Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Reply to Nincsnevem Concerning the Holy Spirit and Tetragrammaton in the GNT

For some reason, the combox didn't like this response:

Dear Nincsnevem,

You said: "I think I am responding to your suggestion on the merits, however, I do not consider it irrelevant to MENTION that your denomination does indeed rely on medieval Jewish sources in connection with the alleged Tetragrammaton in the NT. By the way, what do you think proves that the autographs of NT books contained the Tetragrammaton or some form of it instead of the Kyrios?"

EF: You work with the assumption that every JW thinks in lockstep or that we're robots. It's insulting to me and I would feel the same way if someone suggested that all Catholics are mindless automata. I stand by my earlier statement that OT/NT lexical and exegetical scholarship is done with the operating assumption that synchrony takes precedence over diachrony. My focus in graduate school was theology and religious studies (church history) and I've tried to read more widely than my specialty since then. In so many words, I'm stating that there is a difference between a person's professional and private life. Be that as it may, I feel no obligation to prove that YHWH appeared in the NT MSS. I think it's a reasonable assumption and it mystifies me why NT writers would not have used it even when quoting OT texts that included the name. But if one follows the methodology of current NT studies, can one really prove that YHWH was in the NT? On the other hand, some scholars have suggested that it might have been. But whether it was or not, I do not accept that Jesus is Almighty God.

EF: "You confuse the purpose of this blog's existence with the reason for the NWT existing and being in its current form."

Nincsnevem: "This wording is telling anyway. I assumed that you are open to discussing your own solutions to the NWT on your blog, given that it is the official translation of your denomination."

EF: I don't mind discussing the NWT and how it's been translated, but normally when I talk to someone, I reply to what they say/write; not what they did not write. I can't assume that just because someone is Catholic, they'll believe Acts 5:3-4 calls the holy spirit, "God." E.g., Karl Rahner. It's the same thing with Jehovah's Witnesses. We want to submit to those taking the lead among us but we also have minds.

Nincsnevem: "Of course, the Jews do not accept the Holy Spirit as a person and God, since they consider plurality within God to be 'Shituf', but at the same time the rabbinical understanding of the Holy Spirit has a certain degree of personification. Nevertheless, this is less relevant from the point of view of our present discussion, after all, according to the mainstream Christian interpretation, the Trinity of God (and thus also the personhood of the Holy Spirit) was not revealed in the Old Testament, at best somewhat foreshadowed. At the same time, even in the OT, the Spirit is distinguished from the strength/power/force of God (koach, chayil), see Micah 3:8, Zechariah 4:6."

EF: Yep, I know the Bible distinguishes between God's spirit and his power. For some thoughts on Zechariah 4:6, please see

I distinguish between the power and spirit of God here too:

Carol and Eric Meyers note the use of hendiadys in Zechariah 4:6 like George Klein does: they point out that hayil "often means army or military force" (page 244). So the prophetic utterance strongly decries the use of human force or ingenuity; total dependence must be on the spirit of Jehovah: "God's 'spirit' is his involvement in and control over human events" (Meyers, ibid.).

Nincsnevem: "For now, let's stick with what term you think the NT should use for the Holy Spirit in order for it to be a person. Since there is no abstract expression for this in the NT, it is not stated that either the Father or the Son should be a person. Perhaps the expression 'onoma' (= "name") is closest to the concept of person, which is used in the NT in a similar sense as the OT often uses nephesh."

EF: You're asking me to comment on a hypothetical, which I'm not wont to do, but I suggested theos earlier. Besides that word, other factors could be used to determine personhood like the activities or characteristics of X. I just think it's clear that the use of onoma alone does not prove the spirit is a person even if I concede that onoma at times stands for the person.

Nincsnevem: "Thus before the modern era, there have been no Christian movement at all that would have denied that the Holy Spirit was a person, there is no trace of this in church history. Groups with Unitarian theology such as Polish Socinians, the 18th-19th Century Unitarian Church, and Christadelphians conceive of the Holy Spirit not as a person but an aspect of God's power."

See the first paragraph at

I'm gonna bid you goodnight, sir.


Anonymous said...

Not trying to be disrespectful here

Just a few observations: notice we have to flip modern scholarship on its head - in order to reach the conclusions being presented? or leave off important information? or flat out ignore modern scholarship..

sorry Edgar I think this guy is just one massive troll.. & for other reasons you may have also observed (see: my last exchange in:

Anonymous said...

Oh and ignoring the Catholic encyclopaedia - which admits the trinity doesn't exist in the OT/NT
(pretty sure it belongs to catholics)

Roman said...

"You work with the assumption that every JW thinks in lockstep or that we're robots. It's insulting to me and I would feel the same way if someone suggested that all Catholics are mindless automata"

I get really irritated by this method of argumentation by anti-JW apologists, like if I'm discussing a theological point, or something like that they will pick up some paragraph watchtower article from the 60s, out of context (and the context is almost never theological construction and arguments, or theological method), and then expect me to build my argument around that.

If people want to know what I, or anyone else, believes, ask them, if they point you to a source then go look at that source, but other that debate what they actually say. Me and Foster disagree on some subjects (those disagreements have been voiced here), we're both JWs, and both faithful (of course there are somethings that are more fundamental to the faith than others); so if you want to know what we believe, ask us as individuals.

Protestant apologists do this all the time with Catholics, citing Papal bulls here and there, out of context, it's silly, and not worthy of the subject.

Nincsnevem said...

Dear Mr. Foster,

I didn't mean to offend you at all, I didn't think every single JW was a "robot" or "automaton". I hereby apologize if I have inadvertently offended you.

Regardless, it is a fact that WTS theology does not elaborate precisely what doctrines are "certain" and what are open to debate, and which the organization claims is merely the current understanding that will later may change, and can be the subject of an announcement of a "new light".

The JWs I have debated with so far have emphasized to me that if a JW wants to be in an approved state ("good standing"), it is not advisable to debate even minor interpretations of FDS, e.g. who is the "king of the north" and the "king of the south" right now, etc. It goes without saying, of course, that it is common knowledge among JWs that these can and will certainly change, but until then it is not very advisable to voice disagreement, but to "wait on Jehovah".

Of course, this doesn't make JWs "robots", I didn't even claim that, I'm aware that, like in every community, there are more dogmatic and more open-minded people too.

Nincsnevem said...

"I feel no obligation to prove that YHWH appeared in the NT MSS."

I didn't even claim that it was your "obligation", I just asked your private OPINION on this matter as a side question.

"I think it's a reasonable assumption"

This is still only an assumption, and according to George Howard, his hypothesis does not justify the preparation of such a translation including "Jehovah" in the NT, especially not to prove doctrines. Howard wrote:

"I argued that it is reasonable to * assume * that the NT writers, when quoting from the Septuagint, retained the Tetragrammaton in the quotations. This does not support the JW's insertion of "Jehovah" in every place they want. To do this is to remove the NT from its original "theological climate." My opinion of the New World Translation (based on limited exposure) is that it is odd. I suspect that it is a Translation designed to support JW theology. Finally, my theory about the Tetragrammaton is just that, a theory. Some of my colleagues disagree with me (for example Albert Pietersma). Theories like mine are important to be set forth so that others can investigate their probability and implications. Until they are proven (and mine has not been proven) they should not be used as a surety for belief."

"and it mystifies me why NT writers would not have used it even when quoting OT texts that included the name."

There are many reasons for this, for example, that neither Jesus nor the apostles objected to the Jewish practice concerning it, and the divine name YHWH has no role in the theological environment of the New Testament.

By the way, the name "Jehovah" appears 237 times in the "Christian Greek Scriptures" of the NWT, of which 82 are indeed quotes from the OT that contain YHWH, but the other 155 cases were chosen completely arbitrarily.

"But if one follows the methodology of current NT studies, can one really prove that YHWH was in the NT?"

