"You ain't no rebel at all unless you rebel against the Devil." - Bob Dylan

Friday, January 21, 2005

Granville Sharp - Abolition and Grammar

I've long heard of Granville Sharp's rule in Greek grammar, but only just now realized he was very important in the English abolition movement, working together with William Wilberforce. Very interesting and encouraging!
Here's a good summary

In 1765 Sharp was living with his brother, a surgeon in Wapping, East London. One day Jonathan Strong, a black man, arrived at the house. Strong was a slave who had been so badly beaten by his master, David Lisle, that he was close to death. Sharp took Strong to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, where he had to spend four months recovering from his injuries. Strong told Sharp how Lisle, had brought him to England from Barbados. Lisle had apparently been dissatisfied with Strong's services and after beating him with his pistol, had thrown him onto the streets.

After Jonathan Strong had regained his health, David Lisle paid two men to recapture him. When Sharp heard the news he took Lisle to court claiming that as Strong was in England he was no longer a slave. However, it was not until 1768 that the courts ruled in Strong's favour. The case received national publicity and Sharp was able to use this in his campaign against slavery. He also took up the cases of other slaves such as Thomas Lewis and James Somersett, and convinced the courts that "as soon as any slave sets foot upon English territory, he becomes free."

Granville Sharp developed radical political opinions about other issues as well. He argued in favour of parliamentary reform and an increase in the low wages paid to farm labourers. Sharp also supported the American colonists against the British government and as a result, had to resign from the civil service in 1776.

In 1787 Sharp and his friend Thomas Clarkson decided to form the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Although Sharp and Clarkson were both Anglicans, nine out of the twelve members on the committee, were Quakers. Influential figures such as John Wesley and Josiah Wedgwood gave their support to the campaign. Later they persuaded William Wilberforce, the MP for Hull, to be their spokesman in the House of Commons.

Thomas Clarkson was given the responsibility of collecting information to support the abolition of the slave trade. This included interviewing 20,000 sailors and obtaining equipment used on the slave-ships such as iron handcuffs, leg-shackles, thumb screws, instruments for forcing open slave's jaws and branding irons. In 1787 he published his pamphlet, A Summary View of the Slave Trade and of the Probable Consequences of Its Abolition.

After the passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 Sharp joined with Thomas Clarkson and Thomas Fowell Buxton to form the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery. However, Granville Sharp was not to see the final abolition of slavery as he died on 6th July, 1813.

Granville Sharp's Rule

Titus 2:13 is correctly translated as "the blessed hope and the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ," and 2 Peter 1:1, "our God and Savior, Jesus Christ."

A detailed discussion is found here.

Here's a shorter discussion..

Basically, Granville Sharp's rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word "and," and the first noun has the article ("the") while the second does not, *both nouns are referring to the same person*. In our texts, this is demonstrated by the words "God" and "Savior" at Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. "God" has the article, it is followed by the word for "and," and the word "Savior" does not have the article. Hence, both nouns are being applied to the same person, Jesus Christ.


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