Saturday, September 26, 2015

Does The World Ensemble Postulation Harmonize with Ockham's Razor? (WL Craig)

Not that I desire to fully explore this issue now, but I wanted to post the video while time permitted:

1 Thessalonians 5:10ff (Sweet Sleep)

οἱ γὰρ καθεύδοντες νυκτὸς καθεύδουσιν, καὶ οἱ μεθυσκόμενοι νυκτὸς μεθύουσιν· (1 Thessalonians 5:7)

τοῦ ἀποθανόντος περὶ ἡμῶν ἵνα εἴτε γρηγορῶμεν εἴτε καθεύδωμεν ἅμα σὺν αὐτῷ ζήσωμεν. (1 Thessalonians 5:10)

BAGD and Thayer understand Paul to be discussing literal death in 1 Thess. 5:10. Additionally, Ralph Earle writes:

"The verb GRHGOREW means 'to be awake,' as well as 'watch.' In view of the previous part of the verse--'Therefore let us not sleep, as do others'--it seems evident that the best translation here [in v. 6] is 'keep awake' (RSV). The same verb is translated 'wake' in verse 10, where it means 'alive,' not sleeping in death" (Earle, ,372).

So it appears that Earle understands καθεύδω in v. 10 to denote the literal death condition of those in Christ.

David J. Williams also insists: "It is inconceivable that Paul should suggest that whether we are morally alert or moribund will make no difference in the end. KAQEUDO is here synonymous with KOIMAW in 4:13ff (for this sense of KAQEUDW as physcial death, cf. Mark 5:39; also LXX Ps. 87:6; Dan. 12:2; for similar statements concerning Christ's death and its outcome, see Rom. 14:8f; 2 Cor. 5:15, 21; Gal. 1:4; 2:20). Paul ends as he began the section by assuring the Thessalonians that in whatever their physical condition at the Parousia, whether dead or alive, they will not be disadvantaged" (Williams 91).

We also have these comments from Henry Alford:

who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep (in what sense? surely not in an ethical sense, as above: for they who sleep will be overtaken by Him as a thief, and His day will be to them darkness, not light. If not in an ethical sense, it must be in that of living or dying, and the sense as Romans 14:8. (For we cannot adopt the trifling sense given by Whitby, al.,—‘whether He come in the night, and so find us taking our natural rest, or in the day when we are waking.’) Thus understood however, it will be at the sacrifice of perspicuity, seeing that γρηγορεῖν and καθεύδειν have been used ethically throughout the passage. If we wish to preserve the uniformity of metaphor, we may (though I am not satisfied with this) interpret in this sense: that our Lord died for us, that whether we watch (are of the number of the watchful, i.e. already Christians) or sleep (are of the number of the sleeping, i.e. unconverted) we should live, &c. Thus it would = ‘who died that all men might be saved:’ who came, not to call the righteous only, but sinners to life. There is to this interpretation the great objection that it confounds with the λοιποί, the ἡμᾶς who are definitely spoken of as set by God not to wrath but to περιποίησιν σωτηρίας. So that the sense live or die, must, I think, be accepted, and the want of perspicuity with it. The construction of a subjunctive with εἴτε … εἴτε is not classical: an optative is found in such cases, e.g. Xen. Anab. ii. 1. 14, καὶ εἴτε ἄλλο τι θέλοι χρῆσθαι εἴτʼ ἐπʼ Αἴγυπτον στρατεύειν.… See Winer, edn. 6, § 41, p. 263, Moulton’s Engl. transl. 368, note 2.

ἅμα] all together: not to be taken with σύν, see reff.

For another viewpoint, see M. Lautenschlage in ZNW 81 (1-2, 1990), pp. 39-59.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just Musing About Categorical Syllogisms: Nothing Overly Serious

While discussing categorical syllogisms today in medieval class, I made the statement that the major premise "All humans are mortal" technically contains an adjective in the predicate slot (i.e., "mortal") although this adjective is capable of functioning as a noun. But it doesn't seem to be functioning as a noun (substantivally) in this example, and indeed, the dictionaries confirm that when mortal is used this way in the predicate slot, then it's functioning adjectivally. Yet categorical syllogisms or categorical statements are supposed to name categories or classes, not qualities. So why does the world's most famous major premise have an adjective in the predicate position rather than a noun?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pronouncing Greek Words

More on pronouncing Greek words:

"There are different systems in use for deciding which syllable of a word is to be stressed. It is best simply to take care to pronounce each syllable clearly (particularly to be careful to distinguish the long and short vowels), and then let stress take care of itself" (J.W. Wenham, Elements of NT Greek, p. 23).

