Romans 9:5 used as a deity verse in the Ante-Nicene era.

Steven Avery

Romans 9:5
Whose are the fathers,
and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came,
who is over all,
God blessed for ever. Amen.

This was a surprise, so I want to get it documented. The verse is known for having two or three and more different translations.

First, lets note that there are strained attempts at higher and lower Christology texts, and a major back and forth between Edwin Hamilton Gifford (1820-1905), and Benjamin Hall Kennedy (1804-1899).

Benjamin Hall Kennedy
“And of whom is the Christ as concerning flesh. He who is over all is God, worthy to be praised for ever. Amen.” {Sermon, etc., p. 19.)

Revision margin note:
“Some modern interpreters place a full stop after flesh, and translate.
He who is God over all be (is) blessed forever : or.
He who is over all is God. blessed forever.
Others punctuate,
flesh, who is over all. God be (is) blessed forever"

John William Burgon and Frederic Charles Cook wrote forcefully againt this note:

Quarterly Review (1881)
Revision Revised (1883)

(k) A MARGINAL ANNOTATION set over against Romans ix. 5 is the last thing of this kind to which we shall invite attention. S. Paul declares it to be Israel’s highest boast and glory that of them, ‘as concerning the flesh [came] CHRIST, who is over all [things], God blessed for ever! Amen.’ A grander or more unequivocal testimony to our Lord’s eternal Godhead is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Accordingly, these words have been appealed to as confidently by faithful Doctors of the Church in every age, as they have been unsparingly assailed by unbelievers. The dishonest shifts by which the latter seek to evacuate the record which they are powerless to refute or deny, are paraded by our Revisionists in the following terms:—

Facebook - Patristics for Protestants (some addition to my post here)

Casey Perkins

Tertullian writes in Against Praxeas:
I will therefore not speak of gods at all, nor of lords, but I shall follow the apostle; so that if the Father and the Son, are alike to be invoked, I shall call the Father " God," and invoke Jesus Christ as " Lord." But when Christ alone (is mentioned), I shall be able to call Him " God," as the same apostle says: "Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever."

Gregory of Nazianzus has a similar quote in the Theological Orations, but I can't seem to find it. Does anyone happen to have it handy?

Steven Avery

If you are looking for a reference that includes Romans 9:5, I doubt that you will find it in Gregory Nazianzen.

John William Burgon and Ezra Abbot went over the references from the early church writers with a fine tooth comb, and Gregory did not come up. And they were generally far better scholars than today's crew on these issues, even when they were on opposite sides.


It is interesting that Tertullian used Romans 9:5 for a Deity Lite approach. I wonder if the translation given is accurate to his expression.


Beyond that, I often find dual addressing in the New Testament interesting. And I do not see Christians doing similar.


Back to Tertullian, I do not often quote Philip Schaff, but here goes:

"Tertullian cannot escape the charge of subordinationism. He bluntly calls the Father the whole divine substance, and the Son a part of it;1011 illustrating their relation by the figures of the fountain and the stream, the sun and the beam. He would not have two suns, he says, but he might call Christ God, as Paul does in Rom 9:5..... "

History of the Christian Church (1910)


Here you can see that four Ante-Nicene writers are emphasized in relation to Romans 9:5 and Deity

Tertullian, Hippolytus, Novatian and Cyprian. - note the English text given for Cyprian

Also Methodius of Olympus (d. 311) can be added to the four.

The Writings of Methodius, Alexander of Lycopolis, Peter of Alexandria, and Several Fragment (1869)

We keep festival, not according to the vain customs of the Greek mythology; we keep a feast which brings with it no ridiculous or frenzied banqueting of the gods, but which teaches us the wondrous condescension to us men of the awful glory of Him who is God over all.1
1 Rom. ix. 5.


Methodius is not specific enough, and an allusion, so I will not count this in to the group. Now we get to the four referenced.

…But when Christ alone (is mentioned), I shall be able to call him “God,” as the same apostle says: “Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”… (Tertullian, 145-220 A.D., Against Praxeas, Chapter XIII)[5]

Let us look next at the apostle’s word:
“ Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”,13 This word declares the mystery of the truth rightly and clearly. He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, “ All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” 14 He who is overall, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man. He is (yet) God for ever.' For to this effect John also has said, “ Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” 15 And well has he named Christ the Almighty. For in this he has said only what Christ testifies of Himself. For Christ gave this testimony, and said, “ All things are delivered unto me of my Father; ”16 and Christ rules all things, and has been appointed 17 Almighty by the Father. ...
(Hippolytus, 170-236 A.D., Dogmatical and Historical Fragments – Against the Heresy of One Noetus,[6]

