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Also known by the more pedestrian title: How should Romans 9:5 be punctuated?

Romans 9:5, NA28 (punctuation omitted):

ὧν οἱ πατέρες καὶ ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ἀμήν

Two markedly different interpretations are evident, e.g., in the contrast between RSV and NIV translations. The RSV reads:

… of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.

The period after "Christ" apparently indicates that what follows is an independent expression of praise to God.

On the other hand, quoting the NIV:

… from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Here, the words following the first comma read as modifier of "Christ," ascribing to him the title of God.

What are the main factors we should consider in making a decision about how to punctuate (and interpret) this verse?

I note that most recent translations (including the NRSV, RSVCE, and the ESV, all of which I presume made a conscious decision to deviate from the RSV) have moved away from the first option and, with varying degrees of clarity, translate this verse in a way that (to me) seems to ascribe deity to Christ. Is there a scholarly consensus about this?

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    I’m embarrassed to admit to only recently having recognized the import of this passage, since it has apparently been discussed at greater length than any other verse of the NT (well, as of 1895 anyway). Acknowledging that such a huge literature is outside the scope of a BH.SE answer, I would be satisfied if someone could distill those 5 pages of extra-tiny print into some basic principles and add a bit about what has happened in the past 120 years. – Susan Dec 28 '14 at 2:56
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    While waiting, worth checking also B. Metzger, "The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5," in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament ed. by Barnabas Lindars, et al (CUP, 1973) pp. 95-112; Wesley Hill, "The Church as Israel and Israel as the Church: An examination of Karl Barth's exegesis of Romans 9:1-5 in the Epistle to the Romans and Church Dogmatics 2/2," Journal of Theological Interpretation, 6/1 (2012) 139-158. (The latter a chip off the workbench of this PhD thesis, which itself doesn't deal with this problem directly.) – Dɑvïd Dec 28 '14 at 9:26
  • @Elika I'm the OP, and I am interested primarily in the question in the title. Naturally, this site is about methods, so the "factors" will constitute most of a good answer (see first bolded question), but I would also like to see these "factors" synthesized per the title question (cf. second bolded question). – Susan Mar 11 '16 at 19:44
  • Also, it's important to note that 'deity' wasn't a Boolean category in Greek thought. There were levels of divinity/deity. – Dan Mar 14 '16 at 14:06
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    It's debatable. Paul uses a lot of rhetoric from the imperial cult, wherein apotheosis and emperor worship were supreme. Perhaps Paul's goal was as political as theological (that distinction itself is an anachronism), Jesus > Caesar. – Dan Mar 14 '16 at 14:25
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The heart of the problem is that the earliest manuscripts-the uncials and papyri don't have punctuation. There has got to be a comma and or period in there, but where?

Murray Harris in his study of this question (Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus [Baker, 1992], ch. 6, pp. 143-172) found that, of the 56 commentaries he consulted, 36 felt the reference was to Christ, 13 felt it was a reference to God and 7 were unsure.

Harris holds that it refers to Christ. (Harris, Jesus as God)

I think the flow of the Paul's argument favors a reference to Christ, but there are counterpoints to be made. Perhaps the strongest is that the Jewish doxologies used the word 'Blessed' in the first position (e.g. Blessed are You, our God...). A useful summary can be found in Metzger's Textual Commentary of the GNT.

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    Historical scholarship is not a democracy where questions are decided by counting votes for and against (36 to 13 to 7). – fdb Jan 28 '15 at 10:45
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    I agree. Exegesis is not a democracy. However, the 'voting' of the commentaries provides an intellectual context. I bring it up because I have read some people assert 'well of course anybody who knows Greek knows that...' – MartyBogley Jan 31 '15 at 22:02
  • @MartyBogley - A.) There distinctions between between Hebrew and Jewish blessings and Christian Doxologies; B.) Hebrew/Jewish blessings are not exclusive to God/Jesus; C.) This dilemma is syntactically impossible in Hebrew; D.) Hebrew blessings beginning with "blessed" always imply a linking verb; E.) Blessings ending in the construct-case are self evident, (בֵּרַ֥ךְ יְהוָֽה, the heir, blessed OF God, Is. 61:9); F.) Jewish blessings always emphasize who is "blessed", ("Άβραἀμ, εύλογητὸς εἶ είς τοὺς αίῶνας", "Defender" is the head-noun, and blessed - not Abraham); – elika kohen Mar 30 '16 at 18:16
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    Counting the votes is one way to answer the last part of the question posted: "Is there a scholarly consensus" – David42 Aug 31 '17 at 17:40
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+50

I submit that there can be no fuller answer to this question than that given by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones some 70 years ago in a lecture on this verse.1 He summarizes the factors to consider in making a decision on how to translate this verse, and interpret it, presents evidence from the best scholarship of the 20th Century, and a short list of theologians from the Second through the Nineteenth Centuries that agree with the older translation (Christ = God over all). So I will simply here provide an outline of his lecture. (Most all of what follows should be quoted, so please overlook the lack of strict formatting. )

This is the gist of MLJ's arguments for the translation of Romans 9:5 found in the AV and the vast majority of translations, followed by the individual points supporting the hypothesis.

