Saturday, March 27, 2010

More on the Anonymous God Issue


I am posting the following in response to some information that has been posted on this blog regarding the pre-Nicenes and God's personal name. I have written more on this subject and, if time permits, I'll be posting more on this forum. I do appreciate your thoughts. Interesting material on God's name has been submitted here:

The pre-Nicenes are in general agreement that God does
not have a personal name other than DEUS. At any rate,
Lactantius and other early ecclesiastical writers
certainly do not appear to use "Father" as a proper
designation for God. Rather, Lactantius professes that
the supreme deity is the anonymous God and Father of
all. The only NOMEN PROPRIUM that he needs is God:
"Because God is unique, his proper name is God"
(Divinae institutiones 1.6.5). The Corpus Hermetica
(5.34) supplies a similar portrait of the divine: "And
for this cause He has all Names, because He is the One
Father; and therefore He has no Name, because He is
the Father of all." Moreover, one cannot forget the
familiar testimony of Justin Martyr regarding the
anonymous God and Father of all: "To the Father of
all, no name is given; for anyone who has been given a
name has received the name from someone older than
himself. Father and God and Creator and Lord and
Master are not names but appellations derived from his
benefices and works" (2 Apology 6).

According to Justin, humans do not have a name for the
deity. Words that appear to be divine NOMINA are
nothing more than vehicles delineating God's functions
PRO NOBIS (Marsh, Triune God, 189); they are also ways
of invoking God based on his interpersonal revelatory
activity. In order to appreciate Justin’s doctrine of
God’s innominability, it is necessary to make a
distinction between names (ONOMATA) and forms of
address (PROSRHSEIS)). Terms such as PATER or DOMINUS,
according to Justin Martyr, are not ONOMATA but
PROSRHSEIS. He views God as someone to whom one may
speak but of whom one may not speak. God is known as
"thou" never as "he." For Justin, not even the term
QEOS is a name since it has neither a cognoscible nor
an incognoscible meaning: "His [Justin's] use of the
word PROSRHSEIS is much more perceptive than Clement's
account that the mind uses these deific titles as a
form of support or prop (EPEPEIDESQAI TOUTOIS)." God
is strictly anonymous and innominable in Justin's
estimation. Justin thinks that not even God (QEOS) is
his name.



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