εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post Reply
Alanpaul
Posts: 12
Joined: November 8th, 2012, 12:57 am
Location: Hong Kong

εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Alanpaul » October 23rd, 2014, 6:13 am

Mandate 1 of the Shepherd of Hermas begins:
πρῶτον πάντων πίστευσον, ὅτι εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός..

The Roberts-Donaldson translation is: ‘First of all, believe that there is one God..’ (uniqueness)
But J B Lightfoot’s version is ‘First of all, believe that God is One..’ (unity, wholeness)
(Source: Early Christian Writings website)

Both cannot be correct. Or can they? From a purely grammatical point of view, which is the better translation?

Regards
Alan Paul
0 x



Ken M. Penner
Posts: 786
Joined: May 12th, 2011, 7:50 am
Location: Antigonish, NS, Canada
Contact:

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Ken M. Penner » October 23rd, 2014, 8:36 am

Alanpaul wrote:Mandate 1 of the Shepherd of Hermas begins:
πρῶτον πάντων πίστευσον, ὅτι εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός.
I think he's getting this line from James 2:19
σὺ πιστεύεις ὅτι εἷς ἐστιν ὁ θεός; καλῶς ποιεῖς· καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν.
Metzger, Textual Commentary wrote:Among the several readings the chief difference turns on the presence or absence of the article: B 614 630 1875 2412 2495 al read εἷς θεός ἐστιν (“There is one God”; compare εἷς ἐστιν θεός 945 1241 1739 al, and the singular reading of Ψ), whereas the other readings involve ὁ θεός standing either before or after the verb (“God is one”). The reading εἷς ὁ θεός ἐστιν (C 33 81 syrh al) and still more the reading εἷς θεός ἐστιν can be suspected of having been assimilated to the style of the Christian kerygma (1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:6; 1 Tm 2:5). On the other hand εἷς ἐστιν ὁ θεός (P74 א A (945 1241 1739 omit ὁ) 2464 vg syrp copsa, ) is in conformity with the prevailing formula of Jewish orthodoxy. Clearly secondary is the reading of the Textus Receptus, ὁ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν (Kmg 049 056 0142 88 436 Byz Lect al), in which ὁ θεός is placed first in order to give it a more emphatic position.
Bruce Manning Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 610.
0 x
Ken M. Penner
St. Francis Xavier University

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 23rd, 2014, 11:11 am

I'd like to add an observation that εἷς is a general sort of word.

A more specific word is μονάς (-άδος, ἡ) monad, (a self-contained being at the exclusion of others), which would exclude the understanding of the εἷς as being a τριάς (-άδος, ἡ). That is to say that the internal nature of God is not being made clear by use of the word εἷς.

Also the word μόνος alone, solitary is not used either, suggesting that by using εἷς, he is not talking about his relationship to other beings.

Just for clarification's sake, the Greek also doesn't say πρῶτος (θεῶν ἑτέρῶν cf. Ex.20:3) first (among other gods), either. Which might suggest a hierarchy and / or sequence of many gods.

εἷς is Greek is more than just the way that you count things, (answering the question "How many?" εἷς, δύο, τρεῖς ... πολύς, παράπολυς). It can be a certain one, an individual set apart from the rest. A unity - many tributaries form one river.

As for the grammar, I think it is a little un-Greek, but it occurs in a few other places too, such as
Matthew 23:10 wrote:Μηδὲ κληθῆτε καθηγηταί· εἷς γὰρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν ὁ καθηγητής, ὁ χριστός.
Regardless of my opinion about it, there could be syntactic parallels (in the plural) in
1 John 5:7,8 wrote:Ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, τὸ πνεῦμα, καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ, καὶ τὸ αἷμα· καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.
There are three who testify to (it) [a transitive verb in English]
Revelations 17:10 wrote:Καὶ βασιλεῖς εἰσιν ἑπτά· οἱ πέντε ἔπεσον, ὁ εἷς ἔστιν, ὁ ἄλλος οὔπω ἦλθεν· καί, ὅταν ἔλθῃ, ὀλίγον δεῖ αὐτὸν μεῖναι.
There are seven kings.
John 11:9 wrote:Ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς, Οὐχὶ δώδεκά εἰσιν ὧραι τῆς ἡμέρας; Ἐάν τις περιπατῇ ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οὐ προσκόπτει, ὅτι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου τούτου βλέπει.
Are there not twelve hours during the course of the day.
But I want to see a native speaker example before my somber :| countenance turns into a welcoming :) .

