Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

to which we have called attention are, as it appears to us, of much importance. They show that, at the most, very few instances of such use are to be looked for, under any circumstances. They show, also, that St. Paul does not hesitate to employ expressions, which are little short of what this verse would mean, if interpreted as declaring that Christ is God. And, further, they show that one of the other Apostles makes this declaration, with the use of this word, only in one or two places, though he applies the word to God the Father as many times as Paul does in proportion to the extent of his writings. When we bear all this in mind, and remember that the naturalness of the construction in every part of the sentence points to the reference to Christ, the deviation from the Apostle's usual or uniform custom ceases to be so strange as it has been judged to be. Few passages in his Epistles, we must remember also, give a more fitting occasion than this for setting forth this exaltation.

[ocr errors]

II. It is urged as bearing against the reference of the words under discussion to Christ, that doxologies ascribing praise to him are not found in the Apostolic writings. On this point it may be said, (a.) that Rev. i, 6, v. 13, 2 Pet. iii. 18, are clear instances of doxologies to Christ. 2 Tim. iv. 18, is, also, another instance according to the view of commentators in general. Unless all these cases are set aside by denying the apostolic authorship of the books, the argument must be regarded as having no foundation. (6.) 1. Pet. iv. 11, and Heb. xiii. 21, are passages in which such doxologies may possibly be found. If so,--the former is from a book whose author was, in all probability, an apostle. We do not, however, press these cases in the discussion, for we consider them as referring, most probably, not to Christ, but to God the Father. (c) But, whatever may be the result of our search for examples, it is clear that the Apostles speak in the most exalted language of Christ. St. Paul himself unites him with God the Father, in the Apostolic Benediction. He calls him the Lord of glory; the image of God; the Lord from heaven; the Lord of the living and the dead; God's own Son. He represents him as before all things; as the one through whom are all things; as sustaining all things; as having a name that is above every name; as the one to whom all things in heaven and earth and under the earth are to bow. He declares that he was in the form of God; that he is now at the right hand of God; that in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and that he is raised far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and cvery name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come. That one who

says all this should somewhere pass the limits of ordinary language, and even call him God, would hardly surprise us. It would seem to be no more than a fit description of his glory. But much more may we regard it as quite consistent for such a writer, in a passage like Rom. ix. 5, to use a word ascribing to him praise and blessing, even if no instance can be found where a formal doxology occurs. There are not more than ten such doxologies, it may be noticed, in all the Pauline Epistles. There are only two, (2 Cor. i. 3, Eph. i. 3.) where this word εὐλογητός is used.

III. But not merely is the doxological character of the sentence made a ground of rejecting the appplication of it to Christ. The word oós itself is not used anywhere in the New Testament as relating to him; and this circumstance is adduced to show the improbability that he is referred to here. The facts with regard to this matter are these. There are but seven instances of the use of this word, outside of the present verse, in the entire New Testament. There are but four in St. Paul's Epistles. The kindred word on105, occurs in only eleven cases, and six or seven of these are mere repetitions of a single quotation from the Psalms. In this repeated citation and in one other passage, orvos, which is elsewhere used of human beings, is applied to Christ. In Mark xiv. 61, on the other hand, Christ is called "the Son of the Blessed;"ú sòloryzós being employed as a designation of God. With respect to these facts we may remark, (a.) that the number of examples of the use of sorrús seems insufficient to determine usage as invariable,—to the exclusion of even an individual case; (b.) that the application of biorytros, (as distinguished from boyzés), to Christ in six repetitions of an Old Testament verse can scarcely prove that a writer could not make use of the other word in a seventh instance, if he should desire to do so; c) that the two words are found in the Old Testament referring both to God and men, with a somewhat greater freedom than we discover in the very few passages occurring in the New Testament; (d) that, in the case cited from Mark's Gospel, the language is that of the Jewish High Priest who was evidently referring to the declarations of Jesus, that He was the Son of God; and that we cannot fairly conclude from this phrase as thus employed, that, to the Apostolic mind, was an inappropriate word to apply to Christ; (e.) and £nally, that,—considering the very limited amount of evidence which can be brought forward respecting this word, as found in the New Testament books, -the fact that in the only two places similar to the one now under consideration, in which St. Paul uses the word,

(namely Rom. i. 25 and 2 Cor. xi. 31), it is a predicate descriptive of the subject, is deserving of special notice.

a

IV. The distinction made between God and Christ in i Cor. viii. 6. and Eph. iv. 5, 6, is urged as inconsistent with the interpretation of the clause before us as referring to Christ. Undoubtedly, a distinction is set forth in those verses. But it does not seem to follow from this fact, necessarily, that a similar distinction must be made here. If we suppose Christ to be 0ɛós, it cannot be regarded as impossible, or even improbable, that an Apostle should desire at one time to speak of God and Christ in their separate positions and relations, and at another should wish to describe Christ in himself alone. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose, that, in the former case, he should represent Christ as zópios, and God the Father as 0ɛós, adding ú ? πάντων και διά πάντων και εν πάσιν, as Paul does in the Epistle to the Ephesians, and that, in the latter, he should say of Christ á över? πάντων θεύς, as in Rom. ix. 5. That the verses cited have no bearing on the question, we would not affirm. They suggest a certain degree of probability, that the present verse ought to be interpreted as they must be. But we cannot regard them as having any considerable weight, because, on the supposition just made, it becomes so easy to explain the different cases on different grounds, and, thus, to show that they may have no complete parallelism.

