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.



Monday, March 15, 2010

Revelation 1:18 Translation


There has been some discussion on another email list regarding Revelation 1:18 (etc). I now want to report what I've found regarding the translation of this passage and get some list input. How might one render EGENOMHN NEKROS KAI IDOU
ZWN EIMI in Revelation 1:18?

The Greek Text: καὶ ὁ ζῶν, καὶ ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς καὶ ἰδοὺ ζῶν εἰμι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων καὶ ἔχω τὰς κλεῖς τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου (UBS5).

καὶ ὁ ζῶν, καὶ ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς καὶ ἰδοὺ ζῶν εἰμι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων καὶ ἔχω τὰς κλεῖς τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου.

Some translations of the verse:

"I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!"

"and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore" (ESV)

"and the living one: and I became dead, and behold, I am living to the ages of
ages" (Darby)

"He that liveth, and was dead" (People's NT of 1891)

"and he who is living, and I did become dead, and, lo, I am living to the ages of the ages" (YLT)

"I am he who lives, I have been dead" (Lattimore)

"and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades" (ERV).


Wilfrid J. Harrington (Sacra Pagina Commentary on Revelation) prefers the rendering "I am the first and the last, the living one who was dead." Concerning this treatment of the verse, he writes:

"Charles (1:31) rightly maintains that the text should be rendered as given in our translation" (See Harrington, Revelation, page 51).

Alford writes: "and I was (not HN, but EGENOMHN, ----I became: it was a state I passed into) dead, and behold I am alive for evermore" (see The Greek Testament by Henry Alford, IV:559)

Robertson's Word Pictures: "And I was dead (KAI EGENOMHN NEKRO[S]). 'And I became dead' (aorist middle participle of GINOMAI as in John 1:9 John 1:10, definite reference to the Cross)."

Jamison, Fausset and Brown: "and was--Greek, 'and (yet) I became.'"

Bengel's Gnomen: Ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς, I became dead) It might have been said, ἀπέθανον, I died: but in this passage with singular elegance it is said, I became dead, to denote a difference of times, and of the events in them.

What do you think?



Sunday, March 07, 2010

John Hick and the Incarnation

In his book The Metaphor of God Incarnate (p. 69-71), John Hick quotes Frank Weston (1871-1924), a Trinitarian bishop who served in Africa. Weston asks: "How can the Logos as self-limited be the subject of the passion, the agony, the desolation and death upon the cross, and yet at the same moment be the living and life-giving Son of God?"

Weston's own answer is: "No one has answered the question, no one can answer it."

Why did Weston continue to affirm the Incarnation in light of his own admission? He writes that those who believe in the Incarnation of Christ "wisely refuse to limit the divine power by the measure of what is possible to man. And with them we may well pause; fortifying our faith by the contemplation of the Father's love and omnipotence, in the face of the supreme mystery of redemption."

In other words, Weston appeals to divine mystery rather than try to understand the Incarnation in the light of unaided or natural reason. Admittedly, he does try to set forth analogies that may show the plausibility of the divine mystery; nevertheless, Weston faithfully adhered to his view that the Incarnation is a divine mystery. Hick points out that Weston is not alone in this regard.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Lightfoot and Tertullian's Mention of Pliny in Apology I.2


One quote from this link says: "The first of these 'errors' [in Tertullian's Apology] is the reading Christo et Deo, given by most of the MSS of the Apology, while Pliny (see above) writes Christo quasi Deo.

Prof. Merrill does well to place little weight on this discrepancy, for, as Lightfoot observes (op. cit. i 57, note), there can be no question that the correct reading is ut. Oehler indeed accepted et, and protested against Scaliger's emendation (followed by Havercamp) as 'contra librorum optimorum et paene omnium fidem.' But the only passage which he adduces in support of the reading which he retains is De Spectac. 25 ἐἰς αἰῶνας ἀπ' αἰῶνος alii omnino dicere nisi Deo et Christo', and here the reversed order is surely decisive against a parallelism."