I think that the textual variation in Matthew 19:17 is interesting
Matthew 19:17 (Byzantine RP 2005) wrote:Ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; Οὐδεὶς ἀγαθός, εἰ μὴ εἷς, ὁ θεός. Εἰ δὲ θέλεις εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωήν, τήρησον τὰς ἐντολάς.
(Eclectic Text) wrote:Ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ; Εἷς ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαθός. Εἰ δὲ θέλεις εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν, τήρησον τὰς ἐντολάς.
I hazard a guess that the Byzantine reading is a explanation (working into Good Greek) of a difficult phrase phrase to understand in Greek.

To apply the same explication in the Greek to εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός would give
My paraphrase based on textual variants in Matthew 19:17 wrote:Οὐδεὶς θεός, εἰ μὴ εἷς, ὁ θεός
"No one is a god, except one, God"
That makes it a statement against polytheism or something of the like.

The paraphrase given by the scribe in
Mark 12:29,32 wrote:Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ ὅτι Πρώτη πάντων τῶν ἐντολῶν, Ἄκουε, Ἰσραήλ· κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, κύριος εἷς ἐστίν· Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ γραμματεύς, Καλῶς, διδάσκαλε, ἐπ’ ἀληθείας εἶπας ὅτι εἷς ἐστιν, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλος πλὴν (Ex.40:3 again) αὐτοῦ·
The LORD is one ... He is one, and there is not another besides Him.
could give you some idea about how the phrase was understood.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Alanpaul
Posts: 12
Joined: November 8th, 2012, 12:57 am
Location: Hong Kong

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Alanpaul » October 24th, 2014, 12:23 am

Ken M. Penner wrote:
Alanpaul wrote:Mandate 1 of the Shepherd of Hermas begins:
πρῶτον πάντων πίστευσον, ὅτι εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός.
I think he's getting this line from James 2:19
σὺ πιστεύεις ὅτι εἷς ἐστιν ὁ θεός; καλῶς ποιεῖς· καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν.
Metzger, Textual Commentary wrote:Among the several readings the chief difference turns on the presence or absence of the article: B 614 630 1875 2412 2495 al read εἷς θεός ἐστιν (“There is one God”; compare εἷς ἐστιν θεός 945 1241 1739 al, and the singular reading of Ψ), whereas the other readings involve ὁ θεός standing either before or after the verb (“God is one”). The reading εἷς ὁ θεός ἐστιν (C 33 81 syrh al) and still more the reading εἷς θεός ἐστιν can be suspected of having been assimilated to the style of the Christian kerygma (1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:6; 1 Tm 2:5). On the other hand εἷς ἐστιν ὁ θεός (P74 א A (945 1241 1739 omit ὁ) 2464 vg syrp copsa, ) is in conformity with the prevailing formula of Jewish orthodoxy. Clearly secondary is the reading of the Textus Receptus, ὁ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν (Kmg 049 056 0142 88 436 Byz Lect al), in which ὁ θεός is placed first in order to give it a more emphatic position.
Bruce Manning Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 610.
Thank you for referring me to James 2:19 and Metzger’s very helpful commentary on the textual variants of that verse. My conclusions:

(1) Metzger puts εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός into category B (= almost certain). Variants that omit the article before θεός are very likely to be the work of scribes who wanted to make explicit the monotheistic sense of the verse.
(2) Lightfoot’s translation of εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός as “God is one” is the grammatically correct one. It leaves open the question of what the phrase “God is one” actually means.
(3) The Roberts-Donaldson version “there is one God” would be correct only if the article before θεός was omitted (εἷς ἐστὶν θεός) which it almost certainly should not be. It seems that, rather like the scribes who deleted the article from some versions of the Greek text, Roberts & Donaldson wanted to read their own (monotheistic) interpretation into their translation.

