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.

66 Comments

  1. Danny Andre' Dixon
    May 1, 2016 @ 3:44 pm

    Mr. Barron pointed out the grammatical-lexical argument in Jesus’ comment at John 8:58. He pointed out that the language there is legitimately translated “I existed before Abraham was born.” I understand that Dr. Smith teaches Greek at Atlanta Bible College; he could respond to that particular argument. I made a similar argument on that text providing a near parallel passage from the Testament of Job and the 1977 translation of the New American Standard Bible. I do not believe Dr. Smith responded to my argument either. I grant that this is one argument that should be considered cumulatively with other arguments. But I guess one chooses what will be his presuppositions which will determine how to look at the passages and concepts that will be accepted first and from which others will be understood.

    • Rivers
      May 2, 2016 @ 10:35 am

      Danny,

      Your argument that John 8:58 could be translated “I existed before Abraham was born” is problematic for a number of reasons. Making a selective appeal to an obscure passage in TJob 2:1 is not sufficient to legitimize anything. Please consider a couple of exegetical considerations from the biblical testimony:

      First, the Greek verb GENESQAI doesn’t mean “was born.” The writer of the 4th Gospel always used a different verb (GENNAW) when he referred to someone being born. For example, in John 9:19-20 the writer twice used EGENNHQH (“was born”) when referring to the fact that a man “was born” blind. The writer also used GENNAW when Jesus spoke of when he himself “was born” (John 18:37).

      Second, the verb GENESQAI in John 8:58 is an Aorist Middle Infinitive form that is always used elsewhere by the writer of the 4th Gospel with Future implications in a particular sequence of historical events. Thus, when there is a Present tense verb in the immediate context (e.g. EIMI, John 8:58), the Aorist Infinitive of GINOMAI would likely refer to something that was “yet to happen” (i.e. with Abraham) subsequent to the conversation that Jesus was having with the Jews at that time.

      Third, since a PPA (or EP) requires a Past tense verb, the fact that GENESQAI is in the Aorist Infinitive form precludes any possibility that EGW EIMI (“I am”) in John 8:58 should be translated “I existed” in this context. The most accurate published translation of John 8:58 is found in the YLT which reads “before Abraham’s coming, I am” (which can be taken as a resurrection inference, since Abraham was “dead” at that time, John 8:53).

      • Danny Andre' Dixon
        May 4, 2016 @ 1:05 am

        I thank you for your post, Rivers of Eden.

        First, the citing of TJob 2:1 was not a selective appeal to an obscure passage. It was a simple comparison to a literary text that had to be translated somehow or another. Not only that, the passage is similar in grammatical structure to the John 8:58 passage. This is all that Mr. Barron’s was saying regarding the citation, in addition to everything else he said. I just wanted Dr. Smith to address the parallel when I made the similar point in my comments on this in The Son of God: Three Views. I had hoped, since he did not address it in our written debate, that he would possibly address the particular argument when Mr. Barron laid it out. I do grant that it is more difficult to pick up on things in the heat of a face to face presentation of views from the floor.

        In the book, Smith says, “I deem it of no small importance that John 8:58 . . . [would] be properly situated in the context of Jewish preexistence discourse,” and he clearly felt that it is such speech “which characteristically spoke of noteworthy concepts as predetermined by God to fulfill their purpose and function” (p. 102). He then gave some 16 references that suggested that should indicate that a passage like John 8:58 (He also mentioned John 17:5 should be taken figuratively. First I would suggest that he does see, then, that the wording of the text speaks in terms of past existence, but that it also should be taken to MEAN, in a Jewish context of understanding, existence that is proleptic, ideal, or to use his term elsewhere employed in the book, “notional.” He also argued that the text should be seen as one of several passages in which the Jews misunderstood Jesus’ intentions and took his sayings too literally, and he joins A.T. Robinson in saying that the claim “to have been ‘before’ Abraham” in John 8:58 should be understood as an assertion by Jesus of his “unconditional precedence” (p. 104).

        What frustrated me somewhat in interacting with Smith in this debate was what I considered his failure to acknowledge that it was VERY Jewish, in their literature common at the time of the writing of the New Testament (typically called Second Temple Judaism), to use language and descriptions of entities who were with God in exalted positions, seated next to God; judging in the same way God judges; forgiving in the same way God forgives; LITERALLY in their contexts (albeit that the writings are fictional), functioning as agents at God’s direction. Rather than address every one of his citations from the Jewish writings he cited, I chose to pick a representative one, The Prayer of Joseph, in which a preexistent figure Jacob claims to be an exalted archangel, who also existed in the heavenly realm with “Abraham and Isaac [who] were created before any work.”

        I hold it to be erroneous to think that it was foreign to Jewish thought that one could literally exist in the heavenly realm prior to his human advent, coming into existence, or BIRTH. It is quite Jewish for Jesus to say that he existed before Abraham “came to be.” That Jesus would argue in John 8:58, “I have been [in existence] before Abraham came into existence” is Jewish and fits the context of the writings and understandings of the time Jesus taught and ministered.

        I appended as “mild” the grammatical argument about the language in John 8:58 that would allow Jesus to say that he existed before Abraham came into existence, as certainly as Job said in the Testament of Job 2:1 that Jobab had been his name before his name had been Job. I respectfully have to challenge your representation of what the Greek allows in John 8:58. And I should add that what you called MY rendition was merely a quotation of the translation given by the 1971 NASB scholars who translated the text. Second, I should have had the text open before me when I gave the translation of the text from inaccurate memory.

        Actually, the equally plausible alternative translation [as are the NASB texts given in the margin] for John 8:58 was to use what is known as “the historical present”: “Before Abraham CAME INTO BEING I HAVE BEEN.” made my earlier comment. I erred in saying it was the 1977 translation. ,won’t be dishonest and go back up and edit the typo. It was the 1971 translation. The NASB choice for the text (and the verb GINOMAI) was to say, “Before Abraham was born, I have been . . .”

        The concept of “birth” in the Greek word for “being” is made in MANY translations. You made the point that “The writer of the 4th Gospel always used a different verb (GENNAW) when he referred to someone being born,” as if to suggest that the author could not express the concept of birth apart from the use the word GENNAO. The fact is that the gospel of John does not discuss birth much at all (whether he is using GENNAO literally or with birth as an extension of the more philosophical phrase “to come into existence” as expressed in GINOMA).

        Everyone “comes into being,” Rivers. Are you suggesting that coming into being happens, for everyone since Adam and Eve, in some manner other than in BEING BORN? I don’t think you were trying to say that.

