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.


  1. Jimspace
    April 19, 2016 @ 12:17 pm

    Hi Dale, I’ve visited from time to time, but I really enjoyed your two podcasts. They were so refreshing after being exposed to the same-old Trinitarian reasoning. I’ll be sure to share these!


  2. Benjamin Scott
    April 3, 2016 @ 12:37 am


    Thanks for the great talk. The last 5 minutes reminded me of Kierkegaard’s Dedication To The Single Individual. The crowd is the untruth. Even if it’s a vocal minority within the majority, they are in charge and the majority follows them. Everyone needs leaders. Real leaders who stand for truth have the courage to stand alone and to speak individual to individual as you are doing on your podcast. I appreciate your efforts to reach out.

    Here’s the link:


    God Bless You,

    Benjamin Scott


  3. David Kemball-Cook
    March 30, 2016 @ 10:01 pm

    Thanks Dale. Interesting, insightful, sobering stuff
    They should be required listening on apologetics courses (why not offer them to the people who run them?). Three comments
    1) On confusing the Trinity with the deity of Christ, it might be worth noting that the latter serves as the fallback position for the former in the minds of many apologists
    As in conversation with Rob Bowman, but with others I have talked to recently
    It goes (sort of) like this
    ‘OK, the apostles may not have actually believed in a Trinity, but they were proto-trinitarians / the elements of the Trinity were there / etc… because they believed that Jesus was God’
    You point out that these two issues are logically independent of each other.
    It all depends what you mean by the deity of Christ, and it is sometimes difficult to get apologists to say what they do mean by it.

    2) On whether the ‘deity of Christ’ means that Jesus actually is identical to YHWH, I think that everyone retreats from this once it is offered to them. NOBODY likes to embrace the consequences of numerical identity when it is pointed out. Rob Bowman retreated, but he is one among many evangelicals in that regard. Even oneness pentecostals (from whence I came) retreat from it! I have been dialoguing with OPs at great length, and they will assert ‘Jesus is God’, but not reply when you ask them if it means that Jesus is actually one and the same as God. Many have a simplistic understanding (as I used to have), but I suspect that the more scholarly are just deliberately blind to the problems of their theology (and I consider that culpable).

    3) You never mentioned this ‘sharing in the identity of God’ thing, did you? Was that because it was not directly on the Trinity? Perhaps you will discuss it in the forthcoming podcast?


  4. Roman
    March 30, 2016 @ 2:57 am

    Dale, do you have any Sources about the magesterial plural being out of favor for Hebrew Scholars? I don’t really know much about Hebrew, but I always thought that was a viable option. If it isn’t that’s a little embarrasing for me :S. Can you Direct me where to look?


    • Dale Tuggy
      March 30, 2016 @ 6:11 pm

      Not off the top of my head. I’ll be Dustin Smith could though. I remember running into this claim in many places, but those places have slipped out of my memory, and I don’t have time to chase them down now – sorry.


    • Rivers
      March 31, 2016 @ 8:38 am


      Hebrew scholars go back and forth on the issue of the usage of ALHYM because there are so many examples of its use with both singular and plural verbs and adjectives. Sometimes it refers to a single entity, and sometimes it refers to multiple entities. It always refers to some kind of ruler or dignitary, so the “magisterial” emphasis really isn’t necessary.


      • Roman
        March 31, 2016 @ 9:03 am

        I wasn’t referring to Elohim, I was referring to the Plural “let us make man in Our image,” prior to the text saying God made them in his image.


        • Rivers
          March 31, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

          Sorry, I misunderstood what you were getting at.

          The interchange of the singular and plural pronouns with ALHYM in Genesis 1:26-27 is one of the indications that we shouldn’t read too much into it. The main thing to keep in mind is that some singulars and plurals in Hebrew ultimately depend upon context and not grammatical forms.

          In the context of the creation story, there are other factors that bear upon the interchange of singulars and plurals with ALHYM. The same thing occurs again in Genesis 3:22-24.


          • Roman
            March 31, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

            Well, it definately wasn’t an accident that they used the plural when God was talking and the singular when it was describing his action.


            • Rivers
              April 1, 2016 @ 8:37 am


              That’s a good observation. The same thing happens with YHWH in Genesis 18-19. The singular YHWH is interchanged with the activities of “three men” (Genesis 18:2) who are also “angels” (Genesis 19:2).

              I think these factors in the early usage of the Hebrew vocabulary and grammar suggest that the “unseen” YHWH (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16) operated through the mediation of other beings who could be perceived with the eyes and ears.


              • Roman
                April 1, 2016 @ 11:42 am

                Goo point, what’s interesting about Genesis though is that he speaks in plural, but acts in singular, so I’m not sure the mediation about the mediation theory.

                But honestly, I don’t know. I always thought the magestarial plural made sense, but I know the angels explination is the orthodox Jewish one (I think).


                • Rivers
                  April 1, 2016 @ 3:25 pm


                  My main contention with the “plural of majesty” idea is simply that the -YM suffix is used on other Hebrew plural nouns when there is no implication of anything “majestic.” It actually seems more like these plural Hebrew nouns do infer something inherently “plural.”

                  Consider the example Dale gave in the recent podcast of how our English word “pants” can be used to speak on “one” (i.e. pair of pants). However, a single pair of “pants” does have two legs, and people do generally where two different kinds of “pants” at the same time (i.e. underwear, slacks). Thus, the plurality of the word “pants” could have been derived from these factors and then became useful simply to refer to one pair of pants with two legs.

                  Likewise, the Hebrew term ALHYM may be “plural” (even when speaking of YHWH) simply because the manifestations of the “unseen” YHWH were always associated with other beings (i.e. angels) and sometimes multiple angels (Genesis 18-19).

                  The Hebrew terms for “waters” and “heavens” also have the -YM ending. It is easy to conceive of why the ancient Hebrews might have used a plural noun for “waters” (since rain falls in drops and makes separate puddles and lakes) and the “heavens” have different levels (air, clouds, above the clouds). Thus, it may have just become a literary convention for these plural forms to be used of a singular “item” (YHWH, lake, sky) within the plurality of things associated with the same substance, function, or location.


        • penzance
          September 21, 2016 @ 5:49 pm

          “Let us make man in Our image” is Elohim, in the council of the gods, speaking to the other gods or divine beings. See Psalm 82:1, RSV: “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.” Also Psalm 89:6, “For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord?” See also the commandment “You shall have no other gods before me.” The implication is that other gods exist, but only our God should be worshiped.


  5. John B
    March 29, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

    Hi Dale! A few questions arise out of this episode for me:

    5. New fangled slogans and grandiose claims

    “Gospel and Trinity inseparable”. For small-t trinitarians could this not actually be the case? I think it is my case.

    4. Dubious proofs of the Trinity from reason
    Fallacy: God is perfectly loving only if God is perfectly loving? Is it not rather the fallacy that “God is perfectly loving only if He can be seen to be perfectly loving, i.e. love has to be worked out? I think it is to assume that he has an opportunity to express that love. Is the fallacy not then that this is to presume that God requires the same opportunities to validate that loving characteristic. I cannot really know if I am loving if I do not see it working in my life because I am developmental. God surely is not developmental, right? Also, a (“previously”) timeless God still knew that in time he would fully demonstrate his immeasurable love perfectly. That perfect foreknowledge was with Him, correct?

    Honesty on a desert island example. Is he compassionate? He might be. Is **might** be enough? Might he also NOT be? Not being God, how can he (or any secret observer) even know? It is not at all obvious to me that he can be said to *be* honest, except perhaps with respect to self-honesty, or honesty within himself (i.e. between his conscious and unconscious).

    I think I am “yes” for the fallacy, and “no” for the desert island. 🙂

    3. Speculation about atonement. Agreed.

    2. Confusing Trinity with the deity (or even full deity) of Christ. Logos theories were saying this. Is this not also when Docetism hit, which is often confused with God Almighty coming as visible Spirit but not as flesh?

    You say: “Originally the Psalm was addressed to a King”. Here you were referring to the Psalm referenced in Hebrews 1:8, Psalm 45. Who would have thought those psalm introductory notes would have had an effect on Christology!? But I think they do. So the question I am wrestling with and I ask you if you have had any insight, is could there be confusion (prior 1st century) regarding the addressee of Psalm 45? In several non-Psalter contexts, the words translated “of David” are “to David”. But in quite a few places in the Psalms it does seem correctly rendered “of David”. If it is correctly David writing, then how natural was it for Israelite kings to address other humans, even their sons, as their Lords? Are there other possibilities, e.g. re-ordering and compiling the psalter resulting in confused introductory comments? This theory has problems because of how Jesus interpreted it – that David is indeed the speaker, even though he definitely doesn’t sound like it to me. I’d be really interested to hear your views on this!

    1. Linguistic sophistry, echad and Elohim. I actually think this point is quite similar to 4. Is the Schema not more appropriately understood as “YHWH alone”? Why on Earth would it say “YHWH is One”? There are some very obvious reasons for declaring within the Israelites community that there is no space for more than one god.

    Out of respect for the Divine name, YHWH is not transliterated but they just replaced it with The Lord. Hurtado blogged about this, citing especially John William Wevers’ research into Kyrios in the LXX: “confirming that YHWH is overwhelmingly rendered by forms of kyrios without the definite article (“anarthrous” forms). In contrast, forms of the word with the definite article (“articular”) are preferred to translate references to other figures who hold a lordly position in the narratives. As one example, check out Genesis 39:2-3, where the LXX has ?????? (without article) for YHWH consistently, and articular forms of ?????? to translate references to the human/Egyptian “master” in the narrative.” (https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/yhwh-in-the-septuagint/)

    So regarding the Rule of thumb (unless NT is quoting the OT, the Lord is referring to the Lord Jesus), I wonder if there might be an extra tweak (or simply confirmation) available there to us through the anarthrous kurios data.

    Blessings and thanks for your precious input,


    • Dale Tuggy
      March 30, 2016 @ 6:10 pm

      Hi John –

      Yes, the gospel is inseparable from God, his Son, and his spirit. Of course, a small-t trinitarian is what I can a unitarian. 🙂 I realize though that right now the former term is infinitely cooler than the latter.

      “God is perfectly loving only if He can be seen to be perfectly loving, i.e. love has to be worked out?” That also seems like a non sequitur – the second part isn’t implied by the first part. If you want to say that God’s actions, in particular through Jesus, are evidence of his love… well sure! And yeah, we don’t want to say that God, like us, need interaction with others to develop his moral character. Iron sharpens iron, but he’s already a laser beam, as sharp as can be.

      About the desert island, I think your worry is about evidence. Looking at the man from outside, we may wonder if he’s honest, etc. or not. Sure. But we must admit that this is coherent: that he’s an honest man, though he has no chance to interact honestly with another.

      I think that docetism was around long before the logos theories really hit. But I think that logos speculations aided a kind of low-key docetism. In fact, many imagine Christ to be a divine spirit, just appear to be human. It’s easy to see how one could think this, if one thinks, like the ancient Alexandrians, that the logos “assumed” or became united with a body. A demon might kick out a human soul, and take over a body, but that wouldn’t make the demon a man. But to a large extent they just lost interest in the earthly life and ministry of Jesus, and in his humanity. They checked off the humanity box, so to speak, but thought it more important to see him as pre-existent, divine, and the direct creator on behalf of God.

      About the Psalms, I think that even without the little introductions, many would be taken to be about kings, seemingly coronation songs, in their original setting.

      Thanks for the Hurtado link, John. I got a 404 on it, but found it here: https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/yhwh-in-the-septuagint/

      Very interesting – it’s kind of backwards to the case of theos and ho theos in the NT. I may have to post on this. The punchline is here:

      “And remember that we’re talking about hundreds of instances on which to build the observation that the “anarthrous” forms of kyrios are preferred in the Pentateuch. This pattern suggests that in these texts kyrios is being treated as if it is a name, not the common noun for “Sir/Lord/Master”.”

      Makes sense to treat the substitute as one would a proper name,.

      Thanks & God bless, John!


      • John B
        March 31, 2016 @ 4:57 pm

        Yes we need to work on the coolness factor 😉
        But also on the content of small-t. Sometimes it feels a little optional, rather than absolutely how God set things up. I would have much more theological affinity for a big-T church that does not confuse F, S & HS (or tries), than a biblical unitarian church (yeah right like one of those exists within 5000 miles of where I live) that ever erred on the optional worship practice of Christ, for example. In the meantime, to avoid giving such kudos to the Trinitarian theology, but especially to provide greater clarity, I am going for “Triune-God Advocates” 🙂

        I’m inclined to agree that at the heart of love (and honesty and COMpassion) is Other, so it is a non-sequitur if I am wrong about this. That is why I am soooo unhappy about Father-son confusion. Again, to confuse them is to eradicate their love; to eradicate their love is to eradicate God’s love to us (in sending his precious son).

        Regarding the desert island guy: sorry, I don’t see it. I cannot say he is honest any more than I can say he is DIShonest (obviously assuming we are discounting any historical evidence of honesty prior to his unfortunate current predicament). Ahonest? As I said, and we agree, that does not have an effect on God’s loving nature, I just get to that conclusion I think via a different route.

        Docetism: fascinating (in itself and your comment).

        Psalm intros: you opened my mind to another possibility, later addition. Is that what you go for?

        Sorry for wrong Hurtado link and glad you eventually found it and consider it relevant. Seems like our “the LORD” might have been better simply left “LORD” on this reasoning, right?

        Thanks again (no need to respond if you are busy, and it sounds like it),


  6. Dave Davis
    March 29, 2016 @ 10:28 am

    I’ve recently discovered this series and I am getting a lot out of it, thanks so much!

    Is there a means of getting the whole series of podcasts (to date) on a USB stick or CD?


    • Dale Tuggy
      March 30, 2016 @ 5:54 pm

      Hi Dave,

      No, not yet. Perhaps some day. But they should all be available in the iTunes feed, so that’s about as good. You should be able to point a podcast listening program at that and tell it to get all of them. Glad to have you listening!


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