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Mounce Archive 10 — Prepositions, Deity, and Christology
Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the "Mondays with Mounce" archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.
Today's "classic" comes from one of Mounce's very first columns almost seven years ago, a fascinating post that's as relevant today as it was back then.
In it he reminds us of the nuances of grammatical constructions by drawing our attention to 1 Timothy 1:2. He explores how the preposition "apo" governs “God” and “Christ Jesus," and how this construction impacts Paul's christology.
Consider the excerpt below, then read the rest of the post.
In this verse, there is one preposition (“from,” apo) that governs two objects (“God” and “Christ Jesus”). Grammatically, this means that Paul is in some way thinking of the two objects as acting in unison, as one. If “God” and “Jesus” were two distinctly different entities, normal Greek grammar would require the preposition to be repeated (“from God and from Jesus”). But the single preposition means that the two objects are to be seen as a single entity.
But what is the precise nature of that single entity?
As always, grammar gives us a range of possibilities but it is context that makes the final decision. At a minimum, we can say that Paul thinks of God and Jesus as working in such unity that together they pronounce “grace, mercy, and peace.” In my commentary I refer to this as a “christologically sensitive grammatical structure” (page 8). It is the same construction that one verse earlier says Paul’s apostleship is issued “according to” the single command coming from God and Jesus. God and Jesus, acting as one, called Paul to his apostolic ministry.
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.
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