        Certainly you are correct to imply that the verb is not LITERALLY “was born,” but there is no point in arguing about the definition of the word, although your suggestion that in its aorist infinitive form it should be rendered, as “something that was “yet to happen” is good enough, I suppose. The point is that Jesus wanted to make a self-disclosing comment about a reality that was true of himself before something about Abraham was yet to be, namely before he “came to be” or “came into existence,” before Abraham was born.

        I am compelled to ask, then, Rivers, what it is that you ARE saying or presuming. Are you suggesting that Jesus is calling himself “The I AM” of some Old Testament Scripture now in New Testament application? I find myself at an utter loss as to what you mean when you say, “The most accurate published translation of John 8:58 is found in the YLT which reads ‘before Abraham’s coming, I am’ (which can be taken as a resurrection inference, since Abraham was “dead” at that time, John 8:53).” Please explain this comment about “resurrection inference” so I can appropriately respond.

        • Rivers
          May 4, 2016 @ 10:12 am

          Hi Danny,

          Thank you for the detailed response. Here are my subsequent thoughts.

          1. I think the “similarity” you (and David) propose between the grammar in TJob 2:1 and John 8:58 is somewhat contrived (forced). As I noted before, GENESQAI is not used by the writer of the 4th Gospel with Past tense implications. Thus, there cannot be a PPA (or EP) in John 8:58 (regardless of whether TJob 2:1 might be translated that way).

          2. I don’t agree with Dr. Smith’s “notional preexistence” idea either. I think you and David Barron are using Preexistence correctly because you understand that the term properly refers to someone who existed in a pre-human form. Dr. Smith’s attempt to categorize Preexistence as “notional vs. literal” is no more helpful than someone insisting that there is a difference between “light black” and “dark black” colors.

          3. When you appeal to “Jewish thought”, I think you run the risk of committing a number of exegetical and logical fallacies. There isn’t any corroboration between the 4th Gospel and any of those other sources. Thus, there’s no substantial reason to conclude that the “Jewish thought” represented in external sources had any bearing on how the writer of the 4th Gospel used any of the language in his books. Moreover, it’s evident in the apostolic writings that Jesus and the apostles were teaching things that were very different than what their Jewish contemporaries were saying.

          4. I’m aware that there are a few translations that render John 8:58 to your preference, but most others do not. Thus, I don’t think that evidence is helpful. I could appeal to the YLT rendering of John 8:58 as the most accurate, but translations are only interpretations of the grammar (and that is why they differ). I think it’s better to weigh the options based upon context and how the grammatical forms were used elsewhere by the writer of the 4th Gospel. It’s very easy to show that the translations using “was born” for GENESQAI in John 8:58 are making an unparalleled (suspicious?) exception in that particular passage.

          5. I don’t think your comment about “birth” in the 4th Gospel is accurate. The writer of the 4th Gospel referred to human “birth” (GENNAW) about 15 times. Thus, there is plenty of evidence to evaluate. Moreover, he used GINOMAI about 45 times, but never to explicitly refer to anyone being “born.” He also never used GINOMAI to explicitly refer to something (or someone) that “came into existence.” GINOMAI primarily means that something “happens” with what is already existing.

          6. I agree with you that the point Jesus was making in John 8:58 is that something was “yet to happen” with Abraham. The question revolves around what historical context he is referring to. This is why I think the use of the Aorist Infinitive (GENESQAI) with the Present Indicative (EIMI) is so critical. The evidence shows that the writer of the 4th Gospel always used the Aorist Infinitive with Future implications, especially when there is a Present tense verb in the immediate context. Thus, it’s more likely that GENESQAI was used to refer to something that would happen with Abraham (resurrection?) as a result of the presence of Jesus Christ at the time he was conversing with the Jews.

          7. What I’m suggesting is that the grammar in John 8:58 should be understood as a resurrection inference (which is consistent with the theme of the entire conversation that Jesus was having with the Jews at that time). Jesus was telling the Jews that he was the one (EGW EIMI) that would make Abraham become (GENESQAI) free from death (cf. John 8:51-53; John 8:31-36).

          • Danny Andre' Dixon
            May 5, 2016 @ 8:58 am

            Wooden responses will get you nowhere, Carlos.
            “Here a little. There a little. Line upon line. Precept upon precept” ( Isaiah 28:10).

            Carlos, do not think that the people who read the podcast posts here are allowing, you, to intellectually avoid what I am saying. I ask questions you refuse to respond directly. The reason that you do that is because you know what the implications of a direct answer to one of my questions would be. If you would answer my question regarding the story of the Centurion and his beloved Pais, you would see that the principle of agency includes the concept of a text saying that only one person did a thing while in reality a group of people could represent that person. Isaiah 44:24 can say that God Alone created the universe. While Colossians 1:16 comma First Corinthians 8:6, etc., can indicate that there is no contradiction to say that Jesus was God’s agent of creation while God Alone is the source of creation. The Centurion was the source of the message to Jesus about his servant. The Jewish friends that he said on his behalf where are the Agents of the delivery of the message to Jesus.

            You demonstrate an elementary understanding of how to use a lexicon when you think that the only thing involved in the use of it is to just go with definitions while ignoring the manner in which the Bible teaches. The scriptures have progressively revealed the identity of the Christ to come comma from possibly the first reference in Genesis 3:15 where the seed of woman, we are told, will bruise the head of Satan ( compare with Romans 16:11).

            John chapter one reveals that God’s Word was a person. 1st Corinthians chapter 10 indicates that there was a sense in which the Christ was even on the earth assisting Israel in The Exodus. Are those things directly and clearly revealed in the Old Testament scriptures? The answer is no. Why? Because God chose to strategically and incremental II reveal his divine plan for the bringing in of the Messiah for the Salvation of man. That the Christ was the word of God is not something that we would disagree with technically. It is only in the details that we have differences here. The thing that disturbs me, well perhaps just annoys me, is your lack of willingness to be honest with honest questions. The reason that it is only an annoyance and not more he’s become such a lack of agreement cannot, I don’t think comma result in anybody’s loss of salvation. The whole thing just becomes a big question loose interpretation makes the most coherent sense of the biblical evidence.

            Bottom line, the way Christians are supposed to deal with these matters, is to accept one another without passing judgment on matters of opinion (Romans 14:1).

            I get my students attention at school by marking them down with grades if they don’t like if they won’t be honest with Socratic questioning. Obviously I can’t punish you for not being willing to submit to higher order thinking and Analysis of scripture. Of course I can’t help it if readers look at what you say and make their own conclusions about their perception of your honesty.