Summary

The location of the comma in this verse cannot possibly be determined on the grounds of grammar. And it does not depend on discrepancies in the manuscripts. They do not vary, because punctuation wasn't used until the 3rd Century. No one can say the earliest mss. supports their translation. So the ONLY argument for it to be translated as a doxology to God is based on a (false) generalization that Paul does not make such a direct reference to Jesus as God anywhere else, and so isn't making one here. This is not MLJ's own opinion, but is supported by Sanday and Hedlam, authors of one of the most scholarly commentaries on Romans2, neither of whom were evangelical Christians (which he mentions to show that they "had no axes to grind", but were purely judging the text itself). They assert:

This is the most debated verse in the whole of scripture. ... It may be convenient to point out at once that the question is one of interpretation, and not of [textual] criticism." [p.233]

Points in support of the AV translation and against the modern "doxology" translation

  1. It would be unnatural to introduce a sudden doxology here, in the midst of the Apostle's expression of his sorrow and disappointment with the rejection of Christ by the Jews. This affirmation of Christ is similar to his affirmation of the Creator God in 1:25, but neither are doxologies: "who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
  2. Gramatically, the words "ὁ ὢν" are naturally translated "the one who", which ought to refer to the nearest antecedent, that is, Christ. The grammar is against these modern translators and on the side of the AV. Cf. John 1:18, "the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father"
  3. The contrast would be lost with the modern translation. The verse has a description of the two natures of Christ, first "as regards the flesh", then he completes the contrast, "who is God over all". Similar to Ro 1:4, "of the flesh.. Seed of David," then, "of the Spirit … the Son of God".
  4. The relative positions of "God" and "blessed". In doxologies the order of the words is the exact opposite, "Blessed be God". Charles Hodge and others say that "There is no exception to that order in the Greek or Hebrew scriptures," with one (doubtful) exception, Ps 68:19, which authorities tend to agree is not a doxology at all, but a simple affirmation. Even Faustus Socinus (1539–1604), who rejected the deity of Christ, agreed that Paul was clearly referring to Christ as God in this verse.

Arguments against the reasons for the "doxology" translation

Next MLJ answers the assertion that the Apostle Paul never refers to Jesus as God, and that it is not customary to describe Him as "God over all" since, as many argue, "Christ was subordinate to the Father". This argument can be answered thus:

  1. Paul often describes Jesus as God, using a multiplicity of expressions. E.g.:
    • Col 1:15ff – "who is the image of the invisible God"
    • 2 Cor 4:4 – "Christ who is the image of God"
    • Phil 2:6 – "Who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God" – this verse, especially, states the **equality of Jesus with God**, which has to be truly twisted out of shape to be overlooked as modern translators have done.
    • Col 2:9 – "in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"
    • Heb 1:3 – "Who being the … express image of His Person"
  2. The same word "Lord" is used of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Father, which clearly shows the thinking of Paul and other NT writers on the deity of Christ:
    • 1 Cor 3:5-7 – "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase."
    • 2 Cor 3:17 – "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
    • Ac 4:29 – "Now, Lord, look on their threats" – Peter's prayer is to the Father
    • Act 5:3,4 – Peter equates the Holy Spirit and God

    It is perfectly true that at the beginning, the Jews were somewhat hesitant to call Jesus 'God', they were almost afraid to mention the name of Jehovah. And here was someone standing before them as a man in the flesh. One can well understand their hesitation about calling Him God. But we have evidence to show that, even at the very beginning, they'd already begun to do so.

  3. More evidence from the NT that the first believers understood Jesus as God:
    • Matthew 1:23 – "They shall call His name Emmanuel, … God with us".
    • John 1 – "The Word was with God, and the Word was God."
    • John 20:28 – "My Lord and my God!" The Jew Thomas didn't hesitate to refer to Jesus as God.
    • Acts 20:28 – Paul commands them "to feed the church of God, which He has purchased with His Own blood." He isn't referring to the Father, but to Jesus.
    • Titus 1:3 – "the commandment of God our Savior". Are these translators disputing that Paul wrote Titus? How then can they argue that "Paul never refers to Jesus as God"?
    • Titus 2:13,14 – "appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ"

    It takes a violent prejudice against the deity of Christ to deny these manifest references to Christ as God by Paul and other NT writers.