…and if, besides, the Apostle Paul says, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom Christ came according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for evermore.”…reasonably Christ is God…(Novatian, 257 A.D., A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity, Chapter XII)[7]

...That Christ is God…Christ came, who is God over all, blessed for evermore.” (Cyprian, 200-258 A.D., Cyprian Treatise XII Three Books of Testimonies Against the Jews)[8]





edited by Gerald Bray, Thomas C. Oden

To the Israelites Belong the Patriarchs and Christ

God Who Is Over All.
It is clear from this passage that Christ is the God who is over all. The one who is over all has nothing over him, for Christ does not come after the Father but from the Father. The Holy Spirit is also included in this, as it is written: The Spirit of the Lord fills the earth, and whoever contains all things knows every sound.20 So if the Son is God over all and the Spirit is recorded as containing all things, it is clear that the nature and substance of the Trinity are shown to be one and over all things.
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.21 - (Latin, through Rufinus)

20 Wis 1:7.
21 CER 4:140.

Of Their Flesh Is the Christ.
As there is no mention of the Father's name in this verse and Paul is talking about Christ, it cannot be disputed that he is called God here. For if Scripture is speaking about God the Father and adds the Son, it often calls the Father God and the Son Lord. If someone does not think that it is said here about Christ that he is God, then let him name the person about whom he thinks it is said, for there is no mention of God the Father in this verse.
Commentary on Paul's Epistles.22
22 CSEL 81-305.

Augustine and Pelagius are also given, a bit unclear, Cyril of Alexandria is not on this deity topic.
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Steven Avery

Benjamin Hall Kennedy tries to counter the significance of these early church writers, considering them like a flock of sheep.

The divinity of Christ, a sermon. With an appendix on Romans ix. 5, and Titus ii. 13
Benjamin Hall Kennedy

Christ is God Over All: Romans 9:5 in the Context of Romans 9-11 (2013)
By George Carraway

Grammatical Objections to the Thesis
Ezra Abbot. One of perhaps the more thorough analyses of the text was published by Ezra Abbot in response to Dwight in 1881.64 Abbot argued that a doxology to God was not out of place in Romans 9:1-5 and that the various aspects of 9:5 suggest it is proper, he argued that the participle can best be understood as starting a new sentence in which the participle selves as the subject and God is the antecedent. As support for that he denied that (Grk) should require as an antithesis that Jesus is God, and, in addition, he argued that a full stop is suggested following it Abbot finally contends that (Grk); is never applied to Jesus in the New Testament and, in spite of suggestions that the word order is unnatural for a doxology, it is best applied to God. Abbot’s assessment includes a thorough analysis of the meaning of the text; however, he ultimately realized that the reading that Christ is God is also a possible reading. He then fell back to contentions similar to others that Paul nowhere else refers to Jesus as God, and that it is unlikely that at the early time of Paul’s writing he could have had that understanding.
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Steven Avery

Erasmus at Valladolid and Romans 9:5

SA: The Erasmus approach is ultra-dubious, I include it because it is available, as well as some of the reaction.


Renaissance Quarterly Vol. 50, No. 1 (Spring, 1997), pp. 78-118 (41 pages)
Erasmus as Hero, or Heretic? Spanish Humanism and the Valladolid Assembly of 1527 (1997)
Lu Ann Homza

As for his other editorial decisions, the composers of the Valladolid propositions also charged him with having doubted the canonicity of the predicate of Romans 9:5 in the Annotations. His complete exposition follows; the dates in brackets signify the editions in which the statements appeared.

Romans 9:5. “Who is God over all things.” [1516-22: Unless this bit is added on, as we do come upon certain added-on bits]. [1516-27: Certainly in this passage Paul openly pronounced Christ as God. And in fact the Greek manuscripts which I have seen agree].46

By the time the annotation appeared in the inventory, it had been transmitted in the ensuing fashion:

On Romans 9, although the plainest source is of Christ’s apostle speaking, “Who is God blessed forever,” and this is the clear, frank, and obvious meaning, and in regards to it, as the same Erasmus shows, all the manuscripts agree, he resorts to the most impudent evasion as he says, “unless this bit is added on, as we do come upon certain added-on bits, etc.”47

The rendition was hardly accidental. By excluding from the passage the affirmation that the apostle witnessed Christ as God, the accusation was constructed to illustrate Erasmus’s disparagement of the divine inspiration presumably at work in Paul, while the paraphrase that all the manuscripts included the verse was an attempt to strike back at him with his own methods. But whereas this indictment was formally adduced to cast doubt on his belief in Jesus and to substantiate his affection for Arians, the theologians instead responded to its implications for textual criticism.