I think this could be proven in two ways:
1. Direct evidence: an unearthed such manuscript. I note: this would not prove that this was the original apostolic version either, it could also be the own version of a Judaizing heterodox trend.
2. Indirect evidence: the testimony of an ancient author who reports having seen such a manuscript. For example, Origen and Jerome reported that there was also a version of the LXX containing the Tetragrammaton, so when such manuscripts were found, this discovery was not new, since it was known information indirectly.

"On the other hand, some scholars have suggested that it might have been."

Exactly: "some", and these received quite sharp criticism, and even - as the quote above shows - it was emphasized that this is only a hypothesis.

"But whether it was or not, I do not accept that Jesus is Almighty God."

Yet one of the pivotal points of the JW argument is that one of the reasons for the "formation" of the Trinity was the alleged "removal" of YHWH by "apostate" copyists, without which the Father and the Son would sort of "slide into one another". This is a tacit admission that the version of the text we have does not distinguish the Father and the Son as sharply as JW theology ("Jehovah AND Jesus").

By the way, is there someone who is "LORD" and "GOD", but not almighty? How many "GODS" are there actually? What about John 3:35, 5:19, and Hebrews 1:3?

According to Revelation 1:8, it's obviously Jsus who the Coming One (ho erhkomenos), who was already spoken of in 1:7 ("coming in the clouds"). According to this, Jesus is Almighty. According to the version of the text also included in the NA text, he is also "ho theos."

Anonymous said...

Roman - the fact you and Edgar can actually debate linguistics rather than theology is a miracle and use modern scholarship to prove your points
you both dont use random BS which is not apporved and/or confirmed to be false

Nincsnevem said...

"other factors could be used to determine personhood like the activities or characteristics of X."

Good point. Since the Holy Spirit is eternal (Heb 9:14), it could not truly be a creature, so the verification of its personhood also results in the “closure” of the Trinity, as perhaps no one ever believed in the Binitarianism of the Father-Holy Spirit. We must mention here those words that specifically attribute personality to the Holy Spirit. Although the Holy Spirit manifests as a force (Acts 1:8), it is not merely a force but is intelligent (Acts 15:28; Rom 8:27; 1 Cor 2:10), feels (Rom 15:30; Eph 4:30), has a will of its own (1 Cor 12:11); acts (Acts 16:7,10), helps (Acts 9:31), speaks (Acts 8:29; 13:2; Rom 8:26; Rev 2:7; 22:17), bears witness (Mk 13:11; Jn 15:26; Rom 8:16; 1 Jn 5:6-9), intercedes (Rom 8:26), inspires (2 Pet 1:21), teaches and reminds (Jn 14:26), and is even a knowable person (Jn 14:17), “whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him” - an absurd statement about a force. In place of Jesus, He is the other Advocate (Jn 14:16), another person instead of a person, similar, and only a person can be sent (Jn 16:7). Jesus explicitly uses the “ekeinos” masculine, personal pronoun. The church also baptizes in His name, therefore with the authorization received from Him (Mt 28:19). In this word, the three persons are most closely connected to each other, which includes both the trinity and unity. The “Spirit” is not merely the personification of God, as the Bible often mentions it together with the other two divine persons, but as a separate person (Mt 28:19; Lk 3:22; 2 Cor 13:13), or presents it in communication with one of the persons (Jn 16:13-14; Rom 8:26-27, Rev 22:17). To blaspheme the Holy Spirit is blasphemy against God (Mt 12:31-37), His guidance is God's guidance (Acts 16:6-10), lying to Him is tantamount to lying to God (Acts 5:3-4.9). He is simultaneously the Spirit of the Father (Mt 10:20), and the Spirit of the Son (Gal 4:6), and these two names are equivalent, interchangeable. While the Son was born, He proceeds from the Father (Jn 15:26). He has the power to recreate people (Jn 3:5-6), and this power is His own, not Himself (Rom 15:13.19). Through the Spirit, God Himself dwells in us (1 Jn 4:12.15-16), and only God has a temple, not a force (1 Cor 6:19). Therefore, the Spirit of God is definitely more than simply "God's impersonal, active force". Otherwise, we would have to assume complete irresponsibility from the sacred writers, the lack of inspiration due to a whole host of misleading quotes. Based on all this, we worship the Holy Spirit together with the Father and the Son (cf. Jn 16:14).

"I just think it's clear that the use of onoma alone does not prove the spirit is a person even if I concede that onoma at times stands for the person."

In any case, it is interesting that an "impersonal force" has a separate "name", especially since the Jews still call God "the Name" (ha Shem) too. There is no word for "person" in biblical Hebrew, so it uses the word "name": e.g. "To call on the name of God" = to call on God himself; "Exalting the name of God" = extolling God himself for who He is.

Nincsnevem said...

"Oh and ignoring the Catholic encyclopaedia - which admits the trinity doesn't exist in the OT/NT"

No such thing has been admitted, which one are you talking about in the first place? The Catholic Encyclopedia, published between 1907-1912, or the New Catholic Encyclopedia, published in 1965? I recommend reading this, it analyzes how WTS selectively quotes from these:

Anonymous said...

I do apologise Edgar - I think I use a term in one of my previous comments that may be considered "inappropriate" without thinking - My sincerest apologies

Edgar Foster said...

Dear Anonymous, I appreciate the apology. I understand what you were saying and I thank you for offering defenses of the true God and for pointing me to some great sources. Take care.

Edgar Foster said...

Nincsnevem, you said a lot here, but there is one thing I cannot let pass. Who is the speaker in Revelation 1:8? You claim it is Jesus Christ but is that really the case?

Here is the Sacra Pagina Revelation commentary on Revelation 1:8 (see page 47):

B. The first of only two passages in Revelation (see 21:5-8) in which God is explicitly identified as speaker.
I am (egD eimi): Of four "I am" sayings, God is speaker in two (1:8; 21:6), and Jesus in two (1:17; 22:13). The close assimilation of God and Lamb (Christ) throughout Revelation is John's way of presenting God as the God who has revealed himself in Christ.

the Alpha and the Omega: The Greek rendering of a corresponding Hebrew
expression, aleph and tau (the first and last letters of the alphabet in each language). God is the first and the last (Isa 44:6; 48:12), the beginning and the end (Rev 21:6).

Ihe Almighty: Panlokm/Dr, a regular l)()( rendering of "Yahweh sebaoth," "lord of hosts," is John's favorite title for God (see 4:B; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22). God is the all-ruler, the sovereign Lord-a reminder to Christians that their God and his Christ (though the title "the Almighty" is never, in Revelation, formally attributed to Christ) hold supreme power, even over the arrogant "rulers of the earth."

Edgar Foster said...

Compare Revelation 1:4; 4:9-11.

Edgar Foster said...

From F.J.A. Hort, The Apocalypse of St John I-III, page 13:

8. This verse must stand alone. The speaker cannot be our Lord, when
we consider i. 4, which makes ho wn &c. distinctive of the Father; and all
Scriptural analogy is against the attribution of Kurios ho Theos with or without pantokrator to Christ. The verse is thus the utterance of the great fundamental voice of the Supreme God, preceding all separate revelations concerning or through His Son.

Edgar Foster said...

Hebrews 9:14 proves the holy spirit is eternal? Do the research on that one because it can be understood another way for sure. I have a good doctoral dissertation about that verse.

Edgar Foster said...

Luke T. Johnson, Hebrews, page 236:

Hebrews 9:14:

A contrast to the temporal is found as well in the “eternal” used in connection with the spirit (pneuma) through whom Christ offers himself. What the author means by this expression is not at all clear. Some scribes alter it to read “Holy Spirit,” and it is possible that Hebrews meant this (see 2:4; 3:7; 6:4; 9:8; 10:15). But it is perhaps more likely that the author intends to describe the mode of Christ’s offering. He has stated that God’s messengers are spirits (1:7, 14),
and will declare in 12:9 that God is the “father of spirits.” Most strikingly, he speaks in 12:23 of the “spirits of those who have been perfected.” If spirit is the realm of God’s existence, then Christ’s entry into that presence is appropriately described as “through the eternal spirit.”

