Monday, November 30, 2015

Justin Martyr and the Equality of Divine Persons

Justin evidently does not acknowledge the ontological equality of the Father and the Son of the Holy Spirit. To the contrary, he apparently makes a sharp demarcation between the Father and the Son in Dialogus cum Tryphone 127. Fortman adds that Justin: "has no real doctrine of the Trinity, for he says nothing of the relations of the three to one another and to the Godhead" (47). Additionally, he most certainly comes nowhere near affirming the famed VERE DEUS of Chalcedon or homoousion to patri of Nicea.

Finally, in a book edited by Nigel M. de S. Cameron entitled The Power and Weakness of God: Impassibility and Orthodoxy (Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 1990), Peter R. Forster also informs his readers that "the textbooks are widely misleading" when it comes to explaining the pre-Nicene LOGOS theory since "To take the case of Justin, with but few exceptions (1 Apol 59 (?), 64; 2 Apol 6) he attributes creation entirely to the transcendent 'Father of all'" (page 30). Forster also has other perceptive observations that I encourage you to read for yourself. He demonstrates how Justin is laboring under Middle Platonic and Stoic philosophical conceptions.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

John 20:28 and the Definite Article (C.F.D. Moule)

From page 116 in the 1953 Edition.

Jn 5:18-19 and ἴσος (Edited)

While the word ἴσος at times bears the meaning "similar," it can also mean "equal." In view of classical, NT evidence and lexical evidence from Philo, I find it difficult to believe that ἴσος has the denotation "similar" in John 5:18. Why would the Jews have been so upset, if they only thought that Jesus was making himself similar, but not equal to his Father? Furthermore, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:6:

ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ.

On the other hand, I find the words of Trinitarian scholar G.R.B. Murray of interest:

"Bultmann, however, went on to point out that the Jews failed to grasp that Jesus is the Revealer; second, they made the mistake of viewing equality with God as independence from God, whereas for Jesus it meant total dependence on God ([Bultmann] 244). In light of these (undoubtedly correct) observations, the expression 'equal to God' is a misleading interpretation of the declaration of Jesus. That Jesus spoke of God as his own Father rightly points to the unique relation to God, and it is the Evangelist's concern to make plain the nature of that relationship. But in vv. 19-30 we see a twofold emphasis that exists in tension: on the one hand there is the acknowledgement by Jesus of the total dependence of the Son on the Father, and on the other a consciousness of the Father's appointment of the Son to perform on his behalf works that God alone has the right and power to execute (vv 19-20, 21, 22, 26-27, 30). It is perhaps not irrelevant to note that the Jews were ready, when they wished, to recognize that in certain conditions men could be spoken of as God. For example they viewed Ps 82:6, 'I said you are gods, sons of the Most High all of you,' as relating to the people of Israel. And they glorified in the fact that in Exod 7:1 God states that he has made Moses as God to Pharaoh, whereas since Pharaoh made himself as God he had to learn that he was nothing (Tanh. B sec. 12 in Str-B 2:462-64). It would seem that in their eyes God could exalt a man to be as God, but whoever MADE HIMSELF as God called down divine retribution on himself. They saw Jesus in the latter category" (John, 75).

While I do not agree with Murray's comemnts in toto, it seems that the the quote provided above does shed light on monotheism in ancient Judaism. Having said the foregoing, I would still argue that the Jews thought Jesus was making himself equal to God, but they were mistaken. Making himself equal to the Father (Jehovah) would have constituted blasphemy.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dialogue on Mortality (Secunda Secundae Partis)

I'm familiar with Hebrews. It definitely presents the Abrahamic hope, not a new hope:

Heb 11:
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. {provided: or, foreseen}

"For the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in besides of a BETTER HOPE did, through which we are drawing near to God" (Heb 7:19).

Notice that the writer of Hebrews hopes for a renewed Earth:

Heb 10:
22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, {written: or, enrolled}
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and
to the blood of
sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of
Abel. {covenant:
or, testament}
25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if
they escaped not
who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not
we escape, if we
away from him that speaketh from heaven:
26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath
promised, saying,
once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the
removing of those
things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that
those things which
cannot be shaken may remain. {are shaken: or, may be shaken}
28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be
moved, let us have
grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with
reverence and godly
fear: {let.: or, let us hold fast}
29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Could you explain, in a sentence or two, how you extract the idea that the writer of Hebrews looked forward to LIVING on a renewed earth, from the passages you just quoted? Yes he hoped for a new earth. But this fact does not mean that he planned to live on it.

Notice that in Revelation the "heavenly Jerusalem" descends from heaven to earth:

Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a
pillar in the temple
my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write
upon him the name
my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is
new Jerusalem,
cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will
write upon him my new

Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new
Jerusalem, coming
from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned
for her husband.