  4. Another argument against the "Christ = God" translation has been that doxologies are nowhere addressed to Jesus. So MLJ then shows that doxologies ARE addressed to Jesus, to wit:
    • 2 Tim 4:18 – "… to whom be glory forever and ever.
    • 2 Peter 3:18 – "in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus, to Him be glory now and forever."
    • Rev 5:13 – "And every creature… saying, "Blessing and honor and glory and power… and unto the Lamb." The same ascribed to the Son as to the Father.
    • Rev 15:3 – "The song of the lamb, … Lord God Almighty, thou king of saints."
  5. Lastly, he lists several supporting authorities, both old and and new:
    • Sanday and Hedlam's conclusion of their article on "The punctuation of Romans 9:5" [p.238]:

Throughout there has been no argument which we have felt to be quite conclusive, but the result of our investigations into the grammar of the sentence and the drift of the argument is to incline us to the belief that the words would naturally refer to Christ, unless θεός is to be so definitely a proper name that it would imply a contrast in itself. We have seen that that is not so. Even if St. Paul did not elsewhere use the word of the Christ, yet it certainly was used at a not too much later period. St. Paul's phraseology is never fixed; he had no dogmatic reason against so using it. In these circumstances with some slight, but only slight, hesitation we adopt the first alternative and translate "Of whom is the Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."

The testimony of history: Almost unanimously, until the end of the 19th Century, when the "higher criticism" began to do its devastating work, everyone translated this verse as the Authorized Version has it. Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Ciprian, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Basil, Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, Hilary, Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, Beza,Tolep (sp?), Philippi, Delich (sp?), Alford, Wordsworth, Hodge, Haldane.

MLJ's conclusion is both a gracious but scathing rebuke and a soundly scriptural interpretation, all in one:

Now isn't it extraordinary that, on such a flimsy basis, these modern translators don't hesitate to go against what has been believed throughout the running centuries. What makes them do it? Sanday and Hedlam have put it perfectly: It is a theological interest alone. There is something in them that makes them jump at any opportunity to detract from the certainty of the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was the eternal Son of God. There is no other reason. They can't do it on grounds of grammar or scholarship or textual criticism. We must realize that the Apostle is saying here that the supreme privilege that was given to the nation of Israel was this: That out of them, according to the flesh, came the One who is God over all, blessed forever, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a most condensed version of MLJ's teaching on this verse. It in no way does justice to the Doctor's original lecture (or sermon), but will give you the major points, and hopefully, provide some inkling of the volume of writing and study that has been expended on this one verse.

––––––––––––––––

References:

1 Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Sermon "Christ … Who is … God", available at Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust, and as a full chapter in vol. 9 of his 14-volume Commentary on Romans, God's Sovereign Purpose, Romans 9:1-33 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1991.)

2 William Sanday and Arthur Hedlam, Critical and Exegetical Commenatary on the Epistle to the Romans, orig. pub. 1895, 5th Ed. 1902, Oxford.

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    - C.Kelly: Given your previous comment, I apologize for not explaining how this answer is offensive; A.) As you have presented MLJ, what he wrote is absolute rubbish: B.) A Bandwagon Fallacy: "these modern translators - go against what has been believed throughout the running centuries." C.) An Ad Hominem Fallacy: "There is something [wrong with] them that makes them jump at any opportunity to detract from - Jesus [as] the - Son of God"; D.) Whatever merit there may have been - was invalidated by the conclusion & the OP's explicit request for a "consensus answer". – elika kohen Mar 30 '16 at 2:11
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    @elikakohen: A Bandwagon argument is only fallacious if an argument rests on the bare statement alone of it being widely believed. MLJ's evidence shows: (1) there is a "flimsy basis" to believe otherwise, and (2) that many people have followed the evidence. That is not fallacious. The argument rests on the proof of the evidence. The Bandwagon notation simply shows that many have seen that evidence. He does not call the Bandwagon forward as evidence itself. Cont. – ScottS Mar 30 '16 at 4:17
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    An Ad Hominem argument is only fallacious if a person is making an argument, not if they are testifying. MLJ shows they cannot argue against it "on grounds of grammar or scholarship or textual criticism," but only testify (i.e., through their translations) against "the fact that Jesus was the eternal Son of God," so one can call their character/motives into question in so testifying against the evidence. This, again, is not part of the argument itself, but part of the conclusion from the argument. – ScottS Mar 30 '16 at 4:17
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    @ScottS - A.) The bandwagon / appeal to authority isn't just in its conclusion - it's the thesis too. B.) You are right: The Ad Hominem / No True Scottsman - isn't presented in support of this argument - but as a counter to all future objections. C.) Regardless, I stand by my assertion that none of that contributes to hermeneutics. It does nothing to support linguistic exegesis; D.) But then again, the OP explicitly asked for an epistemology answer, and got what they wanted. E.) Again, it may be off topic and better at Christianity.stackexchange.com ... – elika kohen Mar 30 '16 at 17:34
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    @ScottS - A.) You said: We Generally Trust : B.) But never - when questioning those same traditions - results in Circularity Fallacies; C.) There is no excuse for ad-hominem; D.) Intro, bandwagon; conclusion: bandwagon/authority and ad-hominem; Normally, would stop there, but: E.) 1&4: Doxologies in Judaism?? 2: Antecedent Rule Has no effect on whether "God" or "Blessing" are Attributive, or Substantive; 3. "Natures" Begs the Question. - As does translating ἐπὶ πάντων as "Above All" instead of "Upon All"; 4. Incorrect, Exceptions occur in Jewish Greek liturgy. – elika kohen Mar 31 '16 at 6:02
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At the root of the punctuation problem in Romans 9:5 is the notion of "the nature of God", and those who struggle with a rational understanding of how God is constituted can't help but get hung up on the placement of the commas.

