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"God Over All" in Romans 9:5: Translation Issues and Theological Import

(July 4, 2000 Edition)
by Greg Stafford

Copyright 2000 by Greg Stafford


I. Introduction
II. Translation Analysis
III. Evidence from Early Translations
IV. Punctuation in Early Greek Manuscripts
V. Romans 9:5 in the Early Church Fathers
VI. Grammatical Analysis
VII. Contextual Considerations
VIII. Theological Import
IX. Conclusion

I. Introduction

In their attempts to answer the question, "Is Jesus called God in the New Testament"? scholars have had to consider the translation and meaning of several disputed passages, one of which is Romans 9:5. The conclusions advanced in relation to this text’s potential application of theos to Jesus Christ, range from "certain"[1] to "obscure"[2] to claims that Christ "is not addressed as God in [Romans 9:5]."[3]

The goal of this article is not so much to swing the pendulum to one particular side of the argument, but to ‘level the playing field,’ so to speak. That is to say, even though there are a wide range of opinions concerning the translation of Romans 9:5, too often the arguments put forth by Trinitarian writers give an incomplete view of the issues, and of the arguments by non-Trinitarian scholars and writers. While I am by no means suggesting that such omissions are necessarily deliberate, they exist nonetheless.

Therefore, it is believed by this writer that a reappraisal of several issues involved in the discussion of how to translate Romans 9:5 will be useful to both those who accept Romans 9:5 as an affirmation of Christ’s deity and to those who do not. Perhaps it will even move some who are not so sure about the translation of this text to commit to one view or the other. Whatever impact the following discussion might have on the translation of Romans 9:5, it is hoped that in future discussions about the New Testament application of theos to Jesus, greater attention will be given to the potentially damaging affect such an application really has on the Trinitarian concept of God.

When properly understood, the predication of theos to Jesus can easily be shown to contradict the assertion that there is only one God, and that that one God is a triune deity. Such a view of God, whether understood/accepted or not, in effect identifies Jesus (or any one of the three “persons” of the Trinity), as the triune God Himself, unless the term theos is selectively redefined as a term referring to a "person" (which term is also given a technical, non-biblical meaning) of God, who shares this nature fully and equally with the other two "persons."

In this light, the question, "Does the New Testament call Jesus ‘God’?" takes on a new significance. When properly appreciated, the answer to this question should move Trinitarians to reevaluate the basis for their views, and to take note of significant facts relative to the translation of texts such as Romans 9:5, which have previously been brushed aside or commented upon lightly, especially when it comes to the meaning of theos. There is no questioning the fact that the logos, the prehuman Jesus Christ, is called theos (Joh 1:1, 18). But is he also called “the God who is over all,” or some similar variation of the description given in Romans 9:5? To this question we now turn, after which we will revisit the theological implications of such a translation.

II. Translation Analysis

According to the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (hereafter, NWT), the final part of this verse (referring to "God, who is over all") is separated from the preceding reference to "the Christ." In Appendix 6D of the 1984 NWT Reference Bible, several other translations, including the Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible, Today’s English Version, the New American Bible, and James Moffatt’s translation of the Bible, are cited as agreeing with NWT’s reading. We might also list Goodspeed’s translation, and others, in this category.

There are, however, other translations that identify Christ as the "God who is over all" in this verse, including the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, the Modern Language Bible, and C. B. Williams’ translation of the New Testament. But given the difference of opinion expressed by these respected translations, it is, quite frankly, astounding to find certain advocates of the Trinity doctrine making dogmatic claims about this verse, some of which will be considered below. What is fascinating about such claims, other than their unfounded dogmatism, is that those who make them are apparently unaware that their claims regarding the translation of Romans 9:5 directly contradict the Trinitarian concept of God. This, too, will be explained below. But first we will explore issues that have a direct relationship to the translation of our subject text.

