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.

21 Comments

  1. Mario Stratta
    August 16, 2017 @ 11:50 pm

    Sean Holbrook (August 16, 2017 @ 6:38 pm) (1) Again, find me justification for your [assumed] understanding of “logos” prior to John’s writing unless you believe John is creating an entirely new understanding of “logos” alien to the entirety of Scripture prior to his lifetime. Is that your position?
    (2) From the B.U. position there are many justifiable possibilities with regards to John 1, yes even those that may agree with your [assumed] interpretation. I am not a literal pre-existent believer of the Messiah personally, but I grant why others do believe in it.
    (3) Biblically speaking, “logos” could refer to the “Memra” of the Aramaic Targums[which would then make it a metonym for YHWH, meaning the Father—and this ties into the translation of “with” in John 1:1b]. It could refer to the “Torah” of God. It could refer to a “prophecy, message” or literal “words.”
    (4) Then we could go into whether capital-G “God” even though it’s anarthrous is really the best translation of John 1:1c, or the “with” translation of John 1:1b more in detail if you’d like.
    (5) But again, back to the point. You seem to think it’s incompatible… but you’ve not made any argument *why* it is incompatible other than your assumptions in quoting a text. I see perfect compatibility… are you a oneness of some form? It does help to know how you’re viewing the text.

    I give my reply here, because otherwise, because of the indentation, it would be unreadable.
    (1) No, my point is the very opposite. Contrary to the “vulgate”, whereby John would have adopted Philo’s understanding of logos as deuteros theos, and with Marcellus of Ancyra, I affirm that the Word/logos/dabar is an eternal, essential attribute of God, that becomes “visible” (so to speak) first with creation and then with Incarnation (kai ho logos sarx egeneto).
    (2) No, the ONLY reason why the understanding of the logos as “another God and Lord” (Gr. theos kai kurios eteros) was accepted (whereas it should have been immediately rejected) is that (a) Philo was highly respected and that (b) Justin Martyr filched it (with a slight modification) from Philo’s deuteros theos.
    (3) If what you say was true, then we would have that “the Memra [or Torah, or “prophecy, message” or literal “words”] of YHWH was with [pros] YHWH”.
    All of them either irrelevant or senseless.
    (4) You could do that, but capital-G “God” for the anarthrous theos would inevitably lead you EITHER into the anathema of a “second god”, OR into [egalitarian] Trinitarianism.
    (5) I see incompatibility between Unitarianism [denial of the full divinity of Jesus Christ] and John 1 (John 1:1,14 in particular). See 1, 2, 3, 4 above.

    Oneness theology is at the very antipodes of logos theology because it affirms an unqualified identity between Jesus and YHWH (“patripassianism”). Either that, or oneness theology is irrelevant or senseless.

    Hope you are (reasonably) satisfied. 🙂

    Reply

  2. John Thiomas
    August 10, 2017 @ 5:33 pm

    There is no point in debating Trinity with Orthodox priests or bishops, in my opinion. I expected this kind of review from them. For them, Trinity is a mystery which cannot be explained. They accept it because church accepted it and believe that church was led by Holy Spirit in doing so. For them it is a given and all the arguments for its acceptance have already been concluded among their bishops by fourth century CE. The key for them is to keep the traditions that have been handed over to them by their fathers, experience Trinity in their worship and view the world in light of Trinitarian God. Especially Eastern Orthodox rejects any rational examination of doctrine of Trinity. I hope you get more interactions from theologians within Protestant and Evangelical community. That will be more interesting from a debate perspective.

    Reply

  3. Vance
    August 9, 2017 @ 1:31 am

    Fr. Kimel’s review is not surprising. The Orthodox are critical of the “scholasticism” of Western theologians in general, including Roman Catholics. Here’s an article on the Orthodox approach and how it differs from other traditions:

    http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/hierotheos_difference.aspx

    Reply

  4. Sean Holbrook
    August 8, 2017 @ 10:01 pm

    “The point of your book”—->>>>

    [Fr. Al Kimel’s Head]

    All I read in this article by Mr. Kimel is bait and switch[even if done on accident] and his refusal to admit he has a definition of the Trinity.

    And I can’t help but laugh and scoff at the claim you’re “not qualified”[even by implication] to critique the Trinity. Can’t see the the forest for the trees? Yikes.

