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Still More on Sharp's Rule, Rob Bowman and Trinitarianism
Part Four: Understanding the Different Senses for "the Great God"

By Greg Stafford


Rob Bowman, like most trinitarians, understands the term "God" in a sense agreeable to post-biblical creeds. Because the sense they give to the terms does not match the way the Bible uses the term, they simply use the terms of Scripture and ASSUME the post-biblical sense. This keeps them from having to explain what they mean when they use such terms, and, instead, they give the impression that their use is the same as that found in the Bible.

They also import an unbiblical distinction between "person" and "being," which is nowhere articulated in the Bible, but that is essential to making their doctrine work. They also understand references to "Jehovah" as references to a triune being, which, they think, somehow allows them to identify one of the three persons of their consubstantial triad as "Jehovah" without identifying any of these persons as the triune being. Go figure.

These are just SOME of problems that have contributed to Bowman's failure to understand or deal with my arguments on this matter of "the great God," according to Paul, in Titus 2:13. Consider:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by Rob Bowman August 14, 1998 at 04:45:42:



BOWMAN:
I had written:
>>>I have argued that the adjectival modifier "great" gives the word "God" the semantic character of a personal description rather than a proper name. Again, the issue here is NOT whether the expression "the great God" in its cultural and literary context refers exclusively to Jehovah. Of course it does.

Stafford replied:
>>>STAFFORD:
This is indeed an important issue. But Bowman does not want you to think it is,>>>

BOWMAN:
I interrupt Stafford here because this is a flat-out lie. I have already stated that I think it is VERY important to know that "the great God" must refer to Jehovah! It is crucial to my case.



STAFFORD:
I realize you have a propensity for personal attacks, particular those which are based on a misunderstanding of the issue or person. But I will not reduce myself to your level, even though you have given me numerous opportunities to do so.

Here is the section of my reply that you deleted:

<< FROM More on Sharp's Rule, Trinitarianism and Rob Bowman
Part Four: Who is "the Great God"?
By Greg Stafford>>

STAFFORD:
This is indeed an important issue. But Bowman does not want you to think it is, and here is why: Since the Bible makes it clear that Jehovah is the God of Jesus (Micah 5:4; Rev. 3:12), and also refers to the Father as the God of Jesus (Rom 15:5,6 and MANY others), then, naturally, the Father is Jehovah, the God of Jesus. Thus, if Jesus is Jehovah, then, from a biblical perspective, he is also the Father, for both Jehovah and the Father are identified as the same being! Obviously Jesus can only have one who is God to him. Therefore, if we take the expression "the great God" as a reference to Jehovah, then it is ipso facto a reference to the Father. Consequently, if "the great God" is a fixed expression for Jehovah, the Father, then there is no doubt it could stand on its own in Titus 2:13, since the first descriptive phrase is made specific by being a fixed expression, and the second noun ("Savior") is without question restricted to the person named, "Jesus Christ"! It is, therefore, similar to the expression, "the California Governor and the President, Bill Clinton."

<<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO PRESENT DISCUSSION>>

STAFFORD:
REFOCUS: You said the question of whether or not the expression "the great God" refers exclusively to Jehovah is NOT an issue. I am saying that it IS an issue because Jehovah is the Father! Thus, on the surface you want everyone to THINK it is a non-issue because you say you agree that it does refer to Jehovah. But you are EQUIVOCATING on the name "Jehovah," taking it to mean, not the Father, but the triune God. This would also be problematic for you, but you seem to think that you can use a little word magic to make the reference to Jehovah inclusive of the Son, in this instance, without exegetical difficulties. You can't.

Now, stop interrupting my arguments, which you don't understand to begin with, just so you can make an unfounded personal attack, which stems from your failure to properly understand my objection, even though I have stated it clearly numerous times. ALSO, you deleted a LARGE paragraph supporting my comment about what you don't want others to think. Why did you do that, Rob?

Still, for you, it gets worse. Consider:



BOWMAN:
On the contrary, it is Stafford who wants you to think I am sloughing off an important issue in order to divert attention from the issue being addressed AT THIS POINT IN THE DISCUSSION. What he is doing here is simply derailing the argument because it's moving in a direction he doesn't like.