Edgar Foster said...

Nincsnevem, I'm no0t going to reply to you point for point, but these arguments will not hold water my friend. The sending of the holy spirit/Holy Spirit is supposed to prove that the spirit is a person? Really? What about when someone sends a letter or an email today? Neither a letter or an email are persons, yet they're sent. In ancient times, one could also "send word" about a matter. Sending does not prove that the entity sent is a person or personal. The Jews got along just fine believing in the holy spirit without thinking the spirit was a person of God.

Ironically, you also call the spirit "it" in your comments above.

Nincsnevem said...

Hebrews 9:14 - here we are obviously not talking about "spirits", but about the Spirit (in singular), by whom etc...

In the Catholic theology, the sending of the Holy Spirit is called the so-called "Trinitarian missions." In the Scriptures, we read things like, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17). "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son..." (Galatians 4:4). "And the Advocate, whom the Father will send in my name" (John 14:26). "... unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:7). "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts" (Galatians 4:6).

The Scripture does not speak of the sending of the Father, only of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father "comes" to the justified: "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them" (John 14:23). From this, we infer that the missions are essentially nothing other than the outward continuation of the origins of the persons towards the world. Thomas Aquinas gives this definition: The Trinitarian mission is the eternal origin of the Trinitarian person, to which a new mode of presence or operation is added.

But to return to original issue: we search in vain for the expressions "person" and "nature (essence, substance)" in the Bible, and the first councils do not speak of the personality of God or the three divine persons. The term "person" was started to be used in theology during the Christological and Trinitarian debates, and at the beginning of Trinitarian theology, it just wanted to express that modalism is wrong, that is, it's not the same individual who we encounter as sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son, and other times the Holy Spirit, but each one is a different individual. But in the Christological debates, the Council of Ephesus and even more so the Council of Chalcedon confessed the opposite about Jesus: in Jesus, God and man are not two different individuals but one individual.

Nincsnevem said...

Of course, it should be also noted what "person" means in the case of the Trinity? Since we are not tritheists, it means a person in a relative sense here, not as I am a different person from you. Modern theology also deals with this problem of how today's common concept of "person" can be applied in Trinitarian theology, and two groups of this can be distinguished.

a) Some want to eliminate the word "person" entirely from trinitology and try to replace it with other expressions. The Protestant Karl Barth speaks of three modes of being (Seinsweise) instead of three persons, while the Catholic Karl Rahner speaks of three modes of subsistence (Subsistenzweise). In English, it's difficult to distinguish the two expressions, and without further explanation, neither says more than that the one divine nature exists differently in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They don't speak about - and this is a deficiency in them - that this distinction is only relative (that is, only a relation), and also about what distinguishes them is actually identical with their essence and exists by its power. However, the term mode of subsistence conveys the idea that in addition to their threefold nature, each of them also possesses a non-interchangeable uniqueness.

b) Most modern theologians believe that if we have to add explanations to the possible technical terms anyway, then let's stick with the term "person" used by tradition and the Magisterium, but let's precisely point out what is common and what is different between the concept of person in the consciousness of today's average person and in today's scientific analyses, and the Trinitarian concept of person. This task - it seems - can be best met if we take into account that in the latest efforts, the fact of so-called interpersonal communication plays an increasingly important role in defining a person.

Nincsnevem said...

It is hard to imagine that it is not the Son speaking in Revelation 1:8, when the previous verse is obviously talking about the coming of Jesus, and then the speaker calls himself "who is to come" in the first person singular.

Edgar Foster said...

Well, Nincsnevem, I quoted from a Catholic commentary and FJA Hort, who both say Jesus is not the one speaking in Revelation 1:8 and I could quote more if I so desired. But think about the reasons why Jesus is likely not the speaker in 1:8:

1) Revelation 1:4-5; 4:8-11 identifies God (the one distinct from the Lamb) as the one who is, who was, and who is coming.

2) Jesus is never called pantokrator by John.

3) One cannot necessarily conclude that because Jesus is the referent in 1:7 that he's the speaker in 1:8. That is not how John writes in Revelation.

Expositor's GT: Only here and in Revelation 21:5 f. is God introduced as the speaker, in the Apocalypse. The advent of the Christ, which marks the end of the age, is brought about by God, who overrules (παντοκράτωρ always of God in Apocalypse, otherwise the first part of the title might have suggested Christ) even the anomalies and contradictions of history for this providential climax.

Edgar Foster said...

Hebrews 9:14 is filled with ambiguities, even textual ones. Interestingly, the Catholic NABRE states:

Through the eternal spirit: this expression does not refer either to the holy Spirit or to the divine nature of Jesus but to the life of the risen Christ, “a life that cannot be destroyed” (Hb 7:16).

Edgar Foster said...

Dear Nincsnevem, does talk about eternal "missions" in the triune Godhead really prove that the spirit is God? Does it prove the holy spirit is a divine person?

God sends forth his word in the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah 55:10-11). Yet that sent forth utterance is not a person. Sending does not = the thing sent is a person.

Nincsnevem said...

I prefer to consider to the opinion of the Church Fathers than to modernist theologians. By the way, weren't you the one who started the post saying that there is no need to put Catholics down with what some Catholic theologian speculated? As I see the consensus of the Church Fathers is that in Revelation 1:8 it is the Son who speaks:

"Thus, then, the milk which is perfect is perfect nourishment, and brings to that consummation which cannot cease. Wherefore also the same milk and honey were promised in the rest. Rightly, therefore, the Lord again promises milk to the righteous, that the Word may be clearly shown to be both, "the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end;" the Word being figuratively represented as milk." (Clement of Alexandria)

"As to the point maintained by them, that the name of Christ belongs also to the Father, they shall hear (what I have to say) in the proper place. Meanwhile, let this be my immediate answer to the argument which they adduce from the Revelation of John: “I am the Lord which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty;” from all other passages which in their opinion make the designation of Almighty God unsuitable to the Son. As if, indeed, He which is to come were not almighty; whereas even the Son of the Almighty is as much almighty as the Son of God is God." (Tertullian)

"And that you may understand that the omnipotence of Father and Son is one and the same, as God and the Lord are one and the same with the Father, listen to the manner in which John speaks in the Apocalypse: "Thus saith the Lord God, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” For who else was "He who is to come" than Christ?" (Origen)

[Here I would note that Origen is often mentioned by the Arians, but as it turns out, he did not mean exactly what they want to put in his mouth, based on some cherry-picked quotes.]

"Let us look next at the apostle's word: "Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever." This word declares the mystery of the truth rightly and clearly. He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father." He who is over all, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man, He is (yet) God for ever. For to this effect John also has said, "Which is, and which was, and which is to come , the Almighty.” And well has he named Christ the Almighty." (Hippolytus)


Nincsnevem said...

"Revelation 1:4-5; 4:8-11 identifies God (the one distinct from the Lamb)"

By definition, the Lamb is the MAN Jesus who was given as a sacrifice, in this sense the Lamb is not really God.

"as the one who is, who was, and who is coming."

This does not preclude the Son speaking in 1:8.

"Jesus is never called pantocrator by John."

This is circular reasoning (circulus vitiosus): since he does not call it that elsewhere, he cannot call it that here either.

"One cannot necessarily conclude that because Jesus is the referent in 1:7 that he's the speaker in 1:8."

Not "necessarily", but the natural reading suggests it.

"Expositor's GT: Only here and in Revelation 21:5 f. is God *introduced* as the speaker, in the Apocalypse."

