Sunday, July 29, 2007

The only true God

I’ve been asked to comment on this:

http://www.elihubooks.com/blogRead.htm?id=63

“Which I put in quotes to help identify this unique understanding of ‘person’ relative to Trinitarianism.”

Stafford is taking human personhood as the standard of reference. At an epistemic level, that’s only natural since we are human. So, as a matter of experience, we make ourselves the standard of reference.

But we’re not the paradigm of personhood. God is. And there are disanalogies as well as analogies between God and man. Pace Mormonism or open theism, God is not a scaled up human beings. So it comes as no surprise if there’s something unique about divine personhood, for God is in a class by himself (sui generis).

“I then challenged all Trinitarian readers to give me a 1-2 paragraph (200 words or less) answer to the following question, without assuming Trinitarianism”

This is seriously misleading in a couple of respects:

i) He’s probably treating unitarianism as the default assumption, so that Trinitarianism must overcome his unitarian presumption. But that would be prejudicial.

ii) We shouldn’t assume something like Nicene orthodoxy when we come to Jn 17:3, for that would be anachronistic.

However, it doesn’t mean that we bring no assumptions to the text by treating the text in splendid isolation. We should construe Jn 17:3 with a view to Johannine theology in general, both in the Fourth Gospel and 1 John.

“Since the Father is the ‘only true God’ according to Jesus [John 17:3], what kind of g/God is Jesus?”

Here he commits a basic semantic blunder by failing to distinguish between:

i) ”God” as a proper name

and:

ii) ”God” as a generic descriptor

Take the following passage:

“If Yahweh is God follow him, but if Baal, then follow him…You call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of Yahweh, and the God who answers by fire, he is God” (1 Kgs 18:21,24).

Here, “God” is being used as a generic descriptor, while Baal and Yahweh are proper names. And the point of the passage is to distinguish the rightful divine claimant from the imposter.

But many times, in OT usage, “God” (Elohim) functions as a proper name. Since there’s only one true Deity, “God” can be used either as a proper name or generic descriptor—unless there’s a need to distinguish between differing referents.

Take another comparison: what does “Adam” refer to in Scripture?

The Hebrew word can either function as a generic descriptor for mankind (“man”), or else it can designate a historic individual who was the patriarch of the human race (the first man).

Johannine usage alternates between “God” as a proper name and “God” as a generic descriptor. That distinction is necessary to sort out the two divine referents in1 Jn 1:1 and 1:18.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

In its first occurrence (second clause), “God” is being used as a proper name for the person of the Father, while in its second occurrence (third clause), “God” is being used as a generic descriptor for the person of the Logos, who—along with the Father—belongs to the category of the divine.

One could paraphrase the passage as follows:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the Father, and the Word was divine.”

However, John prefers to use the same word (God) twice to accentuate the divinity of the Logos. It’s understood that the Father is divine. To then apply the same word to the Logos is an emphatic way of stressing the divinity of the Logos.

“No one has ever seen God, the only-begotten God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Once again, in its first occurrence (first clause), “God” is being used as a proper name for the person of the Father, while in the second occurrence (second clause), “God” is being used as a generic descriptor for the person of the Son, who reveals the invisible Father by becoming incarnate.

That’s how the incarnate Son reveals the discarnate Father. And the Incarnation would only serve this revelatory role if the Son were divine in his own right.

One could paraphrase the passage as follows:

“No one has ever seen the Father, but the divine Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known (by becoming Incarnate).

Both Jn 1:1 and 1:18 have two divine referents. John therefore attempts to do two things:

i) Indicate that both referents are divine:

ii) Distinguish one divine referent from another.

So his usage attempts to establish both identity and difference. Identity in nature or essence, but difference in person. In the course of the Fourth Gospel and 1 John, this relationship will be further explicated—along with his pneumatology.

In Jn 17:3, “God” is being used as a proper name for the Father, to distinguish the person of the Father from the person of the Son.

In Johannine usage, the “Father” is a proper name for one member of the Trinity, while the “Son” is a proper name for another member of the Trinity. It’s necessary to have different names to differentially designate different members of the Trinity.

I reject Wiseman’s Nicene subordinationism, so I won’t use that to frame my own analysis.

As to Heb 1:3, we need to keep a couple of things in mind:

i) To speak of the Son as a “copy” of God is figurative image. A metaphor is an analogy. Every analogy has an element of disanalogy. So the question at issue is to single out the intended point of commonality.

Stafford, with wooden literality, acts as if the process of replication is the point of commonality. But x can be a copy of y in another sense: resemblance. A copy, while numerically distinct, may be essentially identical with the original. And that’s the point of comparison in Heb 1:3. Not the process, but the product.

And keep in mind, once again, that this is figurative. The Son is not the actual end-product of a process. The intention, rather, is to establish the consubstantial identity of the Son with the Father.

Likewise, “radiance” or “reflection” is another picturesque metaphor, with literary debts to the Alexandrian wisdom tradition, but also allusive, I suspect, of the OT Shekinah. Once more, Christ is the visible manifestation of the invisible God.

ii) This interpretation is reinforced by the fact that, in chapter 1, the author of Hebrews goes out of his way to emphasize the deity of the Son by several different lines of evidence.

“Trinitarians are forced to define this reference [Heb 1:3] to ‘God’ as ‘the Father’ (whom they consider a ‘person’ of the ‘one God,’ the Trinity), and they are right in seeing in this reference the Father, but the Father is never in Scripture or in literature contemporary with the Bible, defined as a ‘person of the ‘one God.’ He is always, by himself, the ‘one God”’(1 Corinthians 8:6).”

Several problems:

i) Pauline usage is not necessarily interchangeable with the author of Hebrews. Each NT writer may have his own nomenclature for distinguishing the Trinitarian persons. John often uses “Father/Son” terminology, while Paul often uses “God/Lord” terminology.

ii) The Father is divine in his own right, but he is not the “one God.” That fails to distinguish between a generic descriptor and a proper name. We could also say that the Son is divine in his own right—as well as the Spirit.

In 1 Cor 8:6, “God” is a proper name for the Father,” while “Lord” is a proper name for the Son. Yet both designations are divine titles.

“This understanding is also consistent with the use of terms such as ‘God’ in written literature from the biblical periods, and it is consistent with the conceptual model of divine representation found early on in the Bible for other spirit “sons of God” (Exodus 3:2; Deuteronomy 5:4; Judges 13:21-22; Acts 7:30, 38, 53; Hebrews 2:2).”

Two problems:

i) Since Trinitarians generally regard the Angel of the Lord as a Christophany, this appeal in no way favors the unitarian position.

ii) And Heb 2:2 is not a reference to the Angel of the Lord. Hebrews distinguishes the Son from the angels.

“In order for me to accept the that the Bible teaches the Trinity, a Trinitarian must show me where the Bible articulates the term ‘God’ 1) as ever referring to the Trinity or as a God who is described or who is at least clearly understood as triune in nature, and then 2) they must show me that the use of the term ‘God,’ while it should according to the above model, in particular premise I., only be applicable to the Trinity, is nonetheless in fact used in the Bible to mean a non-being ‘person’ who subsists equally in the nature of the one God, and that when applied to, say, the Son it does not identify him with the ‘one God,’ that is, the Trinity. The two understandings of the term must be established by argument from the text, not assumed and brought to it at the start.”

Stafford is now committing yet another semantic fallacy by failing to distinguish between words and concepts. Trinitarian theology is not limited to the usage of the word “God” in Scripture. You can also establish the deity of the referent through the biblical ascription of divine titles, economic roles, and attributes to the referent.

“Again, I am not aware of any place in the Bible, or in any literature prior to the first century CE (and quite possibly prior to the second or even later centuries CE), that provides any articulation or usage of ‘God’ that supports the two senses for ‘God’ as found in the Trinitarian model given above.”

i) For reasons I’ve already given, that’s the wrong way of framing the issue.

ii) I’d add that even liberal scholars like John Collins (The Scepter & the Star) see the evolving theme of a divine Messiah in OT and 2nd Temple literature.

“Therefore, I consider Trinitarianism an anachronism with respect to the Bible.”

The Trinitarian terminology may be anachronistic, but this doesn’t mean that the Trinitarian conception is anachronistic. We can employ extrabiblical nomenclature to denote Biblical truths.

Indeed, even Stafford uses extrabiblical nomenclature to describe his heretical, unitarian alternative.

Stafford also skips over the detailed evidence for the deity of Christ which has been marshaled by such classic writers as Warfield and Vos, not to mention more recent writers like Fee, Hurtado, and Harris.

33 comments:

  1. Servetus' Ashes7/29/2007 6:13 PM

    If the primary truth of Christianity is that "God became man," it seems strange that this idea isn't stated unambiguously and often in the New Testament. Surely such a concept would have required explicit statement, constantly. But what we have instead are a few direct references to Jesus as theos and a selection of hints that require sophisticated interpretation by the religious intelligensia.

    Did John assume that his readers would recognize the distinction between "God" as a proper name and "God" as a generic descriptor for deity when he penned 17:3? I doubt it.

    Here's another question: Did the earliest converts to Christianity believe in the deity of Christ? The sermons in Acts address people who have little or no knowledge of Christian doctrine, so they must contain the most important ideas necessary for salvation. Do they say anything at all about a Person of the Godhead becoming a human and possessing two natures? If this were the central point of the new faith, the apostles could hardly preach a sermon to an ignorant crowd without mentioning it.

    But that's far from the case. Instead, they say things like this: "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus." (No indication here that Jesus was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or that he was a "person" existing within this God.)

    Or this one: "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know."

    Or this: "You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."

    Would you have walked away from these three sermons understanding the deity of Christ?? Unlikely.

    These sermons are distinctly unitarian in content, as is the overwhelming majority of Holy Scripture.

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  2. Servetus' Ashes,

    You've already been given references to sources that discuss the evidence for the deity of Christ in depth. And the passages you're citing from the early chapters of Acts were spoken in Israel after Jesus had carried out a public ministry there for a few years, after accounts of a resurrection had been circulating for weeks, etc. The audiences would have known some things about Jesus and what He and His followers had taught prior to those sermons. They also came from a Jewish background through which they would have interpreted what was spoken by Peter and the other Christians who communicated with them. And Luke didn't include everything that was said (Acts 2:40).