III. Evidence from Early Translations

According to Bruce Metzger,[4] the Old Latin, containing no punctuation other than two suspended points surrounding "amen," is indeterminate. The same is true of the Amiatinus codex, though Metzger believes the rhythm of the text as it stands in the edition by Wordsworth and White makes the second stichos easier, in his mind, to take in reference to the Christus ("Christ") of the first stichos, rather than as an independent sentence. Metzger also presents translations from the Peshitta, Harclean Syriac, the Sahidic and Bohairic Coptic versions, the Gothic, the Armenian and the Ethiopic versions that apply the term "God" to "Christ" in Romans 9:5.

The above constitutes evidence in favor of the rendering found in the NIV and other, similar translations. But this early evidence is countered by other early evidence relating directly the transmission of the Greek text itself.

IV. Punctuation in Early Greek Manuscripts

Some ancient Greek manuscripts shed light on how this passage was understood by some scribes. Some manuscripts, including Codex A, have a middle point after "flesh," creating a pause or break between the reference to "Christ" and the reference to "God." Other manuscripts, such as B, L, 0142 and 0151 have a high point after "flesh," also indicating a pause or break of some kind.[5] Metzger also notes that the scribe of C left a noticeable space between "flesh" and what follows.[6]

In view of the use of punctuation in some of these manuscripts in other places where there is not a clear break in the sentence, it is uncertain just how we should view the point after "flesh" in Romans 9:5. However, while some of the punctuation marks to which Metzger makes reference are indeed oddly placed, in the context of Codex A the punctuation marks do not appear to be used in as many unusual places, and yet A uses a mid- or highpoint and what appears to be a small space between sarka and the article ho.[7] Metzger is probably right in saying that "the most that can be inferred from the presence of a point in the middle position after savrka [sarka, ‘flesh’] in a majority of the uncial manuscripts is that scribes felt that some kind of pause was appropriate at this juncture in the sentence.[8] This same conclusion was reached by Ezra Abbot nearly a hundred years earlier.[9]

V. Romans 9:5 in the Early Church Fathers

Metzger refers to several early Christian writers who apply the words of Romans 9:5 entirely to the Christ. For example, he refers to Irenaeus of the second century (CE), Tertullian, Hippolytus, Novatian and a letter from six bishops to Paul of Samosata of the third century, as well as a host of writers in the fourth century (including Athanasius, Basil, Jerome and others) to show that this passage has from early times been understood as calling Christ "God."

Regarding Irenaeus’ use of Romans 9:5, Abbot points out that Irenaeus "does not quote it to prove that Christ is qeov" [theos, G-god]." He further observes, "His argument rests on the [‘from whom came Christ according to the flesh’], and not on the last part of the verse, on which he makes no remark."[10] In support of this interpretation, it should be noted that Irenaeus places his quotation of Romans 9:5 between a quotation of Romans 1:1-4 and Galatians 4:4-5, both of which are used to emphasize the fact that God sent forth His Son "according to the flesh."[11] Indeed, as Abbot also points out, Irenaeus’ "text is preserved only in the old Latin version, which of course cannot determine the construction which Irenaeus put upon the Greek."[12] In terms of how Irenaeus may have interpreted the Greek text of the last part of Romans 9:5, we may simply note that "throughout his work against Heresies, and very often, Irenaeus uses the title ‘the God over all’ as the exclusive designation of the Father."[13]

Hippolytus refers to Romans 9:5 twice in his work Against the Heresy of one Noetus. The first reference is used in relation to the Noetians argument that Christ was the Father Himself![14] Hyppolytus then uses Romans 9:5 in support of his own view that Christ is indeed "God over all," for the Father has delivered all things to him (compare Mt 11:27).[15] He also refers to 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 and John 20:17 to show that while Christ is indeed "Lord of all," the Father "is Lord of him." Thus, the grammar of the passage is such that the Noetians felt justified in seeing a reference to Christ as the Father in Romans 9:5. Hippolytus viewed the entire text as a reference to Christ as "God over all," in a somewhat Trinitarian sense, but he still qualified the use of "over all" in such a way that allowed the Father to be Lord over Christ.

Hippolytus applies the term "God" to Christ in Romans 9:5 in such a way that it is redefined to be consistent with Hippolytus’ analogy of "light from light, or as water from a fountain, or as a ray from the sun."[16] The Bible does not use the term God in this way, nor does it make use of such analogies when it comes to the issue of the Logos as theos, in relation to God the Father.

