The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Today I made a discovery

#1

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” (Hebrews 1:5-9 ESV)

The author of Hebrews indicates that it is God, who utters the last two sentences, and that He is addressing His Son. It seems unbelievable that God would address His Son as “God.” Of course, trinitarians use this as a proof text for their belief that God is a trinity of divine persons.

Clearly, the last two sentences are quoted from Psalm 45:

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever. Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. (Psalm 45:1-7 ESV)

The author of the psalm states in verse 1 that he is addressing the king. Would he address the king as “God”? It seems unlikely.

In both the Greek of the Hebrews passage and the Greek of Psalms 45 in the Septuagint, the expression rendered as “Your throne, O God” by most translators, is the Greek phrase “'ο θρονος σου 'ο θεος” (ho thronos sou ho theos). This literally translates as “the throne of you (singular) the God.” The words “'o theos” (the God) is used to denote God himself. Also “'o theos” is in nominative case, which would indicate it to be the subject of a sentence. If God were being addressed, it would be in the vocative case. Most grammars I have consulted state that the word is in the nominative case, even in this phrase. In second-declension nouns, the vocative case ending is epsilon (ε) not omega-sigma (ος).

An example is Luke 12:14
But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”

He directly addresses him as “Man” and so “man” must be in the vocative case.
Indeed, it is and is “ανρθωπε” (anthrōpĕ). Notice the case ending is ε (the vocative case) and not the ending “ος” (the nominative case).

So if God were being addressed in Hebrews 1:8, wouldn’t the word be “θεε” (vocative case )rather than “θεος” (nominative case)? Do we find God being addressed as “θεε” anywhere in the New Testament? Indeed we do!

Jesus addressed His Father:
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

In the translation into Greek, He directly addressed His Father, and so “God” is in the vocative case:
θεε μου —θεε μου ----τι —με εγκατελιπες
God of me God of me why me have abandoned.

So that pretty well settles it. The verse in Hebrews (and also the Greek of Psalm 45) has God in the nominative case and should be translated as “God is your throne.” Right?

WRONG!

Here is the discovery I made today. The author of Mark, recording the same cry of Christ on the cross, translated His words into Greek as follows:

'ο θεος με 'ο θεος με τι εγκατελιπες

The translation into Greek is the same except the words of address for “My God My God” seem to be in the nominative case instead of the vocative case as was the case in Hebrews 1 and Psalm 45.

My conclusion: Not only is θεε in the vocative case but 'ο θεος is not only a nominative but can be another form of the vocative. Thus the translators of Heb 1 and Psalm 45 are right after all.

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#2

That’s because Attic Greek (500-300 BC) which later morphed or evolved into Koinē often made the vocative like the nominative, i.e., ὁ θεός as well as θεέ, occurs as the vocative of θεός.