Articular Infinitives, Ontological Equality, and Functional Subordination

The second to last paragraph of my review of Denny Burk’s book now reads like this:

Burk shows the crucial difference a right understanding of articular infinitives makes using five texts as examples: Mark 9:10, Acts 25:11, Romans 13:8, Philippians 2:6, and Hebrews 10:31. Among these examples, Philippians 2:6 bears the most theological weight, so the fruit of Burk’s study for understanding this text will be briefly considered here. N. T. Wright follows BDF in the opinion that the article with the infinitive in the final phrase of Philippians 2:6, “the being equal with God,” is an anaphoric article pointing back to the initial phrase of the verse, “the form of God.” On this understanding, “being equal with God” is equivalent to or synonymous with “the form of God.” But if, as Burk argues, the article is not anaphoric but appears as a grammatical necessity, marking the components of the double accusative construction, “equality with God” is not connected to “the form of God.” Rather, the articular infinitive designates “the being equal with God” as the object, whose complement is “a thing to be grasped” in the double accusative construction. Burk thus renders the sense of the verse as, “Although Jesus existed in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God as something he should go after also” (139). The payoff, then, of Burk’s careful grammatical investigation is that Philippians 2:6 affirms the ontological equality of Father and Son while maintaining the functional subordination of the Son, even in his pre-existent state (cf. 139–40 n. 46).

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