In 21:5 it indeed introduces the speaker ("the One sitting on the throne"), but the speaker is NOT "introduced" at all between verses 7 and 8.

"does talk about eternal "missions" in the triune Godhead really prove that the spirit is God? Does it prove the holy spirit is a divine person?"

What do you think it could prove?

Nincsnevem said...

So I think that if the Book of Revelation does not specifically introduces that the Father (or the angel, etc.) is speaking, then the Son is speaking in the first person as a general rule, in the first chapter this is especially clear: "I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!" (v18).

Edgar Foster said...

This is not about modernist theologians versus church fathers but about exegesis, textual criticism, and philology. You can stick with those fathers but they did not have the advantage of almost two millenia of biblical research. Furthermore, I checked David Aune's voluminous Revelation commentary and he carefully documents the fact that God is called the one who is, who was, and who is coming as distinct from Christ and Revelation calls God, not Christ, the Almighty. So you have to deal with those facts.

Certain discoveries impinging on biblical studies weren't even made until the 20th century, so how could the church fathers have all of the answers? Maybe you should research how Tertullian interpreted Psalm 8:5 and Proverbs 8:22ff.

St. Bede on Rev. 1:8: Who is. He had said this same thing of the Father, for God the Father came, as He also is to come, in the Son.

As for the Fathers, you might also recall Abelard's Sic et Non.

I checked Andrew of Caesarea and he even noticed a problem with applying the "who is" language to Christ.

Edgar Foster said...

Nincsnevem, in your opinion, the Lamb is the man Christ Jesus. That is not what Revelation states. The point is that the "one who is" (etc.) is distinct from the Son/Jesus Christ, call him what you like.

I never said that the who who is language precludes the Son from speaking, but it makes it very unlikely. Please read Revelation 1:4-5 as your brethren from Sacra Pagina apparently have done. As I've already mentioned, Andrew of Caesarea found 1:4-5 problematic too.

It's not circular reasoning at all but you putting words in somebody else's mouth. I never ever said that 1:8 could not apply to Christ or that he could not be called Almighty. But show me another verse in Revelation that would support your view. It's only circular in your world.

The "natural reading" does not suggest that Christ is the speaker: that is patently false and makes all these learned Revelation scholars look like they don't know what a "natural reading" is. Anybody who knows how John writes would not conclude the "natural reading" leads to your preferred interpretation.

Regarding eternal missions, I don't think such theologia proves much at all.

Nincsnevem said...

The Church Father may not have had "modern exegesis, textual criticism, and philology" available (which I do not fall for), but these authors were very close to writing the books of the NT, they existed in their cultural context, and reported on the faith that they the Christians confessed then, and if the sources of the tradition clearly present a teaching as a revelation, then the truth of faith; that is, the unanimous testimony of the sources of tradition is a source of faith.

That's why the 'sola Scriptura' (especially 'nuda Scriptura') approach is wrong, because it ignores the earliest extra-biblical sources that the early Christians interpreted the Scriptures, obviously because the apostles understood them that way and taught them that way and their descendants the Christians, so the Church Fathers inherited the apostolic faith.

In the book of Revelation, if there is no specific reference to the Father (or the angel, or John) speaking, then Jesus is the one speaking in first person, after all, the entire book of Revelation begins as "the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1:1).

In Revelation 22:12-13 it is clearly Jesus who speaks of his coming, who is "the first and the last, the beginning and the end", which means the same thing as "alpha and omega" (the first and last letter of the Greek alphabet). These are the same titles applied to God.

"in your opinion, the Lamb is the man Christ Jesus. That is not what Revelation states."

Well, Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 1:36, Acts 8:32, 1 Peter 1:19), obviously not "in the form of God", but as a man, since the lamb represents his sacrifice.

"I never ever said that 1:8 could not apply to Christ or that he could not be called Almighty. But show me another verse in Revelation that would support your view."

Your argument was that since ELSEWHERE the Son is not called a 'pantokrator', THEREFORE He cannot be here either. I called this circular reasoning. However, it is quite possible that here is the one place where it is called that. By the way, theologically, it is not even necessary for it to be stated separately, after all, there is no such thing as someone being LORD and GOD, but not being almighty (omnipotent), this follows from the concept of the fullness of the Godhead/Deity.

"Regarding eternal missions, I don't think such theology proves much at all."

Do not "sandbox" the individual arguments, it may be possible to say that this is not decisive evidence for the arguments presented separately (I note: it could be "proved" in the same way that the Father or the Son is not a person), but all these TOGETHER are not sufficient either?

Nincsnevem said...

"they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4)
"Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18)
"that He [Christ] might fill all things." (Eph. 4:10)
"that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:19)

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you" (1 Cor 6:19)
"Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you" (2 Cor 13:5)

"gave the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge" (2 Cor 1:22)
"so that Christ may dwell in your hearts" (Eph 3:17)

"you are a temple of God...the Spirit of God dwells in you" (1 Cor 3:16)
"we are the temple of the Father, I will dwell in them" (2 Cor 6:16)

Edgar Foster said...

I did not say Christ could not be called pantokrator. My comments were framed in terms of what's probable. I did not claim that your view is impossible but if putting words in the mouths of others makes you happy.

Nincsnevem said...

I did some research on Tertullian's interpretation of Proverbs 8:22. It seems that the Vetus Latina he used was a translation of the LXX in this respect (ἔκτισεν), and he did not know that, based on the original Hebrew text (qanani), the correct translation would not be "condidit", but "obtinuit" or "possedit", yet his Christology is fundamentally orthodox:

"“The Lord formed (condidit) me as the beginning of His ways;” then afterward begotten, to carry all into effect—“When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him.” Thus does He make Him ***equal*** (equal) to Him: for by proceeding from Himself He became His first-begotten Son, because begotten before all things; and His only-begotten also, because alone begotten of God, in a way peculiar to Himself, from the womb of His own heart—even as the Father Himself testifies: “My heart,” says He, “hath emitted my most excellent Word.”The Father took pleasure evermore in Him, who equally rejoiced with a reciprocal gladness in the Father’s presence: “Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee;” even before the morning star did I beget Thee. The Son likewise acknowledges the Father, speaking in His own person, under the name of Wisdom: “The Lord formed (condidit) Me as the beginning of His ways, with a view to His own works; before all the hills did He beget Me.” For if indeed Wisdom in this passage ***seems*** (videtur) to say that She was created (conditam) by the Lord with a view to His works, and to accomplish His ways, yet proof is given in another Scripture that “all things were made by the Word, and without Him was there nothing made;” as, again, in another place (it is said), “By His word were the heavens established, and all the powers thereof by His Spirit”—that is to say, by the Spirit (or Divine Nature) which was in the Word: thus is it evident that it is one and the same power which is in one place described under the name of Wisdom, and in another passage under the appellation of the Word, which was initiated for the works of God which “strengthened the heavens;” “by which all things were made,” “and without which nothing was made.”"

Conditus. [See Theophilus To Autolycus, cap. x. note 1, p. 98, Vol. II. of this series. Also Ibid. p. 103, note 5. On the whole subject, Bp. Bull, Defensio Fid. Nicænæ. Vol. V. pp. 585–592.]

“In his representation of the distinction (of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity), Tertullian sometimes uses expressions which in aftertimes, when controversy had introduced greater precision of language, were studiously avoided by the orthodox. Thus he calls the Father the whole substance, the Son a derivation from or portion of the whole.” (Bp. Kaye, On Tertullian, p. 505). After Arius, the language of theology received greater precision; but as it is, there is no doubt of the orthodoxy of Tertullian’s doctrine, since he so firmly and ably teaches the Son’s consubstantiality with the Father—equal to Him and inseparable from him. [In other words, Tertullian could not employ a technical phraseology afterwards adopted to give precision to the same orthodox ideas.]

Edgar Foster said...