    Craig Keener writes:

    "Disciples baptize [as a result of Matthew 28:19] not only in the name of the Father and the Holy Spirit, whom biblical and Jewish tradition regarded as divine, but also in the name of the Son. Placing Jesus on the same level as the Father and Spirit makes even more explicit what is implicit in Acts’s ‘baptism in Jesus’ name’ (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; cf. 22:16) – that is, that Jesus is divine (28:19)….Jesus’ divinity is explicit in Luke’s theology of baptism in Jesus’ name, Acts 2:38 fulfilling Joel’s prophecy recorded in [Acts] 2:21….Cf. repentance ‘in the name of the Most High God’ (Jos. and Asen. 15:7); salvation ‘in the name of the Lord of Spirits’ (1 Enoch 48:7)” (A Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew [Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999], pp. 716-717)

    Furthermore:

    “Similarly, although the identity of ‘the Lord’ to whom Peter advises that prayer be made in [Acts] 8:22 (‘Pray to the Lord’), and the identity of ‘the Lord’ in Simon’s reply in 8:24 (‘Pray for me to the Lord’), may be seen as somewhat ambiguous, the fact that elsewhere in this scene ‘the Lord’ is explicitly identified by Luke as ‘the Lord Jesus’ (8:16) means that we may assume in the exchange between Simon and Peter throughout 8:14-25 that Jesus is in view. Furthermore, Stephen offers prayer to Jesus (7:59-60), as does Ananias (9:10-17; see esp. v. 17, where ‘the Lord’ is directly specified as ‘Jesus’). So routine, in fact, is christocentric prayer to the identity of the early Christians that they can be known as ‘those who call upon the name’ of Jesus (cf. 2:21; 7:59; 9:14, 21; 22:16). The prayer practices of the early church, therefore, highlight important christological affirmations that move beyond what was characteristic of Judaism. According to Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, Jesus is God’s coregent who dispenses the blessings of salvation to all who ‘call on the name of the Lord’ (2:14-41). In this capacity, he has become an object of devotion and a source of salvation – roles reserved only for God within Jewish tradition.” (Joel Green, Into God’s Presence, Richard Bauckham, ed. [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2001], p. 188)

    The deity of Christ is referred to, as if it's something accepted and not in need of supporting argumentation, by Paul, Ignatius of Antioch, and other early sources writing to a large variety of audiences. Celsus, a second century critic of Christianity, refers to the deity of Christ as something commonly believed by Christians.

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  3. "If the primary truth of Christianity is that "God became man," it seems strange that this idea isn't stated unambiguously and often in the New Testament."

    It IS stated quite unambiguously (John 1:14). You, however, dismiss such Scriptural proofs because you read your unitarian presuppositions into those Scriptures.

    "But what we have instead are a few direct references to Jesus as theos and a selection of hints that require sophisticated interpretation by the religious intelligensia."

    No, not really. The Gospels, the epistles, and Revelation all attribute Old Testament verses that are referents to YHWH to Jesus. Also, since Jesus receives worship and shares God's glory, things which YHWH will not share with another, the default position would be to attribute Deity to Him. It doesn't take a scholar to see that Jesus is much more than a created being.

    "Did John assume that his readers would recognize the distinction between "God" as a proper name and "God" as a generic descriptor for deity when he penned 17:3? I doubt it."

    Thanks for your opinion. Ipse dixit.

    "Did the earliest converts to Christianity believe in the deity of Christ?"

    The earliest church fathers did. Since that's the best we can get, then that should answer your question.

    "Do they say anything at all about a Person of the Godhead becoming a human and possessing two natures?"

    Ehem...Acts 2:34-36, 4:12, 20:28...cough, cough.

    "Would you have walked away from these three sermons understanding the deity of Christ?? Unlikely."

    Jesus was crucified for claiming equality with YHWH (thus confirming that the Jews understood Daniel 7 as a reference to Deity). The Jews in Jerusalem hearing Peter's sermons probably already knew this.

    "These sermons are distinctly unitarian in content, as is the overwhelming majority of Holy Scripture."

    No, they are distincly monotheistic in context and make no mention of whether God is a monad or triune.

    It is only when one reads the Platonic presuppositions of Arianism into the text that one can believe in unitarianism.

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  4. To add to what I wrote in my last post, Craig Keener makes a significant point:

    “Luke may emphasize Christ’s deity less [than Mark]. Luke does not deny a view held in other early Christian circles – Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 builds on an identification of Jesus (cf. 2:38) as the Lord of Joel (Acts 2:21), thus baptism is offered ‘in Jesus’ name.’ Luke does not deny early Christian affirmation of Christ’s deity; he simply emphasizes what is most useful in his apologetic history. Luke thus provides the clearest evidence that different writers could stress different Christologies without opposing earlier Christologies in their sources.” (The Gospel Of John: A Commentary, Vol. 1 [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003], p. 306)

    Luke probably wasn't the first gospel written. I think it's likely that Hebrew Matthew, Mark, and Greek Matthew (probably in that order) were written earlier. At the least, some other relevant documents were written prior to when Luke wrote (Luke 1:1). Luke's decision to emphasize Jesus' deity less than some other sources doesn't necessarily reflect an absence of the concept or a similar lack of emphasis on it by the Christians who preached the sermons in Acts. Luke would have known what doctrines Christian and non-Christian readers were already familiar with, how they would interpret terms like "Lord", etc. If Jesus' deity was already widely known and accepted, as the evidence suggests, then Luke might have seen no need to put much emphasis on it.

    It should also be noted that Christianity has a concept of the teaching and convicting work of the Holy Spirit. If a term like "Lord" could be understood in more than one way, we don't believe that somebody like Peter would be required to explain which definition is correct in order for the Holy Spirit to lead the elect within his audience to a correct conclusion.

    And even if we were to assume that some people in the earliest days of Christianity became Christians while ignorant of Jesus' deity, it wouldn't therefore follow that we today should view the doctrine as similarly non-essential. We have further revelation from God, including many passages in the New Testament that refer to Jesus as Yahweh, refer to His having Divine attributes, etc. We've also reflected on the Old Testament enough to notice references to the Messiah as God, for example. Given how much importance is assigned to the recognition and honoring of God in the Old Testament, and considering the logical implications of treating God as a creature rather than approaching Him as God, it makes sense to consider the deity of Christ a doctrine of foundational importance. We don't disregard the many Biblical references to Jesus' deity and the logical implications of His deity just because a source like the book of Acts doesn't refer to somebody like Peter putting a lot of emphasis on the doctrine in what's recorded of his sermons.

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  5. Servetus' Ashes7/29/2007 10:29 PM

    Jason:

    Thanks for a well-reasoned reply. I have to admit, you made some points that I need to consider.

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  6. I'd add that the primary reason liberals date the Gospel of John so late is due to its high Christology. You don't have to be a doctrinaire Trinitarian to see that, for liberal scholars have no precommitment to the Trinity.

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  7. Annoyed Pinoy7/30/2007 1:23 AM

    Greg Stafford has often pointed out that he has read many works in defense of the Trinity; yet he doesn't acknowledge in his argument a common point made by Trinitarians concerning 1 Cor. 8:6. That if there is only one God (i.e. the Father), and Jesus is not God, then when it says that there is one Lord, then it follows that the Father is not Lord/kurios. But no one would deny that the Father is Lord. So Greg is not being completely up front in his comments. Or he's forgotten this argument that many Trinitarian books make.


    Also, Greg seems to be claiming that we should avoid equivocation in our post-Biblical theological use of the term "God", yet fails to point out that even the NT calls Jesus "ho theos" ("THE God" [not merely "a god"]) in John 20:28. In which case he should provide some way of reconciling his critque of Trinitarianism's apparent equivocation and the seeming inconsistency of his own interpretation of Scripture.

    I used to be an Arian so, I kind of understand how Greg both thinks and feels about this issue. While there are many things that can be said, I would leave him with this point that really got me thinking when I was an Arian. Something that is often pointed out, but really powerful.

    In light of Matt. 19:17; Mark 10:18; and Luke 18:19 either "There is none good but God; Christ is good; therefore Christ is God" OR "There is none good but God; Christ is not God; therefore Christ is not good."

    I wonder how Greg would get out of the horns of this dilemma. I don't recall him dealig with it in his first edition of Jehovah's Witnesses Defended.

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  8. Hey Steve.

    You wrote, "Stafford is taking human personhood as the standard of reference. At an epistemic level, that’s only natural since we are human. So, as a matter of experience, we make ourselves the standard of reference.

    But we’re not the paradigm of personhood. God is. And there are disanalogies as well as analogies between God and man. Pace Mormonism or open theism, God is not a scaled up human beings. So it comes as no surprise if there’s something unique about divine personhood, for God is in a class by himself (sui generis)."

    Now, I am certainly not in the business to want to defend Stafford. But I am beginning to believe that what you say here is not exactly correct. Here's what I have in mind. I think that from doing a lot of work in philosophy of mind and on personal identity, especially the latter, one can develop a theory of personhood just by considering what is conceivable regarding the rigid designator of the first person idexical. That is, I think there are good conceivability arguments that help give a plausible picture of what a person is *not*, while also developing a picture of what a person is. This can be done just by considering human persons. So let's take one human person, for instance, Jesus Christ. He's considered to be fully human, so I don't believe that his also being fully God should count as an objection to using Him as a paradigm. I've argued elsewhere (e.g., my blog) that the truth makers of personal identity are not identical to the truth makers of being a soul. So, the concepts of person and soul are really distinct. So after doing the work with humans, it is possible, I think, to apply the same theory of personhood to the divine persons of the Trinity and find a coherent theory. Like all theories of the Trinity, it is likely that my own theory of personhood may be found to be heretical. But I think the main thrust of my own view, that the identity conditions of the type-soul (and whatever other condition there is for being that individual soul) are not the same identity conditions for the token person, is compatible with the creeds: that there are three persons and one substance; thus, the concept of substance is distinguished from the concept of the person.

    All of this goes to show, with great brevity, I admit, that one could work backwards (from humans as paradigmatic) with some distance. The upshot is that it is possible, perhaps, to offer a positive theory of the trinity without becoming incoherent and without looking like offering an ad hoc theory. The downside, however, is that history has shown most theories to be wrong. :(

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  9. But we’re not the paradigm of personhood. God is. And there are disanalogies as well as analogies between God and man.

    This is true, but I think what Steve is saying is simply that, at the epistemic level this is the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word "person," whether that be about God or anything else. We immediately think of the most natural meaning of the term.

    However, of course, that's not only not true in relation to God in terms of the general idea that there are analogies and disanalogies, for God is a unique Being (ergo the Triune Persons are each unique), it's not even true when considering the actual usage of the term in the creeds and in the theological discussions of ages past.