STAFFORD:
That's an interesting theory. Too bad you are reduced to mere assertion without any evidence to support your claim. Of course, as I just pointed out, you are the one who does not like the direction of the discussion, because it is cornering you with your own admissions, and forcing your hand. But, again, it gets worse. READ THE FOLLOWING VERY CAREFULLY:



BOWMAN:
He did this again a little bit later:
>>>Rob, I can you see are either missing the point or trying desperately to make others believe you are somehow refuting my position. But the fact is NO ONE else is spoken of as "the great God," or a God who is "great," in the OT, except Jehovah. THAT is what I am trying to point out. It does not matter if the expression "the great God" was itself a fixed expression, even though I believe that it was, but whether or not the description given is one that would automatically create a concept of Jehovah, the God of the OT, the God of Jesus (Micah 5:4), in the mind of the Christian/Jew.>>>

And again:
>>>When we consider the OT LXX, which Paul knew very well, we can see that the description, if taken from the OT LXX, is RESTRICTED to Jehovah (Ps. 85:10), who is also the God of Jesus. (Micah 5:4)>>>



BOWMAN:
I agree: a Christian or Jew would automatically understand "the great God" as referring to Jehovah. I have not made any attempt to refute this claim, but have indeed defended it against your own waffling on it! But then, if the expression must refer to Jehovah, and yet Jesus is called "the great God," that would imply that Jesus, who honored his Father as his God, was at the same time Jehovah God himself! And you just can't accept that even as a POSSIBILITY. You REFUSE to let God be God, and let his Word say what it says, on this point.



STAFFORD:
I realize you may be making a failed attempt a humor, but I do not find you misunderstandings very funny at all. I am not "waffling" at all, but you are the one who is equivocating to the max in order to try and get your admission to fit with your view. Consider:



BOWMAN:
And here he goes again:
>>>Now, everyone should pay close attention to this fact: BOWMAN HAS LEFT OUT THE MOST SIGNIFICANT EXAMPLE SUPPORTING MY POSITION! This is a very obvious attempt to hide key information from people reading this exchange. Bowman has left out Psalm 85:10, which definitely used the descriptive phrase "the great God [hO THEOS . . . hO MEGAS]" as MEGAS is in the attributive position. Also, the text uses MONOS. Thus, we are told, "You ALONE are the great God"! The effectively crushes Bowman's weak attempt to try and obfuscate matters. Clearly we can see that the description "the great God" was restricted to Jehovah ALONE.>>>

And yet again:
>>>The phrase "the great God" is without question restricted to Jehovah per the OT LXX (Ps. 85:10). You knew this, so you neglected to comment on it.>>>



BOWMAN:
I was not trying to hide anything, since I hold more consistently than you do that "the great God" MUST refer to Jehovah ALONE. I didn't cite this particular verse, not because I was trying to hide or obfuscate this point, but because I was making a different point about the semantic character of the expression.



CONSIDER THIS REPLY CAREFULLY

STAFFORD:
Of course, you do, because you have a limited understanding of the first century culture and fail to consider all the options, in this instance, for obvious reasons. Also, again, you DO NOT assert that "the great God" must refer to the Father, but to Jehovah, whom you have yet to define. You are equivocating; you have to. Because as soon as you admit to the definition you give to "Jehovah" it becomes obvious that you are NOT insisting that "the great God" MUST "refer to Jehovah" of the Bible, but to "Jehovah" of trinitarianism! NOW do you understand my point? It also makes no sense for you not to cite Psalm 85:10 in your discussion, unless you forgot or are trying to hide something. Well? How would that verse not support the point you were allegedly trying to make?



BOWMAN:
The point comes up yet again later:
>>>Remember, I am not attacking Bowman, but merely pointing out that he has done a poor job presenting his case, and has even shown signs of deception, by leaving out the reference to Ps. 85:10 in his listing of my examples (see above). He even fails to comment on it when he quotes my reference to it below! The reason for this is because earlier Bowman wanted to discredit the view that "the great God" was a fixed expression that could stand on its own.>>>



BOWMAN:
I did NOT deny that the expression "the great God" "COULD stand on its own" (emphasis added). I denied that the expression NORMALLY stood on its own as a separate semantic unit, like "President Bill Clinton" or "the Great Houdini."



STAFFORD:
Then do you agree that it is possible for Titus 2:13 to have two persons in view? Can you give me an example of an instance where "the great God" could NOT stand on its own?



