Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 22, 1953
NUMBER 37, PAGE 2-3b

What Does RSV Think Of Christ? — No. 4

George P. Estes, Maplewood, Missouri

Dr. A. T. Robertson, one of the greatest Greek scholars of all time wrote concerning 2 Thessalonians 1:12, "Here the syntax requires, since there is only one article with theou (God) and kurious (Lord), that one person be meant, Jesus Christ, as is certainly true in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1." (Word Pictures)

Some argue however that kudos (Lord) is often employed as a proper name without the article, a thing not true of soter (Savior), as for example Titus 2:13, "tou megalou theon kai soteros hamon Christen Iasou," translated "the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ"; and 2 Peter 1:1, "tou theou hamon kai soteros Iasou Christen," translated, "our God and Savior Jesus Christ." Kurious (Lord) may occur without the article, but this proves nothing, for so does theos (God). When an article is with one proper name, it binds it to those following, which are in apposition. Thus in Ephesians 5:5, "en tei basileiae ton Christou kai theou," has a natural meaning of, "in the kingdom of Christ and God," regarded as one; and "kata ten charin tou theou hamon kai kudos Iasou Christen," translated, "according to the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ."

The Revised Standard Version, however, true to the Unitarian bias of the translators, seeks to remove any idea of deity for Christ from this passage, rendering it, "our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." Sound scholarship would have rendered the text, "our God and Lord Jesus Christ," but the translators didn't even put that reading in the margin. Since they have correctly rendered Titus 2:13 ("our great God and Savior Jesus Christ") and 2 Peter 1:1 ("our God and Savior Jesus Christ"), it becomes all the more difficult to understand why they would seek to weaken 2 Thessalonians 1:12 by denying deity to Christ there.

Perhaps if we understand the modernist theology of the translators of the Revised Standard Version, we can realize how cleverly they have made these passages fit into the pattern of their Unitarian thinking. Christ's deity, they believe, was never claimed nor asserted during either His own life or the life of His apostles. It was only after the apostles were all dead that enthusiastic and fanatical followers began to claim that the lowly Jesus was in reality a divine being. If deity is asserted in an epistle, the translators take this as prima facie evidence that this epistle is of late and non-apostolic origin.

Read these words from Dr. Goodspeed, one of the translators, "The pastoral letters to Timothy and Titus are plainly from another hand than Paul's and belong to another period, when the sects were in full swing, soon after A. C. 150." (Goodspeed: Paul, pg. 238) Note: Goodspeed does not use the usual and conventional "A. D." but rather the modernistic and liberalistic "A. C.," meaning "after Christ."

Here is another of the translators, Dr. Cadbury, "The epistolary fiction, if fiction it is, has been carried through with unusual thoroughness, so that in certain places some have suspected that fragments of genuine letters have been embodied." (Cadbury, The N. T. and Early Christian Literature, pg. 40)

Goodspeed has this to say about the "cloak" and "books" in 2 Timothy 4:13, "Such touches really belong of course to the very rudiments of fiction. Both are attempts at verisimilitude. The psuedonymity (sic) is, as it were, double: both author and recipient are assumed...The letters seemed to come with the authority not only of Paul but of his chief lieutenants, the men closest to him in his missionary travels." (An Introduction to the N. T., pg. 340)

It is Goodspeed's contention that 2 Peter could not have written earlier than 160 A. D. (How To Read the Bible, p. 227) About this epistle he writes, "One of the best of recent Introductions declares that 'to write under the apostle's name and yet to refer to his martyrdom would be a self-contradiction and a blunder too great for any writer to commit.' But this is precisely what the writer of 2 Peter does. Then it is a pseudonymous epistle pure and simple." As evidence that the aforementioned letters are "forged," Goodspeed cites Paul's speeches in the Acts of Apostles and declares they were "forged" by Luke; and cites the writer of Revelation as "forging" that book and claiming Jesus Christ as the author. (New Chapters in N. T. Study, pp. 176-178)

Hebrews 1:8

Here the Revised Standard Version has an unnecessary footnote suggesting the elimination of the deity, "God is thy throne." Hebrews 1:8 is a quotation from Psalm 45:6,7. Regarding these verses the International Critical Commentary says, "All versions regard Elohim (God) as vocative (direct address); all refer to the king except Targum (Jewish) which thinks of God."

Delitzsch says of this passage, "Since elsewhere earthly authorities are called Elohim (Exodus 21:6; 22:7; Psalm 82:1), because they are God's representatives upon earth, so the king who is celebrated in this Psalm may all the more readily be styled "Elohim," when in his heavenly beauty, his irresistible doxa or glory and his divine holiness, he seems to the Psalmist to be the perfected realization of the close relationship in which God has set David and his seed to himself. He calls him Elohim just as Isaiah calls the exalted child whom he exultingly salutes in Chapter 9:1,6, El Gibor (Mighty God). He gives him this name because in the transparent exterior of his fair humanity he sees the glory and holiness of God as having attained a salutary and merciful conspicuousness among men...That he rises above all those round about him is self-evident; but even among his fellows of royal station, kings like himself, he has no equal."

Moffatt says of this vocative in Hebrews 1:8, "This...yields an excellent sense and may well explain the attractiveness of the text for a writer who wished to bring out the divine significance of Christ...It involves the direct application of ho theos (God) to the Son, which in poetical quotation, is not improbable."

Whether "poetical quotation" or not, Moffatt and the others eliminated the deity of Christ from this passage. The Psalm is Messianic; it is quoted by the writer of Hebrews and applied as words addressed directly to Christ. The prophecies in Isaiah 9:6 were quoted and applied to Christ before His birth, when the angel spoke to Mary. (Luke 1:32-34) For similar vocatives see also Luke 8:54; Col. 3:18-22; Heb. 10:7.

John 1:18

The best Greek manuscripts have monogenas theos (the only begotten God) instead of monogenas huios (the only begotten Son). Nestle's and Westcott and Hort's Greek texts both have monogenas theos. The phrase combines theos (God) in verse 1 with monogenas (only begotten) in verse 14, and agrees with 1 John 5:20.

Robertson, Wuest, Dr. Hort and the International Critical Commentary all agree, after extensive study, that the correct reading in the Greek is monogenas theos.

Moffatt concedes that "theos" is probably the original word, but nevertheless he puts "Son" into his translation. Grant defends this omission by appealing to the Roman Catholic translation edited by Joseph Boyer which reads "Son."

(To be continued)