Titus 2:13: "....of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus." NWT.
Why do some Bible versions render Titus 2:13 as if it were referring only to one person, Jesus, calling him God andSavior?
In the New World Translation Titus 2:13
reads: "While we wait for the happy hope and glorious
manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ
However, many Bible translators have rendered the last part of the verse as if it meant only one person, Jesus. For example, An American Translation says: " . . . the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus." Such translators often claim that this sort of rendering conforms to a "rule" of Greek grammar. Yet the Trinity doctrine also inclines them toward such a translation.
A literal translation of the Greek phrase is, "glory of the great God and Saviour of us Christ Jesus." ( The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, by Dr. Alfred Marshall) Observe that there is a single article (the) preceding two nouns (God, Savior) that are joined by the conjunction "and."
Over a century ago, Granville Sharp formulated what is supposed to be a "rule" applying in such constructions. It asserts that, since the article (the) is not repeated before the second noun (Savior), the two nouns refer to the same person or subject. This would mean that "great God" and "Savior" would both be descriptive of Jesus, as if the meaning were 'of Jesus Christ, the great God and our Savior.'
Persons inclined to believe in the deity of Jesus sometimes give the impression that the above position is demanded by proper Greek grammar. But that is not so. In fact, the validity of the "rule being applied in Titus has been much debated by scholars.
For example, Dr. Henry Alford (The Greek Testament, Vol. III) says: "No one disputes that it may mean that which they have interpreted it" as meaning, but he adds that one needs rather to determine the 'what the words mean.' And that cannot be settled by grammatical rules.
A Grammar of NewTestament Greek(Moulton-Turner, 1963) states about Titus 2:13: "The repetition of the art[icle] was not strictly necessary to ensure that the items be considered separately." What, though, about "Sharp's rule"? Dr. Nigel Turner admits: "Unfortunately, at this period of Greek we cannot be sure that such a rule is really decisive." (Grammatical Insights into the New Testament,1965) As to the Greek construction used, Professor Alexander Buttmann points out: "It will probably never be possible, either in reference to profane literature or to the N[ew] T[estament], to bring down to rigid rules which have no exception, . . .-A Grammar of the New Testament Greek.
In The Expositor's Greek Testament, Dr. N. J. D. White observes: The grammatical argument . . . is too slender to bear much weight, especially when we take into consideration not only the general neglect of the article in these epistles but the omission of it before "Savior" in 1 Timothy 1:1; 4:10. And Dr. Alford stresses that in other passages where Paul uses expressions like "God our Savior" he definitely does not mean Jesus, for "the Father and the Son are most plainly distinguished from one another."(1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3-5) This agrees with the overall teaching of the Bible that Jesus is a created Son who is not equal to his Father.-John 14:28; 1 Cor. 11:3.
Thus, Dr. White concludes: 'On the whole, then, we decide in favour of the rendering of this passage, appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.' A number of modern translations agree. In the main text or in footnotes they render Titus 2:13 as speaking of two distinct persons, "the great God" who is Jehovah, and his Son, "our Savior, Christ Jesus," both of whom have glory. (Luke 9:26; 2 Tim. 1:10) See The New American Bible, The Authentic New Testament, The Jerusalem Bible (footnote) and the translations by J. B. Phillips, James Moffatt and Charles K. Williams.
w81 4/1 31 Questions from Readers
Jude 4 verse--"the only Master and Lord of us, Jesus Christ" is identical in construction to the Titus 2:13 verse--"The Great God and Savior of us, Jesus Christ." Yet, the NWT puts a "the" in brackets in front of "Savior" in the Titus verse, to imply two persons, when there was no "the" in the original Greek, nor is one necessary in English to make it better or smoother English. Yet your own Watchtower says only one person is meant in the Jude verse, but two in the Titus verse--yet the construction is identical. Why didn't the NWT put a "the" in brackets in front of "Lord" in the Jude 4 verse? And furthermore, the English in the Jude 4 verse in the NWT is perfectly good and smooth--"our only owner and Lord, Jesus Christ." Yet, with the same construction of the verse in Titus 2:13, the NWT is unbelievably awkward--"of the Great God and of (the) Savior of us, Jesus Christ." Why? My only conclusion is that they wanted to give the impression that Two Persons are meant. If they had wanted to do that, why not simply write, "of the great God and of our Savior, Jesus Christ." It's still awkward, though not as bad as in the NWT. That is what the ASV does. But maybe it doesn't imply two Persons asmuch as the very awkward NWT version does.
The contruction is the same but that does not mean that the contruction itself determines if one or two individuals are indicated. The NWT did not put a "the" in front of "Lord" in Jude 4 as it did with "Savior" in Titus 2.13 because "Lord" in the Greek is in the accusative so a "of" is not implicit here as it is with "Savior" which is in the genitive and hence why the NWT opted for a "the" because of bringing out the genitive contruction in the English translation. The NWT was following the Greek closely here. The Greek word order is "...and of-saviour of-us of-Christ Jesus." Compare the NWT's "and of [the] Saviour of us, Christ Jesus." They do this because, no doubt, they believe that "the great God" and "Christ Jesus" are two separate individuals and so when keeping close to the Greek word order and using the genitive "of" would then require the use of the English article. In Jude 4 the Greek word order is "...and Lord of-us of-Jesus Christ." Although both contructions are the same, that is, we have in these, two nouns joined by kai, "and", but which the first only has the article, there are differences that while would not decide if one or two individuals are indicated does mean that a translation of them will differ in some way. Notice that in Jude 4 kurios is not in the genitive as swthros is but the accusative. The reason why the NWT opted for the word order they did in Jude 4, that is, by placing the possessive pronoun "our", which was the translation of emwn "of-us," before both nouns, "Owner" and "Lord" is simply because they believed that only one individual was meant and so could place the possesive pronoun "our" where they did but, obviously, taking Titus 2.13 to mean two individuals they could not do that and while showing that "Savior" was in the genitive in the Greek by use of "of" in "and of(the) Savior.." they could not then translate emwn "of-us" as "ours" for then we would have "and of (the) Savior ours, Christ Jesus." Notice that the NAB also shifts the possessive pronoun "our" from its position in the Greek before Iesoun to before "Master."
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