Donald Mastronarde gives the following examples of accentuation in Attic Greek:
ἀγαθός- "Short U[ltima] accented with acute, in isolation (no mora) follows the contonation on U[ltima]."

A "mora" is the so-called standard "length of a short vowel" such as A, E, I, O, U and final AI and OI in most cases (p. 17-18).

ψυχή-"Long U accented with acute, in isolation (no mora follows the contonation on U)" (Mastronarde, p. 18).

For what it is worth, I was taught that pronouncing accents is not an exact science. We are so far removed from Koine or Attic Greek that there is no way to be sure just how the syllables were stressed (pace Caragounis). Like Wenham, I'm inclined to say that one should place stress on Greek syllables, as best he or she can. Nevertheless, I must say that it is somewhat fun to read Greek poetry metrically.

In my Greek poetry undergrad class, we used to scan meter and that really helped us to stress syllables precisely, but it was difficult to me. The exercises we did were akin to breaking down English words like to-day or diff-i-cult and then marking these signifiers with stress marks before saying these words to a timed beat. This exercise was invaluable for helping me pronounce Greek, Latin or English terms (e.g., the famed Kittel is pronounced Kitt-el/Kit-l, not Kit-tel). In closing, I'll just say that D.A. Carson also has a useful book on accents that can be found at

Monday, September 21, 2015

WL Craig on the Trinity

"The ontological Trinity concerns God as He is in Himself, unrelated to the world, while the economic Trinity concerns God as He stands in relation to creatures. Ontologically, the three persons, being underived and perfectly equal, do not stand in any relations of subordination. But in relation to creatures, for the sake of our salvation the second person of the Trinity submits to the first, taking on a human nature, and the third person acts in the place of the second, continuing the ministry of the Son between his ascension and return. So in the economic Trinity there are relations of subordination among the persons of the Trinity.

What's important to understand is that subordination does not imply inferiority. The Son and the Father are in every respect co-equal, but out of love for us and for the sake of our salvation, the Son submits to the Father. The Trinity thus provides a beautiful model of the family, in which the wife, though co-equal with her husband, willingly submits to him. Feminists who denounce such submission on grounds of inequality have failed to understand that functional submission need not spring from inferiority but can be undertaken among equals for the sake of some overriding aim."


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Thomas Aquinas and the Incarnation--Could the Father or the Holy Spirit Have Become Flesh?

From Summa Theologica (also known as Summa Theologiae) Part Three, Question 3, Article 5, Response:

"I answer that, As was said above (1,2,4), assumption implies two things, viz. the act of the one assuming and the term of the assumption. Now the principle of the act is the Divine power, and the term is a Person. But the Divine power is indifferently and commonly in all the Persons. Moreover, the nature of Personality is common to all the Persons, although the personal properties are different. Now whenever a power regards several things indifferently, it can terminate its action in any of them indifferently, as is plain in rational powers, which regard opposites, and can do either of them. Therefore the Divine power could have united human nature to the Person of the Father or of the Holy Ghost, as It united it to the Person of the Son. And hence we must say that the Father or the Holy Ghost could have assumed flesh even as the Son."

1 Cor 15:54 (Death swallowed up in victory)

"Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,

'Death has been swallowed up in victory.'"(1 Corinthians 15:54 NET Bible)

I cannot help but wonder what went through the minds of early Greeks in Corinth or Athens when Paul proclaimed the message that humans would one day "put on" immortality (ἀθανασία). For recall that the Greek gods were described as "the immortals" (Ἀθάνατοι); however, now mortals would assume immortality as a gift from God.

One question I also have about this text--although I remember the answer to my own question, I think--is what text does Paul quote in this verse. Do you remember, my friends?

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and the First Resurrection

"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ASV).

The Apostle Peter spoke of Paul's letters being "hard to understand" at certain points (2 Peter 3:16). For me, these verses have long caused the same feeling that Peter evidently had.