BOWMAN:
Stafford continues:
>>>and here is why: Since the Bible makes it clear that Jehovah is the God of Jesus (Micah 5:4; Rev. 3:12), and also refers to the Father as the God of Jesus (Rom 15:5,6 and MANY others), then, naturally, the Father is Jehovah, the God of Jesus. Thus, if Jesus is Jehovah, then, from a biblical perspective, he is also the Father, for both Jehovah and the Father are identified as the same being! Obviously Jesus can only have one who is God to him. Therefore, if we take the expression "the great God" as a reference to Jehovah, then it is ipso facto a reference to the Father. . . .>>>



BOWMAN:
And here we have Stafford doing EXACTLY what I predicted in Part One of my previous series of responses to him: arguing that whatever it means Titus 2:13 cannot be referring to Jesus Christ as Jehovah God and yet a person distinct from the Father.



STAFFORD:
That's right. But I do that ONLY because of what the Bible says. It can be shown (see below) that "the great God," if based on the OT LXX, is restricted to Jehovah, the Father, and thus becomes the equivalent to a proper name. If Paul is making use of Greco-Roman culture, then it is possible, based on what the Bible says, that Paul could have used "the great God" for Jesus. But there is nothing in the Bible that will allow us to understand this text as something commensurate with trinitarianism, which is why you CONSISTENTLY equivocate on key terms.

I have all along emphasized the author's habitual use of language and biblical theology. YOU use post-biblical theology and redefine biblical words in light of that theology. You cannot arrive at a trinitarian understanding of God or the distinctions they make between "person" and "being" by reading the Bible alone. Also, what the Bible DOES say directly contradicts trinitarianism.



BOWMAN:
In short, he is operating on the basis of a theological a priori that does not ALLOW the Bible to say what I claim it says.



STAFFORD:
Wrong. I am using what the Bible says to give me different options of understanding this verse. The Bible does not present trinitarianism as one of those options. YOU assume the trinity to be true, and interpret the Bible in light of that assumption. However, because you have run out of arguments, or any arguments you have left MUST make use of your post-biblical understanding of God, you are simply misrepresenting what I have said, in what I believe is an effort to confuse others.



BOWMAN:
Granted, he thinks he can justify this a priori from such texts as Micah 5:4 and Revelation 3:12 and Romans 15:5-6 and the like. But this is standard Watchtower hermeneutics: draw possibly unwarranted conclusions from texts that seem supportive of their position and then use those conclusions as hermeneutical strait-jackets into which all other texts must fit. I deny that Micah 5:4 or any of these other texts precludes the possibility of Titus 2:13 saying what on exegetical grounds it clearly does say.



STAFFORD:
Okay, let's make this interesting. Please interpret Micah 5:4, Revelation 3:12 and Romans 15:5-6 using ONLY biblical language, WITHOUT importing post-biblical distinctions and definitions into the text.

While you're at it, please try EXPLAINING why my understanding of these texts, as given in this paragraph, quoted above, is unwarranted: Since the Bible makes it clear that Jehovah is the God of Jesus (Micah 5:4; Rev. 3:12), and also refers to the Father as the God of Jesus (Rom 15:5,6 and MANY others), then, naturally, the Father is Jehovah, the God of Jesus. Thus, if Jesus is Jehovah, then, from a biblical perspective, he is also the Father, for both Jehovah and the Father are identified as the same being! Obviously Jesus can only have one who is God to him. Therefore, if we take the expression "the great God" as a reference to Jehovah, then it is ipso facto a reference to the Father.

My statements are based on what the Bible says, and all you do is say that it is a "possibly unwarranted conclusion" (!) and fail to provide any biblical refutation! Then you misrepresent what I say as "question begging" when you are guilty of this very thing. Consider:



BOWMAN:
Here's another example of this question-begging from the same post:
>>>Stafford---In any event, the one thing that is CERTAIN is that Paul did not use the term "God" in any sense commensurate with trinitarianism, because the doctrine of the Trinity is not articulated in Scripture, and Paul everywhere uses the term "God" in reference to the being of the Father (1 Cor. 8:6) or the being of some other entity.>>>



BOWMAN
Translation: The one thing that is CERTAIN is that Titus 2:13 does not support the Trinity, because nothing in the Bible supports the Trinity. A textbook case of begging the question!



STAFFORD:
(!) Nowhere do I say what Bowman redefines my words as saying. I point out what the Bible DOES teach, and how the word "God" IS USED, and, in addition to the FACT that the Bible NOWHERE articulates the distinctions and definitions that make up the trinity, I reject it. To do otherwise would be to read into the Bible something that it does not express, and something that is contradicted by what it does teach. That is not begging the question. It is making an honest inquiry into the text, determining what the Bible does teach, examining how it uses and defines words, and making a conclusion based on the evidence. Trinitarians have no evidence, so they redefine terms and create distinctions that are not articulated in the Bible, all the time ignoring the fact that way the Bible does use these terms, and the distinctions the Bible does make, contradicts their views.

