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my argument, as I shall shew hereafter; and a person who should see no other part of our correspondence than your letter, would suppose that I had never
One would think too, that we were in the present day so ignorant of the Greek language, as to know little, or nothing, of the use of the Greek article, and were unable to translate correctly such passages in their writers, as depend for their construction upon the insertion or omission of it; but those who are conversant in Greek literature do not represent the state of it to be such. We have a great number of their very best writers remaining, and have the means of judging, as we do by consulting good writers in our own language, in what manner, and in what senses, they used their article, and how they were to be understood when they inserted or omitted it before a noun. To prove, however, that Secs with the article was not applicable to Christ, but to God the Father only, in the opinion of a very learned Christian writer who flourished not only when the Greek was a living language, and all the niceties belonging to it perfectly understood, but I believe nearer to the age of the apostles than any of the writers you allude to, I shall produce evidence from the writings of one of the fathers themselves. Thus in Origen's Com. vol. ii.p.47*, you will find that he says, λεκτέον γαρ αυτοις
τοτε μεν αυτοθεος ο θεος εστι, διοπερ και ο σωτηρ φησιν εν τη προς τον πατερα ευχη. ένα γινωσκωσι σε τον μονον αληθινον θεον παν δε το παρα το αυτοθεος μετοχη της εκεινε θεοτητος θεοποιουμενον, ουκ ο θεος, αλλα θεος κυριωτερον αν λεγοιτο ω παντως ο πρωτοτοκος πασης κτισεως, ατε πρωτος τω προς τον θεον ειναι.”
* Huetius's edit. vol. ii. p. 46, 47.
Here you will perceive, that this learned writer, and very early father, expressly declares, that he who is God of himself is ó 980s, that is, God with the article, and applies this to the Father in the words of our Saviour, who calls him the only true God. He then further says, But every one who is not God of himself, being made God by the participation of his divine nature, is not to be called ó 9805, that is, God with the article, but J805, that is, God without the article ; amongst whom he particularly specifies Christ, the first born of every creature. Clemens Alexandrinus and Eusebius also advert to the insertion of the article in the one place, and the 'omission of it in the other, and explain it in a similar manner.
I believe it will be found, that the general tenor of the Scripture writings supports the construction of these learned authors; for though geos without the article is frequently applied to God the Father, yet é Deos with the article is usually, for any thing I know, universally, (where no particular heathen god is mentioned or referred to,) applied to God the Father only; and seemingly for the best of all possible reasons, par excellence (as the French say), to distinguish him from all others, to whom the word has been applied in an
inferior and less strict sense of it, as the God, or the only God; whilst as to our Saviour and other persons, --for there are many in the Scriptures to whom it would be easy to refer, who are designated by the word geos, the term being often used in a lower sense, to denote prophets, magistrates, and rulers,—it is applied to them without the article; and in the passage of St. John now in dispute, where our Saviour intimates, that the word might without impropriety have been applied to himself, as it had been to God's prophets and messengers of old, it is used without the article.
Suppose, for instance, that Moses was one of those prophets to whom the word 'God' had been applied in the Jewish Scriptures, and our Saviour's remark had been, Is it not written in your law, I said to Moses Thou art geos (without the article),-would not any one translating this into a modern language, which possesses an indefinite, as well as a definite article, -as the English language for instance, which has in this respect an advantage over the Greek,-supply the indefinite article, and render it'a God?' In reality, the meaning is so clearly to be collected from the context, that it is useless for this purpose to enter further into the consideration of any supposed niceties in the construction of the Greek article: and after all, I think you will find by reference to my letter, that my rendering was 'God,' intimating only in a parenthesis that in the original it was 9£os, God, or a God, in the
disjunctive, without putting any construction of my own upon it.
The criticism, therefore, which has occurred, as founded upon any supposed rendering of mine, is inapplicable: but as, by inadvertence probably, you sợ considered it, and have entered largely upon the subject, I have availed myself of the opportunity of making some remarks upon it. The only thing to be regretted is, that this criticism upon the use of the article has possibly occasioned you to pass over without any
observation at all, what constitutes the strength of my argument; namely, that as soon as our Saviour had said “ I and my Father are sy" (one thing, according to the literal translation of it), the Jews, who are frequently represented as either misconceiving his meaning from gross ignorance, or as designedly misrepresenting it, took up stones to stone him; upon which he says, “Many good works have I shewed
my Father; for which of these do ye stone me?" To which the Jews reply, “ For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God (in the original Isov, God, or a God). Our Saviour answers, “Is it not written in your law, I said ye are Gods? If he called them Gods to whom the word of God came, and the Scriptures cannot be broken, say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God ?” From this last answer I stated, that it
appeared to me to be manifestly our Saviour's meaning-If I had called myself God, or a God, I should have been justified by your own Scriptures, in which those prophets and holy men of old, to whom the word of God came, are called Gods (9801): but I did no such thing; I only said I was the Son of God, And de you charge me with blasphemy for this ?-To what I then observed, I shall here add, that I will venture to say that no human mind, not previously full of the trinitarian hypothesis, or of some of the notions that led to it, making our Saviour in some sense a God who had pre-existed before he came into the world, would ever have drawn from this passage the strange conclusion, that by saying that he and his Father were one thing (év), he intended to convey the meaning that he and his Father were one God, or one and the same Deity, contrary to his own express declaration, that he considered the Jews to be imputing blasphemy to him, and taking up stones to stone him, because he said he was the Son of God. I should think it utterly impossible that any man living, not having a previous bias upon his mind, reading our Saviour's expression “I and my Father are one thing," and the Jews being offended at it, and his own subsequent application of what he considered them to be offended about, would ever have imagined that this illustrious teacher, who had intimated to the Jews that they were mistaken in supposing that he had meant to call himself God, or a God, when he only intended to say that he was the