Paul seems to distinguish "we" (including himself?) from the dead, who shall be raised incorruptibly. Since he says that "we" shall be changed instantaneously ("at the last trump"), would it be proper to call this instant change a resurrection? Rev. 20:4-6 suggests that those surrounding God's throne in heaven (as they too sit upon thrones) are all part of the first resurrection.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Romans 12:1: "Logical" or "Spiritual"?

Paul exhorted the Christians in Rome: Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν τῷ θεῷ εὐάρεστον, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· (Romans 12:1 WH)

The operative phrase here is τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν. λογικὴν may be rendered as "spiritual" or "logical." The signifier λατρείαν references service that is offered to God. Therefore, the apostle was either telling the Roman Christians to render a "spiritual" or "logical service" to the Most High Deity; but in this context, "logical" seems to be the best choice.

Contexually, Paul is evidently contrasting the sacrifices made under the Mosaic Law with the Christian sacrifice given when a worshiper of God offers himself or herself to YHWH (Jehovah) and His beloved Son. While the animals offered by the ancient Israelites were non-rational sacrifices--the sacrifices being employed under the law of Moses could not reason and they had no choice in the matter--when we offer ourselves to God, it is capable of being and should be a rational decision. But not only should the initial offering be made on the basis of RATIO--Paul also implies that Christian worship, doctrine, and belief should be marked by the quality of rationality. How apt is Anselm's slogan, FIDES QUAERENS INTELLECTUM ("faith seeking understanding"). To put matters succinctly, faith and reason might be considered two sides of the same coin; they are possibly not dichotomous functions of the Christian intellect and will. If a belief is irrational, its validity becomes highly questionable, although we certainly must allow for transrational aspects of true worship since God's thoughts are immensely higher than our thoughts.

Friday, September 18, 2015

John 17:3 and John Behr

Dated 5/24/2002

Greetings all,

I have been perusing a book here lately by John Behr entitled The
Way to Nicaea
. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001.

This monograph provides an interesting historical account of how the
Trinity dogma developed through time. Of course, the author is pro-
Trinitarian and concludes what one a priori thinks he will conclude.

But I found this passage in his work to be of interest:

"There are no applications of the term 'God' (hO QEOS) to Jesus
Christ in the Synoptics, while the Gospel according to John, on the
other hand, both categorically affirms and explicitly denies the
applicability of this term, so presenting, again, a heightened,
profound, antithetical tension. The most striking use of the
term 'God' occurs in Christ's own statement, 'this is eternal life,
that they might know you, the only true God (TON ALHQINON QEON), and
Jesus Christ, whom you have sent' (Jn 17:3). Despite associating the
knowledge of Jesus Christ with the knowledge of God in the
identification of eternal life, and how could it be otherwise when
John repeatedly affirms that there is no other way to the Father but
through the Son, nevertheless only the Father merits the title 'God'
(ho QEOS). The description of this only true God as 'Father' is
frequent in John" (page 60).

However, Behr goes on to contend that Jn 1:1c says that the Word is
fully God. But I think he makes this assumption on a faulty premise,
namely, Colwell's rule. He also appeals to Jn 1:18 which is riddled
with many textual issues as we have discussed on this list. But at
any rate, it does not appear that 1:18 is saying that the Son is
fully God in the same way that the Father is hO QEOS: he is the
unique or brought-forth god.

Finally Behr references Jn 20:28. He then writes: "This is the most
categorical and explicit affirmation of Jesus Christ as God, in the
fullest (articular) sense, in the pages of the New Testament. Yet it
must hold inseparably together with the affirmation that it is the
Father of Jesus who alone is the one true God; on this basis, it is
possible to affirm that Jesus is as divine as his Father is, and as
such can be addressed as himself God" (61).

Philippians 1:23ff: "I am torn between the two" (NIV, 2011)

συνέχομαι δὲ ἐκ τῶν δύο, τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν ἔχων εἰς τὸ ἀναλῦσαι καὶ σὺν Χριστῷ εἶναι, πολλῷ γὰρ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον (Philippians 1:23)

"I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" (NIV 2011)

"I am torn between these two things, for I do desire the releasing and the being with Christ, which is, to be sure, far better" (NWT 2013).

συνέχομαι δὲ ἐκ τῶν δύο demonstrates the inner struggle that Paul was having as he wrote these inspired words to the Philippians. Moisés Silva observes:

"The spontaneity of Paul's writing (that bubbling forth out of the heart that Wilamowitz spoke of) sometimes find expression in anacolutha and disjointed clauses" (Silva, "Philippians," page 81).