Paul, of course, had no problem with the nature of God, which is why he can tell us in Ephesians 2 that grace is the gift of God,

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
-- Ephesians 2:8

but in Ephesians 4 he tells us it is a gift of Christ:

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
-- Ephesians 4:7

Paul understood that saving grace has its source in the heart of God (the Father), but that it had to be delivered by the hand and voice of God (the Son). After all, what good is the intent to save, if you have no means of bringing it about? Or, what good is having the means to save, but no heart to do so?

Conclusion

Put the commas wherever you like, but if you think they MUST go in particular places then you need to completely rethink your understanding of Paul's theology.

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  1. There is no instance in which Paul unambiguously calls Jesus "God" in any of his letters, so the translation in the NIV is contrary to Pauline usage.

    Many scholars cite an alleged parallel at Titus 2:13 to justify the translation "Christ, who is God over all" in Romans 9:5. However, Titus 2:13 only calls Jesus "THE GLORY OF our great God and Savior" or "our great God and Savior's glory," not the great God and Savior Himself. In the same epistle, Paul also calls Christ "the grace of God" (Titus 2:11) and "the love of God" (Titus 3:4), so it would hardly be out of place for Paul to call Jesus "the glory of God" here.

    (Moreover, all of the earliest translations read "the glory of the great God and our Savior" instead of "the glory of our great God and Savior," indicating that many early translators believed that Titus 2:13 refers to two persons.)

  2. Paul always applies the word "blessed" to God, never to Christ, unless Romans 9:5 is an exception.

  3. It would make absolutely no sense for Paul to write that Christ was "God over all, blessed forever" in the midst of a dissertation that was about the nation of Israel, not about the person of Christ.

  4. However, after mentioning all of God's blessings upon Israel (divine sonship, the splendor of the divine presence, the covenants, the giving of the Torah, the temple worship service, the promises to the patriarchs, and the Christ), it would be most natural for Paul to conclude with a doxology to the God who gave these blessings to the nation of Israel.

With regard to the position of the word "blessed," it should be noted that Psalm 67:19-20 places eulogetos after kyrios ho theos ("the Lord God") in the Greek Septuagint, the same word order as here

  • Hi, thanks for your thoughts. Please edit your original answer to include this rather than creating a new answer that doesn’t fully answer the question. If you could elaborate a bit on this point, also, I’d appreciate it, as I’m not sure I fully understand the relevance. (Also, the confusing Psalm numbering: I think you’re referring to LXX (Rahlfs) 67:19b | Heb. (BHS) 68:20a | Eng. (NIV/ESV/KJV) 68:19a. As there are a couple similar statements nearby, it’s helpful to be as specific as possible.) Thanks! – Susan Mar 12 '15 at 19:01
  • This is an inaccurate assessment of the LXX. The LXX has: (68:18 KJV) ἀνέβης εἰς ὕψος ᾐχμαλώτευσας αἰχμαλωσίαν ἔλαβες δόματα ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ καὶ γὰρ ἀπειθοῦντες τοῦ κατασκηνῶσαι κύριος ὁ θεὸς εὐλογητός (68:19 KJV) εὐλογητὸς κύριος ἡμέραν καθ᾽ ἡμέραν κατευοδώσει ἡμῖν ὁ θεὸς τῶν σωτηρίων ἡμῶν διάψαλμα. Not only is the LXX not an exact translation of the Hebrew (because the Greek word εὐλογητὸς occurs twice, while the Hebrew word בָּרוּךְ only occurs once), but εὐλογητὸς actually occurs before κύριος like it does everywhere else in the LXX, contra its position in Rom. 9:5 (after θεὸς). – user862 Mar 12 '15 at 23:44
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 While I remain unsure of the relevance...the end of 67:19 (LXX numbering) does have κύριος ὁ θεὸς εὐλογητός (which is what the answer has transliterated there, so I’m pretty sure that’s what he’s referring to). – Susan Mar 12 '15 at 23:56
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At least two Greek Church Fathers - Irenaeus (130-202) and Athanasius (296-373) - read the verse in the sense the NIV does; that is, something like ... who is God over all, blessed unto the ages:

Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.XVI.3

Paul, when writing to the Romans, has explained this very point: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, predestinated unto the Gospel of God, which He had promised by His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was made to Him of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was predestinated the Son of God with power through the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ [Romans 1:1-4]. And again, writing to the Romans about Israel, he says: Whose are the fathers, and from whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all, blessed for ever ... And again, the angel said, when bringing good tidings to Mary: He shall he great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David [Luke 1:32]; acknowledging that He who is the Son of the Highest, the same is Himself also the Son of David. And David, knowing by the Spirit the dispensation of the advent of this Person, by which He is supreme over all the living and dead, confessed Him as Lord, sitting on the right hand of the Most High Father [Psalm 110:1].

Athanasius, Discourse Against the Arians, III.10

Which of the two theologies sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Son of the Father, this which you vomited forth, or that which we have spoken and maintain from the Scriptures? If the Saviour be not God, nor Word, nor Son, you shall have leave to say what you will, and so shall the Gentiles, and the present Jews. But if He be Word of the Father and true Son, and God from God, and over all blessed for ever


It is also relevant, I think, that Θεὸς appears with out any definite article, just as in John 1:1 (καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος; KJV - and the Word was God), something that John Chrysostom (c 349-407) noted in one of his homilies on John 1:1.

The late Orthodox commentator, Archbishop Dmitry Royster (of Dallas), makes the following case for interpreting the verse:

"Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever" [KJV] should be understood as "being God over all," based on the use of ex hōn, "from whom [came] the Christ according to the flesh," and ho hōn, "the one Being", or "the one Who is" (hōn is the participle of eimi, "to be"); thus, "being God over all, blessed for ever [unto the ages]." Ho hōn is written on the icon of Christ; it is related to the Old Testament name of God, "I am." (Note that theos, God, in the predicate position following the verb "to be" is used without the article, as in John 1:1; see St. John Chrysostom, On the Gospel of St. John, Homily IV, no.3 for an explanation of this usage.) In general, the holy Fathers understood this lastclause to mean that Christ is God over all (see St. Athanasius Discourse I, Against the Arians, Chap. III, no. 10; chap IV, no. 11; St. Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit, Book I, chap. iii, no. 46; St. Hippolytus, Against the Heresy of One Noetus, no. 2; St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, chap. xvi, no.3, and others).*


* St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2008), pp.233-234

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Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ, Eph 1:3 WH

ὅτι πᾶν κτίσμα θεοῦ καλὸν καὶ οὐδὲν ἀπόβλητον μετὰ εὐχαριστίας λαμβανόμενον• 1 Tm 4:4 WH

καὶ αὐτῇ ἡ ἰσχὺς καὶ τὸ βασίλειον καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία καὶ ἡ μεγαλειότης τῶν πάντων αἰώνων εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἀληθείας 1 Es 4:40 LXX

The context and syntax of verse 40 in 1 Esdras where αἰώνων is not being qualified adjectivally by εὐλογητὸς and early doxology, requires segmentation with a point.

And her strength and real and the authority and majesty of all ages. Blessed be the God of Truth! 1 Esdras 4:40

When we look at verse 5 of Romans 9, we also note the need for segmentation between πάντων and θεὸς, however, due θεὸς have been placed before of εὐλογητὸς, diverging of standards for statements of doxologies Semitic with the above terms, one must have another argument to choose between a comma or a period (or semicolon).

ἀνέβης εἰς ὕψος ᾐχμαλώτευσας αἰχμαλωσίαν ἔλαβες δόματα ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ καὶ γὰρ ἀπειθοῦντες τοῦ κατασκηνῶσαι κύριος ὁ θεὸς εὐλογητός Ps 67:19

Went up at the time, have captured the arrest, received gifts in man and because being disobedient, fixing the private housing of the Lord, the Blessed God.. Ps 67:19

The standard formula ἐπὶ πάντων τῶν in Septuagint: Ex. 14:7; 1 Cr. 23:31; 1 Cr. 26:26, 28; 2 Cr. 34:13; Est. 8:2; Jdt. 12:11; Jdt. 14:13; Tbs. 1:5; 3 Mac. 4:16; 4 Mac. 2:22; Jó 31:12; Jer. 31:38; Efe. 4:6.

The divergence ἐπὶ πάντων τὸν ἱερὸν it's at 4 Macabeus 2:22, a book near the date of birth of Jesus.

ἡνίκα δὲ ἐπὶ πάντων τὸν ἱερὸν ἡγεμόνα νοῦν διὰ τῶν αἰσθητηρίων ἐνεθρόνισεν 4 Mac 2:22

“However, when he enthroned the understanding through the senses of a governor consecrated on all they” 4 Mac 2:22

The expression ἐπὶ πάντων It is related to the verb ἐνεθρόνισεν, having contextual independence from the other terms of 4 Mac 2:22.

This is the understanding that should prevail in the analysis for translation ἐπὶ πάντων in Rom 9:5

The blessed God, and above all, for centuries. Amen. Rom 9:5

  1. Translation proposed in this forum, in the case: "The blessed God, and above all, for centuries Amen." Indicates that God is over all, including about the Anointed mentioned in the previous verse.

  2. But if Paul's intention was to make explicit that the Messiah is above all it is not God, he would end the verse of Rom 9:4 with a doxology standard Semitic: .... of which the parents and derived of which, the Anointed One, the second meat, being above all. God is (are) blessed for ever Amen! If so, we would not have doubts, however, Paul followed the line of reasoning of the testimonies from those who are Israelites, constados in previous verses of Romans 9: 5: ... the adoption, the glory, the patriarchs ..., the Blessed God, and over all and forever. Amen!

  3. It is not hard to see that the phrase "and from them (fathers) is traced the human line of the Anointed" is an interpolation in the text in order to remember that among all the responsibilities mentioned of Jews, are also the ancestors of the Anointed. Paul does not use the name of Jesus and is not defending the divinity of the Messiah in context. Following the norms, we will use parentheses or commas for the mentioned text, considering he is an increase of ancillary information to the context instead of the current use of commas, avoiding ambiguities.

Paul points out the responsibility of the Jews (adapted from NET)

1 I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit – 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed – cut off from Christ – for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, 4 who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, (and from them by human descent, came the Christ), the God over all, blessed forever! Amen.

-3

Yes. Romans 9:5 asserts the deity of Christ.

Romans 9:5

HON HO CHRISTOS...PANTON THEOS EULOGETOS EIS TOUS AIONAS AMEN

The doxology preceded the name of Christ as in the case of the doxologies offered to God the Father. Thus, Christ is the referent of the phrase "God over all"in Romans 9:5.

THEOU...HOS ESTIN EULOGETOS EIS TOUS AIONAS AMEN

Romans 1:25 The doxology precedes the name of God.

14 tn Or “the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever,” or “the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever!” or “the Messiah who is over all. God be blessed forever!” The translational difficulty here is not text-critical in nature, but is a problem of punctuation. Since the genre of these opening verses of Romans 9 is a lament, it is probably best to take this as an affirmation of Christ’s deity (as the text renders it). Although the other renderings are possible, to see a note of praise to God at the end of this section seems strangely out of place. But for Paul to bring his lament to a crescendo (that is to say, his kinsmen had rejected God come in the flesh), thereby deepening his anguish, is wholly appropriate. This is also supported grammatically and stylistically: The phrase ὁ ὢν (Jo wn, “the one who is”) is most naturally taken as a phrase which modifies something in the preceding context, and Paul’s doxologies are always closely tied to the preceding context. For a detailed examination of this verse, see B. M. Metzger, “The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5,” Christ and the Spirit in the New Testament, 95-112; and M. J. Harris, Jesus as God, 144-72 (Net Bible Note Romans 9:5)

-3

Note: I had misunderstood the original question - not seeing that it was looking for a "consensus / tradition" answer. So, only the bare minimal linguistic responses, here.


1. Question Restatement:

In Romans 9:5: What are the main factors that should be considered when making decisions on how to punctuate (and interpret) this verse?

Quick Answers:

  1. Is there Consensus? - Obviously, "No" - What would it matter, anyway?

  2. How to Punctuate this Verse: A.) Regardless of the punctuation, the Book of Romans was a written letter - without punctuation - and so - the interpretation must be inferrable without the punctuation.


2. Context:

Seed of Abraham: The passage is certainly about the "Seed / Heir, (Romans 9:7) of Abraham, (Romans 4:13-16, Romans 11:1, Genesis 22:18, Is. 41:8), and of David, (Jeremiah 23:5-6, Romans 1:3)".