A structural study of Revelation. Also takes the view that 1:8 applies to the Father.

Edgar Foster said...

As for Tertullian, your source leaves out a lot. I will address that issue later.

Nincsnevem said...

Some church fathers, such as Tertullian, had subordinationist-sounding statements, but when we understand this about salvation economy, we get a completely orthodox view. Tertullian was clearly not an Arian, he did not confess the Son as a creature or an archangel, but as God of one essence with the Father:

"Never did any angel descend for the purpose of being crucified, of tasting death, and of rising again from the dead." (The Flesh of Christ, ch 6)

"Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are, one essence, not one Person, as it is said, 'I and my Father are One' [John 10:30], in respect of unity of Being not singularity of number" (Against Praxeas, 25)

"As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Against Praxeas, by Tertullian)

"We have been taught that He proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun-there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. The material matrix remains entire and unimpaired, though you derive from it any number of shoots possessed of its qualities; so, too, that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence-in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth." (Tertullian, The Apology, chapter 21)

Edgar Foster said...

Tertullian didn't just sound like a Christological subordinationist: he was one although I would not call him an Arian.

See Thomas Weinandy's criticisms here:

Sydney H. Mellone writes: "He [Tertullian] has not avoided a subordination not only in the order of revelation to mankind but in essential being. Even if we set aside his purely metaphorical illustrations, we find it clearly stated that the Father is the originating principle of the Son and the Spirit, and therefore holds in relation to them a certain superiority: 'The Father is wholly essential being (SUBSTANTIA): the Son is derived from the Whole as part thereof (PORTIO TOTIUS): the Father is greater than the Son, as One who begets, who sends, who acts, is greater than the One is begotten, who is sent, through whom He acts," (Leaders of Early Christian Thought, London: The Lindsey Press, 1954, Page 178).

Mellone (M.A., D.Sc.) was external examiner in Philosophy at the University of London.

Church historian Gerald Bray writes:

"In his counterblast to Praxeas, Tertullian came as
near as he could to trinitarianism, without abandoning
his fundamentally monotheistic and, to our minds,
unitarian position. The Father always remained God in
a way which did not apply to the other two persons,
however much he might share his power and authority
with them."

See Bray's _The Doctrine of God_, pages 130-131_ for the full

Adversus Marcion 2.27: Now we believe that Christ did ever act in the name of God the Father; that He actually from the beginning held intercourse with (men); actually communed with patriarchs and prophets; was the Son of the Creator; was His Word; whom God made His Son by emitting Him from His own self, and thenceforth set Him over every dispensation and (administration of) His will, making Him a little lower than the angels, as is written in David. In which lowering of His condition He received from the Father a dispensation in those very respects which you blame as human; from the very beginning learning, even then, (that state of a) man which He was destined in the end to become. It is He who descends, He who interrogates, He who demands, He who swears. With regard, however, to the Father, the very gospel which is common to us will testify that He was never visible, according to the word of Christ: No man knows the Father, save the Son. Matthew 11:27 For even in the Old Testament He had declared, No man shall see me, and live. Exodus 33:20 He means that the Father is invisible, in whose authority and in whose name was He God who appeared as the Son of God. But with us Christ is received in the person of Christ, because even in this manner is He our God.

Edgar Foster said...

See also

Nincsnevem said...

First it should be noted that the most famous of the early Western church fathers is Tertullian. He almost can be regarded as the "author" of the Latin ecclesiastical language, eloquent and educated, but an extremely passionate man whose choleric temperament made him a Montanist. In the West, for a long time, he almost achieved the same influence as Origen in the East. As a Montanist, he became unfaithful to his Catholic stance, so he was not canonized.

Regarding his Christology, based on the studies I'v mentioned above, Tertullian is fundamentally orthodox, although he had some less fortunate formulations. At the same time, he strongly emphasized the divinity of the Holy Spirit too (Tertul. Prax 2 4 8 25; Praescript. 13.)

Against Praxeas, Tertullian teaches: "We believe in one God... Therefore, let us retain the mystery of the 'economy', which organizes the unity into a trinity, showing the three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; three not by state but by degree, not by substance but by form, not by power but by appearance (tres autem non statu, sed gradu; nec substantia, sed forma; non potestate, sed specie)". [Tertul. Prax. 2 cf. 8 13; oeconomia (οἰκονομία) in Tertullian: the relationship of the persons of the Trinity to each other; in Paul: God's salvific decrees; generally in the Fathers: soteriology.] Here Tertullian makes a noteworthy attempt to establish a Trinitarian terminology.

"God came to live among men so that man may learn to act godly. God interacted with man as an equal, so that man may then come into contact with God as an equal. God humbled Himself greatly so that man might become great. If you are ashamed of this God, I don't know how you can sincerely believe in the crucified God!" (Tertul. Marc. II 27; cf. Apol. 21.)

He almost anticipates the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon: "We see plainly the twofold state, which is not confounded, but conjoined in One Person — Jesus, God and Man." (Tertul. Prax 27)

What you're quoting also proves that he did not consider the Father greater in terms of deity, in His fatherhood. We could also say, as Hilary of Poitiers does, that even according to the divine nature, the Father can be called greater than the Son, yet the Son is not less than the Father but equal to Him. For the Father is not greater than the Son in power, eternity, and greatness, but in the dignity of a giver or source, of origin. For the Father receives nothing from another, but the Son receives His nature from the Father by eternal generation. Therefore, the Father is greater because He gives; but the Son is not less but equal because He receives everything that is the Father's. For the one to whom existence (esse) is given is not lower than the giver.

Nincsnevem said...

Your source claims: "The Father always remained God in a way which did not apply to the other two persons"

On the Contrary:

"one cannot believe in One Only God in any other way than by saying that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the very selfsame Person. As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons— the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. How they are susceptible of number without division, will be shown as our treatise proceeds."

"That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement which at no time proceeds out of our mouth: not as if it were untrue that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and each is God; but because in earlier times Two were actually spoken of as God, and two as Lord, that when Christ should come He might be both acknowledged as God and designated as Lord, being the Son of Him who is both God and Lord."

"After His resurrection He promises in a pledge to His disciples that He will send them the promise of His Father; Luke 24:49 and lastly, He commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the Three Persons, at each several mention of Their names."

The treatise "Against Praxeas" is a very good read, I think it is advisable to read it through, instead of reading second-hand about what some people think is in it.

Edgar Foster said...


I'm calling it a night but I just wanted to say briefly that did you bother to notice that Tertullian writes that Christ was "lower than the angels" before he became human. How could he be fully God if he was lower than angelic creatures prior to his "Incarnation"? Secondly, read Against Hermogenes 3.18 and Adversus Praxean 9. It's clear from those passages and more that Tertullian did not view the Son of God in the same light that he viewed the Father. Even Thomas Weinandy points to some problems in Tertullian's Christology and "Trinitarian" thinking.

Finally, I don't know how much you've paid attention to my CV and things written here but my M.Th. thesis was about Tertullian and I included info about him in my dissertation, so what I'm relating is not second hand. I spent years reading Tertullian and other Latin fathers. My comments are chiefly based on first-hand acquaintance with Tertullian. I've read Adversus Praxean more than once.

Edgar Foster said...

See the criticisms against Tertullian in Bernard J. F. Lonergan, The Way to Nicea: The Dialectical Development of Trinitarian Theology: a Translation [from the Latin] by Conn O'Donovan from the First Part of De Deo Trino (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1976), page 48.

Duncan said...

Nincsnevem, time to stop quote mining and start interacting with the discussion.

Nincsnevem said...

For those who do not take into account the fact and laws of dogmatic development, and naively or stubbornly look for the final term of a developmental sequence (the dogma formulated in theological jargon) at its very beginning, they will always be unfair to the testimony of tradition. However, those who consider that even the believing mind must get accustomed to such a majestic deep mystery as the Trinity, and that it takes time for the clouds of opinion formed by clumsy goodwill and rationalistic tendencies to disperse, will not lose sight of the following conclusions when evaluating the testimony of the first four centuries.