Of course, this statement does not mean that Paul's writing is technically ungrammatical since anacoluthon is a common rhetorical device in Biblical and Classical literature. The emotional wording and the anacolutha present in 1:21-24 are not lines of evidence against the authenticity of Philippians, but rather they show: "the apostle is not making an objective, detached theological statement" (Silva 81).

On the other hand, as Gerald Hawthorne demonstrates in his commentary, Paul lays out two options in Philippians 1:21 (Ἐμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῇν Χριστὸς καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν κέρδος) "in a perfectly balanced construction obscured by punctuation and by most, if not all, translations" (Hawthorne, "Philippians," 48). Hawthorne then sets out the apostle's desires as follows:

depart and to be with Christ

which is a far better thing [for me]

having the desire to and

remain alive in this body

which is a more urgent need for you

In other words, Paul equally desires both living and dying (or being with Christ); he cannot decide which option to choose. The context thus lends support to the rendering of Philippians 1:22 as "Now if I am to live on in the flesh, this is a fruitage of my work; yet what I would choose, I do not make known" (NWT) or maybe "but if to live in flesh [is my lot], this is for me worth the while: and what I shall choose I cannot tell" (Darby).

Hawthorne concludes: "there is no good reason to translate [γνωρίζω in Phil. 1:22 as] 'I do (not) know' " (47). But to be fair, this view does not lead him to suggest a third possibility in 1:23 besides life or death (i.e., being with Christ).

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dale Tuggy on Latin and Social Trinitarianism

Dale Tuggy and the Trinity Doctrine

Edgar Foster
Jan 6, 2003

There is a young philosophy scholar named Dale Tuggy, who has evidently taken an avid interest in Social and Latin Trinitarianism (ST and LT). This professor claims that there are serious logical difficulties with ST and LT. One problem that Tuggy points to in connection with ST is mentioned below.

In the manner of Richard Cartwright, he lists six propositions which do not seem to logically cohere. These propositions are:

1. God is divine.
2. The Father of Jesus Christ is divine.
3. The Son, Jesus Christ, is divine.
4. The Holy Spirit is divine.
5. The Father is not the Son is not the Holy Spirit is not God.

That is, these four - Father, Son, Holy Spirit, God - are numerically distinct individuals.

Tuggy then contends that (5) can be broken into two parts:

5a. These three are numerically distinct: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

5b. God is numerically distinct from any of these: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

5a-b are then followed by the proposition:

6. Whatever is divine is identical to at least one of these: the Father, the Son, or the
Holy Spirit.

Tuggy is working with a particular definition of
"divine" that he makes clear at the outset of his
study. Tuggy observes that there are two senses of the
adjective "divine," but he is working with the priamry
sense in his study. He writes:

"The word 'divine' has primary and secondary uses. In
the primary sense, the word 'divine' refers to the
property of being a divinity or being a god, some sort
of supernatural personal being. In secondary senses,
'divine' is used to describe things somehow related to
or associated with things which are 'divine' in the
primary sense. Thus the church, the scriptures,
angels, and various people may be called 'divine'.
According to the biblical writers, God is divine in
the primary sense. Thus, if we accept their testimony,
we must accept 1, understanding 'divine' in this way."

When discussing LT, Tuggy reworks 5, however. Since
the claims of LT significantly differ from ST, Tuggy
now introduces what he calls 5I in order to adequately
delineate LT. LT posits:

5I. The Father is identical to God, the Son is
identical to God, and the Holy Spirit is identical to
God, but the Father is not identical to the Son, the
Son is not identical to the Holy Spirit, and the
Holy Spirit is not identical to the Father.

Tuggy then writes:

"All of 1-6 can't be true because 5I is a
contradiction, and so a necessary falsehood. By its
very structure, it is false, because the identity
relation (=) is transitive. For any a, b, and c
whatever, if a=b, and b=c, then a=c. By this rule of
inference, it follows from 5I that the Father is the
Son, the Son is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit
is the Father, all of which are expressly denied in
5I. In other words, 5I is equivalent to this
statement: 'The Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and God are
just one thing, and they are not.'"