            So I’m calling you out! Directly answer the questions that I gave above without sidestepping the issue by bringing up a new issue that I had not mentioned.

            Fraternally,
            Danny André Dixon

            • GregLogan25
              June 29, 2016 @ 7:07 pm

              Danny

              Without having worked my way through your interaction with Rivers – for whom I have some respect – the larger issue is simple. The NT repeated, clearly and formally declares and states that Jesus is a man. The exegesis you and Barron (and all hold Arian Christology) of Jn8:58 departs from this teaching. Therefore, we know that this exegesis is fundamentally flawed.

              We do know that Jesus speaks in MASSIVE figures of speech – and the Gospel of John is the GREATEST example of this. Therefore, Jesus playing with the minds of his listeners is to be expected – and, with respect, you, Barron and your colleagues appear to have fallen into the same trap Jesus set that that hearing audience fell into….

              Best,

              Greg

              • Rivers
                June 30, 2016 @ 8:24 am

                Greg,

                Good points. I agree that it is problematic when certain Christological views require isolating passages like John 1:1, John 1:14, and John 8:58 and forcing them to infer things like Preexistence and Incarnation that are neither necessary nor consistent with the far weightier testimony concerning the human “origin” of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:14).

                With that said, Biblical Unitarians of this generation need to do a better job of explaining these controversial passages in light of the other evidence too.

                Bizarre ideas like “an impersonal plan or purpose of God transforming into the human Jesus” or “the Messiah preexisting Abraham in the mind of God” or the nonsensical “notional preexistence” theory are equally bad explanations of John 1:1, John 1:14, and John 8:58.

                • GregLogan25
                  June 30, 2016 @ 5:39 pm

                  I like your point re an exegesis of isolated texts which are neither necessary nor consistent AS WELL AS BUs continuing to amp their exegesis.

                  I am completely lost at your degradation of the basic doctrine of God’s foreknowledge of the Messiah in light of this being formally taught (1Pet1:20) and demonstrated (Rev13:8) as well as the entire sense of foreknowledge of the Kingdom (Eph1:4, 2Tim1:13), etc., etc.

                  The Logos is NOT the impersonal/plan of God – I acknowledge this is silly. The Logos is simply the Logos of God that scripture very clearly states is fundamental to God’s creative actions (Ps33:6, 2Pet3:5 with Jn1:3). I have no idea why anyone would despise the clear Word of God here. FURTHER we would NEVER use the term “transform” but would the term “manifest” – God spoke and the creation was manifest (small concept that you might find in Gen1…;-) ) – again, God spoke and a MAN was manifest fully manifesting/expressing the reality of God (if you have seem me – you have seen the Father, etc.). Why is that hard??? Again and again we see such a breadth of language and concept in the very figurative/metaphoric mind, e.g. Prov 8 (which has nothing to do with Jn1 BUT demonstrates the range of the language and conceptions available).

                  • Rivers
                    July 1, 2016 @ 8:46 am

                    Greg,

                    Thanks for the comment. Here are my thoughts in response to your points.

                    1 I don’t think word (LOGOS) and foreknowledge are the same thing. Foreknowledge means that God the Father made a “choice” (Romans 11:2, 5; Ephesians 1:4). LOGOS means a verbal expression.

                    2. I agree that LOGOS is associated with creation in a handful of passages (as you cited), but LOGOS is not what carries the idea of “create.” For example, in Psalms 33:6, it is the term translated “made” (Heb. OSH, cf. Genesis 1:31; Genesis 2:4) that means “made.” The reason that LOGOS is used here is because God first “spoke” the command (Genesis 1:3) that caused something to be “made.”

                    In other words, if I say to my kids … “clean the dishes” … it’s not what I say (LOGOS) that cleans the dishes. Rather, if my kids do what I have the authority to tell them to do, the result will be clean dishes. This is an important distinction to understand with LOGOS because there are many more times that LOGOS is used in scripture with no “creative power” implication whatsoever.

                    3. I agree with you that “manifest” is a better word than “transform.” However, the writer of the 4th Gospel used “manifest” numerous times but didn’t associate it with anyone’s birth. Rather, he used it to speak of the adult Jesus being “manifested to Israel” (John 1:31) and being “manifested” after the resurrection (John 21:14). Either of these “manifestations” is better suited to the context of John 1:14.

                    4. I understand what you’re getting at with “God speaking and a man (Christ) was manifested.” However, I would argue that the usage of “word” (LOGOS) in the 4th Gospel almost always refers to something actually spoken by Jesus himself during his public ministry (and not God predicting the Messiah in the Hebrew scriptures).

                    Thus, I think it’s more likely that John 1:1 and John 1:14 are using LOGOS to refer to Jesus himself (by Implication) because he was the man who actually expressed what he heard from God the Father (cf. John 14:24; Hebrews 1:2). A specific “word” (LOGOS) from God came to be spoken through Jesus Christ just like it came to many others before him (John 10:34-36; Hebrews 1:1-2).

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 1, 2016 @ 1:20 pm

                      Rivers

                      1. Sorry if I was confusing in my post – acknowledged that Logos and Foreknowledge are completely different realities.

                      2. Acknowledged that Logos does not contain create – sorry if this was confusing.

                      Your last paragraph intrigues me –

                      Thus, I think it’s more likely that John 1:1 and John 1:14 are using LOGOS to refer to Jesus himself (by Implication) because he was the man who actually expressed what he heard from God the Father (cf. John 14:24; Hebrews 1:2). A specific “word” (LOGOS) from God came to be spoken through Jesus Christ just like it came to many others before him (John 10:34-36; Hebrews 1:1-2).

                      PLEASE see Acts10:36 – in which Peter seems to express the exact same word as you – and John – except without the poetic/figurative overlay that John provides.

                      36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

                      Does this make sense?

                    • Rivers
                      July 1, 2016 @ 2:48 pm

                      Hi Greg,

                      Thanks for the clarifications. I didn’t meant to misunderstand or misrepresent what you intended to say.

                      1. Good citation of Acts 10:36. It seems to be the same thing Jesus was saying in John 4:24. In each case, the “word” (LOGOS) is something separate from Jesus himself (which is usually the case, and that is why I would say John 1:1 is using it by Implication to refer to the human Jesus). A “word” (LOGOS) is not a person, but a “word” (LOGOS) cannot exist until a person expresses it (verbally).