    To interpret the creeds and Trinitarian theology, we need to exegete what the term "person" meant at the time these ideas were first articulated and ensconced in our theology not simply from our 21st century vantage point. We also have to remember that the meaning has been debated even among our own ranks. Boethius, for example, used a definition that, if pressed, can easily result in tritheism. Does Stafford interact with the concept at all on this level? To my knowledge, no, he doesn't.

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  10. Thanks Gene. When someone claims that S is paradigmatic of personhood, I think that person means something like the following: S' should consider S ostensively and find the properties of S that deliniate S's personhood, and then make application to other persons. Accordingly, someone working in personal identity should then consider the Trinitarian persons as that example that guides the rest of the work.

    Now what I can't understand is why God gets this position and all other persons do not. What's the argument for that? I tend to think the process of developing a theory is more dynamic. That is, one is to consider in any developed theory the following question: is theory R compatible with doctrine T? If not, which one has to go? Also, is R supported by T? So, my thought is that one can do a whole lot of work on personal identity without ever once considering the Trinity, and then notice that the Trinity is compatible with or even supports a given theory on personal identity. Whence the problem with this method?

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  11. James Alan Gibson said:

    "Now, I am certainly not in the business to want to defend Stafford. But I am beginning to believe that what you say here is not exactly correct."

    I don't object to using human analogies to explicate our understanding of divine personhood. What I take exception to is when these human analogies become a Procrustean bed, and our concept of the divine is pared down to fit the proportions of this man-sized bed. We can analogize from human experience, but in so doing we must also make allowance for the disanalogies between divine and human personhood.

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  12. Now what I can't understand is why God gets this position and all other persons do not. What's the argument for that? I tend to think the process of developing a theory is more dynamic. That is, one is to consider in any developed theory the following question: is theory R compatible with doctrine T? If not, which one has to go? Also, is R supported by T? So, my thought is that one can do a whole lot of work on personal identity without ever once considering the Trinity, and then notice that the Trinity is compatible with or even supports a given theory on personal identity. Whence the problem with this method?

    Nobody denies that the relationship between our personhood and that of the Three in One is/are analogical, such that we can reason from the bottom up, as it were. However, we need to be careful that, if we engage in the reasoning process you describe, we do so from Scripture.

    In Scripture, what constitutes a human person? What constitutes the human race? What are the economics of the relations in the family? The church?, etc. All of these go into considerations of the Trinity, because, on some level, the intertrinitarian economy, for example, is reflected in these relations.

    The reason God gets this position and others do not relates to the framing of the question in our theology. When the creeds were formed, there wasn't a question about the divinity of Christ. Rather, the question was "Is Christ "True God of true God." If the answer was "Yes," and it was, then it became necessary to avoid modal theology on the one hand and Arianism on the other. The concept of a "person" thusly arose by way of answer. That's the short answer. If you want the long one, then you'll have to sift through Athanasius. I'd also encourage you to set aside the time to read Volume 4 of Richard Muller's Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, as it is on this very topic.

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  13. I wouldn't even say that the reasoning process is necessarily *based on* Scripture. I would say that Scripture can be a guide to a theory of personal identity, but Scripture won't give a theory of identity that helps sort through the models posited through all of history.

    For example, John Barresi and Raymond Martin point out in their introduction of The Naturalization of the Soul that William Sherlock promulgated a view about the Trinity that made consciousness the criterian of personhood (in contrast to Platonists who identified it with substance). Is there anything in Scripture to rule out this view, that the criterion of personhood is found in self-consciousness, not substance? Nothing I know of. And yet I think Sherlock (and Locke) are wrong.

    So, I certainly agree that Scripture can tell us some things that are important on this topic, e.g., the criteria for personhood is not being a material being, but it isn't going to do all the work. I think conceivability issues, phil mind, and reference will factor in as important.

    Btw. It isn't clear to me why the criteria for personhood for each of the Trinitarian persons is not the same criteria for any person whatsoever. The only closely related material I have come across is found in some of the Reformed Orthodoxy guys, but I can't understand what they are saying. So maybe they have a good argument.

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  14. JAMES ALAN GIBSON SAID:

    “I wouldn't even say that the reasoning process is necessarily *based on* Scripture. I would say that Scripture can be a guide to a theory of personal identity, but Scripture won't give a theory of identity that helps sort through the models posited through all of history.”

    That’s not the issue. If we’re talking about a theory of *divine* personal identity, then the reasoning process is necessarily based on divine self-revelation (i.e. Scripture), although it can be supplemented by general revelation.

    This is not a question of framing a *general* theory of personal identity, but one specific to the nature of divine personhood.

    “For example, John Barresi and Raymond Martin point out in their introduction of The Naturalization of the Soul that William Sherlock promulgated a view about the Trinity that made consciousness the criterian of personhood (in contrast to Platonists who identified it with substance). Is there anything in Scripture to rule out this view, that the criterion of personhood is found in self-consciousness, not substance? Nothing I know of. And yet I think Sherlock (and Locke) are wrong. So, I certainly agree that Scripture can tell us some things that are important on this topic, e.g., the criteria for personhood is not being a material being, but it isn't going to do all the work. I think conceivability issues, phil mind, and reference will factor in as important.”

    I don’t think that Gene or I deny this. In framing a theory of human personhood, our human experience of personal agency is, of course, a very pertinent source of information. Scripture also contributes to a theory of human personhood.

    In terms of philosophical theology, Scripture, human experience, and abstract objects all supply relevant input or conceptual resources for modeling the Trinity.

    “Btw. It isn't clear to me why the criteria for personhood for each of the Trinitarian persons is not the same criteria for any person whatsoever.”

    If you put it that way, I agree. But that’s a topdown model.

    At an epistemic (bottomup level), human experience supplies a proximate criterion. Even that would be insufficient to model divine personhood, since we do not formulate a theory (much less a doctrine) of divine personhood by simply projecting or scaling up our own experience as personal agents.

    Rather, the bottomup process involves two or three elements:

    i) Scripture ascribes personal traits to God, as well as distinguishing three divine referents in Scripture while affirming monotheism.

    We recognize this ascription of personal traits to God in part by reference to our own experience as personal agents.

    ii) We c an also make some attempt to generalize on the basis of human experience.

    But we must also abstract away what is peculiar to our contingent existence as temporal creatures.

    In principle we might also appeal to higher animals, although that would be more germane to Egyptian or American Indian theology J

    But at a metaphysical (topdown) level, divine personhood is the ontological exemplar of human personhood. Human personhood is a modification of divine personhood. Modification by limitation, as a finite property-instance of divine personhood.

    God is the exemplar of what is actual or possible.

    So when, for example, someone says that a timeless God cannot be a person, he is confusing an incidental mode of personal subsistence (in the case of human beings) with a necessary condition of personhood.

    ReplyDelete

  15. “For example, John Barresi and Raymond Martin point out in their introduction of The Naturalization of the Soul that William Sherlock promulgated a view about the Trinity that made consciousness the criterian of personhood (in contrast to Platonists who identified it with substance). Is there anything in Scripture to rule out this view, that the criterion of personhood is found in self-consciousness, not substance? Nothing I know of. And yet I think Sherlock (and Locke) are wrong. So, I certainly agree that Scripture can tell us some things that are important on this topic, e.g., the criteria for personhood is not being a material being, but it isn't going to do all the work. I think conceivability issues, phil mind, and reference will factor in as important.”


    I don't deny this, but phil mind, et.al. are only ancillary to Scripture. If you're going to discuss the concept of personhood, whether divine or human, the starting point and the boundaries of your theory are determined by Scripture. The danger would lie in positing a theory of personhood (divine or human) and then projecting that onto Scripture. That would be an example of good old fashioned rationalism at work; that's just like the Arminian and his view of human freedom. He takes that and then projects that onto Scripture.


    Btw. It isn't clear to me why the criteria for personhood for each of the Trinitarian persons is not the same criteria for any person whatsoever.


    That's because if you frame the question that way, there are certain disanalogies to keep in mind. I, and I believe Steve, both, for example, affirm Calvin's view of the Persons, that each is "a se," and we deny Nicene subordinationism. I agree that the Persons of the Son and Spirit are derived from the Father, but not be subordination of essence. Rather, I affirm that each of the Three is a se, and the derivations of the Son and Spirit are at the level of the Person, not the essence of God. I do this, as did Calvin, on the basis of Scripture.

    I am not "a se." That belongs only to God in His Three Persons. I am derivative. However, my personhood is not derived from the essence of my parents in a numerical sense. Rather, it proceeds from my parents in a generic sense, as we are one family, part of a single human race. My personhood is modeled on personhood in the Godhead, but it is not exactly like it in several important ways. Ergo, if I reason my analogy from me to God, there are several limitations.

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  16. Annoyed Pinoy said:

    "In light of Matt. 19:17; Mark 10:18; and Luke 18:19 either "There is none good but God; Christ is good; therefore Christ is God" OR "There is none good but God; Christ is not God; therefore Christ is not good."

    I wonder how Greg would get out of the horns of this dilemma. I don't recall him dealig with it in his first edition of Jehovah's Witnesses Defended."-END QUOTE

    Annoyed, have you done a word search on the scriptural use of the term "good". If so you would have found that this greek word(agathos)is indeed used of others(i.e. Barnabas, Rf. Acts 11:24). So according to your conclusion Barnabas must be God too right?
    No, the term good must have been used by Jesus to describe the ultimate source of Goodness(God) everything else good would be only a reflection
    of the 'antitypical "good" one'.
    So have I solved Greg's dilemma?

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  17. http://principium1643.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  18. How one can gather that QEOS in MONOS ALQHINOS QEOS is a proper name is beyond me. It absolutely is not a proper name in that use... Similarly so with God and Lord in 1 Cor 8:6, with hEIS modifying each title. Come on.. basic grammar folks... Obviously the author of this "response" doesn't know basic Greek or understand the English translation.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh...and for Hebrews 1:3 it is obvious that our author here has failed to read the quotations that Greg provided from BDAG, which confirms his argument. Yes, obviously Jesus isn't a carakthr in a traditional sense, for there was/is nothing to compare him to as such, but that doesn't take away from what the word actually means, which is perfectly in line with Greg's argument.

    ReplyDelete
  20. MORRIE SAID:

    “How one can gather that QEOS in MONOS ALQHINOS QEOS is a proper name is beyond me. It absolutely is not a proper name in that use.”

    i) I argued for my interpretation. Morrie responds, not with a counterargument, but a bare assertion.

    ii) I’d add that his misinterpretation is acontextual:

    a) How can we know the Father? Through the one whom the Father sent (i.e. Jesus).