More reading into texts, my friend. John says nothing about the New Jerusalem (not heavenly Jerusalem) coming down to earth. Since you have such a literalist hermeneutic, please show me explicitly where John said these exact words. You are again reading your own ideas into Scripture instead of extracting meaning from Holy Writ.

Addendum: I have since written that one might infer that New Jerusalem descends to earth, but Revelation 21:1-2 never makes that exact claim. Even if the city descends to earth as my interlocutor suggested, I believe that the descent would be metaphorical.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Aspect and Aktionsart (John 10:32 and the conative present)

Different grammarians or linguists use the term Aktionsart in bewildering and disparate ways, but older grammars often employ the term Aktionsart as a reference to action delineated by the verbal stem. Porter writes that K. Brugmann (in 1885) was the first writer to employ the German term Aktionsart to describe: "the kind of action indicated objectively by the verb" (Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the NT, Stanley Porter, 29). So when I talk about "kind of action" in this context, I am referring to action in terms of completed, durative, ingressive or conative (inchoative) activities that are objectively signaled by the respective verb stem (root + affix) or in some other fashion.

For example, K.L. McKay (when discussing the conative and inceptive use of the Greek present "tense") provides an example from Jn 10:32:

DIA POION AUTWN ERGON EME LIQAZETE: "for which of these deeds are you trying to stone me?"

McKay thinks that the present verb LIQAZETE in this passage, "has the effect of so emphasizing the incompleteness of the activity that the most natural English equivalent is try to do" in this case.

So in Jn 10:32 we evidently have an example of the conative present. Certain scholars would argue that the conative "kind of action" is signaled by the verbal stem (Aktionsart). Others would contend that we know LIQAZETE is conative present (imperfective aspect) in view of the features that mark the action of the verb (still referring to Aktionsart).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pistis: What Does It Possibly Mean?

Regarding the Greek πίστις (pistis): the lexical evidence seems to allow for the translation "faith" or "faithfulness." BDAG suggests that πίστις (in Galatians 5:22) refers to faithfulness or fidelity. Timothy George (NAB Commentary on Galatians) also thinks that the word denotes "faithfulness" in Paul's list of the spirit's fruit (compare 2 Timothy 2:2).

A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures also favors the understanding "faithfulness."

Vincent's Word Studies:

Faith (πίστις)


Alford GNT: "πίστις, in the widest sense: faith, towards God and man: of love it is said, 1 Corinthians 13:7, πάντα πιστεύει."

NET Bible renders πίστις as "faithfulness," but in a note for Gal 5:22, it adds:

Or "reliability"; see BDAG 818 s.v. πίστις 1.a.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dialogue on Mortality (Prima Secundae Partis)

There is no "replacement" in view. It is not "my immortal soul must put on a different body" but rather "this mortal body, this corruptible must be changed..."

Up to this point, I have said nothing about an "immortal soul" putting on a different body. This is what I mean when I say that you erroneously impute certain views to me and then you shadow-box with strawmen. Where did I ever say that I believe in the doctrine of the immortal soul? My position is that spirit anointed Christians resurrected from the dead will have a "spiritual body." That spiritual body is not synonymous with an immortal soul.

The figure of "eternal in the heavens" [2 Corinthians 5:1-2] refers to origin, not destination. He explains exactly what he means:

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this
tabernacle were
we have a building of God, an house not made with
hands, eternal in the
2 For in this [earthly house] we groan, earnestly
desiring to be
upon with our house which is **from heaven**:
3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found
4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being
burdened: **not
that we would be unclothed**, but clothed upon, **that
mortality might be swallowed up of life**.

Crystal clear. There is no room for the traditional reading.

You quoted four verses but did absolutely nothing to refute what I believe. Of course I would agree that the "building" Paul is talking about comes from God and is not an immortal soul, but you totally overlook the fact that the building remains "eternal in the heavens." You ignore the fact that the apostle indicates at least some Christians will live forever in the heavens for all eternity. Additionally the verse says nothing about a body "descending" from
God. It simply shows that God is the source of the new body.

The phrase "from heaven" indicates that it comes to us. It occurs in the process of resurrection, not in a later ascent, since it is "raised incorruptible."