                      2. Let me try to explain why I think the grammar in the Prologue indicates that we must consider “the word” (LOGOS) in John 1:1 to be referring to the human Jesus. I’ll try to be brief.

                      Notice in John 1:2 that the writer uses the pronoun OUTOS (“this one”) to refer back to “the word” (LOGOS) in John 1:1. There would be no reason for the apparent redundancy in John 1:2 isfthe writer wasn’t using OUTOS to set up some kind of contrast.

                      The next time the writer uses OUTOS (“this one”) is in John 1:7 where it refers back to the man, John the baptizer, who was introduced in John 1:6. This use of OUTOS also suggests that the writer is contrasting John the baptizer with another “one” in the same context. Of course, the other “this one” (OUTOS) has already been identified in John 1:1-2.

                      I think we see in John 1:8 why the writer uses OUTOS (“this one”) for both “the word” and John the baptizer where he points out that John the baptizer was “not the true light.” Apparently, this was important because there was some confusion about which man (i.e. John or Jesus) was actually the Christ (John 1:19-24; John 3:28-31) since both of them were making disciples at the same time.

                      Notice later in the context of the Prologue and John 1 where John the baptizer also uses OUTOS (“this one”) several times to distinguish himself from the “man” coming after him (John 1:15, 30, 33, 34). Again, this indicates that the writer is using OUTOS in order to draw a contrast between the two “men” who were thought to be the Christ.

                      This apparent contrast has no significance before the historical context in which both John the baptizer and Jesus Christ were making disciples separately (John 3:22-27) in “the beginning of the gospel” (Mark 1:1-4).

                      Hence, I think this shows that John 1:1 is likely referring to the human Jesus (just like John 1:14 later in the same context) because he was the “man” that John the baptizer was sent to testify about, and Jesus was “the true light” coming into the world at the same time (John 1:9-10).

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 2, 2016 @ 1:13 pm

                      Thanks Rivers

                      I generally reviewed – and generally understand your point. My off the top sense is that you are putting too much emphasis on outos as having some kind of technical meaning – rather than just being a general word – of no more meaning than “this” in our language as a simple referent.

                      At present, I see no reason to have the man Christ Jesus before we have the man Christ Jesus in v14 (regarding the Logos) – and every reason not to including the fact that the text never states that and we have perfect parallels which are not in any way personal (Ps33:6, 2Pet3:5).

                      Here is the trick with John – he has these grand concepts which he finds manifest in and through Jesus in such a way that Jesus IS the concept. He seems to sort of flip back and forth at ease between “Life” as a concept – and “the Life” as a person – without much concern. IJn1:1-4 is ample testimony to his disregard for a nice clear unambiguous set of categories.

                      Fair enough – I don’t have a problem reading like that – because we have many clear formal statements that Jesus is a man – and I am good with that.

                      Happy Sabbath!

                    • Rivers
                      July 3, 2016 @ 8:09 am

                      Hi Greg,

                      I agree that OUTOS is a common pronoun. I was attempting to show how it is used in the context of the Prologue and John 1 which seems to serve the purpose of making a contrast between two men called “the word” (Jesus) and “John” (the baptizer).

                      I don’t agree that Psalms 33:6 and 2 Peter 3:5 are “perfect parallels” at all. The only thing John 1:1 has in common with those two text is the term “word” and the contexts are entirely different. Just because three passages have the term “word” in common, it doesn’t logically follow that they are using that term to refer to the same thing.

                      In the context of the Prologue, “the word became flesh AND dwelt among us” (John 1:14) refers to something that happened when the apostles were actually Jesus Christ AFTER John the baptizer announced his coming (John 1:15). Thus, this “word” cannot possibly be referring to what God “spoke” in Genesis 1:1 and there is no evidence that the apostles were witnesses of the original creation.

                      If you think the writer of the 4th Gospel is “flipping” between two different meanings of the term “life” then I would like to see some exegesis to support that theory. I think it makes perfectly good sense that “the life was the light of men” (John 1:4) simply refers to the human Jesus himself who is called “the light” a few verses later (John 1:7-10). I’m not sure why a conceptualization of “life” would be necessary to understand these references.

                      Have a great holiday weekend!

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 3, 2016 @ 10:57 am

                      re Outos
                      You may be right that it serves to designate either of the men – but that is simply the common usage in all language – to specifically designate/reference – nothing special – no other technical meaning. Regardless, when I get to that passage again, I will review that term in this context to see if there is more to it (I have never remotely had that sense – nor found any necessity in that sense).

                      re Ps33:6, 2Pet3:5 Parallel
                      Rivers, the parallel is NOT primarily simply the use of the Logos/dvr in these contexts – the very clear and formal parallel is the CREATIVE ACT VIA the logos/dvr as specified in 1:3. Yes????

                      re: Timing of v14
                      Why? There is no temporal element.

                      re: Concept/Person
                      Was there light before Jesus? Was there life before Jesus? Was there righteousness before Jesus? Does God still have His word – independent of Jesus?

                      I suspect you, as I, will answer – Yes. And that Jesus is the embodiment of that light. I think that is a starting point. Again – John sort of poeticizes/metaphorizes/romanticizes the embodiment/manifestation – whereas Peter in Acts10:36 leaves the conception as distinct from Jesus EXCEPT as the agent/carrier.

                      Try this – “in it is life – THE life is THE light of men”
                      a) life is not equal to word – but is IN the Word

                      b) life is anarthrous – THEN is articular. Why? What is the significance.

                      Lastly – reading 1Jn1:1-4 – I cannot read solely by making it all personal – there seems to be a very significant conceptional dimension – which is ultimately found in and through Jesus.

                    • Rivers
                      July 5, 2016 @ 9:26 am

                      Greg,

                      I understand your point about the “creative act” comparison you are trying to make between Psalms 33:6-8 and John 1:1-3, but the Psalm uses language alluding to either the Genesis creation or the creation of the nation of Israel whereas John 1:1-3 doesn’t.

                      There is no “heavens” or “earth” or “seas” found in the context of John 1:1-3 and the “came into being” language in John 1:3 is not the same vocabulary used in the LXX version of the Psalm. The fact that the common term LOGOS is used in both passages doesn’t mean much when the rest of the language setting the contexts is entirely different.

                      Trinitarians have the same problem where there is no correspondence between the “create” and “heavens” and “earth” language found in Genesis 1:1 found in John 1:1 either. Their argument that the two words “beginning” and “God” are enough to connect the two passages is very superficial.