There's a difference between the simple confession of the mystery as a believer, and its speculative elaboration in the workshop of believing knowledge. The former only requires a reverent disposition. The latter was seriously complicated by the immense and unique mystery of the Trinity, fluctuating terminology, and various unrefined religious and philosophical currents: the Stoics' doctrine of λόγος (λ. ὲνδιάθετος and προφορικός); the Platonic idea that tempted them to equate the entire world of Platonic ideas with the Λόγος; and finally, the belief fed both by the Jewish doctrine of transcendence (God's absolute transcendence being unattainable to the world as such) and the theories of emanation of the Gnostics, asserting that God needs an intermediary for creation and governance of the world. It's accurate what Athanasius wisely noted about Origen: It's crucial to distinguish between what he asserted as a simple witness of tradition, and what he taught speculatively about the persons of the Trinity and their relations; as a witness, he spoke correctly, but as a speculative theologian, he sometimes missed the mark.

Often, the church fathers were prompted to speak due to heretical biases, so it could easily happen that while they forcefully represented an anti-heretical element, they inadvertently leaned towards the opposite extreme; not in teaching, but in expression; not in content, but in approach. It should be remembered that, due to the rich content of the mystery of the Trinity, our limited mind cannot adopt a viewpoint that adequately and proportionately values all its elements: If we start from the persons (like the Greeks), we can drift towards tritheism; if from the divine reality (like Augustine), the danger of Sabellianism looms. The great fathers and theologians, however, avoided the pitfalls of heretical exaggerations.

Not every expression that tastes heretical contains heresy. Especially the often used subordinationist expressions most often allow a completely correct orthodox interpretation:

From the perspective of origin, the Father is first, the Son second, and the Holy Spirit third. This sequence in the Trinity doesn't imply any difference in rank, essence, or time; but in human perception and expression, it assumes a form of subordination. For any reason, whoever comes later in the sequence, our discursive thinking and evaluation are inclined to rank them lower; however, speaking in this way doesn't necessarily mean denying actual equality in essence and rank or teaching heretical subordination.

In the visible missions, the Son appeared in a later stage of salvation history, the Holy Spirit even later; the Father, however, is the eternal sender, who himself isn't sent. Therefore, from this perspective, the Father is invisible, the Son became visible, and similarly, the Holy Spirit. If the early fathers, when shedding light on the mysteries rationally, didn't yet distinguish accurately between mission and manifestation, or between property and attribute (proprium et appropriatum), their teaching isn't heretical.

Nincsnevem said...

Among the apologists, Athenagoras wonderingly asks, "How can charges of impiety be levied against those who teach and confess the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, acknowledging both their unity in power and their distinction in order?" The Holy Spirit's power and essence are also divine. Theophilus was the first to apply the term 'triad' (τριάς) to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which soon became the regular expression for the mystery of the Trinity. Justin proves that Christians, outside the Creator, honor Jesus Christ in the second place, recognizing him as the true Son of God; and in the third place, the prophetic spirit.

Although these are faithful witnesses to the tradition, when they want to more speculatively define the relation of the second person to the first, influenced by the Stoic doctrine of λόγος, they teach that the Word was with and in the Father from eternity as λόγος ἐνδιάθετος, but only stepped out from him to acquire independent existence (hypostasis) as λόγος προφορικός for the realization of creation. Irenaeus was held back from such speculations by the example of the Gnostics, but he often confesses the trinity and divinity of the persons against them.

Tertullian is also less successful in speculative exposition, viewing the Son, following the Greek apologists, as conceived from the Father from eternity and born in time to realize creation. They were misled by the two primary meanings of λόγος, verbum: the conceived concept and the uttered word.

Nincsnevem said...

Nincsnevem said...

Anonymous said...

oh no, this guy cites Allen... probably one of the worst ones he could cite (for obvious reasons)

Anonymous said...

second, what is there to "fall for" in modern scholarship? the very person saying this is quoting from websites that blatantly lie and omitting important information. + using arguments modern scholarship uses e.g "is" vs egeneto in John 1:1.
Its like saying you're "falling for" modern medicine, its deluded and utterly ridiculous to assume the early church fathers are correct and the authority on scripture, Just as its ridiculous to assume the apostle Luke knew more about medicine than we do.
Or that the people at the time of the apostles knew more about Hebrew than we do - most of them couldn't even read it, let alone understand it. We know this because the apostles quoted from a version of the LXX, because the structure John/ Paul use in certain quotes is from the LXX not the Hebrew.
[The Church Fathers] may be the "closest" but they were also radically biased from their point of view. Most use both, not just one side, Too me this suggests theologically motivated (idk your opinion Edgar) and not interested in anything other than "proving" one point of view, while omitting other important elements. (I wouldn't normally say, but this person is an attorney.. seriously) Another bit of evidence for theologically motivated is apologizing for doing something, then going right back to doing it a short time later.
This person cannot be taken seriously by anyone, considering that is clearly not the opinion the majority of Christianity hold and for good reason.

Then to end off the irony, tells people to stop quote mining, yet does it themself but what they consider an authority.. and then goes and quotes modern scholarship.. all while saying the exact opposite and that its a "trick" [what "falling for" implies]
The bible itself states "Do not go beyond the things that are written" &
"Do not hold the tradition of men" (paraphrase)
but isn't that exactly what the church fathers did to a certain extent?
they had to introduce new meanings to words, which is found nowhere before the 2nd century. ironically the church fathers proved that if the apostles wanted to write the concept of the trinity in the bible, they could have.
To place a higher authority on essentially "interpreters" than the Bible itself is stupid - Could they lie? yes, clearly.
I already know Catholics general opinion on this (incoming essay): were they infallable? yep (Catholics can spout all their "proof" fact remains the councils went against Bible teaching, in places that are not doctrinally important, proving not inspired)
I don't think they ever stated they had " [the] holy spirit"
They solved no controversy, as it still raged on even afterwards.. as it is today.. any encyclopedia will you that.. literally any.

Nincsnevem said...

By the way, it's somewhat ironic that Nicene theology is accused of having been created under the influence of "Greek philosophy", when in reality, the CONTENT of Nicene theology was not influenced by any philosophy. They only utilized concepts found in philosophy to ARTICULATE the revealed truth. In contrast, subordinationism, and especially Arianism, had its specific content influenced by Greek philosophy.

Subordinationism is a speculative idea about the doctrine of the Trinity by some 2nd-3rd century Christian writers, and it is still closer to Nicene theology than to Arianism. They conceived of the Son and the Holy Spirit in some subordinate degree to the Father. They imagined the origin of the Son as the Father having eternally conceived His Word (Logos), but only pronounced it in creation (this is the so-called two-stage Logos theory). They were influenced by Greek philosophy in their speculation, which talked about different degrees of emanation from the divine. We must also consider that these pre-Arian theologians viewed the Son's subordination more from a soteriological-grace perspective, not on the plane of existence, meaning it only manifests in the created world, our world. Internal Trinitarian origins probably influenced them too. Anyone who is born or originates can somehow be considered lesser than the one from whom they originate. The clarification of concepts and theology only took place in debates with monarchians, Marcionites, and Arians when the Church Fathers recognized and articulated that the divine persons differ only in their relations to each other, not in their possession of existence.

At the same time, in Latin theological literature, terms such as 'trinity' (trinitas, as a translation of the Greek trias) and 'substance' (substantia, a mirror translation of the Greek hypostasis) first appeared in the works of Tertullian. Regarding the Trinity, he far surpasses his Western contemporaries in precision and clarity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons but one reality. Tertullian expresses it as: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one thing, but not one person, i.e., the unity of the one deity in three. His statements concerning Christ's person are also extremely insightful. He spoke of the two natures in Christ, taught that the two natures do not mix but unite in Christ, "God and man in Jesus". Jesus' miracles prove his divinity, his suffering his humanity.

