Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sharp's Rule (A response to a major accusation made by Robert H. Countess)

The following is a reply to one of the major accusations made by Robert H. Countess in his book defaming the Bible translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses: "The Jehovah's Witnesses' New Testament - A Critical Analysis of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures [NWT]," Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1982 (2nd ed. 1987).

Sharp's Rule

On pp. 66-69 Countess examines some "God and Savior" passages and invokes "Sharp's Rule" to help "prove" that "God" and "Christ" ("the Savior") are the very same person! This rule claims that when two nouns are connected by "and" and the first noun has the article ("the") and the second does not have the article ("the"), then both nouns always refer to the same person. (In other words, "She saw the lord and master" would mean she saw a single person since "lord" has the article ("the") with it and "master" does not. Likewise, "She saw the boy and girl" would have to mean the boy and girl are both the very same person!)

Sharp's Rule is so invalid that even many trinitarian scholars disavow it! It relies on flawed conclusions based on well-known grammatical errors. Rather than cover all the evidence against this "rule" again (see SHARP and SHARP-PRIMER studies), I'll merely address Countess' statement concerning the great "dishonesty" of the NWT concerning Sharp's Rule and Titus 2:13.

He quotes from the appendix of the 1950 NWT concerning Titus 2:13. Here the NWT quotes from trinitarian J. H. Moulton's A Grammar of New Testament Greek. Moulton denies any absolute rule of grammar proving that "God" and "Christ Jesus" in Titus 2:13 are the same person. Being trinitarian, however, he points out that 5 manuscripts of the 7th century A.D. (medieval and trinitarian) do use the phrase "Jesus Christ our God and Savior." Moulton adds, however, that the complete statement used in these manuscripts is "in the name of the Lord and Master Jesus Christ our God and Savior and of our mistress the holy mother of God." The NWT points out that by the 7th century the Roman Church had not only embraced (and forced upon its members under penalty of banishment and death) the non-biblical Trinity Doctrine (325 A.D.) - see HIST study paper - but also the non-biblical doctrine that Mary is the mother of God. Just because the trinitarian "Christians" of the 7th century used the expression "Jesus Christ our God and Savior" and "Mary the mother of God" does not provide support for believing the inspired Bible writers of the 1st century (over 200 years before Nicaea and the enforced trinity doctrine) used similar expressions.

But Countess then writes emphatically (p. 68):

This investigator is utterly amazed to observe how NWT translators can discount so casually `7th century' papyri when the Hebrew translations constantly cited to support their restoration of `Jehovah' to the sacred [New Testament] text are themselves much later. (Italics are Countess' own.)

The 7th century papyri in question are not Scripture, copies of Scripture, nor even translations of Scripture. These are independent writings of extremely trinitarian individuals (whether they believed it or not, they had to write and speak trinitarian-supporting statements or be severely punished by the Roman Catholic Church - see HIST study paper). They are not NT Greek language experts showing us how they believe Titus 2:13 should be translated! It is to be expected that trinitarians of the 7th century in their own uninspired writings would call Jesus "our God and Savior"! This has absolutely no bearing on the proper translation of the inspired first century scriptures 600 years earlier!

For New Testament language experts and translators to indicate their understanding of how the inspired scriptures should be translated is worthy of note and in no way compares with the situation of the 7th century "Christians" above. Countess himself refers to Bible translators and language experts of relatively recent and modern times to support his own preference of how a scripture should be translated (e.g., Colwell: pp. 48-49,53; Metzger: p. 53; RSV, CBW, NEB, ASV : p. 80). That is exactly what the NWT has done with the translation of kurios as "Jehovah" at certain places in the NT! It has referred to a number of translations by other Bible translators and NT language experts who have translated in the same way! The fact that these translators and language experts are of relatively recent times is so much the better: knowledge of NT Greek and the original Bible manuscripts has been increasing for the last 1000 years! (Because evidence for "trinitarian" meanings found in actual manuscript copies of scripture are relatively meaningless after the 4th century A.D. when the Roman Church began enforcing its new trinity doctrine, it's `the older the better' for actual manuscripts of scripture, since it is no secret that many changes have been made in later manuscripts by copyists who often tried to provide "scriptural" evidence for their doctrinal beliefs. So, generally, "the older it is the better it is" for Bible manuscripts.)

Please examine again Countess' great indignation above in his "apples and oranges" misstatement!

Then, p. 69, he states:

"By way of criticism, the investigator [Countess himself] must take sharp exception to the entire appendix [of the NWT concerning Titus 2:13]. First, it drastically fails to meet the real problem: that the ascription of `Savior' is to both God the Father and to Jesus Christ in the same epistle - not to mention the other Pastorals. This matter is completely passed over in silence.

"Secondly, the translation, `the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus,' interpolates the preposition `of' before `our Savior.' This addition to the text implies that the happy hope and manifestation of glory will be an event in which two personages will be seen, God and Christ Jesus. But the contrary may be seen to be true, and for this reason. More than a century ago Granville Sharp formulated a rule concerning the Greek article with nouns connected by kai [`and'] .... [Applying Sharp's Rule] to Titus 2:13 ... one observes that tou [`the'] goes with `God' and `Savior.' This future expected hope and manifestation is that brought by the advent of the one person `Jesus Christ, the great God and our Savior.'"

