“only true god” - yes, that phrase refers to the same thing as “Father” in v.1. The term “god” here, though, is quantified over. Compare: addressing the King as “King” (proper noun) vs. saying “you are the only true king” (common noun). Don't be fooled by the English capital “G”. But really, this common vs. proper nouns distinction is irrelevant. Read it your way – “that they may know you, the Father, and Jesus” - there are two objects of knowledge here - eternal life consists in knowing *them*.
i) The fact that there are two parties (the Father and the Son) in Jn 17:3 is a red herring. No one is arguing that the Father and the Son are interchangeable Jn 17:3.
ii) Your argument would only go through if (a) John always uses “theos” as a common noun rather than a proper noun, and (b) John reserves “theos” for the Father to the exclusion of the Son.
iii) You also disregard the idiomatic nature of the phase “only true God” in Jn 17:3. You act as if John is simply adding the sense of the adjective (“only,” “true”) to the sense of the noun (“God”).
To the contrary, John is using stereotypical Jewish jargon, where the “only God,” “true God,” or “only true God” picks out Yahweh in distinction to pagan deities. This idiomatic semantic unit is not synonymous with the individual parts of speech which comprise it.
Then, as I already pointed out (which you ignore), John sets this characterization in implicit contrast to the attitude which the religious establishment took to Jesus. John is using this as a wedge issue. The Jewish establishment prides itself on following the one true God (i.e. Yahweh), over against heathen idolaters–like the Romans. Yet the same establishment is guilty of rejecting the Son, whom he sent.
That’s the intended contrast. The point is not to contrast the deity of the Father with the non-deity of the Son. The point, rather, is to underscore the ironic position of Christ’s Jewish opponents.
In Jn 17:3, the “one true God” deliberately evokes intertextual parallels with earlier confrontations in the narrative arc (e.g. 5:44; 7:28).
It’s hardly a non sequitur to point out that Jn 17:5 further weakens the unitarian interpretation of Jn 17:3
red herring - it needn’t be contrasting them, but only assuming them two - and it plainly does. There’s the one god, and the one whom that one god sent. In other words, the Father isn’t the Son.
i) Irrelevant. Trinitarian theology presupposes a distinction between the Father and the Son.
ii) Your dichotomy would only work on the dual condition that (a) John only uses theos as a common noun and (b) his use of theos is confined to the Father.
a) It’s arguable that John typically uses theos as a synonymous proper name for the Father.
b) In addition, there are programmatic examples in Jn 1:1,18 where John alternates between theos as a common noun and theos as a proper noun when he uses the common noun as a covering term for the Father and the Son alike. Both are divine.
Right. Any Trinity theory is an attempt to explain the data of the texts. Problem is, there are many of them, and they're incompatible.
At best, that’s a theoretical problem, not a doctrinal problem. The primary issue is the witness of the Bible to the Trinity. That’s the raw material for doctrinal formulations.
Sure. All unitarians have always known this. We can’t take such applications to imply that Jesus is Yahweh himself, though. Why? That's inconsistent, because according to the texts some things are true of one that are not true of the other.
i) That argument cuts both ways. If NT writers often assign Yahwist passages to the Father, would you say, We can’t take such applications to imply that the Father is Yahweh himself, though. Why? That’s inconsistent, because according to the texts some things are true of one that are not true of the other.
ii) It’s a presupposition of Trinitarian doctrine that the Father, Son, and Spirit differ in some respect. Everything that’s true of the Father won’t be true of the Son without remainder, or vice versa.
On your idea that I somehow misunderstand nouns - this is a careless misreading. My point was that these authors assume the numerical identity of the Father and God. If f=g, and not(f=s) then it can't be that s=g. You're not getting my point that the authors don't merely predicate divinity of f & s - rather, they identify f and Yahweh.
i) I’m not sure if your using “God” as common noun or a proper noun.
ii) Once again, your objection cuts both ways. Yes, NT writers identify the Father with Yahweh. But NT writers also identify Jesus with Yahweh. They treat the Father as divine, but they also treat Jesus as divine.
You’re artificially isolating NT ascriptions regarding the Father from NT ascriptions regarding the Son (or Spirit, for that matter). But NT practice is the same. NT writers don’t identify the Father as Yahweh rather than the Son as Yahweh. You’re not getting that antithesis from the actual practice of NT writers.