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 5, 2016 @ 5:40 pm

                      Rivers

                      I am puzzled –

                      Here is Jn1:3
                      3 ????? ??’ ????? ???????, ??? ????? ????? ??????? ???? ??. ? ???????

                      1Pet3:5 ???????? ??? ?????? ????? ???????? ??? ??????? ???? ??????? ??? ?? ?? ?????? ??? ??’ ?????? ????????? ?? ??? ???? ????,

                      Ps33:6 6 ?? ???? ??? ?????? ?? ??????? ???????????? ??? ?? ???????? ??? ???????? ????? ???? ? ??????? ??????

                      How could the creation of the heavens – and the powers of them – esp. with related context be in any way to the creation of Israel – vs. the Gen1 creation?

                      Fully grant that the same exact words are not used – since there are MANY means of describing the same phenomenon – the concept of all things being created by the Word – and WITHOUT the Word NOT ONE THING have become…

                      I am not sure how John could have made this any more clear?? Why would we even need to depart from the plain sense (the same question I ask of trins all the time…)?? In both contexts there is a coming into existence via the Word. There are other passages – all saying the same – obvioiusly Gen1 as a standout…:-).

                      To suggest John NOT to be directly referencing Gen 1 in his very preliminary and fundamental description of the Logos – which was THE fundamental of God’s creative activity…seems…well… horribly fanciful.

                      Why do so? Why not take the plain, clear meaning of the text? There simply is no reason to read otherwise that I am aware of.

                    • Rivers
                      July 5, 2016 @ 7:11 pm

                      Greg,

                      I agree with you that 2 Peter 3:4-7 is referring to the Genesis creation. I don’t think you cited that text in your previous comment. My main point is that none of the geophysical elements of the creation described in Psalms 33:6 are found in John 1:1-3 so I don’t think they have anything in common (other than the term LOGOS, which isn’t referring to the same thing either).

                      In John 1:1-3, we have to be careful with the word “came [about]” (Grk. EGENETO) because it does not mean “create” or “make.” In fact, the same verb occurs several other times in the Prologue and certainly doesn’t have “came into being” implications (e.g. John 1:6, 12, 17).

                      It’s also used in John 1:14 where even Trinitarians don’t think that Jesus “came into being” when he supposedly took on human flesh. The other 35 times that the same Greek verb is used in the 4th Gospel, it never refers to anything being “created”, but only to something that happens with people and things that already exist.

                      I certainly think the language in John 1:1-5 alludes to some of the terms found in Genesis 1. However, the “word” and the “light” and the “darkness” and the “world” in the Prologue have nothing to do with what happened in the historical context of the original creation. Rather, the context of the Prologue is about the public ministries of John the baptizer and Jesus Christ (i.e. the light, John 1:9).

                      Moreover, the writer of the 4th Gospel applies the terms “word” and “light” and “world” and “darkness” and “the beginning” throughout the rest of the 4th Gospel to the time when Jesus (light) was with his disciples (the beginning) among the Jews (world) who were evil (darkness).

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 5, 2016 @ 7:36 pm

                      Rivers

                      What are the “all thing that have coming into being” that John is referring to? What genuinely makes sense?

                      This is the area where I find the intra-textualization seems to fail in its focus on the trees – rather than seeing the forest.

                      I have yet to find a need to make it mean any other than its most evident sense – but am all ears.

                      Best

                      Greg

                    • Rivers
                      July 6, 2016 @ 9:22 am

                      Greg,

                      I think it’s evident in the context of the Prologue that the “all things came through him” (John 1:3) is referring to reconciliation and eternal life. Let me try to point out the evidence:

                      First, there are two different ways to translate John 1:3-4. One of them gives the interpretation of John 1:3. It looks like this … notice how the (Greek) words are used:

                      JOHN 1:3 … “all things came about (GINOMAI) through (DIA) him, and without him nothing came about (GINOMAI)

                      JOHN 1:4 … that which has come about (GINOMAI) in him was life, and the life was the light of men”

                      Second, John 1:10-12 says “he was in the world, and the world came about (GINOMAI) through (DIA) him … to those who received him, he gave the authority to become (GINOMAI) children of God.”

                      Third, in John 1:17 it says that “the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about (GINOMAI) through (DIA) Jesus Christ.

                      I think the idea that the writer of the 4th Gospel is conveying here is that the human Jesus himself was “the word (LOGOS) of life” (cf. 1 John 1:1) because he not only had eternal life in his own flesh (John 1:3-4; John 5:26; John 6:54) but also had “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2) to determine who else receives eternal life on behalf of God the Father (John 10:27-29).

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 6, 2016 @ 10:21 am

                      Rivers

                      You are stretching my fervent imagination on this one.

                      I guess my only hope would be that if you are interacting with a trin re this text, you would share with them that most BUs don’t believe that – at least none that I know. I think that position will create a lose of credibility – I know that I am not comfortable with the level of strain required to get there.

                      Best,

                      Greg

                    • Rivers
                      July 6, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

                      Greg,

                      I realize that most Biblical Unitarians prefer to dehumanize the LOGOS in John 1:1-3 but I think they are making a critical mistake. It is based upon the erroneous presupposition that “in the beginning” must refer to the time of the Genesis creation and a general disregard for how the writer of the 4th Gospel used the language in the Prologue throughout the rest of the book.

                      I’ve found that presenting a fresh scholarly perspective on the implications of the language in the Prologue (and a few of the other key Christology texts) has provided the opportunity to have valuable dialogue with Arians and Trinitiarians who are bored with the typical Biblical Unitarian approach.

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 6, 2016 @ 12:34 pm

                      Rivers

                      Fair enuf – for those who balk at this approach as stretching credulity – I hope you will note that most BUs reject this approach and use a different approach so that the BU concepts – the man Christ Jesus (which is the biggest point) is not cut off from them.

                      BTW – to “de-humanize” or “de-persnalize” would not be the right word – since the Logos is never been personalized or humanized in the first place. However, I understand what you mean.

                      Best

                      Greg

                    • Rivers
                      July 6, 2016 @ 12:56 pm

                      Greg,

                      I’m not sure I understand your comment. How would understanding that LOGOS is a name for the human being, Jesus Christ (by Implication), be inconsistent with a Biblical Unitarian perspective on biblical Christology?

                      Rather, I think it makes a stronger position (both grammatically and contextually) for Biblical Unitarians because it eliminates any implication of either Preexistence or Incarnation from the language in the Prologue. Thus, there is no reason to fabricate bizarre (and nonsensical) ideas like “notional preexistence” or to manipulate the meaning of LOGOS to connote a “plan” or “purpose.”

