Jerome H. Neyrey, «"First", "Only", "One of a Few", and "No One Else". The Rhetoric of Uniqueness and the Doxologies in 1 Timothy», Vol. 86 (2005) 59-87
The distinctive way of honoring gods or God was to celebrate
what is unique about them, that is, praise of persons who were the "first",
"only", or "one of a few" to do something. Rhetoric from Aristotle to Quintilian
expounded the theory of "uniqueness", which the authors of Greek hymns and
prayers employed. One finds a Semitic counterpart in the "principle of
incomparability" describing Israelite kings. "Uniqueness" pervades the New
Testament, especially its doxologies. In them, "uniqueness" was richly expressed
in rhetorical mode, as well as by predicates of negative theology which elevated
the deity above those praising.
â€œFirstâ€, â€œOnlyâ€, â€œOne of a Fewâ€, and â€œNo One Elseâ€
The Rhetoric of Uniqueness and the Doxologies in 1 Timothy
You alone are the Holy One,
You alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High (1)
Conversation on Scriptural doxologies includes in particular the work
of Eric Werner and Matthew Black (2), who analyzed the typical forms
of doxologies in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Scholarship on
the Pastoral Epistles provides specific Greco-Roman or Israelite
background of the names and attributes of God found in them (3). The
distinctive contribution of this study, however, brings into discussion
two fresh lines of inquiry. First, we examine the rhetoric of praise and
its modes of amplification. Particular attention will be paid to the
principle of uniqueness, that is, the process of amplifying significant
actions into grants of honor because the actor is the â€œfirstâ€ or â€œonlyâ€ or
â€œone of a fewâ€ or â€œthe one who mostâ€ performed them. For example,
Alcibiadesâ€™ chariots won first, second and fourth places in one race: he
is the â€œfirstâ€ and â€œonlyâ€ man ever to do this (Isocrates, Team of Horses
34); or, one might amplify his uniqueness by claiming that â€œno oneâ€
else has ever done thus and such. Second, all doxologies address God
in formal terms of great respect, especially rendering to God dovxa kai;
timh, terms which express honor, worthiness, renown, and the like (4).
(1) There are two doxologies in the early church, the Great Doxology (â€œGlory
to God in the highest ...â€) and the Lesser Doxology (â€œGlory be to the Father, the
Son and the Holy Spirit ...â€); see J.A. JUNGMANN, The Mass of the Roman Rite. Its
Origins and Development (New York 1951) I, 346-359.
(2) E. WERNER, â€œThe Doxology in Synagogue and Church. A Liturgico-
Musical Studyâ€, HUCA 19 (1945-46) 275-351; M. BLACK, â€œThe Doxology to the
Pater Noster with a Note on Matthew 6:13Bâ€, A Tribute to Geza Vermes (ed. P.R.
DAVIES â€“ R.T. WHITE) (Sheffield 1990) 327-338.
(3) For example, M. DIBELIUS, The Pastoral Epistles (Philadelphia 1972)
(4) It is well known that in the New Testament dovxa is used synonymously
with timhv, with the meaning esteem, honor. So G. KITTLE (â€œdoxaâ€, TDNT II, 232-
237) said of glory, â€œ... with the Homeric klevo" and later timhv, [glory] achieves
central significance for the Greeks. Supreme and ideal worth is summed up in the
term. A manâ€™s worth is measured by his reputeâ€ (II, 235).