    Reply

  5. Mario Stratta
    August 8, 2017 @ 4:53 pm

    I am a biblical unitarian because after a long and hard investigation, I now see this as a clash between the NT and later traditions.

    Unitarianism is simply incapable to account for the Word/logos/dabar.

    Reply

    • Sean Holbrook
      August 8, 2017 @ 9:51 pm

      “Unitarianism is simply incapable to account for the Word/logos/dabar”

      Disagree, trinitarianism is unable to account for it. Prior to John’s Gospel writing, find me one reference in the entirety of the OT or NT where “word” refers to a pre-existent second “person” God which is defined as a “god natured” identity that somehow still amounts to only “one God”[monotheism].

      I’ve asked every trinitarian I’ve met and still never had an answer. From my understanding trinitarians must take an eisegetical definition from outside the Scripture and input it into John 1. Even if I granted “personhood” definitions, there are still unitarian Christians[Arian like] that account for it from their position even if I disagree with them. So your point seems to be actually a non-sequitur.

      Reply

      • Mario Stratta
        August 9, 2017 @ 1:46 am

        Mine was a criticism of Unitarianism. I do not even consider the a Trinity, which, in spite of its “mystery” is just a political compromise between neo-Nicene and semi-Arians.

        The non sequitur is entirely yours.

        Reply

        • Sean Holbrook
          August 10, 2017 @ 9:06 pm

          Okay, I may be assuming something incorrectly about your views then based on your consistent claims about Dale. Are you not a trinitarian then Mario? Or oneness? Binitarian?

          Under my assumption the point is trinitarianism is not proven by John 1 and “word.” Even granted, Arians hold a similar position on “word” and “God/god” to Trinitarians yet they are clearly not Trinitarians. That was the non-sequitur.

          Reply

          • Sean Holbrook
            August 10, 2017 @ 9:41 pm

            Realized also now why you think my reply was non-sequitur. You didn’t really make an argument initially though. You just made a claim that B.U. cannot account for “word/logos/dabar” and did not explain why. Making the claim and my making a counter-claim by showing trinitarianism cannot really account for it was to show by questioning[which Aaron attempted] where pre-existent believers in a person/Word get their definition prior to John 1. I did not think it necessary to list all the numerous verses that show we can account for it… since really all it takes is a simple look at a Lexicon to see our definitions are everywhere to support our position as a whole. If you need me to further explain that, I’d be a bit disappointed but I surely can do so if need be.

            Reply

            • Mario Stratta
              August 16, 2017 @ 12:56 pm

              You just made a claim that B[iblical] U[nitarians] cannot account for “word/logos/dabar” and did not explain why.

              First, I am not even sure what the expression “Biblical Unitarian” really means. In theory, it should mean a Unitarian who is fully capable to account for the Biblical evidence. But, as you know, Dale Tuggy, for instance, includes under the rubric “Unitarian” such vast array of positions (from Socinus to … Origen) as to be not only historically and conceptually unfounded, but totally useless.

              But let’s suppose, for the sake of argument that …

              Unitarian = Someone who denies the divinity of Jesus Christ

              … then, of course, this definition is incompatible with the Scripture because, for a start …

              1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. (John 1:1,14)

              Hope you are (reasonably) satisfied. 🙂

              Reply

              • Sean Holbrook
                August 16, 2017 @ 6:38 pm

                And the John 1 debate begins… again, without a reason to claim why any B.U. cannot account for their understanding of “word/logos/dabar”?

                Again, find me justification for your [assumed] understanding of “logos” prior to John’s writing unless you believe John is creating an entirely new understanding of “logos” alien to the entirety of Scripture prior to his lifetime. Is that your position?

                From the B.U. position there are many justifiable possibilities with regards to John 1, yes even those that may agree with your [assumed] interpretation. I am not a literal pre-existent believer of the Messiah personally, but I grant why others do believe in it.

                Biblically speaking, “logos” could refer to the “Memra” of the Aramaic Targums[which would then make it a metonym for YHWH, meaning the Father—and this ties into the translation of “with” in John 1:1b]. It could refer to the “Torah” of God. It could refer to a “prophecy, message” or literal “words.”

                Then we could go into whether capital-G “God” even though it’s anarthrous is really the best translation of John 1:1c, or the “with” translation of John 1:1b more in detail if you’d like.

                But again, back to the point. You seem to think it’s incompatible… but you’ve not made any argument *why* it is incompatible other than your assumptions in quoting a text. I see perfect compatibility… are you a oneness of some form? It does help to know how you’re viewing the text.