    And how can Jesus reveal the Father? According to Johannine religious epistemology, like reveals like (Jn 1:18). Unless Jesus were divine in his own right, he could not reveal the Father.

    b) Jesus’ participation in the eternal (antemundane) glory of God (v5) is another indication of his divinity.

    iii) ”John 17:3 expresses in Johannine idiom Paul’s distinction between eis theos ho pater and eis kurios iesous Christos (1 Cor 8:6),” M. J. Harris, Jesus as God (Baker 1992), 259.

    Speaking of which…

    “Similarly so with God and Lord in 1 Cor 8:6, with hEIS modifying each title. Come on.. basic grammar folks... Obviously the author of this ‘response’ doesn't know basic Greek or understand the English translation.”

    To the contrary, 1 Cor 8:6 is a classic prooftext for the deity of Christ. Indeed, you couldn’t have a more powerful or conclusive prooftext for the deity of Christ.

    Paul takes the Shema, which as the programmatic statement of OT monotheism, and splits it in two, assigning Elohim to the Father, and Yahweh to the Son:

    “What Paul ahs done seems plain enough. He has kept the ‘one’ intact, but he has divided the Shema into two parts, with theos (God) now referring to the Father, and kurios (Lord) referring to Jesus Christ the Son…He insists that the identity of the one God also includes the one Lord,” G. Fee, Pauline Christology (Hendrickson 2007), 90-91.

    “In the striking passage (1 Cor 8:6) where Paul reshapes the Jewish Shema to embrace both the Father and the Son while as the same time emphasizing his inherited monotheism, Paul asserts that the ‘one Lord’ (=Yahweh) of the Shema is to be identified as the Lord Jesus Christ,” ibid. 502.

    “In a still more profoundly theological way, by his inclusion of the preexistent Son as the agent of creation, Paul has thus included him in the divine identity at its most fundamental point, since the one God of the Jews was regularly identified vis-à-vis all other ‘gods” as the Creator and Ruler of all things. Thus, it is one thing for Christ to be the means of redemption, but for him likewise to be the divine agent of creation is what clearly includes him within Paul’s now adjusted understanding of ‘the one God,’ ibid. 503.

    “One of the reasons for naming Christ as ‘the Lord’=Yahweh of the Shema [is] to place Christ as already present with the Israel to whom the Shema was originally given,” ibid. 504.

    Continuing with Morrie:

    “Oh...and for Hebrews 1:3 it is obvious that our author here has failed to read the quotations that Greg provided from BDAG, which confirms his argument. Yes, obviously Jesus isn't a carakthr in a traditional sense, for there was/is nothing to compare him to as such, but that doesn't take away from what the word actually means, which is perfectly in line with Greg's argument.”

    Two more problems:

    i) Morrie shares Stafford’s semantic naïveté. The question at issue is not the dictionary definition of the word. The question, rather, is how that theological metaphor functions in Heb 1.

    For example, looking up the Greek word for “bread” or “lamb” or “vine” in BDAG does not begin to tell you how those theological metaphors function in Johannine discourse.

    ii) Morrie repeats another one of Stafford’s mistakes. For as I already pointed out, there is a sustained argument for the divinity of Christ in Heb 1.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Steve said: i) I argued for my interpretation. Morrie responds, not with a counterargument, but a bare assertion.

    Response: It is only "a bare assertion" for those who do not understand the grammar. For those who do, it is a statement of the obvious. The noun is modified by an adjective, telling the type of QEOS he is, giving indication that it is absolutely not a proper name.

    Steve states: And how can Jesus reveal the Father? According to Johannine religious epistemology, like reveals like (Jn 1:18). Unless Jesus were divine in his own right, he could not reveal the Father.

    Response: That is entirely a non sequitur. No text states that Jesus must be divine (in the Trinitarian sense, for I accept he is divine, but not as a person of the Trinity) to reveal the Father.

    Steve: b) Jesus’ participation in the eternal (antemundane) glory of God (v5) is another indication of his divinity.

    Response: Verse 5 gives no indication of Jesus participating in God's glory, but it tells us that Christ had glory of his own with (spatial) the Father.

    Steve: To the contrary, 1 Cor 8:6 is a classic prooftext for the deity of Christ. Indeed, you couldn’t have a more powerful or conclusive prooftext for the deity of Christ.

    Response: "To the contrary" of what? This has nothing to do with what I said! I argued that QEOS and KURIOS are not equivalent to proper names, so to claim that it demonstrates deity is not "to the contrary" of that claim. The text demonstrates only Christ's Lordship though, which was given to him by the Father (Acts 2:36). It relates nothing of his ontological makeup.

    Steve: Paul takes the Shema, which as the programmatic statement of OT monotheism, and splits it in two, assigning Elohim to the Father, and Yahweh to the Son:

    Response: This idea is refuted in verse 5, where KURIOS is used in the plural for the "many lords" showing it to be titular. To argue for it to mean YHWH refutes the very argument that Paul is making, which is that while 'there are many lords,' to us there is "one Lord." Only by saying that there are "many Jehovahs" but to us "one Jehovah" does your position hold water, and such a view is impossible.

    Steve: i) Morrie shares Stafford’s semantic naïveté. The question at issue is not the dictionary definition of the word. The question, rather, is how that theological metaphor functions in Heb 1.

    Response: Obviously Steve is unaware of just what BDAG does. It does not provide just a couple of definitions, but it glosses the passage under specific definitions so that we know how the word is being used in the text. Stafford quoted BDAG where Hebrews 1:3 was glossed under the specific use of the term.

    Steve: For example, looking up the Greek word for “bread” or “lamb” or “vine” in BDAG does not begin to tell you how those theological metaphors function in Johannine discourse.


    Response: Obviously Steve has not read BDAG. For "bread" we find that it "is Christ and his body in the Eucharist J 6:31ff, 41, 50, 58 or simply Christ himself." While a lamb is "in Rv a designation of Christ." While the vine represents "Christ and his disciples: he is the vine, they the branches."

    Steve: ii) Morrie repeats another one of Stafford’s mistakes. For as I already pointed out, there is a sustained argument for the divinity of Christ in Heb 1.

    Response: I agree that Hebrews 1 does present Christ's divinity in some ways, but not in the Trinitarian sense.

    ReplyDelete
  22. morrie said...

    Morrie: It is only "a bare assertion" for those who do not understand the grammar. For those who do, it is a statement of the obvious. The noun is modified by an adjective, telling the type of QEOS he is, giving indication that it is absolutely not a proper name.

    Steve: Notice that Morrie doesn’t quote from any standard Greek grammars to substantiate his claim.

    In addition, there’s more to proper naming than syntax. There are various theories of reference in the philosophy of language. If you’re going to deny that “God” can function as a proper name, then you have your philosophical work cut out for you.

    Morrie: That is entirely a non sequitur. No text states that Jesus must be divine (in the Trinitarian sense, for I accept he is divine, but not as a person of the Trinity) to reveal the Father.

    Steve: Morrie’s Unitarian prejudice blinds him to the thematic progression and literary unity in the Prologue to John, as well as the overall structure of the Fourth Gospel.

    1:18 forms an inclusio to 1:1, with 1:14 as the hinge. At a macrostructural level, 20:28 forms an inclusio to 1:1.

    The fact that Jesus is in the bosom of the Father (1:18) parallels the fact that Jesus was with the Father in the beginning (1:1).

    The fact that Jesus reveals (exegesato) the Father parallels the fact that Jesus is the Word (logos).

    God, in and of himself, is unknowable. God is immediately unknowable because God is invisible.

    Jesus can reveal God because Jesus is God Incarnate. The Incarnate Son reveals the discarnate Father (1:14; 14:9).

    Like reveals like. Jesus can reveal the Father because Jesus was with God, and is God (1:1,18). This is why he who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (14:9). God is mediately knowable via the Incarnation.

    Morrie: Verse 5 gives no indication of Jesus participating in God's glory, but it tells us that Christ had glory of his own with (spatial) the Father.

    Steve: Before the existence of the world (v5), the only existent was God. The only antemundane glory was divine glory.

    Morrie: "To the contrary" of what? This has nothing to do with what I said! I argued that QEOS and KURIOS are not equivalent to proper names, so to claim that it demonstrates deity is not "to the contrary" of that claim.

    Steve: Morrie has lost track of the how this debate got started here. I drew a distinction between divine generic descriptors and divine proper names. So the two issues are intertwined.

    Morrie: “The text demonstrates only Christ's Lordship though, which was given to him by the Father (Acts 2:36). It relates nothing of his ontological makeup.”

    Steve: It is illicit to use Acts 2:36 as an interpretive grid through which to filter 1 Cor 8:6. The Pauline passage needs to be exegeted on its own terms—as Fee has done.

    Morrie: This idea is refuted in verse 5, where KURIOS is used in the plural for the "many lords" showing it to be titular. To argue for it to mean YHWH refutes the very argument that Paul is making, which is that while 'there are many lords,' to us there is "one Lord." Only by saying that there are "many Jehovahs" but to us "one Jehovah" does your position hold water, and such a view is impossible.

    Steve: Morrie’s exegesis is incompetent. The plural usage in v5 refers to the pantheon of false gods (Gr. legomenoi=“so-called”) and false lords in heathen idolatry. The many “lords” and “gods” in v6 are parallel to the one “Lord” and one “God” in v6—as well as the one God in v4—in the negative sense that the true Deity stands over against the dumb idols of the heathen idolaters.

    Morrie’s interpretation explicitly contradicts the parallel construction in v6, where Paul assigns “God” to the Father, and “Lord” to Jesus Christ.

    Yet vv4,6 allude to the Shema, where “God” and “Lord” are both divine designations. The Shema itself distinguishes the true God from false gods.

    The fact that Paul specifically assigns kurios to Christ in this intertextual framework explicitly identifies him as one of two divine referents in this passage, in the very same sense that Yahweh is divine in the Shema (Deut 6:4).

    Morrie is equivocating. The Pauline parallel is not between many Yahwehs and one Yahweh, but between many lords and one Yahweh. Not all lords are Yahweh.

    And there’s only a terminological problem in harmonizing two distinct, divine referents (i.e. “one Lord” and “one God”) with the only true God if, like him, you fail to distinguish between proper names and generic descriptors.

    There can only be one “God” if you use “God” as a generic descriptor for the true Deity, but there can be multiple (and sometimes alternating) proper names that designate the different members of the Godhead.

    Morrie: Obviously Steve is unaware of just what BDAG does. It does not provide just a couple of definitions, but it glosses the passage under specific definitions so that we know how the word is being used in the text. Stafford quoted BDAG where Hebrews 1:3 was glossed under the specific use of the term.