What do you think of Tuggy's argument against LT? Does
LT wind up positing that a=b, and b=c, therefore a=c?

1 Timothy 3:16--How It Should Read

The Western Church tradition has never made much of an issue over 1 Tim. 3:16 as a proof-text for the Trinity. In fact, the Catholic NAB reads: "who was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed to the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory."

Footnote from NAB on 1 Tim. 3:16: "Who: the reference is to Christ, who is himself 'the mystery of our devotion.' Some predominantly Western manuscripts read 'which,' harmonizing the gender of the pronoun with that of the Greek word for mystery; many later (eighth/ninth century on), predominantly Byzantine manuscripts read 'God,' possibly for theological reasons.

Here is how the Douay-Rheims and Vulgate handle the passage:

"And evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, appeared unto angels, hath been preached unto the Gentiles, is believed in the world, is taken up in glory" (DR).

"Et manifeste magnum est pietatis sacramentum, quod manifestatum est in carne, justificatum est in spiritu, apparuit angelis, praedicatum est gentibus, creditum est in mundo, assumptum est in gloria" (Vg).

Gordon D. Fee reports: "This reading ["God"] came to predominate in the Greek church (never in the West, since the translation into Latin happened before the variant arose)."

See his NIB Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, Page 95.

NET Bible: "He was revealed in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed on in the world, taken up in glory."

See the long note (24) in NET Bible here:!bible/1+Timothy+3

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Wolfhart Pannenberg Discusses Using Divine Love as Proof of the Trinity

The Trinitarian argument from love is straightforward and familiar. Many who affirm the existence of a triune God claim:

(1) God is love.
(2) In order for love to obtain, there must exist love and a lover as well as an object of love (a beloved).
(3) Therefore, God must be tripersonal with the Father as lover (subject), the Son as beloved (object) and the Holy Spirit as the bond of love obtaining between Father and Son.

However, German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg (who is also a Trinitarian) rejoins:

Any derivation of the plurality of trinitarian persons from the essence of the one God, whether it be viewed as spirit or love, leads into the problems of either modalism on the one hand [i.e., as in the case of Karl Barth] or subordinationism on the other. Neither, then, can be true to the intentions of the trinitarian dogma. The derivation from love is closer to the Christian concept of God and the doctrine of the Trinity than is derivation from the idea of divine self-consciousness, since it leaves more room for a plurality of persons in the unity of the divine life. Yet this plurality cannot be deduced from an idea of love without relapse into a pretrinitarian monotheism, that of the subjectivity of the one God as the one who generates the other persons. In the concept of divine love it can find only their comprehensive unity (Systematic Theology, 1:298).

Pannenberg would rather believe that God as a whole is love (1 John 4:8)--Almighty God does not simply love or have love in his estimation. This approach eradicates any notions (Pannenberg argues) of one divine subject loving a divine object or one divine person being the love that obtains between the Father and the Son. It seems Pannenberg wants to argue that the whole Godhead is love; hence, he appears to take exception to the line of argumentation employed by Augustine of Hippo or Richard of Saint Victor. Moreover, he appears to mention the Father generating the other divine persons in a less than commendatory way.

But the Father is the referent of ὁ θεὸς in 1 John 4:8: let's not forget that point. For example, 1 John 4:9 reads: "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him" (NIV). The "God" (ὁ Θεὸς) mentioned in that verse who sent his Son is the Father, not the Son or the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the whole argument from love approach is ill-fated for yet another reason.

For a sound Trinitarian critique of the eternal generation idea, see John Feinberg's work No One Like Him.

Friday, September 11, 2015

More on Trinitarians and a Single Consciousness in God

The orthodox Trinitarian works that I've read all deny that there are three "I thinks" in God. Granted, the Trinity doctrine may allow room for the "God-man" Jesus Christ to possess a human consciousness and a divine consciousness simultaneously, but if we prescind from the Incarnation, then I think you'll find that Trinitarians generally do not believe there are three consciousnesses in the Godhead. This belief would normally constitute tritheism:

"The philosophical input from Descartes, Kant, and John Locke (1632-1704) led to the emergence of a (but not THE) typically modern notion of person as the subject of self-awareness and freedom--in brief, person as a conscious and autonomous self ('I think and am free, therefore I am a person'). This notion, when applied to the doctrine of the Trinity, readily produces what looks suspiciously like tritheism: three autonomous subjects living and working together in a quasi-social unity" (Gerald O'Collins, The Tripersonal God, 155-156).