a

The points which we have presented on this side of the question, like those on the other side which were previously stated, are in the region of language and its use by the Apostle, and not in that of doctrine. We legitimately investigate the writings of an author and try to determine what his usage is, if we are in doubt respecting the significance or the application of words in a particular passage. So we ordinarily do in the case of a classical Greek writer. So we may, with equal propriety, do when interpreting St. Paul's Epistles. If we find, on such investigation, that he never uses 0£ós elsewhere as applied to Christ; that he never employs the word colorazó5 when speaking of him; that doxologies to Christ are not discoverable in his writings; and that, in certain noticeable passages where a distinction is made between him and the Father, the Father only is called ó & 077wy ; it will scarcely be denied that all these things, when taken together, present a strong probability that a passage which involves these several words and expressions is not a description of Christ, but a doxology to God the Father. We have seen, however, as we think, that, with regard to the last three of these points, the impression which the first statement of them may make upon the mind, is diminished in its force, not to say entirely removed, when we come to consider them more carefully. We may argue usage from five hundred examples with some reason, but from four cases in which Paul has E'shuricus, or ten doxologies all referring to God, we cannot infer a rule of language, from which he could nowhere deviate for what seemed to him sufficient grounds. He certainly sets forth Christ as worthy of glory and honor, if he does not put his words in the form of an ordinary doxology. He does put them in this form, if the passage in the Second Epistle to Timothy, already cited, is allowed as referring to Christ and as written by the Apostle. Moreover, the distinction made between Christ and God in a few passages does not force us to the conclusion that there may not be a union between them, so that, when the former point is before the mind, one Lord and one God are mentioned apart, but, when the other thought is prominent, the one Lord receives the Divine name, which belongs to him as Divine.

We are left, therefore, for the main support of the position assumed upon this side of the question in dispute, to the first of the four arguments presented, -namely, that with reference to the word ons. The force of this argument, we think we may justly say, is very greatly weakened by the suggestions which have been already made respecting it. We are not disposed to deny, however, that it is deserving of careful consideration on the part of all who, in their study of the passage, honestly seek for the truth.

It will be noticed as a somewhat singular fact, as we review these several grounds which are rested upon by the advocates of the reference of the words to God the Father, that they are all connected with and derived from the general usage of the Apostle. They are, thus, brought to bear upon the meaning of the passage from sources which are outside of it. The grounds, on the other hand, which those allege who would make the sentence descriptive of Christ, fall within the limits of the construction of the passage itself. Arguments of both sorts are legitimate, and may be of great value and great strength. But in general; as we think, those which belong to the words themselves, as they stand before us, will carry with them the greater weight, because a writer may turn aside from his ordinary usage, or even start a new one, in some particular sentence.

What a writer's usage is, we determine only by the observation of a certain number of known cases. Whether in a new and hitherto unobserved case he accords with what we have found elsewhere, depends on the possibilities or the probabilities of the phenomena presented by it (that is, its own words and the rules of construction), and on the reasons which may have easily influenced him at the time of writing.

In the present case, all the arguments which are founded upon the probabilities of construction, and of the meaning of individual words, point towards interpreting the sentence as referring to Christ. These arguments, also, grow in strength as we pass from one to another, for each new one seems to gain something from its connection with those which precede it. Combined in their force, they press us to the conclusion that this is the correct interpretation. We find them opposed by only one, which stands the test of examination. This one, like all which are brought forward in union with it, is derived from the alleged unvarying custom of the Apostle elsewhere, to use a particular word or phrase in a particular way. But, considering all that has been said respecting this word, as connected with the exalted idea of Christ which the Apostle sets forth in language bearing the highest meaning, this argument does not seem to meet the full force of those which it opposes. It leaves the mind of the student or reader, therefore, to follow the pathway to which they point, and, thus, to interpret as the English text reads: "of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever."

At the same time, so long as this argument from usage retains any considerable measure of its weight, the candid scholar must feel, we think, that a marginal rendering ought to be given. The English reader should, by this means, be put in possession of the knowledge of the fact, that the Greek words may possibly have another meaning --that they may reser not to Christ, but to the Father. The Revisers on both sides of the ocean have only been faithful to the demands laid upon them, as they have introduced such a marginal rendering into their amended version. It is idle to say, as a distinguished English writer and bishop has recently done, that the translation which makes these words a doxology to God the Father is “a mere evasion of acute minds, occupied by dogmatic prepossessions against the Divinity of Jesus.” The discussion of the subject in this paper has been wholly in the field of language and grammar. It has occupied itself with the meaning of words, the construction of sentences, and the usage of the writer; and with these things only. But it has shown that there is an uncertainty in the very form of expression which the Apostle here uses, and that the clause allows two different explanations. It has shown, also, that these have just grounds on which to claim attention.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »