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In Luke 23:2, the Greek text states,

Βʹ ἤρξαντο δὲ κατηγορεῖν αὐτοῦ λέγοντες Τοῦτον εὕρομεν διαστρέφοντα τὸ ἔθνος καὶ κωλύοντα Καίσαρι φόρους διδόναι λέγοντα ἑαυτὸν Χριστὸν βασιλέα εἶναι TR, 1550

Most English translations translate «Χριστὸν βασιλέα» as “Christ, a king,” wherein Χριστὸν is functioning as a substantive. However, the Revised Version includes in the footnote “Or an anointed king.”

Luke 23:2, Revised Version

Does the grammar allow the translation of «Χριστὸν βασιλέα» as “an anointed king,” where Χριστὸν is functioning as an adjective rather than a substantive?

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The word χριστός is actually a verbal adjective of χρίω. Verbal adjectives are types of adjectives that are formed from verbs by adding a suffix—usually τέος or τός. In the former (τέος) the accent is always on the penult, and I assume that in the latter (τός) the accent is always on the ultima. Thus the word χριστός can definitely be an adjective. Arguably, it is more of an adjective by right. The noun is a substantive use of the verbal adjective.

I think it can be read both ways: as two nouns in apposition ("Christ, a king"), or as an adjective modifying a noun ("anointed king"). I think there is nothing to suggest otherwise. The fact that the editors of the Greek text chose to capitalize χριστὸν is inconsequential, as the original text had all uppercase letters. It is worth mentioning that βασιλέα is an indefinite noun, thus it should be translated as "an anointed king", not "the anointed king".

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  • If in apposition, wouldn’t it be “a christ, a king”—both being indefinite?
    – user862
    Feb 1 '17 at 3:20
  • @SimplyaChristian I think that proper names are different, actually, and the article with them is often optional. You can read more about it here if you scroll down to "Articles with Proper Names": perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/…
    – ktm5124
    Feb 1 '17 at 18:25
  • @SimplyaChristian In that link, section 1142 deals specifically with the appositive case.
    – ktm5124
    Feb 1 '17 at 18:27
  • §1142 is listed under the following heading: “THE ARTICLE WITH PROPER NAMES.” That does not apply here, nor does §1142, as there are neither names nor definite articles in the phrase in question. If Χριστὸν were a name (proper noun) and in apposition, wouldn’t it have a definite article? For example, Mark 15:32: ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ βασιλεὺς...
    – user862
    Feb 2 '17 at 3:11
  • @SimplyaChristian 1142b ("Deities") says that the article can be used with the name and the epithet or (less often) neither. It gives an example with Zeus where the article is removed. I think this might apply.
    – ktm5124
    Feb 2 '17 at 16:10

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