Heb 1:8

Wes Williams WesWilliams at usa.net
Wed Jul 7 09:49:12 EDT 1999

Tony Costa wrote:

<<  I had a question re: Hebrews 1:8, hO QRONOS SOU HO QEOS, (which is a
quotation from Psalm 45:6). Is this verse in the vocative ? Most
translations read it as "Thy throne O God is forever and ever", while others
like Goodspeed and Moffat's translations have "God is your throne forever
and ever". Yor insight would be appreciated.

                                    Tony Costa, B.A.
                                    University of Toronto
                                     Toronto, CANADA

Dear Tony,

Here is a post from several years ago on b-greek that reflects Westcott's
exegesis on the passage.  On a lexical level HO QEOS can be vocative,
subject, or predicate nominative (or even appositive?).  Westcott concludes
it is best to not take it as vocative because of the reasons he states
below. Another point frequently not considered is that God is not the one
who is being addressed. Rather, the one being addressed is one who is
anointed by God (cf. v.9 God, *your* God anointed *you*).  In harmony with
this, some translations read "God is your throne" or "Your throne is God."

Unfortunately I no longer have the link and the sunsite archives appear to
have expired. I can look it up if you want the entire thread.

Wes Williams

Hebrews 1:8, 9 is a quotation taken from Psalm 45:6, 7. When this entire
Psalm is considered, it is evident that the king mentioned in verse 1 who
has God's blessing is a different one than God himself who does the
anointing, as shown in verse seven. However, it is mentioned in this same
verse that God has anointed this one with the oil of exultation more than
his partners. If the Son is the one addressed here as God, then who are the
partners that "God, _your_ God," anointed his King-son to excel in his
gladness? At Hebrews 1:9, when many translations read "God, your God,
anointed you," clearly the one addressed in verse eight is not God, but the
one who worships God and the one who is anointed by him.

Also the context shows that the contrast between Hebrews verses 7 and 8 is
not to _essential being_ but to _function_. This fact is brought out in that
Christ, and not the angels, was bestowed divine kingship, as stated in
verses 8 and 9. Thus James Moffatt's translation reads at Hebrews 1:8, 9:
"God is thy throne for ever and ever, and thy royal sceptre is the sceptre
of equity; thou hast loved justice and hated lawlessness, therefore God, thy
God, has consecrated thee with the oil of rejoicing beyond thy comrades."

Commenting on Hebrews 1:8, 9, B. F. Westcott wrote in his work "The Epistle
to the Hebrews," London, 1892, pp. 25, 26:

"ho thronos sou ho theos...dia touto...ho theos, ho theos sou...It is not
necessary to discuss here in detail the construction of the original words
of the Psalm. The LXX admits of two renderings: ho theos can be taken as a
vocative in both cases (_Thy throne, O God,... therefore, O God, Thy
God..._) or it can be taken as the subject (or the predicate) in the first
case (_God is Thy throne,_ or _Thy throne is God..._), or in apposition to
ho theos sou in the second case (_Therefore God, even Thy God..._). The only
important variation noted in the other Greek versions is that of Aquila, who
gave the vocative thee in the first clause (Hieron. _Ep._ lxv. _ad Princ._
13) and, as it appears, also in the second (Field, _Hexapla_ ad loc._). It
is scarcely possible that 'elohim in the original can be addressed to the
king. The presumption therefore is against the belief that ho theos is a
vocative in the LXX. Thus on the whole it seems best to adopt in the first
clause the rendering: _God is Thy throne_ (or, _Thy throne is God_), that
is, 'Thy kingdom is founded upon God, the immovable Rock'; and to take ho
theos as in apposition in the second clause.

"The phrase 'God is Thy throne' is not indeed found elsewhere, but it is in
no way more strange than Psalm lxxi. 3 _[Lord] be Thou to me a rock of
habitation...Thou art my rock and my fortress._ Is xxvi. 4 (R.V.) _In the
LORD JEHOVAH is an everlasting rock._ Ps xc. 1 _Lord, Thou hast been our
dwelling-place._ Ps xci. 1 _He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most
High..._ v. 2 _I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress,_ v.
9; Deut. xxxiii. 27 _The eternal God is thy dwelling-place._ Comp. Is. xxii.

"For the general thought compare Zech. xii. 8. This interpretation is
required if we adopt the reading autou for sou.

"It is commonly supposed that the force of the quotation lies in the divine
title (ho theos) which, as it is held, is applied to the Son. It seems
however from the whole form of the argument to lie rather in the description
which is given of the Son's office and endowment. The angels are subject to
constant change, He has a dominion for ever and ever; they work through
material powers, He--the Incarnate Son--fulfils a moral sovereignty and is
crown with unique joy. Nor could the reader forget the later teaching of the
Psalm on the Royal Bride and the Royal Race. In whatever way then ho theos
be taken, the quotation establishes the conclusion which the writer whishes
to draw as to the essential difference of the Son and the angels. Indeed it
might appear to many that the direct application of the divine Name
[actually divine title] to the Son would obscure the thought."

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