Rather, you’ve chosen to artificially privilege NT statements about the Father’s Yahwistic identity, make that your yardstick, then oppose that to NT statements about the Son’s Yahwistic identity.
iii) In addition, you begin with your philosophical preconception of what constitutes identity, and then use that to filter out dominical ascriptions that don’t jive with your preconception. But that’s faulty theological method.
You’re using your philosophical categories to prejudge the exegetical results. To preempt what the NT is allowed to say.
But there’s no reason to think NT writers begin where you begin. Even if you think Trinitarian theology generates internal tensions vis-à-vis the one-over-many relation (“numerical identity”), what if NT writers don’t share your concern about how Jesus can be Yahweh if the Father is Yahweh?
That’s really a separate issue. You have to play the hand you’re dealt. If NT writers who treat the Father as Yahweh also treat the Son as Yahweh, then that’s what you’ve got to work with. The NT doesn’t prioritize one set of statements over another set of statements in that regard.
iv) When we move to philosophical synthesis, even if (arguendo) the Trinity is paradoxical, so what? Paradox is a common phenomenon in math, science, and logic. And some paradoxes prove highly resistant to domestication. Cf. N. Rescher, Paradoxes: Their Roots, Range, and Resolution (Open Court 2001); R. M. Sainsbury, Paradoxes (Cambridge, 2nd ed., 2002).
Re: your narrative line - sorry, I don’t understand anything about the ‘poetics of narrativity’ that would require a ‘God’ which is not a self to be depicted as a self...
i) Narrative theology doesn’t “require” it to be either “a self” or several “selves.” That’s beside the point.
The point is the narratological function of the divine character in the story, as well as whether or not the narrator has any particular occasion to distinguish more than one divine character.
ii) Keep in mind, too, that a “self” is a rather crude category to work with.
Yes, an almighty God could appear other than he is, but I don’t see how this changes the fact that ‘God’ in the OT is supposed to be a god.
Do Trinitarians deny the fact that “God” in the OT is supposed to be divine? How is that pertinent to the issue at hand?
= is a one-one relation. Two different things can’t be = to one thing. This is self-evident, when you grasp what is meant by = (numerical identity). It is ‘exclusive’ in that nothing else can be = to a thing, but only itself. If I’m sounding dogmatic on this, I am - this is basic logic.
i) I used “=” to equate “kurios” as a Septuagintal loanword for Yahweh. You’re transferring what I said to something else.
ii) In addition, you’re imposing your extraneous grid on the NT data. On the face of it, NT writers don’t say the Father and the Son can’t both be Yahweh, even though NT writers also distinguish the two. Maybe you think that’s illogical, but you can’t use that to gag the witness of the NT. You have to let the writers say what they want say, whether or not that adds up in your own mind.
v) You also have a simplistic notion of how two things can (or can’t be) one thing, or vice versa. But there are different ways of modeling identity. Take enantiomorphic symmetries. These can be mapped onto each other in one-to-one correspondence, yet they’re not interchangeable.
The verses you put so much weight on are like this: OT text says Yahweh will do X. NT applies that text to Jesus, making it be fulfilled in him. So, he’s Yahweh, no? No! You’re saddling the text with foolish nonsense - saying that those are =, even though they differ (some things are true of one that aren’t true of the other).
I don’t see any fundamental, or even appreciable, difference between the way NT writers apply Yahwistic texts to Jesus and the way they apply Yahwistic texts to the Father. They freely alternate in their ascriptions.
You have a habit of relativizing one set over against another set although the NT itself doesn’t do that. But in exegeting a passage, the salient issue is not whether that seems like “foolish nonsense” to the reader (i.e. Dale Tuggy), but whether that seems like “foolish nonsense” to the writer (e.g. St. Paul, St. John).
Whether that’s foolish nonsense from Tuggy’s viewpoint is immaterial, since all that counts is the viewpoint of the NT writer. In doing exegesis, you need to assume their viewpoint, not substitute your own viewpoint for theirs.
That’s the case whether or not you agree with them. But if you disagree, what are you going on? If you don’t have God’s self-revelation to guide you, what’s your fallback? Only God can disclose what God is like.
Really, those texts needn’t puzzle. Analogy: Astrologer says “Bush will invade Iraq.” Years later, general Smith leads the charge (sent in by Bush). See, she says, my prediction was fulfilled in Smith. She doesn't think Bush is Smith. Rather, it was through Smith that Bush accomplished his invasion.
That’s you’re harmonistic gloss, but NT writers frequently apply Yahwistic passages interchangeably to the Father and the Son.