But it is also about the Heir/(s) through Promise - not just According to the Flesh, (Romans 4:16, Romans 9:8, Galatians 3:16-29);

Paul Stated He was Referring to the Promises, but the Closest Parallel is Isaiah 61:9:

Is. 61:9 - נֹודַ֤ע בַּגֹּויִם֙ זַרְעָ֔ם וְצֶאֱצָאֵיהֶ֖ם בְּתֹ֣וךְ הָעַמִּ֑ים כָּל־רֹֽאֵיהֶם֙ יַכִּיר֔וּם כִּ֛י הֵ֥ם זֶ֖רַע בֵּרַ֥ךְ יְהוָֽה

Their heir [seed] shall be known, in the midst of the nations, descendants, and peoples; All who see will recognize: unto them, the heir, blessed by God.

LXX Is. 61:9 - ὅτι οὗτοί εἰσιν σπέρμα ηὐλογημένον ὑπὸ θεοῦ

Because this is a blessed seed from God.


3. Universally Accepted Factors:

Romans 9:5 - A.) ὧν οἱ πατέρες, καὶ B.) ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστὸς C.) τὸ κατὰ σάρκα, D.) ὁ ὢν E.) ἐπὶ πάντων F.) Θεὸς εὐλογητὸς G.) εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.

  • C.) - τὸ [σπέρμα] κατὰ σάρκα: "Seed / σπέρμα" is certainly elided, and required here, (Romans 9:7, Galatians 3:16, Isaiah 61:9, etc);

  • D.) ὁ ὢν: 1.) could be defined by an antecedent, (See Dem. 25.34: Apollo, who is a god and prophet); and also potentially by a following substantive: (See Joseph. AJ 3.317, Moses ... He who established us, is God ... through Moses)*; 2.) Regardless: θεὸς is Anarthrous, (without a definite article) - which would likely invoke another debate: "The God"? Or, "Divine"?;

    Reconstruction of a liturgy for the Amidah in Greek from Jewish prayers preserved in the Constitutiones Apostolorum (circa 380 CE):

    ὺπέρμαχε γένους Άβραἀμ, εύλογητὸς εἶ είς τοὺς αίῶνας.

    O Defender of the offspring of Abraham, blessed are you forever.

  • E.) ἐπὶ πάντων: 1.) Attributive Genitive: At the very least, something is "upon all" and at most "above all", (Blessing Upon, or He is Above All); 2.) Masculine Plural?: Only Israelites would agree in gender and number, (upon / above all Israelites). But, the context is about all people; 2.) ἐπὶ πάντων Is Probably Neuter: (Strongs 3956, II.2.b, Aeschin. 1.17, Hom. Il. 17.445, Hom. Od. 12.255, Hom. Od. 18.130, Lys. 1.7, Lys. 1.36, Lys. 1.38, Lys. 3.20, Pl. Ap. 18c); 3.) And If Neuter: Then - "Upon all Children / τέκνα" would be understood, (Romans 9:7, Isaiah 61:23; Isaiah 65:23); 4.) Children of Promise, (Romans 9:8); 5.) Certainly Not "Above all gods": "God" is masculine singular and doesn't agree with the plurality of "All", (See Pl. Leg. 741b: τῆς γῆς ἱερᾶς οὔσης τῶν πάντων θεῶν);

  • F.) Θεὸς εὐλογητὸς: 1.) IF these twp substantives are appositive, then: "God / Θεὸς" is most probably attributed to "Blessing / εὐλογητὸς", shown in Isaiah 61:9, in Hebrew and Greek; 2.) Everywhere else, when this writer says that God is blessed, he always uses a linking verb, "God is blessed", (Romans 1:25) - or, uses the Predicate Position, (Eph. 1:3 - Εὐλογητὸς ὁ Θεὸς); 3.) This preserves the Hebrew and Greek parallels: "Blessing from God" in Genesis 23, and Isaiah 61:9, etc;

    Rom.1:25 - God ... ὅς ἐστιν εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας· ἀμήν.

    1 Cor.11:31 - God, ὁ Θεὸς καὶ Πατὴρ τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ οἶδεν, Who is / ὁ ὢν blessed / εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας.


4. Contested Factors:

  1. Blessings are Not Doxologies: Hebrew Blessings, (unlike Christian Doxologies), are not exclusive to God / Jesus, (Matthew 16:17, Regarding Simon, etc);

  2. Doxology Theology, Shouldn't Apply:* Paul is very clearly referring to Hebrew Scriptures and even Judaic Liturgy. Hebrew Blessings - ALWAYS - emphasize the "blessed one" - there is never ambiguity - (which would actually defeat the purpose).


5. Conclusion:

For what it's worth, the entire books of Romans and Galatians answer this question, (as do Genesis, and Isaiah).

