Jesus Christ, God Manifest: Titus 2:13 Revisited -- By: Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 51:4 (Dec 2008)
Article: Jesus Christ, God Manifest: Titus 2:13 Revisited
Author: Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

Jesus Christ, God Manifest: Titus 2:13 Revisited

Robert M. Bowman, Jr.*

* Robert M. Bowman, Jr. is the executive director of the Institute for Religious Research, 1340 Monroe Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49505.

Gordon Fee’s new work, Pauline Christology,1 is likely to be the standard reference on the subject for years to come. Fee devotes about 450 pages to a study of every statement about Christ in Paul’s writings (including the Pastorals) arranged in the likely order in which they were written, followed by about 160 pages developing a synthesis of Paul’s Christology. Part I includes a short but significant discussion of the question of whether Titus 2:13 calls Jesus Christ “God.” Fee concludes that this is not the case; rather, Jesus Christ is called “the glory of our great God and Savior.”2 In this paper, I will respond to Fee’s arguments.

I. Setting The Issue In Context

The Greek text of Titus 2:13 forms a single subordinate clause with the verb προσδεχόμενοι (“awaiting”). It reads as follows (with a slavishly literal translation following):

προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειν τῆς δόξης
τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

(“Awaiting the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of the great God and Savior our Jesus Christ”).

Even the decision to break the text into two lines after τῆς δόξης, (“of the glory”) instead of before it might be subject to some criticism, since a key issue is how to construe the relation of these words to the rest of the clause. Readers may choose to ignore the line break.

The dispute here is not over the deity of Jesus Christ. Gordon Fee affirms the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. Indeed, his two books

God’s Empowering Presence (on the Holy Spirit)3 and Pauline Christology form a massive argument for a Trinitarian understanding of Paul’s theology.4 Thus, the dispute is over whether Paul expresses the deity of Christ by calling him “God.” According to Fee, the answer is no. Fee also concludes that You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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