Alan Paul
0 x

Alanpaul
Posts: 12
Joined: November 8th, 2012, 12:57 am
Location: Hong Kong

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Alanpaul » October 24th, 2014, 12:30 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:I'd like to add an observation that εἷς is a general sort of word.

A more specific word is μονάς (-άδος, ἡ) monad, (a self-contained being at the exclusion of others), which would exclude the understanding of the εἷς as being a τριάς (-άδος, ἡ). That is to say that the internal nature of God is not being made clear by use of the word εἷς.

Also the word μόνος alone, solitary is not used either, suggesting that by using εἷς, he is not talking about his relationship to other beings.

Just for clarification's sake, the Greek also doesn't say πρῶτος (θεῶν ἑτέρῶν cf. Ex.20:3) first (among other gods), either. Which might suggest a hierarchy and / or sequence of many gods.

εἷς is Greek is more than just the way that you count things, (answering the question "How many?" εἷς, δύο, τρεῖς ... πολύς, παράπολυς). It can be a certain one, an individual set apart from the rest. A unity - many tributaries form one river.

As for the grammar, I think it is a little un-Greek, but it occurs in a few other places too, such as
Matthew 23:10 wrote:Μηδὲ κληθῆτε καθηγηταί· εἷς γὰρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν ὁ καθηγητής, ὁ χριστός.
Regardless of my opinion about it, there could be syntactic parallels (in the plural) in
1 John 5:7,8 wrote:Ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, τὸ πνεῦμα, καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ, καὶ τὸ αἷμα· καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.
There are three who testify to (it) [a transitive verb in English]
Revelations 17:10 wrote:Καὶ βασιλεῖς εἰσιν ἑπτά· οἱ πέντε ἔπεσον, ὁ εἷς ἔστιν, ὁ ἄλλος οὔπω ἦλθεν· καί, ὅταν ἔλθῃ, ὀλίγον δεῖ αὐτὸν μεῖναι.
There are seven kings.
John 11:9 wrote:Ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς, Οὐχὶ δώδεκά εἰσιν ὧραι τῆς ἡμέρας; Ἐάν τις περιπατῇ ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οὐ προσκόπτει, ὅτι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου τούτου βλέπει.
Are there not twelve hours during the course of the day.
But I want to see a native speaker example before my somber :| countenance turns into a welcoming :) .

I think that the textual variation in Matthew 19:17 is interesting
Matthew 19:17 (Byzantine RP 2005) wrote:Ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; Οὐδεὶς ἀγαθός, εἰ μὴ εἷς, ὁ θεός. Εἰ δὲ θέλεις εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωήν, τήρησον τὰς ἐντολάς.
(Eclectic Text) wrote:Ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ; Εἷς ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαθός. Εἰ δὲ θέλεις εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν, τήρησον τὰς ἐντολάς.
I hazard a guess that the Byzantine reading is a explanation (working into Good Greek) of a difficult phrase phrase to understand in Greek.

To apply the same explication in the Greek to εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός would give
My paraphrase based on textual variants in Matthew 19:17 wrote:Οὐδεὶς θεός, εἰ μὴ εἷς, ὁ θεός
"No one is a god, except one, God"
That makes it a statement against polytheism or something of the like.

The paraphrase given by the scribe in
Mark 12:29,32 wrote:Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ ὅτι Πρώτη πάντων τῶν ἐντολῶν, Ἄκουε, Ἰσραήλ· κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, κύριος εἷς ἐστίν· Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ γραμματεύς, Καλῶς, διδάσκαλε, ἐπ’ ἀληθείας εἶπας ὅτι εἷς ἐστιν, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλος πλὴν (Ex.40:3 again) αὐτοῦ·
The LORD is one ... He is one, and there is not another besides Him.
could give you some idea about how the phrase was understood.