I have made this point time and time again in this discussion, and Bowman continues to avoid it.



BOWMAN:
I had written:
>>>The question is whether the expression functions as a separate semantic unit that can be construed as part of a larger descriptive expression only if that is made grammatically explicit. The answer to that question is DEMONSTRABLY NO. Greg's own list of OT texts in which Jehovah is called the great God demonstrates this fact beyond dispute. Here are some of those texts as I presented them in my paper: [quotations from Deut. 7:21; 10:17; Neh. 1:5; 9:32] In these four texts the words "the great God" are part of a larger descriptive expression in which further descriptive terms are connected using KAI.>>>

Stafford replied:
>>>Your point is?>>>



BOWMAN:
My point, already stated explicitly, is that it is "DEMONSTRABLY" not the case that "the expression ['the great God'] functions as a separate semantic unit that can be construed as part of a larger descriptive expression only if that is made grammatically explicit." Again, the issue here is the semantic status of the expression, not its referential significance. Since Stafford didn't get this distinction, or didn't want it, it's not surprising that he missed the point here.



STAFFORD:
You are quite the card, Rob. I missed no point at all, but you are obviously not focused on my objection: The expression "the great God," if used as per the OT, has an even greater restrictive force than an actual proper name. This being the case there would be no mistaking that "the great God" in Titus 2:13 was a reference to Jehovah, the Father, the God of Jesus (Micah 5:4; Rom. 15:5-6) and so no one reading Titus 2:13 would have confused the two, especially since "Savior Jesus Christ" is quite capable of standing on its own (see Part Five), and since Jesus is said to appear in the great God's glory, which is consistent with the Synoptic teaching that Jesus would appear in the glory of HIS FATHER. Your point is pointless, and fails to answer these specific points. There is a clear semantic distinction between "the great God" and "Savior Jesus Christ," if Paul is making us of the OT LXX.



BOWMAN:
Stafford wrote:
>>>The reason for this is because earlier Bowman wanted to discredit the view that "the great God" was a fixed expression that could stand on its own. But now he thinks that by accepting this view he can push for Sharp's rule and have Jesus described in words that are reserved for Jehovah alone! Of course, this is where he gets confused, and fails to realize that the reason proper names are excluded from Sharp's rule is because they are restricted in their application to a particular individual. But in this case we have a descriptive phrase that is even more restrictive in its application than a proper name, and so it is even LESS likely to conform to Sharp's rule than if an actual proper name (like, "John," Peter," etc.) were used!>>>



BOWMAN:
By this reasoning, a descriptive phrase like "the sixteenth President of the United States" would be less likely to fit in a Sharp's rule construction than the name "Abraham Lincoln." This is easily disproved. In fact, I have already disproved it! The restrictiveness of the expression's reference to one individual does not disqualify it as a candidate for the Sharp's rule construction. Stafford's argument here is hopelessly muddled.



STAFFORD:
Where did you disprove my statement? Surely not above. Where, then? You are just making things up! Your statement above shows you have a defective understanding of the semantics and significance of GS. It also fails to properly relate the restrictiveness of a noun or noun phrase to its semantic significance. Please explain just how it is that a noun or descriptive phrase that is restricted to one person does not remove it from the category of GS texts with common nouns that do not have this same restrictive force. As it is, your thoughts and arguments to this point have been "hopelessly muddled" and you have not proven even ONE thing in support of your view. You sure have not shown anything in my Excursus to be in error.



BOWMAN:
Now, Stafford tries to extricate himself from his contradiction regarding the restrictive character of the expression "the great God." As I explained in my previous series, on the one hand Stafford argues that the expression could only be understood by a Jew or Christian as referring to Jehovah. On the other hand, he argues that if Paul did use it to refer to Jesus Christ, it would not and could not be referring to Jesus as Jehovah, and that it could refer to him as an inferior deity.

To get himself out of this contradiction, Stafford tries to claim that I have badly misread him:

>>>Stafford: Before we move on, let me bring some order to Bowman's chaotic understanding of my position. Of course, we have seen several examples of where Bowman either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented what I said in my posts and in my book. Regarding the above, it should be obvious to everyone that my comments are in reference to the usage of the descriptive phrase "the great God" in the LXX. If that is the source from which Paul gathered this expression, then there is no question that the description could only properly be given to Jehovah, by a Bible-believing Jew or Christian. HOWEVER, that is not the only use of the term that was available in the first century. If Paul intended to use the description of Christ, in contrast the Greco-Roman deities, then the sense of the term should be gathered from its use in the first-century Greco-Roman society, not as it is used in the LXX.>>>



BOWMAN:
So, in short, Stafford is now saying that what he was saying all along (and which I have "either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented") is that the expression "the great God" would be referentially restricted to Jehovah ONLY if the expression was rooted in the LXX usage; but it MIGHT have been used to refer to Jesus IF its source was Greco-Roman usage and not the LXX.



