Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Seeing and revealing

I don't see any general principle there, nor, I think, do most readers. It just asserts that the Son has uniquely revealed God. You're reading the general principle into it, I'm afraid. I think you mean: only a divine being can reveal a divine being. But, that's nowhere stated. And, come on, in a sense, any true prophet does reveal God. (Of course, this requires action on God's part.)

Unfortunately, Tuggy doesn’t know how to exegete a text.

i) To say “the Son has uniquely revealed God” overlooks the textual explanation as to what the Son is in a unique position to uniquely reveal God.

ii) 1:18b comes on the heels of v17-18a, which forms a foil to v18. In v17-18a, John posits a hyperbolic contrast between Mosaic revelation and dominical revelation. It’s a type of shadow/shadower relation where Mosaic revelation foreshadows the real thing.

For Tuggy to say a true prophet of God can reveal God, while okay in isolation, disregards the rhetorical contrast between v17-18a and v18b, which is intended to underscore a categorical difference between mediate revelation through a prophet of God and immediate revelation in Christ.

iii) This categorical difference is, in turn, grounded in the fact the message and the messenger are identical in the case of Christ. Christ can reveal God because he is God. The Son can reveal the Father because both are divine. That’s why you have the dialectical interplay between two divine parties in v18–the invisible Father manifested in the visible Son.

iv) This is further grounded in v1. V18 forms an inclusio to v1, where you have the same dialectical interplay between two divine parties, one of whom assumes a revelatory role, as the divine word. Christ is uniquely qualified to reveal God because Christ is what he reveals.

v) Finally, this is further grounded in the Johannine linkage between seeing and revealing (1:18a; 3:11,31-32; 5:19; 6:46; 8:38). Mosaic never saw God directly. Mosaic only saw a manifestation of God: a theophanic angelophany.

By contrast, Christ is uniquely qualified to reveal God because Christ alone can say what he saw. That plays on the paradoxical metaphor of seeing the invisible God. Which, in turn, alludes to his coeternal preexistence with the Father (1:1-2; 17:5).

Steve - yep. One of us is missing the point here. Let me again make clear that I accept that "the one true God" was a common idiom to refer to God. It matters not.

You say that but you fail to register the significance of that statement.

Just imagine a context in which "the Greatest Ever" is standardly used to refer to Michael Jordan. I say "The Greatest Ever scored again." This statement has the same truth conditions, in a sense, means the same thing as "Michael Jordan scored again." But that I call him the Greatest Ever shows that I assume him to be, that is, to be identical to, the greatest pro basketball player to have ever played.

Time and again you stumble over the same confusion. The question at issue is not whether “the only true God” means the same thing as the Father in 17:3. Try again. 

So, your big point about the idiom is perfectly consistent with what I've said, in spelling out the obvious about John 17:3.

Actually, I have yet to see you "spell out" the obvious point of Jn 17:3. Here's what I think, in your linguistic naiveté, you take it to mean. You seem to be treating “God” (or the “true God”) as a discrete semantic unit. You then treat the adjective “only” as another discrete semantic unit which modifies “God.” Since, in Jn 17:3, the Father is the referent of this phrase, you take this to mean that only the Father can truly be God.

If that’s what you have in mind, that’s ill-conceived on several counts:

i) The sense of an idiomatic phrase isn’t derivable from the conjoined senses of the individual words which comprise it.

In this case, “only” doesn’t stand outside the noun (“God”) or two-word phrase (“true God”), as a separate, detachable modifier. So the point is not to say that only the Father can truly be God.

ii) Rather, this is a stereotypical designation for Yahweh, which has its background in the Shema (Deut 6:4). It doesn’t mean the Father is the only Yahweh (i.e. the only one who is Yahweh). Rather, the adjective (“only”) is part of the synonym, not something that modifies the synonym.

iii) As I’ve also documented, Jn 17:3 doesn’t contrast the Father and the Son. Rather, it is set in contrast to Jewish enemies of Jesus who reject his divine mission.

You are misconstruing the passage to say the opposite of what it’s intended to say. You are joining with the Jewish enemies of Jesus in Gospel who drive a wedge between God and Jesus, whereas the point of Jn 17:3 just the opposite: whoever rejects Jesus rejects Yahweh. They profess Yahweh, yet in practice they reject him.

iv) How Jesus himself is related to Yahweh isn’t something that’s addressed in Jn 17:3, since that verse has a different polemic purpose. But other passages in John do identify Jesus with Yahweh. 

Sure, the ground of the foreknowledge. The point stands that 17:5 needn't imply literal pre-existence.

i) This reflects another semantic fallacy on your part. In terms of the Hebraic idiom, prior choice is not what grounds foreknowledge. Rather, foreknowledge is an idiomatic synonym for prior choice, where prior knowledge stands for prior choice.

