Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

2 Comments

  1. Sean K. Garrigan
    February 8, 2014 @ 9:11 am

    Hi Dale,

    I haven’t had a chance to read Boyd’s entire series yet, but I hope to, because I want to see whether/how he addresses the problems with maintaining that a truly human Jesus had *any* of the commonly accepted divine attributes. Once one accepts that a person can’t be omniscient yet limited in knowledge, then it would seem that one should also accept that a person can’t be omnipotent yet limited in power, or omnipresent yet limited in location. Further, once we grant that Jesus was limited in knowledge, it probably follows that he couldn’t have been perfect in love or justice, as those things seem to require complete knowledge to reach perfection.

    I don’t know how any version of a Trinity doctrine survives these problems. If the indiscernibility of identicals rules out possibility that Jesus is God by identity, and the Incarnation rules out the possibility that Jesus is God by nature, then Jesus is neither God by identify nor God by nature. This would mean that he simply isn’t God.

    ~Sean

  2. Sean K. Garrigan
    February 7, 2014 @ 6:59 am

    “…by referring to himself as the ‘I am,’ he’s identifying himself with Yahweh who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush saying, ‘I am that I am’ (Ex. 3:14). His Jewish audience understood exactly what he was claiming for himself, for they immediately picked up stones to stone him for blasphemy (Jn 8:59).”

    There are three problems with that assertion:

    1) God didn’t refer to himself as the “I am” at Ex. 3:14, he referred to himself as the “ho on”, i.e. “the being one” or “the one who exists”.

    2) Jesus doesn’t refer to himself as the “ho on” by saying “ego eimi ho on”, nor does he refer to himself as the “I am” by saying “ego eimi ego eimi”; rather, he uses the copula to say that he existed before Abraham. As K. L. McKay observed: “So the emphatic words used by Jesus in the passages referred to above are perfectly natural in their contexts, and they do not echo the words of Exodus 3:14 in the normally quoted Greek version. Thus they are quite unlikely to have been used in the New Testament to convey the significance, however much the modern English versions of the relevant passages, following the form of the Hebrew words, may suggest it.” (“‘I am in John’s Gospel”, The Expository Times, July 1996, Volume 107, Number 10), p. 303

    3) There is no compelling evidence suggesting that the reason Jesus’ opponents attempted to stone him because he claimed to be God. He claimed to have been in existence since before Abraham was born, and, as McKay points out, “…the claim to have been in existence for so long is in itself a staggering one, quite enough to provoke the crowd’s violent reaction.” (ibid, p 302)

    IMO, it isn’t particularly difficult to figure out what’s going on at John 8:58. The account begins with the attempt on the part of Christ’s opponents to set a trap that would give them an excuse to accuse him. In other words, they were already bent on killing him. Jesus cleverly stymies their witless effort, calls those prideful men sons of Satan, and declares himself to be before Abraham both in time and, by implication, in rank. Such claims could only be heard as false claims by Christ’s opponents, and since Jesus was an agent of God, a speaker of God’s words, so to speak, a lie told by him would have been tantamount to making God a liar. Now *that* would have been blasphemous!

    ~Sean