                      I don’t agree that LOGOS is never a personal matter. LOGOS refers to something that is expressed verbally. A particular LOGOS cannot even exist without a person to express it. Moreover, LOGOS became a “name” that Christians “called” Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:13; 1 John 5:7) who is a person. The Prologue is speaking of a person known as “the word” (John 1:14) and “the light” (John 1:9) as well.

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 6, 2016 @ 1:21 pm

                      1Pet1:20 is “bizarre” or “fabricated”?

                    • Rivers
                      July 6, 2016 @ 1:36 pm

                      Greg,

                      There is no term corresponding to “prreexistence” in 1 Peter 1:20.

                      The preceding context explains that Peter was referring to predictions about “the Christ” that were made by the prophets long before the time he actually appeared and was identified as a specific person (1 Peter 1:10-12).

                      For example, just because I once predicted that my wife and I would have children someday, nobody thought before we were even married that our children “preexisted.” I can simply look back and say that I “knew ahead of time” that we would eventually have children. That is what “foreknowledge” means.

                      God predicted that Abraham would have a “seed” (Christ) through whom all of his descendants would be blessed (Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:16). This happened before Isaac was conceived and became a “type” of the resurrection of Jesus himself (Hebrews 11:17-19). This happened before “the world” became accountable to the Law of Moses and required a savior (Romans 3:19-20).

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 6, 2016 @ 1:59 pm

                      Rivers

                      Sorry – I was assuming you would intuitively get my point and did not provide context.

                      The point was not pre-existence. The point related to your condemnation of “notional pre-existence”. I grant that this is not my favorite term – but as you know I don’t operate by appearance but by essence – and the essence of this phrase is simply “foreknowledge” – which term is the critical term in 1Pet1:20 – and the formal teaching that Jesus was NOT existing as a pre-incarnate entity – but was foreknown – just like you and I are foreknown (Eph1:4, Jer, etc)

                    • Rivers
                      July 6, 2016 @ 6:20 pm

                      Greg,

                      I agree.

                      The problem with using terminology like “notional preexistence” is that preexistence means that someone (e.g. Jesus) actually exists in a different form before becoming an human being. It doesn’t mean that someone is merely a “plan” that later becomes a reality.

                      Thus, further categorizing a misunderstanding of preexistence as “notional” or “ideal” is unnecessary and unhelpful. I think Biblical Unitarians who advocate this concept would do better to use appropriate terms like “foreknowledge” or “foreordination” (that actually have exegetical merit).

                    • GregLogan25
                      July 6, 2016 @ 6:27 pm

                      Rivers

                      OK – that makes sense. I have simply always used the basic Biblical term “foreknown” and will continue to do so. I understand that this is what the ABC team means by their coined phrase “notional pre-existence” – and because I understood that, I was okay with that.

                      In fact, the BU Christology is the only Christology to have a genuine “pre-existence” – that is – there was a “reality” – albeit not a “personal” reality – PRIOR to the actual personal existence of Jesus. With regard to the personal incarnational models – there is NO pre-existence since Jesus ALWAYS existed – or, at least, from before the foundation of the world per the Arian model.

                      Regardless, I like working with the WoG – and will maintain that approach. Thanks for the push.

                      Greg

  2. Danny Andre' Dixon
    May 1, 2016 @ 3:13 pm

    Dr. Smith finds problematic that the concept of Jesus having a conception and birth other than as prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures, namely as a literal descendant of David. Why is it that the miraculous element present in Jesus’ birth through a virgin is okay (acknowledging the presence of miraculous chromosomes on the fathering-begetting side) while the miraculous element of a prehuman entity becoming flesh (John 1:14) is just too much to make him to be “like his brothers in every way” (Hebrews 2:17)?

    • Rivers
      May 2, 2016 @ 9:52 am

      Danny,

      Part of the problem I see is that you are simply assuming that John 1:14 is speaking of a “pre-human entity becoming flesh”, whereas Dr. Smith can (at least) appeal to the birth narratives of Jesus Christ which describe in detail the miraculous conception of an human being.

      Also, neither the grammar, nor the context of John 1:14 requires that anything happened before the public ministry of the human Jesus. There’s no reason to insert a 30-year gap between the first clause of John 1:14 and the rest of the verse. The writer merely said that “the word became [was] flesh” AND “dwelt among us” AND “we beheld his glory.” The “we” and “us” refer to the disciples who know nothing of Jesus Christ before he “began his public ministry at about 30 years old” (Luke 3:23).

      If you consider the following verse in the context (John 1:15), it could also be taken to infer that these things all took place during (or after) the time that John the baptizer was telling the people who Jesus Christ was. This is a further indication that John 1:14a was speaking of something that the disciples realized while the human Jesus was among them (cf. 1 John 1:1).

    • GregLogan25
      June 30, 2016 @ 5:40 pm

      Danny

      Because a pre-human person is NOT like his brethren in every way. We are NOT pre-human persons. This notion is silly at best – and completely despise the most standard hermeneutic which uses the standard meaning of words unless the word is clear defined otherwise in the context.

  3. My Post-Debate Interview with Dale Tuggy | The Dustin Martyr Blog
    April 25, 2016 @ 8:40 pm

    […] podcast 136 – Dr. Dustin Smith on debating Jesus’s preexistence […]

  4. Rob Bjerk
    April 25, 2016 @ 5:48 pm

    I think Dr. Smith is right on except for his explanation that “all things created in or through Christ” is due to Christ being the wisdom of God. Truly Christ was the wisdom and fullness of God made flesh in the virgin-born Son of God. But much of the creation language involving Christ is contextually better interpreted in respect to God’s new creation which is accomplished through Christ, who is the second Adam through whom the Father’s first creation will be restored and brought to its intended goal. I shared this link on the Facebook page under the debate beween these two gentlemen, but I’ll share it here, too, in hopes others may watch it. I think the arguments made in this video are very aware of the context and more satisfying than the Christ as personified wisdom understanding. Watch here: http://youtu.be/5SGzbjvLji8

    • Rivers
      April 26, 2016 @ 9:42 am

      Hi Rob,

      I agree with you that the “personified wisdom” idea is not a very compelling explanation of “the word became [was] flesh” (John 1:14) or the creation language in the context of Colossians 1:14-20.

      I think many Biblical Unitarians follow this approach because they misunderstand the historical context of “the beginning” in John 1:1 (which is not referring to the time of the Genesis creation) and then feel compelled to relegate LOGOS into some kind of “impersonal plan or wisdom” despite the way the writer explicitly associates LOGOS with a man of “flesh” (John 1:14) and an audible and tangible person known intimately by the disciples (1 John 1:1).

      What surprises me is that Dr. Smith is an advocate of the “Chiastic” structure of the Prologue (at least in his college lectures) and yet he seems to completely miss that this structure suggests that John 1:18 (i.e. resurrected human Jesus “in bosom of the Father”) corresponds to John 1:1 (i.e. resurrected human Jesus, “toward God”) and that the focal point of the chiasm would be John 1:12 (i.e. “becoming children of God”) which probably corresponds to the “new self” which is “created” in Christ as a result of the resurrection (Colossians 1:16-20; Colossians 3:10).

      • GregLogan25
        May 2, 2016 @ 8:40 pm

        Thank you. Not sure why Dustin is so wed to what are really two completely different concepts….

    • Roman
      April 28, 2016 @ 7:12 am

      The problem With that interpretation is it requires you to read “New” Places where “New” isn’t written, generally when Paul means “New” creation, he says “New” creation. This is especially true in Colossians, were he actually does speak of the reconciling through christ, as part of a theological statement, but he speaks of this after speaking of Christ’s reliationship to creation, meaning it’s logically prior to the reconciliation in the passage.

      • Rivers
        April 29, 2016 @ 10:47 am

        Roman,

        I think it’s evident in Colossians 3:10-11 that Paul did use “new” and “created” and “image” in the context of the reconciliation of “all” people . Thus, it’s reasonable to think he was referring to the same thing he was talking about in Colossians 1:15-18. Thus, I don’t think appealing to “especially in Colossians” helps your argument either.

        • Roman
          April 29, 2016 @ 11:09 am

          Colossians 3 is talking about something different than COlossians 1:15-16 … He’s talking about what happens when a person becomes a Christian and the nature of the Church, not about Christ and Creation.

          There is no warrent to read Colossians 3:10-11 back into Colossians 1:15-16, in Colossians 3:10,11, he’s talking individuals who become Christians and teh Church, Colossians 1:15-16 is talking about Christ, creation, and all Things.
          No you can’t assume that, Colossians 3 shows us that when Paul means “New” he says “New.”

          • Rivers
            April 29, 2016 @ 2:32 pm

            Roman,

            Paul is talking about the “church” in the context of Colossians 1 as well. He begins by referring to “the kingdom of the son” (Colossians 1:13) and ends with the “reconciling” in “the church” (Colossians 1:20-24). None of this was “created” back in Genesis 1.

            The meaning of “create” must be determined by the context. On the one hand, there is plenty of intertextual evidence to support a “new creation” time reference for both Colossians 1:15-16 and Colossians 3:10-11. On the other hand, there’s not enough evidence to preclude Colossians 1:15-16 from a “new creation” time reference.

            As in the Prologue, I think you are trying to isolate a particular word, and a couple of verses, and dismissing the majority of the other information in the context that needs to be accounted for if your interpretation is sound.

      • GregLogan25
        June 29, 2016 @ 7:08 pm

        I agree with Roman – I don’t like the “new creation” fall back as an explanation. I think there is at least one better explanation – the right one (which will NOT deny that Jesus is a created human born of a virgin).

  5. Carlos Xavier
    April 25, 2016 @ 5:27 pm

    I thought the use of Isa 44.24 was rather effective, especially in light of what commentary has to say about it:

    Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:
    “The A.V. here follows the reading presupposed by the vowel-points (Q?rê). The R.V. rightly goes back to the consonantal text (K?thîb) which is preserved in the LXX. and Vulg. and some Hebrew MSS. Render accordingly: who was with me? i.e. there was none to help me.”

    Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:
    “The Hebrew written text gives the more emphatic reading: “that spreadeth forth the earth; who was with me?” (Comp. Isaiah 40:13; Isaiah 63:3; and Job 9:8.)”

    Pulpit Commentary:
    “God did not delegate the creation of the heaven and the earth to an inferior spirit, a ??????????, as the Greeks generally taught. He did not even call in the co-operation of a helper. Singly and solely by his own power he created all things.”

    Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:
    “God here appeals to the fact that he alone had made the heavens and the earth…”

    Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
    “alone—literally, “Who was with Me?” namely, when I did it; answering to “by Myself,” in the parallel clause (compare similar phrases, Ho 8:4; Joh 5:30) [Maurer].”

    • Danny Andre' Dixon
      May 1, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

      The language of agency can have a person say that he did something while someone authorized did it on his behalf. Is this not the whole point of the Centurion sending Jewish representatives to Jesus to deliver a message in his name on behalf of his PAIS (Compare Matthew 8:5-13 || Luke 7:1-10).

      • Carlos Xavier
        May 1, 2016 @ 10:00 pm

        If that’s the argument then we would have to say that many other beings existed as YHWH’s shalicah such as Prudence, Wisdom [Prov. 8]. Why is it limited to His Word having “pre-existed” as a literal individual Person?

        • Danny Andre' Dixon
          May 4, 2016 @ 1:19 am

          While I don’t see anything wrong with acknowledging that there are other beings who act as God’s agents, I think most would agree that Proverbs 8 is a symbolic passage regarding God in his wisdom creating the universe. Certainly there are entities that are called by God’s name (Examples: “The One Who Is” or “The Being” represented in the Greek HO ON in Exodus 3:2, 14 (Septuagint); Acts 7:30; Also see Exodus 23:21 where Israel is called upon to obey the angel who goes before them because, God says, “My name is in him.”

          For instance, also, God says he created the world by himself (as expressed in Isaiah 44:24). Yet, the world was created THROUGH Christ, as David Barron was trying to demonstrate regarding the use of the Greek word DIA at the next to the last phrase of Colossians 1:16 (See also 1 Corinthians 8:6).

          • Carlos Xavier
            May 4, 2016 @ 6:01 am

            Then you have a clear contradiction. Either YHWH was alone, by Himself, or He was with the Christ in a “pre-human” form as the person of the Word.

            • Danny Andre' Dixon
              May 4, 2016 @ 2:02 pm

              Not so clear, Carlos.

              You’re either/or construct is overly simplistic, but I’m not sure you see it.

              Please answer this question:
              Who spoke to Jesus about the beloved servant who was ill at home (Matthew 8:5-13 // Luke 7:1-10)?

