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NOTE C. (See p. 7.)
On the expression, του μεγάλου θεού.
There is no other passage in the N. T. in which this expression occurs, the reading of the “received text” in Rev. xix. 17 having very slender support. But the epithet "great" is so often applied to God in the Old Testament and later Jewish writings, and is so appropriate in connection with the display of the divine power and glory in the event referred to, that it is very wonderful that the use of the word here should be regarded as an argument for the reference of the Osós to Christ on the ground that "God the Father did not need the exalting and laudatory epithet péyas," as Usteri says (Paulin. Lehrbegriff, 5 te Aufl., p. 326. It might be enough to answer, with Fritzsche, " At ego putaveram, Deum quum sit magnus, jure etiam magnum appellari" (Ep. ad Rom. ii. 268). But the following references will show how naturally Paul might apply this designation to the Father: Deut. viii. 21 (Sept. and Heb.); x. 17. 2 Chr. ii. 5 (4). Neh. i. 5; vii. 6; ix. 32. Ps. lxxvii. 13; 1xxxvi. 10. Jer. xxxii. 18,19. Dan. ii. 45; ix. 4. Psalt. Sal. ii. 33. 3 Macc. vii. 2. Comp. újép0705 0£ós, 3 Macc. i. 16; iii. 11; v. 25; vii. 22; "the great Lord," Ecclus. xxxix. 6; xlvi. 5. 2 Macc. v. 20; xii. 15. So very often in the Sibylline Oracles; I have noted 31 examples in the Third Book alone, the principal part of which was the production of a Jewish writer in the second century before Christ.
Though all will agree that God, the Father, does not need " exalting epithets, such epithets are applied to him freely by the Apostle Paul and other writers of the N. T. For example, he is called by Paul “ the incorruptible God," " the living God,” “the eternal God,” “the only wise God," "the only God," “ the invisible God," "the living and true God," “ the blessed God;" and since there is no other place in which the apostle has unequivocally designated Christ as 0:ús, much less 0€ós with a high epithet, it certainly seems most natural to suppose that ó péyas 0:65 here designates the Father. Professor Wace (in the “ Speaker's Commentary") appeals to 1 John v. 20, where he assumes that Christ is designated as "the true God." But he must be aware that this depends on the reference of the pronoun ottos, and that many of the best expositors refer this to the leading subject of the preceding sentence, namely, tùy diyo.vóv; so e. g. Erasmus, Grotius, Wetstein, Michaelis, Lücke, DeWette, Meyer, Neander, Huther, Düsterdieck, Gerlach, Brückner, Ewald, Holtzmann, Braune, Haupt, Rothe, C. F. Schmid, Reuss, Alford, and Sinclair (in Ellicott's N. T. Comm.); and so the grammarians Alt, Winer, Wilke, Buttmann, aud Schirlitz; comp. also John xvii. 3. So doubtful a passage, and that not in the writings of Paul but John, can hardly serve to render it probable that Paul has here applied the c'esignation ó péya: 0:05 to Christ rather than to God, the Father.
In regard to the question whether the permission to separate, in this verse, leaves the believer who has been deserted by the husband or wife free to marry again : Meyer says, yes ; because Paul's permission in this case is based on the fact, necessary to his interpretation of the Lord's command, that that command applies only to cases in which both parties are believers, i. e., that it is a Christian, not a general law. DeWette makes the same answer, though on the entirely different ground that the case contemplated here, like the one treated as an exception to his prohibition of divorce by our Lord, is one in which the marriage tie is actually broken. But, as regards Meyer's position, it seems scarcely tenable that our Lord's command is to be treated as merely Christian, and not general law. For his argument in Mt. 19 is based on the original relations of man and woman, established at creation and inherent in their structure, and must therefore be universal in its application, not limited to Christians. It is true that in Mt. 5, Christ is laying down the law of his kingdom, but that law is based on universal human relations and obligations, and is applicable in all its parts to man as such. And in Mt. 19. Christ is discussing what is lawful under the Jewish dispensation, but on the same general grounds. As to De Wette's position, that both in our Lord's treatment of the matter and in Paul's, the exception to the law is reducible to an actual dissolution of the marriage tie, which leaves the party divorced free, our Lord, instead of leaving it so that the two cases can be classed together in this way, himself draws the line between them, and declares that, where there is divorce without adultery, he who marries the divorced party commits adultery. Our Lord does not consider divorce an actual, but only a formal dissolution of the marriage tie.
