Does "the" mean "one" and when can it differ?
I just listened to a rather anecdotal news item on france24 about the Google Car, now in camel form, as Google's street view concept is developed still further into the UAE desert! What stuck me in this story is how a very finite and countable noun-object, a car, can be taken up a level. It is a shame I cannot remember the exact wording, but it ran, very naturally, something like:
"the Google Car has been capturing street images in streets and through countryside in many countries across the world, but now Google are turning to the novel concept of strapping the equipement to a CAMEL!"
Now of course there may have been at one point one single and initial car, that became known as the Google Car, but at some point this concept became so common as to be applied to not just one car but any car used by Google for this purpose.
So in what sense is "the" the definite article here?
It is accurate as a concept. There are not multiple google car concepts in this sentence, and not only that, the design of the google car is such that the fleet provide an integrated, single and incredible result: google street view.
However, if we were to apply this language in a rigid noun-object sense, then we would be in difficulty, because clearly, for one single physical Google car to photograph significant portions of the world's inhabited areas would not be strategic!
Is the same true of Greek?
It would seem to me possible. When "the anointed one" is referred to a single-referring term, there is no confusion in the 1st century religious mind about the awaited Messiah figure not being in some kind of re-incarnated sense another, previously anointed one of God, such as Cyrus (Is 45.1) or David. In the same way that "the Google car" applied in a conceptual sense does not have us considering one single physical car tearing around the streets of the world.
Another very important area in which this kind of thinking needs to be applied is the area of our own origins and son/daughter-ship. From John chapter 1:
|12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--|
|13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.|
I believe that this kind of thinking may have been helpful in the recent revisions (NIV, NRSV) around Hebrews 2 which looks radically different to me than the translations were giving us ten years ago.
You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor
and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.
But we do see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might tasted death for everyone.
|7You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor|
8and put everything under their feet." In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.
9But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.