The phrase 'from heaven' (EX OURANOU) in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 is what I would call an ablative of source. It tells from whence the new "building" comes, not wither it is going. There is no indication that spatial movement is being discussed in this passage. Paul is simply making us aware that the body emanates/derives--not descends--from the Divine One. See 1 Cor 8:5-6 and note how EX is used there:

"Thus, the heavenly dwelling of 2 Cor 5:1, no less than the heavenly commonwealth of Phil 3:19, would be an image for that new age. Not even death, the final proof of mortality, need cause the apostles to shrink back (4:16a), for they, like all believers, know that their true home is in heaven" (V.P. Furnish. II Corinthians; translated with introduction, notes and commentary. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1984).

This "true home" is "from heaven" and "swallows up mortality." In referring to a "heavenly body" he refers to the image that we shall bear:

35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up?
and with what
body do
they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not
quickened, except it die:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that
body that shall
be, but
bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him,
and to every seed
own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one
kind of flesh of
another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and
another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies
terrestrial: but the
of the celestial is one, and the glory of the
terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory
of the moon, and
another glory of the stars: for one star differeth
from another star in
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It [the
body] is sown in
corruption; it [the body] is raised in incorruption:
43 It [the body] is sown in dishonour; it [the body]
is raised in
glory: it
[the body] is sown in weakness; it [the body] is
raised in power:
44 It [the body] is sown a natural body; it [the
body] is raised a
spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is
a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made
a living soul;
last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but
that which is
natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second
man is the Lord
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are
earthy: and as is the
**heavenly**, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we
shall also **bear
image of the heavenly**.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood
cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit

Bearing the image of the heavenly one, Jesus Christ, does not prove that 'the heavenly body' is simply the body of flesh swallowed up by life. If the body of flesh is sown, then according to Paul, it cannot rise up again as a 'bare grain' (as it was when it was planted). See 1 Cor 15:45. Secondly, if the body of flesh is dissolved or broken down, then it cannot be the building that Paul says Christians will receive from God. Bruce then adds:

"He is there as His people's forerunner, the surety of their admission to the dwelling place of God; He is there, too, as their perpetual high priest, 'after the order of Melchizdek'" (132).

"Perpetually" refers to a continuous, or unbroken preisthood, rather than an annual one. But it is temporary.

The main reason I cited Bruce was to show what he had to say about Jesus being the 'forerunner' (PRODROMOS) for anointed Christians. The context suggests that Jesus served as a forerunner in that he entered the Most Holy in order that others might follow him and appear before the Person of God, in the heavens of his presence. See Bruce, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews: with introduction, exposition and notes. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1964.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What Does It Mean To Be a Person? (Preliminary Thoughts)

There is an ontological problem associated with defining what it means to be a "person." Being a human person could mean having the capacity for a specific range of intentional states. Intentionality is here defined as object-directedness or object-aboutness. Searle distinguishes between three kinds of intentionality: original, derived, and metaphorical.

Maybe the capacity for self-referentiality adequately defines personhood; however, persons are also constituted by relations (according to Corcoran).

The capacity for a first-person perspective (ontology).

One traditional definition of personhood has also been "individual substance of a rational nature" (Boethius, et al). But it seems that this definition of "person" might not work unless one nuances the definiens. What does it mean to be an individual, to be a substance, and to be or have a rational nature? Is it possible to consider babies as persons based on this classical definition?

Maybe another defining criterion that we could suggest for the word "person" is incommunicability. That is to say, a person is unique or cannot be reproduced without loss of personhood (i.e., cloning). One's own personhood is not something that can be shared or communicated.

Whatever a suitable definition of "human person" turns out to be, it seems that a Christian must view personhood through the lense of Genesis 1:26.

Giles Discusses the Ecclesiastical View of Women As Expressed Historically

There have been many writers in church history, who have published less than commendatory perspectives concerning women. Here are quotes from Kevin Giles' work Trinity and Subordinationism:

"Having become disobedient, she [Eve] was made the cause of death, both to herself and the whole human race" (Irenaeus qt. in Giles 153).

"And do you not know that each of you [women] is Eve? . . . You are the devil's gateway: you are the first deserter of the divine law" (Tertullian).

John Chrysostom claims that women are "captivated by appetite"--as if men aren't!--"weak and fickle" (collectively) and "ruined." See Giles 153-154.

Woman is responsible for the ruin of the whole human race (John Calvin). It is no wonder that woman was "the first deserter of the divine law" since she was outmatched in the wisdom department by man, says Luther (Giles 154). Even Matthew Henry wrote that the devil assaulted the "weaker" person in the Garden of Eden:

"We may suppose her [Eve] inferior to Adam in knowledge, and strength, and presence of mind" (ibid).

"The tradition is uniform. Once more, we have seen that the best of past theologians interpreted the Bible to be teaching that women are more prone than men to sin and error" (ibid).

Martin Luther made extremely offensive comments that I have not posted. You can find the remarks in his collected "Works."