                Reply

                • Rivers
                  August 17, 2017 @ 10:11 am

                  Sean,

                  You make some good points.

                  In fact, I would suggest (from an exegetical perspective) that we don’t even need to concern ourselves with what LOGOS (“word”) meant prior to the time of Jesus because the writer of the 4th Gospel consistently used LOGOS simply to refer to something spoken by a human being (usually, Jesus himself, during his public ministry).

                  Thus, why even speculate about things like Memra or DBR or other connotations of LOGOS that could be found in other sources? There’s no reason to presuppose that LOGOS in John 1:1, 14 must be isolated from the rest of the uses in the same book and then restricted to a lexical definition derived from an uncorroborated sources.

                  A more reasonable approach is to yield to the preponderance of the internal evidence (usage) and try to determine and articulate how the occurrences of LOGOS in the context of John 1:1, 14 could be understood with the same connotation. This is likely to give the meaning intended by the writer himself (and is the reason that most translations simply render LOGOS as “word” throughout all of the John books).

                  Reply

              • Rivers
                August 17, 2017 @ 9:48 am

                Mario,

                Not all Christians agree with your theory that John 1:1 or John 1:14 was referring to “the divinity of Jesus Christ.” Thus, it doesn’t follow that “Unitarianism” must be defined according to your perspective.

                Reply

                • Mario Stratta
                  August 17, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

                  John 1:14 follows from John 1:1. So, how do you interpret John 1:1?

                  Reply

      • Aaron
        August 9, 2017 @ 1:48 am

        Sean, I would propose that there are several passages which say that God appeared to people in the Old Testament in visible form as “the Word of the LORD.”

        In each of these cases it is most definitely a person (or as Dale would say, a “self”) who is present and obviously, these instances are such that the word is both personal and pre-exists Jesus Christ as man who wasn’t yet born.

        Of course, most occurrences of the phrase “word of the LORD” in the OT are simply references to what God has commanded or said. Examples of this are sentences like “and he did everything according to the word of the LORD” or “he despised the word of the LORD.” Certainly these are times when it referencing the commands and statutes of God. But on a few occasions, it refers to a vision or direct physical appearance of God specifically said to be his “word.” I would also argue that this is interchangeable for the authors with the “Angel” (Messenger) of the LORD as well.

        Reply

        • Mario Stratta
          August 9, 2017 @ 4:09 am

          Aaron,

          I would love you to list those “several passages”. If these alleged “several passages” are none but those where the “Angel of the LORD” appears, then yours is mere wishful inference, because not once the “Angel of the LORD” is referred to as “word of the LORD”.

          Reply

          • Aaron
            August 9, 2017 @ 11:36 pm

            -“I would love you to list those “several passages””

            Sure. Genesis 15:1-6 has the word of the LORD appearing to Abraham as a visible person. It also states that whoever this “word” is that he “brought Abraham outside.” This means he was physically present and personal.

            Another place is 1st Samuel 3:1-21. This passages states that the LORD “appeared” to Samuel “by the word of the LORD.” It states that the LORD “stood” before Samuel in verse 10. Check it out. It’s Yahweh appearing physically by means of “the word of Yahweh.”

            The third place would be Jeremiah chapter 1:1-9. This again is a physical appearance of Yahweh by “the word of Yahweh/LORD” where this time he reaches out his hand in verse 9 and touches Jeremiah’s mouth.

            These three instances are all what Sean was asking to be demonstrated. Namely, personal pre-existence tied to the idea of the word/logos/dabar of God. I don’t think this means Trinitarianism is true simply because of this or anything. I don’t have the agenda to prove that doctrine anyways. I’m simply stating that I see these texts as containing what he was looking for in his investigation.

            “not once the “Angel of the LORD” is referred to as “word of the LORD”.”

            I never claimed this to be the case. I simply stated that I believe the Angel of the LORD and the Word of the LORD (when spoken of as a someone who is personal physical and communicates God’s will to someone) are synonomous titles referring to the same person. Whether or not this is absolutely the case and who this person is, including whether this person is the pre-incarnate Jesus people certainly do disagree about. My only agenda is to try to be faithful to the scriptures…whether they teach the Trinity or otherwise.

            Reply

            • Mario Stratta
              August 10, 2017 @ 4:43 am

              Genesis 15:1-6 has the word of the LORD appearing to Abraham as a visible person.