Only one of the sixteen figures who replied — Gomez — was entirely comfortable with the notion that scriptural passages might be appended. Conversely, Vitoria believed the annotation weakened the authority of sacred scripture and scandalized the faith; Lerma found Erasmus’s rhetoric offensive, and wished the remark torn from his books, and the inquisitor and bishop Antonio de Guevara termed the comment completely heretical and scandalous. Others pondered Erasmus’s language and wondered whether he really claimed the verse was annexed. If Coronel spoke publicly what he wrote privately, he may have prompted uncertainty about Erasmus’s aim, for he proposed that if the annotation were examined with scholastic techniques, it would prove Erasmus’s innocence. But even if he doubted that Erasmus meant what he said, like almost everyone else he could not evade the problem of whether the observation diminished confidence in the authenticity of the New Testament, though he tried to avoid it by refusing to put into words what his peers proclaimed openly. In- stead, he stipulated that he would speak to the issue of scriptural impeccability when they reached the relevant category, and thereby declined to openly endorse or dispute the others’ reproach.48 p. 93-94

In one remarkable passage, Coronel admitted to speaking like a dialectician as he attempted to show that Erasmus himself did not believe in the extra-canonical origins of Romans 9:5, for “he argued conditionally, from a preceding assertion to a consequent one, namely in this way: if this clause is not added on, certainly in this passage Paul pronounced Christ to be God. But this clause is not added on. Therefore in this place Paul, etc.”99 He therefore demonstrated what recent scholars have advanced, namely that sixteenth-century intellectuals could move between types of discourse for rhetorical purposes.100

100 Grafton, 1991,36-44.


Apparently there were more nuances to the Erasmus position, that may not have come out at Valladolid.

Ambrose himself sought proof against the Arians by reading in Romans 9: 5 “from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all God, forever blessed !” Erasmus favored the reading proposed by the Arians: “Christ who is above all, God [the Father] forever blessed !” The passage in Origen’s Commentary on Romans, contending that this doxology should be predicated of Christ, was manifestly interpolated by some orthodox writer, probably St. Jerome.

Erasmus, the Growth of a Mind (1972)
by James D. Tracy


Erasmus had often had to defend his repeated claims that it was untypical for Christ to be named God in the New Testament but, unlike Zwicker, he never denied that there were exceptions,105 and here left open whether this might be one.

Encounters with a Radical Erasmus: Erasmus' Work as a Source of Radical Thought in Early Modern Europe (2009)
Peter W. Bietenholz

(1 John 5:20 and Romans 9:5 are in the discussion.)
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Steven Avery

Jan Krans on Erasmus and Beza on Romans 9:5 - p. 126

Beyond What Is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament - Jan Krans

This passage turns up already in the discussion with Stunica,79 and plays an important role in Erasmus’ confrontation with the Spanish Inquisition.80 It returns once again in the polemic with Titelmans.81 The discussion centres around the question whether Erasmus denies Christ’s divinity. Interestingly, it has some bearings on conjectural emendation.

In the Valladolid articles the accusation that Erasmus adheres to the Arian heresy of denying Christ’s divinity is sustained by citations from the Annotationes, in which
(a) Erasmus indicates that only in very few places in scripture Christ is clearly called ‘God’ and
(b) he even treats passages such as Rom 9:5 in such a way that a clear statement of Christ’s divinity is ‘explained away’.
In his Apologia, Erasmus first cites the ‘obiectio’:

In Rom 9, though the apostle’s authority is overly clear when he says about Christ, ‘who is God blessed forever’, and though this is the clear, simple and evident meaning, in which also, as even Erasmus testifies, all manuscripts agree, he has recourse to a most shameless tergiversation by saying, ‘unless this clause has been added, in the same way as we find some of these added ...’82

79 The entire subject was initially brought up by Stunica, who objected to Erasmus’ statement that “I do not know whether the name of ‘God’ is read clearly attributed to Christ anywhere in the writings of the apostles or the evangelists, except in two or three places” (“haud scio an usque legatur dei cognomen aperte tributum Christo in apostolorum aut euangelistarum literis, praeterquam in duobus aut tribus locis”—in the annotation ‘In principio erat verbun' on John 1:1, ASD VI-6, p. 39 app.l. 177; the words are found in 1516 and 1519 and omitted from 1522 onwards). Rom 9:5 is the fifth New Testament text out of the ten of which Stunica claims that they clearlv designate Christ as ‘God’ (Matt 1:23; John 1:1; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom 9:5; Phil 2:6; Col 2:9; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8; 1 John 5:20). Erasmus discusses and rejects Stunica’s claim in Apolog. resp. lac. Lop. Stun., ASD IX-2, pp. 126.128.130 11. 342-425 (on Rom 9:5 see p. 128 II. 382-386) and Apolog. adv. Stun. Blasph. et imp., LB IX, cc. 362 F-363 B, and once again against Sanctius Caranza in Apolog. c. Sand. Caranz., LB IX, cc. 401-413.