STAFFORD:
That is precisely what I have said all along. I did not previously make a specific reference to the Greco-Roman usage, since I believe Paul is using the expression as it is used in the OT. But you asked for clarification, which I gave, and which should have been OBVIOUS to anyone who understood what I have been saying.



BOWMAN:
Well, is this what Stafford said before? You be the judge:
>>>For readers of the LXX, LIKE PAUL, to run across expression like "the great God," or "the God who is great," etc., particularly when it is said, "You alone are the great God" (Ps. 85:10) this would certainly restrict the application of "the great God" to serve as description that was reserved for Jehovah alone. . . .
My point is simply this: The LXX Bible PROVIDED PAUL with a description of God that is reserved for him alone.>>> (Stafford, 17a-c, previous response)



BOWMAN:
Stafford clearly was arguing here that anyone who was a reader of the LXX and shared its theological perspective would honor one and only one Being with the title "the great God," namely, Jehovah.



STAFFORD:
Again Bowman misrepresents my view. I have ALWAYS maintained that it is possible that Paul could have applied the expression to Jesus. Even in my book, page 247, to which Bowman refers! But I do not specifically refer to the Greco-Roman usage, but do I really have to? I guess for Bowman I do, but even then he does not seem to care. He does NOTHING to argue against my position; he merely tries to show that I was not consistent. The only difference between the position in my book and the position I have articulated here is that I am making a specific reference to a particular usage that Paul could have borrowed, for apologetic purposes. Bowman, not having anything meaningful to comment on or offer in refutation, just spins his wheels and hopes the resulting smoke will blind you readers from the key issue.



BOWMAN:
Even in his post here he finds himself unable to avoid the contradiction. Hence earlier he argued that "the description given ['the great God'] is one that would automatically create a concept of Jehovah, the God of the OT, the God of Jesus (Micah 5:4), in the mind of the Christian/Jew." And again:

>>>Stafford---When we consider the OT LXX, which Paul knew very well, we can see that the description, if taken from the OT LXX, is RESTRICTED to Jehovah (Ps. 85:10), who is also the God of Jesus. (Micah 5:4)>>>



BOWMAN:
And I agree - Paul, who knew the OT LXX very well, and who thought and wrote in its language and shared its theological perspective, would certainly have understood the expression "the great God" as referring to Jehovah alone. I absolutely insist that the expression "is one that would automatically create a concept of Jehovah, the God of the OT, the God of Jesus (Micah 5:4), in the mind of the Christian/Jew." The Christian, of course, is the intended reader of Titus 2:13!



STAFFORD:
Bowman is misleading everyone here. He does NOT believe "the great God" is restricted to the Father, but to a triune being. He shows his failure to appreciate my point when he says, "The Christian, of course, is the intended reader of Titus 2:13!" Really, Rob? Did you ever stop to consider that I KNOW THAT? And that I just MIGHT be referring to something else, something that should have been obvious even to you? What might that be? Could it be the presupposition pool of the Christians? Yes! How do you know that when they read or heard "the great God" they automatically called to mind the LXX reference of this expression as opposed to the Greco-Roman meaning, which they subsequently understood in reference to Jesus, rather than Roman heroes or emperors?

It is impossible to be 100% certain about this, so I allow for the possibility that they COULD have understood the term in reference to Jesus, knowing that he is "a god." But it is more likely that Paul's reference to Jesus' appearing in the glory of his Father was something they understood from their Christian instruction, and thus a reference to the God and Father of Jesus.



BOWMAN:
Sorry, but I think Stafford's fudging here. He wants to have it both ways, and it won't work.



STAFFORD:
I don't "want" anything. I am presenting the options, and you seem bent about it because neither option will make room for your view. Sorry, but I am just presenting the facts as given in Scripture. Post-biblical theology does have a place in this discussion.