Arius, moreover, mainly taught in Antioch, one of the contemporary centers of Aristotelian philosophy: Arius learned from Aristotle that a difference in name implies a difference in subject. The apple is not the tree, so the Father is not the Son. If the distinction between the apple and the tree were not real, both could be given the same name. On the other hand, if the Father and the Son must be distinguished by name from each other, it is obvious that they are not the same. For Arius, this meant that if the Father is God, then the Son cannot be God in the same sense. He can be divine, but his divinity is either partial or derived. (See Gerald Bray: Creeds, Councils and Christ—Did the early Christians misrepresent Jesus?, Rossshire, England, Mentor Books, 1997, p. 106)

Nincsnevem said...

Interestingly, Jehovah's Witnesses still argue against the Trinity using Aristotle's logic applicable to the natural world. The early church fathers, in any case, fought against polytheism just as strongly as they did against Arianism, seeing it as a variant of polytheism. Surprisingly, despite claims to the contrary, Arianism was closer to the philosophy of Plato and Gnostic speculations, not to Trinitarianism. The Platonic and Gnostic view does not tolerate the idea of God becoming man because they don't believe He can be related to the created material world. They believed that the "demiurge", a being between God and man, the first created "divine" being, created the material world which they deemed inherently evil. Against this, it was the Trinitarians who defended the ancient Biblical belief that only God Himself is the creator. It's also no coincidence that the late Roman emperors leaned towards Arianism, traditionally considering themselves semi-divine. It was much harder for them to accept Trinitarianism, which sharply separated the sole Creator from all "other" creatures.

Hence Arius' starting point was rationalist philosophy and speculation. The Antiochenes were followers of Aristotelian wisdom, mainly focusing on the interpretation of writings and preferring the literal meaning; they leaned towards rationalism. The founder of the school was Lucian of Antioch, a disciple of Paul of Samosata, and the teacher of Arius. Arius was an Alexandrian presbyter who, following in the footsteps of his teacher Lucian, the founder of the Antiochene catechetical school, forcefully asserted the unity of God in his work "Thalia" around 318.

According to him, the one true God (ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων θεός) cannot share His nature because He is simple; nor can He beget, because a begotten God is a contradiction. Consequently, the Son, who is a different person from the Father, was not born of the Father's essence but was made (γενητός, not γεννητός) by Him, a creation (κτίσμα) and came into existence from nonexistence (ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐστίν); there was a time when He did not exist (ἧν ποτε, ὃτε οὐκ ἧν). But He was created before all "other" creatures, and God created through Him; thus, He is an intermediate and mediating being between God and the world; like the aeons that emanate from divinity according to the Gnostics, but Arius believed the Logos encompasses these non-worldly, non-divine aeons, the pleroma (cf. Col. 1:19).

So it was from this speculation that Arius derived his teaching, and only afterwards did he look for "evidence" from the Scriptures, such as Proverbs 8:22, ambiguously translated in the Septuagint.

Nincsnevem said...

Arius had two particular followers who sought to set up a theological system using Aristotelian dialectics: Aetius of Antioch and Eunomius of Cyzicus. They regarded being unoriginate as a divine basic property and applied it only to the Father. This implied that the Son and the Holy Spirit, having their origin in the Father, could not be coequal with Him, but are mere creatures. They didn't consider what the Western fathers emphasized from the beginning: that being unoriginate refers to the divine essence itself, which all three persons equally possess, and are one with it. The difference is only in the relations between the persons. The Son is begotten of the Father in such a way that the Father communicates his entire essence to him, not in time or sequentially, but in eternal existence.

The Father is the originless (unbegotten) primal principle in divine life; the Son is born from Him. But this begetting and birth should be conceived in the eternal, unchanging spirit. Insofar as the Son is also the Word, the Logos, His birth from the Father should be thought of in the image of expressing a word. The Father has known Himself eternally; there is nothing in His essence that He does not grasp, hence He can express Himself in a single, eternal Word such that the Word remains in Him and fully reflects Him. Yet He is the expresser, and the Son is the expressed Word. But because this expressed Word is the perfect image of the Father and contains the entire divine essence, its derivation can be called birth. Since cognition is the work of the intellect, we can say that the birth of the Son comes about through intellectual activity.

God Himself is life and activity, but nothing new arises in Him; He cannot change. But if the Son is His Word, coeternal with Him, then He surely expressed Himself in Him. He encapsulated His entire essence in this word, for as an infinite spirit, He fully knows and can express Himself. The expressed word, therefore, is consubstantial with Him, remains in Him, yet stands opposed to Him, like the expressed stands against the expresser, like the Son stands against the Father. Thus, the persons are distinguished only by their opposition in origin, but the divine nature or essence is not divided by this. The Father thus begets the Son, sharing His entire essence with Him, rather than giving something of Himself.

To understand the reality of the persons, attention must also be paid to the relation, the relationship between them. In created things, relationships arise subsequently: a man becomes a father when he has a son, and this fatherhood is accidental, not identical with essence. However, God did not first exist and then subsequently beget the Son; instead, He has from eternity, as He necessarily knows and expresses Himself. In the Trinity, the real mystery is that in the Father, the relation referring to the Son is not accidental, but intrinsically identical with the essence. Here we encounter an "existing relation," and in this lies the reality of the persons. Fatherhood as a relation faces sonship, therefore differs from it, yet neither differs from the divine essence itself, so the distinctness of the persons does not divide the unity of the Godhead. Thus, we encounter the wonderful unity and richness of absolute existence and relative existence, which does not occur in the created world.

Nincsnevem said...

"what is there to "fall for" in modern scholarship?"

How do I understand this? The fact that I don't believe in this chronolatristic approach, that if something is modern, then you have to automatically fall on your stomach and swoon that wow this is modern, then it must be true. This approach ignores the fact that there is no such development in the humanities in the same sense as in the natural sciences.
This is called chronolatry (worship of time), anyone who was not "modern", lived a long time ago, so didn't have Google or an iPhone, was an ignorant imbecile. The peculiar disease of our time is the so-called chronolatry, the worship of the present. We should not worship the present, but sanctify it.

The epistemological chronolatry disease is predicted by the Apostle Paul as an upcoming event (erit enim tempus), but it seems no age has remained completely free from it. However, it is true that our age undoubtedly holds the record in this area.

It should be noted that Paul assigns a central role to professors in spreading this disease. A time will come, he says (2 Tim 4:3), when people will seek a mass of didaskaloi (teachers) because their ears itch. In other words, the epicenter of this highly contagious disease seems to be among specialists or professors. And the itching of the ears becomes so prevalent that the truth can no longer be heard, and people turn to tales or, as Paul writes, 'epi tus mythus', to myths (Cf. 2 Tim. 4:4). Here are those lovely myths we consume so much today? Of course, but they are not the great and respectable myths of humanity's youth; our itchiness is calmed by the myths of decrepitude, the barren and (professor-made) cobbled together myths, especially the myth of demythologization.

A shoddy remedy, that's for sure; because the cause of the disease is malnutrition and severe vitamin deficiency.

I think it's time for a brief description of the main symptoms. The first I am dealing with at the moment is the obsessive attachment to the passing time, epistemological chronolatry. Being outdated is the 'Sheol' itself. Could an "outdated" author say anything true? After all, this is not inconceivable; but it doesn't matter because, since it's "outdated", what was said no longer exists.

