Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

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Paidion
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Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by Paidion » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:24 pm

Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Consider Hebrews 1:8 as it is almost universally translated:

But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. (ESV)

However, the Greek for “God” is “ο θεος” (ho theos). The word “theos” and the article “ho” preceding it, is literally “the God” and is in the nominative case. That means that “ho theos” is used as the subject of a sentence—not a form of address. When God is addressed, the word “God” must be in the vocative case which for “God” in the second person singular is “θεε”.

Many will tell you that the vocative can be expressed with the nominative case. Or they may say that “ο θεος” can be the vocative case as well as the nominative case. They tell you there are many examples in the Greek NT or in the Greek Septuagint of the OT. I believe that to be a mistake. I searched but have never yet encountered a clear example of this.

Here is a NT example of using the vocative case:

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, (θεε) my God, (θεε) why have you forsaken me?"
(Matt 27:46)

I found 6 examples in the Apocrapha of the use of the vocative case. Here are 3 of them:

So she prayed by her window and said, "Blessed art thou, O Lord my God, (θεε), and blessed is thy holy and honored name for ever. (Tobit 3:11)

Then Raguel blessed God and said, "Blessed art thou, O God, (θεε)with every pure and holy blessing. Let thy saints and all thy creatures bless thee; let all thy angels and thy chosen people bless thee for ever. (Tobit 8:15)

O God (θεε) of my fathers and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things by thy word...(Wisdom 9:1)

Hebrews 1:8 in Greek is quoted from Psalm 45:6. The writer applies it to Jesus, the Son of God, and the NT writers do with many of the OT passages. Indeed the Lord Jesus does it, too. But Psalm 45:6 seems to directly apply the human king (See vs 1-5). I don't think the king would be addressed as “God.” Rather the translation of both Psalm 45:6 and Hebrews 1:8 should be “Υοur throne is God.”

Here are the words in Greek:

ο θρονος σου ο θεος

In English characters with a literal translation beneath:
ho thronos sou ------ho theos
the throne of you (is) the God

The word “God” with the article reads as “the God” and where there are no other modifiers, always refers to the Father alone. Some say that this is nonsense. What would it mean for God to be anyone's throne? Well... what is a throne? A king's throne symbolizes his authority. If God is the throne of the human king in Psalms, then that king has God as his authority, so that that what the king commands, God backs up. The same in Hebrews with Jesus. Jesus said that He does nothing on His own authority, but that the Father who dwells within Him does the works (John 14:10). So God is Jesus' throne as well.
Paidion

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BrotherAlan
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by BrotherAlan » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:29 am

Very interesting, Paidion. While I am hardly an expert in Greek, I did take a basic formal introductory course on Biblical Greek, and was taught that the nominative can be used for the vocative; but, you are saying that you were not able to find any examples of this? Hmm...I'd like to research this some more. As I wrote in my other post, I'll be gone from the internet for a week, and so won't be able to research this during that time-- perhaps you can do some further research on this one and see if you can find ANY examples of the nominative being used for the vocative (if that is not the case, it would seem very surprising to me that the standard translation of this verse is in the vocative...I'm thinking there's gotta be SOME grammatical rationale for this-- but, again, I don't got time to look into this now...let me/us know if you find anything to support this claim for the nominative being used for the vocative to justify the "standard translation" of Heb. 1:8).

The idea that "God is Jesus' throne" is an interesting one. Your interpretation of what that phrase would mean (if that is the best/correct translation of Heb. 1:8) does bring out well (and with, I think, beautiful imagery) the idea that Christ acted on the authority of God's authority, that He is supported by the authority of the Father (of course, as you might guess based on previous discussions, I would interpret this as Christ, in His human nature, being supported by the Father's Divine authority, just as I would interpret the later verse, addressed to Christ, of "God, your God, has anointed you..." as referring to God the Father as being the God of Christ according to Christ's human nature; but, that interpretation is, of course, based on previous conclusions concerning the way in which the divinity and the humanity of Christ were united in His Person-- a discussion probably for another thread).

Also, your post sparks some interesting questions with respect to the precise meaning of Psalm 45: is it referring to Solomon, but is merely being APPLIED by the NT writers to refer to Christ (but, the Psalm does not, in itself, ACTUALLY refer to Christ)? Or, is it ACTUALLY referring to Christ (thus, being a direct or "open" prophecy of Christ, and the author of Hebrews-- who I think is Paul-- is declaring to us that Psalm 45 is, in fact, a prophecy about Christ and so is referring DIRECTLY to Christ)? Or is it one of those passages which, in its true meaning, is referring to both Solomon AND to Christ (but, principally to Christ, thus being a "prophecy by figure", that is, a prophecy of Christ which merely uses the figure of Solomon to, in the end, prophecy something about Christ)? Interesting questions...I, for one, will have to think/pray/research that one a little more.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Paidion! Peace.

With prayers,
In Christ,
BrotherAlan
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

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Paidion
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by Paidion » Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:05 pm

I have already attempted to find "a nominative used as a vocative" in the New Testament Greek or in other Greek manuscripts—without success.
I have looked at the references given by those who think such a use exists, only to find that they are actually nominatives in every case. For this reason I marvel that virtually all translators have presumed that Hebrews 1:8 is a nominative used as a vocative, and have so translated it.
Paidion

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BrotherAlan
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by BrotherAlan » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:04 am

Hey, Paidion--
I'm off retreat now (had a good, grace-filled retreat and, as promised, I prayed for you and all on this forum, and hope you all prayed for me, as pray is what keeps us all united to Christ).