    Steve: For the record, I happen to own BDAG, so I’m perfectly aware of what it does. And once again, Morrie misses the point, thereby exposing his persistent linguistic naïveté.

    i) The question at issue is not the meaning of the terminology in Heb 1:3. Particular words have the same meaning whether they are being used literally or figuratively.

    The question, rather, is how a particular word functions in the rhetorical or narrative strategy of the writer.

    ii) Oh, and yes, BDAG must often make an exegetical judgment call as to which meaning goes with which verse, where a word has more than one meaning.

    At that juncture, BDAG has no more authority than a good commentary on the passage in question. Indeed, a good commentary is more authoritative at that juncture, because:

    i) BDAG, due to space limitations, can only give exegetical conclusions without the exegetical supporting arguments.

    ii) An individual lexicographer, or even series of editors, cannot bring to the occurrence of every word in every passage the same extensive and intensive study as the author of a major commentary on a Biblical book where some of these words occur.

    Morrie: Obviously Steve has not read BDAG. For "bread" we find that it "is Christ and his body in the Eucharist J 6:31ff, 41, 50, 58 or simply Christ himself." While a lamb is "in Rv a designation of Christ." While the vine represents "Christ and his disciples: he is the vine, they the branches."

    Steve: Yet again, Morrie advertises his linguistic naïveté by failing to distinguish between sense and reference.

    i) The mere meaning of “bread,” “lamb,” and “vine” do not, in and of themselves, denote any particular referent. That is supplied by the context.

    ii) Moreover, the mere meaning of these words won’t tell you if these words are being used literally or figurative.

    iii) Furthermore, words like “bread,” “lamb,” and “vine” have no inherent, theological import.

    Even instance of “bread” is not Eucharistic. Sometimes a loaf of bread is just a loaf of bread.

    Every instance of “lamb” is not “Jesus.” Sometimes a lamb is just a lamb.

    Every “vine” is not Jesus in union with his disciples. Sometimes a vine is just a vine.

    Whether a word is used as a metaphor, is distinct from its meaning. Whether a word is used as a theological metaphor is distinct from its meaning. And what the theological metaphor signifies is also distinct from its meaning.

    BDAG’s interpretation of Jn 6 is a perfect example. To say that the bread in Jn 6 signifies the Eucharist is by no means a question of lexical semantics alone. This, to the contrary, is a complex exegetical judgment call that involves far more variables than the meaning of isolated words. Just compare a typical Baptist commentary on Jn 3 or 6 with a typical Catholic commentary on Jn 3 or 6.

    BTW, do Jehovah’s False Witnesses now subscribe to baptismal regeneration or the real presence, a la BDAG?

    Morrie: I agree that Hebrews 1 does present Christ's divinity in some ways, but not in the Trinitarian sense.

    Steve: Is Morrie a Jesus-only, United Pentecostal?

    ReplyDelete
  23. It is becoming more and more apparent that Steve here simply does not know what is going on and has never read BDAG.

    Steve: Notice that Morrie doesn’t quote from any standard Greek grammars to substantiate his claim.

    Response: Notice that Steve is not aware of Greek sufficiently to find it necessary to quote from a grammar to substantiate my claim. As such is the case, it is apparent that Steve has no grounds for commenting on language in the New Testament. The fact is, one need only look at the English for my point to be seen. Generally, adjectives do not modify proper names, and John 17:3 has two adjectives, MONOS and ALHQINOS.

    Steve: In addition, there’s more to proper naming than syntax. There are various theories of reference in the philosophy of language. If you’re going to deny that “God” can function as a proper name, then you have your philosophical work cut out for you.
    Response: Did I ever deny that QEOS can have the semantic force of a proper name? No. What I denied is that it does when the noun is modified by an adjective.

    Steve: Morrie’s Unitarian prejudice blinds him to the thematic progression and literary unity in the Prologue to John, as well as the overall structure of the Fourth Gospel.

    Response: There is no issue of prejudice, Steve's comments were just as I said, a non sequitur. Let us see how by allowing Steve to continue:

    Steve: 1:18 forms an inclusio to 1:1, with 1:14 as the hinge. At a macrostructural level, 20:28 forms an inclusio to 1:1. The fact that Jesus is in the bosom of the Father (1:18) parallels the fact that Jesus was with the Father in the beginning (1:1). The fact that Jesus reveals (exegesato) the Father parallels the fact that Jesus is the Word (logos). God, in and of himself, is unknowable. God is immediately unknowable because God is invisible. Jesus can reveal God because Jesus is God Incarnate. The Incarnate Son reveals the discarnate Father (1:14; 14:9). Like reveals like. Jesus can reveal the Father because Jesus was with God, and is God (1:1,18). This is why he who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (14:9). God is mediately knowable via the Incarnation.

    Response: Does any this demonstrate Steve's claim that 'unless Jesus were divine in his own right, he could not reveal the Father'? No. Steve is here attempting to argue that Jesus is divine in the Trinitarian sense, but the claim is that he must be in such a way to reveal the Father. This claim is not substantiated in any of the above.

    Steve: Before the existence of the world (v5), the only existent was God. The only antemundane glory was divine glory.

    Response: Your response does nothing more than beg the question. The reality is that stars and angels existed before the world was created, and were present at its creation so as to rejoice of its creation, and they have glory. (cf. Job 38:7; Luke 9:26)

    Steve: Morrie has lost track of the how this debate got started here. I drew a distinction between divine generic descriptors and divine proper names. So the two issues are intertwined.

    Response: I have lost track of nothing, but Steve wants destroy the flow of the text.

    Steve: It is illicit to use Acts 2:36 as an interpretive grid through which to filter 1 Cor 8:6. The Pauline passage needs to be exegeted on its own terms—as Fee has done.

    Response: I have no objection to exegeting the text on its own, but that does not change the fact that the basis of Christ's Lordship is defined within the New Testament, and it is not something inherit to him ontologically, but it is a position and status granted to him by the Father. Quite simply, 1 Cor. 8:6 does not provide a basis for his status as KURIOS, so I merely defined the basis for it by another text. To deny this is to deny the harmony of Scripture.

    Steve: Morrie’s exegesis is incompetent. The plural usage in v5 refers to the pantheon of false gods (Gr. legomenoi=“so-called”) and false lords in heathen idolatry. The many “lords” and “gods” in v6 are parallel to the one “Lord” and one “God” in v6—as well as the one God in v4—in the negative sense that the true Deity stands over against the dumb idols of the heathen idolaters. Morrie’s interpretation explicitly contradicts the parallel construction in v6, where Paul assigns “God” to the Father, and “Lord” to Jesus Christ. Yet vv4,6 allude to the Shema, where “God” and “Lord” are both divine designations. The Shema itself distinguishes the true God from false gods. The fact that Paul specifically assigns kurios to Christ in this intertextual framework explicitly identifies him as one of two divine referents in this passage, in the very same sense that Yahweh is divine in the Shema (Deut 6:4). Morrie is equivocating. The Pauline parallel is not between many Yahwehs and one Yahweh, but between many lords and one Yahweh. Not all lords are Yahweh.And there’s only a terminological problem in harmonizing two distinct, divine referents (i.e. “one Lord” and “one God”) with the only true God if, like him, you fail to distinguish between proper names and generic descriptors. There can only be one “God” if you use “God” as a generic descriptor for the true Deity, but there can be multiple (and sometimes alternating) proper names that designate the different members of the Godhead.

    Response: I am amused that Steve calls my exegesis incompetent, for in all of what he wrote he never actually engaged my argument! Steve is correct that the text speaks of gods "so-called," but after which it parenthetically speaks of there being ‘many gods and many lords’ beyond only those that are only so-called. This, though, is irrelevant to the fact that his own words condemn his interpretation. By Steve's acknowledgment of the titular use "gods" and "lords" and that it is "parallel" to the singular of each of these, he has no choice but to acknowledge that these too are used as titles, not names, thus removing any possibility of KURIOS being semantically equivalent to YHWH. Clearly Steve misunderstood my reference to many Jehovahs, for the point is that KURIOS would only be semantically equivalent to a proper name in verse 6 if it was also so in verse 5, and the only way it could be in verse 5 is it meant that there were many Jehovahs! Now perhaps Steve will want to retract his paralleling of verses 5 and 6, though it is plain that the parallel does exist.

    Steve: For the record, I happen to own BDAG, so I’m perfectly aware of what it does. And once again, Morrie misses the point, thereby exposing his persistent linguistic naïveté. i) The question at issue is not the meaning of the terminology in Heb 1:3. Particular words have the same meaning whether they are being used literally or figuratively. The question, rather, is how a particular word functions in the rhetorical or narrative strategy of the writer. ii) Oh, and yes, BDAG must often make an exegetical judgment call as to which meaning goes with which verse, where a word has more than one meaning. At that juncture, BDAG has no more authority than a good commentary on the passage in question. Indeed, a good commentary is more authoritative at that juncture, because: i) BDAG, due to space limitations, can only give exegetical conclusions without the exegetical supporting arguments. ii) An individual lexicographer, or even series of editors, cannot bring to the occurrence of every word in every passage the same extensive and intensive study as the author of a major commentary on a Biblical book where some of these words occur.

    Response: To own something and to actually read it and use it are vastly different, and it is apparent that Steve has not done the latter. Nobody has claimed that BDAG has “more authority than a good commentary,” but that does not in any way make commentaries “more authoritative.” To make an “exegetical argument” does not make one work more authoritative than another. Anybody can write a commentary and make arguments, but that does not mean that the arguments will not be absurd and entirely off base. Yet not everybody can make a lexicon, and the ability to do so requires an extremely solid grasp of the language that is well beyond the norm. Lexicons like BDAG are actually superior when it comes to the meaning of words in specific passages because it does not limit words studied to only those in the Bible, but it looks at a vast number of writings contemporary to the Bible so as to provide a fuller understanding of the use and meaning of the words.

    Steve: Yet again, Morrie advertises his linguistic naïveté by failing to distinguish between sense and reference. i) The mere meaning of “bread,” “lamb,” and “vine” do not, in and of themselves, denote any particular referent. That is supplied by the context.
    ii) Moreover, the mere meaning of these words won’t tell you if these words are being used literally or figurative. iii) Furthermore, words like “bread,” “lamb,” and “vine” have no inherent, theological import. Even instance of “bread” is not Eucharistic. Sometimes a loaf of bread is just a loaf of bread. Every instance of “lamb” is not “Jesus.” Sometimes a lamb is just a lamb. Every “vine” is not Jesus in union with his disciples. Sometimes a vine is just a vine. Whether a word is used as a metaphor, is distinct from its meaning. Whether a word is used as a theological metaphor is distinct from its meaning. And what the theological metaphor signifies is also distinct from its meaning.

