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Is the article ο in ο θεός at Hebrews 1:9 anaphoric to θεός at Hebrews 1:8? If not, what grammatical reason prevents it?

Note: Keep in mind and address that Wallace says "Most individualizing articles will be anaphoric" [b] if the answer is no.

The answer to this question must be grammatical, not merely mention grammatical terms. It should also directly address the Greek anaphoric article.

Hebrews 1:5-9 is a cohesive argument that demonstrates the superiority of the Son as King over angels who are merely “ministers.”

In verse 8, there is a reference to θεός which is debated as being a reference to either God the Father from Hebrews 1:1-2 or the Son. In our English versions it is split between the two. [b]

In this quotation from the Greek LXX at Hebrews 1:8-9 we find two examples of the articular θεός that closely follow the anarthrous θεός in verse 6.

Is the article ο in ο θεός at Hebrews 1:9 anaphoric to θεός at Hebrews 1:8? If not, what grammatical reason prevents it?

Note: For those using Wallace, see the Excursus on the article below.


[a] Hebrews 1:8

  • "God is thy throne for ever and ever" (Moffatts)

  • "Your throne is like God's throne" (NEB)

  • "God has enthroned you for all eternity." (REB)

  • "Your throne,God, is for ever and ever." (New Jerusalem Bible)

  • "or God is your throne" (NRSV footnote)

  • "Thy throne is the throne of God" (ASV footnote)


[b] “Practically speaking, labeling an article as anaphoric requires that it have been introduced at most in the same book, preferably in a context not too far removed…Most individualizing articles will be anaphoric in a very broad sense. (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace 1996, p 218). [Quoted as a hostile witness]


Excursus on Wallace’s definition of the Article

The article can "conceptualize”, that is, turn any part of speech into a noun. Since θεός is already a noun, this cannot ever be the “force” in view for the noun θεός and therefore not at at Hebrews 1:1-9. [Wallace Syntax, b.2.a]

What is the predominant function of the article? The same source says:

In terms of predominant and most frequent function, it is normally used to identify an object. That is to say, it is used predominantly to stress the identity of an individual or class or quality. (Wallace, ExSyn 207–9) [b.2.b]

Therefore, when ο θεός is found one must “identify” the referent. Identification is not the same thing as “making definite.” [b.2.c]

In fact Wallace calls mere definiteness the drip-pan category of last resort. [d]

Wallace also says:

The anaphoric article has, by its nature, then a pointing force to it reminding the reader of who or what was mentioned previously. It is the most common use of the article

In order to identify “who” θεός refers to at Hebrews 1:8 requires an antecedent. The identification in our commentaries based on whether the article is nominative or vocative. This limits the identification to “who is θεός at Hebrews 1:8.


[b]

The Article Wallace, ExSyn 207–10

  1. What it IS

a. At bottom, the article intrinsically has the ability to conceptualize. In other words, the article is able to turn just about any part of speech into a noun and, therefore, a concept. For example, “poor” expresses a quality, but the addition of an article turns it into an entity, “the poor.” It is this ability to conceptualize that seems to be the basic force of the article. b. Does it ever do more than conceptualize? Of course. A distinction needs to be made between the essential force of the article and what it is most frequently used for. In terms of basic force, the article conceptualizes. In terms of predominant function, it is normally used to identify an object. That is to say, it is used predominantly to stress the identity of an individual or class or quality.

b. The anaphoric article is the article denoting previous reference. (It derives its name from the Greek verb ἀναφέρειν, "to bring back, to bring up.") The first mention of the substantive is usually anarthrous because it is merely being introduced. But subsequent mentions of it use the article, for the article is now pointing back to the substantive previously mentioned. The anaphoric article has, by its nature, then a pointing force to it reminding the reader of who or what was mentioned previously. It is the most common use of the article and the easiest usage to identify. (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan, 1996, p. 217-218)

c. The Greek article also serves a determining function at times—i.e., it definitizes. On the one hand, although it would be incorrect to say that the article’s basic function is to make something definite, on the other hand, whenever it is used, the term it modifies must of necessity be definite. These three relationships (conceptualize, identify, definitize) can be envisioned as concentric circles: all articles that make definite also identify; all articles that identify also conceptualize (Wallace, ExSyn 207–10)


[d] (1) SIMPLE IDENTIFICATION ExSyn 216–17 (a) Definition. The article is frequently used to distinguish one individual from another. This is our “drip-pan” category and should be used only as a last resort..

