Monday, November 28, 2011

Hebrews 1:1 (Brief Remarks)

Greek text (Hebrews 1:1): πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸς λαλήσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις.

The passage has been rendered: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets" (KJV). The nominal phrase ὁ θεὸς is the grammatical subject. The alliterative construction πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως is "a familiar literary figure" whose matter-of-fact sense could be understood as "in many parts and in many ways" (F. F. Bruce, Hebrews, 44). Bruce also opts for the translation, "at various days and in many ways" which preserves the alliteration found in the original text. The fivefold use of the phoneme π principally accentuates the rhetorical nature of Hebrews 1:1. The overall effect of the construction found in the opening verse of the Epistle is to emphasize how ὁ θεὸς speaks to the forefathers of Israel: it is by means of or through the prophets (ἐν τοῖς προφήταις).

See Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1993), 91.

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