"In contemporary parlance, person is spontaneously identified as centre of consciousness and freedom. However, if we bring these pre-reflective categories to theology, we are immediately confronted with a problem. For if we say that God is one being in three persons, and if we understand by person centres of consciousness and freedom, then God becomes three centres of consciousness and there are three I think's in God. But such an understanding is the same as tritheism" (John J. O'Donnell, The Mystery of the Triune God, 103).

So O'Donnell attempts to effect a synthesis between the differing trinitarian notions of person. He observes that trinitarians have either viewed the tres personae as distinct subsistent relations (Karl Rahner), or interpreted the "persons" as separate centers of consciousness. As an alternative to the previous accounts, he suggests viewing the triune God as "one divine consciousness . . . shared by three persons" (110). Analogically, this means that "whereas in human experience, person and community are not identical, in God they are" (110).

While O'Donnell's analogical language does make some distinctions not hitherto made by trinitarians in the past, its shortcomings are that it seems to employ meta-experiential and meta-rational methods to accomplish its task. If, as O'Donnell intimates, community and individuality are the same thing in God--is there truly an analogy of being (analogia entis) between God and man?

Addendum: of course, there is debate regarding whether there is one or there are three consciousnesses in the Godhead, but I often find that the one consciousness view wins out, for the most part.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

John 20:28-Further Reflections

[Written a number of years ago, but somewhat edited now]

Maybe Jesus did not correct Thomas in John 20:28ff because the apostle did not render "worship" to him, but rather just acknowledged him as God's Shaliach (in so many words). While it is possible that John used a nominative Ὁ Κύριός and ὁ Θεός for the vocative forms κύριε and θεέ, Max Zerwick observes that the construction Ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου is "nom. w. art. for voc. sec. 34; if not rather an exclamation" (A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament)

While I have traditionally tended to view Ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου as an example of one NT writer employing nominatives for vocatives, I now think that there is good evidence for possibly understanding this construction as a nominative of exclamation. Firstly, out of the approximately 88 times that Jesus is addressed as "Lord" in Scripture, the vocative form κύριε is utilized. Never is Κύριός used when Jesus is addressed--Jn 20:28 would be the only exception. Moreover, the papyrological evidence also tends to favor the nominative of exclamation idea. Κύριός (as a nominative of address) is not used in the papyri, as far as I know, when one person is addressing another. Even if Thomas called Jesus "my God and Lord" though, the text still does not present a genuine problem for Jehovah's Witnesses in view of how ELOHIM/QEOS is used elsewhere in Scripture and extra-biblical writings.

Quick Post on Luke's Quality of Greek

Scholars are usually agreed that Luke's Greek is quite refined at times. I don't believe it's correct to view it as non-standard Greek.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Bonaventure's View of the Triune God

"If then God is perfect spirit, He has memory, intelligence, and will; and He has both the begotten Word and spirated Love. These are necessarily distinguished, since one is produced from the other--distinguished, not essentially or accidentally, but personally. When therefore the mind considers itself, it rises through itself as through a mirror to the contemplation of the Blessed Trinity--Father, Word, and Love--three persons coeternal, coequal, and consubstantial; so that each one is in each of the others, though one is not the other, but all three are one God" (Journey of the Mind to God 3.5).


What Do Trinitarians Mean By A Divine "Person"? (Quotes)

Here are some statements from Trinitarians that
illustrate the tension obtaining between modalism,
Trinitarianism and tritheism.

"For, in truth, as the Father is not the Son, and the
Son is not the Father, and that Holy Spirit who is
also called the gift of God is neither the Father nor
the Son, certainly they are three. And so it is said
plurally, 'I and my Father are one.' For He has not
said, 'is one,' as the Sabellians say; but, 'are one.'
Yet, when the question is asked, What three? human
language labors altogether under great poverty of
speech. The answer, however, is given, three
'persons,' not that it might be [completely] spoken,
but that it might not be left [wholly] unspoken"
(Augustine of Hippo. On the Trinity 5.9).

