:1: "righteousness of the God of us and savior Jesus Christ"
 δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

(c) 2 Thess. 1:12:"the grace of the God of us and Lord Jesus Christ"
τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

(d) 1 Tim. 5:21: "in sight of the God and Christ Jesus and the chosen angels"
ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν ἀγγέλων

(e) Eph. 5:5: " the kingdom of the Christ and God"
ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ

Since the first noun ("God" in the first four scriptures) has the article ("the") with it and the following noun ("savior" in the first two scriptures) does not have the article ("the"), then (according to Sharp) God and Christ (the savior, etc.) are the same person!

There are a number of reasons why Sharp's Rule, as applied to these 5 "proofs," is invalid (See the SHARP study). 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).

In vol. 5, p. 257 the respected The Expositor's Greek Testament says: "In the present case [Jude 1:4], however, the second noun (kupiov [“lord”]) belongs to the class of words which may stand without the article .... A similar doubtful case is found in Tit. ii. 13.... Other examples of the same kind are Eph. v. 5 ... 2 Thess. i: 12 ... 1 Tim. v. 21 (cf. 2 Tim. iv. 1) ... 2 Peter i. 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!

Even trinitarian scholar Murray J. Harris notes, in discussing Eph. 5:5, that “It is highly improbable that Paul would introduce a profound, unqualified doctrinal affirmation (Christ is theos) in an incidental manner [such as here], in a context where the assertion is not crucial to the flow of argument.” - p. 262, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.

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 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 [and 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 and 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) 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. 4, 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.

* * * * * *

Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian `proof' being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the preceding information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian "proofs," may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah's Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. - RDB.