By Andreas Köstenberger
A few years ago, my family and I visited Westminster Abbey, the venerable cathedral that over the centuries has witnessed a large number of historic events. The Abbey has served as the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs and of many other significant people in England’s history.
Toward the end of our visit, I noticed one of the less conspicuous burial places in the Abbey, a plaque bearing the name of Granville Sharp (1735–1813). In the larger world, Sharp is primarily known for his work opposing the slave trade; in fact, he was one of the first to campaign for its abolition. In scholarly circles, however, his fame rests on having formulated what has come to be known as the “Granville Sharp Rule.”
In short, this rule asserts that if two or more singular substantives (except for personal names) are governed by a single article, the second and any subsequent substantives relate to or further describe the first. The major significance of Sharp’s Rule pertains to several important christological passages in the NT which, if Sharp’s Rule is valid, affirm the deity of Jesus. Thus, in Titus 2:13, Paul writes, “while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Over the centuries, there has been considerable discussion as to what Sharp’s Rule is and whether or not it supports the identification of Jesus Christ as God.