              The expression “the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision” (repeated at Gen 15:4) simply means “the Lord spoke to Abram”. The Hebrew word improperly translated with “vision” is machazeh, which doesn’t mean that sight is involved, but simply an ecstatic experience.

              Another place is 1st Samuel 3:1-21. This passages states that the LORD “appeared” to Samuel “by the word of the LORD.” It states that the LORD “stood” before Samuel in verse 10. Check it out. It’s Yahweh appearing physically by means of “the word of Yahweh.”

              That the “word of the Lord” was first experienced by Samuel as the voice of the Lord is even more clear in this passage. When it says that “the Lord came and stood nearby” it doesn’t say the “word of the Lord”, but “the Lord”. Somehow the Lord was near Samuel. All the rest is pure projection.

              The third place would be Jeremiah chapter 1:1-9.

              For the third time, the expression “the word of the Lord came [to Jeremiah]” simply means “the Lord spoke [to Jeremiah]”. Again, it was the Lord, NOT some imagined “word of the Lord” person, that “reached out his hand and touched [Jeremiah’s] mouth”.

              Reply

              • Aaron
                August 10, 2017 @ 3:34 pm

                Mario,

                Your replies are the same ones that I gave when someone first showed me these same passages. Certainly, I did and do say that people don’t completely agree about it. However, I don’t think that the position that the Word of Yahweh being a visible manifestation of Yahweh to the patriarchs and prophets is simply imagination. Incorrect, perhaps, but not dismissable as out of the question fantasy. Each of the instances has in common a visual encounter with Yahweh who is supposed to be invisible. And while I admit that there is more than one way to account for the Yahweh appearing visibly despite this fact, I also believe that the Trinitarian out working and view of these passages is consistent with their entire OT and NT view of the Bible, which is important.

                In particular the passage in 1st Samuel I find most interesting, directly stating in 3:1 that “the word of Yahweh was rare in those days and there was no frequent vision.” You said that the word of Yahweh coming to someone just means God spoke to them. I agree it does mean that and as I stated in my original reply to Sean, sometimes it only means something like that. However, it also clearly refers to something visual that is happening in the literal eyesight of the prophets in other cases. “Yahweh revealed himself by the word of Yahweh” is quite a weird expression for mere audible speech, it seems that these few passages are referring to the direct physical presence of God and that this happens “by the word of Yahweh” whoever or whatever that is. All of this is not supposed to be justification for some hardline, dogmatic defense of the Trinity, but simply a point to Sean that it is not insanity to state that the word/logos/dabar be associated with personal, pre-existing presence of God in direct communion with someone in the OT which then has implications for John 1. Certainly he is correct that Arians and Subordinationists alike can account for all of this in a sensical manner and not be Trinitarian. I merely think that some allowance for conversation and the consideration of plausibility is warranted here. I try to be gracious toward people whether they are Trinitarian or non-Trinitarian concerning this issue, and have respect for people who can show internal consistency of their viewpoint, even when I disagree. Thanks again and take care.

                Reply

                • Sean Holbrook
                  August 10, 2017 @ 9:17 pm

                  I think Mario already did a pretty good job replying but thanks for the references Aaron. Yet I do not see a necessity to interpret those texts as a “person” as the “word.” They seem to be referring to “prophecy” or “messages” contextually each time which then were later spoken BY the prophet[Jeremiah 22:29 as example]. They spoke the “word.” Jesus was ultimately a prophet who spoke God’s “word,” which was “God”[Father]. I simply see it as a message about the Father overall since it’s his words that create but John 1 would be a long go through here.

                  I can of course see how you may interpret those texts in light of your position, but what then would you do with very clear verses that seem to say otherwise?

                  Heb 1:1-2
                  1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,

                  I think it’s quite clear this writer believes that “God” is the Father here who spoke in the past times. You seem to think it was the “Word/Son” who spoke to others though? Yet the text states clearly that it was various ways in the past times, yet in these last days by Son. So which is it? Is the writer confused or do you think it’s both?

                  I appreciate the good conversation Aaron and the way with which you presented your arguments. I also appreciate the clarity of understanding that even non-trinitarians can believe in John 1 the same way as Trinitarians yet still clearly not be Trinitarian. So many trinitarians act like John 1 is just a nail in the coffin yet don’t see the non-sequitur they create.

                  Thanks

                  Reply

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