There has never been a problem with God being called "the Savior" and others also being called "saviors." Even though God says "besides me there is no savior" (Is. 43:11), we should not believe that the Bible does not call others "savior"! It has always been clear that God is the ultimate savior but that he saves through other people and agencies. Those people and agencies may be called "savior" also.

In other words, it would be ludicrous to insist that, since Othniel (Judges 3:9) and Ehud (Judges 3:15) are both called "savior" (the very same OT word translated "savior" at Is. 43:11), they both must be God! (Also see Obadiah 21.)

This is further illustrated at Judges 6:14 where Jehovah commands Gideon to save Israel. But later the savior, Gideon, says it is Jehovah who is saving Israel (Judges 6:37). If we insisted on using trinitarian-type evidence, then, we would insist that Jehovah and Gideon must both be God (or the same person)! Instead, an honest, objective examination would show that Gideon (like Ehud, Othniel, and others) may have been the savior of Israel, but it was ultimately Jehovah, who in the highest sense was savior of Israel through Gideon.

With this proper understanding in mind examine Jude 25. KJV using an outdated, inferior text has rendered this incorrectly, but nearly all modern translations, using better texts, translate Jude 25: "To the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord" - RSV. The word "through" explains how Jesus (like Gideon, Ehud, etc.) can be called "savior" even though Jehovah is the only ultimate savior! - Compare 1 Thess. 5:9; John 3:17; Rev. 7:10 in modern Bibles.

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (trinitarian) also tells us:
"Because God is the initiator [source] of salvation, both he and Christ are called soter, saviour..." - p. 78, Vol. 2, Zondervan, 1986.

So there is certainly no mystery about Jehovah being called the savior and Jesus being called the savior. This is not evidence of a 2-in-one God at all! That such an obvious and well-known fact should be "passed over in silence" by the NWT appendix writers should not be surprising. (It is explained in other literature that all JWs should be familiar with.)

Even the implication that the NWT has dishonestly added "of" to "our Savior" in Titus 2:13 is absolute devious deception!

Every New Testament language scholar (from beginning novice to expert) knows that genitive nouns (like "Savior" at Titus 2:13) literally include "of" in their meaning! Yes, the genitive soteros in Titus 2:13 literally means "of savior" whether the translator decides to include it in his translation or not! It is no different from the genitives "God" (theou), "Christ" (christou), or "lord" (kuriou) which literally mean "of God," "of Christ," and "of lord."

For example, although theou is sometimes translated "God" at Eph. 5:5, the following trinitarian Bibles render it more literally as "of God": "In the kingdom of Christ [literally "the Christ"] and of God" - KJV; also NIV; RSV; NRSV; LB; NEB; REB; MLB; NAB (both 1970 and 1991 editions); GNB (& TEV); MKJV; Webster; Weymouth; and Phillips translations. (Obviously "Sharp's Rule" doesn't work here for these respected trinitarian translations.)

And although kuriou is sometimes translated "Lord" at 2 Thess. 1:12, the following trinitarian Bibles render it literally as "of Lord": "tender mercy of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" - Living Bible; also MLB; GNB; NAB (1970 ed.); Douay Version; Darby; Webster; and Weymouth translations; and Barclay's Daily Study Bible. (Obviously "Sharp's Rule" also doesn't work here for these respected trinitarian translators.)

And although christou is sometimes translated "Christ" at 1 Tim 5:21, the following trinitarian Bibles render it literally as "of Christ": "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus" - Revised Standard Version; also NRSV; NASB; MLB; GNB (& TEV); and Weymouth's translation. (Again "Sharp's Rule" doesn't work here for these respected trinitarian translators, either.)

And, again, at 2 Tim. 4:1 christou may be translated "Christ" in a few trinitarian Bibles, but the following trinitarian Bibles render it literally as "of Christ" - RSV; NIV; NASB; GNB; TEV; MLB; NRSV; NAB (1970 and 1991); Weymouth; and Phillips translations. ("Sharp's Rule" certainly doesn't work here for most trinitarian translators, either.)

So when we see the genitive soteros [`savior'] in the NT manuscripts, even though it literally means "of savior," we may honestly translate it as either "of savior" or "savior"! That is why even these trinitarian Bibles have translated soteros at Titus 2:13 as: "we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ" - New American Bible (1991 ed.); "we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus" - NAB (1970); "we hope and wait for the glorious denouement of the great God and of Jesus Christ our savior" - Phillips.

When Countess implies that the NWT has dishonestly added "of" at Titus 2:13, he is hypocritically taking advantage of the trust of the average member of Christendom who has little or no knowledge of NT Greek grammar. Sharp's Rule is completely untrustworthy (at best) and the NWT rendering of Titus 2:13 (and other "Sharp's constructions") is perfectly honest.

Also see:
SHARP'S RULE - Pt 1 (Examining the Trinity)

SHARP'S Rule - Pt 2 (Endnotes) (Examining the Trinity)

'Sharp's Rule' Primer (Examining the Trinity)

NWT - Criticism by Zondervan's So Many Versions? - Sharp's Rule (DNWT)

Trinitarian Apologetics: A Case Study Involving Rob Bowman and Granville Sharp (Jehovah's Witnesses United)

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