  1. Christ, the heir of Abraham and David;

  2. A blessing from God which is upon all;

  3. For ever.

This interpretation attributes the blessing upon all - children, and not necessarily to God, but certainly a blessing through "the Christ".

  • 1
    To the extent that it's possible to read the NT through the lens of the Hebrew Bible and language, I'm all for it. This, though, I just can't make sense out of. I think you're saying θεὸς εὐλογητὸς is (rather than "blessed God" or "God is blessed") "God of blessing" (i.e. toward others, as if a construct chain), but of course Greek has a noun "blessing" (> ὁ θεὸς εὐλογίας), and this is instead an adjective, declined with θεὸς, so....? Maybe if you could direct me to a commentary or something that makes this argument I could better understand? – Susan Mar 8 '16 at 10:12
  • @Susan - A.) Not "God of Blessing", but "Blessing of God", or "God-Blessing", like "Divine Blessing": - θεῶν μακαρίαν Pl. Leg. 718b; B.) Actually, you are the first person I would refer you too! Please feel free to improve the wording/terms! C.) Since this question is examining traditional presuppositions and commentaries - great syntax analysis is needed, (you) - or Lexical Semantics. D.) I can't find Greek Precedents - but could list more Hebrew ones - probably not helpful? – elika kohen Mar 8 '16 at 10:30
  • 2
    Not that it matters at this point, but.... your quote from Plato pulls two words from two different clauses and does not mean "blessing of God" or any such thing. (τὴν πόλιν ἡμῖν συμβουληθέντων θεῶν μακαρίαν τε καὶ εὐδαίμονα ἀποτελεῖ· = it accomplishes blessing and prosperity for our state with the concurrence of the gods). "Blessing" in Plato is a whole different beast (and, in this case, a different lexeme) in any case. – Susan Mar 8 '16 at 11:23
  • @Susan - A.) You seem to interpret Pl. Leg. 718b as - "it accomplishes blessing [through the consent] of the gods"; And, this is exactly my point: It wasn't the gods that were blessed, but the people; B.) I did incorporate your lexeme comment, and including Josephus; C.) Please don't misunderstand - I am asking you if there is other Greek Precedent/Examples that doesn't require forcing the Greek to make sense; – elika kohen Mar 8 '16 at 22:24
  • This is really too much for comments. Please, if you want to continue this discussion, take it to Biblical Hermeneutics Chat. – Susan Mar 9 '16 at 0:16
-4

Romans 9:5, NA28 (punctuation omitted)

ὧν οἱ πατέρες καὶ ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ἀμήν

The Build

Who the fathers and of who the anointed the downward flesh the who over all God blessed into the ages so be it.

Nominative "anointed" - Accusative "flesh"

This can be separated into three sections by the statement of "who"

  • (Section 1) Who the fathers
  • (Section 2) and of who the anointed the downward flesh
  • (Section 3) the who over all God blessed into the ages so be it.

The RSV sectioned

  • (Section 1) … of their race,
  • (Section 2) according to the flesh, is the Christ.
  • (Section 3) God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.

The NIV sectioned

  • (Section 1) … from them is traced the human ancestry
  • (Section 2) of Christ,
  • (Section 3) who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Section 1

In each translation Section one points to the history of the fathers / race / human ancestry.

Section 2

The identity of "who anointed the downward flesh" specifically means God for God gets the glory of anointing(noun) the flesh. Coming down from the thought into the flesh to speak. Creating the now and what will be.

The RSV
The RSV gives God the glory by stating "according to the flesh, is the Christ"

The NIV
The NIV gives God the glory by stating "of Christ"

Section 3

The Identity of "who over all God blessed into the ages so be it" specifically means Jesus for God blessed Jesus over all into the ages.

The RSV
The RSV places Jesus over all by using the word "is" who "is so Jesus" "God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen."

isso = ישוע = iesous = Jesus = I is

Word Replacement: "God who Jesus over all be blessed for ever. Amen."

The NIV
The NIV places Jesus over all by using the word "is" who "is so Jesus" "who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."

isso = ישוע = iesous = Jesus = I is

Word Replacement: "who Jesus God over all, forever praised! Amen."

I personally would have added another comma here like so "who is, God over all, forever praised! Amen."

Conclusion

If I had to choose between NIV and RSV as to better punctuation I would choose RSV. I so would have it translated differently. Yet whether in the Now who is so the Jesus or in the Future who is so the God. They Both are so part of Existence the collection of both the Father and the Son. Yet it's the Son that maintains the Laws of Motion and the Father who is so free from the Laws yet loves his Law and Loves his only begotten son - this the "I is".

  • p.s. Greek word for word translations are dangerous since nouns can have two forms subjective and objective hence the genitive case etc. – Decrypted Mar 8 '16 at 0:24

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