BOWMAN:
I had quoted Stafford as having written:
>>>The fact is descriptions that may have at one time been understood exclusively of one person or entity may through time acquire a new referent with a new sense. We may use as an example the word "Christ" or "Messiah.">>>

To which I replied:
>>>I don't think this is a very good example. In the OT the term "anointed one" (messiah, or in Greek CHRISTOS) was used for many individuals (the patriarchs, priests, prophets, and kings). In the NT CHRISTOS is used exclusively with one referent, namely, Jesus. So here we have a phenomenon the exact reverse of what Greg is trying to illustrate, namely, an expression used of only one referent in the past later being applied to more than one referent.>>>

Stafford responded:
>>>You fail to understand the purpose of my example. I am simply pointing out that the sense given to terms can and does change through time, and in view of the referent.>>>



BOWMAN:
If that's all you were trying to show, you didn't word yourself very well. You explicitly stated that this example exemplified the claim that "descriptions that may have at one time been understood exclusively of one person or entity may through time acquire a new referent with a new sense." If I failed to understand the purpose of your example, it was because you failed to state your purpose correctly.



STAFFORD:
No, you just don't read what I say very carefully, and you fail to investigate even the things you say. Can you show me an example in the Bible where the description "Anointed one" was used of more than one person at a time, in the same sense?



BOWMAN:
Of course, I think you just made a mistake, and can't bring yourself to admit it.



STAFFORD:
Not at all. We have seen that you have a serious problem in this regard, but, again, all you are demonstrating is that you don't understand very basic points that I have made, and then you dig a deeper hole for yourself by following up on your misunderstanding! Answer my above question and I'll show you what I mean.



BOWMAN:
Stafford continued:
>>>Also. I do not agree with your statement about CHRISTOS in the NT. I think Hebrews 11:26 can be used to show that Moses was considered a "Christ," with the sense of "anointed one.">>>



BOWMAN:
This is really a side issue, but I disagree. Hebrews 11:26 even in the NWT reads, "because he [Moses] esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward." This doesn't come even close to saying that Moses was "a Christ," but rather that Moses was willing to suffer for the sake of "the Christ," that is, the one through whom "the reward" would come, namely, Jesus. That you could miss this tells me a lot about your reading of Scripture.



STAFFORD:
Obviously you are not given to serious exegetical inquiry. I was wrong in assuming that you would be familiar with the issues surrounding this verse. You will notice that Bowman merely makes assertions, dogmatically concluding from these assertions that "this doesn't come even close to saying that Moses was `a Christ.'" I will allow Lane to explain the problem to you:

<<QUOTE>>

The interpretation of this phrase is difficult and uncertain. (see D'Angelo, Moses, 48-53, 64) It is an exact quotation from the LXX. The phrase may have originated in Ps 68 (MT 69) LXX, where the term ONEIDISMOS, 'reproach,' occurs in vv. 8, 10, 11, 20, 2. The writer may have applied the words of the Psalmist to Moses, who shared the mistreatment of his brothers. Because he, like Christ, chose to share the suffering of the people of God, the reproach he bore is 'the reproach of the Christ' (see the discussion in D'Angelo, 48-50).--William L. Lane, Hebrews 9-13 (WBC 47b; Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1991), pp. 373.

Westcott points out:

The Reproach of the Christ is the reproach which belongs to Him who is the appointed envoy of God to a rebellious world. . . . In this wider sense the people of Israel was 'an anointed one,' 'a Christ,' even as Christians are 'Christs' (comp. Ps. Cv. 15; 1 John ii. 20). - The Epistle to the Hebrews.

<<END OF QOUTES>>

I could have cited many other sources, but these were the first two I grabbed, and they at least show greater sensitivity to the issues than Bowman. Of course, Bowman's response to my statement is given without any supporting arguments. Typical, but still disappointing.

When Bowman decides to present at least some argument for his view, then I will give my own reasons for my position.



BOWMAN:
I had written:
>>>It should be noted that in his critique Greg twice asserted incorrectly that the noun THEOS appears by itself in 2 Peter 1:1, thus on my own view allowing it to be construed there as a proper name equivalent. "Is it not he himself who claims that 'God' by itself can be used as a proper name? And yet that is precisely what we have in 2 Peter 1:1!" (Stafford, 19c; so also 25b). The fact is that THEOS is modified in 2 Peter 1:1 by HÊMÔN (the complete phrase is TOU THEOU HÊMÔN KAI SÔTÊROS IÊSOU CHRISTOU). I am at a loss to explain this simple error on Greg's part, but there it is.>>>