Yes, I think you are correct on this one (with respect to Hebrews 1:8). I have consulted a couple friends of mine who are, in my opinion, experts on Greek, and they both tell me what you are saying-- that, in general, in Greek, there are distinct forms in Greek for the nominative case and the vocative case (and, so, in general, there is no reason why the nominative case should be translated in the vocative). One of these friends (who is also a Catholic priest) was aware of this "debate" about Hebrews 1:8, and when I brought it up to him, he instantly knew what I was getting at, and quickly told me that the standard translation (of the vocative) is incorrect; that it should be, as you say, in the nominative ("Your throne is God"). So, from what I can tell, too, this should be in the nominative, as you state (and, I think your interpretation, given the nominative case, makes sense: namely, that, by saying that God is Jesus' throne, we are saying that Christ gets His authority from God). So, again, I think you are correct on this one (and, given my study on this since you brought this to my attention, I also marvel a bit as to why this is so widely mis-translated-- although, some translations got it right-- as there really does not seem to be a really good reason, so far as I can tell, to translate into the vocative case, when it is, well, quite simply, in the nominative!) Thanks for pointing this out to me/us!

God bless you, Paidion!

In Christ,
BrotherAlan
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

StevenD
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by StevenD » Mon Jul 01, 2019 4:16 am

Isn't this matter addressed at the following thread?

https://theos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=5999

BrotherAlan
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by BrotherAlan » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:25 am

Hmmmm....Okay, thanks StevenD....so, yea, huh...with this new information, it appears that the nominative, in some instances, CAN be used as the vocative, so it seems (it appears, also, that in John 17:25, Christ addresses the Father, but the Greek uses the nominative case for "Father" instead of the vocative), which would in fact mean that Hebrews 1:8 can have two possible translations (the common one, in which the Father DOES address Christ as being "God", and the other proposed one, in which God is used in the nominative case, "God is your throne..."). What think you, Paidion?

In Christ,
BrotherAlan
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

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Paidion
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by Paidion » Mon Jul 01, 2019 4:35 pm

Well, Brother Alan, when I made my "discovery" as I related in the thread to which Steve D referred, I had presumed that the Greek word "τις" (or "τι") always means "why". That was a mistake. I have now discovered from my lexicon that the word (which occurs 537 times in the NT) has been translated as "why" only 66 times. It has also been translated as "what" 260 times, "who" 102 times, "whom" 25 times, "which" 17 times, and miscellaneous other meanings 67 times.

So when I made my "discovery", it never occurred to me that the nominative form may have not been a vocative after all. Mark may have rendered the Hebrew as follows:

My God, my God who has forsaken me!


If this were the case, it would not be addressing a question to God but an exclamation, "My God" being in the nominative. Notice that Matthew translated those same Hebrew words with "My God" in the vocative. In doing so, he used the vocative case to make it a question, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Conclusion: I still have not discovered a CLEAR case in which the nominative case in Greek is used as a vocative so until that happens I maintain my view that the nominative case is never used as a vocative.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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StevenD
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by StevenD » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:51 pm

Hi Paidion,

Fortunately, Mark features more than one language by which to convey what he meant.

Mark 13:34 grants the luxury of working with both the Aramaic transliteration and the Greek (not to mention the Hebrew parent text from Psalm 22).
The Aramaic is usually written as something like "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" reverts back to something like אלהי אלהי למה שבקתני.
The English translation of the Aramaic is not complicated. The translation matches the Hebrew original (Psalm 22:2):

"My God, my God, why have you left/forsaken me?"

Be encouraged, as it appears that your initial discovery is confirmed. Additionally, it looks as though at least one LXX text employs the usage of the typical nominative in it's interpretation of Psalm 22:2 (Greek: Ps. 21:2):

ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεός μου πρόσχες μοι ἵνα τί ἐγκατέλιπές με

Despite your concern about τι being translated only a bit more than 12% of the time as "why", it does appear to be the case in Mark's Gospel. It also looks like the interrogative that the LXX translator chose to work with. Who in their right mind could see God as a throne anyway?

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Paidion
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by Paidion » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:31 pm

StevenD wrote:Who in their right mind could see God as a throne anyway?
Everyone! Once he understands what I pointed out in an earlier post.

The throne of a king is the symbol of the king's authority. For God to be your throne forever figuratively means that God is your authority forever.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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BrotherAlan
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Re: Did the Father address His Son as “God”?

Post by BrotherAlan » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:43 am

So, it seems to me that we have not reached an entirely certain conclusion on the exact intended meaning of Hebrews 1:8 (whether the author intended the nominative or the vocative sense in that verse), as arguments can be made for either translation. While this is a very interesting question concerning this particular verse, if you ask me, either translation renders a TRUE statement: if translated in the nominative, then the interpretation of the verse that Paidion gives makes sense (namely, that Christ, as Man, has authority from God); if translated in the vocative, then the translation is also true, for, as the Scriptures reveal elsewhere, Christ is God. So, either way, I think we have a true statement (yet, I would still be interested in knowing the exact intended sense of this particular verse).

In Christ,
BrotherAlan
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

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