[B-Greek] The Lord is one (person)

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Mon Nov 6 15:25:20 EST 2006

Dear Iver,

Allow me a few short comments.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Iver Larsen" <iver_larsen at sil.org>
To: "BG" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>; "Anthony Buzzard" 
<anthonybuzzard at mindspring.com>
Sent: Monday, November 06, 2006 6:40 PM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] The Lord is one (person)

> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> Thanks to Yancy Smith and to Iver about the proper way to translate
>> learned article in JETS by Daniel Bock "How Many is God? An
>> Investigation into the Meaning of Deut. 6:4-5 (June 2004, pp.
>> 193-212) says that "the unambiguous meaning of the Greek NT
>> (following LXX) of Mark 12:29 is ''the LORD our GOD is one LORD."
>> Apparently that view is not as certain as he thinks.
> Indeed, if the meaning of the Greek text was absolutely clear without 
> ambiguity, why start an
> investigation? KURIOS is ambiguous in the NT, because it can refer either 
> to YHWH, to Christ or to
> any lord or master. The translation suggested above is the most unlikely 
> one of several possible
> ones. I would even go as
> far as saying that the one suggested above is pretty impossible, 
> especially if we realize that this
> is a literal translation of a Hebrew text. It is unlikely for at least two 
> reasons. KURIOS here
> stands for a proper name KURIOS=YHWH, not a common noun kurios=adonai, nor 
> does it refer to Jesus
> Christ, and you don't qualify a proper name with the adjective "one". 
> Secondly, if hEIS were to be
> attributive to KURIOS, it should have been
> placed before it, because hEIS is inherently emphatic and comes before the 
> noun it modifies (unless
> there is a good reason to front the noun in which case hEIS functions 
> almost as the indefinite
> article in English).
> It is "unambiguously" clear from the word order and the reference to YHWH 
> that it is used as a
> predicate here - YHWH is one (god), or more fully: YHWH is the one (and 
> only true God).

I have not read the article of Bock, but I agree with his conclusion that 
hEIS qulifies KURIOS. His words about "the unambiguous meaning" are too 
strong though. I will say the same regarding your words that it is 
"unambiguously" clear that hEIS is predicate. The position of )EXAD in the 
Hebrew text of Deut 6:4 represents a good reason to translate the text as 
"YHWH our God is one YHWH." In our time there is no need in most cases to 
qualify a proper name. But the situation was different in ancient Israel. 
The alternative to the worship of YHWH was the worship of idols, and these 
represented the $EDIM - DAIMONIOIS (Deuteronomy 32:17: Psalm 106:37). There 
were many $EDIM and some of the idols that represented them had the same 
name. So there was a need to stress that there was only one YHWH in contrast 
to the Baals - Baal Peor, Baal Berit etc.

An example of the Hebrew way of thinking is Exodus 20:4, "because I YHWH 
your God is a jealous god". In this verse QINNA (jealous), which follows )EL 
(god), qualifies )EL. Moreover, YHWH uses "God" in a generic way (a...god), 
but at the same time he distinguishes himself from other gods. A similar 
thought may be found in Luke 20:38, which I will translate this way: "he is 
not a god of the dead, but of the living".

Your reasoning regarding the position of hEIS is linguistically sound, but 
your conclusion is not the only one possible. In view of the strong Hebrew 
influence on the NT text, particularly in many of the quotes, I view hEIS as 
having exactly the same function as )EXAD in Deuteronomy, that is, as a word 
qualifying KURIOS.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
Univesity of Oslo


> Iver Larsen
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
> B-Greek mailing list
> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek

More information about the B-Greek mailing list