    Response: And Steve again demonstrates that he has forgotten to open his copy of BDAG. In the specific texts in question the definitions and glosses provide both sense and reference, which has been my very point. He entirely missed that I was demonstration that in addition to sense BDAG also provides reference.

    Steve: BDAG’s interpretation of Jn 6 is a perfect example. To say that the bread in Jn 6 signifies the Eucharist is by no means a question of lexical semantics alone. This, to the contrary, is a complex exegetical judgment call that involves far more variables than the meaning of isolated words. Just compare a typical Baptist commentary on Jn 3 or 6 with a typical Catholic commentary on Jn 3 or 6.

    Response: Steve is correct in saying that more than lexical semantics are involved, but as the lexicographers who worked on BDAG were able to examine and study such a vast range of works beyond the Bible, they were able to fully grasp how words are used based upon their context in a better way that one who had not examined their use elsewhere. So, for example, when they looked at AMPELOS (vine), they also examined how it was used similarly in other works, citing both the apocrypha and early Christian texts that are similar or parallel to the use in the NT texts…. So it aids our authors of making “a complex exegetical judgment” by allowing them to both see how it is used in the specific context in question in comparison to other uses as so to determine what usually is the most reliable meaning of the text.

    Steve: Is Morrie a Jesus-only, United Pentecostal?

    Response: I am only Biblical. The Bible certain speaks of Christ as a divine being, a god. But even in Hebrews 1:8-9 we find a quotation from Psalm 45, where the Jewish king was called “God.”

    ReplyDelete
  24. Morrie: It is becoming more and more apparent that Steve here simply does not know what is going on and has never read BDAG.

    Steve: It is becoming more and more apparent that Morrie here simply does not know what is going on and has never read James Barr or Gottlob Frege.

    Morrie: Notice that Steve is not aware of Greek sufficiently to find it necessary to quote from a grammar to substantiate my claim. As such is the case, it is apparent that Steve has no grounds for commenting on language in the New Testament.

    Steve: Notice that Morrie is bluffing. He evidently can’t back up his claim by referencing any Greek grammars.

    Incidentally, who is Morrie to pull rank? Is Morrie a Greek scholar? Does he have a doctorate in Classics from Bryn Mawr? Show us your curriculum vitae on the webpage of the university where you teach Greek and Latin.

    Oh, and at the risk of stating the obvious, outstanding Classicists like Bruce Metzger, and F. F. Bruce do not construe NT Greek the way Arians like Morrie do on passages pertaining to the deity of Christ.

    Morrie: The fact is, one need only look at the English for my point to be seen. Generally, adjectives do not modify proper names, and John 17:3 has two adjectives, MONOS and ALHQINOS.

    Steve: The rules of English syntax are irrelevant to NT Greek. Notice, however, the way in which Morrie sneaks in the weasel word “generally.” Why would he use this word unless there were exceptions to his very own claim?

    Morrie: Did I ever deny that QEOS can have the semantic force of a proper name? No. What I denied is that it does when the noun is modified by an adjective.

    Steve: And where is your scholarly documentation to substantiate that claim?

    Morrie: Does any this demonstrate Steve's claim that 'unless Jesus were divine in his own right, he could not reveal the Father'? No. Steve is here attempting to argue that Jesus is divine in the Trinitarian sense, but the claim is that he must be in such a way to reveal the Father. This claim is not substantiated in any of the above.

    Steve Notice that Morrie has merely denied my argument without offering any counterargument. But a denial doesn’t rise to the level of a disproof. It merely begs the question.

    Morrie: Your response does nothing more than beg the question. The reality is that stars and angels existed before the world was created, and were present at its creation so as to rejoice of its creation, and they have glory. (cf. Job 38:7; Luke 9:26).

    Steve: Notice that Morrie is impotent to interpret John on his own terms. Instead, he appeals to a highly poetic personification in the book of Job.

    Morrie: I have no objection to exegeting the text on its own, but that does not change the fact that the basis of Christ's Lordship is defined within the New Testament, and it is not something inherit to him ontologically, but it is a position and status granted to him by the Father.

    Steve: Because Arians deny the divine Incarnation, they assume that Jesus’ position or status must be static if he were truly divine. Yet since Jesus is not simply divine qua divine, but a theanthropic person, his status does vary.

    Morrie: Quite simply, 1 Cor. 8:6 does not provide a basis for his status as KURIOS, so I merely defined the basis for it by another text.

    Steve: “Quite simply” is not an argument. I gave an argument. So did Fee.

    Morrie: To deny this is to deny the harmony of Scripture.

    Steve: Morrie plays one verse off against another, and misinterprets both.

    Morrie: Steve is correct that the text speaks of gods "so-called," but after which it parenthetically speaks of there being ‘many gods and many lords’ beyond only those that are only so-called.

    Steve: He offers no argument for this disjunction. Where is his argument to show that the “many gods and lords” are a class apart from the “so-called gods and lords”?

    In both cases, Paul is referring to heathen idolatry in contrast to Christian theism. To exempt the “many lords and gods” from the “so-called gods” would destroy the negative parallel involving the one true Lord and God over against the false gods of heathendom.

    Morrie: By Steve's acknowledgment of the titular use "gods" and "lords" and that it is "parallel" to the singular of each of these, he has no choice but to acknowledge that these too are used as titles, not names, thus removing any possibility of KURIOS being semantically equivalent to YHWH.

    Steve: I did not acknowledge a “titular” use of the terms.

    i) To the contrary, this would be an example of a generic descriptor. Paul needs a common designator to compare and contrast the rightful claimant to the category of the divine with the many imposters.

    ii) This is how the Apostle mounts his argument in 1 Cor 8:4-6:

    He begins with the Shema as his point of reference. The Shema has a singular Lord/God pairing.

    That is why he then speaks of a plural lord/god pairing. The heathen “lords” and “gods” form a negative parallel to the “Lord” and “God” of the Shema. They are many, he is one; they are false, he is true.

    This is the structure of his argument:

    A-1 The Father is to the God of the Shema, as

    B-2 The Son is to the Lord of the Shema

    A-2 The pagan gods are not the God of the Shema

    B-2 The pagan lords are not the Lord of the Shema

    A-1 The Father=the God of the Shema

    B-1 The Son=the Lord of the Shema

    A-2 The pagan gods≠the God of the Shema

    B-2 The pagan lords≠the Lord of the Shema

    The Father matches the God of the Shema while the Son matches the Lord of the Shema.

    Contrariwise, the pagan gods mismatch the God of the Shema while the pagan lords mismatch the Lord of the Shema.

    Morrie: Clearly Steve misunderstood my reference to many Jehovahs, for the point is that KURIOS would only be semantically equivalent to a proper name in verse 6 if it was also so in verse 5, and the only way it could be in verse 5 is it meant that there were many Jehovahs! Now perhaps Steve will want to retract his paralleling of verses 5 and 6, though it is plain that the parallel does exist.

    Steve: Another elementary blunder on Morrie’s part.

    i) A parallel can either be negative or positive depending on the context and the structure of the argument. On the one hand, a parallel can equate two items. On the other hand, a parallel can contrast two items.

    Paul does both in 1 Cor 8:4-6. He sets up a conjunctive relation in one parallel, and a disjunctive relation in the other. He equates the Father and the Son with the one God and the one Lord in v6. He contrasts the false gods and lords in v5 with the true Lord and God in vv4,6.

    ii) The divine terms function as generic descriptors in v5, while they function as proper names in v6. They are not semantically equivalent in both verses, for Paul’s comparison alternates between identity and difference. He identifies the Father with the God of the Shema, just as he identifies the Son with the Lord of the Shema, while he differentiates the singular pairing from the plural pairing of heathen divinities.

    Morrie: To own something and to actually read it and use it are vastly different, and it is apparent that Steve has not done the latter.

    Steve: To read and use a lexicon and to actually know how to properly use a lexicon are vastly different and it is apparent that Morrie has not done the latter.

    Morrie: To make an “exegetical argument” does not make one work more authoritative than another. Anybody can write a commentary and make arguments, but that does not mean that the arguments will not be absurd and entirely off base.

    Steve: As usual, he misses the point.

    i) A good commentary will not only give you its exegetical conclusion, but the supporting arguments by which the conclusion was reached. Indeed, a good commentary will sift through a variety of interpretations, weighing the respective arguments for each.

    The fact that the interpretation a commentator may settle on a mistaken interpretation is beside the point. By explaining his process of reasoning, the reader is able to judge the quality of reasoning for himself.

    By contrast, a reference work like BDAG doesn’t have the space to exegete every occurrence of every word in context. For example, we don’t know why the lexicographers who compiled BDAG favor the sacramental reading of Jn 6, because they don’t tell us. By the same token, they don’t explain why they reject alternative interpretations.

    ii) Notice that Morrie ducks the question of whether Jehovah’s False Witnesses subscribe to baptismal regeneration or the real presence. He can’t afford to answer that question because it would expose a disagreement between BDAG and the Watchtower, at which point he and Stafford could no longer cite BDAG with impunity.

    Morrie: So, for example, when they looked at AMPELOS (vine), they also examined how it was used similarly in other works, citing both the apocrypha and early Christian texts that are similar or parallel to the use in the NT texts.

    Steve: Now he’s admitting that BDAG’s interpretation is anachronistic.

    Morrie: The Bible certain speaks of Christ as a divine being, a god.

    Steve: And is that how BDAG renders Jn 1:1 or 1:18?

    Morrie: But even in Hebrews 1:8-9 we find a quotation from Psalm 45, where the Jewish king was called “God.”

    Steve: As a type of the divine Messiah to come.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Steve: It is becoming more and more apparent that Morrie here simply does not know what is going on and has never read James Barr or Gottlob Frege.

    Response: When did I ever claim to own either of them? I didn’t. Yet Steve claims to own BDAG.

    Steve: Notice that Morrie is bluffing. He evidently can’t back up his claim by referencing any Greek grammars.

    Response: I’m sorry you don’t know Greek Steve. That isn’t my problem. You shouldn’t make arguments about things you know nothing about.

    Steve: Incidentally, who is Morrie to pull rank? Is Morrie a Greek scholar? Does he have a doctorate in Classics from Bryn Mawr? Show us your curriculum vitae on the webpage of the university where you teach Greek and Latin. Oh, and at the risk of stating the obvious, outstanding Classicists like Bruce Metzger, and F. F. Bruce do not construe NT Greek the way Arians like Morrie do on passages pertaining to the deity of Christ.

