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To the class of mistranslations might strictly be referred a very large part of all the passages adduced by Trinitarians, as will appear from what
I. There is no similar rule respecting "names of substances considered as substances." Thus we may say ó Xíðos kaì xpvσós, without repeating the article before xpvoós, though we speak of two different substances. The reason of this limitation of the rule is stated to be that "distinct real essences cannot be conceived to belong to the same thing"; or, in other words, that the same thing cannot be supposed to be two different substances. In this case, then, it appears that the article is not repeated, because its repetition is not necessary to prevent ambiguity. This is the true principle which accounts for all the limitations and exceptions to the rule that are stated by Bishop Middleton and others. It is mentioned thus early, that the principle may be kept in mind; and its truth may be remarked in the other cases of limitation or of exception to be quoted. II. No similar rule applies to proper names. "The reason," says Middleton, "is evident at once; for it is impossible that John and Thomas, the names of two distinct persons, should be predicated of an individual." (p. 86.) This remark is not to the purpose; for the same individual may have two names. The true reason for this limitation is, that proper names, when those of the same individual, are not connected by a copulative or copulatives, and therefore that, when they are thus connected, no ambiguity arises from the omission of the article.
III. "Nouns," says Middleton, "which are the names of abstract ideas, are also excluded; for, as Locke has well observed, 'Every distinct abstract idea is a distinct essence, and the names which stand for such distinct ideas are the names of things essentially different."" (Ibid.) It would therefore, he reasons, be contradictory to suppose that any quality were at once ἀπειρία and ἀπαιδευσία. But the names of abstract ideas are used to denote personal qualities, and the same personal qualities, as they are viewed under different aspects, may be denoted by different names. The reason assigned by Middleton is therefore without force. The true reason for the limitation is, that usually no ambiguity arises from the omission of the article before words of the class mentioned.
IV. The rule, it is further conceded, is not of universal application as it respects plurals; for, says Middleton, "Though one individual
follows; but my purpose under the present head has been to remark only on a few, in which the error is more gross than usual, or the misuse of
may act, and frequently does act, in several capacities, it is not likely that a multitude of individuals should all of them act in the same several capacities: and, by the extreme improbability that they should be represented as so acting, we may be forbidden to understand the second plural attributive of the persons designed in the article prefixed to the first, however the usage in the singular might seem to countenance the construction." (p. 90.)
V. Lastly, "we find," he says, "in very many instances, not only in the plural, but even in the singular number, that where attributives are in their nature absolutely incompatible, i. e. where the application of the rule would involve a contradiction in terms, there the first attributive only has the article, the perspicuity of the passage not requiring the rule to be accurately observed.” (p. 92.)
Having thus laid down the rule, with its limitations and exceptions, Bishop Middleton applies it to some of the passages in the New Testament adduced by Mr. Sharp in proof of the divinity of Christ. These were Acts xx. 28 (supposing the true reading to be Toû kupiov Kai Ocov); Ephes. v. 5; 2 Thess. i. 12; 1 Tim. v. 21 (if kupíov should be retained in the text); 2 Tim. iv. 1 (if we read Toû Dεoû Kai Kupiov); Titus ii. 13; 2 Peter i. 1; Jude 4 (supposing cov to belong to the text). In four of these eight texts, the reading adopted to bring them within the rule is probably spurious, as may be seen by referring to Griesbach; and they are in consequence either given up, or not strongly insisted upon, by Middleton. In one of the remaining, 2 Thess. i. 12, the reading is κarà Tǹv xáρiv Tοû Đeοû ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Of this Middleton is “ disposed to think that it affords no certain evidence in favor of Mr Sharp," because he believes that κύριος in the form of Κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός became as a title so incorporated with the proper name as to be subject to the same law." (pp. 554, 564.) The three remaining texts are those on which he principally relies.
By the application of the rule to the passage last mentioned, it is inferred that Christ is called "God," and "the great God"; and it is affirmed that the rule requires us to understand these titles as applied to him. The general answer to this reasoning is as follows.
