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.

728 Comments

  1. Miguel de Servet
    September 25, 2015 @ 5:29 pm

    Dale,

    this is not the first time that I write something like this.

    I have the evidence from DISCUS that my following comment in reply to Roman (of ca. 7 hours ago) has been removed from this thread.

    1. Nope, not a “semantic difference”: the logos provided the functional equivalent of male DNA. This makes Jesus as close as it gets to being the (literal) Son of God: ? ????? ???? ???????.

    2. I don’t interpret the logos as “simply meaning something essential to God”: the logos is one of God’s two “arms”, His dabar and His ruwach (Deut 33:27; Ps 33:6).

  2. Miguel de Servet
    September 8, 2015 @ 10:58 am

    Over the last few days, I was unable to reply to comments on my comments. Unfortunately the DISQUS program is so odd, that, after a while, it is virtually impossible to keep track of the conversations one is involved in.

  3. Miguel de Servet
    September 3, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

    Several comments of mine seem to have disappeared (but they are still present on DISQUS …). Has the poster of this post got any idea?

  4. Miguel de Servet
    August 25, 2015 @ 1:26 pm

    At some point after 45:00, Hurtado says something fundamental, more or less:

    “God, who was defined as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, gets redefined as the Father of Jesus.”

    At which, Dale quickly comments something to the effect of:

    “Use in a different way is not redefine.”

    At which point Hurtado claims that he meant “redefined” NOT in the sense of “rejected and replaced”, BUT extended.

    My comment is that, first, Hurtado is not using (nor is he even trying to use) the verb “define” in strict theological/philosophical way (like, say, “God is the most perfect Being, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth”); second, isn’t Hurdado’s “extended definition” an almost existentialist “definition” of God, whereby “existence precedes essence” (J. P. Sartre)? Which, for God, could be adapted to say that God’s history defines who God is. At least for us.

  5. Roman
    August 21, 2015 @ 5:25 am

    Great episode, and congratulations on 100 episodes, they’ve been enlightening, and I’ve learned a lot from them, I hope you keep going.
    I’m happy that the term “monotheism” is being questioned by biblical scholars, and I hope this bleeds over to theologians. The term simply isn’t helpful, it requires that the term “god” is redefined constantly so as to hold it together. I personally like the way some theologians have distinguished between gods, which may or may not exist, contingent beings, and the God which is the ground of all being, supreme over all, Larry Hurtado talked about this in regards to Jesus. The term “Divine” as, for example, Richard Bauckham uses it in regards to “Divine” Identity, is also a strange usage. I mean lets say a messenger of the king comes, he can say “I have Royal authority” meaning he has authority which is from the King, but also the king can say “I alone have royal authority” meaning it is only him who has the authority of a King. This kind of Language confusion and confusion of categories is something which I think a lot of trinitarians (and modalists) use to defend their Christology.
    Jesus has Jehovah’s authority, Jehovah (Yahweh, I never know which one I should use) acts through him, but that doesn’t make him identified as Jehovah any more than the royal emissary having royal authority and brining the one through whome the King acts identifies that emissary as the king himself.

    • Dale Tuggy
      August 27, 2015 @ 9:58 am

      “I’m happy that the term “monotheism” is being questioned by biblical scholars” I have a paper in process in which I argue that it is a mistake to jettison this term. I think criticisms of it are based on conceptual confusions. In brief, “monotheism” even when it was coined was consistent with both the affirmation and the denial of lesser deities. But it didn’t mean only one deity, but rather, only one god, which is (I argue) a stricter concept. The view that there is only one deity is actually incredibly rare. In the paper I actually go back and look at the early usage by English philosophers of religion, and try to define “monotheism,” “atheism,” and “polytheism” – although in effect I argue that it is this last term which is confusing and needs to go.

      • Roman
        August 27, 2015 @ 10:15 am

        Fair enough, I just think we need to be Clear what it is we mean when we say monotheism, and what it means to be “a god” or “God” or what can be properly called a God.
        I think a better distinction is between a abrahamic religion of The creator God, who created all things and is ultimately the sovreign over all, (whether or not there are other lesser created deities is a different issue) and the Pagan religions in which you have a non “created” universe, but rather a universe emerging from some premordial state, but not in the created sense, and in which you have various Gods of varying Powers, who also emerge from the premordial state.

        In the Former you get a kind of disenchantment of nature, since it is created, in the latter nature remains enchanted and somewhat Divine.
        If you make the distinction simply the number of entities one can properly Call God, you basically have nothing more than a one God paganism, the difference is much deeper, it’s a Whole view on what to be the true God is, and the nature of morality, history and creation.

    • Miguel de Servet
      August 31, 2015 @ 5:57 am

      Jesus has Jehovah’s authority, Jehovah (Yahweh, I never know which one I should use) acts through him, but that doesn’t make him identified as Jehovah any more than the royal emissary having royal authority and brining the one through whome the King acts identifies that emissary as the king himself.

      Roman,

      this idea of Jesus as “royal emissary” (or “appointed agent”) is all fine and dandy, but doesn’t seem to take into account a couple of questions:

      1. Why would have God bothered at all with the virgin conception (Matt 1:18; Luke 1:35)? Wouldn’t the “appointment” at Jesus’ baptism (a public event, unlike the conception …) have been enough?

      2. What is the logos, that was en arche pros ton theon kai theos? What does it mean that the same logos sarx egeneto?

      • Roman
        August 31, 2015 @ 8:42 am

        1. So that Jesus could be “born of a woman” and truely experience a human.
        2. The Logos is the person of Jesus, prior to his being born, the logos is the firstborn of all creation throughg which all other Things came.
        It means that that person, that logos, became Flesh, in the same way a human being when he dies can become a spirit being, or be ressurected in a New body.
        I don’t think those 2 Things posit any problems to the “royal emissary” or “appointed agent” concept at all …
        Question 1 is a theological question as to why the Virgin conception, which would be a question no matter what Your position. Question 2 is a metaphysical question, completely seperate the the concept of royal emissary or appointed agent.

        • Miguel de Servet
          August 31, 2015 @ 9:09 am

          1. So that Jesus could be “born of a woman” and truely experience a human [… what?]. Question 1 is a theological question as to why the Virgin conception, which would be a question no matter what Your position.

          Your answer is unsatisfactory: why couldn’t God have injected the logos in a normally born child, the son of a man and a woman?

          2. The Logos is the person of Jesus, prior to his being born, the logos
          is the firstborn of all creation through which all other Things came.

          Question 2 is a metaphysical question, completely seperate the the concept of royal emissary or appointed agent.

          Is it my impression, or are you trying, surreptitiously, to differentiate between “the Logos” (capitalized), as “the person of Jesus” and “the logos” (uncapitalized) as “the firstborn of all creation through which all other Things came”. If so, what is the foundation of your claim. If not, once again, why would God have needed the contribution of a woman to have “the Logos” being born as a man? Couldn’t God have directly “implanted” Mary, without fertilizing her egg. Or is this what you hint at?

          • Roman
            August 31, 2015 @ 9:36 am

            1. Even if he Could it doesn’t make it true, in other Words, he could have, but he didn’t.
            But I don’t think he could have, because it would mean more or less killing the child as a person, and it assumes a sort of dualism in which there is some immaterial soul which inhabits the body, why should we believe dualism?
            2. No I’m not, Jesus is the name given to the logos, the firstborn of all creation through which all Things came, when he was a human being on Earth.
            I don’t know exactly HOW God incarnated Christ in mary, and frankly it doesn’t matter. Perhaps he directly implanted Mary, perhaps he did some sort of fertilization, who knows, I don’t, and it doesn’t really have any theological significance I can think of when it comes to my position.

            • Miguel de Servet
              August 31, 2015 @ 10:22 am

              1. [a] Even if he Could it doesn’t make it true, in other Words, he could have, but he didn’t.

              [b] But I don’t think he could have, because it would mean more or less killing the child as a person, and it assumes a sort of dualism in which there
              is some immaterial soul which inhabits the body, why should we believe dualism?

              Your [a] (“he could have, but he didn’t”) is immediately contradicted by your [b].

              If you reject “dualism” (like all JW, BTW), does it mean that the [x] “purely spiritual, pre-existent Jesus” was [y] “transformed” into a human? What is the connection between x and y, whereby, y is the same “person” as x? Memory? Reason? Will? What? Starting from a certain age or since birth? Maybe even since conception?

              2. [c] … Jesus is the name given to the logos, the firstborn of all creation through which all Things came, when he was a human being on Earth.
              [d] I don’t know exactly HOW God incarnated Christ in mary, and frankly it doesn’t matter. Perhaps he directly implanted Mary, perhaps he did some sort of fertilization, who knows, I don’t, and it doesn’t really have any theological significance I can think of when it comes to my position.

              [c] Was there any logos before the “beginning of creation”? If so did God’s logos spilt into two (what the Greek philosophers referred to as logos endiatethos and logos prophorikos)? If not, what exactly do you mean by the logos being “created”?

              [d] The question should be: is there any relationship between the “mode” of the virgin conception, and the “incarnated logos” being the “royal emissary” or “appointed agent”, nay, even God’s Messiah, Anointed King?

              • Roman
                September 1, 2015 @ 3:04 am

                1.
                my [a] does not contradict [b] at all, [a] was even if it is possiblethat does not make it reality [b] but I don’t think it is even possible. That’s not contradictory.
                That is an interesting objection, and frankly, I don’t think I have an answer for that.
                To be Clear, I don’t reject dualism outright, I frankly don’t have a hard and fast position on it. But I don’t think you need a fully worked out metaphysics to believe what the bible teaches.

                But frankly this problem is the same no matter what metaphysical position you take if you believe in ressurection, or the changing of the physical body to a spiritual one.
                2.
                [c] Before the creation of “all other Things” of the physical universe and of the angels the Logos was there, and all other Things were created “through” him. I don’t think this requires splitting up the logos at all, btw, we have to be careful to not mix philosophical discussions on reason using the term logos, and the actual discussion of a Divine being called “logos.”
                [d] I would argue that the Virgin birth could be thought of as a way to explain how Jesus was free from origional sin.

                • Miguel de Servet
                  September 1, 2015 @ 7:07 am

                  1. You say that [a] “even if it is possible” for “God [to] have injected the logos in a normally born child”, nevertheless [b] you “don’t think it is even possible“. If you don’t like to think of your statements as “contradictory”, shall we say, then, that you suffer from cognitive dissonance?

                  2. [c] I did NOT ask you about “before the creation of ‘all other Things'”, BUT “before the ‘beginning of creation'”. As you seem to have difficulties with this question, answer this simple and direct one. Is the logos part of creation? YES or NO? Careful …

                  [d] Again, yours is NOT an answer to my question. As you seem to have difficulties with this question, answer this simple and direct one. Is there any connection between Jesus being the logos and the (literal) Son of God, on one side, and his being the Messiah, on the other? YES or NO?

                  • Roman
                    September 2, 2015 @ 9:28 am

                    1. I don’t think it is possible, but even if it was possible, it’s possibility is not an objection to my position, it’s not contradictory in any way shape or form.

                    2. Yes the logos is part of creation in the sense that the logos belongs to the class of things which are brought into existence by God, demanding I say YES or NO, is quite silly when we are talking about complicated theological issues.

                    3. I don’t know what you mean by “Literal’ Son of God, God is not a man with genitalia … As far as him being the Logos and him being the Messiah, I can’t think of any necessary connection, no.

                    Listen if you have a point, just make it, I really don’t see what you’re getting at here other than trying to get me in some “Gotcha” trap … Just make your point.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 2, 2015 @ 9:58 am

                      Just make your point.

                      I have. Your bad, if you don’t get it.

            • Rivers
              August 31, 2015 @ 11:25 am

              Roman,

              In the context of Colossians 1:15-20, the “all things” that were “created” through Jesus Christ were the result of his death and resurrection when the “all things” were reconciled through him (Colossians 1:20).

              The context also shows that Jesus was “the firstborn of creation” (Colossians:15) because he was “the firstborn from among the dead” (Colossians 1:18) just as in Revelation where Jesus is “the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation” (Revelation 3:14)
              because he is “the faithful and true witness, the firstborn of the dead” (Revelation 1:5).

              • Roman
                September 1, 2015 @ 2:50 am

                I don’t know why you’re Reading back verse 20 into verse 15, I think verse 15 is saying created, and it means created, and verse 20 means reconciled, I don’t think we need to read back verse 20 is saying one thing, and verse 15 another.
                in youre exegesis of Revelation, you are the one putting in the “because” between 1:5 and 3:14.
                I understand it’s a possible exegesis, but something being possible doesn’t mean it’s the most likely, I think it’s much easier just to take the plain Reading … Creation means Creation unless otherwise stated.

                • Rivers
                  September 1, 2015 @ 8:48 am

                  Hi Roman,

                  I’m just pointing out the relationship between the same words in the context. Please let me clarify.

                  In Colossians 1:15 there is “the firstborn” and in Colossians 1:18 you have “the firstborn.” Since there’s no indication that Paul is changing the subject between the verses, it seems reasonable to me that “firstborn of all creation” and “firstborn from among the dead” are associating “creation” with resurrection. There’s no reason to think that there are two different “firstborn” events being described here that are thousands of years apart.

                  Likewise, the “all things created” in Colossians 1:16 seems to correspond to the “all things reconciled” in Colossians 1:20 where the “reconciliation” is the result of the death and resurrection of Jesus as well.

                  The connection between Revelation 1:5 and Revelation 3:14 is a more remote (contextually), but John’s declaration about “the faithful witness, firstborn from the dead” (Revelation 1:5) and “the faithful witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14) seems to connect resurrection with “creation” just as in Colossians 1:16-20.

                  • Roman
                    September 2, 2015 @ 9:43 am

                    According to what you’re claiming Paul would be just writing the exact same thing twice, just using different words. I don’t think that’s a plausable position, the more basic reading is he first talks about literal creation, the origional one in verses 15 to 17, then he moves on from verse 18 to talk about the ressurection, comparing the two events.

                    There is no reason to believe that Paul is saying the exact same thing twice just using coded language the first time.

                    As far as revelation, I just don’t think there is any connection other than an Ad Hoc one, I think the writers mean what they say.

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 7:09 am

                      Hi Roman,

                      The context of Colossians 1:12-20 is about what resulted from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Neither Jesus, nor the saints received any “inheritance” (Colossians 1:12) or “kingdom” (Colossians 1:13) or “redemption” (Colossians 1:14) until Jesus was exalted.

                      If you read 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, it’s also evident that Paul identified “the new creation in Christ” with “reconciliation” and “forgiveness.” This is the same language he is using in Colossians 1:14-20 to speak about “forgiveness” and what was “created” through the “reconciliation” that resulted from the death and resurrection of Jesus. None of this took place during the time of Genesis.

                    • Roman
                      September 3, 2015 @ 8:08 am

                      The ressurection of Jesus is the topic, but the structure is that in 13 and 14 he’s telling us what Jesus did, then 15 to 17 he gives the background, who Jesus was, then in 18-20 he goes into the ressurection and his role now.
                      You’re exegesis has Paul just saying the same thing twice using different Words, I don’t know why we should Accept that? It’s pretty Clear Colossians 1:15-20 is describing a kind of narrative, where Jesus is from, who he is, what he has done, and what he will do. Not just repeating itself.
                      If Paul meant the “New creation” in Colossians, he would have said the “New creation.” Verses 15-17 arn’t about the reconciliation, it’s giving us the background to get into 18-20.

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

                      Roman,

                      Paul doesn’t have to say “new creation” in Colossians 1:16 because he isn’t comparing anything to the “old” (as he does in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19). There are a number of other places where Paul uses “creation” without specifically referring to “old” or “new” (e.g. Romans 8:9-23).

                      Another thing to consider is that Paul used the same word “creation” to simply refer to the people of the kingdom in Colossians 1:23. Thus, it seems more reasonable to think he was using it the same way in Colossians 1:16.

                    • Roman
                      September 4, 2015 @ 3:02 am

                      He doesn’t ever use the term “old creation,” creation just means creation, period.
                      But again, Your Reading is impluasable mainly because it just doesn’t make any literary sense for Paul to just be repeating himself twice.

                      If you’re Reading is right he’s just saying the same thing twice, and it doesn’t make sense.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 4:38 am

                      If you[r] [Rivers’] Reading is right he [Paul] [i]s just saying the same thing twice, and it doesn’t make sense.

                      Paul is certainly not new to repeating himself. In Romans 5:12-21, he says that, “sin entered the world through one man”, “many died through the transgression of the one man”, “by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one”, “condemnation for all people came through one transgression”, “through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners”.

                      Not just twice, but 5 times!

                    • Roman
                      September 4, 2015 @ 2:26 pm

                      Sure, but in Colossians 1:12-20 we have no reason to believe he is repeating himself.

                      Romans 5:12-21 is making various arguments about the atonement, the repetition is purposeful.

                      Colossians 1:12-20 is just stating the way things are, why should we ignore the plain text, and start reading things INTO the text that aren’t there?

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 9:19 am

                      Roman,

                      Paul said “new creation” in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 because he is contrasting it with the “old things” he just mentioned in the same sentence. Thus, it is reasonable to infer that “old things” is synonymous with an “old” creation. It isn’t necessary for Paul to say “old creation” in this context.

                      As I noted before, Jesus and the apostles often say the same things twice using different wording. It’s also very common throughout the Hebrew scriptures. The repetition of similar language in the same context actually helps us to better understand word usage and meaning.

                      See Miguel’s excellent comment about Romans 5:12-21 where he shows that Paul repeated himself numerous times in the same context.

                    • Roman
                      September 4, 2015 @ 2:40 pm

                      Ok, but there is no reason to think that the Colossians would have read “Creation” and “all things were created through him” and thought “Oh yeah, Paul actually means new creation,” the meaning of the word creation STILL meant creation, it was never used as a replacement word for “New creation,” Also as I said, in Romans the repetition was to make various arguments, in Colossians it just doesn’t make sense that a repetition would be there, it serves no purpose.

                      Creation means creation, and that’s how the Church would have read it, unless of course they developed a code that we don’t know about.

                      2 Corinthians 5:17-19 is not redefining the word “creation” for the rest of Paul’s letters.

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 3:40 pm

                      Roman,

                      The only way to discern how the Colossians would have understood Paul’s statement is to consider the context. That is why I’m pointing out the relationship between the words:

                      1. “firstborn of all creation” = “firstborn from among the dead” (1:15, 18)

                      2. “all things created” = “all things reconciled” (1:16, 20)

                      3. “created through him” = “reconciled through his cross” (1:16, 20).

                      These similarities suggest to me that Paul is relating the “all things” that are “created” through Christ to his death (cross) and resurrection from the dead. I don’t see anything in this context that would require only the Genesis “creation” to make sense of the language.

                    • Roman
                      September 6, 2015 @ 4:12 am

                      Thanks for laying it out like that, it’s helpful for me to follow your train of thought :).

                      Here’s how I see it.

                      v13,14 describes what God did through Jesus
                      v15-17, Who Jesus ultimately is an what is his relationship to creation
                      v18-20 Who Jesus is for Christians and what is done through his death.

                      I’m reading it as linear, not as Paul repeating himself.

                      The reason I believe my reading is more plausable is that it allows for a literal understanding of the words Ktiseows and ektisthe ta panta en tois ouranois kai epi teis geis.

                      To read it yor way you have to read Kriseows as actaully meaning Kainei kriseows, and when Paul says all things created (ektisthe ta panta) he really means (Ektisthe Palin ta panta) all things created again, or something like that. I just think it’s more plausable to read the verses linear and that they mean what they say, creation and all things simply mean that.

                      Of course your reading is possible, but i don’t think it’s plausable.

                    • Rivers
                      September 6, 2015 @ 11:12 am

                      Hi Roman,

                      I understand your explanation. Words like “all things” and “creation” have multiple meanings in scripture, so that makes the interpretation of Colossians 1:15-20 somewhat flexible.

                    • Roman
                      September 7, 2015 @ 2:39 am

                      But I don’t think they do, Creation mean creation, unless explicitly said otherwise.

                    • Rivers
                      September 7, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

                      Roman,

                      The “explicit” argument doesn’t work in Paul’s writings because there are at least two different “creation” reference in Paul. There is the “creation of the world” (Romans 1:18) and there is the “new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Galatians 6:15).

                      Thus, I don’t think insisting that “creation” in Colossians 1:15 must refer to the time of Genesis is a reasonable argument. In fact, “all creation under heaven” in Colossians 1:23 cannot be referring to anything other than the people to whom Paul preached the gospel after the resurrection of Jesus.

                    • Roman
                      September 8, 2015 @ 3:27 am

                      No except that isn’t true, there isn’t 2 definitions fo the Word “creation,” there is one “creation” the Genesis creation and there is one “New creation” which is called the “New creation.”
                      When paul means “New creation” he says “New creation” when he means “creation” he says “creation.”

          • John
            September 8, 2015 @ 11:08 am

            I hate to be controversial, but the word for ‘virgin’ in Isiaiah 7 v 17 is ‘alma’ which means ‘maiden’ or ‘woman of marriageable age’. It is interesting that this (virgin) aspect of Christs conception and birth is only covered in two of the four gospels and many regard the references in Matthew and Luke as ‘imagery’ designed to shield Mary from allegations of fornication by pious Jews.
            Surely the truth is much more straightforward – the Holy Spirit came upon the pregnant Mary and filled her and her child?
            Blessings
            John

            • Miguel de Servet
              September 8, 2015 @ 11:52 am

              … many regard the references in Matthew and Luke as ‘imagery’ designed to shield Mary from allegations of fornication by pious Jews.

              John,

              that the “virgin conception” is a story invented “to shield Mary from allegations of fornication” (and possibly also of rape) is a serious possibility. In fact, both (fornication and rape) are mentioned in the Talmud.

              Personally, I believe that birth from a virgin is so … er … unusual that it is quite obvious that rumors like that should spread. OTOH, I consider the claim that “the Holy Spirit came upon the pregnant Mary and filled her and her child” a pious rationalization, that avoids to confront both extremes, that of fornication/rape and that of the supernatural conception.

    • John
      September 8, 2015 @ 10:57 am

      Hi Roman
      Adelle Yarbro Collins commented on Bauckhams concept of ”divine identity’ several years ago and observed that Bauckham seems to have confused ‘nature’ and ‘identity’.
      Trinitarians frequently ‘blur’ this distinction.
      Nature is ‘what we are’ – i.e.’ human’ or’ divine’
      Identity is ‘who we are’.- our ‘DNA ‘ as it were
      Blessings
      John

  6. SarahG77
    August 20, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

    Hi Dale – I’ve really enjoyed and been edified by your podcast these last two years. I’ve also been meaning to let you know that I think these last 15-20 episodes were particularly well done. Excellent guests and discussions on a variety of theological topics. Happy 100th episode and here’s to 100 more!

  7. Dr. Larry Hurtado on God in New Testament Theology | Blogging Theology
    August 18, 2015 @ 1:57 pm

    […] following has just been published by Professor […]

  8. David Kemball-Cook
    August 18, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

    Hurtafo has been described as a ‘binitarian’. Is this an accurate description do you think?
    He says that the NT describes Jesus as a pre-existent being who became incarnate as a man and then died (really died), and then was resurrected.
    Is this view not open to all the objections that one can make against a trinitarian and JW view, that if this Jesus existed before he was ‘born’, then his real humanity is open to question?

    Questions include
    1) Did he have two minds, two memories etc, or just one of each?
    If just one of each, which one, divine or human?
    If two, does Jesus switch back and forth between them as need arises?
    2) What is Jesus talking about in eg John 17:5? Is he here accessing his ‘divine’ memory?
    3) Did the pre-existent part of Jesus die when Jesus ‘died’? If so, what would that mean?

    Would Hurtado, if he were a theologian, not be obliged to construct some account of how a pre-existent being inside a human body can be really human?

    Thanks again for these excellent podcasts
    I imagine that they are all queuing up to appear on your show
    BTW Have you thought about getting a trinitarian apologist eg James White on his view of inerrancy and how that is compatible with his knowledge of how the texts came down to us and/or how the Trinity of the Athanasian Creed is to be found in the Bible?

    • Sean Garrigan
      August 18, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

      Does this mean that you don’t believe in miracles? That’s what would be needed for a heavenly being to become an earthly being, and I see no reason to doubt that such is possible. The Man Jesus had one mind; the heavenly Jesus had one mind; in both instances it was the same mind. The difference is the apparatus that gives the mind the ability to exist and be expressed. Unless you can clearly delineate exactly what gives a heavenly mind its ability to exist and be expressed, then it seems to me that you aren’t in a position to deny that the Son’s heavenly mind could have existence and expression in a human brain.

      • David Kemball-Cook
        August 18, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

        Hi Sean
        My problem is not that I do not believe that a heavenly being could inhabit a human body. My problem is more with the claim that such a hybrid being was a real human being.

        So my problem is more a logical one than a disbelief in miracles.

        If this hybrid being had one mind, then either this mind was omniscient or it was not.
        If the former, the being could hardly be said to be human
        If the latter, how was it the mind of God? And what is being said in John 17:5, where Jesus appears to be saying that he has a memory of before creation?

        PS I am away for a few days, but if you reply to me, I will reply when I get back

        • Sean Garrigan
          August 19, 2015 @ 4:21 am

          Well, since I don’t believe that the heavenly being who became Jesus the Messiah was “omniscient”, I don’t think that point of concern would apply. We all have the “mind of God” insofar as we allow his will and teachings to shape our thinking and actions.

          As for how far back Jesus’ memories go: The Bible simply doesn’t answer that question, but if he was a preexistence heavenly being — which I believe is clearly taught in Scripture — then I’m sure he’d remember things he did and thought during is pre-earthly life.

          • David Kemball-Cook
            August 24, 2015 @ 7:56 pm

            Thanks Sean

            So your view is that Jesus is a pre-existent being, subordinate to God, not
            omniscient, like an angel maybe, perhaps close to the JW view of Jesus?

            If so, certainly not a human being.

            Regards
            David

            • Sean Garrigan
              August 25, 2015 @ 4:32 am

              “If so, certainly not a human being.”

              So when Jesus turned water into wine, it wasn’t wine?

              • David Kemball-Cook
                August 25, 2015 @ 5:29 am

                Hi Sean

                Sorry I don’t understand your comment.
                I suppose it was wine, the people said it was.

                • Sean Garrigan
                  August 25, 2015 @ 7:17 pm

                  I think you understood the point well enough. If water can be miraculously transformed into wine, then a spirit being can be transformed into a human being. There’s no reason to think otherwise.

                  • David Kemball-Cook
                    August 25, 2015 @ 7:45 pm

                    Thanks Sean

                    No I did not get that.
                    But the two situations are not comparable

                    In Situation A, the jar was previously full of water and is now full of wine
                    We do not require continuity of identity between the liquid that was there before and the liquid that is there now.
                    It is unclear what continuity of identity would mean in this case.
                    Same molecules? If so, the new liquid would not be wine, would it?

                    In Situation B, it is all about continuity of identity. We are not talking about a spirit being replaced by a human being, but a spirit being being transformed into a human being.
                    What does continuity of identity mean, so that we can say for sure that the spirit being is the same being as the human?
                    You tell me, I don’t know!
                    There does not seem to be a standard textbook on identity to help.

                    What about continuity of memory as a criterion?
                    That would be a good first try I think
                    If so, then the human being would have a memory of life before his birth.
                    What sense would this new being then be human?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 26, 2015 @ 4:02 am

                      There are really only two questions that matter in relation to the subject issue:

                      1. Do we *know* that a spirit being *can’t* be miraculously transformed into a human being?

                      Answer: No

                      2. Does the Bible teach that spirit being was miraculously transformed into a human being?

                      Answer: Yes

                      That’s enough for me. I think that to deny the miraculous is to deny biblical Christianity itself.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 26, 2015 @ 7:09 am

                      Thanks Sean

                      I don’t think you understand my point

                      Before we know whether some act X can be performed by God miraculously, we have to know what act X means. That is what I am not clear on.

                      You say
                      ‘Does the Bible teach that a spirit being was miraculously transformed into a human being? Answer: Yes’

                      Where does the Bible actually say that?
                      I think it is your inference from something else the Bible says.
                      Or pls correct me if I am wrong

                      Regards
                      David

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 26, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

                      “Before we know whether some act X can be performed by God miraculously, we have to know what act X means.”

                      David,

                      forgive me for intruding in your exchange. The “act X” that you speak about is the virgin conception/birth. All the biblical “ingredients” are there.

                      “And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore [Grk. dio kai] the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

                      As I have already commented at podcast 99, Jesus, truly man (because of his maternal heritage), is also truly God, NOT because he is the “second person of the trinity” (a political play on words), NOT because he is “eternally generated by the Father” (an Origenian clever trick conveniently recycled in the doctrine of the “trinity”), [NOT even because he is a pre-existent “spirit being that was miraculously transformed into a human being”] BUT because he truly is the “one-begotten” of the Father, the Incarnated Word of the God ( John 1:14), conceived by the power of the Father’s Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 26, 2015 @ 1:45 pm

                      Hi Miguel

                      Not so. What Sean was talking about a spirit being miraculously transformed into a human being, not the virgin birth.

                      The difference is obviously pre-existence.
                      Sean thinks that Jesus existed before he was born, having a personality, memory etc.
                      I disagree

                      BTW what do you mean by ‘Jesus is truly God’?
                      That Jesus is identical with Yahweh?
                      That Jesus is the son of God?
                      That Jesus is divine by nature (thus making two
                      divine beings’)?
                      Or what?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 26, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

                      David,

                      excuse me, but why did you inquire with Sean, “Before we know whether some act X can be performed by God miraculously, we have to know what act X means”, if you knew perfectly well that “Sean thinks that Jesus existed before he was born, having a personality, memory etc.”? BTW, I made it clear enough that I disagree not only with “pre-existence”, but also with “eternal generation”, not to mention the full-fledged (co-equal, co-eternal, tri-personal) “trinity”.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 26, 2015 @ 8:55 pm

                      Hi Miguel

                      No I do not know what Sean means until he tells me

                      I think the whole idea of one being transforming into another different kind of being is unclear.

                      And about ‘Jesus is God’, are you saying this means the same as ‘Jesus is the son of God’?

                      Regards

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 26, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

                      “No I do not know what Sean means until he tells me”

                      I think you do, and I’m way too busy for these sorts of games.

                      Take care,
                      ~Sean

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 27, 2015 @ 7:19 am

                      Thanks Sean

                      Actually I don’t think the Bible does says anywhere that a heavenly spirit
                      being became a human being
                      I did ask you where it says so, and no answer from you.
                      Only one conclusion is possible from that I think.

                      I also asked you what you mean by same. Is the criterion continuity of memory, as in, say, Kafka;s Metamorphosis (when a man wakes up to find himself a giant centipede)?

                      Again no answer from you.
                      Conclusion, you don’t know what you mean by a heavenly spirit being becoming a human being.

                      So if you don’t know what you mean by something, it is pointless to claim it is true isn’t it?

                      PS One does not establish a proposition by repeating it, but by explanation and argument.
                      Regards

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 27, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

                      “Actually I don’t think the Bible does says anywhere that a heavenly spirit
                      being became a human being
                      I did ask you where it says so, and no answer from you.
                      Only one conclusion is possible from that I think.”

                      That last sentence exemplifies perfectly why I refuse to engage in extended dialogue with Unitarians about preexistence. Not only are you folks *determined* not to see preexistence in places where it’s really unmistakable, but you just can’t resist the explicit or implicit jabs. Let me give you a bit of advice: If you Unitarians want to attract more members to your congregations, then stop the obnoxious apologetic games. The way you folks have treated me here over the past year or so (except for Dale, John, and Jaco), is such that even if I thought you were onto something, I’d never join your church.

                      I have, in fact, explained on this forum, several times, why GJohn can only be properly understood as a document that teaches the preexistence of the Son of God. Unitarian explanations for verses like John 17:5 and John 8:58 simply aren’t compelling. Even James D.G. Dunn, who is quoted more than any other contemporary scholar by Unitarians because of his controversial views of preexistence in certain Pauline texts, admits that preexistence is at the very heart of GJohn. He would say that such was the product of the Evangelist’s innovative mind, while I would say that there is continuity between the Pauline writings on this point and GJohn.

                      See: http://kazesland.blogspot.com/2015/06/before-abraham-was.html

                      “I also asked you what you mean by same. Is the criterion continuity
                      of memory, as in, say, Kafka;s Metamorphosis (when a man wakes up to
                      find himself a giant centipede)?…Again no answer from you.
                      Conclusion, you don’t know what you mean by a heavenly spirit being becoming a human being.”

                      I know as much about what it means for a heavenly being to become a human being as you know about what it means for God to be eternal. Both of the following statements are perfectly clear in what they are saying, but perfectly unintelligible to us:

                      1. God existed before time existed.

                      2. A heavenly being became a human being.

                      Neither of these statements are fully intelligible to us, yet we have no reason, as far as I’m concerned, to doubt either one of them.

                      “So if you don’t know what you mean by something, it is pointless to claim it is true isn’t it?”

                      Firstly, you are reversing my statement. I didn’t say that we can prove that God could miraculously cause a spirit being to become a human being. I said that we can’t prove that God can NOT miraculously transform a heavenly being into a human being. Do you understand the difference? If so, then why are you contorting my comments into something else? Apologetic games? Probably, yes?

                      Secondly, I know what the sentence “God existed before time existed” means, just as I know what the sentence “A heavenly being became a human being” means, but I don’t understand much beyond that, nor do you. Should I reject the notion that God is eternal because I find the deeper questions that such a proposition involves unintelligible? If so, then all Christians would have to reject God’s eternality. You’re not going to get very far with such recommendations.

                      ~Sean

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 28, 2015 @ 4:08 pm

                      Thanks Sean

                      I asked you about the logical issue of what makes it the same person, if ‘a heavenly person becomes a human person’.
                      And would the resulting person really be human, or a heavenly mind inside a human body?
                      No need to bite my head off, nor to accuse me of disrespect.

                      To me, ‘a heavenly person becomes a human person’ sounds a lot like ‘a circle becomes a square’
                      I do not know what it means.

                      And the resulting being, how many minds, memories, sets of knowledge, wills etc does it have?

                      I suggest that we need to clarify what is being claimed here.

                      Now if the Bible actually said that ‘a heavenly person became a human person’ I suppose one would have to accept it. But John 8:58 does not actually say that, and is capable of different plausible interpretations. Likewise 17:5.

                      Regards

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 28, 2015 @ 6:13 pm

                      “Now if the Bible actually said that ‘a heavenly person became a human
                      person’ I suppose one would have to accept it. But John 8:58 does not
                      actually say that, and is capable of different plausible
                      interpretations. Likewise 17:5.”

                      On the contrary, I have yet to see a plausible interpretation of John 8:58 or John 17:5 that allows one to escape the conclusion that those texts teach the real personal preexistence of God’s Son.

                    • Paul Anchor
                      August 29, 2015 @ 3:28 am

                      Sean,
                      As a trinitarian, I agree wholeheartedly. I would just disagree with you on the nature of the person who describes his pre-existence with the Father.

                      “the glory which I had with thee before the world was”

                      The words describe a conscious personal experience which Jesus shared in together with the Father before the creation of the world.

                    • Paul Anchor
                      August 29, 2015 @ 7:06 am

                      “And would the resulting person really be human, or a heavenly mind inside a human body?”

                      I would assume that the heavenly mind can function as the human mind without violating the modus operandi of either the one or the other.

                      Otherwise the incarnation is an impossiblity, and that can’t be true can it? At least from my point of view or my understanding of the bible.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 29, 2015 @ 1:27 pm

                      Hi Paul

                      I do think that the incarnation, in the sense of Jesus having two incompatible natures, is indeed an impossibility.

                      How many minds, how many memories, how many wills would this being have, do you think?
                      The natural answer might be one of each, as one expect a human being to have
                      But the orthodox position is that there are two wills in Christ (Council of
                      Constantinople, 681).
                      So if two wills, why not two of everything?
                      (or maybe you are not orthodox, in which case you could say one of everything, and I would agree)

                      So I question whether such a being, having two of everything, is really human.
                      Does he switch in and out of his divine memory and knowledge as the need arises?
                      Does he sometimes remember his time with the Father (John 17:5) and then sometimes only remember from his childhood onwards?
                      Is there anything said in the Bible, say in the epistles, about such a strange
                      hybrid being?

                      Regards

                    • Rivers
                      August 28, 2015 @ 9:27 am

                      David Kemball-Cook,
                      For the record, we’ve also discussed why Sean’s interpretation of John 8:58 is critically flawed in numerous respects. I think he refuses to acknowledge the evidence against his ideas because he’s “determined” to see preexistence and incarnation in the 4th Gospel.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 28, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

                      Thanks Rivers
                      Yes, I would like to see the criticism of his views on John 8:58

                      I hope you appreciate my concern to clarify what is being claimed by
                      preexistence.
                      What does it mean to say that Heavenly Person A is ‘the same person as’ Human Person B?

                      Common memories?
                      Awareness by B that he was A before A was born?
                      What other criteria could there be?

                      That is what Sean did not seem to like me asking.

                      Regards

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 28, 2015 @ 6:52 pm

                      Let me give you fair warning: River’s argument against McKay hangs on several highly dubious propositions:

                      1. That the most respected Greek Lexicons available today, LSJ and BDAG, don’t define words correctly.

                      2. That all Greek grammarians (at least virtually all), living and dead, don’t understand how aorist infinitives function.

                      3. That we can make dogmatic statements about what an author _cannot say_ based on not 50, not 25, not 10, not even 5, but on 3 usages of a common word (PROS), and one of those three usages are found in the subject text itself, which must therefore be set aside, leaving two.

                      If Rivers wants to assert that all the grammarians are wrong about how aorist infinitives function, then he needs to make his case in the proper way, as I’ve told him previously. He needs to get the sort of training that one needs to make a credible attempt to overturn the prevailing understanding, write his thesis and articles, get them before the proper peers for proper vetting, and then we’ll see what happens.

                      But Rivers won’t even tell us the name of his thesis, where we can obtain a copy for perusal, or what his thesis advisers thought of it. He also won’t tell us where we can obtain copies of his published articles on the subject, or, if said articles were rejected (probable), what reasons were given by the journal editor(s) for rejecting his submissions.

                      If one wants to effect a paradigm shift in how Greek is to be understood, then one needs to do it the right way, and arguing with non-specialists on blogs is the wrong way. We have a constellation of highly qualified grammarians with full names, the credentials to give confidence that they know what they’re talking about, and published works that have made it past peer review. Or we have the man with one name, the wrong sorts of credentials for making the particular sort of argument he’s made in relation to McKay credible, and either no published works or none that he has enough confidence in to share with us.

                      ~Sean

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 29, 2015 @ 12:43 pm

                      Thanks Sean
                      I check this out

                    • Rivers
                      August 29, 2015 @ 12:06 am

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      The underlying problem with Kenneth McKay’s “PPA” interpretation of John 8:58 is that McKay misconstrues the Greek verb GENESQAI to be like a Past tense (mistranslated “was born”). Following from this mistake, he then further miscontrues EGW EIMI to be like a Perfect tense (i.e. “I have been”).

                      It’s very easy to check all the uses of GENESQAI in the 4th Gospel and to determine that it is not used as a Past tense. The writer of the 4th Gospel always uses this Aorist Infinitive form to signify something that hadn’t yet happened in a particular sequence of historical events.

                      There are also many uses of EGW EIMI in the 4th Gospel and they always refer to someone who is identifying himself as existing at the Present time (“I am”). There are no examples of any PPA using EIMI anywhere else in the Greek scriptures.

                      Without a Past tense verb, the PPA interpretation doesn’t work in any passage. Thus, McKay’s attempt to force a PPA interpretation in John 8:58 is implausible. The correct translation of John 8:58 is found in the YLT where it says “Before Abraham’s coming, I am.”

                    • Paul Anchor
                      August 29, 2015 @ 5:15 am

                      Rivers,

                      “Jesus was present “before” Abraham was “yet coming” in Jesus’ future.”

                      That’s universally true of all existent personal beings, including the devil. It’s an absurd statement in the context.

                      What sense does it make in any context to affirm your existence before a future event?

                      I exist before x will happen.

                      If you reject the plain meaning of the text you inevitably arrive at absurdities like this.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 29, 2015 @ 6:23 am

                      “What sense does it make in any context to affirm your existence before a future event?”

                      River’s view of the text is simply not possible. We know that GENESQAI must be past tense at John 8:58, because (1) of the context in which the word appears, and (2) because translations based on understanding it to have future tense are (a) non sequiturs, (b) borderline to utter gibberish, and, most importantly, (c) they form responses that would not have had the ability to incite the hostile reaction of Jesus’ opponents.

                      Just take a look at the entire chapter in which the subject text appears. Jesus opponents were looking for an excuse to kill him, and they let some pretty offensive statements (to them) pass, because in Jewish culture simply being offensive wasn’t a stoning offense. They needed to catch Jesus saying something potentially blasphemous, and “I exist before Abraham is resurrected” not only isn’t blasphemous, but it isn’t even offensive. The only reaction that such a statement could have incited in context is: “Huh?”

                      As I said before, if River’s wants to assert that the entire constellation of Greek grammarians and linguists — who have full names, full credentials, and vetted published writings — have somehow misconstrued how the aroist infinitive functions, then he needs to obtain the sort of education necessary to be taken seriously among such experts, present his novel views via doctoral thesis and published writings of his own, and let the vetting process do its work. Until he does so, we have more reason to be confident in the understanding of the aorist infinitive offered by the professionals in the field.

                    • Rivers
                      August 29, 2015 @ 8:28 am

                      Sean,

                      Jesus was talking about the resurrection throughout the context of John 8:12-58 and especially in John 8:51-58. This is why Jesus speaks of himself (“I am”) as the one Abraham believed would come (John 8:56; Roman 4:17-19) and who’s presence would enable Abraham to “live” even though Abraham was already dead (John 11:25).

                      The statement that Jesus made in John 8:58 follows from what he said in John 8:56 (and not the misinformed question the Jews stated in John 8:57). This is the same thing that happens in John 3:3-5 where the answer Jesus gave to Nicodemus in John 3:5 follows from what Jesus in John 3:3 (and not from the misinformed question in John 3:4).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 29, 2015 @ 10:52 am

                      “This is the same thing that happens in John 3:3-5 where the answer Jesus
                      gave to Nicodemus in John 3:5 follows from what Jesus said in John 3:3
                      (and not from the misinformed question in John 3:4). Nicodemus asked
                      about a second natural birth because he didn’t understand that Jesus was
                      talking about being “born of the spirit” (i.e. resurrection life).”

                      On the contrary, Jesus answer in verse 5 is a direct answer to Nicodemus’ question, as it told him that he had the wrong idea of what being born again meant. Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus, though hard to understand, was not a non sequitur, whereas the non-answer you insist on placing on Jesus’ lips at John 8:58 is a non sequitur. Worse, as I’ve explained, it would not have had the capacity to incite Jesus’ opponents to try and stone him. They would have reacted just as we would today if someone made such an oddball disconnected reply that, unlike Jesus response to Nicodemus, has nothing to do with what was just asked.

                    • Rivers
                      August 29, 2015 @ 8:18 am

                      Paul,

                      It isn’t absurd at all. Jesus said many things like “I am” (Present) the resurrection and the life, whosover believes in me will (Future) live” even if he dies (John 11:25).

                      This is simply resurrection language. Jesus was saying the same thing about Abraham in John 8:51-58). It has nothing to do with preexistence.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 29, 2015 @ 9:49 am

                      This post exemplifies perfectly another reason why I try (not always successfully) to avoid debating preexistence with Unitarians. You guys can look at a statement that everyone else on the planet clearly discerns is absurd, and you claim that it’s not absurd. I don’t have a clue how to reason with someone who can make such delusional statements.

                    • Paul Anchor
                      August 29, 2015 @ 11:03 am

                      Yes, and invariably masters of spin.

                    • Rivers
                      August 29, 2015 @ 2:37 pm

                      Sean,

                      You aren’t capable of reasoning on some of the issues here because you haven’t done the research. I don’t recommend that you get involved in debates on this topic either.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 29, 2015 @ 5:44 pm

                      LOL — Good luck getting folks to buy that ‘tit for tat’. You might benefit from some self reflection in light of Epictetus:

                      “IF a man, said Epictetus, opposes evident truths, it is not easy to find arguments by which we shall make him change his opinion. But this does not arise either from the man’s strength or the teacher’s weakness; for when the man, though he has been confuted,2 is hardened like a stone, how shall we then be able to deal with him by argument?” (Epictetus, Discourses, Against the Acedemics)

                    • Paul Anchor
                      August 31, 2015 @ 11:36 am

                      Rivers,

                      you said: “This is simply resurrection language. Jesus was saying the same thing about the resurrection faith of Abraham in John 8:51-58. It has nothing to do with the preexistence of anything, or anyone.”

                      I think you are simply begging the question here instead of letting the text speak for itself.

                      you said: “It simply means that something is yet “to happen” or that someone (e.g. Abraham) is yet “to come” or “become” something.”

                      In relation to the pre-existent Jesus Abraham’s coming in the flesh is something that will happen in the future. There is nothing about his resurrection in this passage. You are shoehorning it in to the text.

                      “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, he saw it and was glad”.

                      This does not refer to the resurrection but to something that Abraham experienced during his earthly life before the coming of Jesus. This is how the Jews understood it also.

                      “Thou art not yet fifty years old , and hast thou seen Abraham?”

                      If Jesus is talking about the resurrection of Abraham their question just doesn’t make sense.

                      They understood this encounter between Jesus and Abraham to be in the past, not in the future.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 12:11 pm

                      They understood this encounter between Jesus and Abraham to be in the past, not in the future.

                      This is what Jesus said:

                      Your father Abraham was overjoyed to see my day, and he saw it and was glad. (John 8:56)

                      No “encounter” mentioned here, instead Jesus speaks of Abraham “seeing” Jesus’ day. What did Jesus mean by “my day”?

                    • Rivers
                      August 31, 2015 @ 12:33 pm

                      Miguel,

                      The interesting thing about the use of the verbs “to see” and “saw” in this text is that they are often used throughout the 4th Gospel to speak of both vision and of faith in what is unseen (compare John 1:18; John 14:9-10).

                      This is another reason to consider that Abraham probably meant that Abraham “saw” his day by faith, whereas the unbelieving Jews misunderstood it as a reference to a visible “encounter.”

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

                      Rivers,

                      I also believe that, in he GoJ, “seeing” often means both vision and faith. In John 8:56 (unlike in John 1:18; John 14:9-10), Abraham’s “seeing” predominantly means vision, in the sense of visionary experience. It is just a “feeling”, and I do not have any “proof text” to provide.

                      From the exchanges between Jesus and the Jews, I believe they couldn’t decide (until Caiaphas put his foot down, that is) between lunatic-but-harmless or lunatic-and-dangerous. Maybe they considered also the liar option. Certainly they never took seriously the lord option.

                    • Rivers
                      August 31, 2015 @ 4:48 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Here are my thoughts about the “Abraham had a visionary experience” that you are proposing. Let me know how you would answer these issues:

                      1. The writer of the 4th Gospel and the 3 books used “see” and “saw” about 80 times and I can’t find a single reference to any kind of “visionary experience” associated with his usage of the word. The use of ORAW by the writer of the 4th Gospel is consistently for normal “seeing” (without supernatural assistance) and for “seeing” in the sense of “perceiving” (by normal cognitive understanding).

                      2. Doesn’t it seem more reasonable to take the other information about Abraham’s faith in “God being able to raise the dead” (Romans 4:17-19; Hebrews 11:17-19) as the explanation for how Jesus would have understood how Abraham “saw” the day of Jesus Christ? The entire conversation that Jesus is having with the Jews in John 8 is about his authority to give life to the dead (John 8:51).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 9:48 am

                      1. There are several verbs in the Greek of the NT that are translated in English with “to see”. Off the top of my hat, beside horao (G3708), the (defective) eido (G1492), blepo (G991), theaomai (G2300)., so it is restrictive to consider only horao.

                      In any case horao IS used to express “vision”, in particular by Luke (Zechariah who “saw [horao] a vision [optasia] in the temple” – Luke 1:22; Peter, John and James did not speak of “what they had seen [horao]” at the Trasfiguration; the pious women affirmed that they “had seen [horao] a vision [optasia] of angels at the empty tomb” – Luke 1:22). In Matthew, at the Transfiguration, the noun horama (from horao) is used to express the vision of Peter, John and James. The GoJ, to describe the vision that John the Baptist had of ” the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on [Jesus]” at the Jordan uses both the the verbs theaomai (John 1:32) and horao (John 1:34).

                      So, it is not at all a stretch to read a vision of Abram/Abraham in John 8:56, where the (defective) verb eido is used twice (in the Subjunctive and in the Second Aorist).

                      2. In Romans 4:17-19 I do see Abrahams faith in the promise, but I don’t see how it helps your argument.

                      As for Hebrews 11:17-19, while I am perfectly aware of what the author of Hebrews says, it is definitely far-fetched to attribute to Abraham the belief that, if the Mysterious God really wanted him to go all the way with the sacrifice (slaughtering his son Isaac and burning him to ashes), he overcame that thought, because “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead”.

                      There is no serious ground to infer that, at that initial stage of God’s revelation, Abraham could possibly think of the resurrection of the dead.

                      It is evident that this is ONLY a rhetoric figure, on the part of the
                      author of Hebrews, so as to introduce the second (and most relevant) part of the verse: “from which [the dead] figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” (Hebrews 11:9 – emphasis added).

                      The author of Hebrews is clearly speaking in figure: what he is saying is that it is as though Abraham, through his faith and his obedience, approved by God (Gen 22:12,16), had received Isaac back, because only “hoping against hope” (see Romans 4:18) could he possibly “know” that God would have stopped short of letting him go through with the sacrifice.

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Thanks for the detailed response. Here are my thoughts from an exegetical standpoint:

                      1. When I was referring to the 80 occurrences, I was taking into account both ORAW and QEOMAI since those are the ones that appear in the 4th Gospel and the John letters (as you noted concerning John 1:34).

                      2. I’m not too concerned about how “see” or “saw” was used by other biblical writers because there is no evidence that the writer of the 4th Gospel used any word to speak of a “visionary experience.” Thus, when interpreting John 8:56, it isn’t reasonable to suggest that “see” or “saw” was used of a “visionary experience” when the passage makes perfectly good sense if it just means that Abraham “understood” (by faith) that the day of Jesus would come. If the context demanded a “visionary experience”, then it would be appropriate to consider that option.

                      3. All I’m pointing out in Romans 4:17-19 and Hebrews 11:17-19 is that the apostles understood that Abraham believed that “God could bring the dead back to life” because of the experience he had with Isaac. Since it can be argued that the entire context of John 8:12-58 deals with the resurrection, it seems like this information about Abraham’s belief in the resurrection of the dead would be directly applicable to what is referenced in John 8:56, as well as John 8:58 (“before Abraham’s coming”).

                      4. Keep in mind, before the writer of Hebrews introduced the long lineage of faithful Israelites in Hebrews 11, he made the statement that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and evidence of things not yet seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Perhaps this is what Jesus was expressing about Abraham having “seen” the day (John 8:56) before the time was fulfilled (i.e. without requiring a visionary experience).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 3:03 pm

                      Rivers,

                      your reply is no less detailed, but you ovbiously missed at least something on the way. You write (again …):

                      … there is no evidence that the writer of the 4th Gospel used any word to speak of a “visionary experience.”

                      Contrary to your repeated claim:

                      “The GoJ, to describe the vision that John the Baptist had of ” the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on [Jesus]” at the Jordan uses both the the verbs theaomai (John 1:32) and horao (John 1:34).”

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

                      Miquel,

                      I don’t see any indication that John saw a “supernatural” vision in John 1:34. The passage makes perfectly good sense if “see” and “saw” are interpreted as ordinary natural vision. As in John 8:56, since the context doesn’t demand an unusual interpretation of the word, then it’s not likely that a supernatural “visionary experience” is intended to inferred from the grammar.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 3:48 pm

                      I don’t see any indication that John saw a “supernatural” vision in John 1:34.

                      Rivers,

                      I had already cited both John 1:32 and 1:34. Anyway, here are all the relevant verses:

                      32 Then John testified, “I saw [theaomai] the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 33 And I did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see [eidô] the Spirit descending and remaining – this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have both seen [horaô] and testified that this man is the Chosen One of God.” (John 1:32-34)

                      Now, you are “free” to draw the conclusions you like … 🙂

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 3:54 pm

                      Miquel,

                      What is there in the language of John 1:32, 34 that requires a “supernatural vision”? Isn’t it reasonable to simply conclude that John actually “saw” those things with natural eyesight?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

                      Rivers,

                      once again, those are the verses.

                      If you prefer to say that John the Baptist was witnessing to his delusional experience at v.33, and that, at v.32 he “imagined” that the dove he actually saw was the Holy Spirit, feel “free”.

                      But then have at least the decency not to try to sell your “resurrection language” any more.

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 4:12 pm

                      Miguel,

                      I’m just asking you the necessary critical questions. A theory isn’t of much value if it can’t account for the objections.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 4:17 pm

                      Rivers,

                      for the third time, you have all the ingredients to make your own decision.

                      And, of course, I have amply dealt with all your objections.

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

                      Miguel,

                      I understand your viewpoint. But, you haven’t given any evidence from the grammar or context of John 1:32-34 or John 8:56 that requires a supernatural interpretation to explain what John or Abraham “saw.” Simply insisting on your particular viewpoint isn’t answering the objections.

                      If I was a Trinitarian who kept telling you “the Trinity is right there in John 1:1 and John 8:58 and I’ve shown you the verses” I don’t think you would accept that as an answer to your objections either.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 4:42 pm

                      … you haven’t given any evidence from the grammar or context of John 1:32-34 or John 8:56 that requires a supernatural interpretation to explain what John or Abraham “saw.”

                      I honestly can’t imagine what more do you want.

                      The way John 1:32-34 stands, you can only decide for yourself if you want to consider the experience of John the Baptist a supernatural vision, OR a mix of “natural eyesight” and of delusion (or even, if you prefer, of deliberate fake “winess”). For the fourth time, you choose.

                      As for John 8:56, I interpret Abram/Abraham’s “seeing” as a supernatural vision. Care to remind me (or to explain afresh) how do you interpret it? Thanks.

                    • Rivers
                      August 31, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

                      Hi Paul,

                      I agree with your interpretation of the statement that Jesus made about Abraham in John 8:56. I think this is referring to what the apostles understood about Abraham “believing that God gives life to the dead” (Romans 4:17-19; Hebrews 11:17-19). Yes, this refers to what Abraham believed during his own lifetime.

                      I understand that you are basing your interpretation of John 8:58 on the statement made by the Jews in John 8:57. However, I think the evidence suggests that the Jews didn’t understand who Jesus was or what he was talking about during the conversation (John 8:27, 43, 47, 53). Thus, I don’t think we should assume that Jesus was giving them a direct answer.

                      This is why it is so important to translate John 8:58 correctly. Without an accurate translation of the grammar, we aren’t going to be able to see the proper relationship between the statements in John 8:56-58. The popular “before Abraham was born” translation of John 8:58a is certainly not correct.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 29, 2015 @ 12:48 pm

                      Thanks Rivers
                      Very interesting
                      Maybe John 3:9 (‘Can these things be?’) is not future but is present
                      But the others in John do seem to be about the future

                      What then is the meaning of Abraham coming in the future?
                      This does not seem to fit the context, which has Jesus saying Abraham rejoiced (past tense) to see his day

                      Regards

                    • Rivers
                      August 29, 2015 @ 2:12 pm

                      Hi David Kembell-Cook,

                      Abraham’s coming in the future would be referring to the resurrection when he would be present in the kingdom along with the other disciples of Jesus (Matthew 8:11). This couldn’t happen until Jesus was born and later given authority to raise the dead (John 17:2).

                      Something that is often overlooked is that Jesus was saying that the “hour” of the resurrection was already present (John 5:25-29) and that some of those of living in his own generation “will never die” (John 8:51; John 11:25; John 21:21-23). This should be taken into account when considering the resurrection implications in the context of John 8:51-58.

                      Thus when Jesus said that Abraham “rejoiced to see my day” (John 8:56), it is probably referring to the fact that Abraham’s faith was predicated upon his understanding of resurrection life (Romans 4:17-19; Hebrews 11:17-19). Since Jesus himself was “the resurrection and the life”, it was necessary for Jesus to be present (EGW EIMI) in that day “before” Abraham (who was “dead”, John 8:53) would “yet to come” (GENESQAI) to be with his people.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 29, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

                      Thanks Rivers

                      Given the debate about the meaning of genesthai, and the different possible translations of the verse, it would seem that one cannot prove anything from John 8:58.

                      Regards
                      David

                    • Rivers
                      August 29, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      Keep in mind that the language in John 8:58 meant something to the people who received it. Thus, we have to consider all of the evidence and try to come up with the most plausible translation and explanation. Throwing one’s hands up and giving up hope on discerning the meaning of the passage doesn’t help.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 29, 2015 @ 8:43 pm

                      “Given the debate about the meaning of genesthai, and the different
                      possible translations of the verse, it would seem that one cannot prove
                      anything from John 8:58.”

                      That’s hardly the case. Just because the grammar of a verse admits more than one possible rendering doesn’t mean that we can’t arrive at an accurate translation.

                      It’s actually quite easy, it seems to me, to see that McKay’s (and others’) understanding is probably correct and Rivers’s is certainly incorrect. Just set aside your own presuppositions for a moment and note the following points:

                      Against Rivers’s View
                      1. Rivers’s argument requires us to accept that the constellation of qualified Greek grammarians and linguists have all misunderstood how the aroist infinitive functions and what GINOMAI can mean. It would be one thing if Rivers were a Winer, a Goetchius, a Mounce, a Menchen, a Caragounis, a Hewett, a McGaughy, a Porter, a Black, a Louw, a Nida, or a Moulton, i.e. someone with the credentials to at least give us reason to think he could possibly be on to something even though he contradicts the consensus view, but based on his CV he simply doesn’t have the sort of training that can give us confidence that he’s in a position to effect a paradigm shift in the understanding of an ancient language.

                      2. Moreover — and this is the really disturbing part — he is being irresponsible in that he is not going through the proper channels in his effort to undermine the consensus understanding of the relevant Greek terms. He’s bypassing the academy and taking is case to blogs, which seems to me to be a very serious warning sign. The fact that he doesn’t have a full name and claims to have written a thesis and other articles yet refuses to provide references only adds to the sense that there’s something wrong there. I’ve never met an author in my life who hasn’t jumped at the chance to offer references to his works when asked.

                      3. By arguing that PROS can’t be used to refer to something “before” something else that occurred in the past based on TWO usages (as I said, the subject text must be set aside) reveals (a) an almost unbelievable level of unreasonableness, and (b) a serious lack of experience with the modus operandi of modern translation practices/principles.

                      4. If, despite these warning signs, his approach yielded a translation that is compelling and meaningful — or even something less than absurd — then at least his view would have something going for it that might make one pause and reflect. But his preferred translation is impossible in context, and so I can see nothing to recommend further consideration of the future test rendering. It just doesn’t work. It not only makes no sense in context, but it wouldn’t have had the ability to incite Jesus’ opponents to pick up stones. Jesus opponents never attempted to stone him for merely saying something unintelligible or confusing. Each time they tried to kill him it was because he said something that could be construed so as to justify their evil designs. Moreover, in all other such contexts Jesus responded directly to their questions. Why assume that Jesus would ignore them and make an unrelated statement of his own here?

                      In Favor of McKay’s View
                      1. Since I’ve already developed my argument on my blog, I’ll simply repeat that, rightly understood, John 8:58 has the elements of a known Greek idiom called the PPA (Present of past Action Still in Progress) or EP (Extension from Past Present). This is recognized by a number of highly-credentialed experts in the field, and can easily be exemplified in Greek writings.

                      2. McKay’s translation offers an exquisite response to the question asked in context.

                      3. Jesus’ words as presented by McKay would have constituted a stoning offense if untrue, and a claim to have been in existence since before Abraham could only be construed as a preposterous lie by them.

                      So John 8:58 has the elements of a PPA, and a rendering based on that idiom forms an exquisite reply in context. Let me ask you something: What are the odds that this could be true yet McKay’s understanding still be false? That would be the granddaddy of all ironies, would it not?

                      ~Sean

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 30, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

                      Thanks Sean

                      What is McKay’s view, and his translation?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 31, 2015 @ 5:07 am

                      “What is McKay’s view, and his translation?”

                      Hi David,

                      I offer it here: http://kazesland.blogspot.com/2015/06/before-abraham-was.html

                      ~Sean

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 31, 2015 @ 7:46 am

                      Thanks Sean
                      This is interesting.
                      But I don’t understand what you say here

                      ‘If we accept McKay’s observation that verse 58 is an example of the Extension from Past idiom (and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t), then Jesus’ response (a) makes perfect sense and constitutes an exquisite response in light of the question posed, and (b) would have constituted a stoning offense if untrue’

                      They took up stones in v59, so would it not have made more sense if it would have constituted a stoning offence if true?

                      regards

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 8:53 am

                      Perhaps Sean thinks that the Jews, if they were not so obdurate in their denial, they should have fallen to the ground, dazzled by the revelation of Jesus’ “pre-existence”. After all, that’s what happened at Getsemane:

                      Now when He said to them, “I am [he],” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:6)

                      But apparently, even at the time of John 8:59, “his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30).

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 31, 2015 @ 6:56 pm

                      Thanks Miguel
                      I find this trialogue between you three really interesting.
                      But it has all been about the Greek which John has used to render Jesus’ words.
                      What about Jesus’ original Aramaic?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 31, 2015 @ 9:36 am

                      Hi David,

                      “They took up stones in v59, so would it not have made more sense if it would have constituted a stoning offence if true?”

                      No, because it would not be a stoning offense to actually be older than Abraham. Jesus’ opponents considered Jesus’ claim to be older than Abraham to be a stoning offense because they considered such a claim to be a preposterous lie (=not true). According to the shiliah principle, ‘the agent is as the principal himself’ (legally). For an agent of God to tell a lie while fulfilling his commission as God’s agent (God is the principal) would be to make God a liar, because the agent’s words were Gods’ words, legally.

                      The critical flaw with both Rivers’s and “Miguel’s” renderings (and I mean *critical*, i.e. they’re DOA) is that they both lack the ability to incite a stoning. Both of their fanciful renderings would have incited nothing more than a perplexed: “Huh?”

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 31, 2015 @ 6:53 pm

                      Thanks Sean
                      But what would Jesus have actually said in the original Aramaic, do you think?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 31, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

                      “But what would Jesus have actually said in the original Aramaic, do you think?”

                      That’s a question for someone who knows Aramaic. However, I think that most scholars would say that Jesus never said those words, in Greek or in Aramaic. Most would say that the Evangelist placed those words on Jesus’ lips for theological reasons. I’m not committing to that view, but it seems to be the predominant one.

                      ~Sean

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 1, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

                      Thanks Sean. But Jesus must have said something which the Jews did not like, unless we are to say that author made up the whole incident.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 2, 2015 @ 7:00 am

                      I’ve explained what Jesus said and why it was a stoning offense. Whether that particular account is strictly historical or not is in one sense beside the point. The question is: What did the composer of the narrative mean to convey?

                      There is good evidence that the Evangelist was familiar with juridical practice* and he would have known what Rivers and Miguel apparently don’t comprehend: Jesus’ opponents would not have attempted to kill Jesus unless they could get him to say something that could plausibly be construed as clearly self-incriminating. They were not about to kill Jesus for merely saying something cryptic, ungrammatical, or so hyper-elliptical that they’d have to imagine how to fill in the blanks.

                      If they killed Jesus without ostensibly justifiable cause, then the people would riot, and the unforgiving hand of Rome would ultimately have come down on them. (The people may have rioted even if they were able to ostensibly justify their action, but they would almost *certainly* riot if Jesus was murdered in cold blood for no ostensibly justifiable reason. A statement that could only have incited a perplexed “Huh?” would not have sufficed.)

                      ~Sean

                      *See Der Gesandte Und Sein Weg Im 4, by Jan A. Buhner

                    • Rivers
                      August 31, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      There’s no such thing as “the original Aramaic.” Thus, there’s no reason to speculate about what Jesus might have said in that language. Moreover, the only version of the 4th Gospel we have is in Greek. We might as well work with the text we have.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 1, 2015 @ 7:11 am

                      Thanks Rivers. No such thing? I suppose not, if we assume that the author of John’s Gospel made up the words attributed to Jesus.
                      But that is a strange position, unless you are going to say that the whole gospel is basically fiction.

                      After all, this is narrative. And the narrative states that the Jews took up stones. So it must have been at something that Jesus said. And Jesus presumably did not know Greek, nor would the Jews have understood it.
                      So, unless it is all fiction (in which case why bother talking about it) there must have been some original Aramaic, mustn’t there?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 1, 2015 @ 8:15 am

                      “But that is a strange position, unless you are going to say that the whole gospel is basically fiction.”

                      No reputable scholar or historian that I’m aware of says that the whole gospel is fiction. What most experts say, however, is that none of the Gospels, most especially John, is strictly historical. As I said, I’m not committed to that position, but it is the predominant view, even among well-informed Christian scholars.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 1, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

                      Thanks Sean. Either the incident recorded in John 8 happened or not. If it did not, no point in talking about it. If it did, there is a historical core which John reports. So Jesus must have said something (in Aramaic or Hebrew) to upset the Jews. Is your proposed translation capable of being expressed in Aramaic or Hebrew?

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 9:04 am

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      I’m simply pointing out that there is no biblical or conclusive evidence that Jesus or any of the apostles spoke Aramaic. Many scholars speculate about that (based upon external sources), but I take the exegetical evidence at face value which can only lead to the conclusion that Jesus and the apostles spoke the native Hebrew language (Acts 6:1-2) and that most of the NT was transmitted in Greek (except for the one Hebrew version of Matthew).

                      I don’t have any issue with the words of Jesus being transmitted in Greek. Furthermore, it’s pointless to speculate about what Jesus might have said in Aramaic when there’s no evidence he spoke that dialect (and there’s no Aramaic version of any of the biblical manuscripts we have).

                    • Rivers
                      August 31, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

                      Sean,

                      Your theory that Jesus was being stoned for “lying” is unfounded. The writer of the 4th Gospel explained that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because he was “a man, making himself out to be God” (John 10:33) by “claiming that God was his own Father” (John 5:18).

                      This is also why the Jews wanted to stone Jesus in John 8:59. Jesus again made the explicit claim that God was his own Father in John 8:54.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 10:15 am

                      The critical flaw with (…) “Miguel’s” rendering (…) is that [it] lack[s] the ability to incite a stoning. [The] fanciful rendering would have incited nothing more than a perplexed: “Huh?”

                      What Sean fails to understand all along is that the Jews looked for any “reason” to get rid of Jesus, as the GoJ makes perfectly clear. Jesus, in fact, accuses the Jews of wanting to kill him, worse to be murderers, like their father, the devil. (John 8:37-47)

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 10:49 am

                      Miguel,

                      I think it’s evident that the writer of the 4th Gospel understood that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus Christ because he was “a man, making himself out to be God” (John 10:33) by “calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).

                      This is the same thing Jesus did in John 8:54 when they wanted to stone him in that context. Thus, Sean’s claim that we have to agree with his view about “lying” in order to “incite a stoning” is unwarranted.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 11:28 am

                      I think it’s evident that the writer of the 4th Gospel understood that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus Christ because he was “a man, making himself out to be God” (John 10:33)

                      It is essential to note, though, that Jesus immediately corrects their misconception …

                      34 Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If those people to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ (and the scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say about the one whom the Father set apart and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34-36)

                      Sean, not being a Trinitarian, would be precluded from reading “Son of God” as though it was God-the-Son. So, as he could not, even here, appeal to blasphemy. He would have to resort to another fanciful theory, like this:

                      “Jesus’ opponents considered Jesus’ claim to be older than Abraham to be a stoning offense because they considered such a claim to be a preposterous lie (=not true). According to the shiliah principle, ‘the agent is as the principal himself’ (legally). For an agent of God to tell a lie while fulfilling his commission as God’s agent would be to make God a liar, because the agent’s words were Gods’ words, legally.”

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Regardless of whether or not Jesus “corrected a misunderstanding” it’s evident that John 5:18 and John 10:33 tell us the reason that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus Christ. It had to do with his claim to be “the son” of their “God.” That is how they convicted him at his trial (John 19:7).

                      If fact, if you compare John 10:33 and John 19:7, the language is very similar. This suggests that the Jews understood that “making yourself out to be God” (John 10:33) and “making himself out to be the son of God” (John 19:7) was saying the same thing.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

                      If fact, if you compare John 10:33 and John 19:7, the language is very similar. This suggests that the Jews understood that “making yourself out to be God” (John 10:33) and “making himself out to be the son of God” (John 19:7) was saying the same thing.

                      Not so fast! The GoJ shows that the “Jews” (the Jewish leaders) felt most I’ll at ease with the familiarity that Jesus manifested towards their God,

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 2:57 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Blasphemy is a nebulous term (even in the Law of Moses). Thus, I think it was critical that the Jews interpreted the “blasphemy” as the fact that Jesus was “making himself out to be the son of God” (John 19:7). I don’t think something like “blaspheme” or “bearing false witness” would go to court without an adequate explanation.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 3:31 pm

                      There are certainly many words, in the Hebrew of the OT, to refer to blasphemy (barakh gadhaph, charaph, naqabh, na’ats), but it always involves “dishonor and defiance offered to God” [ISBE] and its penalty is invariably death, death by stoning.

                      That being said, the “Jews” simply wanted any excuse to get rid of Jesus. His trial by the sanhedrin was a monkey trial.

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

                      Miguel,

                      I agree. However, we have to take into account the evidence that Jesus was specifically accused of claiming to be “the son of God” and this was “heard” in the court as “blasphemy” (Matthew 26:62-66) and was the excuse they used to condemn him.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

                      … “blasphemy” … was the excuse they used to condemn him.

                      I agree.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 2, 2015 @ 6:41 am

                      “What Sean fails to understand all along is that the Jews looked for any
                      “reason” to get rid of Jesus, as the GoJ makes perfectly clear. Jesus,
                      in fact, accuses the Jews of wanting to kill him, worse to be murderers,
                      like their father, the devil. (John 8:37-47)”

                      What “Miguel” fails to understand, even after I’ve made the point several times very clearly on this blog, is that while Jesus’ opponents were bent on killing him, they needed him to incriminate himself with a clear statement that could ostensibly serve their purposes. That is why at John 10 and elsewhere they pressed him to tell them *plainly* who he claimed to be.

                      Without a statement that could clearly be construed as self-incriminating, they wouldn’t have been able to justify killing Jesus before the people who held him to be a prophet, or before the Roman authorities, who would certainly have had to investigate once the riotous uproar caused by Jesus’ murder began. A statement that could only have incited them to go “Huh? would not have sufficed.

                      Your view simply never gets off the ground, because it doesn’t satisfy basic requirements needed to yield a valid, plausible rendering in context.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      September 2, 2015 @ 8:26 am

                      Sean,

                      I agree with you here. The details of the trial accounts show that the personal claim to be “the son of God” was necessary to construe the charge of “blasphemy” and the death sentence (Matthew 26:63-66; Luke 22:66-71; John 19:7).

                      The Jews would not accept the testimony of God the Father (on behalf of Jesus) because they didn’t believe his words or works (John 8:17-20).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 5:06 am

                      “I agree with you here. The details of the trial accounts show that the
                      personal claim to be “the son of God” was necessary to construe the
                      charge of “blasphemy” and the death sentence (Matthew 26:63-66; Luke
                      22:66-71; John 19:7). The Jews would not accept the testimony of God
                      the Father (on behalf of Jesus) because they didn’t believe his words or
                      works (John 8:17-20).”

                      Well, it’s good to know that we can still reach a point of agreement, but the problem I address in the response to which you agree applies equally to your preferred rendering of John 8:58. Jesus’ opponents needed clear testimony against him, and “I am [you fill in the blank]” doesn’t fit that requirement.

                      If Jesus had said what you think he said, then his opponents wouldn’t have had an excuse to stone him. To the claim “Before Abraham comes to be”, they would have asked “Comes to be what?”, and to the claim “I am” they would have asked “You are what, exactly? Tell us *plainly* who you claim to be.”

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 8:25 am

                      [Rivers] The details of the trial accounts show that the personal claim to be “the son of God” was necessary to construe the charge of “blasphemy” and the death sentence (Matthew 26:63-66; Luke
                      22:66-71; John 19:7).

                      [Sean] Jesus’ opponents needed clear testimony against him, and “I am [you fill in the blank]” doesn’t fit that requirement.

                      Let’s see. So, Jesus’ alleged blasphemy would not so much be that “he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7), but, even more that, according to the Jews, he lied (and therefore he implicitly made God, of whom he claimed to be the representative on earth, a liar) when he said prin abraam genesthai egô eimi (John 8:58), which Sean (following McKay) “translates” as:

                      “I have been in existence since before Abraham was born.”

                      In other words, rather than taking the Jews’ question, “You are not yet fifty years old! Have you seen Abraham?” (John 8:57) as a misunderstanding (ingenuous or disingenuous), Sean prefers to think that Jesus has answered affirmatively their question.

                      “Fascinating” …

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 6:18 pm

                      Since you’ve chosen not to address the critical point I made (there’s nothing much you can offer to counter it), and since I’ve addressed your point already, I don’t see anything here but an expression of your own personal fascination. What can I say except thanks for sharing?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 7:15 pm

                      Since you’ve chosen not to address the critical point I made …

                      There is no “critical point” made by you that I have not addressed.

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 3:08 pm

                      Hi Sean,

                      Again, I agree with you here. I don’t think the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because of what he said about Abraham in John 8:58. Rather, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because he claimed that their “God” was his own “father” in John 8:54. This is consistent with the claims he made in John 5:18 and John 10:30-36 that were considered “blasphemy.”

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 6:29 pm

                      “Rather, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because he claimed that their “God” was his own “father” in John 8:54.”

                      That doesn’t work, because they didn’t pick up stones at verse 54.

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 9:09 pm

                      Sean,

                      OK, If we follow your “logic”, then we’d have to conclude that Jesus didn’t die for “blasphemy” in John 19:7 because he wasn’t crucified in the same verse. It’s no wonder you believe in “preexistent spirit beings.”

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 10:42 pm

                      “OK, If we follow your “logic” in he previous comment, then we’d have to
                      conclude that Jesus didn’t die for “blasphemy” in John 19:7 because he
                      wasn’t crucified in the same verse. It’s no wonder you believe in
                      “preexistent spirit beings.”

                      Your comment makes no sense at all. I think that you zigged (agreed with me) and now wish you would have zagged (disagreed with me), because the point with which you agreed reveals a critical weakness in the Unitarian position.

                      They picked up stones in response to what Jesus said at John 8:58. Your position has been so thoroughly exposed as inadequate that you are now forced to argue that they really meant to pick up stones at verse 54, and that it just took them until verse 58 to get around to it, even while continuing to question Jesus, with questions designed to get him to incriminate himself, which questions were really superfluous since they supposedly had what they needed at verse 54.

                      Even though it seems to everyone else who reads John’s gospel that Jesus’ opponents picked up stones at verse 59 in response to what Jesus said at verse 58, you must now distance yourself from even this obvious element in the narrative.

                      I think the discussion about John 8:58 is done, finally. Time to move on.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 2, 2015 @ 9:50 am

                      What “Miguel” fails to understand, even after I’ve made the point several times very clearly on this blog, is that while Jesus’ opponents were bent on killing him, they needed him to incriminate himself with a clear statement that could ostensibly serve their purposes.

                      So, once again, what “self-incriminating statement” by Jesus (formally against the Law) would have ultimately served the purpose of the Jews?

                      “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:41)? “prin abraam genesthai ego eimi“? (John 8:58) “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)?

                      What?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 5:09 am

                      “So, once again, what “self-incriminating statement” by Jesus (formally
                      against the Law) would have ultimately served the purpose of the Jews?”

                      How many times to I have to answer that question? Agree to disagree if you choose to, but stop asking questions I’ve answered many times already.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 8:30 am

                      By now Sean not only knows, but actively practices “cop out” …

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

                      “By now Sean not only knows, but actively practices ‘cop out'”

                      Hardly. You’re simply not honest enough to acknowledge that I’ve answered a question that I did in fact answer, in the very blog post which you purport to have read, and here on this forum, several times at least.

                      It’s not that I’m a “cop out”; it’s that, sadly, you’re an internet troll. It saddens me to see a professed Christian stuck in a perpetual cycle of trollery. How many sheep do you expect to attract with your approach? Unfortunately, the only people who would be attracted to your “teachings” are others who enjoy trollery, and a congregation so constituted would not be an inviting place to visit.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 11:24 pm

                      … while Jesus’ opponents were bent on killing him, they needed him to incriminate himself with a clear statement that could ostensibly serve their purposes.

                      See how Sean’s “logic” works.

                      1. “… they needed him to incriminate himself …”, so at John 8:57, they asked him a trick question and, at 8:58, finally Jesus fell in their trap. Se they were ready to stone him, but Jesus, somehow, managed to hide from them.

                      2. In John 9, Jesus has all the ease of healing a “man born blind”, without any of the Jews bothering him, let alone trying to stone him. In fact “some Pharisees” have even an exchange with Jesus.

                      3. In John 10, Jesus proclaims in the middle of the Jews that he is the Good Shepherd. The Jews must have forgotten that they had already decided to stone him at John 8, because they ask him to “tell them plainly” if he is the Christ. But then, when Jesus proclaims, “The Father and I are one”, they are once again seized by a stoning frenzy. But Jesus apparently manages to stop them for a while, arguing that there is nothing wrong in him claiming to be the “Son of God”, because the Scripture “called them gods to whom the word of God came” (Psalm 82:6). Again, “they attempted again to seize him, but he escaped their clutches” (John 10:39).

                      4. It is not until his entry in Jerusalem that they take the decision to get rid of him for good. Apparently not because he was a liar who blasphemed God with his lie (acording to Sean, what he said at John 8:58), but, after all, “because he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7)

                      Sean’s logic? Sean’s “logic”!

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 4, 2015 @ 7:55 am

                      “See how Sean’s “logic” works…”

                      I don’t see a coherent argument anywhere in the 4 musings you offered. I certainly don’t see a rebuttal to the critical problem with your view that has been exposed here, allowing others to see very clearly that your view never gets off the ground.

                      It’s actually not difficult to explain why Jesus’ opponents would attempt to stone him in one context, be thwarted either by Jesus’ counter argumentation (John 5 and John 10) or other events (John 8), and then resume their efforts to build a case against him. Ironically, that is something that you would have to do in relation to your view as much as I or anyone else would have to do in relation to ours.

                      1. Yes, Jesus said words that they felt constituted and offense that they could use to ostensibly justify killing him. This would have to be true for any interpretation of the account that simply follows the narrative.

                      2. Why, in your historical reconstruction, did Jesus’ opponents leave him alone in John 9 when, according to you, he uttered what they would have taken to be a stoning offense in John 8? This isn’t a historical puzzle for me; it’s a historical puzzle for everyone, and it’s ultimately not that puzzling. It’s actually easy to explain, which is why it’s humorous to watch you try and make it a decisive point against me with these little observations.

                      3. You act as though it is merely according to my logic that Jesus’ opponents seek to get him to tell them “plainly” who he claims to be at John 10, and you assert that they therefore must have forgotten what he said at John 8:58. Once again, this isn’t a difficult problem to solve, but it is one that YOU ALSO have to deal with, because, according to your interpretation of John 8:58, Jesus uttered words there that they felt constituted a stoning offense. In your “logic” they must have forgotten that Jesus offered a hyper-elliptical statement at Jn 8 which already constituted a stoning offense for them.

                      4. They wanted him dead before the most lamentable conference in human history occurred, and it certainly isn’t a problem for my view that they tried to use any and every excuse possible to get rid of him along the way. Just take a look at their three-fold reason plus 1 offered to pilot, which omitted Jesus’ supposed claim to be “equal with God” (5:19) and to be “a god” (10:30). Their approach was ad hoc.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 9:50 am

                      Commenting on selected bits …

                      It’s actually not difficult to explain why Jesus’ opponents would attempt to stone him …

                      Who ever said it was? It was, on the part of “the Jews” like saying, “will get you in the end”. Eventually they did, following Caiaphas’ advice (John 11:49-53; 18:14), so as not to give the Romans any excuse to destroy “the whole nation” of Israel (which happened anyway in 70 CE and then in 135 CE).

                      1. Yes, Jesus said words that they felt constituted an offense that they could use to ostensibly justify killing him.

                      All they needed was a legal excuse, even ill founded. Was proclaiming to be the Son of God a capital offense? Was proclaiming to be the Messiah? Was being (mis)understood as saying that he “existed before Abraham”? The first has no foundation in the OT. The second certainly isn’t: at most, one’s failure as Messiah would prove, retrospectively, that one was a false Messiah. The last one was unbeareable to the Jews because they prided themselves in being “seed of Abraham”.

                      2. Why … did Jesus’ opponents leave him alone in John 9 when … he uttered what they would have taken to be a stoning offense in John 8? This isn’t a historical puzzle for me … and it’s ultimately not that puzzling. It’s actually easy to explain …

                      Do enlighten us!

                      3. … according to your interpretation of John 8:58, Jesus uttered words there that they [“the Jews”] felt constituted a stoning offense.

                      Sure but, unlike you, I affirm that they felt insulted ONLY because they prided themselves in being “seed of Abraham”. No ludicrous claim that affirming to have “existed before Abraham” amounted to lie and “therefore” to a stoning offense, for someone claiming to be God’s “general agent”.

                      4. They wanted him dead before the most lamentable conference in human history occurred …

                      And what, prey tell, would that “conference” be?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 5, 2015 @ 8:37 am

                      Interesting why of selecting “bits” to respond to, i.e. replying to the first half of a sentence and leaving off the half that qualifies it, then leaving off the part where I pointed out that you have the same issues to deal with that I and anyone else has vis a vis historical puzzles, etc. In the spirit of your “select bits” method of dialogue, I’ll just comment on the following:

                      Sean: “Yes, Jesus said words that they felt constituted an offense that they could use to ostensibly justify killing him.”

                      “Miguel”: “All they needed was a legal excuse, even ill founded.”

                      Sean: You might want to look up the word “ostensibly”, because in your attempt to correct me, you’ve said essentially the same thing I’ve said.

                      “Miguel”: “Was proclaiming to be the Son of God a capital offense? Was proclaiming to be the Messiah?”

                      Sean: A claim to be the “Son of God” in context was a claim to be the “Messiah”. The former was just another way of saying the latter in relation to Jesus. There was no law against *being* the Messiah, but it would have been illegal to claim that status for yourself falsely. Obviously Jesus’ opponents were determined to view Jesus’ claim as a false one.

                      Additionally, as J.C. O’Neill has argued (convincingly, IMO), there may have been a tradition in place that held that God would appoint his Messiah, and so by claiming that status for himself, it was felt that Jesus was usurping a prerogative that only belonged to God.

                      “Miguel”: Was being (mis)understood as saying that he “existed before Abraham”?

                      As I pointed out to Dale a while back, you can’t say that they misunderstood Jesus, because their inference that Jesus existed as a real person before Abraham came to be is a logical one based on Jesus’ words. Jesus said:

                      “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

                      So the point Jesus statement was *focused* on was that Abraham rejoiced at seeing the day the Messiah would come. However, that statement can legitimately imply that Jesus existed before Abraham. I can almost hear Jesus’ opponents reasoning:

                      “Wait a minute, did he just say that Abraham rejoiced at seeing his day? How could he possibly know that unless he witnessed Abraham’s rejoicing first hand?”

                      So then the *question* (not the assertion):

                      “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham?”

                      Jesus blows them away by confirming their inference, and that was viewed as a preposterous lie. For an agent of God to lie while fulfilling his commission would be equivalent to making God a liar, because the agent’s words were God’s words, legally.

                      “Miguel”: “Was being (mis)understood as saying that he “existed before Abraham”? The first has no foundation in the OT. The second certainly isn’t: at most, one’s failure as Messiah would prove, retrospectively, that one was a false Messiah. The last one was unbeareable to the Jews because they prided themselves in being “seed of Abraham”.

                      Sean: It would only be unbearable if the inference that Jesus’ must have been claiming to have existed since before Abraham was born was (a) genuinely conceived (b) confirmed by Jesus’ subsequent reply.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 2:29 pm

                      You might want to look up the word “ostensibly”, because in your attempt to correct me, you’ve said essentially the same thing I’ve said.

                      On the contrary, you may want to take note of the expression “a legal excuse, even ill founded”. It was a monkey trial, and they had the (effective) power to carry it out.

                      A claim to be the “Son of God” in context was a claim to be the “Messiah”.

                      If the two expressions “in context” were indeed fully equivalent, as you claim, then, perhaps, you may want to consider why, to the Jews that were accusing him of “claiming to be God” (John 10:33), Jesus replied asking them why they accused of blaspheming because he said ‘I am the Son of God’.

                      There was no law against *being* the Messiah, but it would have been illegal to claim that status for oneself falsely.

                      As I have already commented, “one’s failure as Messiah would prove, retrospectively, that one was a false Messiah”.

                      Additionally, as J.C. O’Neill has argued …

                      Who is O’Neill, that we should bow to his authority? Anyway, his claim is contradicted by the host of Messianic claimants, including Bar Kochba, whom the celebrated Rabbi Akiba had extolled as the Messiah, until they were both excuted by Hadrian’s army, in 135 CE.

                      … their [the Jews’] inference that Jesus existed as a real person before Abraham [John 8:57] came to be is a logical one based on Jesus’ words [John 8:56].

                      Jesus had ONLY mentioned Abraham “seeing” his “day”. His words most certainly didn’t imply the Jews’ inference as the only logical one.

                      How could he [Jesus] possibly know that unless he witnessed Abraham’s rejoicing first hand?

                      Are you claiming that Jesus “witnessed Abraham’s rejoicing first hand”? What do you mean by “first hand”? What did Abrahm “see”, in your opinion?

                      It [being (mis)understood as saying that he “existed before Abraham”] could only have been unbearable if the inference that Jesus must have been implying that he had been in existence since before Abraham was born was (a) genuinely conceived, and (b) confirmed by Jesus’ subsequent reply in verse 58.

                      The key to the Jews rage is here:

                      “You aren’t greater than our father Abraham who died, are you?” (John 8:53)

                      By claiming (elliptically) that Abraham was NOT yet “father of a multitude of nations”, whereas he, right in front of them, was the Messiah, Jesus was “blowing away” their pride of being “seed of Abraham”.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 5, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

                      Sean: “You might want to look up the word “ostensibly”, because in your
                      attempt to correct me, you’ve said essentially the same thing I’ve said.”

                      “Miguel”: “On the contrary, you may want to take note of the expression “a legal excuse, even ill founded”. It was a monkey trial, and they had the
                      (effective) power to carry it out.”

                      LOL — More later, but I found that comment so humorous that I couldn’t wait to reply! Ahem, “Miguel”, a trial in which the prosecutors are only concerned with “ostensibly” justifying their objective IS a “monkey trial”.

                      You either didn’t take the time to look up “ostensibly” or you didn’t understand the meaning in this context:-) Too funny.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 5:30 pm

                      ostensible adj.Represented or appearing as such; ostensive: His ostensible purpose was charity, but his real goal was popularity. [American Heritage]

                      So, what? The difference between what you say and what I say is that the Jews had to have a charge against Jesus that at least formally was impeccable. I say that in a monkey trial, all you need is “a legal excuse, even ill founded”. Surely you can appreciate the difference between “formally impeccable” and “even ill founded”.

                      If, in fact you are also saying that they didn’t really need an impeccable charge (“at least formally”), then I really do not understand why you put so much stock by Jesus’ reply at John 8:58 amounting to a blasphemy.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 6, 2015 @ 8:15 am

                      “So, what? The difference between what you say and what I say is that the Jews had to have a charge against Jesus that at least formally was impeccable. I say that in a monkey trial, all you need is “a legal excuse, even ill founded”. Surely you can appreciate the difference between “formally impeccable” and “even ill founded”… If, in fact you are also saying that they didn’t really need an impeccable charge (“at least formally”), then I really do not understand why you put so much stock by Jesus’ reply at John 8:58 amounting to a blasphemy.”

                      LOL — This is just what I needed to get my morning off to a good start:-) You are so determined to disagree with everything I say that you are now seeking for distinctions that one must strain at a gnat to even see!

                      So the only difference, it would seem, between your view and mine is one of degree (possibly). For you, any old legal excuse would do, even one so ill founded that everyone could see through it, whereas I believe that the legal excuse had to at least appear justifiable.

                      Why is your view inadequate, IMO? As I’ve explained here recently, to Roman I think, the people held Jesus to be a prophet, and Jesus’ opponents would have feared that if they killed him for no ostensibly justifiable reason amid the crowds, there would probably be a riot and their own lives would then be in danger.

                      Jesus would not be the only one to parish on a day that they’d stone him in the midst of his followers for a crime that everyone could plainly see was ill founded. Moreover, once the riot broke out and killings committed, the Roman authorities would have had to step in and investigate, and who knows what new troubles that could bring down upon them.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 12:55 am

                      What are the odds that these required pieces could fall so perfectly into place yet McKay’s understanding still be false? That would be the granddaddy of all ironies, would it not?

                      Poor Sean must have really invested an awful lot on McKay, intellectually and emotionally … 🙂

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 31, 2015 @ 5:05 am

                      “Poor Sean must have really invested an awful lot in McKay’s “exquisite translation”, intellectually and emotionally … :)”

                      Awe, now you’ve resorted to taunting as a form of Christian “argument”. How…..predictable. Either you’re a troll, or you felt the power of the question, and now you’re trying to deal with the cognitive dissonance one experiences when one realizes deep down that a view they disdain is actually mighty compelling.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 5:21 am

                      … you felt the power of the question, and now
                      you’re trying to deal with the cognitive dissonance one experiences when one realizes deep down that a view they disdain is actually mighty compelling.

                      On the contrary, MacKay’s (and your) dearly held “pre-existence” has been effectively debunked, even if you delude yourself that the “mighty compelling” defence that you have built with your previous post is impregnable. Your incapability to realize that does not change the situation … 🙂

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 7:15 am

                      Let’s look at the relevant verses of John 8:

                      56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Judeans replied, “You are not yet fifty years old! Have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham was, I am!” (John 8:56-58)

                      The critical phrase is [Greek] prin abraam genesthai egô eimi and, even more specifically, the phrase prin abraam genesthai.

                      Now, genesthai is the Second Aorist – Middle Deponent – Infinitive form of gi[g]nomai, which has a very broad spectrum of meanings (see Liddel-Scott-Jones Greek Lexicon), the most fundamental of which is “to become” and, only derivatively, “to be [born (absolute sense). Normally, in the sense of “to become”, genesthai is followed by a predicate, which is apparently not the case in John 8:58, so, the Greek phrase prin abraam genesthai is usually understood as though genesthai was actually used in the absolute sense, and consequently translated with something like “before Abraham was [born]”.

                      But, as I have already written in a comment at “podcast episode 63 – Thomas Belsham and other scholars on John 8:58”, one of the arguments raised by Belsham (A Calm Inquiry Into the Scripture Doctrine Concerning the Person of Christ, § 3, pp. 53-55) is that of double ellipsis.

                      If, instead of interpreting genesthai as absolute (“to be [born]”), we suppose that genesthai means “to become” (in an elliptical sense to be determined), the key phrase at John 8:58 becomes:

                      [Lit. Eng.] before Abraham become [ellipsis], I am [ellipsis]

                      Neither “become”, nor “I am” are, reasonably, used in an absolute sense.

                      So, there may be an ellipsis associated with each verb.

                      Unpacking the [double ellipsis], we may have:

                      “Before Abraham become [father of a multitude (viz. of nations) – Gen 17:5] I am [the Messiah]”

                      Less obscurely, what Jesus is saying to “the Jews” may be something like this:

                      “And verily I say, that the time for the accomplishment of what he foresaw is not yet arrived: for before Abram shall be Abraham, i. e. become the father of many nations, according to the import of his name, I am the Christ your Messiah.” (Interpretation and paraphrase of John 8:58 provided at the Theological Repository vol. iv. p. 351, as quoted by Thomas Belsham in A Calm Inquiry Into the Scripture Doctrine Concerning the Person of Christ, p. 54)

                      To end with, Belsham records that this interpretation of John 8:58 was first proposed by the Polish Socinians (presumably, the Polish Brethren, a non-trinitarian Protestant church that existed in Poland from 1565 to 1658).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 30, 2015 @ 7:26 am

                      “And verily I say, that the time for the accomplishment of what he foresaw is not yet arrived: for before Abram shall be Abraham, i. e. become the father of many nations, according to the import of his name, I am the Christ your Messiah.” (Interpretation and paraphrase of John 8:58 provided at the Theological Repository vol. iv. p. 351, as quoted by Thomas Belsham in A Calm Inquiry Into the Scripture Doctrine Concerning the Person of Christ, p. 54)”

                      One thing that McKay’s view has over that one, which appears to be yet another non sequitur — WAY over that one — is that his translation forms an exquisite response in context without having to insert 34 words that aren’t in the original text. Oh, and unlike Belsham’s paraphrase based on imagination, McKay’s rendering is not a non sequitur. Obviously Unitarianism requires a non sequitur here, which is why so many bizarre renderings and paraphrases are offered in an effort to avoid the implications of a natural one.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

                      One thing that McKay’s view has over that one [Interpretation and paraphrase of John 8:58 provided at the Theological Repository vol. iv. p. 351, as quoted by Thomas Belsham in A Calm Inquiry Into the Scripture Doctrine Concerning the Person of Christ, p. 54] is that his translation forms an exquisite [LOL!] response in context without having to insert 34 words that aren’t in the original text. Obviously Unitarianism requires a non sequitur here, which is why so many bizarre renderings and paraphrases are offered in an effort to avoid the implications of a natural one.

                      First, McKay “exquisite translation” (alternatively, “superlative English equivalent of what Jesus meant”, always according to Sean) of John 8:58 …

                      [Jesus said to them] “The truth is, I have been in existence since before Abraham was born!” (see Kenneth McKay, A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek: An Aspectual Approach, 1994, p. 41, 42)

                      … which, apart from the (arbitrarily) inverted order of words, is very much the same as one of the many proposed by others (Goodspeed, Moffat, Williams, Louw and Nida, etc.) as Sean easily admits in his blog (“Before Abraham was, I…what, exactly?“, June 12, 2015), and also at least one of the standard English translations (NTL).

                      Second, as I have already argued, Belsham’s essential translation is this …

                      “Before Abraham become [father of a multitude], I am [the Messiah]”

                      Which ,as can be easily counted, is exactly 11 words [including the filled-in ellipses], whereas the McKays’ corresponding translation is 10 words.

                      Third, Sean is evidently very fond of the Latin expression non sequitur, which he uses twice in his comment. Perhaps he should be reminded of what it means, so he is sure to use it appropriately.

                      non sequitur: a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.

                      Alternatively, Sean should be so kind as to point out what would be a non sequitur in Belsham’s (and my) argument.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 30, 2015 @ 8:22 pm

                      “which, apart from the (arbitrarily) inverted order of words”

                      This demonstrates that your knowledge of English is as faulty as your “knowledge” of Greek. S-V-P is standard English word order, as any 6th grader should know.

                      “…is very much the same as one of the many proposed by others (Goodspeed, Moffat, Williams, Louw and Nida, etc.) as Sean easily admits in his blog (“Before Abraham was, I…what, exactly?”, June 12, 2015), and also at least one of the standard English translations (NTL).”

                      As my Trinitarian friend warned, before of the impending “spin”, i.e. you use the word “admits” as though the fact that other translators have recognized that John was saying that Jesus existed before Abraham was born is something that I’d have to “admit”, when, in point of fact, that was something I deliberately drew attention to to support my argument.

                      “Second, as I have already argued, Belsham’s essential translation is this …’Before Abraham become [father of a multitude], I am [the Messiah]’”

                      You’ve unaccountably missed the point entirely. McKay’s literal translation captures the MEANING of what John intended to convey in exactly 10 words, whereas your preferred translation is meaningless unless one imports a couple dozen words that aren’t in the text. Also (apparently English is your second language), you don’t say “Before [name] become, I am [title]” in English.

                      PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI EGW EIMI
                      Before Abraham came to be I am

                      Put in standard English word order, as is correctly done with thousands and thousands of other verses in the Bible:

                      I am before Abraham came to be

                      Recognizing that EIMI is being used existentially and modifying the present tense EGO EIMI in light of the contextually required sense per context, we get:

                      I have been in existence [since] before Abraham was born [or came to be]

                      “Third, Sean is evidently very fond of the Latin expression non sequitur, which he uses twice in his comment. Perhaps he should be reminded of what it means, so he is sure to use it appropriately. non sequitur: a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.”

                      Nah, I’m not particularly fond of the expression; Unitarians are simply font of offering them in a pathetic effort to escape the rather obvious meaning of the subject verse.

                      “Alternatively, Sean should be so kind as to point out what would be a non sequitur in Belsham’s (and my) argument.”

                      Sure, any reply that has nothing to do with the question asked is by definition a non sequitur. Belsham’s fanciful “paraphrase” is not an answer to the question posed in verse 57.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 12:50 am

                      Sure, any reply that has nothing to do with the question asked is by definition a non sequitur. Belsham’s fanciful “paraphrase” is not an answer to the question posed in verse 57.

                      On the contrary, with its implicit reference to the fact that God’s promise to Abram/Abraham at Gen 17:5 is not fulfilled yet, whereas Jesus, the Messiah, is already there, in front of the Jews, it blows apart their (ingenuous? disingenuous?) misunderstanding and calls their bluff. Thence their violent reaction (John 8:59)

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 31, 2015 @ 4:54 am

                      “On the contrary, with its implicit reference to the fact that God’s
                      promise to Abram/Abraham at Gen 17:5 is not fulfilled yet, whereas
                      Jesus, the Messiah, is already there, in front of the Jews, it
                      blows apart their (ingenuous? disingenuous?) misunderstanding and calls
                      their bluff. Thence their violent reaction (John 8:59).”

                      Sorry, but that doesn’t work. Maybe YOU need to look up the meaning of non sequitur again, because your fanciful paraphrase is precisely that.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 31, 2015 @ 5:12 am

                      “In his pedantic use of English, obviously Sean doesn’t know that
                      sometimes the common word order is modified (in English as well as in
                      Greek and many other languages), for emphasis … :(”

                      You must have forgotten that I was merely *responding* to your silly assertion that McKay “arbitrarily inverted” the word order. Everyone knows that writers will use non-standard word order for any number of reasons, including emphasis.

                      You’re all about the fun of the argument, not the truth, it seems to me.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 5:36 am

                      You must have forgotten that I was merely *responding* to your silly assertion that McKay “arbitrarily inverted” the word order. Everyone knows that writers will use non-standard word order for any number of reasons, including emphasis.

                      On the contrary, it is you who seem to consider the order of words in McKay’s translation of paramount importance.

                      Look ye here:

                      [Sean]
                      PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI EGW EIMI
                      Before Abraham came to be I am
                      Put in standard English word order [sic], as is correctly done with thousands and thousands of other verses in the Bible:
                      I am before Abraham came to be

                      No Further Comments Required [from now on NFCR]

                    • Rivers
                      August 30, 2015 @ 10:47 am

                      Hi Miguel,

                      I think the view you’ve expressed in your previous comment is reasonable since it correctly captures the future implications of GENESQAI (from the perspective of Jesus, who is speaking of himself in the Present tense, EGW EIMI).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 30, 2015 @ 11:45 am

                      The aorist is “unmarked” and takes its tense significance from context. McKay is simply translating in harmony with context, whereas you desperately need to avoid doing so because of your irrational resistance to allowing a rendering that unfolds naturally, as such a rendering clearly supports preexistence.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 1:33 pm

                      The aorist is “unmarked” and takes its tense significance from context.

                      I am not sure what “unmarked” is supposed to mean. What is sure, once again, is that genesthai is the Second Aorist – Middle Deponent – Infinitive form of gi[g]nomai.

                    • Rivers
                      August 30, 2015 @ 2:58 pm

                      Miguel,

                      It is true that Aorist verbs were used to speak of something that happens in a “point of time” (without denoting Past, Present, or Future). However, they typically refer to things that happen in the Past and it is common for scholars (like Kenneth McKay) to make the mistake of assuming that this is always the case.

                      The reason we can be certain that the writer of the 4th Gospel didn’t use GENESQAI to refer to something that happened with Abraham in the Past in John 8:58 is because we can see that the writer used the same word a half dozen other times to refer to something that was “yet to happen” as a result of something else. Moreover, this is the way he always used other Aorist Infinitive verbs throughout his books.

                      When there is no evidence that a writer used a particular word or grammatical form in any other sense, it is fallacious to try to force it to have a different meaning in one particular text. There is nothing in the context of John 8:58 that requires that GENESQAI be taken as a Past tense so it’s more reasonable to follow all the other examples of how the writer used it to speak of something that was “yet to happen.”

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 3:59 pm

                      [1] The reason we can be certain that the writer of the 4th Gospel didn’t
                      use GENESQAI to refer to something that happened with Abraham in the
                      Past in John 8:58 is because we can see that the writer used the same
                      word a half dozen other times to refer to something that was “yet to
                      happen” as a result of something else. Moreover, this is the way he
                      always used other Aorist Infinitive verbs throughout his books.
                      I haven’t had the time to check the “half dozen other times” when genesthai would occur in John. In a couple I have found (John 1:12; 3:9) I frankly don’t think that genesthai is used in a future sense. OTOH, in John 5:6 genesthai seems oriented to the future.

                      The most interesting verse, IMO, is John 14:29, in which not only do we find the infinitive genesthai, but even in the very same construction, prin genesthai as in John 8:58, and with an indisputable future sense.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 30, 2015 @ 6:50 pm

                      “The most interesting verse, IMO, is John 14:29, in which not only do we find the infinitive genesthai, but even in the very same construction, prin genesthai as in John 8:58, and with an indisputable future sense.”

                      I know of no qualified translator who would deny that PRIN can occur with GENESTHAI in a context where future tense is involved. That’s like a “well, dah” moment. The aorist is unmarked and can be used with past and future tense. I thought everyone knew that, and so I’m a little surprised to see you congratulating yourself for having “discovered” it at John 14:29.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 12:15 am

                      I know of no qualified translator who would deny that PRIN can occur with GENESTHAI in a context where future tense is involved. That’s like a “well, dah” moment. The aorist is unmarked and can be used with past and future tense. I thought everyone knew that, and so I’m a little surprised to see you congratulating yourself for having “discovered” it at John 14:29.

                      If you had read carefully, you would have realized that far from any “discovery” and “self-congratulation”, I have drastically reduced the scope of Rivers’ statement whereby “[t]he reason we can be certain that the writer of the 4th Gospel didn’t use GENESQAI to refer to something that happened with Abraham in the Past in John 8:58 is because we can see that the writer used the same word a half dozen other times to refer to something that was ‘yet to happen’.”

                      Read better, read again, before you make a fool of yourself. 🙁

                    • Rivers
                      August 31, 2015 @ 10:50 am

                      Hi Miguel,

                      Let me point out the sense in which the Aorist Infinitive is used like a future aspect in passages like John 1:12 and John 3:9.

                      In John 1:12, it is translated “become” because the Aorist Infinitive (GENESQAI) expresses the fact that the believers did not “become” children of God until after the point in time that they “received” (Aorist Indicative) Jesus Christ and he “gave” (Aorist Indicative) them that status.

                      In John 3:9, Nicodemus literally says “how can these things become (GENESQAI)” because the Aorist Infinitive expresses the fact that Nicodemus was not yet “born from above” (John 3:7). Thus, from the perspective of Jesus and Nicodemus in the context of the historical narrative, the Aorist Infintives refer to something that happens at a point of time in their future.

                      Likewise, in John 8:58, the Aorist Infinitive is used to express the fact that Jesus is present (EIMI) among the Jews during the time “before” (PRIN) something was “to happen” (GENESQAI) with Abraham just like PRIN GENESQAI is used in John 14:29 to express the fact that Jesus was telling his disciples about his own resurrection “before it happened” in their future.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 11:40 am

                      Let me point out the sense in which the Aorist Infinitive is used like a future aspect in passages like John 1:12 and John 3:9.

                      Sorry, Roman, but I find your explanations unconvincing.

                      For John 1:12, because, following your logic, as “to become” always involves a change, we should say that genesthai always expresses a “future sense”, whatever the context.

                      In John 3:9, contrary to the the prevalent use, I believe that genesthai does NOT mean “become”, BUT “come to be”, “happen” (absolute sense) …

                      Nicodemus replied, “How can these things happen?” (John 3:9)

                      … where “these things” (tauta) refers to what happens “with everyone who is born of the Spirit”, as Jesus has just explained to the puzzled Nicodemus.

                    • Rivers
                      August 30, 2015 @ 4:02 pm

                      Sean,

                      There’s nothing in the context that warrants McKay’s mistranslation of the two verb forms in John 8:58. Moreover, McKay’s explanation contradicts the way the writer of the 4th Gospel used Aorist Infintive verbs (e.g. GENESQAI) and Present Indicatives (e.g. EGW EIMI) in every other passage. Most scholars reject McKay’s version simply because it has no exegetical merit.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 30, 2015 @ 6:59 pm

                      “Thus, most scholars reject McKay’s idea because there is no exegetical
                      merit to it, and it doesn’t take into account the “context” established
                      by how the writer of the 4th Gospel actually used his own language.”

                      My Trinitarian friend was right when he warned to look out for the “spin”, because if that’s not “spin” then there is no “spin”.

                      What you dishonestly left out is *crucial* to the point at hand: Most scholars (all but one dead one?) reject your notion that GENESQAI is future tense at John 8:58, and if it’s past tense then McKay’s argument stands, as many experts have observed and corroborated.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      August 30, 2015 @ 9:05 pm

                      Sean,

                      You’ve never pointed out any scholars that reject the evidence that I’ve given regarding the usage of GENESQAI in John 8:58. As I’ve noted before, you haven’t done the research.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

                      Kenneth McKay’s attempt to propose a PPA interpretation of John 8:58 by forcing GENESQAI to be a Past tense (“was born”) and EGW EIMI to be a Perfect tense (“I have been”) is a prime example of bad exegesis and irresponsible scholarship.

                      Even more problematic, in IMO, is Kenneth McKay’s attempt to force both gi[g]nomai and eimi to be understood in an absolute sense (respectively, “Abraham was born” “I have been in existence”), whereas, normally, both verbs are used with a predicate. The rest of the faulty translation follows, under lofty pretense of A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek.

                      And yes, of course, all that jazz is a rationalization for “the ‘pre-existent spirit being’ nonsense”.

                    • Rivers
                      August 30, 2015 @ 4:10 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Good points. The evidence shows that the writer of the 4th Gospel always used the verb GENNAW when referring to so someone who “was born” (e.g. John 9:19-20) and never GINOMAI.

                      It’s also evident that whenever the writer of the 4th Gospel referred to someone being “born”, he never used a Middle voice or an Infinitive mood. This is another reason that “before Abraham was born” is an implausible translation of GENESQAI (Aorist Middle Infinitive).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

                      These are other apparent reasons that “before Abraham was born” is the wrong translation of PRIN ABRAAM with GENESQAI (Aorist Middle Infinitive).

                      I find Belsham’s theory of the “double ellipsis” (“Before Abraham become [father of a multitude – Gen 17:5] I am [the Messiah]”) the most convincing, because, in spite of the heavy assumption one has to make (Jesus’ speech was deliberately and twice elliptical), it ties in nicely with the response that Jesus gives, in the GoJ, to other instances of (genuine or pretended) misunderstanding.

                      It’s is fair to say, though, that Belsham’s favourite hypotheis is that Jesus actually referred to his own “pre-existence”, NOT actual, BUT only in the mind and purpose of God.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 30, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

                      Thanks Miguel

                      Yes, this looks plausible
                      I will check out #63

                      But still, your explanation, even if plausible, is only one amongst other possible ones

                      So does not my point remain, that it would be dangerous to try to prove any doctrine from this one verse?

                      Regards

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 30, 2015 @ 1:32 pm

                      “Yes, this looks plausible…I will check out #63…But still, your explanation, even if plausible, is only one amongst other possible ones”

                      No it’s not “plausible”, not by a long-shot!

                      “So does not my point remain, that it would be dangerous to try to prove any doctrine from this one verse?”

                      It’s certainly dangerous to listen to Rivers and “Miguel”, as they are desperate to avoid an inference to preexistence and they’re leading others astray with their faulty arguments.

                      So Jesus said this:

                      “Before Abraham become, I am”

                      And really meant this:

                      “And verily I say, that the time for the accomplishment of what he foresaw is not yet arrived: for before Abram shall be Abraham, i. e. become the father of many nations, according to the import of his name, I am the Christ your Messiah.”

                      You find that “plausible”? Do you really think that that’s what Jesus’ opponents inferred?

                      Remember, as I said in a previous post:

                      5. Jesus opponents never attempted to stone him for merely saying something unintelligible, confusing, or ungrammatical. They even pressed him to declare *clearly* who he claimed to be, precisely because they needed *clear* testimony against him to justify their intent before the people, who held him to be a prophet. Each time they tried to kill him it was because he said something that could be construed so as to ostensibly justify their evil designs.

                      6. Moreover, in all other such contexts Jesus responded directly to their questions. Why assume that Jesus would ignore them and make an unrelated statement of his own in response — or, rather, in non-response — to this one question (vs 57)?

                      And I’ll repeat the question you have chosen to not to answer yet:

                      So John 8:58 (a) has the elements of a PPA, (b) a rendering based on
                      that idiom forms an exquisite reply in context, and (c) the statement so
                      rendered would have constituted a stoning offense if untrue.

                      Let me ask you something: What are the odds that these required pieces
                      could fall so perfectly into place yet McKay’s understanding still be false? That would be the granddaddy of all ironies, would it not?

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 2:15 pm

                      Do you really think that that [viz. “Before Abraham become [father of a multitude], I am [the Messiah]”] [i]s what Jesus’ opponents inferred?

                      That is a peculiar question indeed.

                      We have the evidence from John’s text that, in their exchange with Jesus, the Jews either deliberately or obtusely equivocated Jesus’ words.

                      [56] Jesus was referring to Abraham “seeing” the “day” of the Messiah, NOT the other way round.

                      [57] The Jews appeared to misunderstand Jesus, as though Jesus had claimed to have seen Abraham. In good faith? Mmm … In bad faith? Uh hu …

                      [58] Jesus gave a reply that incensed the Jews because he affirmed that, while God’s promise at Gen 17:5 wasn’t quite fulfilled yet, he, Jesus was the very person that Abraham was “overjoyed” to “see”: the Messiah.

                      Hint: had Abraham “seen” the Messiah in vision?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 30, 2015 @ 7:17 pm

                      “We have the evidence from John’s text that, in their exchange with
                      Jesus, the Jews either deliberately or obtusely equivocated Jesus’
                      words.

                      [56] Jesus was referring to Abraham “seeing” the “day” of the Messiah, NOT the other way round.”

                      You give some evidence of having read my blog post on John 8:58, but then you proceed to offer an argument that ignores the fact that I addressed this point. As I pointed out in that post, and previously here:

                      “Jesus’ opponents inferred from his statement in verse 56 that Jesus had
                      personally observed (first hand) Abraham rejoice over seeing his day.”

                      Since their inference is a possible logical conclusion based on what Jesus said, you don’t know that they misconstrued him. If you put yourself in their place you can follow their train of thought quite easily: “Wait a minute, did he just say that Abraham rejoiced at seeing his day? How could he know that unless he personally witnessed Abraham rejoicing? Is that what he means?”, then the *question* (not the *assertion*):

                      “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham?”

                      Jesus responds with words that blow them away as they confirm that they read him right, and there was no way they would believe him, so they took up stones.

                      “[57] The Jews appeared to misunderstand Jesus, as though Jesus had claimed to have seen Abraham. In good faith? Mmm … In bad faith? Uh hu …”

                      Since their inference is a logical possibility, and their response was in the form of a question not a counter assertion, I’d say that a direct reply from Jesus was warranted, not the sort of absurd non sequitur that you and Rivers are determined to place on his lips.

                      “[58] Jesus gave a reply that incensed the Jews because he affirmed that,
                      while God’s promise at Gen 17:5 wasn’t quite fulfilled yet, he, Jesus
                      was the very person that Abraham was “overjoyed” to “see”: the Messiah.”

                      This is the primary (not the *only*) problem with Unitarian interpretations: You have to import dozens of words that are not in the text in an (unsuccessful) effort to twist Jesus’ words into a reply that comports with Unitarianism.

                      “Hint: had Abraham “seen” the Messiah in vision?”

                      Yeah, I addressed that the last time this subject came up.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 12:41 am

                      “Hint: had Abraham “seen” the Messiah in vision?”

                      Yeah, I addressed that the last time this subject came up.

                      IF Jesus, at 56 was speaking of Abram/Abraham “seeing his day”, NOT of Jesus seeing Abram/Abraham, THEN 57 is an obvious misunderstanding (ingenuous? disingenuous?) and 58 is an obvious correction by Jesus of the misunderstanding of the Jews.

                      Think better, think again …

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 31, 2015 @ 1:49 pm

                      Hi Sean, Miguel, Paul and Rivers
                      This is all fascinating stuff
                      I lean towards the ‘before Abram became (Abraham), I am (the Messiah)’
                      But one thing none of you seem to have addressed is what Jesus would have said in the Aramaic
                      We do not expect Jesus to have known Greek, not considered PPA, the use of the aorist infinitive of ginomai or any other fine points of Greek grammar (or do we?)
                      We expect Jesus to have said something in idiomatic Aramaic which caused the Jews to pick up stones.
                      Is there a PPA in Aramaic?

                    • Rivers
                      August 31, 2015 @ 4:10 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      The problem with introducing Aramaic into John 8:58 is that there is no evidence that Jesus (or any of the apostles) actually spoke Aramaic. There are only numerous explicit references to them speaking Hebrew (John 5:2; John 19:13; John 19:17; John 19:20; John 20:16; Acts 21:40; Acts 22:2; Acts 26:14).

                      Thus, it would be entirely speculative to suggest an Aramaic idiom (especially when the Greek grammar makes perfectly good sense on its own). I think it’s just a matter of correctly translating and interpreting the text we have.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 1, 2015 @ 12:58 pm

                      Thanks Rivers. I hope you see my point, that there is no use debating meanings of John 8:58 which could not have been expressed in Aramaic (or Hebrew).

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      How would you suggest expressing the meaning of John 8:58 in Hebrew?

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 1, 2015 @ 6:07 pm

                      Hi Rivers
                      Well it all depends what we think the author of John was trying to say in the Greek. Which is where we came in!
                      I am with Miguel (and you?) in thinking Jesus was saying something like
                      ‘before Abraham became (the receiver of the promise), I am (timelessly) the Messiah in the plan of God’
                      In other words Abraham rejoiced to see my day because he could look forward to my coming,
                      But my Hebrew is so rusty (euphemism for ‘forgotten almost all of what I learned’) that I could not translate.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 6:38 pm

                      I am with Miguel (and you?) in thinking Jesus was saying something like
                      ‘before Abraham became (the receiver of the promise), I am (timelessly) the Messiah in the plan of God’

                      David,

                      two days ago, I had explained in detail to you Belsham’s theory of the double ellipsis, and declared that I find it more persuasive than any other, even if it is not the one that Belsham chooses in the end. So, I will have to correct your understanding:

                      ‘before Abraham became become [Subjunctive with future sense] (the receiver of the promise), I am (timelessly now and here) the Messiah in the plan of God’

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 2, 2015 @ 12:46 pm

                      Thanks Miguel
                      How do we know the genesthai is subjunctive?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 2, 2015 @ 2:15 pm

                      How do we know the genesthai is subjunctive?

                      David,

                      First, you said “I am with Miguel”.

                      Second, the critical sentence, in Greek, is this

                      prin abraam genesthai egô eimi

                      Third, in my detailed explanation of (by now) 3 days ago, addressed to you, I said clearly that “genesthai is the Second Aorist – Middle Deponent – Infinitive form of gi[g]nomai

                      Fourth I argued in detail for Belsham’s translation/interpretation:

                      “Before Abraham become [father of a multitude (viz. of nations) – Gen 17:5] I am [the Messiah]” [were the English become is Subjunctive, with future sense – in the context]

                      Fifth, if you interpret the Greek text to mean something like …

                      “before Abraham became (the receiver of the promise), I am (timelessly) the Messiah in the plan of God”

                      … evidently you are NOT “with Miguel”.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 3, 2015 @ 6:29 am

                      Thanks Miguel

                      Maybe I spoke too soon when I said I was with you

                      I meant that an interpretation avoiding pre-existence is preferable from my POV. But I am willing to be convinced otherwise.

                      ‘Before Abraham become’ is not correct English, is it?

                      I don’t understand where this ‘subjunctive’ comes from, and you have not answered my question.
                      There is nothing indefinite or merely possible in Abraham becoming the father of many nations.

                      regards

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 9:51 am

                      David

                      Maybe I spoke too soon when I said I was with you

                      That’s what I thought … 🙂

                      ‘Before Abraham become’ is not correct English, is it?

                      Well, Belsham used it and, although he wrote his A Calm Inquiry Into the Scripture Doctrine Concerning the Person of Christ in 1817, I believe it is still correct English.

                      I don’t understand where this ‘subjunctive’ comes from, and you have not answered my question.

                      [patiently …] Become “is Subjunctive, with future sense – in the context”. What is still unclear to you?

                      There is nothing indefinite or merely possible in Abraham becoming the father of many nations.

                      Genesis 17:5 is a promise (“I will make you”), NOT an actual reality. The Jews were persuaded that the promise had already been fulfilled in them. Jesus corrected them: while Abram had not become “Abraham” (“fater of a mutitude of nations” – yet), he, the Messiah was already there, right in front of the Jews who refused to accept him as their Messiah.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 3, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

                      Thanks
                      Yes you are correct, ‘become’ is 3rd person present subjective

                      http://www.verbix.com/webverbix/English/become.html

                      But there is no future subjunctive.

                      Did Belsham think it was?

                      You did not answer my question. How do we know it is subjunctive?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 4:44 pm

                      I lean towards the ‘before Abram became (Abraham), I am (the Messiah)’

                      Became or become? That makes a world of difference.

                      But one thing none of you seem to have addressed is what Jesus would have said in the Aramaic

                      I don’t believe that any gospel is some sort of detailed record of the words pronounced by Jesus and all others. The Gospel of John, with its long speeches, less so than all. Nevertheless, I believe that the gospel accounts are essentially faithful. Only rarely we perceive a semitism, underneath the Greek. Even more rarely, nay exceptionally, the Aramaic original is recorded.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 31, 2015 @ 7:45 pm

                      “I lean towards the ‘before Abram became (Abraham), I am (the Messiah)”

                      It’s not grammatical, but it supports the personal preexistence of God’s Son.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 2:37 pm

                      … your explanation, even if plausible, is only one amongst other possible ones

                      So does not my point remain, that it would be dangerous to try to prove any doctrine from this one verse?

                      David,

                      in spite of what what many theologians say, reading the NT texts in a selective way, one may claim that Jesus was made God’s “Son” at his resurrection or, moving back, at his baptism or, moving further back, as his virgin conception.

                      OTOH, there is not a shred of support, in the NT, for Jesus’ personal “pre-existence”, other than by streched “exegesis” of a handful of verses. (Of course, and even more so, there is not a shred of support for the “trinity”.)

                      That is why theologians who refuse (or prefer not to openly endorse) the “trinity”, scavenge for verses like John 8:58 and their “pre-existence” interpretation. Obtuse or in bad faith (yes, like the Jews …).

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 31, 2015 @ 7:15 pm

                      Thanks Miguel.
                      Yes the evidence for personal pre-existence is thin on the ground.
                      Moreover there is the problem of what is meant by it. Witness Sean’s refusal to answer that point.
                      What DOES it mean for a spirit being to turn into a human being?
                      What criterion makes it the SAME being?
                      No answer from Sean on that point

                    • Rivers
                      August 31, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      Good points. The reason many of the ex-JWs cling to Kenneth McKay’s flawed translation of John 8:58 is because they now realize that Jesus cannot be “Michael the Archangel” and they don’t want to appeal to the Watchtower Society as an authority on the matter.

                      Most of them now believe in the nebulous “preexisting spirit being” idea and need to drop the name of Kenneth McKay in order to appear as though they have some ordinary “scholarly” support for preexistence in John 8:58. Unfortunately, they tend to idolize the minority opinion of McKay in the same way they used to submit to the questionable teaching of the WTS.

                      I’ve discussed this issue with Greg Stafford and a number of other learned ex-JWs but it’s difficult to get them to take an objective look at the biblical evidence. That is why one of them here is always clamoring about “noted translators” and “Greek grammarians” instead of responding to the exegetical arguments we have to offer.

                      These folks are used to arguing with Trinitarians who need John 8:58 for their preexistence concept as well. Thus, they are unfamiliar with the different exegetical considerations offered by biblical unitarians.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 1, 2015 @ 6:51 am

                      Thanks River. I have argued with a few JWs over the years. My main objection to their preexistence position is the same as I make to trinitarians, which is that such a strange hybrid being could not have been a real human being.

                      For a start, it would have needed two sets of memories, which starts us on the slippery slope that leads to two minds, wills etc. Then this being would have to have a consciousness that decides when it wants to dip into its human mind and when to access its spirit being mind.

                      But when you ask adherents to explain how all this works, and how this being is nonetheless a real human being, they don’t know what to say.

                      regards

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 9:14 am

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      Yes, those are all good points. I find it particularly troubling that the ex-JWs who espouse the “preexistent spirit being” idea (Stafford, Navas, Barron, etc) have written some lengthy books without even being able to define who/what the “preexistent spirit being” was. What’s the point of defending “preexistence” in the NT when there is no historical reference to the identity of this person in the OT?

                      On the other hand, biblical unitarians can simply appeal to many scriptures that identify Jesus Christ as an human being and don’t require any notion of “preexistence” or “incarnation.” From a forensic and logical standpoint, I think this makes the exegetical and inter-contextual basis for biblical unitrianism much more compelling.

                      However, we do have a burden to provide reasonable explanations of passages like John 1:1-2, John 1:14, John 8:58, Philippians 2:6, and others that are commonly translated in a manner that begs the questions about preexistence and incarnation.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 1, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

                      Yes, I agree with all of that, except to disagree about historical references to the identity of this supposed ‘spirit being’. There are plenty of candidates (Memra, the Word, Wisdom, Michael, the Son of Man), but how to choose between them?

                    • Rivers
                      September 1, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      I think Memra, Word, and Wisdom can be eliminated for certain because they are terms that don’t refer to “beings” in scripture. Michael can be eliminated because the apostles didn’t believe that Jesus Christ was an “angel” (even JWs are figuring that out). Finally, the “son of man” idea can be eliminated because there’s no evidence that Jesus was an human being prior to his birth.

                      With that said, I think biblical unitarians who try to make impersonal things like Memra or Wisdom “preexistent” in some “notional” sense are going in the wrong direction as well. I don’t think there’s any reason to de-humanize LOGOS in John 1:1-2 when the write plainly said that “the word was flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1-2).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 2, 2015 @ 9:32 am

                      I don’t think there’s any reason to de-humanize LOGOS in John 1:1-2 when the writer plainly said that “the word was flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and that they “saw” and “touched” him (1 John 1:1-2).

                      I suspect your translation of egeneto with “was” at John 1:14 is … er … “motivated”.

                      In any case, as I seem to remember that you consider the word logos as some sort of “nickname” attributed by the disciples to Jesus, can you explain why we read eh archê ên ho logos, ho logos ên pros ton theon at John 1:1, and, likewise, ho ên ap archês, tên zôên tên aiônion êtis ên pros ton patera (all Imperfect Indicative) at 1 John 1:1-2, whereas we read ho logos sarx egeneto (Aorist Indicative) at John 1:14?

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 2, 2015 @ 12:35 pm

                      Thanks Rivers

                      I am a bit confused
                      I don’t understand your sentence ‘I don’t think there’s any reason to de-humanize LOGOS in John 1:1-2’

                      Are you saying that the Word is a person but not a being?

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 8:30 am

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      No, a “being” and a “person” are the same thing in scripture. There is no vocabulary to distinguish these terms in the either of the biblical languages.

                      My point is that the writer of the 4th Gospel identified “the word” (LOGOS) with “flesh” in John 1:14 and as something that was “heard” and “seen” and “touched” by the disciples from the beginning (1 John 1:1-2). This language can only be referring to a person who was speaking something during the time the apostles were alive.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 3, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

                      Thanks Rivers
                      So are you saying that the Word of God is a person, with his own personality separate from that of God?

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      Yes, I think John 1:14 indicates that “the word” (LOGOS) was a person who lived with the disciples. John 1:1 and John 1:18 indicate that he was a person distinct from God the Father. Revelation 19:13 indicates that “the word of God” was a “name” that belonged to Jesus Christ.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 3, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

                      Thanks Rivers
                      Yes if one reads John 1:14 one gets that impression.
                      But if the Word is Jesus, and Jesus died on the cross, then the Word died on the cross.
                      This would appear paradoxical

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 9:13 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      It’s not that complicated. The “word” is a metaphor (just like Jesus is called “the light” and “the bread”). Metaphors don’t actually “die”. Jesus was called “the word” because God was “speaking” through him (Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 John 1:1-2).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 10:37 pm

                      The “word” is a metaphor (just like Jesus is called “the light” and “the bread”). Metaphors don’t actually “die”.

                      Is also the resurrection (“resurrection”?) a metaphor?

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 8:55 am

                      Miguel,
                      No, the term resurrection is not a metaphor. People who rose from the dead literally come out of the graves (John 5:25-29; John 11:43-44).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 10:28 am

                      No, the term resurrection is not a metaphor. People who rose [rise?] from the dead literally come [came?] out of the graves (John 5:25-29; John 11:43-44).

                      So, is the time of the resurrection “now here”?

                    • Rivers
                      September 5, 2015 @ 10:20 am

                      Miquel,

                      The testimony of the apostles indicates that Jesus was teaching his disciples that the time of the resurrection “now is” (John 5:25-29) and that some of those who were following him (at the time) would “never see death” (John 8:51-52; John 11:25). He made a similar statement in Matthew 16:27-28.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 11:00 pm

                      “It’s not that complicated. The “word” is a metaphor (just like Jesus is
                      called “the light” and “the bread”). Metaphors don’t actually “die”.
                      Jesus was called “the word” because God was “speaking” through him
                      (Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 John 1:1-2) during the time of his public ministry
                      (Hebrews 2:3-4).”

                      I certainly agree that the title “The Word” was applied to Jesus metaphorically. Someone very dear to me was a Command Sergeant’s Major in the military, and he once described his role as that of “The Voice” of his Colonel. As a CSM he had no authority of his own, but when he gave an command, it was followed, because his instructions were the Colonel’s instructions. Both situations reflect the agency paradigm that I’ve promoted here a number of times.

                      Where we differ here (obviously) is that in my understanding Jesus’ agency as “The Word” began at original creation, then continued when he became a man.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 9:12 am

                      Sean,

                      Yes, that is a significant difference. I think the inter-textual evidence suggests that the writer of the 4th Gospel used “the beginning” (John 1:1) as merely an allusion to Genesis in a similar way that he used “word” and “light” and “darkness” as metaphorical references to what was happening during the public ministry of Jesus.

                      In fact, there are eight occurrences of ARXH (translated “the beginning”) in the 4th Gospel and none of them explicitly refer to anything that happened before the time of the Genesis creation. The same is true of the nine times that ARXH occurs in the “John” letters.

                      Jesus himself spoke of “the beginning” as the time when he was with his disciples (John 6:64; John 8:25; John 15:27; John 16:4) which is consistent with how it is used elsewhere in the other gospel accounts that describe the same historical period (Mark 1:1; Luke 1:2-3; Acts 1:21-22).

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 4, 2015 @ 9:44 am

                      Thanks Rivers

                      So when you said ‘the word” (LOGOS) was a person’ you meant it metaphorically?

                      If so, we would want to examine the sense in which it is metaphorical.

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 11:07 am

                      David Kemball-Cook,
                      No, people are not metaphors. Thus, I would not suggest that Jesus is a “metaphorical” person.

                      I think LOGOS (i.e. a spoken “saying” or “message”) was used to refer to Jesus Christ in the flesh (John 1:14) because he was the embodiment of the truth about eternal life that God sent him to proclaim to the disciples (1 John 1:1-3). In other words, “in the last days, God spoke in a son” (Hebrews 1:2).

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 4, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

                      Hi Rivers
                      I am confused. You said that the Word was a person.
                      Was that a literal or a metaphorical statement?
                      What did you mean by it?

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 3:07 pm

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      Yes, “the word (LOGOS) was flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) is referring to an human being (person). It was the same person (Jesus Christ) who was there “in the beginning” (i.e. of the apostolic ministry) and was “with God” (John 1:1) as a result of being “begotten” through his resurrection and ascension to the be with his Father (John 1:18; John 13:3).

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 4, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

                      Hi Rivers
                      Yes maybe you are misunderstanding me
                      To try to be clear, I do not believe that the Word of God is a pre-existent personality who somehow entered a human body
                      When you say the Word is a person, it sounds like that (trin and JW) view which I reject
                      I believe Jesus is the Word incarnate, meaning his life incarnates the words, will and plan of God. But I do not believe Jesus is literally identical to the Word, because the Word is not an actual person.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

                      David,

                      the difference between your understanding and that of Rivers is that you assert a clear, simple and consistent Unitarian (Socinian) position: “Jesus is the Word incarnate, meaning his life incarnates the words, will and plan of God”.

                      Rivers position on the logos and Jesus, on the other hand, is (probably equally Unitarian-Socinian but) more … er … slippery.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 4, 2015 @ 7:11 pm

                      “Rivers position on the logos and Jesus, on the other hand, is (probably equally Unitarian-Socinian but) more … er … slippery.”

                      Do you think that Rivers’s view is more or less “slippery” then the view you hold, i.e. that a literal attribute of God became a man?

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

                      Do you think that Rivers’s view is more or less “slippery” then the view you hold, i.e. that a literal attribute of God became a man?

                      I have called Rivers’ view “slippery because it is not easy to pin it down. OTOH I have expressed mine quite in detail in an “op-ed” post.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 4, 2015 @ 7:09 pm

                      “Am I confusing you because I’m misunderstanding you questions?”

                      Maybe I’m the one who’s confused, but it seems to me that you and David are saying essentially the same thing, but in a different way.

                      True or false: In your view, “the Word” is applied to Jesus as a title because of who he is and what God accomplishes through him. It’s metaphorical in that a literal word can’t be a literal person; rather, as David pointed out, Jesus is *called* the Word because “his life incarnates the words, will and plan of God.” Is that an accurate representation of your view?

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 8:56 pm

                      Sean,

                      No (false), because I don’t think “will” or “plan” or “purpose” is the meaning of LOGOS. I think the use of the term LOGOS with respect to Jesus Christ in the 4th Gospel primarily emphasizes the “declaration” of those things by a particular person (John 4:25).

                      This is why I don’t think there was any LOGOS before the time of the public ministry of Jesus Christ (John 1:1; 1 John 1:1-2). Jesus is called LOGOS because he was “sent from God” (John 3:2) to proclaim something “new” (John 13:34; 1 John 2:8).

                      I think what most biblical unitarians are missing is that Jesus associated his “word” (LOGOS) with what God “sent” him to proclaim (John 5:38). Nobody associated this “word” (LOGOS) with Jesus Christ until they actually recognized who he was (John 1:29-34; Matthew 17:5).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 4, 2015 @ 9:04 pm

                      “No (false), because I don’t think “will” or “plan” or “purpose” is the meaning of LOGOS.”

                      But you do think that LOGOS was a *name* or *title* of Jesus, like President is a title, or “The Voice” is a title bestowed on Russell Watson, a pop-tenor from England, correct?

                      Thanks,
                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      September 5, 2015 @ 7:58 am

                      Sean,

                      Revelation 19:13 explictly says that “the word of God” was a “name” for Jesus Christ. Perhaps the writer of the 4th Gospel is identifying Jesus Christ the same way in John 1:1, 14.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 5, 2015 @ 9:01 am

                      “Revelation 19:13 explicitly says Jesus Chris was being “called” by the
                      “name” which is “the word of God.” Perhaps the writer of the 4th Gospel
                      is identifying Jesus Christ the same way in John 1:1, 14.”

                      Right, that’s what I was getting at. “Miguel” said that your view was “slippery”, but, aside from the ambiguity involving which connotation of LOGOS you had in mind, it didn’t seem slippery to me. It seemed to me that you were merely connecting use of LOGOS as a title in the Prologue with the same use as a title in Revelation.

                      So, then, back to my dear friend the CSM. Let’s say that one of the Colonel’s subordinates disobeyed the CSM, and to ensure that no one else gets it into her head that she can just ignore the CSM, the Colonel calls a meeting and says:

                      “Listen up, soldiers. When the CSM gives an order, you are to view it as though that order were coming directly from me. The CSM is “the Voice” of his Colonel, yours truly, and as such his orders are my orders. Is that clear?”

                      After this meeting some of the soldiers starting referring to the CSM as “The Voice”, and this eventually became his informal title.

                      Jesus is God’s Word the way the CSM is his Colonel’s Voice.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

                      (Apparently the only difference between Sean and Rivers is how far back either is willing to push the personal existence of this LOGOS … I wonder if they really agree on all the rest …)

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 5, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

                      “(Apparently the only difference between Sean and Rivers is how far back
                      either is willing to push the personal existence of this LOGOS … I
                      wonder if they really agree on all the rest …)”

                      Odd use of parentheses.

                      In response to the first part: Probably. So?

                      In response to the second part: No. So?

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 5:37 pm

                      Well, if it is “probable” that “how far back either is willing to push the personal existence of this LOGOS” is the “only difference between Sean and Rivers”, then I wonder what “the rest” would amount to … [:grin:]

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 6, 2015 @ 8:23 am

                      “Well, if it is “probable” that “how far back either is willing to push the personal existence of this LOGOS” is the “only difference between Sean and Rivers”, then I wonder what “the rest” would amount to … [:grin:]”

                      I think you’re making a point that only you can appreciate. We all know that I accept the Bible’s clear teaching that Jesus existed in heaven before he became a man, whereas Rivers does not. So for me, the one called LOGOS participated in original creation, whereas for Rivers that one became LOGOS at a point during his human life.

                      Again, this is rather obvious, and the difference is something we’ve all known about here for some time now. Why this should first inspire you to grin now is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps you’ll enlighten so that all can share in your cryptic grin?

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 5:52 am

                      I think what most biblical unitarians are missing is that Jesus associated his “word” (LOGOS) with what God “sent” him to proclaim (John 5:38).

                      Perhaps God had “in mind” what He wanted him to announce quite some time before Jesus actually announced it. Perhaps even before Jesus was born …

                      Perhaps what God wanted Jesus to announce had even something to do with God’s “will” or “plan” or “purpose” …

                    • Rivers
                      September 5, 2015 @ 9:56 am

                      Miquel,

                      I agree that God “had in mind” what he gave to Jesus Christ to disclose to the disciples (John 15:15). The people expected the Christ to “declare” those things to them when he appeared (John 4:25).

                      My point is simply that there is no LOGOS until Jesus comes to speak the message to the people. This is why “the beginning” of the LOGOS is associated with the time that the disciples “heard” and “saw” and “touched” Jesus Christ himself (1 John 1:1-3) and when John was baptizing (Mark 1:1; Acts 1:21-22)

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 5:16 pm

                      My point is simply that there is no LOGOS until Jesus comes to speak the message to the people.

                      What God “had in mind” existed before Jesus. God’s Mind IS God’s logos.

                    • Rivers
                      September 5, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

                      Miguel,

                      LOGOS never means “God’s mind” when it is used by the writer of the 4th Gospel. You are simply making up your own definition of the term. I don’t think that’s a good approach.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 6, 2015 @ 1:47 am

                      LOGOS never means “God’s mind” when it is used by the writer of the 4th Gospel.

                      Logos never means “personal” name when it is used by the writer of the 4th Gospel. You are simply making
                      up your own definition of the term. I don’t think that’s a good approach.

                    • Rivers
                      September 6, 2015 @ 8:31 am

                      Miquel,

                      Nobody is suggesting that LOGOS is a “personal name.” However, the writer certainly does associated the LOGOS with human “flesh” (John 1:14) and never with “God’s mind.” The writer also spoke of LOGOS as something that was “seen” and “touched” (which cannot be referring to something in God’s mind).

                      Many people do think that the “John” who received Revelation is the same person who wrote the 4th Gospel (Revelation 1:1). Thus, the evidence that Jesus Christ was “called” by the “name” of LOGOS (Revelation 19:13) shouldn’t be ignored.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 8, 2015 @ 11:28 am

                      Thus, the evidence that Jesus Christ was “called” by the “name” of LOGOS (Revelation 19:13) shouldn’t be ignored.

                      First, I haven’t got neither time nor patience to deal with all you slippery twists and turns. The evidence is there for anyone to see, with enough time and patience to read through the previous steps of our exchange.

                      Second, it was me who suggested to you to consider Revelation part of Johannine literature. You simply followed suit, first reluctantly, then more and more favorably.

                      Third, in that verse, for the resurrected and glorified Jesus to be “called” logos tou theou is just third after him being called pistos and al?thinos.

                    • Rivers
                      September 8, 2015 @ 6:50 pm

                      Miguel,

                      I’ve always understood that Revelation is part of what scholars call the “Johannine corpus.” However, there is no internal evidence that anyone named “John” wrote the 4th Gospel or the 3 letters. I’m just willing to accommodate those who do think they are written by the same person so I don’t hesitate to occasionally cite word usage from that source.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 9, 2015 @ 2:49 am

                      Rivers,

                      as you make such a big meal of logos being the name (or “name”) of Jesus, you may want to confront my third comment.

                    • Rivers
                      September 9, 2015 @ 8:26 am

                      Miquel,
                      The point in your third comment would be irrelevant since the entire 4th Gospel (and Revelation) were written after Jesus Christ was resurrected and glorified. Thus, if was being “called” by the “name” of “the word (LOGOS)” of God in Revelation 19:13, then it’s possible that the writer was doing the same thing in John 1:1, 14 and 1 John 1:1.

                      I don’t think the important issue is whether or not people were calling Jesus Christ “the word”. Rather, I’m trying to demonstrate from the intercontextual evidence that “the word” (LOGOS) is associated with the human Jesus and not a “preexisting” impersonal plan or unidentifiable spirit being.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 10, 2015 @ 6:03 am

                      Rivers

                      Thus, if [Jesus?] was being “called” by the “name” of “the word (LOGOS)” of God in Revelation 19:13, then it’s possible that the writer was doing the same thing in John 1:1, 14 and 1 John 1:1.

                      Who is the “writer”? Have you become an advocate of “John” being one and the same writer for Gospel, Letters and Revelation?

                      I don’t think the important issue is whether or not people were calling Jesus Christ “the word”.

                      In the beginning (pun intentional) you started by referring to the disciples as those who would refer to Jesus as the logos, then you referred to the “writer” (of Gospel / Letters / Revelation). Now you speak, vaguely, of “people”? Question for Rivers: who are these “people”?

                      … I’m trying to demonstrate from the intercontextual evidence that “the word” (LOGOS) is associated with the human Jesus and not a “preexisting” impersonal plan or unidentifiable spirit being.

                      Why would Jesus be “called” (kekl?tai) logos tou theou (Rev 19:13), other than because, somehow, he was indeed … logos tou theou?

                    • Rivers
                      September 10, 2015 @ 9:31 am

                      Miquel,

                      1. No, I don’t think the anonymous writer of the “John” books was the same “John” who received Revelation (Revelation 1:1). The circumstantial evidence we have throughout the Gospels and Acts also makes it implausible that the Apostle John wrote them either.

                      2. I think it’s evident that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20-24) was the young man, Lazarus, whom everyone knew Jesus “loved” (John 11:5, 36). The “love” that Jesus had for Lazarus and his sisters is why this particular disciple was raised from the dead. Hence, we find that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” only appears in the 4th Gospel after the resurrection of Lazarus.

                      3. When I’m referring to “the people”, I just mean the Jews who are mentioned throughout the 4th Gospel. Jesus was “manifested to Israel” (John 1:31) and became “a minister to the circumcision” (Romans 15:8). Jesus “came to his own” (John 1:11).

                      4. I think “the word of God” (Revelation 19:13) is being used as a “name” for Jesus Christ in a metaphorical sense, just like “the lamb of God.” I don’t think the human Jesus was literally an abstract “plan” or “attribute” or a four-footed wooly farm animal. The “word of God” associates the message with both God and the human Jesus. In the last days, God “spoke in a son” (Hebrews 1:2).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 10, 2015 @ 9:50 am

                      I think “the word of God” is being used metaphorically in Revelation 19:13 just like “the lamb of God.”

                      Rivers,

                      let’s go one step at the time. So, “the lamb of God” is a metaphor, that stands for something like “the perfect sacrifice”, right? (Otherwise, please explain what would be the meaning of “the lamb of God”).

                      Likewise, if “the word of God” is a metaphor, it must stand for something, right?

                      Homework for Rivers: what does “the word of God” stand for, as a metaphor?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 6, 2015 @ 8:30 am

                      “God’s Mind IS God’s logos.”

                      Ok, so:

                      God’s LOGOS is literally God’s mind
                      God’s LOGOS literally became a man
                      God’s LOGOS the man died

                      So in your theology, God literally lost his mind? 😉

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      September 6, 2015 @ 8:47 am

                      Sean,

                      Good point. How anyone could look up the 60+ uses of the noun, LOGOS, in the Johannine corpus and think it ever meant “God’s mind” must have lost their own mind as well.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 6, 2015 @ 10:33 am

                      “Good point. How anyone could look up the 60+ uses of the noun, LOGOS,
                      in the Johannine corpus and think it ever meant “God’s mind” must have
                      lost their own mind as well.”

                      I’m curious to know where “Miguel’s” view came from. It’s been while since I’ve read Philo, but if memory serves (it may not) LOGOS wasn’t God’s “mind” anywhere even in his writings. Is MEMRA=mind developed or hinted at anywhere? SOPHIA=mind? I’d like to see the links in the chain, if there are any.

                      Curious,
                      Sean

                    • Rivers
                      September 6, 2015 @ 11:17 am

                      Sean,

                      I think many biblical unitarians try to force the “memra” idea into John’s use of LOGOS because they need to find some way to sustain the idea that LOGOS can somehow “preexist” without the human (or spirit person) Jesus.

                      This is also a way that they can try to make their “impersonal plan in the mind of God” definition of LOGOS appear to be consistent with something found in the Hebrew scriptures. Of course, they can also find “memra” associated with LOGOS in scholarly literature to bolster their theory as well.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 7, 2015 @ 7:42 am

                      “I think many biblical unitarians try to force the “memra” idea into
                      John’s use of LOGOS because they need to find some way to sustain the
                      idea that LOGOS can somehow “preexist” without the human (or spirit
                      person) Jesus….This is also a way that they can try to make their
                      “impersonal plan in the mind of God” definition of LOGOS appear to be
                      consistent with something found in the Hebrew scriptures. Of course,
                      they can also find “memra” associated with LOGOS in scholarly literature
                      to bolster their theory as well.”

                      I’m divided on this one, and have been for some time. On the one hand, I think that LOGOS/Word may have been used in a manner similar to how “The Voice” was applied to my friend the CSM, yet on the other hand I also tentatively posit that the Evangelist may have chosen to use LOGOS precisely because the term was so rich with meaning and could therefore appeal to people from a variety of backgrounds. It can hint at the MEMRA traditions, perhaps the SOPHIA traditions, it would catch the attention of Stoics and Aristotelians even if it had different connotations, and it could certainly savor of Philo.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      September 7, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

                      Sean,

                      I think there is a critical problem if we try to argue that the writer of the 4th Gospel was trying to make LOGOS “appeal to a variety of people from various backgrounds” because there isn’t any evidence that he intended his Gospel for anyone but the Jews.

                      For example, it’s often overlooked that there are no “gentiles” even mentioned in the 4th Gospel and both the “Samaritans” and the “Greeks” identified in the book are descendants of Jacob just like the Jews (John 4:9, 12, 20; John 7:35).

                      Another interesting thing is that the writer of the 4th Gospel doesn’t use the word SOFIA (or SOFOS) in any of his books. I don’t find any particular use of LOGOS in the John books that necessitates the connotation of “wisdom” either.

                    • Roman
                      September 8, 2015 @ 3:46 am

                      If you read the various References to the Logos by Philo I think it becomes quite Clear that John and Philo are using similar, if not the same concept, the Language is damn near identicle.
                      When exegeting the text you have to try to figure out what the intended Reader would understand a Word to mean.
                      So for example if I’m writing to some republican Group in 1950s America, or even today, and I use the Word “communism”, it’s going to be a very different concept than if I’m writing to European radicals in the 1910s and I use the term “communism,” for example the former would think “totalitarianism” the latter would probably think “freedom.”
                      So when we get to Logos, in John, we see who the intended audience is. It seams to be Jews, and philosophically minded Jews, or at least Jews With a spiritual bent, given that the one background piece of literature we have that is Jewish and along those lines is the writings of Philo, who uses the concept of the logos using almost the same Language as John, you’d have to be blind to not take Philo into serious consideration when Reading the prologue to John.

                    • Rivers
                      September 8, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

                      Roman,

                      I understand what you’re trying to argue, but, from a forensic (exegetical) standpoint, it’s entirely speculative. Presuppositions about the supposed “influence of Philo” and “intended readers” cannot be substantiated by anything in the text of the 4th Gospel.

                      The term LOGOS is used 60+ times in the Johannine corpus and it ALWAYS simply refers to a “spoken saying or message” by a living person (usually Jesus himself) or else it is a “name” for Jesus (Revelation 19:13). This means that we don’t need Philo (or 14 other lexical definitions to understand the usage.

                      It’s always best to allow a pariticular speaker to define his own terminology. There is the potential for many exegetical fallacies when we start speculating about remote influences that cannot be corroborated.

                    • Roman
                      September 10, 2015 @ 4:23 am

                      Of course it can be sustained, the only way to avoid it is to avoid the question. If you read the prologue of John, and the general theology of John, you’re either going to put it in a context or you arn’t, if you do, and you include in that context Philo’s theology, which was very popular, you cannot avoid seeing the striking similarities. I’m sorry exegesis requires background literature to do it correctly.
                      the example of the term communism is the same, if you insist on refusing to include Marx in Your exegesis of Reading literature discussing communism in the 20th Century you’re not going to fully understand what they are talking about.
                      The term Logos is also used by Philo to refer to a spoken saying or Message, but the meaning of at Word is not static, you know this, we all know this, and the only way you can avoid the pre-existance implications is if you insist on a static definition, and refuse to include any Cultural and historical context.
                      John does not give us a lexicon for his writings, he is assuming (as every writer does) that the Reader will be familiar With the context, the same way writers who Write about communism today generally assume People know what the USSR was or who Marx was and so on.
                      It’s not that you need Philo, it’s that if you refuse to take Philo into account you’re ignoring Clear and glaring evidence.

                    • Rivers
                      September 10, 2015 @ 9:04 am

                      Roman,

                      It doesn’t logically follow that “striking similarities = background influences.” Thus, without any direct corroboration between Philo and the anonymous writer of the 4th Gospel, it is pointless to speculate about any connection between how each writer used the term. It’s always better to let a writer define the usage of his own language.

                      I agree that the meaning of words is “flexible”, but the writer of the 4th Gospel doesn’t use LOGOS in multiple ways. It always simply refers to a spoken saying or message (over 40 times in the John books). Thus, it’s unnecessary to try to force any meaning from an external source into the Prologue. It’s not consistent with doing sound exegesis in this case.

                    • Roman
                      September 10, 2015 @ 10:09 am

                      Striking similarities EITHER means weird coincidence or an actual common concept, but not only that the question is how would the origional READERS understand it, the Readers, if they were even familiar With the concept of the logos as a second God would immediately recognize it in John’s prologue.
                      You saying the writer doesn’t use Logos in multiple ways is begging the question, I’m saying he does, clearly, he uses it in a certain way in the prologue. If you simpy think logos means nothing more than a saying or Message in the prologue then the prologue is really a very strange text, almost cryptic.
                      Your way is not hte simplist way, it requires ignoring external evidence, and Philo IS evidence, and there is no speculation required, all you need to posit is that Readers would have been familiar With the concept of the logos Philo describes.
                      Your way requires one to incert concpets that are not in the text, such as the begining not being the actual begining, and “all Things” not actually being all Things, and becoming flesh not being actual incarnation, but rather ressurection.
                      You’re Reading simply doesn’t stand, and ignoring Philo is a terrible mistake, since the obvious conceptual Connection is Clear and would have been picked up by anyone who was familiar With the logos concept.

                    • Rivers
                      September 10, 2015 @ 10:18 am

                      Roman,

                      What you’re saying here is not correct. Speculating about possible “external” influences doesn’t constitute either “evidence” or “context.” It is actually sound exegesis to ignore external sources that have no direct corroboration. Similarity of vocabulary doesn’t mean that two different writers understood the same concepts.

                      The fact that you and I have different interpretations of “the beginning” and “all things” in the Prologue is a good example of why similarity of language doesn’t mean that you and I use the terms in the same way. 🙂

                    • Roman
                      September 11, 2015 @ 6:26 am

                      You’re murder example is Perfect, not everyone is a suspect or a witness, but you have to take them into account, and if Things start matching up, and fitting together you can’t just ignore that.

                      It’s not just the same vocabulary, it’s talking about the logos as a Divine being, a god, through whome all Things were created, who appeared to man, InFact the only begotten son of God.
                      I mean if you read both those Things and don’t see the Connection Your just blind, but that’s not the point, the point is that 1rst Century and second Century Readers of John would recognize the concepts.
                      It’s not just similar vocabulary, it’s the same concepts.

                    • Rivers
                      September 11, 2015 @ 7:14 am

                      Roman,

                      There’s no evidence that LOGOS was referring to a “divine being.” The writer of the 4th Gospel plainly said “the word (LOGOS) was flesh” (John 1:14). It was the human Jesus who was “making himself equal with God” (John 5:18; John 10:33).

                      Also, there is no word for “created” in John 1:3 where it refers to “all things.” The verb GINOMAI means that something “happens” or is “realized” (John 1:17). The “all things” the writer is talking about were given to the human Jesus to disclose to his disciples during his public ministry (John 3:35; John 4:25; John 15:15).

                      I don’t think isolating John 1:1-3 from the rest of the context of the 4th Gospel in order to believe in a “preexisting divine god-being” who supposedly created the universe (and then trying to solicit uncorroborated external sources to try to justify this idea) is a good approach. It’s better to derive the meaning from analyzing the way the writer used his own language.

                    • Roman
                      September 14, 2015 @ 4:39 am

                      GINOMAI means coming in to being, in the begining is a Clear Reference to Genesis 1:1. In those other scriptures in John Referencing all Things, All Things MEANS all Things, in John 3 it means all that exists, in John 4 it means all the Things he will teach, and in 15 it means all the Things he taught.
                      But in John 1, we are talking about all Things coming in to being THROUGH the logos, and this is “in the begining” and this is Things coming into being, now if you want to try and fit that into just another way of saying the logos taught all Things, you have to have evidence, I have the fact that it’s what the plain text says and I also have the fact that the Language ALREADY exists in the Jewish culture in the sense of a second God.
                      I’m not divorcing it from the context it fits perfectly With Jesus saying he “came Down” and he is “from above” and he will “Return” and so on.
                      If order to get rid of pre-existance you have to ignore SO MUCH, and assume SO MUCH, it’s just not plausable.

                    • Jaco van Zyl
                      September 14, 2015 @ 5:51 am

                      Why insist on the literal reference to Genesis, as opposed to a typological application of Genesis themes to the ministry of Jesus? The whole Fourth Gospel and especially the Prologue is saturated with typological patterns, not retrospective revisionism.

                    • Roman
                      September 14, 2015 @ 8:07 am

                      Because there is no reason to think so, I mean it seams to me that the prologue of John is giving us a prologue, not a summation.

                    • Jaco van Zyl
                      September 14, 2015 @ 8:41 am

                      Your answer amounts to:”it’s just so.” Moreover its being a Prologue and not an epilogue or summation is a non sequitur. There is rich metaphor and typology in the rest of the Prologue.

                    • Roman
                      September 14, 2015 @ 9:21 am

                      My answer is that if you want to argue that we are talking for the prologue being typology you have to make an argument for it ….
                      I’ve made my argument, the plain Reading of the text, the background of Philo and Genesis, and the rest of John and some of Paul saying that Jesus comes from above, that he came Down.

                    • Roman
                      September 15, 2015 @ 2:54 am

                      I get that, but you don’t assume typology or analogy apriori, you have to argue for it, and argue why it’s more plausable than a regular plain reading.

                    • Jaco van Zyl
                      September 15, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

                      A quick perusal of the fourth Gospel shows the following:
                      1:22, 23 – Jesus is the typological Cyrus in whom God’s people are delivered;
                      2:19-22 – Jesus’ body is the typological second temple that would be trampled on, but would be resurrected.
                      3:14 – Jesus is the typological brazen serpent that would be raised up at his crucifixion.
                      3:19 – Jesus is the typological light in Genesis which overpowered darkness in typological chaos, namely the world.
                      6:31-34 – Jesus is the typological manna which God gave in His goodness
                      12:37-43 – Jesus is the typological (even prophetic) memra Isaiah saw according to the Targum of Isaiah.
                      13:34 – Jesus is the typological Moses who gives his disciples a new commandment.
                      Jesus’ crucifixion and burial echo Old Testament prophecies.
                      The whole fourth Gospel is written as fulfilled eschatology. Jesus is the who HAS RECEIVED glory, the one who HAS ASCENDED into heaven and the one who HAS GIVEN the glory he received to his disciples.
                      Returning to the Prologue, Jesus is depicted as the spoken word of God, in harmony with God, reflecting God. He is the typological Memra. Jesus is also the typological Adam or beginning of God’s new creation, born of spirit. Jesus is typological Wisdom who rearranges the kosmos of human affairs through his preaching and who conquers typological chaos with typological light. His crucifixion is no humiliation but glorification. And just as all good gifts come from God, Jesus as the ultimate gift obviously had to have a divine origin.
                      Keep in mind that this is also the position maintained by scholars such as Fredrich Loofs, JAT Robinson, James McGrath, John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg and here in South Africa, Willem Nicol. A hyper-literalist reading of John is a violation of the mystical/archetypal/typological genre which he employed.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 15, 2015 @ 12:46 pm

                      A hyper-literalist reading of John is a violation of the mystical/archetypal/typological genre which he employed.

                      Jaco,

                      perhaps you should consider that the Gospel of John, in spite of its idiosyncratic traits, is also a narration of Jesus’ life, of its origin and of its “happy end”. The factual narration is not (necessarily) in conflict with the “mystical/archetypal/typological genre” to which the author(s) amply resorted.

                      The risk of Gnosticism (or “gnosticism”) is always present, if one resorts to a hyper-literary reading.

                    • Jaco van Zyl
                      September 15, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

                      Thanks, Mario. I think the other end of a hyper-literalist reading would be a purely mythical reading. Hence my opting for the (maybe too verbose) mystical/archetypal/typological, since factual and historical events are interspersed with echoes of theology and metaphor.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 15, 2015 @ 1:08 pm

                      I think the other end of a hyper-literalist reading would be a purely mythical reading.

                      Jaco,

                      I also thought of the “mythical reading”, but then, melius re perpensa, I deliberately chose Gnosticism as the polar opposite, because there is more symmetry.

                      Hyper-literalism is the stronghold of fundies (who believe in the reality behind the narration). Likewise Gnosticism assumes the reality behind the narration, just of a very different kind. It is no coincidence that the GoJ was the favourite of most Gnostics.

                    • Jaco van Zyl
                      September 15, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

                      And I understand that. Gnostics were mystics so the points of agreement would have been aplenty.

                    • Roman
                      September 21, 2015 @ 7:06 am

                      Sure, but the question is what does “Divine origin” mean?
                      Everyone can argue that Jesus is of Divine origin from me, to socinians, to trinitarians to even Muslims.
                      When you say “spoken Word” of God, that’s an assumption, I think he’s expecting his listeners to think of the ideas which are paralleled in Philo, also Adam was not the begining of creation … not at all, InFact he was the last of creation, Jesus was the one through which all Things were created.

                      I have no problem With typology, it just has to be based on the actual text and not on what one is Reading inbetween the lines.
                      THroughout John Jesus makes it Clear that he comes from above, that he will ascend just as he descended, I think the prologue is saying where Jesus is from, that he is the Logos through which all Things were created.
                      We have to start from what the text actually says, and then move on to what it might mean, and if you want to argue a typology that’s fine, but it must be based on what the text says.
                      I think my Reading is simply more faithful to the text and to the historical jewish context, I think it’s how the prologue would have been understood and read by most first Century Jews.

                    • Jaco van Zyl
                      September 23, 2015 @ 6:30 am

                      Exactly. To come from God does not by default mean a literal departure, travel and arrival from heaven. Jesus was God’s initiative.
                      Jesus being the spoken word of God is perfectly in harmony with the allegorical usage of Philo. Jesus is the spoken word of God by synecdoche. He is also the manifestation of God’s full intent and purposes, fully in harmony with God. And Adam WAS the beginning of the human creation. if the scope of creation is not the Genesis creation, but a new world-arrangement, then the Initiator of that arrangement is the beginning thereof.
                      I’m afraid your application of typology is more inconsistent than you think. Reading between the lines lies in the eye of the beholder. Jesus is indeed from God (just as John the Baptist’s baptism was from above); he is the one through whom the new administration was arranged; and typology confirms this reading perfectly.
                      You may think as you please; I just think it fails to hold up under proper scrutiny. If you want to think Jewish, then don’t switch to Hellenistic. 😉

                    • Roman
                      September 23, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

                      Philo talked about the Logos as being an actual person, an archangel, the first born, the first created being through which all other things were created … NOT some personified word of God.

                      When the new testament says creation, we should assume it means creation, UNLESS we have some other reason to believe it’s not actually creation, we should only assume it means new creation if it says new creation or we have ample evidence that it actually means new creation.

                      It’s not that Jesus is from God, it’s that he descended, just as he ascended, he came down from heaven, he’s not from God in the same way we are from God in a certain way, he descended, he came down, we didn’t.

                      Typology can’t just be assuemed, it has to be argued for.

                    • Jaco van Zyl
                      October 11, 2015 @ 1:50 pm

                      No, weak arguments again. Philo personified the logos. James Dunn stood back and allowed the celebrated James Drummond (whose expertise was Philo) to inform us that the logos in Philo is NOT personal, but personified. Read Drummond.
                      On your second point NO, Paul refers to the new creation even without stating so explicitly. See references to creation in Ephesians.
                      On your third point, NO, you assume descending in a literal way, where there is enough in the first-century colloquial as well as the usage of John, to imply metaphorical origin, namely from God.
                      Typology is overwhelmingly present. You need to argue it away.
                      If you don’t improve on your arguments, I won’t respond.
                      Thanks,
                      (BTW, you will find that the Watchtower would even in their wildest dreams not engage the issues to the level as they are being engaged here. The religion is headed by the least intellectual loyalists of all time. Watered-down and rudimentarily erroneous, the prefer the basics. If you don’t see a problem with that, you never will)

                    • Rivers
                      October 11, 2015 @ 3:12 pm

                      Jaco,

                      Good points. I agree that some of the “descended from heaven” texts in the 4th Gospel seem difficult but there is sufficient evidence that such language was typically used without inferring anything about Preexistence or Incarnation.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 11, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

                      I agree that some of the “descended from heaven” texts in the 4th Gospel seem difficult but there is sufficient evidence that such language was typically used without inferring anything about Preexistence or Incarnation.

                      By using the expression “Preexistence or Incarnation”, presumably, Rivers distinguishes between the two.

                      We know, more or less what is meant by “pre-existence”: that Jesus, before being “manifested is the flesh”, had some sort of “spirit only” existence.

                      OTOH, while I believe Rivers rejects Incarnation, it is not very clear to me what he means by Incarnation. Can he explain? Just curious.

                    • Rivers
                      October 11, 2015 @ 10:04 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Incarnation properly means “God took on human flesh” and Preexistence properly means that “Jesus Christ was a person prior to his human birth.”

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 12, 2015 @ 7:33 am

                      Incarnation means “God took on human flesh”

                      Rivers

                      Incarnation derives from the late ecclesiastical Latin verb in-carno, and the derived noun in-carnatio (to make flesh, to be made flesh). The corresponding Greek word (ensarkôsis) is modeled on the Latin, although Eastern Christians always preferred the word enanthrôpesis (“to be made man”).

                      So, while the Greek word ensarkôsis is late and unscriptural, it comes straight from the expression ? ????? ???? ??????? (“the word was made flesh” – John 1:14).

                    • Rivers
                      October 12, 2015 @ 9:09 am

                      Miguel,
                      It doesn’t matter how Latin speaking people interpreted John 1:14. The Koine Greek grammar infers nothing about Incarnation or transformation. Thus, it shouldn’t be translated into modern English with any connotations of that sort.

                      The best translation of John 1:14 is “the word was flesh and dwelt among us.” This is also supported by the similar testimony the writer gave in 1 John 1:1 where he said that “the word (LOGOS) of life” was what that they “heard” (spoken word) and “saw” and “touched” (flesh). He was the human “son” of God the Father (1 John 1:3).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 12, 2015 @ 11:40 am

                      The best translation of John 1:14 is “the word was flesh and dwelt among us.”

                      The only appropriate translation of ? ????? ???? ??????? ??? ????????? ?? ???? is, “the word BECAME flesh [viz. a human being] and dwelt among us”.

                      BTW, all lexical, grammatical, etymological and historical info is obviously entirely wasted on someone who is convinced to be the only person in sync with the Scripture …

                    • Rivers
                      October 12, 2015 @ 1:05 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Translating John 1:14 as “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” is a poor translation because it isn’t consistent with English usage. Ordinary people who speak English never say that anyone or anything “became flesh.”

                      Good translations not only use the correct words to represent both languages but also render the translation of the original language with an expression that is meaning and consistent with the usage of the modern language.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 12, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

                      Idiotic.

                      The problem is obviously NOT the “flesh” (so much so that Rivers’ “best translation of John 1:14” contains the VERY SAME word: “flesh”!), BUT the biased, skewed, grammatically wrong, translation of ??????? with “was”.

                      (I am not tired, are you?)

                    • Rivers
                      October 12, 2015 @ 4:54 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Keep in mind, a lot of people think it is “idiotic” when someone makes up his own definition of LOGOS (as an impersonal “attribute” of God) and then claims that the Greek in John 1:14 supports his theory that this abstraction turned into an human being so “it” could live with people.

                      Anyone with a concordance can easily verify that EGENETO is often translated “was” in scripture because that is all that is needed to convey the sense of passages like John 1:14 into the English language.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 12, 2015 @ 5:37 pm

                      … a lot of people think it is “idiotic” when someone makes up his own definition of LOGOS (as an impersonal “attribute” of God)

                      1. The blunder about the “flesh” remains idiotic, in spite of Rivers’ poor attempt at tit for tat.

                      2. Rivers should have the good taste of not even mentioning “someone mak[ing] up his own definition of LOGOS”. He prefers to ignore how many oscillations he has had on ?????: after a. ????? “should be translated ‘word’ in John 1:1, 14 because that is what it means”, b. ????? “is being applied to Jesus Christ as the human ‘son’ through whom the “message” is spoken”, he added c. ????? in John 1:1,14 “as a metaphor”. Please …

                      3. By blabbering about “unprecedented ontological mutations” Rivers show only how little he knows about something much more concrete: the Greek language.

                    • Rivers
                      October 13, 2015 @ 9:20 am

                      Miguel,

                      1. Translating John 1:14 as “the word was flesh and dwelt among us” is an excellent translation of the Greek text into English. However, you can use whatever translation you like. It’s not my responsibility to convince you of anything. There are plenty of other options.

                      2. I’ve always said that the noun LOGOS means a “spoken” saying or message. That is how the writer of the 4th Gospel always used it. I haven’t waivered on the meaning of the biblical usage at all. I think you are so anxious to ridicule what others have to say that you don’t even read their comments.

                      3. I know biblical Greek far better than you do. There’s nothing about “an essential divine attribute transforming into an human being” in John 1:14. Any other Greek scholar will tell you the same thing. LOGOS occurs hundreds of times in the Greek scriptures and never means “attribute.”

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 12:10 pm

                      1. As already said.

                      2. Rivers refuses to admit how … er … elastic his use of the word ????? manifestly is. It’s as simple as … a. b. c. …

                      3. If you are happy in your rut, enojoy!

                    • Rivers
                      October 13, 2015 @ 2:32 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Yes, the definition of LOGOS is very simple. It means a spoken “saying” or “message.” It never means an “attribute.”

                      The reason O LOGOS is applied to Jesus Christ is because “the word of life” was about him (1 John 1:1; John 1:14). Jesus said things about himself like “I am the way, the truth the life” (John 14:6) and “my flesh is the life of the world” (John 6:51).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 3:29 pm

                      Has Rivers the chutzpah to insist that his … er … versions …

                      a. ????? “should be translated ‘word’ in John 1:1, 14 because that is what it means”;
                      b. ????? “is being applied to Jesus Christ as the human
                      ‘son’ through whom the “message” is spoken”;
                      c. ????? in John 1:1,14 [should be seen] “as a metaphor”.

                      … are all “variants” of spoken “saying” or “message”?

                      [:grin:]

                    • Rivers
                      October 13, 2015 @ 9:12 am

                      Miguel,

                      EGENETO is translated “was” many times in scripture. There isn’t anything “wrong” with using that English word. Please consult a concordance and take some time to research the facts. An “idiot” is someone who keeps putting his foot in his own mouth.

                    • Roman
                      October 13, 2015 @ 9:44 am

                      Not to jump in on Miquel’s side (he’s not exactly the most pleasant guy to discuss these Things With), but the fact that Egeneto can be translated as “was” in certain circumstances, does not make it a viable option in all circumstances.
                      I don’t think it is a viable option in John 1:14, given arguments I’ve already given on how egeneto can only mean “was” when “was” is indicated an appearing at a specific Place and time, whereas in John 1:14 the egeneto is describing what the Word becomes, i.e. flesh, you cannot just “show up” flesh, you can show up, as flesh, in the flehs or something like that, but that’s not what the text says. The correct way to say the Word was flesh was “Ho logos Ein Sarx.”
                      Don’t take this post as me defending Miquel, especially his going around calling People “idiots.”

                    • Rivers
                      October 13, 2015 @ 10:06 am

                      Roman,

                      1. I agree. EGENETO can be translated at least a half dozen different ways in scripture.

                      2. I understand that we disagree on the implications of EGENETO in John 1:14. However, in the semantics of biblical Greek, one could speak of “flesh” appearing in a particular place. There isn’t anything about SARX EGENETO that requires that someone “became” something different. I respect your opinion, but it is an unnecessary interpretation that I don’t think has enough contextual support.

                      3. That’s OK, it’s good that Miguel, you, and I have different perspectives because it generates discussion. I appreciate the feedback from both of you because it helps me to keep a fresh conversation going on the evidence and an open mind about the different options.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

                      … in the semantics of biblical Greek, one could speak of “flesh” appearing in a particular place.

                      LOL! Where?

                    • Roman
                      October 14, 2015 @ 7:22 am

                      2. Sarx Egeneto, would just mean the flesh apeared, or the flesh became, or the flesh came into being, the flesh would be the subject.
                      Ho Logos Sarx Egeneto, however is different, the logos is the subject, the sarx is the Object, so you have to translate the egeneto as “became,” had John meant to say the Word appeard as flesh, or in the flesh, he would have had to qualify that in the Language.

                    • Rivers
                      October 14, 2015 @ 9:07 am

                      Roman,

                      SARX EGENETO can simply mean that the “flesh was” the person (Jesus) that John the baptizer was talking about “coming after him” (John 1:15). The grammatical labels “subject, object” don’t provide the interpretation. The context must determine the meaning intended by the author.

                      Making an argument about Preexistence (or “transformation”) from the grammar alone is fallacious. There’s nothing in the context of John 1:14-18 that requires anyone to “exist in a different form before human birth” and thus we shouldn’t translate SARX EGENETO in a manner that presupposes the doctrine of Incarnation.

                    • Roman
                      October 14, 2015 @ 9:12 am

                      Logos Sarx Egeneto, demands that we understand that it is the Sarx that the Logos Egeneto ….
                      Now we either can put was … which makes no sense because egeneto only means “was” when it is the same as “appeared” or “came into being” or being introduced into a story, and THe Word didn’t appear to the flesh.
                      Or we can use the normal usage of egeneto which means becomes, then it makes Complete sense.

                    • Rivers
                      October 14, 2015 @ 9:30 am

                      Roman,

                      Why wouldn’t “the word was flesh” make perfectly good sense in the context of John 1:14-15 where:

                      1. He is “dwelling” with other people. (1:14b)
                      2. His glory was “seen” by those people (1:14c)
                      3. His glory resulted from being “begotten from a Father” (1:14d)
                      4. John the baptizer was “testifying about him” (1:15a)
                      5. He was “coming after” John the baptizer (1:15b).

                      The only basis for Preexistence that you have in this context is insisting that EGENETO must be translated “became” (even when there are other options). That is a weak argument because an arbitrary English translation of EGENETO should be what determines the meaning intended by the original author. The best English translation should be consistent with the Greek grammar as well as the context.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      October 14, 2015 @ 9:27 pm

                      “Why wouldn’t “the word was flesh” make perfectly good sense in the context of John 1:14-15…”

                      Why would anyone make such a bizarre comment when speaking of a man who was like all other men in that he was born of a woman and didn’t exist in some other form before he became flesh? The John of River’s theology is a really odd communicator, who feels compelled to alert us that men are “flesh”. Well, duh. Now tell us something that doesn’t go without saying.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      October 15, 2015 @ 10:21 am

                      Sean,
                      The reason is because the point of associating “word” and “flesh” is to identify the message (LOGOS) that is “heard” with the man (SARX) from whom it came. The writer referred to the same think in 1 John 1:1-2.

                      I don’t think there’s any indication in the context of John 1:14 that the purpose of associating “word” with “flesh” was to speaking about the birth of Jesus or to generally identify him as an human being.

                    • Roman
                      October 15, 2015 @ 3:36 am

                      My problem is With the grammer. The Contex doesn’t really tell us much about it in my opinion.
                      I don’t think “the Word was flesh” Works gramatically, it’s a missuse of the Word Egeneto.
                      I know that it’s translated as “was” otherplaces, but in those Places “was” is implying a different meaning.
                      You can use “was” as describing what an Object is, i.e. X was Y as in X had the property Y.
                      Or you use “was” as declaring that an Object is there, i,e, “X was” as in “at this point in time X was there, X appears in the story” and so on.
                      Egeneto cannot be used in the former sense unless it includes a transformation, i.e. a change in Place and time. (X comes to be Y) (X becomes Y) or (X appeared as Y).
                      Egeneto can be used in the latter sense, as well, but in John 1:14 it’s obvious it is not being used in that sense.

                    • Rivers
                      October 15, 2015 @ 11:25 am

                      Roman,

                      Why would “was” be a misuse of EGENETO? It is translated “was” in man other places. I agree that it infers the someone “came” as well, but the English language doesn’t require us to say that someone “became” (or came to be).

                      For example, if I say “my daughter was sick” it means the same thing as “my daughter became sick.” The word “was” is sufficient to state the fact that my daughter was sick at a particular point in time (while it is understood that she “came to be” in the present condition). The point is not how she came to be sick, it is simply that she “was” sick at the designated time.

                      The relationship between HN and EGENETO would be something like this. My daughter went to school. After school she was (HN) sick. The doctor told me that she was (EGENETO) sick because the flu has been going around at school.” In this example, it’s evident that the English term “was” is sufficient to handle the implications of either HN or EGENETO.

                    • Rivers
                      October 15, 2015 @ 11:45 am

                      Roman,

                      I disagree. For the contextual reasons I’ve been pointing out, I think it’s more appropriate to translated EGENETO as “was” in John 1:14 because “became” give the wrong implications to an English reader who doesn’t say that anyone or anything “became flesh.”

                      Why would you ever translate Greek grammar into a literal English coupling that isn’t part of ordinary usage? There are many phrases in biblical Greek that could be translated very literally and make no sense in English. Translators don’t render them in a literalistic fashion because it would be inconsistent with English usage.

                      John 1:14 is just one of those passages where a unique Greek coupling (SARX EGENETO) that, if translated “became flesh”, ends up in a coupling of English words that has no corresponding usage (other than in the narrow context of Incarnation theology that was later expressed in Latin and English).

                      I think it’s better to defer to another option where the unusual combination of the Greek words ends up in a combination of English words (e.g. “was flesh”) that corresponds to ordinary English usage.

                    • Roman
                      October 16, 2015 @ 5:59 am

                      It gives the right implications because that’s what it says ….
                      Egeneto means coming into being, becoming, and it can ONLY mean was when “was” simply means appeared, but it doesn’t simply mean appeared because Egeneto is explaining a relationship between the Logos and Sarx ….
                      This is a simple grammatical point. Egeneto is NOT the same as Ein, Ein can be used to describe the nature of something, i.e. what it is, Egeneto cannot be used that way.

                    • Rivers
                      October 16, 2015 @ 9:30 am

                      Roman,

                      I agree. But, John 1:14 can be interpreted to mean that “the word” (LOGOS) came (EGENETO) to the disciples from a person (flesh, SARX) who was with them.

                      The relationship between LOGOS and SARX is not doesn’t infer any ontological origin or transformation. Rather, it can simply refer to the fact that “the word” (LOGOS) was (EGENETO) embodied in a specific person (SARX). This is what the writer explained again in 1 John 1:1.

                      Another consideration is that biblical Greek had another verb (ALASSW) that was used to speak of an ontological transformation involving flesh (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

                    • Roman
                      October 20, 2015 @ 10:19 am

                      But it doesn’t say “from” flesh, there is no genetive case.
                      It absolutely refers to transformation, Egeneto, when used in Reference to 2 different Things, is showing a “becoming” relationship, not merely a attribute of that thing.
                      The fact that 2 Words can mean similar Things and Paul uses a different Word somewhere doesn’t really have anything to say in this issue, what matters is what John was saying.

                    • Rivers
                      October 20, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

                      Roman,

                      There doesn’t have to be a Genetive case and EGENETO doesn’t have to mean “transformation” in John 1:14. I realize that you prefer this translation, but it isn’t necessary or required by anything in the context.

                      Context is always more important than grammar. Thus, it’s weak to insist on defending a “transformation” when nothing in the context alludes to it.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 12:46 pm

                      Roman,

                      don’t worry, I will not consider your comment as a “defense” of my position. It simply means that your knowledge of Greek grammar is better than Rivers’, and your inclination to force meaning (eisegesis) on a text is (somewhat) less insisted than Rivers’.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 11:27 am

                      What Rivers does not (refuses to?) understand is that there is not a single case in the NT (and also in the LXX) where, in a sequence …

                      Subject (e.g. ? ?????) – verb ??[?]????? – Predicate (e.g. ????)

                      … the verb ??[?]????? is correctly translated with “to be”.

                    • Rivers
                      October 13, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Yes, that is why a good exegete doesn’t assume that SARX EGENTO has to mean “became flesh”. The unique construction is open to interpretation (and only the context can determine the most plausible option).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

                      There’s no worse deaf man than the man who doesn’t want to listen.

                    • Roman
                      October 12, 2015 @ 9:20 am

                      1. I haven’t read Drummond, I’ll look into it. But arguments from authority are not arguments, I’d have to see what he actually says. Since Philo actually talks about the logos as an archangel, who appeared to People and actually did Things, it would be hard to imagine that he didn’t think of the logos as a person.
                      But I’ll read the argument when I have time, in the meantime, saying a scholar says something isn’t an argument.
                      2. The fact that Paul does it other times doesn’t mean he does it every time, or that we can simply assume that every Reference to creation is a Reference to New creation.
                      Ephesians talks about creation in Chapter 2, speaking of a kind of “New creation” where we are created in Christ. But later in Chapter 3 he talks about the God who created all Things, refering to the actual creation.
                      The fact is we know in Chapter 2 (and 4) that Paul isn’t talking about creation proper, but rather a New kind of creation becuase he tells us …. if he doesn’t tell us, we can’t just assume it.
                      3. The only reason I assume descending in a literal way is because it’s used in Connection With ascending, which is being used literally since Jesus did literally ascend to heaven.
                      And no, if you are presuming typology you have to argue for it, I’m not the one demanding a non literal Reading of the text, you are, so you explain why we should take it as a typology.
                      I’m sorry that you don’t find my arguments to be worthy of your responses.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 23, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

                      Jaco

                      [Roman] THroughout John Jesus makes it Clear that he comes from above, that he will ascend just as he descended, I think the prologue is saying where Jesus is from, that he is the Logos through which all Things were created.

                      [Jaco] To come from God does not by default mean a literal departure, travel and arrival from heaven.

                      I suggest that you consider this. As the well known scholar Raymond E. Brown has remarked, from the NT we derive that two key moments in Jesus’ life are his birth and his resurrection. Now, if you start fussing about whether he really comes from heaven, likewise you will inevitably start fussing about whether there was a real, bodily resurrection, as the Gospels unquestionably depict it, whether Jesus really ascended to heaven, whether he is really seated at the right of the Almighty.

                    • Roman
                      September 23, 2015 @ 2:31 pm

                      Why? His coming from heaven doesn’t take anything away from his birth. But what to you mean “coming from heaven”?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 24, 2015 @ 5:53 am

                      Roman

                      … what to you mean “coming from heaven”?

                      1. That Jesus was generated in the womb of the BVM by God’s Holy Spirit (a power, NOT a “person”)

                      2. That Jesus is the true Son of God, because he was formed according to something essential to God: His logos.

                    • Roman
                      September 24, 2015 @ 9:01 am

                      1. That’s not coming from heaven, that’s not descending, then Adam also “came from heaven”

                      2. So are all humans, they have the imago dei

                    • Rivers
                      September 24, 2015 @ 9:36 am

                      Roman,

                      Good points.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 24, 2015 @ 11:56 am

                      1. Not at all. Adam was ONLY a creature, on a higher level, but similar to all the other creature upon which God appointed him to preside.

                      2. All humans certainly have the imago dei (Gen 1:26-27), but only of Jesus it is said ? ????? ???? ???????.

                    • Roman
                      September 25, 2015 @ 5:47 am

                      1. According to you, so was Jesus, to be frank, I so absolutely NO difference between creation and you’re claim of some “literal” begetting of Jesus through Mary, other than a semantic difference.
                      2. I understand that, but if you interperate teh “logos” as simply meaning something essential to God, then it makes the statement indistinguishable from the statement about the imago dei in substance.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 25, 2015 @ 10:13 am

                      1. Nope, not a “semantic difference”: the logos provided the functional equivalent of male DNA. This makes Jesus as close as it gets to being the (literal) Son of God: ? ????? ???? ???????.

                      2. I don’t interpret the logos as “simply meaning something essential to God”: the logos is one of God’s two “arms”, His dabar and His ruwach (Deut 33:27; Ps 33:6).

                    • Roman
                      September 28, 2015 @ 7:36 am

                      1. So it’s spiritual sperm? If it is physical (which it would have to be to be male DNA) then it’s created by God is it not? The Word became flesh simply means that …. it doesn’t mean LITEREALLY God has sperm which he injected into Mary, which is a very vulger belief and not at all insinuated in scripture.
                      2. Yeah, but you haven’t argued for it … you just assert it, the same With the Whole “liberal son of God” thing.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 29, 2015 @ 5:54 pm

                      1. Perhaps you are also aware that what matters about DNA is not its physical-chemical-biological makeup, but that it is information.

                      2. Sorry, I have extensively argued for it elsewhere, here at trinities.org, where I provided evidence that this was also Irenaeus’ (argued) position.

                    • Roman
                      October 1, 2015 @ 10:28 am

                      1. The information IS physical …. but Mary had an Egg, and even if God made the egg become a Zygote through some non physical mean,s it’s STILL creation ….
                      2. Well, I’m not going to rummage through the comments of other posts here on trinitites.org to find Your arguments for it …. in my discussion With you made no argument, you simply asserted it.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 1, 2015 @ 12:59 pm

                      1. It is entirely evident that you don’t know what information is. I am not going to bother informing you (pun intended).

                      2. My bad. Parhaps your bad too ..

                    • Rivers
                      September 25, 2015 @ 2:16 pm

                      Roman,

                      I agree. Defining LOGOS as “an essential attribute of God” is nebulous and not based upon any exegesis. Miquel needs to do better than just making stuff up.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 25, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

                      Something funny is going on here. My comment, of at least 6 ours ago, has disappeared. Here it is again (more or less).

                      1. Once again, “only of Jesus it is said ? ????? ???? ???????”.

                      2. See 1.

                      P.S. I have the evidence from DISCUS that my comment in reply to Roman (of ca. 7 hours ago) has been removed from this thread.

                    • Roman
                      September 28, 2015 @ 7:51 am

                      Ok, we’re going in circles here, you’re just claiming something without doing any exegesis or arguing for the position ….

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 29, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

                      You say that your familiarity with koine Greek allows you to affirm confidently that ???????, in John 1:14 cannot be translated as “was”. I agree. I have already explained what ? ????? ???? ??????? means, AFAIAC.

                      Question: how do you translate ? ????? ???? ???????? Thanks.

                    • Roman
                      October 1, 2015 @ 10:29 am

                      The Word became Flesh ….

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 1, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

                      Thanks again. Morover, I interpret it as “the Word [of God] became a human being”.

                    • Roman
                      September 28, 2015 @ 7:30 am

                      1. What’s the definition of a “creature” and why is Jesus not a creature?
                      2. So what? What’s the implication you’re assuming?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 29, 2015 @ 5:33 pm

                      1. Unlike all other creatures, including Adam (if Adam ever was an actual individual), Jesus was generated in the womb of the BVM by God’s Holy Spirit.

                      2. Jesus was generated conforming to God’s Word (a power, NOT a “person”).

                    • Roman
                      October 1, 2015 @ 10:26 am

                      1. So what? That’s still created, all creation was Generated by GOd’s Holy spirit ….
                      2. As far as I know a Power cannot be described as a God, nor can a Power be With God.
                      But frankly, like most of Your arguments, it’s totally arbitrary, you’re the one saying that somehow Jesus is not a creature since he was “generated” in the womb … as if that means he wasn’t created … he came to be through God’s Power, that IS creation ….

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 1, 2015 @ 12:52 pm

                      1. If you cannot tell the difference between Adam who was “formed from the soil of the ground” and Jesus, generated in the womb of the virgin Mary, who “was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit”, that’s your problem.

                      2. God’s Word, like God’s Spirit, is a power of God, an essential power of God. Nothing “arbitrary”. But hey, as you please …

                    • Rivers
                      September 23, 2015 @ 10:08 am

                      Jaco,

                      I think it might be somewhat of an overstatement to say that “the 4th Gospel is fulfilled eschatology” because there are still many references to “the last day” and the unfulfilled events associated with it (e.g. John 5:25-29; John 6:39-44; John 11:24-26; John 21:20-23).

                    • Rivers
                      September 14, 2015 @ 9:27 am

                      Roman,

                      The word GINOMAI does not mean “come into existence.” The writer of the 4th Gospel never used it that way. If you check the dozens of occurrences of GINOMAI (in all of its forms) in the 4th Gospel, you’ll find that it always refers to something that “happens” with someone or something that is already in existence.

                      Please consider these examples from the Prologue:

                      1. John the baptizer “came” (GINOMAI, John 1:6). John the baptizer already existed for 30 years before this happened.

                      2. Jesus “made” (GINOMAI, John 1:10b) the world while he was “in the world” (John 1:10a) and when “the world did not know him” (John 1:10c). The world existed for thousands of years before Jesus came into it.

                      3. The disciples of Jesus “become (GINOMAI) children of God” after they already exist because they believed in him at some point in their lives.

                      4. Jesus was (GINOMAI) an human being who dwelt with his disciples (John 1:14) when he was 30 years old (Luke 3:23), and not when he came into existence.

                      5. Jesus “had” (GINOMAI) a higher rank than John the baptizer. This use of the term isn’t even referring to “existence” at all.

                      6. Grace and truth were “realized” (GINOMAI) through Jesus Christ, but both concepts already existed long before that time.

                      The occurrence of GINOMAI you cited in John 1:3 can simply be understood to mean that there were “things” that “happened” as a result of the ministry of Jesus Christ involving people and circumstance that already existed. There’s no reason to force “all things” to refer to the whole universe or to suggest that GINOMAI means they “came into existence” back in Genesis 1-2.

                    • Roman
                      September 15, 2015 @ 3:04 am

                      Word’s don’t have Direct translations in English, it’s not that simple, so for example in John 1:6, the Word is Egento, he came to be, that’s what it means, now it doesn’t mean he began to exist, but it does mean he came to be, we know it means something like “appeared” because of the way it’s used.
                      As for verse 10, the Reading is perfectly understandable, he was in the world, the world came into being through him, and yet the world did not know him.
                      If the world coming to be means his ressurection, (somehow, even though it’s never used that way in John, and there is absolutely no way the casual 1rst Century Jewish Reader would have understood it that way), then of course they didn’t know him, because the world hadn’t come to be through Jesus yet.
                      The point is even though the Whole world came into being through Jesus they still did’nt know him, that’s the Clear Reading.

                      The children disciples become children of God … again, this is normal Language, the same thing Works in English, if I say “I was made” that means I was brought into existance, if I say “I was made a made man” that means I was in existance but made a member of the mafia …. it’s no different. Greek, like English, is not a static langauge.
                      I can go on and on.

                      The fact that such a basic Word like Ginomai, is used in different contexts and means different Things doesn’t show anything any more than the fact that the Word “made” can mean different Things, but if I say “the world was made through Jesus” every one immediately knows what I’m saying, the fact that the Word “made” can be used in ways that don’t mean comming into being doesn’t change that.

                      The question is how would a regular Jewish person read the prologue, given the plain Language, and given the only context that they would have available using the exact same Language that we know about, i.e. Philo’s Logos theology.

                    • Rivers
                      September 15, 2015 @ 8:48 am

                      Roman,

                      I agree with most of your points in the previous commeent. That is the reason that someone shouldn’t insist that GINOMAI requires “creation” in John 1:3 or John 1:10. GINOMAI is not the word for “creating” anything. It just means that something “happens.”

                      I also think it’s fallacious to speculate about “what a regular Jewish person” would supposedly think or do. There’s no way to know that. Moreover, not all Jewish people during the apostolic era had the same viewpoint. The only way to accurately interpret the Prologue is to determine how the writer of the 4th Gospel used his own language.

                    • Roman
                      September 21, 2015 @ 6:45 am

                      Ginomai, does not mean “happen” it means “coming to be”, or “coming into being” or something like that, it can mean both, but like I said, Words don’t have a static definition.
                      THe world coming to be, or happening, through someone, MEANS creation, the Natural Reading would make one think of that. I mean if I say This house happened through me, or came into being through me, you would obviously be thinking about the building of the house.
                      It is not fallacious to speculate about what a regular jewish person would think or do.
                      You HAVE to do that, that’s what exegesis is, exegesis is trying to read the text as someone who the intended Reader would read the text, it’s what all historical exegesis is.
                      The writer of any text Writes in a way so that his intended audience can understand what he is trying to say, that’s the point, and thats how we do exegesis.
                      I go back to the use of the Word “communism” you use that term in the way that the intended Reader would undrestand it, if you mean it in a different way you’d use it in a different way, which is why you must understand how the general person within the Group of intended Readers of a text about communism would understand that Word.
                      The same principles apply to the New testament.

                    • Rivers
                      September 21, 2015 @ 8:51 am

                      Roman,

                      I agree that GINOMAI has a wide semantic range of meaning. Afterall, it is translated a half dozen different ways just in the Prologue. However, because GINOMAI has such a wide range of English words to translate it, it’s even less likely that it means “creation” in John 1:3 (especially since there are two other common biblical Greek words for “create” or “made” that the writer could have used instead of GINOMAI).

                      Again, it’s fallacious to appeal to “a regular Jewish person” (who doesn’t exist to interview about his viewpoint). It is also not sound “exegesis” to force presuppositions about a supposed “intended audience” upon the meaning of a text (since that group is not around to survey either).

                      Scholars speculate about a lot of things and it’s important to be able to discern between what is actual “evidence” and what is only theoretical. No scholar has interviewed anyone from the apostolic era in order to determine what his “mindset” might be. Moreover, we know that that the Roman Empire incorporated many different religious and cultural influences.

                    • Roman
                      September 21, 2015 @ 10:22 am

                      But the thing is John 1:3 says ????? ??’ ????? ???????, ??? ????? ????? ??????? ???? ??. ? ???????. All Things came into being through him …. All Things happened through him makes no sense, without him one one thing happened also makes no sense, especially in the context of “the Begining,” in the begining all Things were created by God, so saying all Things came into being through the logos makes more sense than any other translation.
                      I don’t think it is a fallacy to appeal to the intended audience, since that’s who John was writing to. I’m not FORCING any presupposition, I’m using the only context that we have which directly relates, what is the reason you think we should ignore thatn context?
                      All evidence is theoretical when it comes to the ancient world.

                    • Rivers
                      September 21, 2015 @ 11:47 am

                      Roman,

                      I think it’s unlikely that “the beginning” in John 1:1 was referring to the Genesis creation since it’s not consistent with how the writer of the 4th Gospel used “the beginning” in every other place. All the evidence suggests that “the beginning” was the time when the disciples were with Jesus Christ (John 6:64; John 8:24; John 15:27; John 16:4; 1 John 1:1). The similarity of some of the language to Genesis doesn’t mean that it is referring to the same events.

                      The “all things” that the writer of the 4th Gospel is probably referring to the “all things” that God gave Jesus Christ to disclose during the time of his public ministry (John 3:35; John 4:25; John 13:3; John 15:15). Thus, John 1:3 can simply mean that all of the things that the disciples experienced was on account of what happened during their time with Jesus.

                      We all agree that the eth Gospel was written to an “audience” (John 20:31) but we can’t make assumptions any particular external influences because the writer doesn’t detail them. The “context” of the writer’s own thoughts and use of language is the only substantial “evidence” we have to work with.

                    • Roman
                      September 22, 2015 @ 5:45 am

                      Context … Beginning, like “coming into being” does not have a static meaning, you can’t just look at other uses of “begining” in the gospel and say that it must mean that. Remembe this is all prior to when the Word became flesh and dealt among us. Also how did all Things come into being through the logos while Jesus was With his disciples? How was the logos With God and was God while Jesus was With his disciples.
                      I think what might help is if you give an actual translation/commentary on what you think the prologue means verse by verse, from John 1:1 to verse 18, and I can do the same.

                    • Rivers
                      September 22, 2015 @ 8:56 am

                      Roman,

                      The usage of the word “beginning” by the writer of the 4th Gospel is the only forensic evidence we have to work with. It’s not sound exegesis to suggest a particular meaning of “the beginning” in John 1:1 that is inconsistent with all the other uses of the word by the same writer. There’s nothing in the context of the Prologue that requires “in the beginning” to refer to the time of Genesis.

                      Please let me briefly address your series of questions:

                      1. The “all things” come through Jesus Christ during the time of his public ministry because God gave him “all things” (John 3:35) in order to disclose the “all things” to his disciples (John 5:20; John 15:15). The people understood that Messiah would “declare all things” to them when he appeared (John 4:25).

                      2. The writer of the 4th Gospel understood that the LOGOS “was with [lit. toward, PROS] God” because Jesus had “come from God and was going toward [PROS] God” (John 13:3). Jesus also said “I am [EIMI] the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes toward [PROS] the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Thus, this language is about resurrection and ascension (and not preexistence).

                      3. The writer understood that the LOGOS “was God” because Jesus was “claiming that God was his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). The Jews also understood that, when Jesus claimed to be “one” with the Father (John 10:33) and “the son of God” (John 10:36), he was “making himself out to be God” (John 10:33). This is because his status as “the son of God” entitled him to receive the “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2) and the “glory” that belonged to God himself (John 17:5).

                      If you’d like to give a commentary on your understanding of John 1:1-18, that would be great. I’d like to see what you think about it.

                    • Roman
                      September 23, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

                      So it’s kind of like this:

                      In the begining (of Jesus’ ministry) Jesus was there, and he was with God (Metaphorically) and he was God (because he was God’s son), all the stuff he said and taught us came into being through him, and not one thing that he taught us came into being without him.

                      then down to verse 14: Jesus was ressurected and dwelt among us, and we say his glory of a fathers only son. John said that he who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me ……

                      First of all you have a problem with verse 15, it’s clear what the point is there. Then you have a problem with “all things” coming through Jesus being a tautology if those all things don’t actually mean “all things” but rather all the things that Jesus taught. Also saying in the begining of Jesus’ ministry Jesus existed is also a tautology …. The reading just doesn’t fit in my opinion.

                    • Rivers
                      September 23, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

                      Roman,

                      Please let me briefly clarify a few things. I numbered them according to the sequence of remarks in your previous comment:

                      1. Yes, I think “in the beginning” (John 1:1) refers to the time of the baptism of John when the disciples first began to follow Jesus Christ (John 15:27; Acts 1:21-22).

                      2. No, being “with God” is not a metaphor. PROS TON QEON refers to having proximity with God as a result of being glorified by God. The apostles understood that the human Jesus “came from God and was going to God” (PROS TON QEON, John 13:3) to be “glorified” with Him (John 7:39; John 17:1-5).

                      3. Yes, the “all things came through him” (John 1:3) refers to the fact that the apostles were proclaiming the “message” (gospel) about eternal life that was disclosed and manifested to them by the human Jesus (1 John 1:1-5).

                      4. No, John 1:14-15 is not referring to the resurrection. It is referring to the time when the human Jesus began to live with the disciples after John the baptizer identified him as “the lamb of God” (John 1:35-36) and they began following him (John 1:37-43).

                      5. The term “all things” depends upon context. There are many examples of where “all things” is used in scripture where it cannot have a universal or absolute scope of meaning. I’m simply deferring to the way the writer of the 4th Gospel usually used it to refer to the “all things” that happened as a result of the public ministry of Jesus (e.g. John 4:25; John 5:20; John 14:16; John 15:15; John 16:15).

                    • Roman
                      September 24, 2015 @ 10:52 am

                      1. What’s the point of saying if the beginning was the word of the beginning was Jesus’ baptism?

                      2. Except they understood him going to God as being literal, I.e. In his presence in heaven, and Jesus was not glorified with God in heaven at his baptism …. He was anointed, that’s not the same as being with God literally.

                      3. That doesn’t make sense, if all things are the teachings of Jesus, then saying all things came through him is a tautology.

                      4. So the word becoming flesh isn’t literal, it’s a metaphore? Since he always was “flesh.”

                      5. Not in the prologue he didn’t … 🙂 I made arguments for why. I.e if it just means what Jesus taught then saying it came into being through him is a toutology.

                    • Rivers
                      September 24, 2015 @ 11:33 am

                      Roman,

                      1. The reason is because, as far as the apostles were concerned, this was “in the beginning” of their association with Jesus (Acts 1:21-22). The preaching of John the baptizer was “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1).

                      2. I don’t think “the word was with (toward) God” (John 1:1b) refers to the specific time of Jesus’ baptism. Rather, I think it refers to the fact that Jesus Christ was proclaiming “the word (LOGOS) of life” (1 John 1:1) from the time of his baptism until he ascended to the Father (John 20:17).

                      3. I’m not sure what rebuttal point you are trying to make about “tautology.”

                      4. Let me clarify John 1:14. I think “the word became flesh” (John 1:14) is a misleading translation. The text should be translated “the word was flesh and dwelt among us.” The implications of this are explained in John 1:29-30 where John the baptizers identifies Jesus Christ as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Jesus later said, “my FLESH is the life of the world” (John 6:51).

                      5. See # 3 again.

                    • Roman
                      September 25, 2015 @ 5:44 am

                      1. You’re assuming the prologue was a first person point of view statement, on not a kind of … well … prologue, a overview of what is going to happen, John is not saying “in the begining of the ministry of Jesus, which you haven’t read about yet dear Reader, Jesus was there” He’s saying “In the begining” … the Reader would understand that as being THE begining.
                      2. Then what’s the point of saying “in the begining”??? And then later ther Word became flesh? … This is why I think it would be helpful for you to make a verse by verse commentary of the prologue, it would help to see exactly what John is saying.
                      3. The Toutology point is this, if in the begining means the begining of Jesus’ ministry, then John is saying “In the begining of Jesus’ Ministry was Jesus,” it makes no sense, it’s nonsensicle statement, it’s a toutology in the sense that it’s like saying “when I ran a Marathon, I was there.”
                      4. On what basis are you claiming “egeneto” should be simply translated as “was” …? and interpretation based on later verses is not a valid basis, since the interpretation pre-supposes the conclusion you’re making.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 25, 2015 @ 9:42 am

                      On what basis are you claiming “egeneto” should be simply translated as “was” …?

                      There is method …

                    • Roman
                      September 28, 2015 @ 7:32 am

                      There is Method is not a basis for a claim … if you don’t know greek then you’re just going on what People told you, if you know greek you should be able to make a linguistic argument, I know enough koine to know that egeneto doesn’t mean “was.”

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 29, 2015 @ 5:48 pm

                      I know enough koine to know that egeneto doesn’t mean “was.”

                      So do I, and I agree with you.

                      My “There is method …” was a cryptical (too cryptical) reference to Shakespeare’s Hamlet ( ii,2).

                    • Rivers
                      September 25, 2015 @ 11:23 am

                      Roman,

                      1. If the Prologue isn’t a first person point of view, what do you think the “we” and “us” refers to in John 1:14-16?

                      2. It should be any surprise that someone speaking in the first person would say “in the beginning” (John 1:1). For example, Jesus used the first person later when he spoke of being with the apostles “from the beginning” (John 15:27; John 16:4).

                      3. Thanks for clarifying your “taughtology” concern. I see your point, but I think it’s just a manner of speaking. If the writer and his audience identified “the word” with the human Jesus (John 1:14-15), then it they could have understood something like “in the beginning, was the human Jesus proclaiming the gospel.” This would be consistent with what the writer expressed in 1 John 1:1.

                      4. EGENETO is translated “was” in John 1:6 where it refers to John the baptizer (with no implications of incarnation). This is one reason it is plausible to translate it “was” in John 1:14 where it simply refers to the fact that the human Jesus came to dwell with the disciples after John the baptizer identified him (John 1:15). There’s nothing in the context that suggests that EGENTO should infer that “the word” had a previous existence in some other form.

                    • Roman
                      September 28, 2015 @ 7:50 am

                      1. Yeah, but he is talking about mankind in general … “we have all recieved Grace,” all mankind recieved Grace, not only Jesus’ apostles.
                      2. Except he isn’t speaking in the first person, he’s speaking about the “Big Picture,”
                      3. Not really, because that’s not what the text says, it says “in the begining of Jesus ministry was Jesus (if you identify, as I believe we both do, the logos With Jesus), and Jesus was With God and Jesus was God … and then later on, And Jesus became Flesh.
                      If we are to read the text simply by what it says, the grammer just doesn’t fit.
                      It’s a very bizzare and akward way of writing it if that is what John was trying to say.
                      4. Yeah, but you can use the literal meaning of “egeneto” i.e. came to be, and it means the exact same thing, there came to be a man. Whereas in the Word becoming flesh it has a different meaning, the Word “came to be” flesh, and “was” mean 2 very different Things. In verse 6, there “was” a man, could also be translated as “there apeared” a man, and it fits the translation.
                      Whereas the Word “came to be flesh” and the Word “was” flesh has to very different implications, and “egeneto” is not a form of “Ein” which means was … it’s a form of ginomai, which mean’s becoming or coming to be, “ein” means was as in X IS Y, ginomai means X becomes Y or X comes to be Y.

                    • Rivers
                      September 28, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

                      Roman,
                      Thanks for the reply. Here’s how I would respond to your points:

                      1. Regardless of whether “us” and “we” are taken to be referring to the apostles or “all mankind”, it still remains in the first person because the author is including himself (and there’s no reason to think “all mankind” wrote the book).

                      2. When you say “he isn’t speaking in the first person, he’s speaking of the big picture”, that makes no sense. Anyone can speak in the first person (literally)and talk about “the big picture” (conceptually). The “big picture” is not a way of identifying the “person” of nouns.

                      3. I still think you’re confusing yourself with respect to John 1:1 and John 1:14. It makes perfectly good sense that Jesus was there “in the beginning” (of the ministry, John 1:1) and that he was also a man of “flesh” at the same time (John 1:14). There’s nothing in the context or flow of the Prologue that requires John 1:1 and John 1:14 to be separated by any period of time.

                      4. EGENETO doesn’t literally mean “came to be” (because it is not an Infinitive verb). Thus, you are starting out with the wrong translation of the word. EGENETO means that something “happened” or “resulted” or that someone “came” or “appeared” or “was.”

                      You are right that EGENETO is not the usual word for “was” (which is HN), but it is often translated “was” because EGENETO simply means that it “happened” that someone appeared in a particular place at a particular time. This is how EGENETO is used of John the baptizer (John 1:6) and Jesus Christ (John 1:14) in the Prologue. There is no implication that either of them experienced any kind of preexistence or incarnation before anyone knew them.

                    • Roman
                      September 29, 2015 @ 2:58 am

                      1. It is all mankind, I mean I can Write “we all have sinned” and that sentance not demand that it is written by all mankind, I gave a reason to think it’s all mankind, because all mankind recieves Grace through Jesus, and that’s the “we” he is talking about, the gospel wasn’t just written for those who mett Jesus.
                      2. Here is what I mean by that. I can say “we went to the park” and that is first person in the sense that it is a specific Group including me, that did a specific thing, if I say “we all are searching for truth” that sentance is not refering to a specific Group necessarily, it’s an overall statement encompasing anyone Reading it.
                      I.e. the Reader would include himself in the second statement, but not in the first statement.
                      3. The problem is John 1:14 says that Jesus BECAME flesh, so the begining had to be prior to that.
                      4. If Jesus appeared as, or happened as flesh, at a particular time, it implies that there was a time he was not. Ginomai means literally to happen, to come into being, to become, when saying the logos, meaning the person of Jesus, Geinomai Sarx, it cannot just be a statement of what his nature is, or what he is, it’s an event in time.

                    • Rivers
                      September 29, 2015 @ 9:21 am

                      Roman,

                      1. I understand what you’re trying to say, but it doesn’t hold up. For example, In John 1:14, it would be impossible to argue that Jesus “dwelt among” all mankind or that all mankind “saw” his glory. Moreover, 1 John 1:1-3 indicates that the writer was distinguishing this personal experience with Jesus Christ from that of his readers who had never even seen Jesus Christ.

                      2. OK, your “we are all searching for truth” illustration would work in John 1:17, but not in John 1:14. Thus, you have to take into account that the first person writer of the 4th Gospel is not the same as “all mankind.” John 21:24 also explicitly attributes “who wrote these things” to one person. The terms “we” and “us” are not always used in an absolute sense. It depends upon the context.

                      3. John 1:14 doesn’t have to be translated “became flesh.” Thus, I don’t agree with the implications that you are suggesting based upon a misleading English translation. The Greek text can also be translated “was flesh” or “came flesh” without any implications of preexistence or incarnation.

                      4. Yes. All EGENETO suggests is that both John the baptizer (John 1:6) and Jesus Christ (John 1:14) were unknown to the disciples until they appeared in the wilderness preaching the gospel. That is why Mark 1:1 identifies the time of their appearing as “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The Prologue is describing the same historical events.

                    • Roman
                      October 1, 2015 @ 10:22 am

                      1. Why would that be impossible? I mean that’s the exact interpretation which has been common, he dwelt among mankind as a Whole …. when I travel to England, I dwell among the English …. it’s a basic and normal usage of Language. Mankind saw his glory, and mankind was saved by him. The fact that previously it talks about him being “in the Word,” and “the world” not knowing him, should tell us that John is speaking in generalities here, he’s giving us the big Picture.
                      In verse 16 we have ALL recieved Grace … that’s all of us, mankind in general. THe evidence is all over the prologue Rivers, we just have to read it for what it says and not insert meanings that aren’t there,
                      2. John is a member of mankind …. he is one of the ones who recieved Grace … this is the normal way of speaking. If I say “we are saved by the blood of Christ” it’s a first person “we” but it includes all mankind.
                      3. We dissagree here, it couldn’t be translated as “Was flesh” since that would be “ein sarx” it would have to be “appeared flesh” or “became flesh” or “came to be flesh” or something like that, Egeneto is not a term which simply denotes a kind of “nature” of something, it’s something which happends in time, it’s a verb, it’s something which comes to pass, which becomes. So translating it as “was flesh” as if egeneto was just describing what Jesus was, is wrong.
                      4. If I meet you for the first time, You don’t “become” flesh at that point …. you don’t “appear” as flesh. if it said merely Ho Logos Egeneto, that would be fine. But it doesn’t it says Ho Logos Sarx egeneto, THe Word (egeneto, which is a verb describing an action happening in time) Sarx, this is something which happened to the Word, not something which simply is the case.
                      John came, he appeared. baptizing in the wilderness, you can use “was” as long as you can replace the term “appeared” or something like that.
                      But John 1:14 is different, because the logos Sarx egeneto, him being flesh happened at a point in time.

                    • Rivers
                      October 1, 2015 @ 11:41 am

                      Roman,

                      1. I don’t think “dwelling among mankind” fits the context of John 1:14-15 or the further explanation of the same circumstances in John 1:29-43. It’s more likely that the “we” and “us” refers specifically to the writer himself and the other disciples who were witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus (John 21).

                      Even if you argue that “all” refers to a larger audience in John 1:16 (which I acknowledged is certainly plausible), you still have to show that it is necessary in John 1:14 where the circumstances are different. If you read the similar language in 1 John 1:2-3, it’s also evident that the writer used “we” to distinguish himself from the “you” to whom he is writing.

                      2. Yes, I agree. However, there are dozens of other uses of “we” and “us” throughout the 4th Gospel that can’t possibly refer to “all mankind.” Thus, you have to be able to substantiate that “dwelt among us” in John 1:14 requires such a broad first-person inference. This is difficult when it makes perfectly good sense that Jesus Christ simply “dwelt among (the disciples)” while he was on earth.

                      3. I agree that EGENETO doesn’t connote anything about “nature.” I’m just pointing out that EGENETO SARX can be translated “was flesh” (John 1:14) just like EGENETO ANQRWPOS can be translated “was a man” (John 1:6). The point of John 1:14-15 is simply that the “man” that John the baptizer said was “coming after him” is the one who “dwelt among” the disciples. There’s nothing in the context that requires that Jesus “became” something else at that time.

                      4. Yes, I completely agree with what you say about the implications of EGENETO. It means that something “happened”, or that a person “came” or “appeared”. However, to translate it “came flesh” or “appeared flesh” isn’t good English (since we would have to have a preposition and/or article between the words). This is why I think “was” is a better literal rendering of EGENETO where no preposition or article is present with SARX.

                    • Roman
                      October 5, 2015 @ 4:28 am

                      1. Why? Why does it fit him and the disciples better? I think it’s necessary in John 1:14 becuase it’s one section, it’s a prologue.
                      1 John 1:2-3 is a completely different writing …. I’m one guy, and I use the term “we” in different ways in the same day, it’s normal use of language
                      2. In the prologue, it is the total “we” because otherwise we would have to say that only John’s buddies recieved Grace.
                      The only reason you would assume the bizzare “dealt among us” being just around JOhn and his friends, is if you Write off pre-existence to begin With.
                      The broad first person is defended through it’s usage for “Grace” in the same passage.
                      3. But it can’t be tranlsated as “was flesh” becuase it doesn’t have the same connotation in English as “was a man,” “there was a man called Rivers” is different from saying “Rivers was a man,” the connotations are completely different.
                      4. But that’s what is says, I have to say that Your Reading of it only Works if you Write off pre-existence to begin With, and even then it’s a weird translation, becuase it requries changing the connotation of what EGENETO means.

                    • Rivers
                      October 5, 2015 @ 9:48 am

                      Roman,
                      Thanks for the reply. Here are my thoughts:

                      1. I think “we” and “us” fits the disciples better in John 1:14 because they are the one who knew John the baptizer and heard his proclamation about “the one coming after him” (John 1:15). The disciples were also the one who “saw the glory” of Jesus Christ while he was among them (John 2:11).

                      2. I don’t agree. There’s a reasonable difference between “we” (disciples) dwelling with Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry and “we” (all believers) receiving what the disciples received. This distinction is delineated in 1 John 1:1-5 where those who “heard” and “saw” and “touched” Jesus Christ did not included everyone who eventually heard the gospel.

                      3. I don’t understand why you would think that “there was a man named Rivers” and “Rivers was a man” is saying anything different. The phrase “was a man” communicates the same thing in both statements (even if the purpose of the two statements is different).

                      4. Yes, the reading of John 1:14 as “was flesh” doesn’t not take “preexistence” into account. My point is simply that there’s nothing that requires “preexistence” to make sense of John 1:14-15. The language can simply mean that the time came when the disciples recognized that Jesus Christ was “the lamb of God” John the baptizer spoke about and then they went to “live” with him (John 1:29-43).

                    • Roman
                      October 6, 2015 @ 3:36 am

                      1. Yeah, but John in the text was a person in history, there was no relationship to “us” other than he testified to the light to Jesus so that ALL may believe through him (the gospel is for the world, not just the disciples):
                      2. We aren’t talking about 1 John 1:1-5. I’m sure theres a difference, but that’s not the point.
                      the Us in the prologue is for all who will recieve Grace and believe through christ.
                      3. This is the major point I think. THere most certainly is a difference. “there was a man name rivers” is not primarily saying what Rivers is, it’s introducing him as a character in a story. “Rivers was a man” is announcing what Rivers is.
                      THere is a distinction, and especially when we are talking about EGENETO in Koine.
                      4. The problem is that to get rid of pre-existance you have to leave the Natural Reading of the passage and end up With a bizzare and akward Reading.

                    • Rivers
                      October 6, 2015 @ 10:09 am

                      Roman,

                      1. The apostles did have a relationship with John the baptizer (John 1:29-43; Acts 1:21-22) when they met Jesus Christ.

                      2. I think 1 John 1:1-5 is referring to the same thing as John 1:1-18. The historical context is the same, as well as a lot of the language. Thus, I think it can help us to understand how the writer was using the language in the Prologue.

                      3. I understand your point. But, “man” and “flesh” are essentially the same thing. John the baptizer and Jesus Christ have that in common as human beings. John was a man of flesh “sent” (John 1:6) and Jesus was a man of flesh who had the message of eternal life (John 1:14). Both of these men “came” (EGENETO) to be with the disciples.

                      4. What do you think is the significance of “EGENETO in Koine” as far as your perspective is concerned? Please clarify that.

                      5. I can understand your perspective because you believe in “preexistence” and thus it appears to be a “natural reading” for you. Please understand that, from my perspective, it seems “bizarre” and “awkward” to read “preexistence” into the context of the Prologue when none of the language requires it. Thus, I’m not trying to “get rid of” anything.

                    • Roman
                      October 6, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

                      1. My point is in the text there is no relation to “us” there is no “we hung out with John” or “John was with us” or anything like that.

                      2. It’s a stretch …. but I don’t think you can take such a broad term as “we” and limit it’s definition by similar uses within a text or other texts by the same author. In anyone’s writings people would use “we” in different ways depending on the context and purpose.

                      3. Not at all, look at the uses of Flesh “Sarx” in John, the NT or the LXX, it means flesh, the same as english, Jesus didn’t say “my man is the true food” he said “my flesh is the true food,” Paul didn’t say “the man of beasts and birds” in 1 Corinthians 15:30, Sarx is not the same as Man, it means flesh.

                      No one says John EGENETO Sarx, because it would be silly to say so, saying John appeared and testified makes sense, saying John appeared as flesh is strange,

                      saying Jesus appeared as flesh or EGENETO Sarx, makes sense only if there was a time where he wasn’t flesh.

                      4. Egeneto, implies something happening in time, so a man appeared (at a point in time) and his name was John, necessarily implying that there was a time before he appeared. Jesus appeared (at a point in time) as flesh, necessarily implying that before he was not flesh

                      5. Fair enough, we both have our presuppositions 🙂

                    • Rivers
                      October 6, 2015 @ 5:04 pm

                      Roman,

                      1. I don’t think the text needs to say “we hung out with John.” It’s evident that the apostles were disciples of John the baptizer (Acts 1:21-22) and that he was the one who introduced them to Jesus Christ (John 1:29-43). That is probably why there is no record of any of the apostles being water baptized after they met Jesus.

                      2. What I’m trying to point out about “we” and “us” is that it is normally used in scripture to refer to the limited “relevant audience.” It is rarely (if ever) used to speak of “all people” in an absolute sense. Thus, I think it is more reasonable to assume a limited scope in the context of the Prologue which is describing events that only the apostles were a few were “eye witnesses” in the beginning (Luke 1:2-3).

                      3. I guess we disagree on the implications of EGENETO. It is a term with a wide semantic range.

                      4. I agree. That’s all I’m trying to say. EGENETO doesn’t connote anything about a “transformation” or “preexistence”. It simply meant that John and Jesus “came” or “appeared” at a particular time and place.

                      5. Agreed.

                    • Roman
                      October 7, 2015 @ 9:07 am

                      1. Not all of them, but if we are to say “John appeared” and that appeared means that he showed up specifically to the apostles, there would be some indication IN THE TEXT that this is what it means, there is no indication, none at all, it never says “Us” or “to us” or “With us” at all, that’s something you’re Reading into the text.
                      2. That’s not true at all, whenever we are talking about salvation, Grace or Things like that, it’s almost always universal, or at least much larger than the People who are specifcally there.
                      3. Depending on the context, you can’t just make up what it means, we have you carefully translate it.
                      4. But it doesn’t say Jesus “appeared” at a particlar time, it says he “appeared” as flesh at a particular time.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 7, 2015 @ 9:32 am

                      But it [? ????? ???? ??????? – John 1:14] doesn’t say Jesus “appeared” at a particlar time, it says he “appeared” as flesh at a particular time.

                      First, time is not mentioned at all, in John 1:14. It can only be inferred that some “point in time” is referred to.

                      Second, it is quite improper to translate (or even interpret) ? ????? ???? ??????? with “Jesus appeared as flesh”. The ONLY appropriate translation (in spite of its over-literality) is, “the word became flesh”.

                      Of course, while Rivers refuses any notion of “transformation”, Roman swears by “preexistence” …

                    • Roman
                      October 8, 2015 @ 3:31 am

                      Time isn’t mentioned but the Word egeneto necessarily implies a point in time.
                      I agree, that the Word became flesh, is the correct translation, I only talk about “appeared” as flesh for the sake of arugment in talking to Rivers, since we were getting pretty deep into the actual Word “Egeneto.”

                    • Rivers
                      October 7, 2015 @ 10:48 am

                      Roman,

                      1. I think there’s enough in the context of John 1 to suggest that John the baptizer appeared to the disciples because he is associated with them in John 1:15 as well as John 1:29-43. Some of them were John’s own disciples.

                      2. I agree, but we always have to be careful to give priority to the relevant audience. It isn’t always appropriate to assume that pronouns are universal.

                      3. I’m not sure what you mean here. Context is part of doing translation. Word usage helps us determine what a particular term probably means in a particular context. These factors work together.

                      4. OK, but what’s the difference if he “appeared” (or “came”) at a particular time, or “appeared (or “came”) as flesh” at a particular time? The “particular time” is still the same. In the context of the Prologue, I see more evidence the “time” Jesus “appeared as flesh” followed after the ministry of John the baptizer (John 1:15).

                      Another consideration here is that the details of John 1:14-15 are elaborated extensively in John 1:19-43. Thus, I think we’re likely to find the right explanation of what the writer meant by “the word was flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) in the historical details that follow immediately after the Prologue (where nothing is explained about any preexistence or incarnation either).

                    • Roman
                      October 8, 2015 @ 3:40 am

                      1. He isn’t Associated With them in John 1:15, John 1:29-42 is not part of the prologue, it’s the begining of the story. You’re Reading all sorts of Things into the prologue that aren’t there. But notice the prologues use of “the world” generally that doesn’t just mean Judea and Galille, or Jesus’ disciples, it means the world.
                      2. No but in this context it is …. every writing has a relevant audience, that doesn’t mean that the pronouns are restricted to that audience. (the Gospel of John was not JUST written for the disciples).
                      3. It’s more complicated than that, you can’t just look at how a Word is translated other Places and then assume it’s the same another Place, Language is not that simple, epecially when we are talking about who “we” refers to.
                      4. The difference is that he came “at a particular time” is declaring that he wasn’t there, then he was. he “egeneto” flesh, at a particular time, isn’t declaring that he wasn’t there, then he was, it’s declaring that he wasn’t flesh then he was flesh.
                      This is the grammer of John 1:14 …

                    • Rivers
                      October 8, 2015 @ 11:11 am

                      Roman,

                      1. I think John 1:14-15 certainly associated Jesus with John the baptizer and the apostles. The writer is establishing the historical context in which “the word was flesh and dwelt among us.” It followed after John the baptizer announced the “coming” of Jesus (John 1:15). This is no different than what is elaborated further in John 1:27-43.

                      2. Sometimes pronouns aren’t restricted to a particular audience, but it is VERY difficult to demonstrate that exegetically. We have to be careful about making any assumptions about a “wider audience” when it isn’t necessary to make sense of the normal use of the pronouns in a particular context.

                      3. One of the most important things we have to do in translation and interpretation is to determine the meaning of the word. Usage and context are always the determining factors. That is why a good exegete provides examples of word usage in order to substantiate a particular meaning and why it is plausible in a particular context. We shouldn’t just define (or redefine) the meaning of a word to suit a theological preference.

                      4. OK, but you still have to explain in what “sense” Jesus “became flesh.” Even if I accept the misleading translation “became flesh”, I can still argue from the context of John 1:14-15 that the writer simply meant that Jesus “became flesh” (i.e. was manifested to Israel”) at the time that John the baptizer introduced him to the disciples (John 1:15, 31) and Jesus “dwelt among them.”

                      Thus, it that sense, I could argue that Jesus “became flesh” when he was recognized by the apostles as the “man” John the baptizer was talking about (John 1:27-30). What is the difference between saying that Jesus “became flesh” (John 1:14) or “was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). Neither term necessitates any Preexistence or Incarnation without support from the context.

                      Regardless of whether one translates it “became flesh” or “was flesh” or “was made flesh” in John 1:14, the context simply doesn’t require that this language infers anything about Preexistence or Incarnation. Any interpretation that doesn’t have explicit contextual support is very weak (especially when another reasonable explanation does have contextual support).

                    • Roman
                      October 9, 2015 @ 5:29 am

                      1. I don’t think the prologue is just a story, it’s a prologue, it’s a forward to the big story. John (the apostle) is not a character in the story yet. Right now John is giving a prologue, so when he says “us” he’s talking him and the Reader, there is simply no other way to read it, unless you presume that John was a personal letter only intended for his friends, and not a gospel.
                      So verse 14-15 is part of that, Verse 27-43 is after the prologue is finished and the story begins. You have to make that distinciton if you want to exegete John propertly. I already gave evidence for this, the use of the term Grace, world and so on.
                      2. It isn’t difficult, he’s talking about Grace, and the world, and so on. It’s a prologue, he hasn’t started the story, he hasn’t introduced himself as a character yet, this isn’t a letter, it’s obvious the “we” incldues the Reader.
                      3. I’m not shifting the meaning of the Word based on theological preferences, I’m translating it based on it’s necessary translation based on the context. “We” simply means “we,” John is speaking to his Reader, he is not describing part of a narrative. Egeneto does not mean “was” in the way that would allow you to describe the Word as just being flesh in a descriptive way.
                      4. That Reading requires you to interchange “became flesh” into “was manifest to Israel” …. I mean you could posit that, but it would be a changing of the literal meaning of the Words based on a theological pre-supposition. Remember part of the argument in verse 15 is that Jesus came before John … Had he had a pre-flesh life, that would make Complete sense, had he not, all you’re saying is that John used misleading Language.
                      I don’t know why John wouldn’t have just say “and Jesus was manifest to us” rather than misslead us by implying that Jesus became Flesh, from what he was before in the begining, the Word, Divine and With God.

                    • Rivers
                      October 9, 2015 @ 8:54 am

                      Hi Roman,

                      1. I still don’t think making “we” and “us” in John 1:14 include everyone is consistent with the context. For example, the writer speaks of the other believers in the 3rd Person (John 1:12-13). This occurs several times later in the book as well. For example, the “we” and “us” again refer only to “the disciples” who were present with Jesus (John 11:16). Thus, it seems reasonable to think that the First Person “we” and “us” are not inclusive of “all” the church.

                      2. I have no difficultly with the distinction between the summary information in the Prologue and the further development of the details of the story throughout the rest of the book. However, I don’t think this warrants dismissing the details from John 1:27-43 as if they aren’t referring to the same historical events in John 1:6-9 and John 1:14-15.

                      3. Another reason I don’t think the “we” and “us” in John 1:14 can be referring to anyone other than the writer and the apostles is because the writer says that they “saw” the “glory” of the “begotten” (risen) Jesus. Later in the book, Jesus referred to this again when he was specifically praying about those disciples (John 17:24).

                      4. EGENTO is often translated “was” so there is no problem with that option. It makes better sense in John 1:14 because “the word became flesh” is nonsense in English. Nobody speaks of anything that “became flesh” (except theologians who invented Preexistence and Incarnation long after the text was written in Greek).

                      5. I don’t have to interchange “the word was flesh” into “the word was manifested to Israel” in John 1:14. I was just trying to point out how “manifest” is not a word used for “birth” or “transformation” in scripture. There no reason to interpret John 1:14 or 1 Timothy 3:16 as referring to the “birth” of Jesus Christ when “manifest” and “flesh” were simply used to refer to the public appearances of the adult Jesus (John 1:31; John 6:51-58; John 17:6; John 21:1, 14).

                      6. The writer isn’t “misleading” anyone. It is the translation of John 1:14 as “became flesh” that is misleading. In biblical Greek, to say that some “was flesh” (John 1:14) or “manifested” (John 1:31; 1 Timothy 3:16) means nothing more than that a human being “appeared” at a particular time. Neither EGENETO or FANEROW connote anything about the “birth” or “origin” of a person.

                    • Roman
                      October 9, 2015 @ 10:36 am

                      I think I would just be repeating myself at this point, so I’ll let it stand there :).

                    • Rivers
                      October 9, 2015 @ 11:40 am

                      Hi Roman,

                      No problem. Every one should consider the evidence for himself and make up his own mind. I appreciate the cordial conversation this week. Have a great weekend.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 10, 2015 @ 5:01 am

                      More “Rivers’ pearls” …

                      I don’t think the “we” and “us” in John 1:14 can be referring to anyone other than the writer and the apostles … because the writer says that they “saw” the “glory” of the “begotten” (risen) Jesus.

                      Is Rivers … er … creatively suggesting that ????????? means “risen”?

                      There no reason to interpret John 1:14 or [sic!] 1 Timothy 3:16 as referring to the “birth” of Jesus Christ when “manifest” and “flesh” were simply used to refer to the public appearances of the adult Jesus (John 1:31; John 6:51-58; John 17:6; John 21:1, 14).

                      Is Rivers (on the one hand) … er … creatively suggesting that ??????? means the same as ?????????, simply because ???? ??????? and ????????? ?? ????? both contain the word … ?????

                      Is Rivers (on the one hand) … er … creatively suggesting that John 1:31 (“so that he could be revealed to Israel”); John 17:6 (“I have revealed your name to the men you gave me”); John 21:1,14 (“Jesus was revealed to the disciples [for the third time] after he was raised from the dead”), would all “refer to the public appearances of the adult Jesus”, just because they all contain the verb ????????

                      As for John 6:51-58, hopefully even Rivers realizes that this is a highly figurative passage. Or does he, again, bunch it with John 1:14 and 1 Timothy 3:16 because of the … ?????

                    • Rivers
                      October 10, 2015 @ 7:50 am

                      Miguel,

                      Here are some comments to help clarify some of the misrepresentations and misunderstandings in your previous comment.

                      1. MONOGENHS doesn’t mean “risen.” The term means “only child.” It was used of Jesus Christ after the resurrection because he became he was “appointed heir of all things” by God the Father (Hebrews 1:2).

                      2. The term “manifest” (FANEROW) is never used in biblical Greek to refer to someone being born. John the baptizer and the disciples used it to refer to the time when Jesus Christ began his public ministry (John 1:31; 1 John 1:2). They also used it to speak of Jesus when he was with them after his resurrection (John 21:1, 14).

                      Paul used it the same way in 1 Timothy 3:16 when he referred to the same historical circumstances.

                      3. John 6:51-58 uses “bread” and “eating” figuratively. However, the word “flesh” is not a metaphor in that context. When Jesus refers to “my flesh”, he is literally referring to himself. Likewise, in John 1:14, the writer is also using “flesh” to refer to Jesus himself.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 10, 2015 @ 10:17 am

                      MONOGENHS doesn’t mean “risen.”

                      I should think not. So, why did Rivers write “‘begotten’ (risen) Jesus”?

                      The term “manifest” (FANEROW) is never used in biblical Greek to refer to someone being born.

                      That is NOT the point I raised. The point is that Rivers (virtually) equated the contents of 1 Timothy 3:16 to that of John 1:14, as though ??????? means the same as ?????????.

                      John 6:51-58 uses “bread” and “eating” figuratively. However, the word “flesh” is not a metaphor in that context.

                      I see. So, when we read …

                      53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. 6:54 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 6:55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 6:56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me, and I in him. 6:57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who consumes me will live because of me. (John 6:53-57)

                      … how are we to interpret that repeated “eat my flesh”, that repeated “drink my blood”, if not figuratively?

                      a. Literally (cannibalism)?
                      b. Sacramentally?
                      c. Open to Rivers’ creative suggestions.

                    • Rivers
                      October 11, 2015 @ 8:45 am

                      Miguel,

                      1. If you read my comment in context, I said that MONOGHENS means “only child” and as a term applied to the risen Jesus. Please be more careful about representing my statements accurately.

                      2. When I was commenting on John 1:14, John 1:31, 1 John 1:2, and 1 Timothy 3:16, I was simply suggesting that these passages using FANEROW (“manifest”) and SARX (“flesh”) seem to be referring to the same historical context in which Jesus came to dwell among his disciples.

                      3. In the context of John 6:51-58, the terms “bread” and “eat” are being used figuratively, but “flesh” is not. Most interpreters understand this because it is common sense. Jesus is simply comparing himself (“flesh”) to the manna (“bread”) that kept the Israelites from perishing in the wilderness while they were consuming (“eating”) it.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 11, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

                      1. Unfortunately for Rivers, while ????????? can certainly mean, referred to sons and daughters, “only child”, it is only Rivers’ creative inference that makes him desume from this that ????????? “was used of Jesus Christ after the resurrection because he became he was [sic] ‘appointed heir of all things’ by God the Father”. (underlining added).

                      2. Rivers’ comment just confirms how superficial his previous comments were. Besides, 1 Timothy 3:16 contains Paul’s lexicon, not John’s …

                      3. So, in John 6:53-57, while “flesh” is literal, and is a reference of Jesus to himself, in his physical reality, on the other hand, the repeated expressions “eat my flesh”, “drink my blood”, are to be understood figuratively, in spite of their crudeness, right?

                      Was Jesus deliberately trying to shock the listeners? Because many listeners (even his disciples) were shocked, you know?

                      60 Then many of his disciples, when they heard these things, said, “This is a difficult saying! Who can understand it?” (…) 66 After this many of his disciples quit following him and did not accompany him any longer. (John 6:60,66)

                    • Rivers
                      October 11, 2015 @ 9:45 pm

                      Miguel,

                      The term MONOGENHS always means an “only child” when it is used in scripture. Of course, an “only child” would also be the only eligible “heir” in a father’s household.

                      The reason that the apostles used MONGENHS to refer to Jesus Christ after the resurrection is because the rest of “the sons of God” were not going to be redeemed and adopted until the resurrection was to take place at the end of the age (Romans 8:11-23).

                      Thus, Jesus Christ was the “only begotten son” (John 1:18) at the time the 4th Gospel was written. He was the only man “declared to be the son of God with power by the resurrection of the dead” (Romans 1:3-4) and hence became the sole “heir” of the world that belonged to the Father (Hebrews 1:2). He was literally “the firstborn from among the dead” (Colossians 1:18).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 12, 2015 @ 6:35 am

                      Rivers

                      1. The term ????????? means “only member of a kin or kind” or, as would be normally said in English, “one of a kind”. It is only when “child” (????) – or more specifically “son” or “daughter” – accompany ????????? (or are implied in the context) that it takes the specific sense of “only child” (or “only son” or “only daughter”). This is certainly the case in Luke (????????? ???? ?? ????? ????? – Luke 7:12; ??????? ????????? ?? ???? – Luke 8:42; ????????? ??? ??? ???? ???, ??? ????????? ??? ????? – Luke 9:38).

                      It is very interesting how ????????? is used in Hebrews …

                      … he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten … [?????????] (Hebrews 11:17)

                      … because, although Abraham already had a son “from his loins”, Ismael, it was only Isaac that he considered his “only child”, because he was due to God’s promise and miraculous intervention. An obvious figure, this ????????? Isaac, of Jesus himself.

                      In NONE of the verses in the Gospel of John where ????????? appears (John 1:14,18; 3:16,18) there is the vaguest hint that Jesus would be referred to as ????????? “because” of his resurrection and “inheritance”.

                      2. Your exegesis of Romans 8:11-23 (which, BTW, has no mention whatsoever of Jesus as ?????????) is very … er … creative, but contrary to your interpretation, while all Christians are children of God (????? ????, – John 1:12), only Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. Those who receive his Spirit will become God’s adoptive children.

                      3. Your exegesis of Romans 1:3-4 is skewed and biased: the resurrection was the occasion for proclaiming Jesus, who was Son of God since his conception/birth, Son-of-God-in-power, because, with his life and death he had “passed the test”, so to speak.

                      4. Quoting Colossians 1:18 you show that you are grossly confusing ????????? with ??????????. Probably also with ?????? (1 Corinthians 15:20).

                    • Rivers
                      October 11, 2015 @ 9:57 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Many figurative sayings incorporate words that retain a literal meaning along with others that are intended to be taken non-literally in the context of whole expression. This is what Jesus is doing with “flesh” and “bread” and “eating” in the context of John 6:51-58.

                      We know the people understood that Jesus was a man of human “flesh” (John 1:14), but there’s no indication that any “bread” was made of human flesh or that those Jewish people “eat” human flesh. Thus, no interpreter should have difficulty discerning the Jesus is using himself as part of a figurative expression.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 12, 2015 @ 6:57 am

                      What you say (“[m]any figurative sayings incorporate words that retain a literal meaning along with others that are intended to be taken non-literally in the context of whole expression”) is nothing but your claim, obviously to support your theory.

                      Of course people “understood that Jesus was a man of human flesh” (even without your muddying and misleading citation of John 1:14 …).

                      Once again, though, Jesus’ repeated “eat my flesh” and “drink my blood” (and it is entirely irrelevant whether the context is John 6:53-57 or John 6:51-58), far from being “discerned” by his listeners as “part of a figurative expression”, were shocking enough that many of them (even his disciples) considered them “a difficult saying” and “did not accompany him any longer” (John 6:60,66).

                      Botched.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 9, 2015 @ 2:12 pm

                      Roman,

                      I amply subscribe to the above, including, in particular, that (as I have already suggested myself) Rivers’ interpretations require considering the hypothesis that John the Evangelist would have resorted to vastly misleading language.

                      There is a point, though, where both your Greek and your logic simply do not work, most likely due to your presuppositions:

                      … part of the argument in verse 15 is that Jesus came before John … Had he had a pre-flesh life, that would make Complete sense, had he not, all you’re saying is that John used misleading Language.

                      You seem to ignore that John is resorting to a word play (paronomasia) which is made possible by the ambiguity of the Greek adjective prôtos.

                      This is the key sentence repeated by John the Baptist:

                      ho opisô mou erchomenos emprosthen mou gegonen oti prôtos mou ên (John 1:15, cp. John 1:30)

                      This is the word by word English translation:

                      ‘The [one] after me coming in front of me has become, because first of me [he] was’

                      The critical word is, obviously, prôtos, which can have BOTH the meaning of “first in time” AND of “first in rank”. (Incidentally, the English adjective “first” has a similar kind of time/rank ambiguity.)

                      I suggest that, leaving aside any prejudice of “personal pre-existence”, you consider that this is
                      what John the Baptist was truly saying:

                      ‘The man who comes after me has passed in front of me, because he was more important than me’ (John 1:15 – cp. John 1:30 – interpreted attributing to prôtos the meaning of “first in rank”)

                    • Roman
                      October 11, 2015 @ 6:35 am

                      This is your presupposition Miquel.

                      Protos means before, that’s what it means, if you want to interperate it as meaning prior in rank, you have to argue for that.

                      Protos doesn’t mean “first of me” it means “before me.”

                      Emprosthen mou means precedence over me, and the reason he has precedence is because he comes BEFORE John.

                      If protos just means prior in rank, John is saying Jesus has precedence over me because he has a higher rank then me, which is more or less a toutology. Akin to saying “He’s in charge because he’s the boss” it doesn’t explain why he’s the Boss. But John is saying Jesus has precedence because jesus came before John, that’s an actual explanation.

                      If you want to argue that protos doesn’t actually mean what it literally means in the prologue, then you have to make an argument for it, you can’t just assume it.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 11, 2015 @ 2:21 pm

                      If you want to argue that protos doesn’t actually mean what it literally means in the prologue, then you have to make an argument for it, you can’t just assume it.

                      Once again, “[y]ou seem to ignore … the ambiguity of the Greek adjective prôtos” which can mean BOTH “first in time” (more in general, in a certain order) AND “first in rank”.

                      For the general Greek, you may find useful to check LSJ, A Greek-English Lexicon, entry ???????? (A. ???????? Comp. and B. ?????? Sup.).

                      For the NT Greek, you may also want to check the Strong’s concordance for G4413 ??????, with the relative Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.

                      Read the entries, then you can come back and we can argue …

                    • Roman
                      October 12, 2015 @ 9:23 am

                      Yes, it’s the same in English, protos means Before, usually in time, but it can also mean in rank, the more common usage is for time. Especially given the context of what it is actulaly saying in John 1:15,
                      He that comes after me is of a higher thank than me BECAUSE …. either it’s because he is before me in time …. or because he is of higher rank. The former Reading makes sense, the latter Reading is a toutology.
                      It’s pretty obvious that the intended Reader would have read it in the former sense.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 12, 2015 @ 4:06 pm

                      The former Reading makes sense, the latter Reading is a t[a]utology.

                      There is another word in the verse, beside prôtos, that is misunderstood, emprosthen, which is an Adverb, meaning “in front” “before”, “ahead”, in a local sense.

                      Once again, look at the relevant phrase:

                      ho opisô mou erchomenos emprosthen mou gegonen oti prôtos mou ên (John 1:15, cp. John 1:30)

                      There is a deliberate play on words between the three expressions with mou: opisô mou (“after me”); emprosthen mou (“in front of me”); prôtos mou (“more important than me”).

                      The play on words means the exact opposite of what the advocates of “pre-existence” believe:

                      “‘The man who comes after me has passed in front of me, because he was more important than me’” (John 1:15 – cp. John 1:30)

                    • Roman
                      October 13, 2015 @ 4:31 am

                      I see what you’re saying here.
                      Here’s the problem, the assumption is that protos means “more important” rather than the literal “before,” it also assumes that emprosthen means “in front of me” in a kind of passing by, rather than in front of him in rank, it could be the case, however, then John is not really explaining anything, he’s not explaining why Jesus is more important than him, he is just saying that he is.
                      Also He’s usgin the Perfect form of Ginomai, meaning the Emprosthen is something which has already happened, it already is, when John is preaching it in verse 15. This is why it’s more likely to be talking about rank.
                      The man who is comming after me, has become prior to me (in rank or Spacially), Because he is protos (before, or higher in rank, literally before) me.
                      There are a few possibilities, one is that John was prophisying that someone would pass in front of him, and that one would come after him, and would be more important. And he is talking as if he already is in the future and as if it has already happened.
                      OR there is someone who comes after him, yet is before him, because he he was before John. In the Johaninian literature, Protos is always used as simply first, or before in time. such and such person did this FIRST, or before someone else.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 8:33 am

                      Let’s look at the (translated/interpreted) text of the relevant verses:

                      John witnesses about him and shouted [out] saying: “This was [the one of] whom I said, ‘‘The man who comes after me [????? ???] has passed in front of me [????????? ???], because he was more important than me [?????? ???]’” (John 1:15)

                      This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who has passed in front of me, because he was more important than me.’ (John 1:30)

                      John 1:15 says exactly the same as John 1:30, the only difference being that, while v.30 is part of the “real time narration”, v.15 embeds the same contents in the Prologue, explicitly referring to it as “John’s witness and proclamation”.

                      So, from the above it is evident that, when Jesus meets John the Baptist at the Jordan River, John has already uttered his prophecy. So why would he have referred (prophetically) to “the man who comes after me” as having already “passed in front of [JtB]”, using a past tense (??????? – 2nd Perfect)?

                      Simple: JtB started on his prophetic mission and on his “baptism of repentance” in preparation of the Messiah, whom he knew was already there, hidden; even if he wasn’t already manifest.

                      Did JtB have to explain why the Messiah was “more important than” himself? Of course NOT! He had explicitly declared that he was NOT the Messiah, but ONLY the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’ (John 1:23; cp. Isaiah 40:3)

                    • Roman
                      October 13, 2015 @ 9:12 am

                      Ok, But when John said it in John 1:30 had Jesus passed Ahead of him? In what way?
                      Him existing already among Johns disciples doesn’t seem to me to be in any way “passing Ahead of him ….
                      Now lets say John said “After me comes a man who … Emproshten Mou Gegonen, Hoti Autos ei Messian.” Or something like that, then it would make sense, but in Your Construction the Word use is awkward, it’s wierd. It almost would seem like John isn’t really saying anything more than “here’s the messiah.” Which is wierd since “Protows mou ein” is in the past tense, he “WAS” before me.
                      Also keep in mind it’s not “Emprosthen mou” it’s “Emprosthen Mou Gegonen,” so it’s more like “Ahead of me he has become” or “Ahead of me he has been made” or something like that.
                      I think that makes it more likely that the “Emprosthen Mou Gegonen” refers to rank, not Space.
                      If we Accept that then protos mou would make no sense if it refered to rank.
                      The point is to Accept Your Reading (as well as the Reading of many scriptures in John) you have to kind of read in in a very Awkward and strained way, in a non Natural way.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 10:36 am

                      The point is to Accept Your Reading (as well as the Reading of many scriptures in John) you have to kind of read in in a very Awkward and strained way, in a non Natural way.

                      What makes you commit yourself to the textually unwarranted presupposition that John knew anything about any alleged “personal pre-existence” of the Messiah?

                      (Because there is no doubt that he was speaking of the already existing Messiah, who was about 30 years when he met JtB at the Jordan River).

                      My reading is textually, grammatically, scripturally natural. If it seems “strange”, it is only because most (all?) standard translations retain a bias in favor of “personal pre-existence”.

                    • Roman
                      October 14, 2015 @ 7:25 am

                      The warrent is in the text …. Your Reading is not gramatically Natural for the reasons I listed above.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 14, 2015 @ 8:56 am

                      LOL! “Personal pre-existence” is eisegesis …

                    • Rivers
                      October 13, 2015 @ 11:44 am

                      Roman,

                      Can you see where John the baptizer said “I did not recognize him [Jesus] …” (John 1:31-33) which seems to follow from what John the baptizer just said about “he [Jesus] was before me” in the preceding verse (John 1:30)?

                      In other words, John the baptizer could simply be saying that “the Lord” (i.e. the man with the higher rank) “was first” in the sense that John the baptizer would not have been sent to “manifest the Christ to Israel” unless he (Jesus) was already there (i.e. among the people) first.

                      Thus, the implication of the Imperfect HN (“was”) is not to infer Preexistence, but only that John’s baptism had no purpose if the Christ wasn’t already present before John was sent to prepare the way for him.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 13, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

                      It is worth adding, to the citation of John 1:31-33, the following verse:

                      “And I have seen and testified that this is the chosen [????????] of God.” (John 1:34)

                      A full Messianic witness.

                    • Roman
                      October 14, 2015 @ 7:30 am

                      But in what way does him coming before him act as the justification for Jesus being first? Ranking higher?
                      To me the point of that verse is justifying Jesus’ higher rank, right?

                    • Rivers
                      October 14, 2015 @ 10:44 am

                      Roman,

                      I don’t think the implication of “was before me” (PRWTOS MOU HN) is “higher rank” in the context of John 1:23-31. I think the “higher rank” is derived the title of “the Lord” given to Jesus in Isaiah 40:3 that John the baptizer quoted (John 1:23).

                      I think “was before me” corresponds to what John the baptizer said about “one (Jesus) who stands among you whom you do not know” (John 1:26) and “I did not recognize him, but so he might be manifested I came baptizing” (John 1:31). Thus, Jesus “was” (Imperfect HN) already there before John was sent to testify about him.

                      If you go back to John 1:14-15, it seems that this correspondence could fit there as well since the identity of Jesus wasn’t known until he came to dwell with the disciples (John 1:14) and they realized that he was the one that John had been talking about (John 15). Hence, Jesus “was” (HN) already there for 30 years (Luke 3:23) “before” John the baptizer was sent to testify about his “higher rank.”

                    • Roman
                      October 15, 2015 @ 3:50 am

                      No the Protos mou Ein is describing why Jesus has the higher rank, that’s the point. Jesus was of higher rank BECAUSE he was before him … Hoti is the Word used.

                    • Rivers
                      October 15, 2015 @ 10:30 pm

                      Roman,

                      Why do you think the common conjunction OTI infers anything about Preexistence? OTI, like HN, can just mean that Jesus Christ was present before John was sent to manifest him.

                      Where in the context is there any explicit reference to any kind of Preexistence? Grammatical forms do not establish doctrines.

                    • Roman
                      October 16, 2015 @ 5:56 am

                      The Word Hoti is the Word connecting The “he had prescedence over me” and the “he was before me” …. which means the Latter explains teh former.
                      The latter does not explain the former if it only is that Jesus was around at the time John was preaching … a lot of People were.

                    • Rivers
                      October 16, 2015 @ 9:03 am

                      Roman,

                      I agree. But, in a context where there is no explicit evidence of Preexistence, the implication of the conjunction can simply be something like “Jesus had precedence over me [all along] because (OTI) Jesus was [already] here before [I came baptizing]. This is why Isaiah 40:3 indicates.

                      Even though we disagree, this is a great discussion because it shows why language is flexible and interpretation should depend upon context. We may not agree in the end, but I hope you understand that I’m just pointing out the reasons that it is not necessary to draw any conclusions about Preexistence from the grammar alone.

                    • Roman
                      October 20, 2015 @ 10:16 am

                      How is Jesus already being there an argument for his having precedence?

                    • Rivers
                      October 20, 2015 @ 12:04 pm

                      Roman,

                      It isn’t Jesus already being there that indicates the preeminence. It’s the quotation of Isaiah 40:3 by John the baptizer to explain why he was sent first that establishes the “preeminence” in the context.

                      Look also at John 3:28-29 where John the baptizer used the “bridegroom” analogy to illustrate why he was sent before Jesus (who was actually the Christ). The “friend of the bridegroom” announces the coming of the bridegroom who is already there (and is more important).

                      What John is talking about has nothing to do with the Preexistence of the bridegroom or if the bridegroom is older than the “friend.” These things are simply describing what happens in the historical context of when John and Jesus were preaching the gospel together.

                    • Roman
                      October 21, 2015 @ 5:22 am

                      How does it explain preeminence? There’s nothing in Isaiah 40:3 which implies the fact of God already being there having anything to do With his preeminence … it doesn’t work at all. Basically you have to ignore the Hoti there, becuase in Your Reading the Hoti makes no sense, Isaiah 40:3 doesn’t say he’s more important because he’s already there, or anything like it.
                      Whether or not the bridegroom is already there is not in the text. But his already being there has NOTHING to do With the fac that he’s already important.
                      The Word “hoti” is in the text, meaning that the “protos mou ein” is supposed to explain the preeminence.

                    • Rivers
                      October 21, 2015 @ 8:10 am

                      Roman,

                      The word “Lord” in Isaiah 40:3-5 indicates that Jesus Christ had preeminence over John the baptizer who was sent ahead of him to “prepare the way.”

                      Your OTI argument is flawed because you are trying to force a grammatical implication that is not consistent with the context (just as you are doing with EGENETO in John 1:14). It’s not the right approach to doing sound exegesis. Grammatical forms are dynamic in any language.

                      That “bridegroom” has to be “already there” in John 3:28-29 or else there wouldn’t be any marriage (or any “friend of the bridegroom”). The point of the analogy is that the bridegroom (who’s already there) is more important than his “friend” who announces his appearing at the wedding.

                    • Roman
                      October 21, 2015 @ 10:46 am

                      How is it it not consistant with the context?

                      He doesn’t say he has preeminence because he is the lord, it’s because protos mou ein …. so whatever protos mou ein it MUST explain the preeminence ….

                      Again, the bridegroom already being there doesn’t explain WHY he has preeminence, his being the bridegroom does.

                      We’re going in circles here Rivers.

                    • Rivers
                      October 22, 2015 @ 8:39 am

                      Roman,

                      I think PRWTOS MOU EIN is just referring to the fact that Jesus was “among” the people before John the baptizer was sent to testify about him. That is what the whole context is about. John wasn’t sent to testify about “preexistence.”

                      The bridegroom analogy does explain “preeminence” because the whole point of the context is that “Jesus must increase, John must decrease” because the “bridegroom” should have the preeminence. This analogy certainly doesn’t infer any about “preexistence” either.

                    • Roman
                      October 22, 2015 @ 9:16 am

                      You’re ignoring the Word “Hoti” i.e. because.

                    • Rivers
                      October 22, 2015 @ 11:14 am

                      Roman,

                      Nobody is “ignoringzzz’ OTI (“for, beacause”) in John 1:30. However, this conjuction is used over 1,000 times in the NT and doesn’t connote anything about Preexistence. All it does is connect two clauses.

                      I account for OTI in John 1:30 because I interpret “for (OTI) he was before me” to simply mean that Jesus was already “among” the Israelites before John the baptizer was sent to testify about him (John 1:26).

                    • Roman
                      October 23, 2015 @ 2:32 am

                      Hoti Connects two clauses in that the latter clause explains the former … that’s the thing you’re ignoring.

                    • Rivers
                      October 23, 2015 @ 9:11 am

                      Roman,

                      See my previous comment about John 6:62 and John 3:20-23 for yet another way of looking at the implications of the grammar in John 1:15, 30. You might like it a little better (even though it doesn’t necessitate Preexistence either).

                    • Rivers
                      October 11, 2015 @ 9:24 am

                      Roman,

                      I’m sorry I missed this comment a couple of days ago. I just wanted to reply to your points about the implications of John 1:15.

                      It isn’t necessary to understand “he [Jesus] was before me [John the baptizer] as a matter of “pre-flesh life” (your terminology). There’s no indication that “pre-flesh” life was anyone’s concern in the context of either John 1:14-18 or John 1:19-31 (which elaborates on the same circumstances).

                      What John the baptizer meant by “he was before me” (John 1:15) is explained in John 1:23 where he quoted the prophecy from Isaiah 40:3-5. Jesus was a “higher rank” (EMPROSQEN) than John the baptizer because Isaiah referred to him as “the Lord.” Jesus came “before” (PRWTOS) John the baptizer because John was Isaiah said he was “preparing the way.”

                      In other words, the “was before me” language is derived from the words of Isaiah who spoke of John the baptizer as the Messiah’s forerunner and has no implications regarding the relative “age” of either person. John the baptizer was “preparing the way” from someone (Jesus) who was already among the people at that time.

                    • Roman
                      October 12, 2015 @ 5:27 am

                      Necessity is never really the argument, the argument is a probability one, what would the probably original Reading be by the intended audience, that’s the question.

                      We can’t just take “he was before me” Out of the context, it’s:
                      ? ????? ??? ????????? ????????? ??? ???????, ??? ?????? ??? ??.
                      He is explaining WHY the one who is Opisow mou, is above me … why? Because he is prowtos mou.
                      Notice what John is explaining, he’s explaining why the one after him is of higher rank, the reason is because actually Jesus is before him, the Opisow is concerning time, and naturally so is the prowtos concerning time.
                      So it must be a Reference to time, if it is purely rank, the argument would make no sense, it would be a toutology, “he’s of higher rank becuase he’s of higher rank.”
                      If he’s refering to the fact that Jesus was prophesied of, well that doesn’t make sense, becuase so was John prophesied of in the same scripture.
                      If he’s refering to the fact that Jesus was alive during Johns teaching, that doesn’t mean he actually came “before him.”
                      THe point is the Natural, and most Clear Reading is the one that reads it exactly as literal, the one that the original intended audience would have understood it as saying.

                    • Rivers
                      October 12, 2015 @ 8:53 am

                      Roman,

                      1. OK, but when there is no “necessity”, then “probability” goes down considerably. You can’t force Preexistence or Incarnation into the language without a context.

                      2. I agree that PRWTOS probably refers to “time” in John 1:15, 27-30 (as it usually means “first”). However, based upon the context, that “time” is only relevant to the ministries of John the baptizer and Jesus Christ. That is why John quoted Isaiah 40:3-5 to answer the Jews’ question. Isaiah 40:3-5 has nothing to do with Preexistence or Incarnation. It has to do with a forerunner preparing the way for someone of higher rank who is already present.

                      3. I’m not suggesting that John is referring to Jesus being “prophesied.” That is not the issue. John the baptizer indicated in John 1:26 that Jesus was already “in the midst” of the people when John was sent to testify about him (John 1:27-30). This is the sense in which Jesus was “first” (PRWTOS) in this context.

                      4. It’s fallacious to suggest that your interpretation is “the natural and clear reading” when you can’t interview the original writer or the original audience in order to determine how they would have definitely understood it. Grammatical arguments aren’t sufficient either. There has to be contextual evidence to establish any meaning of the words.

                    • Roman
                      October 12, 2015 @ 9:29 am

                      1. There’s never a “necessity” in any exegetical question that is interesting. And yes, probably of “very probably” is lower than “necessary.”
                      2 & 3. Ok, so let me get Your Reading correct, is it saying:
                      Although he is after me (in time), he is actually of higher rank than me, becuase he existed before I started my ministry?
                      If not, what is Your Reading?
                      4. Well, I would argue that the interpretation that requires the least amount of tinkering With the literal meanings of the Word, and fits best With what one could imagine the common and basic knowledge base was is the simplist meaning.
                      So for example when we read “the Word egeneto sarx,” the question would be, how would someone who was a first Century Jew, that John would have had in mind, read that sentance, just picking up the gospel and Reading it?

                    • Rivers
                      October 12, 2015 @ 10:32 am

                      Roman,

                      1. Yes, I would paraphrase it this way … “the is he [Jesus] on behalf of whom I [John] said, after me [John] comes a man [Jesus] who has a higher rank than me [John], and he [Jesus] was [already here] before me [being sent].” (John 1:30)

                      This is purely an inter-textual interpretation based upon the circumstances described in the quote from Isaiah 40 (John 1:23) and John’s statement that Jesus was already there “among” the Jews (John 1:26). In Isaiah, Jesus is the “higher rank” because he is “Lord”, whereas Jesus is “coming after” John because John is “preparing the way.” Hence, John is the forerunner of someone greater who is already there and yet unknown to the people.

                      2. I understand what you’re trying to get at with the “natural reading” idea. However, no matter how literally we translate these words, they must be “interpreted” (and that ultimately depends upon the context). I have difficulty see any kind of Preexistence in the language of John 1:15, 27-30 because I don’t where that concept is supported (or required) by anything in the context. It seems like most scholars are deriving in primarily from a certain literalistic reading of “became flesh” and “existed before me.”

                      3, Again, we can’t really say “this is how a First Century Jew would have understood the words ” because there aren’t any First Century Jews around to read it for us and we don’t have any reason to think that all First Century Jews would have interpreted it correctly either. All we can do is try to let the context give us clues to the meaning intended by the writer himself.

                    • Roman
                      October 13, 2015 @ 4:16 am

                      1. Thanks for the paraphrase, it helps:
                      My problem With Your Reading is it reads too much in between the lines, and departs to far from the literal meaning of the Words and demands that John use Words meaning one thing, to imply another.
                      Another problem is that John already being there isn’t really an argument for why he is of higher rank, him being actually existent prior to John would be.
                      2. Absolutely, interpretation is required no matter how you approach the text. Let me be Clear, I am not saying that every text MUST be interperated absolutely literally no matter what, my argument is that we start With a literal interpretation and only deviate from it if we are forced to do so through contextual, historical, linguistic or otherwise arguments. I don’t believe we are at Liberty to deviate from it Ad Hoc.
                      3. I disagree, there are some Things we can say about the worldviews and contexts of 1rst Century Jewery of different kinds. For example we can say that when a first Century Jew heard the Word “God” they would probably first think of Yahweh, and so on, that’s a basic example, but knowing the literature of the time we can go from there.

                    • Rivers
                      October 13, 2015 @ 9:34 am

                      Roman,

                      1. OK, but you asked for a “paraphrase” so I had to put some things “between the lines.” The “literal” translation makes no difference because the language must be interpreted. For example, the verb HN simply means “was.” It doesn’t have to be translated or interpreted as “existed.” Even if it means “existed”, HN has no implication of duration on its own.

                      2. Let me clarify. It is the word “Lord” in John’s citation of Isaiah 40:3 from which the “higher rank” is derived. I don’t think your idea that “Jesus existed before John” is a necessary addition. Do you think Isaiah calling Jesus “Lord” isn’t sufficient enough for John to draw the conclusion that Jesus has a “higher rank than me”?

                      3. I agree, but a “literal” translation of the text is not a “literal interpretation.” It’s easy to translate any verse in the 4th Gospel “literally”, but that doesn’t mean anything. There’s nothing about “in the beginning was the word” (John 1:1a) that isn’t a “literal” translation of the text, but there are different ways to “literally” interpret that translation. I say “the beginning” is literally referring to AD 27, and you say it is literally referring to Genesis 1:1.

                      4. Yes, that’s a valid point. I just think it’s better to allow the biblical writers to speak for themselves because that is the best way to determine what they thought (regardless of what other Jews or Greeks might have thought).

                    • Roman
                      October 14, 2015 @ 7:39 am

                      1. Fair enough, I did ask for a paraphrase.
                      But what I mean is that Your paraphrase isn’t just interpretation, it’s adding Words that don’t appear in the text in order to fit your interpretation.
                      Such as the Words “already here” and “being sent,” when there is no reason to believe that the original audience would have themselves read those Words in.
                      2. It may be the case that it’s sufficient, however, that doesn’t explain the grammer of the sentace, John says that Jesus is “before (or of higher rank) HOTE (Because) pros mou Ein” so in that sentance the Pros mou Ein is explaining why Jesus is of higher rank.
                      3. We agree there, exegesis is not that straight forward.
                      4. Well, I do think we have to include the generaly background of the Jews and maybe Greeks given that they were the intended audience, and all the books in the NT were written With an audience in mind,

                    • Rivers
                      October 14, 2015 @ 9:17 am

                      Roman,

                      1. Paraphrasing involves adding words to give an easier reading. Even if we translate John 1:14 as “the word became flesh” it doesn’t mean anything (without elaboration) because nobody use this language to speak of anything in English. A very literalistic translation isn’t always helpful (that’s why we don’t read interlinear translations in church).

                      2. Again, be careful with putting too much emphasis on “grammar.” The semantics of biblical Greek are not the same as modern English. The word order is not the same either. Thus, it’s always necessary to give priority to the context.

                      3. Agreed.

                      4. I’m not sure any of the NT books were written with a general Jewish or Greek audience in mind. I think most (if not all) of them were written to people where were disciples of Jesus in order to encourage them.

                    • Roman
                      October 15, 2015 @ 3:30 am

                      1. I understand that, I’m not trying to do a “gotcha” thing by asking you to paraphrase and then critique you for doing what I asked, that’s not my intention, I hope you don’t feel like I’m being unfair here.

                      However, the problem I have With Your paraphrase, is that it isn’t so much a translation, its’ that “was” in Your paraphrase must be re-interperated to mean “already here,” or those Words need to be added in, the same With “being sent.” For Your paraphrase to work, one would have to assume that the intended audience would naturally include those Words in their Reading, I don’t see why they would.

                      I’ll give an example, for example when Jesus says to a guy who called him good teacher, “why do you Call me good there is only one who is good, GOd” many trinitarians paraphrase that as “Don’t you know who you are talking to? I’m God” or something like that.

                      My problem is not the act of paraphrasing, my problem is the insertion of Words and meanings which a Natural Reading wouldn’t give you and would not be a Natural Reading for the intended audience.

                      2. Yes, but sometimes grammer is important … Something “That Because That” implies that “that” explains why “This” is the case.

                      4. Well, some of the epistles sure, but the gospels seam to have been writen for a general audience, for example Matthew seems to be for a general palestinian jewish audience, the epistle of James seems to be for a general Jewish audience, John seams to be for a Jewish audience that is more philosophically minded and so on.

                      There are Things we can say about the intended audience, we can’t be dogmanic about it, but it must play a role in Our exegesis.

                    • Rivers
                      October 15, 2015 @ 10:49 am

                      Roman,

                      1. I understand. The Imperfect verb HN (“was”) simply means that someone (or something) “was [being]” or “was [there].” That is why I think it is appropriate to paraphrase a little bit for clarification. I tried to explain that the sense of “already there” is conveyed by both HN and PRWTOS (and the quotation from Isaiah 40:3-5) which are all part of the context.

                      2. Yes, grammar is important. We agree on that. I’m just making the point that it’s ultimately the context that determines meaning. Grammatical rules are always flexible depending upon context. That is why I don’t think it’s sufficient to insist that HN + PRWTOS necessitates any notion of Preexistence without contextual support.

                      3. I’m aware of theories about who the particular audiences may have been for the various Gospels and letters. However, it is speculative and there is no historical evidence that any of the books were in the possession of non-Christians when they were circulated during the apostolic era. Perhaps they were read in the churches where an “unbeliever” might occasionally be present (1 Corinthians 14:24).

                      4. You’re right. We can’t be too dogmatic about anything. I’m just giving my perspective on the evidence as a plausible explanation. I’m not demanding that you are anyone else see it the same way. Every one must be convinced in his own mind (Romans 14:5).

                    • Roman
                      October 16, 2015 @ 4:21 am

                      1. Ein can mean already there, but in this verse it’s being used as describing what the one coming after me was … I mean the English translation is pretty accurate, he was before me, before me in time.
                      There is not context that implies it means anything different, the fact that he was among Johns disciples doesn’t imply anything.
                      The Ein, is not apart from the protos mou, it’s not that he was there (before me), no it’s he WAS before me.
                      Like Your use of Egeneto, you’re simply not using the grammer correctly here.
                      3. It’s not who the audiences were, it’s who the intended audience was.

                    • Rivers
                      October 16, 2015 @ 8:50 am

                      Roman,

                      1. If it was taking about their times of birth, then your point might be significant. It seems to me that the issue is that the Jews recognize John the baptizer as a prophet first, even though the Christ is already in their midst (John 1:26). Notice the Perfect tense the writer used for “stands among you” as well. The context pertains to the two men when they are 30 years old. That means that the implications of HN doesn’t have to be taken any further back.

                      2. OK, but by the same token you are arguing that “the context makes no difference” from your perspective, I would argue that the context makes no inference about Preexistence. I think your argument is entirely based upon a particular reading of the grammar which is not sufficient to prove the concept of Preexistence. The context is in favor of no Preexistence.

                      3. I’m not sure why you would insist that EGENETO cannot be translated “was” in John 1:14 when there are plenty of other times it is translated “was” in scripture when referring to someone who was present at a certain place and time. It doesn’t have to be translated “became.”

                      4. We can’t prove precisely who “the intended audience” was, so there isn’t any point in trying to establish any argument on that basis.

                    • Roman
                      October 20, 2015 @ 10:15 am

                      1. I think the argument breaks Down if you Accept that Reading, The stands among you is saying exactly that, but it’s not part of an explination of why Jesus is Ahead of him, the verse in 30 is.
                      I insist that Egeneto cannot be translated as “was” because it’s usage in that verse, if translated as “was,” would imply a meaning which Egeneto CANNOT have, it’s usage in the other Places you talk about when translated as “was” has a completely different meaning.

                    • Rivers
                      October 20, 2015 @ 11:57 am

                      Roman,
                      Please explain why you insist that EGENETO “cannot” mean “was” in John 1:14. It seems like you are just dismissing it as an option because you don’t like the implications.

                    • Roman
                      October 21, 2015 @ 5:15 am

                      Because Egeneto can ONLY mean was, when “was” is synonemous With “appeared.” Egeneto mean was when “was” is describing what something is, because that’s not what the Word does, Ginomai is not “ei.”

                    • Rivers
                      October 21, 2015 @ 8:04 am

                      Roman,

                      That’s right. However, this is where you seem to disregarding the context.

                      John 1:14 is about the appearing of Jesus Christ to “dwell with his disciples” AFTER John the baptizer announced his “coming” (John 1:15). There is absolutely nothing in the context that suggests a “transformation” of an abstract “word” into another substance (flesh).

                      Contest is the reason EGENETO should be translated “was” in John 1:14-15 for the same reason EGENETO is translated “was” in John 1:6 where it refers to the appearing of John the baptizer AFTER God “sent” him.

                    • Roman
                      October 21, 2015 @ 10:49 am

                      The transformation is necessitated by the Use of the word in relation to the words “logos” and Sarx” … the context itself also needs to be interpreted.

                      If you’re interpreting it in a way that demands you to use a completely grammatically incorrect translation of Logos Sarx Egeneto, then there is something wrong with your interpretation.

                      I already explained the difference between the use of Egeneto in John 1:15-16 and it’s use in John 6 …. completely different meanings of the english word “was” in those to translations.

                      As the other conversation we’re having, we are going in circles.

                    • Rivers
                      October 22, 2015 @ 8:45 am

                      Roman,

                      There’s nothing “grammatically incorrect” about translating John 1:14 as “the word was flesh and dwelt among us.” It works in both Greek and English, and it is consistent with everything in the context.

                      You claim that EGENETO “means completely different things” in John 1:6 and John 1:14 but your reasons are not at all convincing because you are not taking the context into consideration. I understand why you prefer a different interpretation, so there’s no reason to continue going around in circles about it.

                    • Roman
                      October 22, 2015 @ 9:15 am

                      No, not that egeneto means completely different Things, it’s that the usage of “was” would imply completely different Things, one usage, in JOhn 1:6 would work With the meaning of the Word egeneto, but the other, in JOhn 1:14 would not work.

                    • Rivers
                      October 22, 2015 @ 11:07 am

                      Roman,

                      The term “was” does work fine in John 1:14 because the context is about the time when the disciples began dwelling with Jesus Christ after John the baptizer announced his coming (John 1:15). EGENETO means nothing more than that Jesus “was” there just like John the baptizer “was” there in “the beginning” of the Gospel (Mark 1:1; John 1:1). This historical time was the origin of the LOGOS.

                      There’s nothing about EGENETO that infers anything about a “transformation” of anything in either John 1:6 or John 1:14. LOGOS is a spoken “saying” and cannot be separate from “flesh” anyway. Thus, the “word” (LOGOS) came to the disciples in the person (flesh) that John testified about (John 1:14-15).

                    • Roman
                      October 23, 2015 @ 2:30 am

                      You’re ignroing the actual grammatical argument I’m making.

                    • Rivers
                      October 23, 2015 @ 9:03 am

                      Roman,

                      As a change of direction, there is another way that one could interpret the implications of John 1:15, 30 without the notion of Preexistence as well:

                      Where it says “for he [Jesus] was before me [John]” it could also be understood in the same sense as John 6:62 where Jesus said “if you see the son of man ascending to where he was before” after telling the people that “my flesh … is the bread from heaven” (John 6:51-58).

                      In this text you have HN (“was”) used with PROTEROS (“before”) giving the sense that Jesus understood that his birth (flesh) was of heavenly origin. John the baptizer said later that “he [Jesus] who comes from above, is above all” (John 3:30-32). Being “born from above” is a matter of having holy spirit from God” (John 3:3-6).

                    • Roman
                      October 23, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

                      In what sense could “Protos” mean “born fom above.”

                      I think John 6:62 is a clear text showing Jesus’ pre-earthly existence, but when it says “to where he was before” it means to where he was before a particular time, which it seams pretty clear, the time was when he descended.

                      John the baptizer however is using “Protos” to say he was before ME, and that being before me must explain why he has preeminence over me.

                      To be honest I think the only way to get around this grammatically is to adopt Miguel de Servents view, which is problematic in it’s own right, but at least can be somewhat defended gramatically (although it demands very bizzare use of words), or an Anthony Buzzard understanding of the logos as an idea.

                    • Rivers
                      October 23, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

                      Roman,

                      I don’t see any “descending” mentioned in John 6:62.

                      Miquel’s view is implausible because there no evidence that the writer of the 4th Gospel ever used LOGOS to refer to an “attribute.” Likewise, Buzzard’s view is implausible because LOGOS isn’t used for an “idea” or “plan” either.

                      The wrong definition of the terms isn’t going to result in the correct interpretation of the meaning either. A “word” (LOGOS) is a “spoken” saying or message that requires a person (flesh) to convey it (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1).

                    • Roman
                      October 24, 2015 @ 9:15 am

                      If you’re ascending to a place you were before, the assumption is you had descended from there.

                      At least Miquel and Buzzards views are grammatically pluasable, but they also have many problems, which you pointed out.

                      You’re position, although right when you say the logos is a person, the problem is the rest of your exegesis of the prologue of John is grammatically wrong.

                    • Rivers
                      October 24, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

                      Roman,

                      When it says “where he was before” the language must be interpreted. Your interpretation of “literally descending from heaven” is not the only option. The text doesn’t explicitly say anything about “descending.”

                      Miquel’s and Buzzard’s views ar certainly not more “grammatically” plausible than mine. Their views are based upon an unsubstantiated redefinition of the term LOGOS which means they are exegetically and logical flawed. Any analysis of grammar needs to start with understanding the definition of the terms.

                      There is nothing “grammatically wrong” with anything I’ve said about the language in the Prologue. I just think you don’t want to agree with it because you believe in the “preexisting spirit being” idea.

                      Since there isn’t any “grammar” that supports the “preexisting spirit” infererence you bring into the Prologue, I think you shouldn’t be too critical of others who offer a different way of interpreting the language that is actually in the text.

                    • Roman
                      October 26, 2015 @ 5:38 am

                      Of course Language must be interpreted, but it’s not arbitrary, when the Word ascending is there, the opposite of that is descending, and if you’re ascending to someplace that you were before, the implication is you descended. Pretty Clear implications in the Language.
                      There is no set definition of logos, you can define it how you want, but Your grammer IS simply problematic … you translate egeneto to mean something which it cannot mean, and you ignore the implications of the Word Hoti.
                      THe fact taht Miquel and Buzzard use a differetnt definition of logos than you do is an interpretive issue, not a gramatical one.

                    • Rivers
                      October 26, 2015 @ 8:40 am

                      Roman,

                      I don’t think the “implication” approach is a valid one. Ascending into heaven certainly doesn’t require “descending” from heaven. This is evident because the apostles understood that all would eventually be taken up to heaven where Jesus went (John 14:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).

                      Anyone can examine the 40 uses of the noun LOGOS in the 4th Gospel and discover that it ALWAYS refers to a spoken saying or message. It never means an “attribute” or a “preexisting spirit being.” A wise interpreter is going to start with the 40 uses that actually define the term.

                      It’s misleading for you to continue to say EGENETO cannot be translated ‘was’ when it is translated that way a number of times in scripture. I don’t know why it is so difficult for you to take all of the evidence into account. Maybe it goes along with believing in the mysterious “preexisting spirit being” idea.

                      Both Miguel and Buzzard use the wrong definition of LOGOS. It is very easy to demonstrate that (as I noted earlier). Buzzard actually defines LOGOS three different ways in John 1:1 in his new translation (which is bizarre) and Miguel makes up his own definition.

                    • Roman
                      October 26, 2015 @ 9:38 am

                      Ok, Rivers please follow my argumentation, I’m not stupid, I know that Egeneto is translated unproblematically as “was” other Places, that isn’t the point, the point is, and please don’t ignore bits of the argument, that “was” when used inbetween a subject and Object, describing a feature of that subject, is not the same as “was” when declaring an Object, that the Object appears, or comes on the scene.
                      So there is a huge difference in meaning between “There David Was” and “David was a doctor”
                      Egeneto can be translated as “was” if “was has the former meaning, but it cannot if it has the latter meaning.
                      the fact that egeneto is translated as “was” other Places has absoluting NOTHING to say when it comes to the fact that Your exegesis is gramatically problematic.
                      It’s more likely that Words within a gospel mean different Things, than the idea that we should translated a passage in a gramatically impossible way.

                    • Rivers
                      October 26, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

                      Roman,
                      OK, that point is reasonable. However, I don’t think it works in John 1:14 because the “subject” and “object” are referring to the same thing. In 1 John 1:1, the writer spoke of “the word (LOGOS) of life” being something that was “heard” and “seen” and “touched.” Thus, I think I can account for your subject-object point because this person who was among the disciples “was” also proclaiming the “word” that they heard.

                      I’m not sure I understand why your analogy with “David the doctor” is a problem because one could say “there David was, teaching his interns” or “David was a doctor teaching his interns” and the time reference remains the same. This is what I’m suggesting about the context of John 1:14-15. The subject-object factor has no bearing on the historical context. It is “dwelling among the disciples” and “we saw his glory” and “John testified about him” that sets the context in which “the word was flesh.”

                      I do understand you points of argument. I just don’t think they trump the context. Translating EGENETO as “was” in John 1:14 is plausible because of the historical context. I would even translate it “came” in John 1:14 (to capture the difference between HN and EGENETO) except that “came flesh” isn’t proper English grammar.

                    • Roman
                      October 27, 2015 @ 4:37 am

                      You cannot establish that they are the same thing because that isn’t what Egento does, that’s what Ein does, and that is not the Word that is being used.
                      The example With the doctor is a Perfect one. “there David was” and “David was a Doctor” use the Word “was” in two completely different ways. Egeneto can be translated as “was” in the first sense, but NOT the second. You’re trying to translate it as “was” in the second sense.
                      The historical context cannot justify bad grammer.
                      You can’t translate it as came, becuase that’s not what it means, that’s the point, it’s bad English grammer AND it’s bad greek grammer. Egeneto means came to be, in a specific Place and time. You’re saying “the Word was flesh” is using “was” in the “David was a Doctor” sense, but that is gramatically wrong in the greek.

                    • Rivers
                      October 27, 2015 @ 9:15 am

                      Roman,

                      We don’t need to keep going back and forth on this. Context is always is more important than grammar. Thus, I don’t think your attempt to isolate the grammar is consistent with doing sound exegesis. I respect your difference of opinion and understand why it is helpful to your “preexisting spirit being” idea.

                    • Roman
                      October 27, 2015 @ 9:32 am

                      Context can help you decide between to possible grammatical Readings, it cannot make an impossible grammatical Reading possible.

                    • Rivers
                      October 27, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

                      Roman,

                      Nothing is “impossible” about the way that I’ve suggested John 1:14 should be translated. The implications work in Greek, English, and in the context of the Prologue.

                      From my perspective, no matter how one translates John 1:14, your interpretation isn’t plausible because it has no contextual support. Trying to force SARX EGENETO to mean “became flesh” in order to promote a nebulous “preexisting spirit being” is not persuasive at all.

                    • Roman
                      October 27, 2015 @ 2:58 pm

                      Eneneto is not synonymous with Ein, in your translation you’re pretending it is. In that way it’s grammatically impossible.

                    • Rivers
                      October 28, 2015 @ 8:26 am

                      Roman,

                      I’ve translated John 1:14 plausibly because “the word was flesh and dwelt among us” makes perfectly good sense of the Greek grammar, the English grammar, and fits the context.

                      If you don’t agree with this translation, then you should keep on believing in the “preexisting spirit being” idea. It’s not my responsibility to convince you of anything. I think we’ve exhausted all the information from both perspectives at this point. Others can make up their own minds for themselves.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      October 29, 2015 @ 7:25 am

                      “If you don’t agree with this translation, then you should keep on believing in the ‘preexisting spirit being’ idea.”

                      Well, I’m at least glad to see that you recognize that if your understanding doesn’t work grammatically, then John 1:14 supports our view that the one who became Jesus existed in heaven as a spirit being before becoming a man. As you’ve observed, this is a perfect time to end the dialogue.

                      On the other hand, if you are inclined to comment about this again, why not actually address Roman’s grammatical argument instead of just saying that he’s mistaken and that you’re right? You continue to offer a contextual argument when Roman is offering a grammatical one. He’s made clear that context can help us decide between valid grammatical options, but it can’t turn bad grammar into good grammar. I agree with him, and so to simply restate your view of the context and claim that he’s mistaken isn’t really addressing his argument.

                      Maybe this will help: Assume that Roman offered the sort of argument that you normally offer, i.e. that according to “Apostolic usage”, EGENETO never means “was” in the “David was a doctor” sense. Since you find that form of argumentation compelling, shouldn’t you feel some responsibility to either yield to its perceived force when it’s offered by others, or show that the grammatical point Roman made is not a valid one? The key word there is “show”, not “claim”.

                      Finally, out of curiosity, whose view of the grammar do you think would find more support from the experts in the fields who’ve made the study of Greek a lifelong commitment, and who have taught it professionally and written about it in peer-reviewed books and journals? Yours or Roman’s? It’s just a question, not an argument.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      October 29, 2015 @ 9:18 am

                      Sean,

                      That wasn’t the intent of my comment. I simply respect that fact that you and Roman choose to believe in the “preexisting spirit being” idea and that is based upon the way you interpret John 1:14. I think the “preexisting spirit idea” is ridiculous (regardless of how John 1:14 is translated).

                      Actually, if you read the discussion, it is Roman who is “dismissing” my exegetical and contextual arguments and claiming that I am “wrong.” You have it backwards. I’ve shown repeatedly why I think Roman’s grammatical argumentation has no contextual support.

                      It doesn’t even matter if one translates John 1:14 as “the word became flesh” because the context indicates that this took place when Jesus came to “dwell among his disciples” when they “saw” his glory (John 1:14) after John the baptizer had announced that there was someone “coming after him” (John 1:15). Thus, one could simply explain “became flesh” as meaning Jesus “appeared to the disciples as a man” at that particular time (without any notion of Preexistence or Incarnation).

                      I don’t care if other scholars prefer to continue mistranslating John 1:14 as “became flesh.” I understand why they do it and why it is required to get any sponsored English translation published. The language still needs to be interpreted and the context gives no support to Preexistence or Incarnation. Any scholar worth recognition should be competent enough to realize that context is the most important factor.

                    • Roman
                      October 29, 2015 @ 9:52 am

                      My interpretation of John 1:14 is not due to my “choosing” to believe in a preexisting spirit being, it’s due to the grammer, as I said earlier there are Readings of that verse that fit a “Socinian” Christology but don’t absolutely butcher the grammer in the way your Reading does. Whether or not you find the idea of a preexisting spirit rediculous or not has absolutely NO bearing on what John 1:14 says, and how the grammer can be interpreted, the same goes for for John 1:15,30 (where you also butcher the grammer in your translation).

                      As I have said before, and as Sean has said, and I’ll say it again, context cannot make bad grammer good grammer. No context can make EGENETO mean “was” in the sense of David “was” a doctor, it doesn’t matter what the context says, that’s not what the Word means. Your contextual argument makes no difference whatsoever, because my argument isn’t dependant on, or effected by the context.

                      Grammatical arguments require grammatical support, and THEN, once you know what the sentance is actually saying, you can interpret the context. Context cannot make an impossible translation a possible one.
                      Yes you have been ignoring the grammatical argument completely, no amount of context can make EGENETO synonymous With EIN, and that’s what you’ve been arguing.

                      And yes it does matter if you translate John 1:14 as “the Word became flesh” as opposed to “the Word was flesh” because those 2 phrases have COMPLETELY different meanings, (the latter is gramatically impossible using the Word egeneto), and I care about what the text actually says, not whether a translation supports my Christological position or not.

                      You can have whatever Christology you want, and interpret the text however you want, if you want to read John 1:14 as saying that “became flesh” means something other than what it says, that’s fine, but I think you’d have a very hard time arguing that any 1st or 2nd Century Reader of the Gospel would read “became flesh” as anything other than “became flesh.” Frankly I find it bizzare that you accuse me of translating based on christological bias, when you basically will take any translation as long as it fits Your christology, and even want to push a grammatically impossible one.

                      I’m sure there are scholars who translate With biases, but I really doubt all the Lexicons, dictionaries, and books teaching Koine Grammer are all conspiring to hide the real meaning and usage of the Word “Egeneto.”
                      For the last time, my argument is the same no matter WHAT the context is because you’re translating the text in a gramatically IMPOSSIBLE way. If you don’t want to deal With the grammer, you’re not dealing With the argument.

                    • Rivers
                      October 29, 2015 @ 2:32 pm

                      Roman,

                      1. Translating and interpreting “grammar” always involves making choices. Thus, for you to claim that you don’t “choose” a particular rendering or reading of John 1:14 is naïve.

                      2. In your case, the context makes your interpretation of John 1:14 of no merit whatsoever. You cling to defending a poor translation of John 1:14 because you don’t have anything else to offer. What you’re doing is simply bad exegesis.

                      3. It’s nonsense to suggest that “different translations of John 1:14 have different meanings.” Grammar doesn’t determine meaning. The exact same meaning can be conveyed in several different ways (grammatically) in any language. That is part of the reason we find the same sayings of Jesus written differently in various gospels without affecting the meaning.

                      4. OK, I’m glad you are willing to “allow” me to interpret the text as I see fit. I was beginning to think that you consider yourself the only one is allowed to tell us what the Bible is supposed to say.

                      5. Any lexicon supports the translation of EGENETO that I’ve suggested because they all give numerous examples of where EGENETO is simply translated “was.” They also give numerous examples of where “was” will work as the translation, even through another English word can be chosen.

                    • Roman
                      October 29, 2015 @ 5:29 pm

                      1. There are possible interpretations and impossible ones, the problem with your translation is not the interpretation, it’s that grammatically it’s impossible. Do theological presuppositions effect mine (and everyone elses) readings? Sure, but the grammar itself has to be understood by the laws of grammar and lexicography.

                      2-5. I’m going to give the argument again in the hopes that you might finally address it. There are two senses of the word “was” in English.

                      One sense can be typified by the statement “David was a Doctor” in which “was” describes a feature of David or an attribute of David, or the Identity of David. I’ll use lower case “was” for this sense of “was.”

                      Another sense can be typified by the Statement “There David was” in which “was” announces the arrival of David onto the scene, or declares that David is in a certain place at a certain time. I’ll use the upper case “WAS” for this sense of “was.”

                      Ok, now, if you look at every time EGENETO is translated as “WAS” it’s the upper case “WAS” sense. EGENETO can only be “WAS” in that sense.

                      The greek word for the lower case sense of “was” is EIN. EIN and EGENETO are not synonymous and no amount of context can make them synonymous because they simply are not. Just because EGENETO can be translated as “WAS” in the “There David WAS” sense does not mean that it can automatically be translated as “was” in the “David was a doctor” sense, simple because in the english language the word “Was” can by used in both senses.

                      When you translate “Ho Logos Sarx Egeneto” as “The word was Flesh” the word “was” is being used in the lowercase “David was a doctor” sense. When you translate “Egento Anthropos” as “There was a man” you’re using the word “WAS” in the uppercase sense of “There David WAS.” Two completely different meanings of the word was.

                      Now if we were to translate your english translations back into greek, “the word was flesh” would have to be translated as “ho logos ein Sarx,” you would not and indeed COULD NOT tranlsate it as “Ho Logos Sarx Egeneto.” However in the case of “there was a man” you could and would translate it back into greek as “Egento anthropos.” The reason for the difference is, as I said before, the 2 different was in which “was” is used in english, one being compatible with Egeneto, and one not.

                      This is the Grammatical argument, it’s not that the translation your giving is less likely, it’s that it’s grammatically and Lexically wrong, period, context doesn’t change that, any more than no amount of context would allow me to translate “Sarx” as “Tequila.”

                      I can’t think of any simpler way to state my objection, either you’re going to deal with the objection or completely ignore it, but appealing to context isn’t dealing with it because, as I’ve said over and over again, the objection is INDEPENDENT of the context. It’s a Lexical and Grammatical argument.

                    • Rivers
                      October 30, 2015 @ 8:24 am

                      Roman,

                      I understand what you are trying to illustrate with “WAS” and “was.” However, you aren’t taking into account that the same meaning can be conveyed using different forms of grammar. This is because meaning is determined by context and not grammar. Until you comprehend that basic principle of linguistics, you are going to be spinning your wheels.

                      Another thing you aren’t taking into consideration is that many occurrences of EGENETO that are not translated “was” will make perfectly good sense if translated “was” in English. This shows that the English use of “was” overlaps the usage of HN and EGENETO in Greek. Simply put … someone who “came” (EGENETO) in the past, is something that “was” in the past. The meaning is the same in English translation:

                      “There came (EGENETO) a man sent from God” (John 1:6, NASB)

                      “There was (EGENETO) a man sent from God” (John 1:6, NIV)

                      Why don’t you show us how you derive a “preexisting spirit being” identity or concept from anything in the grammar or the context of the Prologue. That is the fundamental problem with your belief (regardless of the grammar in John 1:14). Show us why LOGOS must refer to a “spirit being” and why SARX EGENTO must mean that a “preexisting spirit being transformed into a human being.”

                    • Roman
                      October 30, 2015 @ 9:32 am

                      the translation has to fit BOTH the grammer and the context, period. If you end up With something that fits the context but is grammatically impossible, you don’t have a translation.

                      you immediately, in Your second paragraph, COMPLETELY ignore the distinctions between the 2 uses of was … I’m getting really sick of this. Unless you actually deal with the 2 differences of the usages of “was” and understand that just because EGENETO is translated as “was” in one sense doesn’t mean it can be translated as “was” in the other sense, you’re never going to get anywhere.

                      The use of “was” does overlap With Ein and Egeneto, BUT NOT IN THE SAME WAY, Ein overlaps With was in teh sense of “David Was a doctor” and Egeneto overlaps in the sense of “There David was.” Please stop ignoring that fact.

                      Ok now lets get to your examples. A1 and A2 are fine because the use of “was” there is in the sense of “there David was,” it’s synonymous With the first one, and also With the Word appeared.

                      B1 and B2 is a little more complicated, and it’s funny you picked the KJV because all the modern translations use “became” but even in the KJV it’s not using “was” strictly in the David “was” a Doctor, read the Whole text.

                      2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

                      Obviously the context includes “becomes” within the use of “was” because this is a transfiguration.

                      No one is giong to read that text and read “his raiment was white” as simply that it was white all a long, the grammer includes “became” in the text.
                      So it’s a little bit silly of you to use that example. The use of “was” DOES NOT, even in Matthew 17:2, change the meaning of the text at all, the meaning doesn’t change between that and “become” within that sentance structure.

                      What you’re trying to do in John 1:14 changes the meaning in a way that “EGENETO” simply cannot, grammatically mean.

                      Now if you want to be serious about the translation here, and be serious about the actual text, you have to understand and take into account the difference between “was” as in “David was a doctor” and “was” as in “There David was.”

                      You’re still refusing to do that, and it’s rediculous.

                    • Rivers
                      October 30, 2015 @ 12:11 pm

                      Roman,
                      I agree, and there is nothing “impossible” about translating John 1:14 as “the word was flesh.” It works in Greek, English, and the context. Even if you insist that “became flesh” is the only possible translation, the Incarnation implications you read into the passage aren’t required by the grammar or the context.

                      I agree that EGENETO is distinct from HN is that EGENETO connotes that something “happened” or that someone “appeared” as result of a change. However, in English, the term “was” can also infer the same thing:

                      A. The rug became dirty yesterday.

                      B. The rug was dirty yesterday.

                      In both examples we understand the rug hadn’t been “dirty” until yesterday. But, using “became” (which connotes the change, like EGENETO in Greek) is not necessary in English because “was” is also sufficient to infer that a “change” has taken place in the context.

                      In John 1:14, EGENETO is used simply because a man (SARX, Jesus) appeared speaking the message (LOGOS) and dwelt among them after John the baptizer said he was coming (John 1:15).

                    • Roman
                      November 1, 2015 @ 10:59 am

                      Yes, there is something impossible about translating John 1:14 as “The word was flesh” in that that phrase does not mean the same thing, as “Logos Sarx Egeneto,” the meanings are completely different, given that you are using “was” in a way that Egeneto doesn’t carry at all.

                      I’m not saying that “became flesh” is the only POSSIBLE translation, appeared flesh is also possible, came to be flesh is another, perhaps there are others, but I’m saying “was flesh” is not a possible translation, at least in the normal meaning that “the word was flesh” conveys.

                      “I agree that EGENETO is distinct from HN is that EGENETO connotes that something “happened” or that someone “appeared” as result of a change.”

                      That’s the whole point, that is what I’ve been trying to get at this whole time.

                      Here’s why the 2 examples don’t fully work. A is fine. B might infer change in that the addition of “yesterday” implies that it wasn’t always dirty.

                      Here’s the point, “The word was flesh” doesn’t imply change at all, it implies a property of the word, not something which happened, that would be the normal understanding of the english phrase “the word was flesh” the same way “David was a doctor” is describing a property of David, and thus could not be translated into greek using EGENETO.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      October 30, 2015 @ 7:37 am

                      “Actually, if you read the discussion, it is Roman who is ‘dismissing’ my exegetical and contextual arguments and claiming that I am ‘wrong.'”

                      I’ve been following the thread, and I haven’t seen you address Roman’s very specific grammatical point with a *grammatical* counterargument. All you’ve really said is that language is flexible, which is ironic in light of your insistence on inflexibility in reference to John 8:58.

                      “You have it backwards. I’ve shown repeatedly why I think Roman’s grammatical argumentation has no contextual support.”

                      And there you have it. Apparently you don’t realize that with that statement you’ve just conceded what Roman and I have observed: You haven’t offered a sound *grammatical argument* to counter Roman’s grammatical point. You’ve continually offered *contextual* considerations.

                      “I’m not concerned about other scholars prefer…”

                      Yes, it’s quite obvious that you don’t care what the experts in Greek know and teach about the language, because if you did you wouldn’t be able to promote your ideas. You’d rather perform an appendectomy on yourself than go to a doctor who has the proper training to perform such procedures, and you thereby put your health at risk. As though that weren’t dangerous enough, you are out there offering to perform appendectomies on others, and you thereby put their health at risk, too.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      October 30, 2015 @ 8:50 am

                      Sean,

                      The “flexibility” of the language is the response to Roman’s ill-taken “specific grammatical point.” It’s very easy to show that EGENETO can be translated numerous ways with English words that have some semantic overlap. I’ve cited many examples. I’ve also appealed to the context which shows that what Roman is insisting about the implications of “became flesh” is unwarranted and implausible.

                      I’ve presented a “sound grammatical argument” that SARX EGENETO can be translated “was flesh” by giving many other examples of where EGENETO is translated “was” and also why “was flesh” is the appropriate English and makes perfectly good sense in John 1:14. There isn’t anything else I need to do. That is how good translation and sound exegesis is established.

                      There are certainly “experts” in Greek who have other opinions. That is why we have numerous translations of the Greek scriptures. I can also speak with authority on the text and thus I choose to do so. I realize that some people see it the way that I do, and some people don’t.

                      If you want to believe what some particular “Greek expert” thinks about the text, then that’s up to you. It’s not my responsibility to convince you. I’m just presenting the evidence from a different perspective; every person can evaluate it for himself and make up his own mind.

                    • Roman
                      October 30, 2015 @ 9:35 am

                      “was” in what sense ……
                      “was” can mean multiple Things in English, as I’ve talked about.

                      Yes there is something else you need to do, you need to show that the translation of EGENETO as “was” is translated in a way so that the meaning of “was” in that sense is compatible With “EGENETO.” Otherwise you’re using the fallacy of equivocation.

                      There are 2 main uses of “was” one “there was David” which is compatible With “EGENETO” and “David was a doctor” which is not compatible With “EGENETO.”

                      If you ignore that you’re not even beginning to address the grammatical problem.

                    • Rivers
                      October 30, 2015 @ 12:30 pm

                      Roman,

                      Since you are fond of insisting on strict “grammatical” arguments, I think it would be helpful if you would show where any of the grammar in the Prologue explicitly refers to a “preexisting spirit being.”

                      1. Can you explain why the noun LOGOS must mean “spirit being” in order to substantiate your interpretation of John 1:14?

                      2. Can you explain why EGENETO must mean an ontological transformation from “spirit being” to “human being” in John 1:14?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      October 30, 2015 @ 8:04 pm

                      “Since you are fond of insisting on strict ‘grammatical’ arguments, I
                      think it would be helpful if you would show where any of the grammar in
                      the Prologue explicitly refers to a ‘preexisting spirit being.'”

                      And with that you’ve demonstrated that you STILL don’t understand Roman’s argument. If I were Roman I wouldn’t bother responding to you further until you restate his argument and explain it so that all can see that you understand it. If you demonstrate that you don’t understand it, then I’d say that there isn’t much else that Roman can do. If you demonstrate that you do understand it, then Roman can reply that you therefore must understand why your current question is meant to sidetrack the discussion and move it in a direction that doesn’t make you so uncomfortable.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      October 31, 2015 @ 12:01 pm

                      Sean,

                      Roman can’t offer any “grammatical” support for his “spirit being (LOGOS) became an human being (flesh)” intepretation of John 1:14. Thus, there’s nothing to respond to.

                      All the wrangling he’s been doing with me about “became flesh” is the real diversion. All he’s doing is attempting to discredit my explanation of the grammar.

                      He has nothing to offer (grammatically or contextually) as any affirmation of his own view, and thus there is nothing for me to state further or to respond to.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      November 1, 2015 @ 9:39 am

                      “Roman can’t offer any ‘grammatical’ support for his ‘spirit being (word)
                      transformed (became) into an human being (flesh)’ interpretation of
                      John 1:14. Thus, there’s nothing to respond to.”

                      LOL — you are lost in the dark blindfolded stumbling over strawmen.

                      ~Sean

                    • Roman
                      November 1, 2015 @ 11:01 am

                      1. Grammatically it doesn’t.

                      2. Grammatically it doesn’t, Egeneto must mean some kind of transformation, or change, or coming into being or becoming.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      October 30, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

                      “The ‘flexibility’ of the language is the response to Roman’s
                      ill-taken ‘specific grammatical point.'”

                      Yet it’s ironic that you would use such an argument because you don’t believe in “flexibility of language” when it works against you. In fact, you made one of the most absurd and inflexible arguments that I’ve ever read in my adult life, i.e. that PRIN can’t mean what the experts say it means at John 8:58 based on a grand total of TWO usages. With such an absurd argument you’ve demonstrated that you reject “flexibility” in language use. In fact, I’ve never seen an argument that demonstrates absolute inflexibility more clearly.

                      “It’s very easy to show that EGENETO can be translated numerous ways with English words that have some semantic overlap.”

                      That’s an equivocation. Roman never denied that EGENETO can be translated in different ways. What he has argued is that while it can be translated with the English “was” it can’t mean “was” in the sense you promote. His point is pretty basic, and you still haven’t risen to address it.

                      “There are certainly ‘experts’ in Greek who have other opinions. That is why we have numerous translations of the Greek scriptures.”

                      Ah, but are there *any* experts in Greek who agree with you about how John 1:14 should be rendered? Probably not, because yours is a faulty translation. I’m open to being proven wrong, however, but can you prove me wrong?

                      “I can also speak with authority on the text and thus I choose to do so. I realize that some people see it the way that I do, and some people don’t.”

                      I’m calling you on that one. Provide references to recognized experts who see the text as you do. If the plural is impossible for you then one will do. And don’t give us the lame “It’s not my responsibility to do your research” mantra. You’ve made an assertion and it’s your responsibility to prove its accuracy.

                      To be honest, I really don’t think you are in a position to speak “with authority” on the text. It seems pretty clear to me that you are heavily dependent on the Concordance, which means that your ability to perform exegesis of the Greek as Greek is not satisfactorily developed. I’ve said this before, and it seems to me that this discussion may very well illustrate the point. You looked in a concordance and saw that EGENETO can, in some contexts, be translated with “was” and you therefore assumed that it can be used in every way “was” is used in English. I doubt that the experts with whom you claim you can hold your own would have made such an assumption.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      October 31, 2015 @ 11:53 am

                      Sean,

                      I think you are confusing the flexibility of grammar (depending upon context) and evidence of usage. The conversations we’ve had about John 1:14 and John 8:58 were not dealing with the same elements of grammar or context.

                      The problem with Roman’s idea in John 1:14 is that there is nothing in the vocabulary or the context that supports his interpretation of the passage. He can argue all day that “became flesh” is the only possible translation but it does nothing to support his “preexisting spirit being transforms into an human being” idea anyway.

                      The “Greek experts” that you would appeal to don’t agree with his conclusions about the interpretation of John 1:14 either. On the other hand, the interpretation of the passage that I’ve offered will work with “became flesh” or “was flesh” because it is based upon the context.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      November 1, 2015 @ 9:34 am

                      “The ‘Greek experts’ that you would appeal to don’t agree with his
                      conclusions about the interpretation of John 1:14 either. On the other
                      hand, the interpretation of the passage that I’ve offered will work
                      with ‘became flesh’ or “was flesh” because it is based upon the context.”

                      Actually, all you need to do is change “being” to “person” and the experts I’m referring to DO agree with his conclusions. Since “person” and “being” are the same thing, I’m fine with that. That Trinitarians then go beyond the grammar and try to fit that biblically sound observation with their unbiblical doctrine of a triune God isn’t relevant to the grammatical point.

                      If “became flesh” worked so well for your interpretation you wouldn’t be struggling so hard to justify your faulty translation.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 6, 2015 @ 5:45 pm

                      Jesus appeared (at a point in time) as flesh, necessarily implying that before he was not flesh

                      This is NOT what we read. What we read is:

                      ? ????? ???? ??????? (“the word became flesh”)

                      It is you, NOT the text who equate (and unscriptural “pre-incarnated”) Jesus and the ????? before the incarnation.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 5, 2015 @ 9:07 am

                      We can also see that the writer said similar things like “Jesus Christ in flesh (EN SARX) has come” (1 John 4:2) and “Jesus Christ in flesh (EN SARX) coming” (2 John 1:7) using the action verb and article.

                      The two verses are slight variants of each other, and express the notion that “whoever does not confess Jesus as the Christ who has come [????????? – 2nd Perfect Active Participle] (or coming [????????? – Present Deponent Participle]) in the flesh is an antichrist”. They are both anti-docetic accusations.

                      I think the unusual construct with EGENETO SARX should be taken as more of a statement of fact as opposed to the result of a process of “appearing” or “becoming” from some other condition.

                      First, funny that Rivers now calls ???? ??????? at John 1:14 an “unusual construct”, after insisting left right and center that it is no different from the ??????? at John 1:6 and that both would simply mean “was”.

                      Second, what is “statement of fact” supposed to mean? Is it just an obscure and fancy way of saying the same as above, viz. that ???? ??????? would mean “was flesh”?

                    • Rivers
                      October 5, 2015 @ 1:03 pm

                      Miguel,

                      What I meant by “EGENTO SARX is unusual” is just that this particular combination of words doesn’t occur elsewhere in biblical Greek. Thus, we don’t have anything other than the immediate context to work with.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 5, 2015 @ 1:55 pm

                      In spite of Rivers’ linguistic efforts, it obviously still escapes him that a phrase like ? ????? ???? ??????? (John 1:14) is irriducibly grammatically different from …

                      ??????? ???????? (John 1:16)
                      ????? ??????? (John 2:1)
                      ??????? … ?? ???????? (John 10:22)

                      … but I’m not bothered to explain why to whoever considers grammar mere “tags” …

                      … rather than the structure of discourse, as it is …

                    • Rivers
                      October 5, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

                      Miguel,

                      It doesn’t logically follow that two “grammatically different” statements have to have a different meaning. That is simply nonsense.

                      For example, if I say … “my body was injured in a car accident last Friday” … or I say … “the other day, I had a fender-bender and suffered some injuries” … there is no difference in meaning because the context is referring to the same circumstances.

                      Likewise, in the context of the Prologue, to say EGENETO ANQRWPOS (“was a man”) or SARX EGENETO (“was flesh”) is simply referring to the fact that both John the baptizer and Jesus Christ were human beings. There is nothing about the different grammar that makes any difference in what these two clauses convey.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      October 5, 2015 @ 4:54 pm

                      … either to say EGENETO ANQRWPOS (“was a man”) or to say SARX EGENETO (“was flesh”) is simply referring to the fact that both John the baptizer and Jesus Christ were human beings.

                      Now Rivers is truly and properly cheating, as every simply honest person can see.

                      Once again, (for Rivers and the dumb ones):

                      ??????? ???????? (John 1:6)
                      ? ????? ???? ??????? (John 1:14)

                      Unfortunately for Rivers, his second phrase is incomplete, without ? ?????.

                      (I am not getting tired … are you?)

                    • Rivers
                      September 21, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

                      Roman,
                      I’m not suggesting that it must be translated “happened.” However, that is the sense in which the “all things” came to be. When Jesus was present among his disciples things “happened” that affected the world.

                      I agree that things “came to be” through the LOGOS. However, there isn’t any LOGOS apart from “the flesh” of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). The LOGOS is the message (saying, word) the disciples heard from the human Jesus (1 John 1:1-2). There was no LOGOS before they knew Jesus Christ.

                      I’m also not suggest we ignore “context.” What I’m saying is that the only reliable “context” is the text itself. Any attempt to corroborate the handful of non-canonical external sources we have (that may be contemporary to the 4th Gospel) is only speculative. Just because scholars speculate certain things, doesn’t make them true.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 10, 2015 @ 9:17 am

                      It’s not that you need Philo, it’s that if you refuse to take Philo into account you’re ignoring Clear and glaring evidence.

                      Roman,

                      you know, I know, we all know very well that this is not the whole story behind your insistence on Philo and the author of the GoJ sharing the same cultural-historical background for the logos. You do something more: you (at least implicitly) affirm that, as for Philo the logos is deuteros theos and “angel”, so it is for the author of the GoJ. So, for you, the concept of logos in the GoJ would not, ultimately, have its foundation in the Scripture, but in the theological-philosophical speculations of the Alexandrine Jewish middle-Platonic philosopher Philo. Mmm …

                    • Roman
                      September 10, 2015 @ 10:13 am

                      Except the concept of the logos is not found in the old testament the way John speaks of it.
                      Also since when is it a problem for biblical writers to use concepts from the surrounding culture to make theological Points? Biblical writers do that all the time, Jesus did it.
                      If you want to Demand that we ignore any Cultural backgrounds, and demand we ignore the fact that Readers who read the prologue would immediately understand John as talking about the concept which Philo had also talked about, given the similarity in Language, that’s Your Choice, but it’s not sound exegesis, it isn’t scholarship, it’s purposefully ignoring obvious and Clear evidence for theological reasons.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 10, 2015 @ 1:22 pm

                      Roman

                      … the concept of the logos is not found in the old testament the way John speaks of it.

                      The “concept” of logos is most certainly found in the OT. Just consider the chokmah/sophia in Proverbs 8, where, BTW, the Wisdom is obviously a personification, NOT a person.

                      … since when is it a problem for biblical writers to use concepts from the surrounding culture to make theological Points?

                      Provide reference(s) for what you have in mind. Then we can talk about it.

                    • Roman
                      September 11, 2015 @ 6:30 am

                      Why is it obviously a personification and not a person?
                      Sophia =/= Logos, 2 different Words, any Connection made is just the fact that a concept is being used as a person.
                      What I have in mind is the obvious Connection between Philo’s concept of the logos and John’s usage of the logos in the prologue.

                    • Rivers
                      September 11, 2015 @ 9:10 am

                      Roman,

                      I agree with you here. LOGOS is not SOFIA.

                      The writer of the 4th Gospel didn’t use SOFIA or SOFOS to speak of anything in his books. Translating LOGOS as “wisdom” anywhere in the 4th Gospel or John letters is unnecessary and inconsistent with apostolic usage throughout the rest of the scriptures as well.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 11, 2015 @ 10:31 am

                      Roman

                      Why is it [chokmah/sophia in Proverbs 8] obviously a personification and not a person?

                      Every scholar agrees (JW don’t count). Check. BTW, personification is a rhetorical figure.

                      What I have in mind is the obvious Connection between Philo’s concept of the logos and John’s usage of the logos in the prologue.

                      Provide, if you can, evidence that “biblical writers … use concepts from the surrounding culture to make theological [p]oints”. Repeating yourself does neither an argument nor a reference make.

                    • Roman
                      September 14, 2015 @ 8:22 am

                      Do they? What Basis? I can’t check “Every Scholar,” but give me the argumentation.
                      Paul talked about Greek philosophers, Jesus and Luke and Paul talked about the Roman Imperial system, Jesus talked about the oral Law, John of Patmos used Roman imperial References, Jude quotes from the book of Enoch … I mean it’s all over the Place.
                      But the question is HOW WOULD IT HAVE BEEN READ, that’s the real question.

                    • Roman
                      September 14, 2015 @ 4:33 am

                      Why is Wisdom obviously a personification and not a person?

                      Jesus talks about elements of the Roman empire, Paul References greek philosophy and greek religion, Acts References the culture around, Jesus References the Oral Law. I mean it’s all over the NT, you can’t read the NT in a vacuume, the origional Readers obviously didn’t. Which is why the first interpretors of the logos theology interperate it the same way I do.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 14, 2015 @ 6:45 pm

                      Roman

                      Why is Wisdom obviously a personification and not a person?

                      It was excessive to use the adverb “obviously”. Most scholars agree on this, anyway. Probably the most complete recent scholarly treatment is the published version of an Oxford doctoral thesis: Alice M. Sinnott, The Personification of Wisdom
                      (Ashgate, 2005).

                      [Roman] … since when is it a problem for biblical writers to use concepts from the surrounding culture to make theological Points?

                      [MdS] Provide reference(s) for what you have in mind. Then we can talk about it.

                      [Roman] Jesus talks about elements of the Roman empire, Paul References greek philosophy and greek religion, Acts References the culture around, Jesus References the Oral Law. I mean it’s all over the NT, you can’t read the NT in a vacuume, the origional Readers obviously didn’t. Which is why the first interpretors of the logos theology interperate it the same
                      way I do.

                      Neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor Luke depend on the “concepts from the surrounding culture” for the “theological points” they make.

                      As for Jesus’ “references the oral law”, Matthew 15:1-9 provides all the evidence we need for confirming that Jesus contrasts the Law with traditions that are mere “commandments of men” (Matt 15:9; cp. Isa 29:13)

                    • Roman
                      September 15, 2015 @ 3:19 am

                      Thanks for the Resource, the reason I ask about it, is because very often People will just say “scholars agree” on such and such and never actually provide an argument, which is just a bad way of doing theology, I mean just a simple text like John 1:1 was taken forgrated by scholarship for a long long time, but recently it’s come back, arguements need to be made.
                      As for as actual exegesis, of Proverbs 8, I personally can Accept without any problem that the writer may have actually intended for wisdom to be a personification, a metaphor, but I think an alegorical Reading here is valid, just the same way it’s valid to use scriptures where the writer may not have been thinking of a future messiah, to be actually about a future messiah.
                      So when we go to the wisdom passages, not only in Proverbs but also the Duetero-Cannonicals, we see a personification, whether or not the personification was intended as literal or not, is not the point, later on we know it was understood as literal, and the theology drawn out more.
                      So when we get to John, it must be read in the way it would have been read at that time.
                      John doesn’t Depend on Philo at all, you can read it and understand it without going to Philo, but I go to Philo to make the point that the Reading I’m giving it is the Reading that would have been given in in the first and second centuries Given the Cultural background.
                      And yes, some of Jesus’ Paul’s and Luke’s point require an understanding of the culture in order to understand what their point is.
                      For example you need to know the relations between Jews and Semaritan’s to understand the parable about the good Semaritan.
                      Even if they don’t DEPEND (all the time) on external knowledge, it certainly helps clerify Things, and it certainly helps understand how People receiving the Message at that time would understand it.
                      The same goes for the prologue.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 15, 2015 @ 4:30 am

                      Roman

                      I personally can Accept without any problem that the writer may have actually intended for wisdom to be a personification, a metaphor, but I think an alegorical Reading here is valid, just the same way it’s valid to use scriptures where the writer may not have been thinking of a future messiah, to be actually about a future messiah.

                      As long as you speak of “future messiah”, NOT of “pre-existing spirit being”, that’s fine.

                      John doesn’t Depend on Philo at all, you can read it and understand it without going to Philo, but I go to Philo to make the point that the Reading I’m giving it is the Reading that would have been given in in the first and second centuries Given the Cultural background.

                      Let me repeat it, beyond misunderstanding. Philo’s take of the logos is that of deuteros theos. That is incompatible with the Biblical God and (consequently), with John’s understanding of the logos. Period.

                    • Roman
                      September 15, 2015 @ 5:28 am

                      No, it would make no sense at all speaking of a future messiah since it has to do With creation, are you just trying to win an argument or actually figure out truth? I mean if you have an argument on the wisdom Chapter in Proverbs make it, but whether something is “fine” or not, is not the point, the point is what is true.
                      Why is a deuteros Theos incompatible With the Biblical God?
                      As far as the P.S. Actaully a big problem that the Trinity was trying to solve was a platonized concept of monotheism, in which if one is called God, and properly so, that thing must be part of the highest realm of being, something completely alien to Hebrew thinking in which there are all sorts of Gods, but Yahweh is unique among them, and God in a very special way.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 15, 2015 @ 6:19 am

                      Roman

                      … it would make no sense at all speaking of a future messiah since it has to do With creation …

                      The way the figue of the Messiah formed in the OT and, even more so, in the interpretation of the OT, is obviously referred to the future. Christians, in the beginning, before they got polluted by heathen-philosophical elements differed from the Jews only in this, that they believed the prophecied Messiah had eventually arrived, and was Jesus.

                      As for creation, there are two aspects to the question.

                      1. It is a delusional reading of John 1:3 that it would speak of ? ????? as a person. The pre-incarnated ????? is NOT a “pre-existing person”, BUT God’s ??????, by which (which …) “the heavens were made” (Psalm 33:6).

                      2. Jesus, to whom God, the Father, has given all power, is, indeed the creator of the Church and God’s co-operator in the escatological creation (Rev 21:1 ssqq; cp. Isaiah 65:17-18)

                      … a big problem that the Trinity was trying to solve was a platonized concept of monotheism …

                      Greak-heathen philosophy was already there, at the time when Christianity was born, and it (almost) muddied waters: the influence that the Jewish hexegete and middle-platonic philosopher Philo had on Justin Martyr, with his deuteros theos, is a prime example.

                      … Hebrew thinking in which there are all sorts of Gods …

                      No, not Gods, but “gods” so called. “For all the gods of the nations are worthless, but the Lord made the heavens.” (1 Chron 16:26; Psalm 96:5).

                      And, as Evangelical Apologetics has remarked, “In 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, Paul talked about idols as gods (?????). In Galatians 4:8, he said that these gods were ‘not gods by nature’ (????? ?? ???? ?????).”

                    • Roman
                      September 21, 2015 @ 6:54 am

                      We were talking about the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, I’m not going to argue against a red herring.
                      You said that Wisdom in Proverbs 8 was about the Messiah, I said that it wasn’t since it was about the creation, if you want to discuss that, then let’s do it, but I’m not letting you red herring Your way into something else.
                      The point is not where Philo got his ideas from, the point is were People aware of those ideas, and would they have understood Johns usage of the same Language in the context of those ideas. It’s irrelevant where the ideas origionally came from, the same way it’s irrelevant where ideas came from which Jesus made his parables, the point is how would they have been understood.
                      Who’s to say that the gods talked about in 1 corinthians 8 are the same as those in Gelatians 4. Also who’s to say what “they were not God’s by nature” means. The fact is the bible uses the term “God” not primarily as a metaphysical category, but as a title, and that title is given to all sorts of beings who are not God, rightly so.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 21, 2015 @ 2:10 pm

                      Roman

                      You said that Wisdom in Proverbs 8 was about the Messiah …

                      Rubbish. All I said is that you should NOT confuse a personification (a rhetoric figure), like Wisdom in Proverbs 8, with a real person like the Messiah.

                      As for the rest, yours is a real school of red herrings.

                    • Roman
                      September 11, 2015 @ 6:32 am

                      I’m sorry it doesn’t fit Your theological constructs, but we cannot ignore the Clear and obvious Connections in concepts, unless you think the fact that both John and Philo thought of the Logos as a god, the only begotten son of God, through which all Things were created, the representative of God, through which God reveals himself and so on, is just a mere coincidence that NO ONE in the first and second centuries would read as talking about something similar.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 11, 2015 @ 10:49 am

                      Roman

                      … both John and Philo thought of the Logos as a god, the only begotten son of God, through which all Things were created, the representative of God, through which God reveals himself and so on …

                      While it is evident that Justin Martyr (100 – 165 AD) was heavily influenced by Philo (25 BCE – 50 CE), while it is more than likely that the author of the GoJ knew Philo and his concept of logos, only a superficial and linguistically uninformed reading of John 1:1-18 can make someone affirm what you affirm.

                    • Roman
                      September 14, 2015 @ 8:08 am

                      I think we can just lave it at that 🙂

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 8, 2015 @ 5:53 am

                      “I think there is a critical problem if we try to argue that the writer
                      of the 4th Gospel was trying to make LOGOS “appeal to a variety of
                      people from various backgrounds” because there isn’t any evidence that
                      he intended his Gospel for anyone but the Jews.”

                      Jews came from a variety of backgrounds.

                      ~Sean

                    • Rivers
                      September 8, 2015 @ 6:44 pm

                      Sean,

                      The evidence shows that the writer of the 4th Gospel distinguished only between Israelites who were “Jews” (John 1:19) and Israelites who were “Samaritans” (John 4:9) and Israelites who were “Greeks” (John 7:35).

                      There are no “Jews from a variety of backgrounds” identified in the book. Thus, it is pointless to entertain any presuppositions about “varieties of Jews” when interpreting the 4th Gospel.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 1, 2015 @ 9:56 am

                      “Thanks Rivers. I have argued with a few JWs over the years. My main
                      objection to their preexistence position is the same as I make to
                      trinitarians, which is that such a strange hybrid being could not have
                      been a real human being.”

                      And so Scripture’s clear teaching is set aside in favor of your man-made philosophy.

                      “But when you ask adherents to explain how all this works, and how this
                      being is nonetheless a real human being, they don’t know what to say.”

                      Actually, those who embrace the Bible’s clear teaching that the one we call Jesus existed in heaven before becoming a man do know what to say. I’ve said what to say in this very thread.

                      ~Sean

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 1, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

                      Hi Sean.
                      We have been here before I think. Where does scripture say that a (pre-existing) spirit being became a human being?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 2, 2015 @ 7:11 am

                      “We have been here before I think. Where does scripture say that a (pre-existing) spirit being became a human being?”

                      We’ll never agree about the answer to that question, and so there’s no point in pursuing an endless, fruitless debate about it.

                      The more important question, and one that we should both be able to agree upon, one would think, is: IF the Bible teaches that Jesus existed in heaven as a real person before he became a man, then our ability or inability to explain how that could happen is beside the point. Miracles defy explanation, by definition. What we shouldn’t want to do is restrict what an ancient writer could or couldn’t say or believe based on our modern man-made philosophies. Let’s not endorse “exegesis-via-Jefferson-Bible”.

                      ~Sean

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      September 2, 2015 @ 1:05 pm

                      OK Sean, IF the Bible teaches it
                      So where does the Bible teach it?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 5:22 am

                      “OK Sean, IF the Bible teaches it So where does the Bible teach it?”

                      I’m content in the knowledge that we were able to finally come to at least one modest point of agreement. No need to plow headlong into another argument without end.

                      It is significant that most Unitarians obviously don’t want preexistence to be true, and are desperate to avoid any interpretation that undermines their desire. I don’t think that I’m in a position to help with that obstacle to understanding.

                      ~Sean

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 8:34 am

                      IF the Bible teaches that Jesus existed in heaven as a real person …

                      I’m content in the knowledge that we were able to finally come to at least one modest point of agreement.

                      Looks like the “modest point of agreement” was only reached because of Sean’s “IF” … 🙂

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 10:46 am

                      Sean,

                      Biblical unitarians don’t believe in your “preexisting spirit being” idea because it cannot be substantiated with exegesis (even though some of them would agree with your claim that there is some kind of “preexistence” inferred in a few biblical texts).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      September 3, 2015 @ 6:38 pm

                      I disagree. I’ve read plenty of Unitarian literature, and conversed with many Unitarians, and it’s very clear to me that the rejection of preexistence is a governing presupposition for you, i.e. it is a central component of the very context within which the biblical texts are interpreted by you and other members of your like-minded religious family.

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

                      Sean,

                      Yes, we do have different perspectives on the evidence. However, just as you claim to derive your “preexistence” concept from scripture, I would argue that there is no evidence of “preexistence” the context of scripture. The evidence we are discussing is the same.

                      I’m just putting forth an explanation of the biblical evidence that I think is the most reasonable and comprehensive. I don’t expect everyone else to sort it out the same way.

                    • Rivers
                      September 2, 2015 @ 8:39 am

                      David Kemball-Cook,

                      I agree with your point here as well. Those who believe in “pre-existence” and “incarnation” are merely inferring it from a handful of texts that can be construed (in English) to beg the questions. There’s neither any explicit testimony about a pre-human “spirit being” anywhere in scripture nor any explanation about someone transforming into human flesh.

                      Whether we all agree on what John 1:14 and John 8:58 meant, it should be evident by now that how these texts are translated into English is what makes the difference. That is why we all need to be focused on doing sound critical exegesis and considering the appropriate options. The preponderance of the evidence should determine what implications are the most reasonable.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 30, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

                      I will check out #63

                      David,

                      I think Thomas Belsham sums up perfectly the reason why some people put so much stock by John 8:58:

                      “In the explanation of this important text it was thought necessary to be thus particular, because it is in a great measure decisive of the whole controversy : for, if this declaration does not establish the pre-existence of Christ, no other passage can.” (“A Calm Inquiry”, p. 66)

                    • Rivers
                      August 30, 2015 @ 5:04 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Good quote. This is what I’ve found with my all of my ex-JW friends who are still advocating the “pre-existing spirit being” Christology. They appeal to Kenneth McKay’s flawed exegesis of John 8:58 in order to seem like they have a credible reason to declare that this text is decisive about preexistence.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 27, 2015 @ 3:20 am

                      Hi David,

                      I will leave it for you and Sean to play hide and seek about what you know about what he means etc.

                      Jesus is God because he is the son of God. In the obvious, genetic sense of the word ‘son’. Perhaps it is more correct to write ‘Jesus is god’, because God, capitalized, is normally reserved to the one and only self-subsisting God.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 27, 2015 @ 4:38 am

                      “I will leave it for you and Sean to play hide and seek about what you know about what he means etc.”

                      I’m certainly not playing “hide-and-seek”, as I’ve made my view very clear. You seem to recognize that I made my view clear, hence your question to David.

                      A heavenly spirit being became a human being — that’s what Scripture teaches very clearly, as far as I’m concerned, and I have no desire to debate ‘how many angels can dance on the end of a pin’, as it were. As I said, I’m way too busy for that sort of thing.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 27, 2015 @ 7:56 am

                      “A heavenly spirit being became a human being — that’s what Scripture teaches very clearly, as far as I’m concerned …”

                      Can you provide the scriptural reference(s) that you have in mind? Thanks

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 27, 2015 @ 7:05 pm

                      Are you suffering from amnesia or alzheimers? You know very well that I’ve explained on this forum over the past year or more why I think GJohn can only be properly understood as a document that teaches the preexistence of the one who became Jesus the Messiah. If you chose to disagree, that’s fine, by why — I mean really, tell me why — you Unitarians can’t simply agree to disagree?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 27, 2015 @ 8:07 pm

                      “I’ve explained on this forum over the past year or more why I think GJohn can only be properly understood as a document that teaches the preexistence of the one who became Jesus the Messiah.”

                      This is not a scriptural reference, and it is not even an argument. 🙁

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 27, 2015 @ 8:10 pm

                      You can’t be serious, can you? Oops, I guess you can. Oh, well, you can ask people to be reasonable, but only they can choose to do so. I hope you make that choice someday, as it will enhance rather than diminish the quality your online dialogues.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 27, 2015 @ 8:16 pm

                      … so you have decided to stay here forever, repeating like a mantra that “GJohn … teaches the preexistence of the one who became Jesus the Messiah.”

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      August 27, 2015 @ 8:39 pm

                      I stay here for Dale’s interesting posts and podcasts. I comment on points that interest me. I do not and will not be bullied into endless, fruitless debates over questions that shouldn’t even need to be asked, as far as I’m concerned. IMO, there is no question but that GJohn supports the preexistence of the Son of God, and there is good reason to believe that his teachings are not discontinuous with certain Pauline texts that, read naturally, also support that teaching.

                      I personally think it’s unchristian to engage in endless debates with people who are determined to reject the real good news about the Christ. Jesus didn’t spend his time seeking opportunities to argue with his opponents; he spent his time teaching those who were eager to learn. He interacted with his opponents only because they hounded him, but he didn’t look for opportunities to debate those who rejected him.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 28, 2015 @ 12:57 am

                      “Jesus didn’t spend his time seeking opportunities to argue with his opponents; he spent his time teaching those who were eager to learn. He interacted with his opponents only because they hounded him …”

                      Wow! Christ-like, no less!

                    • Rivers
                      August 28, 2015 @ 9:18 am

                      Miguel,

                      I agree. People can speculate about a “preexistent spirit being” but there isn’t any evidence that Jesus was identified that way be the writer of the 4th Gospel. Moreover, none of the John texts require the concept of “preexistence” or “incarnation.” Other reasonable interpretations of the same texts have been offered by biblical unitarians (and Trinitarians don’t derive the “preexisting spirit idea” from those texts either, even though they believe in preexistence).

                      I think it’s understandable that those who think preexistence and incarnation are inferred by some of the language in the 4th Gospel would need to conceive of a vague “preexisting spirit being” to provide some kind of explanation for the identity of a person (Jesus) who has no other identity prior to be given his name after his birth (Luke 2:11).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 28, 2015 @ 11:11 am

                      Rivers

                      … none of the John texts require the concept of “preexistence” or “incarnation.”

                      Yours is a loaded statement, so it needs to be unpacked in its constituent parts: preexistence and incarnation are two separate notions. While we find no trace in the Scripture (NT in particular) of any “preexisting spirit being”, we certainly find that something pre-exists the personal existence of Jesus: the logos that was pros ton theon, and itself theos (John 1:1). As for the “incarnation”, while we don’t find the corresponding noun in Greek, we certainly do find the concept, expressed by the verbal expression ho logos sarx egeneto, “the logos became flesh”.

                      [Jesus] has no other identity prior to be given his name after his birth (Luke 2:11)

                      Actually, the name Jesus [Yeshua, “Yahweh saves”] was indicated to Mary by the angel at the Annunciation.

                    • Rivers
                      August 28, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

                      Miguel,

                      This is where we get into the matter of interpretation. For example, my understanding of PROS TON QEON (“with God”, John 1:1) is that it is resurrection language. Thus, I don’t see any notion of anything that “pre-exists the personal existence of Jesus.” Jesus did not go to be PROS TON QEON until his earthly ministry was completed (John 1:18; John 13:3).

                      I also don’t think “the word became flesh” is the correct translation of John 1:14. I would argue (on the basis of grammar and inter-textual usage) that John 1:14 should be translated “the word was flesh” (at the time he dwelt among his disciples). The implication of “incarnation” that is imposed upon the interpretation of this text is derived from the English “became” and not from anything required by the Greek grammar.

                      Yes, the angel did give Mary the name for Jesus prior to his birth. I don’t have any issue with that. 🙂

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 28, 2015 @ 3:44 pm

                      Rivers,

                      are you the same person whose pic I seem to remember was without a beard (or at most a tiny goatee), few months ago?

                      In any case, I found and find any reading of John, and in particular of the Prologue in terms of “resurrection language” so bizarre that I am not going to bother with any of it. 🙁

                    • Rivers
                      August 28, 2015 @ 3:56 pm

                      Miguel,

                      No problem. If you’re comfortable with a particular interpretation of the Prologue, then that’s what
                      you should believe. Every one should consider the evidence for himself and make up his own mind.

                    • Rivers
                      August 28, 2015 @ 9:11 am

                      Sean,
                      Yes, you’ve explained your views about the 4th Gospel here, but it hasn’t been convincing to some of us. There isn’t any exegetical evidence that Jesus Christ was an “heavenly spirit” before he appeared in the gospel narratives.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 28, 2015 @ 9:25 am

                      Rivers,

                      that “some of us” includes me. The “pre-existence” led to the “subordination”, which led to the full-fledged (“co-equal, co-eternal, tri-personal”) trinity. So evident! But some people (including philosophers …) simply are incapable of seeing what is evident …

                      The “pre-existence” is, so to speak, the “original sin”, to “atone” for which the “trinity” was ultimately affirmed.

                    • Rivers
                      August 28, 2015 @ 2:47 pm

                      Miguel,

                      Good points. It’s all about the “evidence.” Unfortunately, many academic disciplines (including theology) have moved away from doing careful analysis of evidence and become unscientific and less rational.

                      That’s why we have educated people who believe in nonsense like “black holes” and “dark matter” and “String Theory.” It’s no different than theologians who invent obsurdities like the “hypostatic union” and the “trinity” to make their own theoretical concepts appear to work.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 28, 2015 @ 4:17 pm

                      That’s why we have educated people who believe in nonsense like “black holes” and “dark matter” and “String Theory.”

                      You seem to be fond of loaded statements. While “dark matter” and “String Theory” (no to mention “multiverses”) are, even in principle, unfalsifiable (and therefore, by definition un-scientific), a certain amount of evidence, circumstantial but concurrent on black holes has been collected.