Many thanks for your thoughtful comments on εἷς, which point clearly to a monotheistic interpretation of εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός.

I was particularly interested in your observations on Mark 12:29: Ἄκουε, Ἰσραήλ· κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, κύριος εἷς ἐστίν· is a verbatim quotation of the Shema in Deut 6:4, which in the LXX Greek reads:

῎Ακουε, ᾿Ισραήλ· Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν Κύριος εἷς ἐστι·

Although there are different opinions (and much controversy) about how to interpret this phrase, the preponderant view is that it embodies the monotheistic outlook of Judaism. This seems to provide strong support for your thesis.

An interesting linguistic question is whether or not the Hebrew word for one ’e•ḥāḏ and εἷς (and our word “one”) are semantically equivalent. Perhaps not, although Judeo-Christians of the 1st and 2nd centuries, with their grounding in the OT and Hebraic culture, may well have found any semantic variation easier to manage than we do today.

Alan Paul
PS: Not only are we on broadly the same wavelength, we also share the same time-zone (you in Northern China, I in Hong Kong)
0 x

Bryant J. Williams III
Posts: 23
Joined: May 31st, 2011, 11:53 am
Location: Redding, CA

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Bryant J. Williams III » October 24th, 2014, 12:07 pm

Dear Alan,

There is also Rodney J. Decker's, Koine Greek Reader that has as his translation on page 216, "M.1.1. First of all, believe that God is one, ..."

James 2:19 is the immediate reference εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός as Ken Penner has also stated.

See the following examples:

Matthew 19:17, Εἷς ἐστιν ὁ ἀγαθός
John 1:1c, θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος
Mark 12:29, κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστίν (Note: this is an exact quote of Dt 6:4 יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָֹה אֶחָד )
I Corinthians 8:5, θεοὶ πολλοὶ καὶ κύριοι πολλοί ἀλλʼ ἡμῖν εἷς θεός
0 x

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 25th, 2014, 6:00 am

Alanpaul wrote:Although there are different opinions (and much controversy) about how to interpret this phrase, the preponderant view is that it embodies the monotheistic outlook of Judaism. This seems to provide strong support for your thesis.

An interesting linguistic question is whether or not the Hebrew word for one ’e•ḥāḏ and εἷς (and our word “one”) are semantically equivalent. Perhaps not, although Judeo-Christians of the 1st and 2nd centuries, with their grounding in the OT and Hebraic culture, may well have found any semantic variation easier to manage than we do today.
Stephen Hughes wrote:As for the grammar, I think it is a little un-Greek, but it occurs in a few other places too, such as
Matthew 23:10 wrote:Μηδὲ κληθῆτε καθηγηταί· εἷς γὰρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν ὁ καθηγητής, ὁ χριστός.
I'm not a linguist, but let me say something about what I think is going on here by using this grammar. I couldn't put my finger on why I felt it was un-Greek the other day. But I have a possible reason now.

Let me precursor my comment by saying that despite what grammar books that present numerals in a table tell us, the logical word to follow εἷς (one) is ἕτερος (another). That is to say, that once there are two, then the second one becomes the second of two.

In it's earlier usage the word θεός was used to classify or approximate a whole group of beings / things. πολλοὶ θεοὶ ὑπάρχουσιν - εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ Ζεύς καὶ ἕτερος Ἑρμῆς (The names are from Acts 14:13), and so on. It is like the difference between ἄνθρωπος and "Stephen Hughes" (me, a unique individual - and if you want to bring the footballer (soccer player) or other Stephen Hugheses into this compare Romans 16:14 with Acts 14:13). πολλοὶ ἄνθρωποι ὑπάρχουσιν - εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ Stephen Hughes καὶ ἕτερος Allan Paul.