It’s true that prior choice grounds prior knowledge, but that has nothing to do with an idiomatic expression.

ii) And this is all beside the point since 17:5 doesn’t even use the Hebraic idiom of foreknowledge.

This is special pleading, since I've made that case that he does assume the = of g & f.

I corrected you on your misuse of logic.

Really? Which equivalence relation did you have in mind? This is hand-waving, unless you pony up.

In which case you’re not paying attention to the documentation I already provided, in early exchanges. But I’ll elaborate (see below).

Um... you need to slow down, friend, and read carefully.

You need to slow down, and write carefully.

Too much to go into all that in a thread. In your view, in some unclear sense John asserts Jesus' "deity".

i) For exegetical purposes, I don’t have to go beyond the Johannine sense of “deity.” John’s operating assumption of what it means for someone to be divine.

ii) John uses “God” language for both the Father and the Son. What is more, in 1:1 & 1:18, he uses the same language back-to-back. In that event it means for the Son whatever it means for the Father.

iii) Likewise, John uses Yahwist language for the Son (e.g. 5:22-23; 8:58; 12:41). And this, too, involves back-to-back comparisons with the Father, either in the Johannine narrative itself, OT allusions to Yahweh, or both. In that event it means for the Son whatever it means for the Father.

I could cite other examples.

iv) In addition, Jesus’ Jewish opponents understand these statements to be ascriptions of divinity (5:18; 8:59; 10:33), an understanding which the narrative does nothing to challenge, but rather, to reaffirm. Jesus and his opponents agree on what he means, but disagree on whether it’s true.

This can't mean or imply identity to God (as if to make this very point, John emphasizes qualitative differences between the two) - but then, what could it mean?

i) It means nothing more or less than what it means to John.

ii) There are differences, in part because the Father and the Son aren’t the same person.

iii) There are differences in part because the Father is discarnate whereas the Son is incarnate.

iv) There are differences in part because they have different roles to play in the redemptive economy.

But that doesn’t change the fact that from John’s perspective, the Father and the Son are both divine in the same sense.

You may think that’s illogical, but that’s not an exegetical objection. You can’t use that to obviate what John actually says.

Unitarians generally don't have a problem with John, who emphasizes the distinction between Jesus and God quite clearly. e.g. 20:17.

i) Your gimmick is to claim that strict identity rules out further distinctions. But that, again, is exegetically irrelevant.

ii) In addition, you have a careless way of shifting from logical identity to numerical identity to personal identity (a “self”), as if these were interchangeable categories. So it’s not as if your objection is philosophically rigorous.

No, I'm trying to hold to *John's* incarnational Christology, which is modeled on OT and Apocr. notions of the Law of God as it were traveling from heaven to make a home on earth.

i) When you say “They touched and smelled him, and knew him to be a man. And they assumed Yahweh to not be a man,” that’s just obtuse in the context of John. You act as if the humanity of Christ is incompatible with the divinity of Christ, even though John repeatedly affirms both to be the case. So that doesn’t create any prima facie impediments to the deity of Christ in Johannine Christology. You may say Johannine Christology is confused or mistaken, but that’s a different objection.

ii) You grossly oversimplify the OT background for John’s incarnational Christology, which is hardly limited to a “Law of God” motif.

Steve, I'm getting tired of these charges that I'm ignoring things. Please see my SEP entry, historical supplement on the Bible, in which I give very general analysis of all the main sorts of arguments which have been given for the "deity" of Jesus. That discussions points the way to what I think the weaknesses of these are.

You rely on little gimmicks to sidestep exegesis.

Yeah, I see the influence of Bauckhaum here again.
The argument seems to be
Only YHWH could do/be F.
Jesus is F.
Therefore, Jesus = YHWH.
A valid argument, to be sure, and one can must some support for each premise. But, for reasons I'm too tired to repeat, the conclusion is an uncharitable reading.
Steve, what you say to this is not to the point. Above you suggest that it isn't = but rather some other relation that obtains between each of f & s and g. Say what it is, and then the business of comparing your readings with unitarians can START.

i) You’re attempting to short-circuit exegesis by resorting to vacuous formalisms. But the Bible presents certain ways of demarcating the true God. For instance:

a) The true God is the eternal Creator of the world.

b) The true God exercises dominion over all things.

c) The true God is the Savior of his people.

d) The true God is the omniscient judge of the world.

e) The true God will never share his incomparable honor with a creature.

f) Likewise, the true God alone is worthy of worship.

g) The Shema flags the true God, and distinguishes the true God from false gods.