"It is generally admitted that the word 'person' is
but an imperfect expresson of the idea. In common
parlance it [the word "person"] denotes a separate
rational and moral individual, possessed of
self-consciousness, and conscious of his identity amid
all changes. Experience teaches that where you have a
person, you also have a distinct individual essence.
Every person is a distinct and separate individual, in
whom human nature is individualized. But in God there
are no three individuals alongside of, and separate
from, one another, but only personal self-distinctions
within the Divine essence, which is not only
generically, but also numerically, one" (Louis
Berkhof. Systematic Theology. London: Banner of Truth,
1971. Page 87).

"But to say nothing more of words, let us now attend
to the thing signified. By person, then, I mean a
subsistence in the Divine essence, - a subsistence
which, while related to the other two, is
distinguished from them by incommunicable properties.
By subsistence we wish something else to be understood
than essence. For if the Word were God simply and had
not some property peculiar to himself, John could not
have said correctly that he had always been with
God.When he adds immediately after, that the Word was
God, he calls us back to the one essence. But because
he could not be with God without dwelling in the
Father, hence arises that subsistence, which, though
connected with the essence by an indissoluble tie,
being incapable of separation, yet has a special mark
by which it is distinguished from it" (John Calvin.
Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.13.6).

"If these [i.e. the three persons] are taken as three
separate centers of consciousness in an
individualistic way, as some modern thought seems to
do, then one would end up with tritheism, a denial of
the Trinity. Equally, one can overemphasize the unity
to the detriment of the persons" (John Thompson.
Modern Trinitarian Perspectives. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1994. Page 6).

"We have employed the term 'person' and must
unavoidably do so, but hopefully we have indicated
that this word should be used of Father, Son, and
Spirit with full awareness of the analogous nature of
this predication, therefore with stress on the radical
distinctiveness of 'person,' not just differentiating
divine from human personhood, but distinguishing the
reality of personhood as it applies to Father, Son,
and Spirit" (Bernard Cooke. Beyond Trinity. Milwaukee:
Marquette University Press, 1969. Page 58).

See also

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Bowing Down to the Lamb in Revelation 5

Granted, all of God's intelligent creatures ascribe blessing, honor, glory and power to the Lamb (the Son of God) in Revelation. But such glory and honor is imputed to him within a context where, as the Lamb qua Lamb, he approaches the throne of God and "takes" a scroll from the hand of the Father, thus proving himself worthy (after conquering this world) to open the seven seals of the scroll since he bought persons for God out of every tribe, tongue and nation (Rev. 5:8-10).

The context is one of kingly investiture: the Lamb is honored and glorified because he is God's appointed King. Just as Jehovah's ancient people performed divinely approved acts of obeisance to God and the Judean King (1 Chronicles 29:20), so all of God's intelligent creatures honor the One upon whom YHWH has bestowed honor, glory, might and power (Heb. 2:7-9). See also Dan. 2:37 (LXX) for a similar ascription of praise to a ruler whose kingship is said to have been derived from God's sovereignty or permissive will, as it were; notice, however, that John never explicitly tells us the Lamb is worshiped. After noting that the Christusbild constructed of the Lamb in Rev. 5:13-14 "almost approaches deity," P.M. Casey provides these enlightening comments:

"This is almost heavenly worship, but it does not have to be perceived as such. Here, as always, the lamb is carefully distinguished from God, and he is not said to be divine. He does have other exalted functions. It is as a lamb that Jesus is victorious over the kings of the earth (17.14), and he shepherds the victorious martyrs (7.17) . . . Yet God is precisely what this figure is not, and this illustrates the social nature of the restraining factor of monotheism" (P.M. Casey, From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God, page 142).

Jn. 17:5 certainly does not teach that the Son shares the Father's glory; rather, Christ subsisted alongside the Father in a state of matchless glory prior to becoming flesh. The Gospel of John, as is the case with the book of Revelation, limits "worship" in the strong and proper sense to God the Father alone:

"The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:10-11).

Some textual variants (as found in the TR) actually read ZWNTI EIS TOUS AIWNAS TWN AIWNWN in Rev. 5:14, thereby pointing to the Father as the rightful object of reverence, devotion, adoration and praise. Even if this is a scribal addition, it is solidly based on texts such as Rev. 4:9-11; 10:6; 15:7. See also Rev. 11:15-17; 15:4; 19:4.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Articles in Irish Biblical Studies

It seems that the journal Irish Biblical Studies is going to make all of its past articles available online, pending the authorization of its writers. See