It is like using das Auto to only refer to one brand of car. The first effect is to exclude others and the second is to now fully define what used to be a word to classify many things by only one of the things it used to classify. That is to say the word is pushed from a classifier into the role a word that refers to one thing / being (not to many). "There is one car." has the same effect, because there is no longer any room in the class for anyone other than the one that defines it.
Alanpaul wrote:Not only are we on broadly the same wavelength, we also share the same time-zone (you in Northern China, I in Hong Kong)
I'm south of the Yangtze River, so I'm in the 江南(Southern) Region of China. To give an idea where, I use three varieties of Chinese on a daily basis - Standard Mandarin, a dialect of the Gan Language and a non-standard variety of Mandarin affected by the local dialect - and not so much these days two related variants of Hakka (related to each other that is). That silly signature of mine
- Mire sear stir ears art our players for are mourn Thor sore.
- Wart word sheer warned tore door tore more roar?
- Sheer word warned tore gore tore Bore stern, Ire sir pores.
- Mare Ire gore tore?
- Sure!
(How Mandarin from Northern China sounds to me)
My sister is at our place for a month or so ...
Was a poor attempt to make English sound like the way that I hear some people from the North speaking Chinese. Basically, I ffind the final -r's rather distracting.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Alanpaul
Posts: 12
Joined: November 8th, 2012, 12:57 am
Location: Hong Kong

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Alanpaul » October 26th, 2014, 6:04 am

Bryant J. Williams III wrote:There is also Rodney J. Decker's, Koine Greek Reader that has as his translation on page 216, "M.1.1. First of all, believe that God is one, ..."
Dear Bryant

Thanks for the note on Rodney J Decker's Reader. He uses the Michael Holmes translation, which I believe is probably better than the ones I quoted. Deut. 6:4 seems to me to provide the key to understanding all this.

Alan
0 x

Alanpaul
Posts: 12
Joined: November 8th, 2012, 12:57 am
Location: Hong Kong

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Alanpaul » October 26th, 2014, 6:18 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:As for the grammar, I think it is a little un-Greek
Dear Stephen

Thanks for these further thoughts. I would certainly agree with you that the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition is in a unique class or category, from which other gods are excluded (cf the 1st commandment). And I would also concur (although I am not really qualified to judge) that the use of εἷς in the NT verses we have been discussing is not a “natural” Greek usage: I think it could simply be a direct import by the LXX translators of the Hebrew phrase in Deut 6.4 “Yahweh elohenu” (The Lord [is] one).

The problem (as much theological as linguistic) is what Yahweh elohenu actually means – an issue which probably falls outside the scope of this discussion group. The Hebrew is ambiguous – an ambiguity which is preserved in Greek and English. (It’s interesting to note in passing that Chinese, for all its famed imprecision, is grammatically obliged to add characters to make the meaning explicit: thus Mark 12:29 is translated 主─我们神是独一的主 (the Lord our God is the only [独] Lord) or James 2:19 你相信神只有一位 (you believe that there is only [只] one God).The Chinese language, it seems to me, cannot reproduce or tolerate the same ambiguity that is permitted in Greek or English!

Alan
PS: one clue (Gan) is enough. Jiangxi Nanchang!
0 x

Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: εἷς ἐστὶν ὁ θεός

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 29th, 2014, 3:54 am

Despite being active in a Mandarin speaking congregation for many good years in the 1980's and 1990's, and now having lived here now in China for a quarter of my life, and that I use it every day for both teaching and daily life, in fact my Chinese is remarkably poor. I can get through a couple of the simple versions with the aid of the Greek.

That is a great pity and to my shame.

Despite being the best student in our Hebrew class at both beginning and intermediate level, Hebrew was one of the first of the mists to evaporate as the warm sun of life outside the campus began to dawn on me.

That is another great pity and also to my shame.
0 x
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Post Reply

Return to “Syntax and Grammar”