Stafford replied:
>>>The fact is, Rob, in the context of my observation I am clearly referring to adjectival modifiers, like "great," not possessives. Recall: . . . Also, as we noted earlier, the most frequent example of Sharp's rule, ho theos kai pater ("the God and Father"), has the equivalent of a proper name in one (probably both) positions, and yet the nouns apply to the same person. Even Bowman states that theos is used as a proper name when it is not accompanied by adjectival modifiers, and this creates problems for his view of 2 Peter 1:1 (see below).
. . . Bowman earlier made a completely unsubstantiated qualification for recognizing when "God" is used a proper name: When it is not accompanied by adjectival modifiers like "great." But this, then, as stated above, would put 2 Peter 1:1 outside the pale of Sharp's rule. . . .>>>



BOWMAN:
My response to Stafford here is simple: possessive adjectives like "our" are still adjectival modifiers.



STAFFORD:
Again, I was referring to non-possessive modifiers, and I am "at a loss" as to how you could not understand this, in view of my words above.



BOWMAN:
Finally, at the very end of this installment in Stafford's series, he wrote:
>>>Now, Rob, I am curious about one thing: Why did you avoid discussing the implications of your self-serving qualification in light of my reference to the most frequently cited example of Sharp's rule, hO THEOS KAI PATER?
Please try not to avoid this again.>>>



BOWMAN:
Just in case it was missed, see point #2 in Part One of this series of replies to Stafford, where I address this very question.



STAFFORD:
Yeah, I think we all missed it, Rob, because it's not there! You completely avoided my question and inferred that I claimed you had stated a "rule" regarding THEOS without accompanying modifiers. Here is your #2 point with my reply, in case any of you missed it:



<<FROM Still More on Sharp's Rule, Rob Bowman and Trinitarianism
Part One: When Fantasy Becomes Reality
By Greg Stafford>>

BOWMAN:
2. "THE GOD AND FATHER" - DID I GET THE POINT?
Stafford had written:
>>>In the phrase "God the Father" (Greek: ho theos kai pater), how can it be said that neither of these two nouns carry the restrictive force of a proper name in NT, in the particular contexts in which it is used? Yet this phrase constitutes the bulk of examples in NT that are supposed to validate Sharp's rule! In fact, see page 6(B.), par. 1 in Bowman's article, where he highlights this expression as validating Sharp's rule.>>>

I replied:
>>>I don't think Greg understood me, because I was not denying that the nouns THEOS and PATÊR can be used in the NT as proper name equivalents. Nor is there any question that "God the Father" was used in the NT as a proper name equivalent.>>>

BOWMAN:
Stafford claims here that I misunderstood his point. To my statement that "I was not denying that the nouns THEOS and PATÊR can be used in the NT as proper name equivalents," Stafford replies, "Who said that you did, Rob?" The problem here is that Stafford is separating the two points I was making in the above two sentences. All I was saying here is that I agree both that THEOS and PATÊR can be used as proper name equivalents, and that they are so used in the expression cited by Stafford.

STAFFORD:
This is not going to work Rob. You have deleted my comments and taken it upon yourself to restate my position, which I do not trust you to do, as you have failed to accurately do, to some degree, in nearly all of your previous replies. Thus, I have spend extra time restating my position to keep you from misinforming others, and knocking down straw men. Here is the complete context of my reply. You'll notice that even in this repost of my previous reply I had to redirect Rob to the point at hand, and reset the context of the issue under discussion, because Rob has a very difficult time addressing the issue:

<<FROM More on Sharp's Rule, Trinitarianism and Rob Bowman
Part One: Some Observations on Bowman's Attitude and Arguments
By Greg Stafford>>

BOWMAN:
I don't think Greg understood me, because I was not denying that the nouns THEOS and PATÊR can be used in the NT as proper name equivalents. Nor is there any question that "God the Father" was used in the NT as a proper name equivalent.

STAFFORD:
No, Rob, you misunderstood me, again. Let's put the context of the above before everyone, so the facts are clear:

<<<QUOTE FROM TRINITARIAN APOLOGETICS: A CASE STUDY>>>
Bowman-Sharp, page 8
Martyrdom of Polycarp 22:1. . . . For Sharp's rule to be inapplicable it is necessary only that one of the two nouns joined by kai be a proper name. Thus, even if "God the Father" was not being used in Polycarp as a proper name, Sharp's rule would not apply because of the use of "Holy Spirit" as such.

