This is all a lot to digest. But the main effect all this had on me was to drive me back to the New Testament, to see if what Clarke says about it is true. I found that all the New Testament authors very clearly distinguish between God, a.k.a. the Father, and Jesus. With a few exceptions, “God” refers to the Father, and generally in Paul, “the Lord” is Jesus. (This last can be confusing to us.) But what could hardly be clearer is that Father and Son there are different selves. Clarke also shows that for just about any favorite proof text supposedly showing that Jesus “is God,” in the immediate context, we find that the author seems to assume them to be two.
Now the standard answer to Clarke’s point that Father and Son are different selves is this: Sure, they are two persons, but that’s compatible with their being one God. But Clarke explodes this defense numerous times. A “god” in the Bible is always a self – not a substance, nature, or whatnot. Thus, if Father and Son were the same god, they’d also be the same self, which Clarke would explain, is unacceptable modalism, and just makes nonsense of the New Testament. Just to take one point, the Son can’t be the same person he mediates for – if he’s the mediator between God and man (which the NT says he is), then that precludes his being the same self as God.Further, if you think that “sharing a substance” (whatever that amounts to) makes them one god, you need to say why it is that two gods couldn’t share one substance – and Clarke bets that you can’t show this. Keep in mind that he agrees with the claim of Nicea (325) that Father and Son are homoousios – but he argues that we should accept just the original meaning, which is, essentially, that the two are similar, i.e. both divine. Indeed, that very document plainly assumes them to differ, and so to not be numerically identical. (So, not one self, and not one god – for in either case, they would have to be numerically identical.)
I agree with him that in a conflict between Scripture and catholic tradition, Scripture wins. However, Tuggy/Clarke's linguistic analysis is naive.
i) It fails to distinguish between ordinary language and technical language. Tuggy/Clarke act as if ordinary (Biblical) usage maps isometrically onto dogmatic/systematic/philosophical usage. I'm surprised Tuggy would make that elementary mistake.
We have to begin with concepts, not words. We then find suitable words to label the concepts.
ii) There's no reason to equate Yahweh with God the Father. That's highly anachronistic.
In most OT usage, Yahweh (as well as Elohim) is simply the name of the divine character in the story, just as the human characters (or angelic characters) are also given names. You can't write a narrative without naming some of the characters–especially major and/or recurring characters. The divine character has to be called something.
That's a basic feature of storytelling. It's hardly intended to draw ontological, intra-Trinitarian distinctions.
And it overlooks the way in which certain NT passages assign "Yahweh" passages to Christ.
iii) Tuggy/Clarke fail to distinguish between common nouns and proper nouns. In Pauline usage, "God" is generally a proper name for the Father, while "Lord" is generally a proper name for Christ.
The NT also uses "God" as a common noun when it isn't distinguishing the Trinitarian persons.
iv) I don't know if Tuggy has read any of the standard monographs on NT Christology, viz. Bauckham, Fee, Gathercole, Harris, Hurtado.
To amplify one of my points, in a sacred historical narrative like much of the OT, the narrator will have a "God" character who plays the role of the divine agent. He's the primary protagonist, and the normative character in the story. A named individual who plays that part. That's the level at which "Yahweh" (or "Elohim") generally operates in the OT.
This would involve an individual characterization, whether or not the underlying theism is unitarian or Trinitarian. Rather, that's a narrative representation. As a rule, we'd expect a single character to play that role. The role of the divine actor or speaker.
Other agents play other parts. Human, angelic, demonic, diabolical. Lesser protagonists or heroes, as well as antagonists, villains, and foils. The Devil is the main foil to God. That's how narrative theology works.
These established characters may carry over into other genres (e.g. prophetic oracles, psalms).
But "Yahweh" doesn't stand for God the Father. That's a level-confusion. That's not the narrative function of "Yahweh" in the OT story. Rather, "Yahweh" is simply the divine character, in contrast to various creatures.
It is, of course, possible for the narrator to draw Trinitarian distinctions. Is the Angel of the Lord a Christophany?
However, it's not merely the use of "Yahweh" that differentiates one divine person from another.
Moreover, at the narrative level of tangible actors, these might as well be separate individuals. How they're ontologically related is not something the narrative action can explicate, for the narrative action operates at the level of discrete, concrete physical manifestations.
Trinitarian distinctions ultimately subsist behind-the-scene, outside time and space, whereas a narrative is set in time and space.