This chronolatry involves mass human sacrifices, in other words, there is some masochism in it. It's almost baffling to think of a person's (undoubtedly not out of modesty, but driven by a desire to disappear) self-denial, which we call an exegete today. He works himself to death, sweats blood, all just to become outdated in two years. And so it goes all his life. And when he dies, he is definitively surpassed. His life's work serves so that others have something to surpass, then to be surpassed themselves. But none of his thoughts remain.
We do not encounter such masochistic self-denial among philosophers, because fashion lasts longer in their circle (twenty years, or even thirty years in the luckiest cases). They have time to delude themselves, hoping they will not be surpassed at least in their lifetime. But what is surprising is the form that epistemological chronolatry takes in their circle.
Each of them starts by wanting to find something new, doubting what their immediate predecessors said (who immediately and irreversibly become outdated), but would never doubt the work created by Time until their age, at least within their spiritual lineage; he scoffs at the preceding philosophical schools (since they are outdated); but my spiritual direction is present (in the sense that it remains fruitful), and I only need this; I don't need to know if it missed the truth from the start or not; the only basis I can start from is the point where the curve of development reaches me, and this is taboo.

(to be continued)

Nincsnevem said...

A great philosopher, of course, is always discovering new horizons and losing his head. In other words, if a mistake turning everything in the wrong direction was made when the direction I also represent was formed, potential gains could still be made later that (in vain) are waiting to be actualized from the right perspective. And the wise men who could have placed these among their treasures might have slept over them; or they were busy lecturing to distracted students or arguing with each other. But that's another story...

In one form or another, the worship of the transient always emerges, either to let myself be devoured by time or to blindly accept what time has created (in the direction I belong to) before I entered the arena. Concerned for the truth and seizing the truth, the spirit transcends time. To subject the things of the spirit to the law of transience - that is, to matter and sheer biology, to pretend that the spirit is subordinate to the Lord of the Flies: this is the first sign, the first major symptom of the disease described by Paul.

Nincsnevem said...

The earliest extra-biblical sources are important witnesses to the faith of Christians, as it must be assumed that the apostles laid the foundation of faith in the context of which the early Christian church existed. No one says that the individual church fathers were "infallible" or "inspired", but as sources they prove what the early Christians believed.
Linguistic analyzes of hundreds of pages can be carried out within the framework of "modern scholarship", I do not claim that this is all useless, but if we look at the early Christians themselves, it is a much more reliable source, because they really lived a few generations after the apostles, and for them the language of the apostles was their mother tongue , while not for us.

Jesus only discarded thosa human traditions that were faulty and contrary to the divine Law ("your traditions" - Mt 15:3; "human traditions" - Mk 7:9; Col 2:8), but not the rejection of "the" tradition itself, which Christ and the apostles left it to us ("tradition handed down" - 1 Cor 11:2; "tradition received" - 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6). On the other hand:

2 Thessalonians 2:15 - The received Christian and Apostolic Tradition must be preserved.
1 Cor 11:2 - These apostolic traditions that have been handed down to us must be kept.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 - and one must guard against those who do not live according to this apostolic Tradition. (cf. Rom 16:17)

Nincsnevem said...

You write this:
"The bible itself states "Do not go beyond the things that are written""

I think you are referring to 1 Corinthians 4:6, which you Protestants use to justify 'sola Sciptura'. I note that this is also a criticism of the Watchtower system, if we interpret it in a traditional Protestant way, since then there is no room for mandatory FDS "spiritual food" explanations either. Many consider this passage as the main bastion of the principle of 'Sola Scriptura', as it seems to state the proposition in black and white.

The text merely says that no one, citing human authority, can place themselves ABOVE the revelation (which, according to Jewish custom, is signaled by the words "it is written"). If we don't interpret this part in this manner, we could assume that the Apostle Paul here is closing the canon, which means the later-written parts of the New Testament aren't part of the Bible. Furthermore, the Apostle does not specify which books he refers to as "scripture," and therefore the question remains unanswered as to who decides which books make up the Bible canon. It's not appropriate either to expand on the scriptures in such depth. The "ne supra quam scriptum est" or "not above what is written" in Saint Paul's letter appears in a completely different context and does not fit the textual connection. That's why every denomination's national translation struggles a bit and translates it differently.

The complete Latin verse, which follows the Greek original closely is: "Haec autem, fratres, transfiguravi in me et Apollo propter vos ut in nobis discatis ne supra quam scriptum est unus adversus alterum infletur pro alio."

Some protestant translations render it as with circumscriptions, such as: "man should stick to what is written" (The addition "man should stick to" isn't in the original text.), or "Above what is written, one shouldn't philosophize." (The addition "one shouldn't philosophize" isn't in the original.)

Catholic Bible translations translate it more neutrally: "not more than what is written." (Can't handle the word "don't," so it interprets.) Or: "above what is written, do not..." So, the words "supra quam scriptum est" are taken as an interjection, therefore separated , and the "don't" is associated with being puffed up, as a prohibition.

The best Catholic translation solution is approximately:

" (in the footnote: above) it is written, do not..."

This translation and the older Catholic tradition imagine the original text as: "...learn from our example, that - as it is written above (3:6) - do not be puffed up favoring one teacher over another."

Thus, here too, the sentence is considered an interjection, but one that refers back to a previous verse (1 Cor 3:6). It's a bit cumbersome, but at least it's a faithful interpretation (unlike Protestant translations, which are more paraphrases than translations). If we don't interpret the "don't" as prohibiting being puffed up, we either have to duplicate the single "don't" in the text or assume that Paul is commanding arrogance.

This seems less forced in Latin; you just need to insert two quotation marks: Haec autem, fratres, transfiguravi in me et Apollo propter vos ut in nobis discatis ne - supra quam scriptum est - unus adversus alterum infletur pro alio.

(to be continued)

Nincsnevem said...

However, it's also possible, given the linguistic confusion it causes, that the verse in question was not originally part of Paul's letter (although this does not deny the inspiration of the verse). There is hypothesis, according to which the latest research has confirmed the relatively old idea that 1 Cor. 4:6 ('Only not more than what is written') is probably a scribe's marginal note that accidentally got into the text. Literally, it says, 'not above what is written.'

This doesn't make sense as it stands, so they try to translate it in different ways. However, within the entire text, this translation does not make sense. A surprisingly clever assumption is that it was originally a gloss in a manuscript where the subsequent 'don't' (in Greek 'mē') was omitted. The scribe, who inserted the 'don't' immediately wrote on the page margin: "the word 'don't' goes above what is written here."

Insertions in ancient texts were usually written above the line, and this misunderstanding is brought without exception in all surviving manuscripts

If this is true, this rendering ("...learn from our example, that - as it is written [in the footnote: above, 3:6) - do not be puffed up favoring one teacher over another.") is brilliant. It not only sensed, that the 'don't' is the beginning of the next sentence but even sought and found meaning for the interjection (which was perhaps just a gloss) referring to earlier (3:6).


Nincsnevem said...

This part of 1 Corinthians 4:6, according to most commentators – including Calvin - is one of the most confusing passages in the Bible, as the highlighted clause doesn't seem to fit the Greek text. Many scholars believe that the expression "not beyond what is written" (literally: το μη υπερ ο γεγραπται = "do not go above what is written") was inserted by a translator as an instruction to someone during the book's translation process. Others think Paul is quoting a saying that was commonly told to children learning to write, using it to caution the Corinthians against being haughty or self-centered. However, even if taken literally, the question remains: which "Scripture" is Paul referring to? The Talmud? The Mosaic Law? The Old Testament? At that time, the New Testament canon was not yet established, so he couldn't possibly be referring to it. Consequently, it can't imply that the Bible alone is the sole rule and guide of faith.

Edgar Foster said...

Μὴ... γέγραπται direct] WH UBS Riv Nv NM
Μὴ... γέγραπται indirect] NA NR CEI ND TILC
μὴ... γέγραπται φρονεῖν] Byz ς Dio

Duncan said...

For Rev 3:14 compare Rev 1:5.

This comparison still does not get you where you would like to be.