    Response: Steve seems to enjoy making stuff up. Did I ever claim any “rank”? No. I simply observed that Steve apparently does not know Greek based upon what he has so far stated.

    Steve: The rules of English syntax are irrelevant to NT Greek. Notice, however, the way in which Morrie sneaks in the weasel word “generally.” Why would he use this word unless there were exceptions to his very own claim?

    Response: English is only “irrelevant to NT Greek” when the same principles do not apply. There are some cases where they do apply, and here is one of them.

    I use the word “generally” because poetic language can depart from the norm, so you might use beautiful to modify the name of a woman you love. This is not confirmed to the normal use of language. Similarly, I once knew a person known as “Big Al.” It was not, in this case, that “Al” alone was a proper name, but the expression “Big Al” too the force of a compound proper name. This has nothing to do with John 17:3 though.

    Steve: And where is your scholarly documentation to substantiate that claim?

    Response: Steve, it is your assertion that adjectives modify proper names. You need to show that they do… it is not possible for me to show something that does not happen, because there is nothing to actually show! So, the burden of proof rests squarely on you to demonstrate your claim that QEOS in 17:3 is a proper name. I cannot imagine why any scholar would comment on something that as unremarkable the fact that adjectives do not generally modify proper names, and from those I did look through just for kicks, I could not find anything (Wallace, Robertson, Mantey, BDF).

    Steve Notice that Morrie has merely denied my argument without offering any counterargument. But a denial doesn’t rise to the level of a disproof. It merely begs the question.

    Response: Steve’s argument had nothing to do with my response or his own assertion! Talk about plain obfuscation! It is starting to be most plain that such is his favorite tactic.

    Steve: Notice that Morrie is impotent to interpret John on his own terms. Instead, he appeals to a highly poetic personification in the book of Job.

    Response: Notice that instead of engaging my response Steve sidesteps it. Steve provides nothing to support his claim on John 17:5 and rather than engaging the text in Job, he avoids it.

    Steve: Because Arians deny the divine Incarnation, they assume that Jesus’ position or status must be static if he were truly divine. Yet since Jesus is not simply divine qua divine, but a theanthropic person, his status does vary.

    Response: My statement does not come from denying anything, I affirm what Scripture says. Scripture provides the basis for Christ’s lordship, and it is not based in his nature. It is based upon a position that has been granted to him by the Father. So rather than reading my theology into the passage as Steve does, I am allowing the an apostle of Christ to define the language for me.

    Steve: “Quite simply” is not an argument. I gave an argument. So did Fee.

    Response: Steve is obviously having difficulty. Where he got that “Quite simple” was an argument is beyond me. It looks like he is talking just to fill as much space as possible in order to cover his own mistakes.

    Steve: Morrie plays one verse off against another, and misinterprets both.

    Response: And again, Steve just doesn’t get it. I didn’t play anything off and I didn’t misinterpret anything, I accepted that the two are in harmony. Steve doesn’t know how to do this it seems.

    Steve: He offers no argument for this disjunction. Where is his argument to show that the “many gods and lords” are a class apart from the “so-called gods and lords”?

    Response: Paul’s statement of there being many gods and lords is parenthetical. It is an acknowledgement in addition to his confession of there being ones that are gods so-called.

    Steve: In both cases, Paul is referring to heathen idolatry in contrast to Christian theism. To exempt the “many lords and gods” from the “so-called gods” would destroy the negative parallel involving the one true Lord and God over against the false gods of heathendom.

    Response: Paul’s reference to those so-called is indeed a reference to the idols, but the many gods and lords are in reference to those so properly. Angels (Psa. 8:5; 136:2), men (Psa. 82:6), etc.

    Steve: I did not acknowledge a “titular” use of the terms. i) To the contrary, this would be an example of a generic descriptor. Paul needs a common designator to compare and contrast the rightful claimant to the category of the divine with the many imposters.

    Response: A generic descriptor of what? It is a reference to the position that is claimed and/or held of/by them. So it is a descriptor of this, and as it is using the term in correspondence to that, it is plainly titular, at least implicitly. In other words, they would not be described as lords if they were not called lords.

    Steve: i) This is how the Apostle mounts his argument in 1 Cor 8:4-6: He begins with the Shema as his point of reference. The Shema has a singular Lord/God pairing. That is why he then speaks of a plural lord/god pairing. The heathen “lords” and “gods” form a negative parallel to the “Lord” and “God” of the Shema. They are many, he is one; they are false, he is true. This is the structure of his argument: A-1 The Father is to the God of the Shema, as B-2 The Son is to the Lord of the Shema A-2 The pagan gods are not the God of the Shema B-2 The pagan lords are not the Lord of the Shema A-1 The Father=the God of the Shema B-1 The Son=the Lord of the Shema A-2 The pagan gods≠the God of the Shema B-2 The pagan lords≠the Lord of the Shema The Father matches the God of the Shema while the Son matches the Lord of the Shema. Contrariwise, the pagan gods mismatch the God of the Shema while the pagan lords mismatch the Lord of the Shema.

    Response: As I have already said, I have no problem with the idea that Paul is borrowing language from the Shema, but it is interesting that Steve seems to view this as the only interpretation, as if there was some sort of scholarly consensus on the matter. There is not. Nevertheless, what Steve fails to recognize is that while the LXX does translate the divine name into KURIOS, this does not necessitate that the NT authors intended the force to be of a proper name when *modified* for their use. The Expositor’s Greek Testament hits the nail on the head when it defines Christ’s role as KURIOS in 1 Corinthians 8:6 to be in reference to his role as mediator, which is confirmed when DI AUTOU follows.

    Steve: Another elementary blunder on Morrie’s part. i) A parallel can either be negative or positive depending on the context and the structure of the argument. On the one hand, a parallel can equate two items. On the other hand, a parallel can contrast two items.
    Paul does both in 1 Cor 8:4-6. He sets up a conjunctive relation in one parallel, and a disjunctive relation in the other. He equates the Father and the Son with the one God and the one Lord in v6. He contrasts the false gods and lords in v5 with the true Lord and God in vv4,6. ii) The divine terms function as generic descriptors in v5, while they function as proper names in v6. They are not semantically equivalent in both verses, for Paul’s comparison alternates between identity and difference. He identifies the Father with the God of the Shema, just as he identifies the Son with the Lord of the Shema, while he differentiates the singular pairing from the plural pairing of heathen divinities.

    Response: No blunder, but Steve, as usual, misses the point. Indeed, a parallel can be negative or position, but this has nothing to do with what I am saying! Steve is essentially denying that there is actually a parallel, because he is arguing that KURIOS doesn’t really mean KURIOS in verse 6, but that it means YHWH. Yet, the contrast (“parallel”) is between those identified as KURIOI in verse 5 and Jesus as KURIOS in verse 6…. So if in verse 6 KURIOS doesn’t really mean KURIOS, then there is no contrast between them as KURIOI and him as our one KURIOS, for it isn’t saying he is our “one Lord” but our “One Jehovah,” so we still are not told how holds the actual position of hEIS KURIOS when used as a title.

    Of course the contrast isn’t between there being many lords and one Jehovah, it is a contrast between the many lords, that is, many who are titled lords properly, and the one Lord of Christians, Jesus Christ. So similarly, there are many gods, both properly and so-called, but to Christians there is only one God, the Father.

    Steve: To read and use a lexicon and to actually know how to properly use a lexicon are vastly different and it is apparent that Morrie has not done the latter.

    Response: Steve must be proud of himself with this horrible rebuttal. Then again, it is basically on the same level as his others. The reality is that I have demonstrated that I have read and know how to read BDAG, Steve, in contrast, has demonstrated neither.

    Steve: As usual, he misses the point. i) A good commentary will not only give you its exegetical conclusion, but the supporting arguments by which the conclusion was reached. Indeed, a good commentary will sift through a variety of interpretations, weighing the respective arguments for each. The fact that the interpretation a commentator may settle on a mistaken interpretation is beside the point. By explaining his process of reasoning, the reader is able to judge the quality of reasoning for himself. By contrast, a reference work like BDAG doesn’t have the space to exegete every occurrence of every word in context. For example, we don’t know why the lexicographers who compiled BDAG favor the sacramental reading of Jn 6, because they don’t tell us. By the same token, they don’t explain why they reject alternative interpretations.

    Response: Steve, again, has missed the point, not I. Whether one takes 100 pages and give reasons for my conclusion or 1 sentence and state the conclusion, it does not change the validity of the conclusion. It may give the reader a great understanding of why the conclusion was reached, but if the conclusion is wrong, it does not matter how much time and space is dedicated to it, it is still wrong!

    Steve: ii) Notice that Morrie ducks the question of whether Jehovah’s False Witnesses subscribe to baptismal regeneration or the real presence. He can’t afford to answer that question because it would expose a disagreement between BDAG and the Watchtower, at which point he and Stafford could no longer cite BDAG with impunity.

    Response: Notice how Steve assumes things about me.

    Steve: Now he’s admitting that BDAG’s interpretation is anachronistic.

    Response: Steve apparently knows very little of how the Bible was written. It was extremely common for the NT authors to derive their language from existing sources, be it the OT or other writings. They did not exist in a vacuum, but they used language in a way that their audience would understand, and so in the same way, we appeal to other writings, both before and after the fact, to see the framework within which the words were interpreted and to see how the language continued to be developed. What Steve is saying is no different than saying that those who want to understand Greek in the New Testament should not study Classical Greek or any Koine Greek prior to the time the NT was written or any time after, which would result in him being laughed and profusely by anyone with a knowledge of the language.

    Steve: And is that how BDAG renders Jn 1:1 or 1:18?

    Response: Well it certainly isn’t in accordance with Trinitarianism! It puts forth the texts where QEOS may be applied to Christ as outside of “God in the Israel/Christian monotheistic perspective.” [BDAG, 450]

    Steve: As a type of the divine Messiah to come.

    Response: Which does not change the fact that the Jewish king himself, irrelevant of him being a type pf the Messiah or not, is still identified as “God”.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Morrie: When did I ever claim to own either of them? I didn’t. Yet Steve claims to own BDAG.

    Steve: And his ignorance of Frege and Barr would help to explain all of the semantic fallacies he’s committing.

    Morrie: I’m sorry you don’t know Greek Steve. That isn’t my problem. You shouldn’t make arguments about things you know nothing about.

    Steve: Morrie continues to bluff because he can’t rise to the challenge of documenting his claim.