                    • Rivers
                      August 28, 2015 @ 11:32 pm

                      Hi Miguel,

                      There is no “circumstantial” evidence for black holes or dark matter. The reason they are called “black” and “dark” is because no scientist has ever actually seen them. They are only a matter of theoretical speculation (like a “being” who is supposedly “three persons”).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 29, 2015 @ 12:15 pm

                      Astrophysicists need “black holes” and “dark matter” to compensate for their faulty equations (just like Trinitarians need “one being = three persons” to compensate for faulty exegesis).

                      Oops! He did it again! You really can’t help resorting to loaded statements, can you? I have excluded dark matter from the debate. Why do you bring it in again? As for black holes, they are so called because, due to the very high gravitational field concentrated in a small space, nothing escapes them, even light. And there is circumstantial evidence for black holes: study before you utter high-falutin statements.

                      As for the “faulty equations”, are you about to disprove General Relativity? I am looking forward to your paper!

                      As for “faulty exegesis”, I am looking forward, like everybdy else, to your Thesis on the Gospel of John. I have even the title ready for it: John. The misunderstood Evangelist.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      August 27, 2015 @ 7:27 am

                      Hi Miguel
                      You say ‘Jesus is God because he is the son of God. In the obvious, genetic sense of the word ‘son’. Perhaps it is more correct to write ‘Jesus is god’, because God, capitalized, is normally reserved to the one and only self-subsisting God’

                      Thanks. Yes I agree, it is more correct!
                      So why not say ‘Jesus is god’ instead of something obviously misleading which suggests numerical identity?

                      This is where trinitarians often go when I ask them what they mean by ‘Jesus is God’.
                      ‘Oh, er, I did not mean Jesus is one and the same as God, I meant Jesus is divine’
                      So why say ‘Jesus is God’ in the first place?!

                      I think the answer is because if we say ‘Jesus is god’ we are claiming there are two divine beings.
                      This seems suspiciously like the belief attributed to Arius and condemned as heresy in 381 (although held by Tertullian and he was never regarded as a heretic)
                      So trinitarians try to muddy the water a little bit, avoid the obvious inference
                      to two divine beings, try to pretend they believe in only one divine being.

                      Hence the totally confused statement ‘Jesus is God’
                      Regards

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 27, 2015 @ 10:56 am

                      “[1] So why not say ‘Jesus is god’ instead of something obviously misleading which suggests numerical identity?
                      [2] This is where trinitarians often go when I ask them what they mean by ‘Jesus is God’.
                      ‘Oh, er, I did not mean Jesus is one and the same as God, I meant Jesus is divine’
                      [3] So why say ‘Jesus is God’ in the first place?!
                      I think the answer is because if we say ‘Jesus is god’ we are claiming there are two divine beings.
                      This seems suspiciously like the belief attributed to Arius and condemned as heresy in 381 (although held by Tertullian and he was never regarded as
                      a heretic)
                      [4] So trinitarians try to muddy the water a little bit, avoid the obvious inference to two divine beings, try to pretend they believe in only one divine being.”

                      Hi David, here are my [itemized] replies.

                      [1] My take is that, having Justin Martyr (most likely inspired by reading Philo) started talking of the “pre-existent Son”, he started a process that could either lead stably to subordinationism, or return to strict monotheism. By the end of the 4th century, thanks mostly to the Cappadocian scoundrels, Christianity came up with the horrible concoction whereby God is one, yet God is also three.
                      [2] Actually, most Christians do not simply mean that Jesus is divine. See [1]
                      [3] Christians had no problems with a subordinated/emanated “Son” until Arius upset the applecart by claiming the the only way to reconcile the strict monotheism of the Scripture with the divinity of Jesus was to affirm that Jesus, however elevated, was still a creature. BTW, Arius was condemned at Nicea in 325. Constantinople (381) was the conclusion of the process. Unlike Arius, Origen and Tertullian was certainly trinitarians (whatever Dale may claim to the contrary), but they were also subordinationists. Terullian was indeed considered a heretic, not because of his take on the trinity, but because of his adherence to Montanism.
                      [4] Resorting to the (indeed muddy) notion of mystery, naive trinitarians sincerely believe that, somehow, God is one yet three. Of course, without Greek-philosophicals concepts (ousia, hypostasis,
                      physis, hyparxis, etc.) all this nonsense would have been impossible in the first place. Now that no educated person, (except staunch Thomists) cares a damn about the metaphysicals foundations of the “trinity”, to be an educated “trinitarian” simply means to be in bad faith.

                    • Roman
                      August 27, 2015 @ 11:36 am

                      How do you know Justin Martyr was a trinitarian? How do you know Tertullian was a trinitarian? In their writings they certainly seem to think of Jesus as not The Almightly God, as subordinate, and subordination does require difference in being, unless you simply want to re-define “being” into meaninglessness.
                      Philo’s Logos WAS a creature, a created being.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 27, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

                      I didn’t say that Justin Martyr was a trinitarian: at most he was a binitarian. But he certainly speaks of the “Son” as “another god” (eteros theos). Tertullian certainly was a trinitarian (he was the first to speak of God as “three persons, one substance” [Lat. tres personae, una substantia]). Not only being a subordinationist is NOT incompatible with being a trinitarian, BUT it is the way the doctrine of the trinity was for at least 2 centuries. Or do you seriously believe that the doctrine of the trinity popped up, fully formed (not only three persons, one substance, but also “co-equal” and “co-eternal”) in 381 CE?

                    • Roman
                      August 28, 2015 @ 3:52 am

                      Tertullian said that there was a time when the Son did not exist, incompatible With Trinitarianism, he said there were 3 persons, and United in substance, but what that means is different from what trinitarians believe, since the Son did not exist at a certain time and is subordinated, InFact subjected to God.
                      As far as Justin Martyr, no he was not a Binitarian, not by a long shot. Justin Martyr identified God, property as the Father, God was one person, not a being containing more than one person. He more or less took the same view of Jesus as Philo took of the Word, which was not a benitarian view, “another god” is not binitarian, it’s One God Yahweh, and a secondary, created intermediary God.
                      As far as how the Trinity became formed? I agree it developed over time, but as far as I can see most of the ante-nicean fathers had Christologies that were compatible and in fact more inline With Unitarian subordinationism than anything else. The doctrine developed more or less through philisophical arguments.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 28, 2015 @ 5:10 am

                      Tertullian said that there was a time when the Son did not exist …

                      Perhaps you are confusing Tertullian with Arius … anyway, provide the textual evidence, if you can.

                      As far as Justin Martyr, no he was not a Binitarian … He more or less took the same view of Jesus as Philo took of the Word … a secondary, created intermediary God.

                      Don’t strech my words. This is what I wrote, correcting you: “I didn’t say that Justin Martyr was a trinitarian: at most he was a binitarian.” I have already claimed that it is most likely that Justin was inspired by Philo’s doctrine of the Word. Neither in Philo, nor in Justin, will you find support for your claim that the Word was a “creature” … anyway, provide the textual evidence, if you can.

                      I agree [the doctrine of the Trinity] developed over time, but as far as I can see most of the ante-nicean fathers had Christologies that were compatible and in fact more in line with Unitarian subordinationism than anything else.

                      The expression “Unitarian subordinationism” is senseless (if “the Father, God was one person”, obviously any other entity is, by definition, subordinated). Anyway, you are in the company of Dale, who says more or less what you say.

                    • Roman
                      August 31, 2015 @ 3:53 am

                      Allegorical interpretations 3 by Philo 61:

                      for the word of God is over all the world, and is the most ancient, and the most universal of all the things that are created.

                      Philo see’s the Word as “created” by God.

                      Or Philo’s questions and answers on Genesis 62

                      “but only after the pattern of the second deity, who is the Word of the supreme Being; since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it the type of the divine Word; since in his first Word God is superior to the most rational possible nature.”

                      That is NOT binitarianism, that is one God, Yahweh, and a secondary god, the logos.

                      As far as Justin Martyr I don’t know if he directly affirms that Jesus was created, BUT in his Dialogue With Trypho he says:

                      ” “I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures,[of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things–above whom there is no other God–wishes to announce to them.”

                      Justiin Martyr, like Philo, conceives of the Word as a “second God”, both of them Call the Word “an angel” or an Archangel (in Philo), Philo includes the Word as part of what is created.

                      This is not binitarianism, there was no such thing as binitarianism, the category did not exist.

                      Unitarian Subordinationism as opposed to something like modalism, or as opposed to some kind of Sebellianism, where Jesus did not exist prior to his being born on Earth.

                      But anyway, let Philo speak for himself.

                      I go into Philo’s Logos theology a little bit here: https://theologyandjustice.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/the-prologue-of-john-the-logos-the-creation-philo-and-wisdom-part-2/

                      If you’re interested in engaging more.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 5:05 am

                      Allegorical interpretations 3 by Philo 61 [175]: “for the word of God is over all the world, and is the most ancient, and the most universal of all the things that are created.”

                      Philo’s questions and answers on Genesis [II] 62: “but only after the pattern of the second deity …”

                      Philo is obviously inconsistent, because nothing in the second reference suggests that the word of God, which is expressly called “the second deity”, is a creature.

                      As far as Justin Martyr I don’t know if he directly affirms that Jesus was created …

                      Well, he doesn’t. Neither in Trypho, nor in any of his other writings.

                      Unitarian Subordinationism as opposed to something like modalism …

                      I have already commented why the expression “Unitarian Subordinationism” is nonsensical. I suggest you consider that Subordinationism is, almost without exception, associated with Emanationism. Emanationism has remained at the core of Eastern Christian conception of the “trinity”.

                      I go into Philo’s Logos theology a little bit here: [The Prologue of John, The Logos, The Creation, Philo and Wisdom – Part 2]

                      Thanks, I’ll look into it.

                    • Roman
                      August 31, 2015 @ 6:00 am

                      I think Philo is perfectly consistant, I mean if you simply don’t force a multi-personal God concept on him he can be understood perfectly well.
                      What do you mean when you use the term “creature?”
                      Well, listen, I don’t know what the best theological term is for my position, if you want to use Arian go Ahead.
                      About Justin Martyr, positing Christ as an Angel or a Second God is not binitarianism.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 6:29 am

                      >> I think Philo is perfectly consistant, I mean if you simply don’t force a multi-personal God concept on him he can be understood perfectly well.

                      This is the full quotation of the passage of which you only gave a snippet:

                      “Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god, saying that he made man after the image of God, and not that he made him after his own image? (#Ge 9:6). Very appropriately and without any falsehood was this oracular sentence uttered by God, for no mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the second deity, who is the Word of the supreme Being; since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it the type of the divine Word; since in his first Word God is superior to the most rational possible nature. But he who is superior to the Word holds his rank in a better and most singular pre-eminence, and how could the creature possibly exhibit a likeness of him in himself? Nevertheless he also wished to intimate this fact, that God does rightly and correctly require vengeance, in order to the defence of virtuous and consistent men, because such bear in themselves a familiar acquaintance with his Word, of which the human mind is the similitude and form.” (Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis, II, 62)

                      When, in the above passage, Philo uses the word “creature”, he speaks ONLY of humans, NOT of the “second deity”.

                      >> What do you mean when you use the term “creature?”

                      Something (or someone) contingent (as opposed to the necessary being), neither self-existent, nor emanated, nor generated.

                      >> About Justin Martyr, positing Christ as an Angel or a Second God is not binitarianism.

                      Don’t insist with this “binitarianism” thingy. Once again, there is no evidence in Justin Martyr that he ever considered the eteros theos a creature.

                    • Roman
                      August 31, 2015 @ 7:14 am

                      Just because Philo used the term “creature to refer to humans in that passage, and not specifically the logos or second deity, doesn’t mean he didn’t think the logos was not created, he CLEARLY did, and we have that in his writings, now it’s not as easy as that, since he believed there is a difference between the logos and all that was created through the logos, but there was a time when the logos didn’t exist.
                      as I already pointed out, Philo included the logos amung that which was created.
                      As for Your definition, the logos is clearly contingent, since it’s existance Depends on God.
                      As far as this difference between “created” or “generated” or “emanataed” I don’t know what meaningful ontological distinction those really are, IF the logos is contingent and comes INTO being through the work and will of God.
                      The fact that Justin Martyr never EXPLICITLY Calls Jesus a creature doesn’t get you binitarianism at all …
                      Binitarianism means 2 persons in one being … there is 0 evidence Justin Martyr belieived that, and given his Christology is heavily influenced by Philo, Philo should be Our starting point.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 8:34 am

                      Roman,

                      You insist that the logos “clearly” was created, even that “the logos is clearly contingent”. If you were consequent, you would have to conclude that, before “creating” the logos, God was alogos, “without reason” … irrational … absurd … 🙁

                      If you cannot appreciate the difference between “created” or “generated” or “emanataed” that’s your problem. Funny, though, for someone who seems to speak so confidently about the “distinction … between [the] abrahamic religion of The creator God, who created all things and is ultimately the sovreign over all, (…) and the Pagan religions in which you have a non “created” universe, but rather a universe emerging from some premordial state, but not in the created sense, and in which you have various Gods of varying Powers, who also emerge from the premordial state.”

                      For the umpteeth time, STOP with this “binitarianism” thingy. You are becoming ridiculous.

                      And there is, indeed, “0 evidence”, but that Justin Martyr ever considered the eteros theos a creature.

                    • Roman
                      August 31, 2015 @ 8:48 am

                      No because obviously the “logos” is not to be taken absolutely literally, logos sarx egeneto doesn’t literally mean that reason itself became flesh.
                      The distinction between the abrahampic creator God and the pagans is a distinction I can clearly explain and give Clear definitions for.
                      If you insist on the logos being “generated” or “emanated” rather than created, but there is no meaningful distinction that can be explained then it’s a pointless distinction, and I’m not the one making the distinction, you are, so yes it’s Your problem.
                      I didn’t bring up binitarianism … you did.
                      Anyway if you want to have a MEANINGFUL discussion, you have to use meaningful Words, what does “created” mean and what does “generated” or “emanated” mean in Your theology?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 9:46 am

                      … [1] obviously the “logos” is not to be taken absolutely literally, [2] logos sarx egeneto doesn’t literally mean that reason itself became flesh.

                      [1] Are you referring to John 1:1? John 1:14? Both? What?

                      [2] In a way it does, because, somehow, God used His own logos as a “matrix” for Jesus. If you accept an even more biological image, somehow God’s own logos was the functional equivalent of the male seed (Grk sperma) in the virgin conception.

                      The distinction between the abrahampic creator God and the pagans is a distinction I can clearly explain and give Clear definitions for.

                      That seems to be the case, considering your post I have quoted from. That is why your difficulty with the notion of “emanation” is so puzzling. Perhaps you that’s what you mean by your notion of “emerging from some premordial state”. Certainly that would be possible in (the pagan philosopher) Plotinus.

                      BTW, I utterly reject the notion of “emanation”, as incompatible with the Christian (more in general Scriptural) God.

                      Here are my definition:

                      Emanation: gradual and spontaneous derivation of the lower stages of reality from their “source” (Plotinus calls it “the One”). That is the heathen-philosophical model (see also “Great chain of being”)

                      Creation: bring into existence, actively willedby God, of ALL that is NOT Himself (from spirit creatures to the lowest forms of material reality).

                      Generation: normally referred to the reproduction of living creatures. Exceptionally, referred to Jesus, who is “generated, not created”, because his origin is in all similar to the sexual origin of alla humans, except that God, the Father Almighty “overshadowed” the Virgin Mary. Also used by Origen for his fantastic notion of “eternal generation”, which is really noting but “eternal emanation”.

                    • Roman
                      August 31, 2015 @ 10:47 am

                      1. Both
                      2. If that is the case, then all of creation is also literally Gods logos, since it all relies and was created with Gods reason, the fact is reason cannot literally “be with someone” there is no reason to take logos as referring to literal reason, given earlier Jewish usage of it as well as the text.

                      Ok using your definitions the logos was clearly seen by Philo as being created, brought into being by a divine act of will, part of creation.

                      If you’re saying that Jesus is generated by God in a sexual sense, ok, but frankly I don’t see any metaphysical distinction between that and God creating. If creation is God making all things from nothing, and Jesus is God making a unique person using but using the womb of Mary, it’s still a willful creation. Sexual reproduction is by definition a creaturly act, God is not a man, so if God creates a man using some sort of sexual process then that is still creation. Which is why Jesus is included in creation. It’s still God willfully brining something into being, the fact that something or someone else was involved doesn’t change that.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      August 31, 2015 @ 11:09 am

                      … there is no reason to take logos as referring to literal reason, given earlier Jewish usage of it as well as the text.

                      Care to unpack this rather obscure statement?

                      … using your definitions the logos was clearly seen by Philo as being created.

                      Suit yourself, BUT … IMO it is simply senseless to consider a “creature” what Philo refers to as the “Word of the supreme Being”, “his first Word”.

                      If you’re saying that Jesus is generated by God in a sexual sense, ok, but frankly I don’t see any metaphysical distinction between that and
                      God creating.

                      No need to invoke metaphysics, and if you cannot see any difference between creation ex nihilo and generation in the womb of a virgin, I wonder in what sense, for you Jesus is “in all similar to us” and in what sense is he the logos and therefore, presumably, somehow also different from us.

                    • Roman
                      September 1, 2015 @ 3:13 am

                      Meaning “logos” can refer to either the person, the Divine being or for “reason.”
                      Philo SAYS that the Logos, the second God, is created ….
                      There is no difference, God does not have a body, so he is creating, from nothing part of what mixes With Mary’s DNA (presumably) and becomes Jesus, and since Jesus is created, and whatever God is adding is also created, it’s a willfull brining into being of whatever that extra thing is, then Jesus is created.
                      If you demand that there is a distinction then give me one, so far all you’ve given is the difference between sexual reproduction and creation ex nihilo. But God is not a Man.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 1, 2015 @ 6:40 am

                      1. It is still totally unclear what do you mean by “the ‘logos’ is not to be taken absolutely literally”? If John 1:1 is not speaking of the “literal logos”. Then what is, for you the “literal logos”?

                      2. Not at all. ONLY in Jesus’ virging conception God used, exceptionally His own logos as the “functional equivalent” of human male genome.

                      … there is no reason to take logos as referring to literal reason, given earlier Jewish usage of it as well as the text

                      This is totally obscure. Care to unpack? Thanks.

                      It is simply bragging, on your part, that “using [my] definitions” (of emanation, creation, generation), “the logos was clearly seen by Philo as being created”. Prove it … 😉

                      If you can’t see the connection between the logos, the virgin conception and Jesus being “generated not created”, that is your problem (dictated by prejudice?).

                    • Roman
                      September 2, 2015 @ 9:40 am

                      1. the word Logos can be used to refer to reason or word, in the normal senses of those terms, but it’s also used by Philo and John to refer to a divine being through whome all things were made …. John 1:1 is using the term (obviously) in the latter way.

                      2. So you’re claim is that the Logos is actually God’s spiritual sperm? Or something like that? On what basis are you saying that? What in the text would lead you to that? How to all things come into being through Gods spiritual sperm?

                      I’m not being flippant here, if you think that the logos is the functional equivalent of the male genome, then that is what it is, spiritual sperm.

                      It’s not obscure at all, just understand the distnction between the word logos used to mean reason or words in general, and the divine being that Philo and John talk about.

                      I already proved it … I gave you the texts IN PHILO where he includes the Logos as part of creation …. hat more do you want.

                      No it’s not my problem, it’s YOUR problem since you’re the one making the distinction …. if you can’t actaully tell me what the distinction is then frankly, you don’t know it.

                      What prejudice, Colossians includes Jesus among the creation, Philo includes the Logos among the things created, John uses Philo’s language and uses the term the same way, the evidence is clear.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 2, 2015 @ 10:11 am

                      John uses Philo’s language and uses the term the same way, the evidence is clear.

                      Only through bias and prejudice you project the idea that the logos is a creature in John’s texts.

                    • Rivers
                      September 2, 2015 @ 10:17 am

                      Miguel,

                      The term LOGOS simply refers to a spoken “saying” or “message” when it is used throughout the Johannine books. There was no LOGOS before “the beginning” when Jesus Christ was manifested as an human being to the apostles (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1-2). There cannot be any LOGOS without someone who “speaks” it (Hebrews 1:1-2).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 2, 2015 @ 10:36 am

                      There was no LOGOS before “the beginning” when Jesus Christ was manifested as an human being to the apostles (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1-2).

                      I have already commented here (<=click) that your translation of egeneto with “was” at John 1:14 is “motivated”.

                      You can give your reply there, if you like.

                    • Rivers
                      September 2, 2015 @ 12:45 pm

                      Hi Miguel,

                      I think there are a number of inter-textual reasons that there was no LOGOS prior to “the beginning” of the ministry of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-2). One of the issues is the misleading translation of EGENETO as “became” in John 1:14.

                      Of course, GINOMAI is a verb that has a wide semantic range (as indicated by the half dozen different ways it is translated in the Prologue itself. I think the most accurate translation of EGENETO in John 1:14 is “was” since it is being used the same way as it is often translated “was” in John 1:6.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 2, 2015 @ 1:55 pm

                      I think the most accurate translation of EGENETO in John 1:14 is “was” since it is being used the same way as it is often translated “was” in John 1:6.

                      There is a substantial difference between the way gi(g)nomai is used in the two verses:

                      egeneto [Verb] anthrôpos [Subject] [NO Complement] (John 1:6)
                      => “[There] came a man” [absolute]

                      ho logos [Subject] sarx [Complement] egeneto [Verb] (John 1:14)
                      => “the logos became flesh” [predicative]

                    • Rivers
                      September 2, 2015 @ 3:48 pm

                      Hi Miguel,

                      There is contextually no difference between the implications of EGENETO ANQRWPOS (John 1:6) and EGENETO SARX (John 1:14). When you refer to “complements” and “absolute/predictive”, you are merely interpreting the grammar. Grammatical descriptors do not determine meaning.

                      To translate “became flesh” in John 1:14 is to render the text in an awkward way only to suit the doctrines of incarnation and preexistence. English speaking people do not say that anything “became flesh.” Thus, it is nothing more than a theologically motivated choice in translation.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 2, 2015 @ 4:50 pm

                      There is contextually no difference between the implications of EGENETO ANQRWPOS (John 1:6) and EGENETO SARX (John 1:14).

                      It is obvious that your grammar is inadequate: once again, and keeping it simple,

                      In John 1:6, anthrôpos is the Subject of the sentence, and there is NO Complement.

                      In John 1:14 ho logos is the Subject, while sarx is the Complement.

                      That is the different grammar of the two sentences, and, of course, it has a bearing on the meaning of egeneto, respectively, in spite of your “[g]rammatical labels do not determine meaning.”

                    • Rivers
                      September 2, 2015 @ 6:59 pm

                      Miguel,

                      It is always context that determines meaning, and not grammatical elements. The meaning of John 1:6 is simply that John the baptizer was an human being who came to preach the gospel. The meaning of John 1:14 is simply that Jesus Christ was an human being who came to live with the disciples.

                      The grammatical nuances are nothing more than a different manner of speaking. There’s nothing in the context that suggests that the nuances of grammar require your view of incarnation.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 2:55 am

                      It is always context that determines meaning, and not grammatical elements.

                      Rivers,

                      your statement is as silly as saying that, “depending on the context”, anthrôpos can be a “verb” and egeneto a “noun”. Grotesque …

                      John 1:6 simply says that “a man came, sent from God, whose name was John”. Period.

                      As for John 1:14, I’m glad that you agree that the proper understanding (in context …) of sarx is “human being”. Unfortunately you have completely forgotten about the key (and, for you, problematic …) word logos, so you have rendered egeneto With something as trivial as “came … to live with the disciples”. Ludicrous!

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 8:53 am

                      Miquel,
                      I haven’t forgotten the meaning of LOGOS. When the writer of the 4th Gospel uses LOGOS, it always refers to a spoken “saying” or “message.” It never refers to an “attribute” or a “plan” or a “purpose” or “wisdom.” Those are things that are forced upon the meaning of LOGOS from external sources by people who do sloppy exegesis.

                      In John 1:14, “the word (LOGOS) was flesh and dwelt among us” meant nothing more than that the apostles lived with the human being who spoke to them about “the message of eternal life” (1 John 1:1-3) and became the “propitiation” for their sins (1 John 2:2).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 3:16 pm

                      I haven’t forgotten the meaning of LOGOS.

                      Read again. I haven’t said that you have “forgotten the meaning of LOGOS”. I wrote that you “have completely forgotten about the key (…) word logos“. Which you certainly did, when your wrote, “The meaning of John 1:14 is simply that Jesus Christ was an human being (SARX) who came (EGENETO) to live with the disciples.”

                      In fact, looking again, you also did something else, because, with your “came to live with the disciples” you treated egeneto as though it was the following eskênôsen (en êmin).

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 3:49 pm

                      Miquel,

                      The best literalistic translation of EGENETO in John 1:14 would actually be “came” (as in John 1:6) because GINOMAI refers to something that “happens”. Unfortunately, rendering it “the word came flesh” makes no sense in English. We would need something like “in the flesh” to go with “came.”

                      The reason I prefer using “was” to translate EGENETO in John 1:14 is for the same reason that it is translated “was” in texts like Mark 1:4 and Luke 24:19 where the implication is that a person “came to be” where he “was” (found to be) in a certain place, at a certain time. The context makes it apparent that John the baptizer spoke of Jesus Christ “coming” after him (John 1:15) in order to “dwell among” his disciples (John 1:14).

                      Thus, as we would say “John was in the wilderness” (Mark 1:4) or “Jesus was a prophet” (Luke 24:19), the writer of the 4th Gospel seems to be saying “the word (Jesus) was flesh (a person)” who dwelt with his disciples subsequent to “coming” after John the baptizer. This was important because some were denying that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (2 John 7).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 5:16 pm

                      The context makes it apparent that John the baptizer spoke of Jesus Christ “coming” after him (John 1:15) in order to “dwell among” his disciples (John 1:14).

                      The “context”? LOL! What an appalling distortion of the text.

                      … the writer of the 4th Gospel seems to be saying “the word (Jesus) was flesh (a person)” …

                      Why would “the writer of the 4th Gospel” have wanted to say something as trivial as “Jesus was a [human] person”, when that was (or in retrospective had been) for all to see? Don’t you realize that if you insist on the anti-docetic purpose of that presentation of Jesus (“Jesus Christ has come in the flesh”), you implicitly confirm that there must be more to Jesus Christ than the mere “flesh”?

                    • Rivers
                      September 3, 2015 @ 8:56 pm

                      Miquel,

                      I don’t know what Bible you are reading but John 1:14-15 plainly says that John was testifying that Jesus was “coming after him” and that Jesus “dwelt among” his disciples. Those historical circumstances had nothing to do with your claim that “attribute” transformed into an human being.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 3, 2015 @ 10:24 pm

                      John 1:14-15 plainly says that John was testifying that Jesus was “coming after him” and that Jesus “dwelt among” his disciples.

                      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. 15 John testified about him and shouted out, “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” (John 1:14-15 NET)

                      Of course we read that “John the baptizer spoke of Jesus Christ coming after him (John 1:15)”, though he referred to Jesus (before they met at the Jordan) as “[h]e who comes after me”.

                      OTOH, that JtB would have testified about Jesus coming after him “in order to ‘dwell among’ his disciples (John 1:14)” is a parturition of your imagination.

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 8:43 am

                      Miquel,

                      If you read further in the context of the story, it’s evident that John the baptizer announced the identity of Jesus Christ to his disciples at the time that Jesus began “living” with them “the next day” (John 1:31-39). The Prologue is only a summary of what is explain in detail later in the context.

                      This is further indication that “the word was flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) was referring to the time when John the baptizer “manifested the Christ to Israel” (John 1:31). When the writer further develops that section of the Prologue in John 1:19-43, there’s no indication that it has anything to do with a “divine attribute becoming an human being” or any other transformation.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 10:23 am

                      Rivers,

                      once again, the logos is introduced immediately at the beginning (vv. 1-5) of the “Prologue” (John 1:1-18). John the Baptist is introduced only after (vv. 6-9). Many scholars (among whom Raymond Brown) consider the “Prologue” as some sort of “overture” to the whole gospel, perhaps even a separate text that was added to the beginning of the Gospel, and believe that vv.6-8 were a later insertion.

                      Nothing in the text of v.14 suggests that it has to do with John the Baptist, and to claim that the relevant “context” that would associate v.14 with John the baptist is v.15 is mere projection.

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 11:28 am

                      Miguel,

                      I agree with you that the Prologue is an introduction. I might also argue that John 1:1-5 is a summary statement on its own that encompasses the entire period of the earthly ministry of Jesus, emphasizing the resurrection.

                      What you’ve pointed out here about the mention of LOGOS in John 1:1-5 (which precedes the appearing of John the baptizer, John 1:6-15) is what I would argue the writer is reiterating through John the baptizer’s testimony in John 1:15 and John 1:27-30 where he says of Jesus Christ that “he was (HN) before me.”

                      Thus, “in the beginning was (HN, Imperfect Indicative) the word” (John 1:1) is where the writer establishes that the human Jesus Christ was always there (i.e. among the people of Israel) before the time that John the baptizer was “sent from God” to identify him (John 1:6-10).

                      Thus, when John the baptizer testifies that “he [Jesus] who comes after me [John] … because he was (HN, Imperfect Indicative) before me” (John 1:15), it meant nothing more than that John was the forerunner (and not the Christ himself). This language, therefore, has no implication of “preexistence” and is merely establishing that John the baptizer was not the final “word” to be heard from God at that time.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

                      Rivers,

                      … John 1:1-5 is a summary statement on its own that encompasses the entire period of the earthly ministry of Jesus, emphasizing the resurrection.

                      There is absoluteny nothing “earthly” about John 1:1-5 … unless, of course, you want to project it there at all cost …

                      There is no “emphasis” whatsoever on the resurrection … unless, of course, you see it implicitly referred to in the twice repeated word zôê

                      Thus, “in the beginning was (HN, Imperfect Indicative) the word” (John 1:1) is where the writer establishes that the human Jesus Christ was always there (i.e. among the people of Israel) before the time that John the baptizer was “sent from God” to identify him (John 1:6-10) and to “manifest” him as the Christ (John 1:31).

                      Always? Isn’t that a tad hyperbolic, for someone who does not believe in “personal preexistence”, nor that the logos, as an impersonal, essential attribute of God is eternal? At most 30-33 years before he was publicly revealed at the Baptism by John, you should say …

                      Thus, when John the baptizer testifies that “he [Jesus] who comes after me [John] … because he was (HN, Imperfect Indicative) before me” (John 1:15)

                      Your “elliptic” quotation makes me suspect that you have missed the paronomasia based on the Preposition emprosthen and the Adjective prôtos, both of which ambiguously suggest priority or primacy.

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 2:36 pm

                      Miguel,

                      On what basis would you argue that there is anything “heavenly” about John 1:1-5? All the words in those verses are used to speak of things pertaining to “earth” throughout the rest of the 4th Gospel.

                      Moreover, terms like PROS TON QEON (John 1:2) and “life” (John 1:4) and “light” (John 1:5) are explicitly used by the writer to speak of the resurrection elsewhere in the book (John 8:12; John 11:25; John 13:3).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 5:14 pm

                      Rivers

                      All the words in those verses [John 1:1-5] are used to speak of things pertaining to “earth” throughout the rest of the 4th Gospel.

                      You obviously believe that you have “freed” the GoJ not only from any “pre-existence” residual, but even from any reference to what is beyond time. Please, stop acting as though you were the only expert of Johannine language in town. It is getting rather boring and repetitive. You do not even realize how much special pleading your “interpretation” (still not entirely transparent, BTW …) requires.

                      Moreover, terms like PROS TON QEON (John 1:2) and “life” (John 1:4) and light” (John 1:5) are explicitly used by the writer to speak of the resurrection elsewhere in the book (John 8:12; John 11:25; John 13:3).

                      First, where does the Johannine author use the expression pros ton theon other than in John 1:1,2 and 1 John 1:2 (there, pros ton patera)?

                      Second, Jesus would not say about himself that he is phôs, zôê, anastasis if, elsewhere, he had not already said,

                      “For just as the Father has life [zôên] in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life [zôên] in himself …” (John 5:26)

                      Third, what does it mean that Jesus knew that “he had come from God” (John 13:3)?

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 8:04 pm

                      Miguel,

                      I’m just presenting the inter-textual evidence for interpreting the language in the Prologue from a modern biblical unitarian perspective. In response to your questions (in order):

                      1. PROS TON QEON is used in John 13:3 (as I cited in my previous comment). It is also found in Revelation 12:5. Both texts happen to be about the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

                      2. I realize that God is the source of all things (John 5:26). However, it doesn’t follow that John 1:1-5 can only be referring to God as the “heavenly” source of “light” and “life.” Rather, it’s also evident that the “light” and “life” was present on earth during the ministry of Jesus. Thus, I think it’s an overstatement for you to say there is “nothing earthly” about what is described in the passage.

                      3. Jesus himself explained that “coming from God” (John 13:3) simply meant that he understood that God “sent” him (John 8:42). We know from many other passages that being “from God” has nothing to do with preexistence (John 1:6; John 3:2; John 9:16; 1 John 4:4-6).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 4:57 am

                      I’m just presenting the inter-textual evidence for interpreting the language in the Prologue from a modern biblical unitarian perspective.

                      “Modern” is just one of those words that have lost their meaning by excessive use (“modern understanding of miracles”; “modern understanding of personal God”). Two things only should matter: that we interpret according to the intention of the author, NOT according to our projections. That, if we believe the author is speaking about something true and real, we discern the true meaning of his words.

                      1. Thank you for your additional references of pros ton theon. As you can see, unlike the ones at John 1:1,2 and 1 John 1:2 (which are all with the verb einai), both in John 13:3 and in Revelation 12:5 they are with verbs that indicate motion (respectively hupagô and harpazô).

                      2. Not only is God the “source of all things”, BUT in John 5:26 He is declared as the “living God” who has “life [zôên] in himself” and ONLY to the Son, Jesus, he has specially given the privilege to have life in himself (“he has granted the Son to have life [zôên] in himself”), and “he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (John 5:27), that is to judge who is worthy of life everlasting at the Final Judgment.

                      3. Jesus is “from God” in a unique way. He is the monogenês, and, by definition, he is the only one.

                    • Rivers
                      September 5, 2015 @ 8:11 am

                      Miguel,

                      1. The reason that EIMI is used with PROS TON QEON in John 1:1 is because Jesus was no longer “going” toward God by the time the Gospel was written. Jesus was already “in the bosom of the Father” by that time (John 1:18).

                      2. The main issue with the use of PROS is that it signifies “direction”. If it is translated “with God” in John 1:1, then it must be understood that “the word” was not “with God” until it (he) moved there from a different direction. If the writer meant to convey the idea the “the word” originated with God, he would have used PARA (e.g. John 8:26; John 8:40; John 15:15).

                      3. I agree that MONOGENHS means “only child.” Jesus Christ was MONOGENHS at the time the Gospel was written because he was the only son of God raised from the dead. That is when the apostles understood that Jesus was “begotten” (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5-6) in fulfillment of Psalms 2:7.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 12:30 pm

                      1. I see. The Prologue not only would be, but would be even written from a “retrospective” POV. A rather unusual hexegetical perspective (pun fully intended).

                      2. Not at all. The construction “????? ????” + Accusative is common in the NT and it simply means “to be with someone” (Matt 13:56; Mark 6:3; 9:19; 14:49; Luke 9:41; 1 Thes 3:4; 2 Thes 2:5; 3:10)

                      3. I see. So monogenês would be indistiguishable from aparchê (1 Cor 15:20,23). You are indeed a creative “hexegete”!

                    • Rivers
                      September 5, 2015 @ 5:12 pm

                      Miquel,

                      What you seem to be overlooking is that, in every text you cited where EIMI + PROS occurs, the preposition PROS is used because the subject came to be “with” the object(s) from another location.

                      For example, the sisters of Jesus were “with” the other Jews in the synagogue (Matthew 6:3) because they had come “toward” the synagogue from “his hometown” (Mark 6:1). PROS is used to express the movement “toward” the synagogue from the other location.

                      That is why, if PROS TON QEON is translated “with God” in John 1:1, it must be understood that “the word” came to be “with God”‘ from another location (because PROS denotes direction and not association). Thus, the writer’s point is not that “the word” originated from being with God at an earlier time.

                      Please consider that John 1:1 and John 1:18 are summarizing the same thing. From the writer’s perspective, “the word” (Jesus) had already gone to be “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). That is why he speaks of Jesus Christ being “with God” (John 1:1).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 5, 2015 @ 5:51 pm

                      Rivers,

                      mine are hard, objective textual facts. Yours are improvised “arguments”, without a shred of foundation in either text, context or knowledge of Greek.

                      … the writer’s point is not that “the word” was originally associated with God, but that it (he) got there from somewhere else (John 13:3).

                      I see. So, what does apo theou exêlthen mean?

                    • Rivers
                      September 5, 2015 @ 7:34 pm

                      Miguel,

                      The meaning of “come forth from God” (John 13:3) is very simple. The verb translated “come forth” (EXHLQEN) is just the common Greek word for expressing that someone “went” from one place to another. It connotes nothing about “preexistence” and was never used to speak of something “coming forth” from God’s mind.

                      Jesus explained the meaning in John 8:42 where he referred to not “coming forth” (EXHLQEN) on his own initiative, but being “sent” by God. Thus, it is simply referring to the motivation for his public ministry which began when he was “about 30 years old” (Luke 3:23).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 6, 2015 @ 2:05 am

                      Rivers

                      The use of EXHLQEN in contrast to UPAGW (“going”) in John 13:3 actually mitigates against any notion that Jesus had his origin where God was.

                      I am glad that you mentioned upagô in John 13:3, because my next question would have been about it.

                      And “mitigates”? WTF is this supposed to mean? You could have said “contrasts” or “contradict”, if you thought could support your claim with a serious argument. But “mitigates”? This sounds like the type of word a smarmy politician would use. 🙁

                      Anyway, are you “suggesting” that, in the phrase apo theou exêlthen kai pros ton theon upagei, the former verb, exêlthen is to be understood metaphorically (something like “spoke according to God’s will”), whereas upagei is to be understood literally (something like “I am going to die, and be resurrected and be with God”)?

                      If so, are you aware that only a misleading and dishonest person would muddy waters like that, by mixing metaphor and literal meaning in the same sentence?

                      If not, how does the whole phrase apo theou exêlthen kai pros ton theon upagei translate, according to you?

                    • Rivers
                      September 6, 2015 @ 8:40 am

                      Miquel,

                      I think you’re misunderstanding how I would explain the literal use of the two verbs in John 13:3. I’m certainly not suggestion that EXHLQEN is a “metaphor.”

                      The first verb (translated “came from God”) simply refers to Jesus having literally been “sent from God” to “speak” His words (John 3:34) just like John the baptizer was “sent from God” (John 1:6). This didn’t happen with Jesus Christ until he was “manifested to Israel” by John the baptizer (John 1:29-34) and then “began his public ministry” (Luke 3:23). This is why there was no LOGOS (“spoken word”) associated with Jesus Christ until that time.

                      The second verb (translated “going to God”) simply refers to the literal ascension of Jesus Christ (John 20:17). That is why the writer said that the LOGOS was PROS TON QEON (John 1:1) after Jesus went to be “in the bosom of the Father” when he was “begotten” through the glory of the resurrection (John 1:18).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 8, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

                      The first verb (translated “came from God”) simply refers to Jesus having literally been “sent from God” to “speak” His words (John 3:34) just like John the baptizer was “sent from God” (John 1:6).

                      So, as both John and Jesus “came from God”, as both were “sent from God”, as both were men, then, apparently, according to you, there should be no essential difference between the two. According to you, then, just as Jesus was “called logos, John should have been “called ph?n?. At least, in this case, John’s name would have an indisputable scriptural support (John 1:23; cp. Isaiah 40:3).

                    • Rivers
                      September 8, 2015 @ 6:58 pm

                      Miquel,

                      It doesn’t logically follow that because two human beings were “sent by God” (John 1:6; John 3:34) that they are the same person. From the beginning of the 4th Gospel, the two men are clearly distinguished (John 1:8-9; 25-27).

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 9, 2015 @ 2:53 am

                      It doesn’t logically follow that because two human beings were “sent by God” (John 1:6; John 3:34) that they are the same person.

                      Rivers,

                      ????

                      Read again. Read better.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 10, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

                      Rivers,

                      it seems like my phrase “according to you, there should be no essential difference between the two” threw you off. Sorry. What I (rather obviously, I thought) meant was that, Jesus and John were essentially both mere men.

                      Thence my remark that, following your argument about Jesus, “just as Jesus was called logos, John should have been called ph?n?” (John 1:23; cp. Isaiah 40:3).

                    • Rivers
                      September 10, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

                      Miquel,

                      Thanks for clarifying.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 11, 2015 @ 9:37 am

                      Rivers,

                      you’re welcome! And you’re welcome to explain why, unlike for Jesus, who, according to you, “was called logos“, you are not suggesting/insisting that John was called ph?n?” (John 1:23; cp. Isaiah 40:3) … 😉

                    • Rivers
                      September 11, 2015 @ 2:19 pm

                      Miguel,

                      There’s no evidence that FONH was a “name” or that John was “called” that. Do you think people were going around calling Jesus by the name of “light” or “bread”? However, Revelation 19:13 plainly says that Jesus Christ was “called” by the “name” of “the word” of God.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 13, 2015 @ 11:30 am

                      Revelation 19:13 plainly says that Jesus Christ was “called” by the “name” of “the word” of God.

                      Rivers,

                      so, ultimately Revelation 19:13 is your “prof text” for your “theory” that logos is the “name” of Jesus. How amusing!

                    • Rivers
                      September 13, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

                      Miquel,

                      Revelation 19:13 is not a proof-text. However, it is evidence that plainly shows that O LOGOS was a “name” that Jesus Christ was “called.”

                      On the other hand, you have no evidence that O LOGOS was ever used by any of the apostolic writers to refer to an “attribute.” Why do you scoff at obvious uses of the term when your own view is entirely predicated upon a bogus definition of the key word?

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 14, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

                      Rivers,

                      Revelation 19:13 is not a proof-text.

                      By saying “Revelation 19:13 plainly says that Jesus Christ was ‘called’ by the ‘name’ of ‘the word’ of God”, you plainly treat Revelation 19:13 as a proof-text.

                      Metaphors that represent human beings are not attributes either (John 1:1, 14).

                      And what, pray tell, would be the “metaphors”, respectively in John 1:1 and John 1:14?

                      Do you also think “bread” was an attribute of God that “came down from heaven” and became “flesh” (John 6:51-58)?

                      The “bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51,58) is, indeed, a metraphor for the “word [that] became flesh”, that is a human being.

                    • Rivers
                      September 14, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

                      Miquel,

                      Taking Revelation 19:13 at face value is not “proof-texting.” You seem very confused about what a lot of these terms mean.

                      I’m glad you understand why “bread” is a metaphor used of the human Jesus in John 6:51-58. Likewise, the term “word” is being used the same way in John 1:1 and is even explained as referring to the human human Jesus later in the context (John 1:14).

                      There is no evidence that any of these metaphors are referring to a “divine attribute.” LOGOS never means “attribute” anywhere in biblical Greek. Thus, from an exegetical perspective, you are starting with nothing.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 15, 2015 @ 4:12 am

                      Rivers

                      Taking Revelation 19:13 at face value [sic! too funny!] is not “proof-texting.”

                      Prooftexting (sometimes “proof-texting” or “proof texting”) is the practice of using isolated, out-of-context quotations from a document to establish a proposition.

                      That definition applies to a “T” to your use of Revelation 19:13.

                      I’m glad you understand why “bread” is a metaphor used of the human Jesus in John 6:51-58.

                      I suspect you misunderstood my comment. This is what I wrote:

                      “The ‘bread that came down from heaven’ (John 6:51,58) is, indeed, a
                      metaphor for the ‘word [that] became flesh’, that is a human being.”

                      The “bread” is obviously a metaphor for God’s word (Deut 8:3; cp. Matt 4:4, Luke 4:4). God’s very word became a man (????) in Jesus.

                    • Rivers
                      September 15, 2015 @ 9:19 am

                      Miquel,

                      Appealing to particular biblical texts is part of the process of sorting through the evidence we have available to determine how the apostolic writers were using their language. That is not “proof-texting.”

                      What characterizes bad exegesis is when someone has no exegetical evidence for an idea (e.g. that LOGOS was an attribute or a spirit being) and then isolates a few verses (e.g. in the Prologue) while dismissing other biblical evidence that is contrary to the theory.

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 15, 2015 @ 11:56 am

                      Rivers

                      There is no evidence that the “flesh” of Jesus Christ existed when the Israelites were eating the bread from heaven.

                      Gasp! By what sort of mental process did you get to your (unguarded and bizarre) “bottom line”? Against whose position is it meant to be? Certainly not mine … 🙁

                    • Rivers
                      September 4, 2015 @ 3:02 pm

                      Miguel,

                      The term PRWTOS means “first” (in sequence) when it is used throughout the 4th Gospel and in 1 John. It can infer “priority”, but not without the connotation of being “first” in sequence. Something that happens “before” something else is a matter of sequence and not “primacy.”

                    • Miguel de Servet
                      September 4, 2015 @ 6:16 pm

                      Rivers

                      The term PRWTOS means “first” (in sequence) when it is used throughout the 4th Gospel and in 1 John. It can infer “priority”, but not without the connotation of being “first” in sequence. Something that happens “before” something else is a matter of sequence and not “primacy.”

                      First, I used “priority” in the sense of “being first in sequence”, like in the expression “Markan priority” (for those who advocate it), “primacy”, instead, for “being first in rank”.

                      Second, I find peculiar your insistence on the standard use of words in the 4th Gospel, when you, for your part, insist that logos is used as “spoken saying or message”, except … when … there is an exception which would be the use of logos to refer to Jesus.

                      The paronomasia (if the term is unfamiliar, read “pun” or “play on words”) based on the Preposition emprosthen and the Adjective prôtos is such precisely because those words are used in an … unusual way.

                      Otherwise the Greek phrase ho opisô mou erchomenos emprosthen mou gegonen oti prôtos mou ên (in particular if prôtos was understood as meaning “being first in sequence”) would be simply senseless, because John was both older, and his public activity earlier than that of Jesus.