Stafford-Response
This qualification is not accurate at all. In the phrase "God the Father" (Greek: ho theos kai pater), how can it be said that neither of these two nouns carry the restrictive force of a proper name in NT, in the particular contexts in which they are used? Yet this phrase constitutes the bulk of examples in NT that are supposed to validate Sharp's rule! In fact, see page 6(B.), par. 1 in Bowman's article, where he highlights this expression as validating Sharp's rule. What we are concerned with is this: Why is the second noun anarthrous (= without the article) in an article-noun-kai-noun construction? Is there something about the noun that allows for it to be used without the article, but not as a further description of the individual or entity denoted by the first noun? This is where all the exceptions to Sharp's rule come in, because there is something about plural nouns, generic nouns, numerals, etc., that accounts for the missing article. If the anarthrous noun is part of a compound proper name, or is a noun that has the restrictive force of a proper name, then we can similarly account for the missing article. We must also consider the context, the habitual use of language of the author in question, as well as other significant factors relating to the proper understanding of the passage.
<<<END OF QUOTE>>>

STAFFORD:
Now, notice that Bowman makes a self-serving qualification that only one of the two nouns joined by KAI ("and") in a Granville Sharp (GS) construction need be a proper name in order for the rule to be invalid. Since Bowman elsewhere refers to "God," without accompanying, modifying expressions, as the equivalent to a proper name, and since "Father," when used of God, has the restrictive force of a proper name, AND since "God" (in HO THEOS KAI PATER) is used without any modifying terms, then how is it that the most frequently cited example of Sharp's rule, namely, HO THEOS KAI PATER, is considered valid, according to Bowman's reasoning? Bowman states, "I was not denying that the nouns THEOS and PATÊR can be used in the NT as proper name equivalents." Who said that you did, Rob? I honestly cannot figure out how you so frequently fail to understand the point I am making.

<<END OF QUOTE>>

STAFFORD:
So, as you can see, there was much more to my reply than Bowman allows, and I trust the above makes the point I was making clear for all. The only other portion of the above that Rob interacted with is the following:



BOWMAN:
As to the point that Stafford thinks I missed, he restates it as follows:
>>>STAFFORD: Since Bowman elsewhere refers to "God," without accompanying, modifying expressions, as the equivalent to a proper name, and since "Father," when used of God, has the restrictive force of a proper name, AND since "God" (in HO THEOS KAI PATER) is used without any modifying terms, then how is it that the most frequently cited example of Sharp's rule, namely, HO THEOS KAI PATER, is considered valid, according to Bowman's reasoning?



BOWMAN:
The answer is that Stafford's reasoning misconstrues my argument. I did not maintain that THEOS without modifiers was always a proper name. What I said was that THEOS with modifiers was always NOT a proper name. I said this in the very paragraph Stafford quotes from my paper on this point:


>>>BOWMAN: In general, there are no inflexible rules for determining when "God" is being used as a proper name rather than as a personal noun. However, there is a rule of thumb that can be used frequently to determine that it is not being used as a proper name. Whenever "God" is qualified by some adjectival word or phrase, it is being used as a personal noun, not as a proper name.>>>



BOWMAN:
A rule that tells us when a noun is NOT being used as a proper name does not necessarily tell us when a noun IS being used as a proper name. THEOS without modifiers is sometimes used as a proper name, and sometimes not (as in HO THEOS KAI PATÊR). I was clear on this, I think, but Stafford claims I am the one who missed the point.



STAFFORD:
First, Bowman has nowhere justified his self-serving rule about THEOS used with modifiers.

Yes, Rob, you did miss the point. Let me explain, again. I did not say anything about any such rule. Please stop making things up. I simply asked, "Since Bowman elsewhere refers to "God," without accompanying, modifying expressions, as the equivalent to a proper name, and since "Father," when used of God, has the restrictive force of a proper name, AND since "God" (in HO THEOS KAI PATER) is used without any modifying terms, then how is it that the most frequently cited example of Sharp's rule, namely, HO THEOS KAI PATER, is considered valid, according to Bowman's reasoning?"

Now, could you please answer the question? Is your answer, "It is not a proper name because Sharp's rule is valid?" If not, then what is your answer? Why is THEOS without accompanying modifiers a proper name, but here it is not? I assume you see where I am going, but since you have not so far, maybe you don't. Your hesitancy in answering the question leads me to believe that you are being very cautious since you do see the problem.



<<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO PRESENT DISCUSSION>>



STAFFORD:
Bowman has chopped up my replies and misrepresented a very large percentage of what I have said. I am finding it increasingly difficult to justify my continuing conversation with him.

END OF PART FOUR

GO TO PART FIVE

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