    Morrie: Steve seems to enjoy making stuff up. Did I ever claim any “rank”? No. I simply observed that Steve apparently does not know Greek based upon what he has so far stated.

    Steve: Morrie is long on assertion and short on argument.

    Morrie: English is only “irrelevant to NT Greek” when the same principles do not apply. There are some cases where they do apply, and here is one of them.

    Steve: Morrie is long on assertion and short on argument.

    Morris: Steve, it is your assertion that adjectives modify proper names. You need to show that they do… it is not possible for me to show something that does not happen, because there is nothing to actually show! So, the burden of proof rests squarely on you to demonstrate your claim that QEOS in 17:3 is a proper name. I cannot imagine why any scholar would comment on something that as unremarkable the fact that adjectives do not generally modify proper names, and from those I did look through just for kicks, I could not find anything (Wallace, Robertson, Mantey, BDF).

    Steve: Note that his final sentence is an argument from silence.

    Morrie: Notice that instead of engaging my response Steve sidesteps it. Steve provides nothing to support his claim on John 17:5 and rather than engaging the text in Job, he avoids it.

    Steve: I have an argument for my interpretation of Jn 17:5. Morrie’s only counterargument was an appeal to Job. And I did engage the text in Job. I said it was a personification. Does he deny that?

    Morrie: My statement does not come from denying anything, I affirm what Scripture says. Scripture provides the basis for Christ’s lordship, and it is not based in his nature. It is based upon a position that has been granted to him by the Father. So rather than reading my theology into the passage as Steve does, I am allowing the an apostle of Christ to define the language for me.

    Steve: No, this is Morrie’s standard tactic: when confronted with a Trinitarian passage, try to dilute the force of the passage by appealing to another passage by a different author, and while your at it, misinterpret that passage as well.

    In this case he runs to Acts 2:36, which—in typical Arian fashion—degrades the passage with his Adoptionist spin. Having misinterpreted that passage to his own purposes, he uses his misinterpretation of Acts 2:36 to misinterpret 1 Cor 8:6. Having lowered the high Christology of Acts 2:36, he then uses Acts 2:36 to lower the high Christology of 1 Cor 8:6.

    Morrie: And again, Steve just doesn’t get it. I didn’t play anything off and I didn’t misinterpret anything, I accepted that the two are in harmony. Steve doesn’t know how to do this it seems.

    Steve: What he does is to use one verse, suitably misinterpreted, to misinterpret another verse. There is a certain harmony in his method: a harmony of error.

    Morrie: Paul’s statement of there being many gods and lords is parenthetical. It is an acknowledgement in addition to his confession of there being ones that are gods so-called.

    Steve: It’s not parenthetical, but epexegetical.

    Morrie: Paul’s reference to those so-called is indeed a reference to the idols, but the many gods and lords are in reference to those so properly. Angels (Psa. 8:5; 136:2), men (Psa. 82:6), etc.

    Steve: Morrie doesn’t get this from the text of Paul.

    i) Paul does not distinguish between “so-called” gods/lords and “properly” designated gods/lords.

    ii) Morrie hasn’t show that Paul’s usage is allusive of Ps 8:5; 82:6, or 136:3.

    iii) Even if his appeal to these Psalms was apt in relation to the “many gods and lords,” it’s inapplicable to Christ unless he can show that Christ is either an angel or merely human.

    iv) It also fails to respect the contrast between the one Lord/one God of 8:6, to which Jesus explicitly belongs, and the many lords/gods of v5.

    v) And before everything else, Morrie would need to interpret these Psalmnodic passages in context.

    Morrie: A generic descriptor of what?

    Steve: Divinity

    Morrie: It is a reference to the position that is claimed and/or held of/by them. So it is a descriptor of this, and as it is using the term in correspondence to that, it is plainly titular, at least implicitly. In other words, they would not be described as lords if they were not called lords.

    Steve: To the contrary, they would be described as lords even if they were not lords because one needs to begin with a common designator to then challenge the legitimacy of that claim. It’s a verbal place-maker to then make a subsequent point about their real identity—as false divinities.

    It would be misleading to describe them that way and simply drop the matter. But Paul doesn’t leave it there. Rather, he uses that as a set-up to contrast the false divinities of heathendom with the true Lord and God.

    And Paul didn’t merely say they were “lords.” He threw in a disclaimer (“so-called”) to govern both the many “gods” and many “lords,” and cue the reader that he was not taking these designations at face-value, but only using the terms in a qualified sense, for the sake of argument.

    Morrie: As I have already said, I have no problem with the idea that Paul is borrowing language from the Shema, but it is interesting that Steve seems to view this as the only interpretation, as if there was some sort of scholarly consensus on the matter. There is not.

    Steve: This is a diversionary tactic. And even on its own grounds, Fee is not the only scholar I could cite in support of this allusion.

    Morrie: Nevertheless, what Steve fails to recognize is that while the LXX does translate the divine name into KURIOS, this does not necessitate that the NT authors intended the force to be of a proper name when *modified* for their use. The Expositor’s Greek Testament hits the nail on the head when it defines Christ’s role as KURIOS in 1 Corinthians 8:6 to be in reference to his role as mediator, which is confirmed when DI AUTOU follows.

    Steve: Christ can perform the role of Yahweh because he is Yahweh. Functionality follows ontology. He can do what he is.

    Morrie: No blunder, but Steve, as usual, misses the point. Indeed, a parallel can be negative or position, but this has nothing to do with what I am saying! Steve is essentially denying that there is actually a parallel, because he is arguing that KURIOS doesn’t really mean KURIOS in verse 6, but that it means YHWH.

    Steve: A thoroughly inept claim on Morrie’s part. In v6, kurios is translation of Yahweh, as a conventional carryover from Septuagintal usage.

    Morrie: Yet, the contrast (“parallel”) is between those identified as KURIOI in verse 5 and Jesus as KURIOS in verse 6…. So if in verse 6 KURIOS doesn’t really mean KURIOS, then there is no contrast between them as KURIOI and him as our one KURIOS, for it isn’t saying he is our “one Lord” but our “One Jehovah,” so we still are not told how holds the actual position of hEIS KURIOS when used as a title.

    Steve: What we have here is a Pauline play on words, involving a comparison and contrast between the singular kurios (=Yahweh) of Christ, and the plural kurioi of the dumb idol—as well as demonic forces that animate pagan idolatry.

    Morrie: Of course the contrast isn’t between there being many lords and one Jehovah, it is a contrast between the many lords, that is, many who are titled lords properly, and the one Lord of Christians, Jesus Christ. So similarly, there are many gods, both properly and so-called, but to Christians there is only one God, the Father.

    Steve: Morrie is interpolating extratextual distinctions into the actual text, and, in the process, doing violence to the internal parallels within the text.

    Morrie: Steve, again, has missed the point, not I. Whether one takes 100 pages and give reasons for my conclusion or 1 sentence and state the conclusion, it does not change the validity of the conclusion. It may give the reader a great understanding of why the conclusion was reached, but if the conclusion is wrong, it does not matter how much time and space is dedicated to it, it is still wrong!

    Steve: Morrie, again, has missed the point, not I. One evaluates the validity of the conclusion by the process of reasoning that yielded the conclusion. That’s the best way of telling whether the conclusion was rightly or wrongly derived.

    Morrie: Steve apparently knows very little of how the Bible was written. It was extremely common for the NT authors to derive their language from existing sources, be it the OT or other writings. They did not exist in a vacuum, but they used language in a way that their audience would understand, and so in the same way, we appeal to other writings, both before and after the fact, to see the framework within which the words were interpreted and to see how the language continued to be developed. What Steve is saying is no different than saying that those who want to understand Greek in the New Testament should not study Classical Greek or any Koine Greek prior to the time the NT was written or any time after, which would result in him being laughed and profusely by anyone with a knowledge of the language.

    Steve: Morrie apparently can’t remember his own argument. This is what he originally said: “So, for example, when they looked at AMPELOS (vine), they also examined how it was used similarly in other works, citing both the apocrypha and early Christian texts that are similar or parallel to the use in the NT texts.”

    i) I said it was anachronistic to construe NT usage in light of, for example, “early Christian texts.” By definition, it is anachronistic to construe earlier usage by later usage. Morrie can defend that practice if he likes, but the fact that it’s anachronistic is indisputable.

    ii) Incidentally, what does Morrie include in “early Christian texts”? Does this include Arian texts? Marcionite texts? Gnostic texts?

    iii) In addition, early Christian usage is often colored by Biblical usage (NT; LXX), which is another one of the dangers of construing NT usage by later Christian usage, for the inference is viciously circular since the later usage is already influenced by the earlier.

    iv) It is hardly laughable to ask if 1C, NT noetic language should be (re-) interpreted in light of 2C (or later) Gnostic language. It is hardly laughable to ask whether photizo in Heb 6:4 should be (re-) interpreted in light of 2C baptismal usage. Chronology matters.

    v) When Morrie refers to the apocrypha, what does he have in mind? If he means the NT apocrypha, the same problems recur.

    If he means the OT apocrypha, this would only be pertinent, if at all, to the extent that the OT apocrypha was even written in Greek.

    However, since Morrie thinks that these are laughable questions, let’s accommodate his sense of humor. If he has no problem with anachronistic lexicography, then I’m at liberty to interpret NT Christological terminology in light of Athanasius and Chrysostom.

    Morrie: Notice how Steve assumes things about me.

    Steve: Notice how Morrie continues to duck the question of whether he agrees with BDAG on the sacramental reading of Jn 6. He brought that up, not me. Now he’s in a bind.

    Morrie: Well it certainly isn’t in accordance with Trinitarianism!

    Steve: As usual, Morrie is ducking the question. He can’t quote BDAG on Jn 1:1 or 1:18 to establish that Jesus is “a god.”

    Morrie: Which does not change the fact that the Jewish king himself, irrelevant of him being a type pf the Messiah or not, is still identified as “God”.

    Steve: It is hardly irrelevant to his typological significance that Solomon, as a type of the divine Messiah to come, is given a divine designation.

    ReplyDelete
  27. At this point I see that Steve is only willing to interact with the very surface of my arguments, thus ignoring the specifics of what I am claiming, demonstrating and even asking him. Anyone who has read his most recent response to me can plainly see that he has ignored specific issues and that he has only asserted numerous points in counter to what I have said, with absolutely no demonstration of his contrary claims being true. As such is the case, I see no need to continue in this, because even though I have brought up numerous issues to which he has entirely failed to provide an answer, he continues to press on in futility.

    ReplyDelete
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