As noted above, Metzger also refers to Tertullian and other early writers and documents as evidence that theos in Romans 9:5 was understood as a reference to Christ. Metzger does, however, refer to at least two Greek Fathers who applied the last part of Romans 9:5 to the Father, namely, Tarsus and Photius.[17] Abbot has much to say about the use of Romans 9:5 among early writers, and we will here defer to his discussion for further consideration of this issue.[18] Metzger’s concluding remarks concerning the evidence from early writers are worth repeating here:

"In assessing the weight of the patristic evidence one must put it within its proper perspective. On the one hand, certainly the Greek Fathers must be supposed to have possessed a unique sensitivity to understand the nuances of a passage written in their own language. On the other hand, however, in the present case the probability must be allowed that dogmatic interests may have swayed (and in many instances undoubtedly did sway) their interpretation. It is therefore prudent to refrain from assigning much weight to the overwhelming consensus of patristic interpretation of the meaning of the passage in question. In fact, the prevailing patristic interpretation of the passage is altogether counterbalanced by what we have seen came to be the prevailing scribal tradition of punctuation in the later manuscripts . . . each tradition neutralizing, so to speak, the force of the other."[19]

VI. Grammatical Analysis

Since the meaning of this verse in our modern translations hinges on how we punctuate the text, are there any grammatical clues that might help us decide which choice of punctuation is best? The two key options revolve around the question of whether we have in Romans 9:5 a concluding doxology (ascription of praise and glory) to Jesus' God and Father (compare Ro 15:5-6) for sending His Son, the Messiah, "according to the flesh," or if theos ("G-god") is a description of Christ.

The first of the two options mentioned above does not see "God who is over all" in apposition (referring back to and further defining) "Christ." Rather, it takes "God who is over all" as the subject of a doxology that concludes with "be praised/blessed forever." The second option would take "God who is over all" as an appositive for "Christ according to the flesh," which would then create a conflict with Trinitarian thinking in terms of a deification of Christ’s human nature. But Harris[20] and others attempt to find an antithesis in this verse between Christ’s human and divine natures, which they believe are present in but one "person."

Harris’ arguments seem to overlook the simple fact that Paul is here using "according to the flesh" just as he did in referring to his own relation to his "relatives according to the flesh" two verses earlier. The Messiah did not simply appear among Israel as Savior and Lord, he really was of Israel, being born in the line of David. There is no antithesis in verse 3, and it is not necessary that the mere presence of kata sarka ("according to the flesh") involves one with "God who is over all" in verse 5. The fact that Paul could have omitted "according to the flesh" in verse 5 is no more significant than the fact that Paul could have omitted "according to the flesh" in verse 3, and ended his statement with "relatives."

Any antithesis in Romans 9:5 would, according to Trinitarianism, have to be devoid of attributing individual being to the Messiah by predicating "God who is over all" of him.[21] But there is nothing to suggest that "God who is over all" could somehow properly be interpreted according to the NT context of thought in relation to a person’s "divine nature" apart from denoting his individual being at the same time.[22] Indeed, a proper antithesis would involve different entities, as even Harris’ examples of a sarx-theos ("flesh" and "God") antithesis reveal.[23]

Harris also argues that the subject preceding the doxology is the most likely referent, which would be "Christ." He states that "in all NT doxologies an explicit link is found between the doxology itself and some preceding word or words. Of course, it is quite possible that we should take o& w#n e*piV pavntwn ("who is over all things") in reference to "Christ," and begin the doxology with "God," not with o& w#n (ho on, "who is"). But Harris himself notes that ho on can introduce a new subject,[24] as in John 3:31.[25]

Still, John 3:31 is not a doxology. However, in Romans 9:5 the doxology involves the use of the adjective eu*loghtov" (eulogetos, "blessed"), which is elsewhere (that is, apart from Ro 9:5) used six times as an adjective in a doxology to God the Father (Lu 1:68; Ro 1:25; 2Co 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1Pe 1:3), and once it is substantivized (used as a noun) as a name for God the Father (Mr 14:61). It is nowhere else used as part of a doxology to Christ.