On the whole, then, it seems that we can go just as far as the apostle does in his exception to the statement of our Lord, and no further. Because there is the line which separates between obedience and infraction of that law. The law is that marriage is a physical connection based on the physical relation of the sexes, and can be dissolved properly only physically and really, not formally. And hence to contract another marriage when there had been no such real dissolution, is, as our Lord says, to commit adultery, which is certainly applicable to this case. But what the apostle actually permits involves no infraction of the law on the part of the believer to whom he is speaking. For when he advises the Christian to allow the unbeliever to depart in order to avoid strife, it simply means that he is to accept the situation forced on him, he himself being passive in the matter. And it is important to notice that the apostle says not a word against the obligation of the unbelieving husband or wife to keep up the connection, but simply permits him to have his way, as something beyond the apostle's control. But if we may judge from what he commands in the case over which he as a Christian apostle does have control, we should say that he does not consider the action permitted to be morally right.
On Romans ix. 5.
BY PROF. TIMOTHY DWIGHT, D. D.
The English Version of 1611, as is well known, rendered this verse, " Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” As thus dered, the verse has been regarded as asserting in the plainest terms the Divinity of our Lord, and has been used by theologians with much confidence and much emphasis in controversies with opponents. The Revised Version of 1881 gives a similar translation in its text : “ Whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." This Version, however, adds a marginal note in the following words: “Some modern interpreters place a full stop after flesh, and translate, He who is God over all be (is) blessed forever; or He who is over all is God, blessed
forever. Others punctuate, flesh, who is over all. God be (is) blessed forever." For this note, which is the suggestion of the Revision Company in England, the American Revisers propose to substitute, in accordance with the common form of expression adopted in such cases, the word Or, and to read, “Or, flesh: he who is over all, God, be blessed for ever.” The New Version, thus, recognises the possibility of a different rendering from that which it still retains from the old one, or, at least, acknowledges that a portion of the scholars of recent times have believed such a rendering to be correct. The ordinary reader of the English New Testament is now, accordingly, put in possession of what his fathers did not, in general, know—the fact that to some scholarly minds the words do not appear to declare the Divinity of Christ, or to assert that he is God over all blessed for ever.
The renewed examination of a passage of so much importance could scarcely be regarded as unsuitable at any time. Certainly it cannot be so at present, when the attention of all readers is called to the words by the added notes of the Revisers in both nations. The questions may well be asked, Whether the rendering of the Old Version ought to be retained in the new work; whether, if retained, it ought to be accompanied by a marginal note giving another explanation ; and in what form this note, if added, ought to be expressed. The most important, as well as the most interesting of these questions, however, is the one first mentioned.
the one first mentioned. Is the true translation of the words of the Apostle that which we find in the text of the Revised Version, or does some construction of the clause presented in the margin deserve to be considered as the one originally intended ?
We should approach the consideration of this question, as it seems to us, first as verbal and grammatical interpreters alone, -asking, apart from all regard to St. Paul's doctrinal teaching, what the words before us most naturally mean, in the connection in which they stand ; and only afterwards should we take our view of them as looking from the general doctrine of the Apostle. This is the natural order of examination in all cases. The words of a particular passage have a right to be interpreted by the common rules of language, and to have their meaning determined in independence of anything beyond the limits of their own context. A writer may not have intended to bring out, in a particular place, what he states as the substance of his teaching elsewhere. He may even have a different yiew of truth at one time from that which he has at another. We owe it to him to take and explain the sentence which he gives us to read, precisely as he gives it. This order, also, is the safest one. By following it, we are least exposed to those doctrinal pre-judgments which are so apt to make us all partial and one-sided in our dealing with the words of Scripture. But, while we look at the passage offered for examination at first in this way, we fail in duty, when we undertake to interpret a writer like St. Paul, unless, before our final decision, we inquire whether the meaning assigned by us to what he says is out of harmony with the Christian doctrine which he teaches.
Proceeding after this manner, let us consider the verse under discussion in view of its words or phrases, and their natural connection and construction. To which of the renderings are we led as the more probable one, or the only allowable one, when we pursue our inquiries in this way? for convenience in our comparison, we select the American marginal translation as the one to put in contrast with that of the text, reserving what may be said upon the other suggestions, in the English note, to a later point. We propose, also, to place the considerations favoring the translation in the text of the Revised Version first in order, and to follow them with some suggestions respecting those upon the opposite side of the question.