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.

6 Comments

  1. paul anchor
    March 18, 2017 @ 5:07 pm

    Where does the Father numerically identify himself with Jehovah using his own name? This is what Unitarians assume. Nowhere does the bible say “in the beginning was the Father” but it says this of the Word, Jesus.

    • Dale
      March 18, 2017 @ 5:35 pm

      Hi Paul. Good question. Of course, the word Jehovah/YHWH does not occur in the NT, because the Jews of that time thought it was impious to use that proper name. So no one would write about the Father saying “I am Yahweh” in that period. But in the whole NT, “God” (ho theos) is always the Father, unless there’s some specific reason to think the term refers to someone else. (Any good exegete will tell you this, e.g. https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-God-Testament-Theos-Reference/dp/160608108X This identification is always assumed. e.g. John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with *the Father*.” That’s what that means. You can see Jesus assume the numerical identity of the Father and the one true God (=Yahweh) at John 17:1-3. Generally, you can observe that authors will swap out terms like “God” and “the Father” etc. just for stylistic reasons, that is, so as to avoid using the same word repeatedly. e.g. John 6:45-46, Acts 2:33. About this alleged controversial assumption: think about it. Why would “God” mean the Father 99% of the time, unless the writers are assuming their identity? Why else would we see that usage? To come at it from another angle: if they’re assuming that the one God is the Trinity, why would the never used “ho theos” for the Trinity, but almost always use it for the Father? That’s be surprising and hard to explain, no? What do you think?

      • Rivers
        March 19, 2017 @ 7:49 am

        Dale,

        There’s no evidence in the scriptures that there was any “impiety” associated with the pronunciation of the word YHWH (as if it were some kind of sacred personal name for God). Rather, all the evidence simply shows that YHWH was a titular name (equivalent to the Greek title KURIOS, and thus translated correctly in the LXX and the NT).

        For example, if we rendered YHWH into English as something like “the Supreme Being” or “the Eternal One” it would make perfectly good sense of every single usage of the term in the Bible. Thus, insisting that YHWH was the Father’s personal name isn’t necessary.

        Moreover, one could argue based upon biblical naming convention that, if God the Father had a personal name, it would have been given to him by someone else. The implications of this may be the reason that there wasn’t a personal name for God himself. He merely identified Himself as YHWH just like Jesus identified him as “God” and “the Father.”

        • Dale
          March 19, 2017 @ 4:07 pm

          Hi Rivers,
          I take the evidence to be this: they did not try to transliterate “Yahweh” when writing in Greek. Rather, they used the generic substitute that OT translators had come up with: the more generic title “Lord” (ho kurios). I’m not sure why you want to insist that “YHWH” is not a proper name. I mean, translating as “the Supreme Being” or “the eternal one” would be mistranslations. There are ways to say those things in Hebrew, but they are not “YHWH.” I’m also not sure why we should think that “if God the Father had a personal name, it would have been given to him by someone else.” That looks like a non sequitur to me. How to rule out that he picked his own name?

          Was “YHWH” at any stage a common noun like “adonai” or “kurios”? I don’t know. But we can see it being used as a proper name in much of the OT, can’t we?

  2. Paul Williams
    March 9, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

  3. David Waltz
    March 9, 2017 @ 1:12 pm

    Nothing new from Paul and Yahya. Informed Trinitarains have always distinguished between the ‘One God’ (i.e. God the Father) who is the absolute source of everything else that exists, including the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. This distinction is found in many pre-Nicene and Nicene Church Fathers, and importantly, in the original Nicene Creed itself.

    As for the charge of modalism leveled in the video, that too is accurate, and has been acknowledged by a number of more consistent Trinitarians. For instance, Robert Letham in his 2004 contribution writes: “Today most Western Christians are practical modalists.” (The Holy Trinity, p. 5.)

    IMO, any form of Trinitarianism that does not begin with the Monarchy of God the Father—the teachings that the Father alone is, “the beginning (principium) of the whole divinity (i.e. fons totius divinitatis),”the principle without principle”—is doomed to either some form of modalism or tritheism.

    Grace and peace,

    David