Yet the NT applies all these distinctives to Jesus, viz. Jn 1:1-3; 5:22-23, 1 Cor 8:6; Eph 1:20-22; Col 1:15-20; Phil 2:6-11; Heb 1:1-14; Rev 2:23, 5:14.

If you try to transfer these distinctives to a creaturely agent, then you’re forced to say the Bible doesn’t reserve anything for the true God. There’s nothing left that uniquely demarcates Yahweh from his creatures, even when these distinctives are expressly presented to single out Yahweh’s matchless status in relation to the world.

ii) Keep in mind that exegetical theology differs from philosophical theology. In philosophical theology you might begin with a list of divine attributes. That would define God’s nature. What God is.

Scripture also mentions divine attributes, but for Scripture, what God does is also a way of demarcating the true God. Certain types of divine action or social roles.

iii) Viewed from another angle, Scripture frequently uses a king/prince metaphor to illustrate the relationship between the Father and the Son. On this illustration, the Father is the old king who abdicates the throne to his Son. The illustration is subject to variations. It may be a coregency rather than succession. And the crown prince metaphor also ties into the primogeniture motif in Scripture.

On the one hand, the king and the prince are two of a kind. That’s what legitimates the crown prince as rightful heir to the throne. It’s not as if one is God while the other is a creature. That commits a level-confusion, for the kingly character and the princely character are the same type of being within the narrative framework.

On the other hand, this is also a way to differentiate the two principals, both in who they are and what they do. This introduces a dynamic principle, allowing for historical progression, as well as transitions in their respective status. Some essentials are true of king and prince alike, while other things are true of one but not the other–or true at different times.

It has OT antecedents in passages like Pss 2; 45; 72; 89; 110; Isa 9:6-7; Dan 7:9-14. It has NT counterparts in passages like Eph 1:20-22; Col 1:15-20; Phil 2:6-11; Heb 1:1-14, Rev 19:11-21.

BTW, we’ve been discussing the Father and the Son since that’s how you framed the issue. There are other arguments for the deity of the Spirit.

I think you're not appreciating the fact that indisc. id. is a necessary truth.

I think you’re not appreciating the fact that the indiscernability of identicals doesn’t say:

i) The Father and the Son can’t both be divine; therefore, only the Father is divine.

Even if you think there’s a contradiction in ascribing divine status to the Father and the Son alike, that (alleged) contradiction doesn’t point in you in which direction to relieve the (alleged) contradiction.

In theory, you could relieve the (alleged) contradiction by retaining the divine status of the Father while relinquishing the divine status of the Son.

But by parity of logic you could relieve the (alleged) contradiction by retaining the divine status of the Son while relinquishing the divine status of the Father.

You pride yourself on being logical, but even on your own terms you’re quite illogical.

ii) Likewise, Leibniz law (the identity of indiscernibles), as well as the Quinean converse (the indiscernability of identicals) don’t constitute a theory of personal identity. That doesn’t give the conditions under which something is the same thing.

Oh, it's trouble in any field where we're seeking to have true beliefs, for the reasons I lay out.

Paradox doesn’t hinder us from entertaining true beliefs. Indeed, when you assert a contradiction, that requires a clear understanding of what the individual propositions which collectively generate the (alleged) contradiction mean. You didn’t know what each one meant, you’d be in no position to posit a contradiction between one or another.

If each proposition is true, then by believing each proposition we entertain true beliefs even if (arguendo) their interrelation is obscure to some degree.

Indeed, you really haven't said what you take "it" to be at all. This is a great strategy for avoiding refutation or self-induced implosion.

i) First of all, this is the first time you even asked me.

ii) On a Biblical definition, Scripture says there’s only one true God; Scripture attributes divine distinctives to the Father, Son, and Spirit alike; yet Scripture differentiates the Father, Son, and Spirit.

That’s the raw data in a nutshell. That’s what we’re obligated to believe.

iii) In terms of how I model the Trinity, I view the Trinity as a symmetry.

Steve, this is unkind. The data I think you refer to are that in some cases, both are called "YHWH" and that prophecies about YHHW are held to be fulfilled in Jesus. It's scurrilous to suggest that I ignore these, when I've fairly clearly explained how I understand them, in a way that does not pit them against other texts.

You take refuge in shortcuts and gimmicks to bypass exegesis and nullify God’s self-revelation.

BTW, I’m able to provide more detailed exegesis for my prooftexts, as need be. 

1 comment:

  1. It's funny, but after reading through your exchange it seems as if you're refuting an anti-Oneness Pentecostal.

    In fact I think Oneness would argue against your opponent in much the same manner as you did, but of course they would collapse the distinction between the Persons of God into modalities/manifestations "proving" Jesus to be the ultimate expression of "The One True God".

    Interesting to see how these things work out.

    In Him,