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The writer is quoting the Old Testament so one should consider how the LXX translator(s) used the article with God to determine if grammatical axioms such as anaphora were seen as valid principles when translating "God" from Hebrew:

In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν

The first mention of God has the article. Obviously, the use in ο θεός is not as an anaphoric device. Rather, it is a form of identification; either as "the" God in contrast to a pagan god, or as a name. Given this, without clear evidence, it is fair to question if an OT use is ever anaphoric.

This apparent "translation philosophy" is demonstrated in Psalm 45 (44 in the LXX) where all four renderings of "God" are with the article, ὁ θεός:

44:3 Youthful in beauty you are, beyond the sons of men; grace was poured upon on your lips; therefore God blessed you forever....44:7 Your throne O God, is forever and ever. A rod of equity is the rod of your rule; you moved righteousness and hated lawlessness. 44:8 Therefore, God, your God, anointed you with oil of rejoicing beyond your partners. (LXX-Psalms 44 [45])

44:3 ὡραῗος κάλλει παρὰ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐξεχύθη χάρις ἐν χείλεσίν σου διὰ τοῦτο εὐλόγησέν σε ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα...44:7 ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεός εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος ῥάβδος εὐθύτητος ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας σου 44:8 ἠγάπησας δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἐμίσησας ἀνομίαν διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεός σου ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους σου

In addition, throne, which is only mentioned once is ὁ θρόνος. Again, the article is not being used as an anaphoric form of identification.

It is clear the LXX translator(s) did not use the article in the translation of the Psalm as an anaphoric device and the best explanation for how it is used in Hebrews, is that writer simply continued the tradition established by the LXX. Regardless of later grammatical conventions (if any), the later writer was content to let the meaning conveyed by LXX translator(s) stand.

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Is the article ο in ο θεός at Hebrews 1:9 anaphoric to θεός at Hebrews 1:8? If not, what grammatical reason prevents it?

Following the chart, figure 1 from Wallace's grammar below:

  • Start chart.
  • Does θεός at at Hebrews 1:9 distinguish class from class? - No, not generic (ie Deity)
  • Does it distinguish individual from individual? - Yes, He is θεός of the Son
  • Does it refer to a noun mentioned previously? Yes, at 1:8, 1:6 and 1:1, so it cannot be “well known” and is therefore = Anaphoric

Θεός at Hebrews 1:9 is a renewed mention of θεός at 1:8 and identified as the same individual. It is anaphoric to θεός at verse 8 which is its antecedent.

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  • Assuming God is not triune. Your whole argument hinges on that assumption which is not grounded in OT inspired Scripture. Ironic that you quote H1:1 wherefore that refers to the triune God. Exo 3:2&4 explicitly shows God being the Angel of the Lord in the burning bush. We could go to Hagar’s promise from the Angel of the Lord/God and to Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac and to Jacob wrestling with the Angel and seeing God and to Joshua... You have assumed v1 is referring to the Father God only but it’s evident Paul is referring to God echad. Jun 10 '20 at 13:28
  • hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/q/44701/33125
    – user33125
    Jun 10 '20 at 13:40
  • Your link/opinion is still wrong today Thomas. if you can’t see the assumptions you, Harris and Wallace are making and the blatant overriding of simple reading of OT text there is no hope you will see anything but what you want it to say. At a minimum you have to concede it doesn’t say God the Father, it doesn’t even say God the Father who has a Son, and even that idea doesn’t nullify the possibility for Jesus being God because a board can have a representative that is also a board member with full rights and privileges as a board member but also with the constraints of a representative. Jun 10 '20 at 14:24

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