80 For the Valladolid articles and Erasmus’ answer to them, see Apolog. adv. tnonach. hisp., LB IX, cc. 1043-1047. On the Valladolid conference, sec
Bataillon, Erasme et I'Espagne, pp. 253-299 (on Rom 9:5, see p. 274) and Homza, ‘Erasmus as Hero or Heretic*.

81 Resp. ad collat. iuv. gerant., LB IX, cc. 1002-1003.

82 Apolog. adv. tnonach. hisp.: (Obicctio 12) “Ad Rom. IX cum sit patentissi-
ma auctoritas apostoli de Christo dicentis, qui est Deus benedict us in secula, et
hie sit planus, simplex, manifcstusquc sensus, in quo ctiam, ut idem Erasmus
tcstatur, omnes codices consentiunt, ad impudcntissimam tcrgivcrsationem con-
fugit, ut dicat "nisi haec particula adiecta est, sicuti quasdam adiectas offendi-
mus” etc. ...” (LB IX, c. 1043 D-E). Erasmus’ comparison with the clauses
which are often found added at the end of lectures is branded ‘a most unfitting analogy’ (‘incptissimam analogiam’).
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Steven Avery

2 Corinthians 11:31 (AV)
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which is blessed for evermore,
knoweth that I lie not.

Jean Le Clerc ?

Anthony Buzzard, a Unitarian, in his book "The Doctrine of the Trinity--Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound" wrote on page 268 quoting the great Catholic Renaissance writer, Erasmus; and note what Erasmus has to say regarding Romans 9:5:

"Those who contend that in this text[Rom.9:5] Christ is clearly termed God, either place little confidence in other passages of Scripture, deny all understanding to the Arians, or pay scarcely any attention to the style of the Apostle. A similar passage occurs in Second Corinthians 11:31: "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever"; the latter clause being undeniably restricted to the Father."
(Quoted by Buzzard, but taken from "Works", ed. Jean Leclerc, 10 vols. Leiden)

Some confusions as to source, here we see the main section in an 1842 book.

The Concessions of Trinitarians. Being a Selection of Extracts from the Most Eminent Biblical Critics and Commentators (1842)
John Wilson
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Steven Avery


ICCS Bibliography

The interpretation of Rom. ix. 5 has probably been discussed at greater Special length than that of any other verse of the N.T. Besides long notes in literature various commentaries, the following special papers may be mentioned :

Schultz, in Jahrbiicher für deutsche Theologie, 1868, vol. xiii. pp. 462-506; Grimm, Zwth., 1869, pp. 311-322 ;
Harmsen, ib. 1872, pp. 510, 521 :

but England and America have provided the fullest discussions-- by
Prof. Kennedy and Dr. Gifford, namely,

The Divinity of Christ, a serrnon preached on Christmas Day, 1882, before the University of Cambridge, with an appendix on Rom. ix, 5 and Titus ii. 13, by Benjamin Hall Kennedy, D.D., Cambridge, 1883;
Caesarem Appello, a letter to Dr. Kennedy, by Edwin Hamilton Gifford, D.D., Cambridge, 1883; and

Pauline Christology, 1. Examination of Rom. ix. 5, being a rejoinder to the Rev. Dr. Gifford's reply, by Benjamin Hall Kennedy, D.D., Cambridge, 1883 : by Prof. Dwight and Dr. Ezra Abbot, in J. B. Exeg. June and December, 1881, pp. 22-55, 87-154; and 1883, pp. 90-112.

Of these the paper of Dr. Abbot is much the most exhaustive, while that of Dr. Gifford seems to us on the whole to show the most exegetical power.

Magee, Gurney and Gifford I think were 3 main traditionalists
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Steven Avery

Abbot has SEVEN interps, plus outliers.

Here is four from ICCS

Dismissing minor variations, there are four main interpretations (all of Alternative them referred to in the RV.) which have been suggested : ....

(a) Placing a comma after cápka and referring the whole passage to tions. Christ. So RV.

(b) Placing a full stop after oápka and translating · He who is God over all be blessed for ever,' or 'is blessed for ever.' So RV, marg

(c) With the same punctuation translating “He who is over all is God blessed for ever. RV. marg.

(d) Placing a comma after gápka and a full stop at návrwv, 'who is over all. God be (or is) blessed for ever. RV. marg