It appears by comparing the rule with its exceptions and limita
which has principally arisen from their being incorrectly rendered. As may readily be supposed, the different classes of texts that I have formed
tions, that it in fact amounts to nothing more than this: that when substantives, adjectives, or participles are connected together by a copulative or copulatives, if the first have the article, it is to be omitted before those which follow, when they relate to the same person or thing; and is to be inserted, when they relate to different persons or things, EXCEPT when this fact is sufficiently determined by some other circumstance. The same rule exists respecting the use of the definite article in English.
The principle of exception just stated is evidently that which runs through all the limitations and exceptions which Middleton has laid down and exemplified, and is in itself perfectly reasonable. When, from any other circumstance, it may be clearly understood that dif ferent persons or things are spoken of, then the insertion or omission of the article is a matter of indifference.
But if this be true, no argument for the deity of Christ can be drawn from the texts adduced. With regard to this doctrine, the main question is, whether it were taught by Christ and his Apostles, and received by their immediate disciples. Antitrinitarians maintain that it was not; and consequently maintain that no thought of it was ever entertained by the Apostles and first believers. But if this supposition be correct, the insertion of the article in these texts was wholly unnecessary. No ambiguity could result from its omission. The imagination had not entered the minds of men, that God and Christ were the same person. The Apostles in writing, and their converts in reading, the passages in question, could have no more conception of one person only being understood, in consequence of the omission of the article, than of supposing but one substance to be meant by the terms ὁ λίθος καὶ χρυσός, on account of the omission of the article before xpvoós. These texts, therefore, cannot be brought to disprove the Antitrinitarian supposition, because this supposition must be proved false, before these texts can be taken from the exception and brought under the operation of the rule. The truth of the supposition accounts for the omission of the article.
[On the subject of this note, one may further consult the able tract of the Rev. Calvin Winstanley, entitled "A Vindication of certain
run into each other; the misinterpretation of a passage not unfrequently having its origin in more than one cause.*
Passages relating to God, which have been incorrectly applied to Christ.
THE first which I shall mention belongs likewise to the head of mistranslations. It is Romans ix. 5, thus rendered in the Common Version: "Whose
Passages in the Common English Version of the New Testament. Addressed to Granville Sharp, Esq."; published in 1805, and reprinted, with additions, at Cambridge (Mass.) in 1819. See also an essay by Professor Stuart, entitled "Hints and Cautions respecting the Greek Article," in the Biblical Repository for April 1834; and the Rev. T. S. Green's "Grammar of the New Testament Dialect," (London, 1842,) p. 205, seqq., a work containing many acute observations. Winer, in his Grammar of the New Testament Idiom,
18. 5, shows that there is no ground for the inference which Middleton and others would draw from the omission of the article in Titus ii. 13 and Jude 4.]
[It may here be proper to notice the gross mistranslation of Hebrews ii. 16, which reads, " For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." The Italics are those of the Common Version, the words thus printed being a wholly unauthorized addition of the translators. The verse should be rendered: "For he, truly, does not give aid to angels [i. e. is not the Saviour of angels]; but he gives aid to the offspring of Abraham." The passage is thus understood by all modern interpreters of any note.-It may also be remarked, that in the 14th verse of the same chapter "took part of" is improperly used for "partook of," "shared."]
are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for Amen."
It must, one would think, strike a Trinitarian, who maintains the correctness of this construction and rendering, as a very extraordinary fact, that the title of "God over all blessed for ever," which is nowhere else given to Christ, should be introduced thus incidentally and abruptly, without explanation or comment, and without any use being made of the doctrine. The supposed fact appears still more extraordinary and unaccountable, when we recollect that one main purpose of the Epistle to the Romans was to meet the prejudices and errors of the unbelieving Jews respecting Christianity; and that the doctrine which the Apostle is imagined to have asserted so briefly and explicitly, and then to have left without attempting to clear it from a single objection, must have been in the highest degree obnoxious to them; and one, therefore, which, in consistency with the design of the Epistle, required the fullest illustration and defence. In the second century, Justin Martyr, though far indeed from affirming that Christ was "God over all," maintained that he was "another god," the Logos of the Supreme. In the Dialogue which he represents himself as having held with an unbelieving Jew, Trypho, in defence of Christianity, he brings forward views and arguments similar to those in the Epistle to the Romans; but in addition to these we find a new topic, the deity of Christ, occupying a great part of the discussion.