In view of the overwhelming use of theos for the Father in the Pauline writings,[26] and the unique contextual build-up for Romans 9:5 (see below), there is nothing unusual about taking the words following "according to the flesh" as a doxology to the One responsible for the coming of Christ, as a self-contained expression of thanks and praise to the One who is frequently referred to and distinguished from Christ in the preceding eight chapters of Romans. Indeed, 1 Peter 1:3 begins with a doxology to "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," but any link to the preceding has to skip past the implied referents for humin ("to you" [namely, the "temporary residents" in verse 1]) and "Jesus Christ" to "God the Father." So there need not be any direct correspondence with the subject of the doxology and the immediately preceding subject (see also 2Co 1:3).

If, however, we take the clause beginning with ho on or with theos as a doxology to the Father, why does eulogetos ("blessed") not mark the starting point of the doxology, which is true everywhere else eulogetos occurs as part of a separate doxology? While we would not take Psalm 67:19-20 as the "regulative key for the interpretation of a contested NT passage,"[27] the fact remains that in this text the LXX places eulogetos after kyrios ho theos ("the Lord God"), and then in the following clause it is placed before kyrios. This indicates that either placement is acceptable.[28] It is interesting to note that while both Harris and Metzger refer to Paul’s ordinary placement of eulogetos before the subject as evidence for their position, they are more than willing to overlook the more established and common use of theos in Paul’s writings. Indeed, Metzger argues that "a writer may turn aside from his ordinary usage, or even start a new one, in some particular instance."[29] He should therefore have little difficulty accepting the placement of eulogetos in Romans 9:5.

Further, I do not believe Harris has fully appreciated Abbot’s point on the position of eulogetos in Romans 9:5. He merely cites Abbot as positing that the placing of eulogetos after theos is because "Paul wishes to stress . . . the overruling providence of God as ‘the Ruler over All.’"[30] But Abbot’s point is built on a critical analysis of the context leading up to Romans 9:5, which shows that Paul is focused on the conception of God as the one who rules over all things, "who cares for all men and who controls all events"[31] (such as those leading to the coming of the Messiah according to the flesh). Abbot concludes:

"In simply exclamatory doxologies, the eu*loghtov" [eulogetos] or eu*loghmevno" [eulogemenos] comes first, because the feeling that prompts its use is predominant, and can be expressed in a single word. But here, where the thought of the overruling providence of God is prominent, the o& w#n e*piV pavntwn [ho on epi panton] must stand first in the sentence, to express that prominence; and the position of eu*loghtov" after it is required by the very same law of the Greek language which governs all the examples that have been alleged against the doxological construction of the passage."[32]

VII. Contextual Considerations

Metzger argues that "in view of the apostle’s lamentation over the lapse of the Jews from appropriating to the full their divinely granted prerogatives, there appears to be no psychological explanation that would account for the introduction of a joyful doxology addressed to the Father." He further states, "Both logically and emotionally such a doxology would interrupt the train of thought as well as be inconsistent with the mood of sadness that pervades the preceding verses."[33] What he fails to realize, however, is that the ‘preceding sadness’ becomes joy in Romans 9:5 and is expressed in praise to God for sending the Christ "according to the flesh."

Harris, too, fails to appreciate the significance of the context leading up to Romans 9:5, in relation to how it does indeed support a doxology to God the Father.[34] Both Metzger and Harris, though they make frequent reference to Abbot’s discussion of Romans 9:5, have avoided a detailed interaction with his interpretation of the context leading up to Romans 9:5.[35] Even Timothy Dwight, who argues in favor of translating Romans 9:5 as a reference to Christ as God, and who believes the context leading up to and after Romans 9:5 fits with this conclusion, nevertheless acknowledges:

"We cannot regard an ascription of praise to God as especially out of place at this point. St. Paul had been enumerating the peculiar blessings and honors of his own people, which had given them, as he rejoiced to feel, an exalted position in the world. He was declaring his affection for them, and the absence of all enmity even when compelled to say what might seem harsh and offensive. He was testifying his sorrow for evil which befell them, and his joy and pride in all their history as evidencing God’s favor. These are the thoughts of the first five verses of this chapter. Why could he not, and why should he not, at the close of these verses, and after the enumeration of these blessings, break forth into the exclamation, ‘May he who is over all, God, be blessed for ever!’"[36]

VIII. Theological Import

If Romans 9:5 is accepted as an exclamation of praise and thanks to God the Father for sending Jesus Christ through those to whom God's "covenants and the giving of the Law and the sacred service and the promises" were given (Ro 9:4), then we should likewise be moved with appreciation for God's undeserved kindness. Indeed, he "sent forth his Son as Savior of the world" (1Jo 4:14).

However, if we accept the translation preferred by Trinitarians, then Christ is identified as "God over all" and this in effect eliminates any possibility that Jesus is a person of God. Trinitarians have a difficult time accepting the fact that any reference to Jesus as "G-god," in the Bible, contradicts their view of God, for they have for so long convinced themselves, and even many of their opponents, that if they can just prove that Jesus (and the Father and the holy spirit) are called or identified as "God" in the Bible, then they have proved their case for the Trinity, as there is "only one God" according to the Bible. But those days are now finished. Such attempts to establish the doctrine of the Trinity by means of equivocation and erroneous presuppositions have been[37] exposed for what they are.

Trinitarians often say, "Jesus is God." In view of this, it may seem strange for me to claim that Trinitarians do not really believe that the Son is God, anymore than they believe the Father is God (or the holy spirit, for that matter), but this in fact the case. Again, it is true that Trinitarians often say they believe that the Father is God and that Jesus is God, but what they mean by this is that each of them are divine persons; the Father is the first "person" in the consubstantial (essence-sharing) triad, and the Son is the second "person." They believe that each of them is a "person" within God, and that they share the same substance of being; there is no division of the substance which they share fully and equally.

So, why do Trinitarians tell us they believe Jesus is God, when they really believe he is a "person" of God? The reason is simple: It is much easier for a Trinitarian to make a mental substitution for the term "God" in texts like Romans 9:5 and elsewhere with "person" of God" than it is to explain just what they mean by "God." Since "God" is a biblical term, it "sounds" acceptable enough, and most of the time others will accept the fact that if it can be shown that Jesus is called "God," then this is somehow a point in support of Trinitarianism, which explains why non-Trinitarians have traditionally tried to argue against the translation advanced by the Trinitarians, as opposed to exposing their misuse of the terms involved in the translation. But if a Trinitarian is pressed to define each use of "God" and to explain how they are using the term, namely, for a "person" of God (meaning a "person" of the triune God) or as a reference to the Trinity, then right away it should be clear that post-biblical thoughts and expressions are being introduced into the discussion. This is precisely what is done each time Romans 9:5 is cited in support of the Trinity doctrine.

IX. Conclusion

The New World Translation is not alone in translating Romans 9:5 as an expression of praise and thanks to God the Father. Evidence from early translations comes out on the side of those modern translations which have Christ identified as "God over all" in Romans 9:5. This evidence includes the Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian and Ethiopic versions; the Old Latin and Amiatinus codex are ambiguous.

Some early Greek manuscripts, including A, B, C, L, and others, contain punctuation or spacing that supports the translation which does not call Christ "God over all" in Romans 9:5. The evidence from the early Church Fathers is mixed, with the application of Romans 9:5 to Christ becoming more and more evident from the fourth century onward. Considering that the grammar of the text itself admits of either reading, it is not surprising to find one translation preferred by those in one doctrinal camp, and another adopted by those in the opposing camp.

The grammar of Romans 9:5 will admit of either a rendering that predicates theos of Christ, or one that recognizes a doxology to the God and Father of Jesus Christ. In view of Paul’s use of theos throughout this letter to the Romans and in the rest of his writings, as well as his consistent use of eulogetos for occasions of praise to God in distinction to Christ, it is best to accept the translation which renders this passage as a doxology to God the Father. The grammatical arguments given in support of the translation which makes theos predicate for Christ are relevant, but they are certainly not incontrovertible.

The Trinitarian argument that "there is only one God, and that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each identified as God," involves an equivocation on the word "God." In the first instance it means "the Trinity," and in the second it means "person of God." These meanings are usually hidden behind the one term itself, as this one term ("God") has the advantage of sounding biblical. But the concepts tied to its use, by Trinitarians, have nothing to do with the biblical use of "God," and are the product of post-biblical traditions, developed hundreds of years after the Bible canon closed.

When texts like Romans 9:5 are used by Trinitarians in an attempt to prove their view of God, the question of translation is appropriate, but more significant is the question of how the terms involved in the argument are used. In the case of Romans 9:5, the non-Trinitarian is better off starting with the meaning of the terms used, for in so doing it is likely to prevent any lengthy discussion about the translation of the text itself, at least when it comes to the question of whether or not Romans 9:5 supports the doctrine of the Trinity.


[1] A. W. Wainwright, "The Confession ‘Jesus is God’ in the New Testament," Scottish Journal of Theology 10 (1957), 278-282.

[2] Raymond E. Brown, "Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?" Theological Studies 26.4 (1965), 554, 559-560. Brown lists Romans 9:5 under the category of texts “where obscurity arises from [the] syntax” (p. 554), noting that “distinguished scholars are aligned on both sides” (p. 560). Ultimately, Brown concludes, “at most one may claim a certain probability that this passage refers to Jesus as God” (p. 560).

[3] Vincent Taylor, "Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?" The Expository Times 63.4 (1962), 116-117.

[4] Bruce M. Metzger, "The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5," in Christ and the Spirit in the New Testament, In Honour of Charles Francis Digby Moule, eds. B. Lindars and S. Smalley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 100-101. Metzger’s discussion of the early versions is confined to pages 100-101 of his article.

[5] Metzger, ibid., 97, believes that B has a middle point, but in reviewing the microfilm of Codex B it is quite possible that B has a high point, not a middle point. There is definitely a middle point after "Abraham" in verse 7, which is noticeably lower than the point after "flesh" in verse 5. A middle point is usually taken to indicate a pause such as we might indicate by use of a colon or comma, while a high point is generally used to indicate a full stop, which is why B uses a high point after "Amen" in verse 5. Codex B uses middle points throughout Romans 8, and the point after machaira ("sword") in 8:35 is quite similar in its height to the point after "flesh" in 9:5. Compare the high point after "sword" to the middle points in 8:35, which are clearly intended as minor pauses, not full stops.

[6] Ibid., 97.

[7] The copy of Codex A that I am using is the reduced facsimile produced by the British Museum (London, 1909).

[8] Ibid., 99.

[9] Ezra Abbot, "On the Construction of Romans ix. 5," Journal of Biblical Literature 1 (1881), 152.

[10] Ibid., 136.

[11] ANF 1, 441.

[12] Abbot, "On the Construction of Romans ix. 5," 136.

[13] Ibid., 136. Although Romans 9:5 does not use the article before epi panton theos, whereas the patristic citations in reference to the Father generally do preface the expression with the article, Metzger’s dismissal of the patristic citations because of this difference (Metzger, "The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5," 103, note 14) overlooks several important implications, which are highlighted by Abbot’s observation: "If the Father is ‘God over all,’ and Christ is also ‘God over all,’ the question naturally arises, how the Father can be ‘the God over all,’ unless the term ‘God’ as applied to Christ is used in a lower sense" (Abbot, "On the Construction of Romans ix. 5," 129).

[14] ANF 5, 224.

[15] Ibid., 225.

[16] Ibid., 227.

[17] Metzger, "The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5," 103.

[18] Abbot, "On the Construction of Romans ix. 5," 133-141.

[19] Metzger, "The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5," 103.

[20] Harris, Jesus as God, 155-156.

[21] Thus, Harris (ibid., 166, 167) is forced to redefine theos to mean that Christ "shares the divine nature" and that "he is God by nature." He even goes so far as to suggest that "Paul shows that his Christian experience and reflection have forced him to redefine his hereditary monotheism so as to include Christ within the category of Deity." Contrary to Harris and other Trinitarians, there is no "category of Deity" to which one or more "persons" (who are not individual beings) belong articulated in the Bible. This concept is imported into the Bible and used to interpret passages according to a post-biblical view. Paul shows in Ro 15:5,6 and elsewhere that Christ is not the same God as the Father. The Father is the God of Christ, and is the only one who is God in the fullest and most complete sense of the term. See Greg Stafford, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics, 2d. ed. (Huntington Beach, CA: Elihu Books, 2000), pp. 119-122.

[22] See Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, pp. 59-63.

[23] Harris, Jesus as God, 156, c. He refers to Ro 3:20 (compare verse 21), 9:8, Mt 16:17 (uses "Father," not "God"), Lu 3:6 and 1Co 1:29. But Lu 3:6 and 1Co 1:29 do not involve a contrast at all, and the other three passages (only two of which actually use "God") involve an antithesis between different entities, not an antithesis that involves only one entity. What is more, the contrast that is present in Ro 9:8 and Mt 16:17 is brought out by a*llav (alla, "but") following a negative, which is commonly used in introducing a contrast (see W. Bauer, W.F. Arndt, F.W. Gingrich, and F. W. Danker, Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2d. ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 38, under a*llav). In Ro 3:21 the contrast is set up by nuniV deV (nuni de, "but now"). None of these devices are used in Ro 9:5.

[24] Harris, Jesus as God, 157.

[25] Harris (ibid., 159), following Timothy Dwight’s lead ("On Romans ix. 5," Journal of Biblical Literature 1 [1881], 24), presents a false analogy when he attempts to compare a rewording of 2Co 11:31 with Ro 9:5. Dwight remarks that "if the construction of the verse [2Co 11:31] were so changed as to read [‘the Father or our Lord Jesus Christ knows that I am not lying(;) the one who exists as God over all be blessed into the ages’]" that no one would hesitate in referring "God" back to "the Father." But why would one hesitate to apply "God" to "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" when this is the most common way of referring to the Father? The same is hardly true for Christ, who is frequently distinguished from "God" in the Pauline writings. Additionally, the rewording of 2Co 11:31 by Dwight (approved by Harris) seems quite naturally to involve a pause after pseudomai. The only difference, again, is there is no reason to view the subject of the second clause as different from the preceding one. The same cannot be said of Ro 9:5.

[26] See figure E.1 on pages 390-392 of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended. It is also worth noting that only the Father is elsewhere described as "the one over all" (Eph 4:6). Harris (Jesus as God, 159-160) goes to great lengths to minimize this point, but in his attempts to do so he mistakenly asserts that Christ is "the one who created" the universe according to Col 1:16, 17. See Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, pp. 221-224 for a discussion of these texts.

[27] Harris, Jesus as God, 162.

[28] Harris, (ibid., 162) quotes Dwight ("On Romans ix. 5," 38) who believes the position of eulogetos after "the Lord God" and then preceding "Lord" actually involves a chiastic device designed to give "prominence to the doxological words." This may be true, but if it is true then this is the only occasion among the 15 instances where eulogetos is used in reference to God or his name where the LXX translator(s) of the Psalms felt the need to employ such a device.

[29] Metzger, "The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5," 110.

[30] Harris, Jesus as God, 162.

[31] Abbot, "On the Construction of Romans ix. 5," 105.

[32] Ibid., 105-106.

[33] Metzger, "The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5," 108.

[34] Harris, Jesus as God, 164.

[35] See Abbot, "On the Construction of Romans ix. 5," 87-89, 90-93; Abbot, "Recent Discussions of Romans ix. 5," Journal of Biblical Literature 3 (1883), 95-99.

[36] Dwight, "On Romans ix. 5," 41.

[37] See Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, 2d ed., Chapter 2. Also, see my forthcoming book, Trinitarianism: Language and History (details available at http://www.elihubooks.com).

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