              • Carlos Xavier
                May 4, 2016 @ 7:44 pm

                I don’t see what Shaliach has to do with the clear statements by YHWH that He alone created. Jesus himself refers to this when he points to someONE ELSE OTHER THAN HIMSELF: Mat 19.4; Mar 10.6;13.19] how can he be God?!

                • Danny Andre' Dixon
                  May 4, 2016 @ 8:43 pm

                  So then, you wont answer my question directly.

                  Okay.

                  But if you did, the flaw in your thinling woild be exposed.

                  • Danny Andre' Dixon
                    May 4, 2016 @ 9:51 pm

                    Let me put chapter 8 verses 5 through 13 it clearly says that a centurion came to Jesus asking for help. The language is certain; the language is definite; the language is unequivocal.

                    Yet this same situation is also detailed in Luke chapter 7 verses one through 10. There it says that the centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.

                    Carlos, according to you we have here “a clear contradiction.” But if one properly understands the concept of agency there is no contradiction at all. The centurion, acting through agents, made his request. And it can be seen and understood and SPOKEN OF (in one account) as being ONLY his request.

                    God created everything through his agent The Word of God, a person who was with him in the beginning. This is what you need to deal with in replying to my observations. So should have Dr. Smith in his debate with Mr. Barrons. Both of you have markedly failed to so so.

                    Of course we can also just say that the information is capable of two interpretations, and we should just accept one another as Christian brethren, recognizing that we have a difference of opinion based on information that can go in either direction.

                    You feel that the evidence is best interpreted to convey the Jewish idea of God acting alone through a notional existence of the logos. I, and Mr. Barron, feel that the evidence is coherently interpreted to convey the Jewish idea of God creating through, Greek DIA, a pre-existent, that is a pre-human existing, entity a divine (Greek THEOS, John 1:1c) created person called The Word of God who became Jesus (Colossians 1:16c).

                    I hope this helps!
                    Danny André Dixon

                    • Carlos Xavier
                      May 5, 2016 @ 5:33 am

                      The burden of proof remains. No lexicon of the Hebrew Bible defines davar as a person, God, angel or man. If there is, please cite it.

                    • Rivers
                      May 5, 2016 @ 8:22 am

                      Carlos,

                      You make a valid point about DBR (“word”) in the Hebrew. However, we must also keep in mind that a spoken “word” requires a person. Thus, your point isn’t sufficient.

                      For example, in the Prologue, the term LOGOS means “word.” Throughout the 4th Gospel, LOGOS always means a spoken “saying” or “message.” However, LOGOS cannot be “impersonal” because there is no LOGOS without a speaker (i.e. angelic or human).

                      This is why the writer of the 4th Gospel identified the “word” (LOGOS) with the “flesh” of Jesus Christ (who is a person, John 1:14-15; Revelation 19:13) and said that the disciples “heard” AND “saw with their eyes” and “touched” the LOGOS (1 John 1:1).

                    • Danny Andre' Dixon
                      May 5, 2016 @ 8:59 pm

                      “Here a little. There a little. Line upon line. Precept upon precept” ( Isaiah 28:10).

                      Carlos, do not think that the people who read the podcast posts here are allowing, you, to intellectually avoid what I am saying. I ask questions you refuse to respond directly. The reason that you do that is because you know what the implications of a direct answer to one of my questions would be. If you would answer my question regarding the story of the centurion and his beloved Pais, you would see that the principle of agency includes the concept of a text saying that only one person did a thing while in reality a group of people could represent that person.

                      Isaiah 44:24 can say that God Alone created the universe. While Colossians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 8:6, etc., can indicate that there is no contradiction to say that Jesus was God’s agent of creation while God Alone is the source of creation. The centurion was the source of the message to Jesus about his servant. The Jewish friends that he sent on his behalf are the agents of the delivery of the message to Jesus.

                      You demonstrate an elementary understanding of how to use a lexicon when you think that the only thing involved in the use of it is to just go with definitions while ignoring the manner in which the Bible teaches.

                      Dr. Smith did the same thing in the debate when he was trying to make a point about the use of the Greek word GENESIS. He impressively brought the standard Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich NT lexicon to the podium and pointed out that the definition of the word was directly related a particular Scripture in the lexicon (p.192: “coming into being at a specific moment,” which appears in bold letters.) He seemed put out and incredulous that Mr. Barron said that he disagreed with the lexicon. This was irresponsible, and Smith, who teaches NT Greek, should know this.

                      The scriptures have PROGRESSIVELY revealed the identity of the Christ to come from the possible first reference in Genesis 3:15 where the seed of woman, we are told, will bruise the head of Satan ( compare with Romans 16:11).

                    • Carlos Xavier
                      May 6, 2016 @ 7:06 am

                      Again, it is clear to any reader that the centurion and the servant are 2 individuals/persons. It is not the case when it comes to the Word being a distinct, separate individual/Person apart from YHWH. So the appeal to shaliach simply doesn’t work. Most reputable commentarians know that the idea/belief of the logos as a person is a philosophical and later Gnostic concept:

                      “The characteristic force of its central term, ‘the Word’ or ‘Logos’, appears to be derived from Hebrew, not Greek, sources and from the atmosphere of Palestine rather than [the philosophical language] of Alexandria…[In the] early Jewish paraphrases on the Old Testament [the Targums], the ‘word’ of Jehovah (‘Memra’[1], ‘Debura’) is constantly spoken of as the efficient instrument of divine action, in cases where the Old Testament speaks of Jehovah Himself. ‘The word of God’ had come to be used personally, as almost equivalent to God manifesting Himself, or God in action…this means that the phraseology of [John] has its roots not in Platonic or Stoic idealism, but in the Jewish belief in the word of God, the manifestation of His will in creation or in revelation.”
                      Charles Gore, The Incarnation of the Son of God: the Bampton lectures for the year 1891, p. 69-70.

                      “Philo’s ‘divine thought,’ ‘the image’ and ‘first-born son’ of God, ‘the archpriest,’ ‘intercessor,’ and ‘paraclete’ of humanity, the ‘arch type of man’…paved the way for the Christian conceptions of the Incarnation (‘the Word become flesh’) and the Trinity.”
                      The Logos, jewishencyclopedia.org.

                    • Rivers
                      May 6, 2016 @ 8:41 am

                      Carlos,

                      Even though the term LOGOS basically means “a spoken saying or message”, it isn’t sufficient to conclude that it isn’t “personal” (especially in the case of Jesus). The writer of the 4th Gospel plainly said “the word became [was] flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld HIS glory” (John 1:14). This is using LOGOS to refer to a person. See also Revelation 19:13 and 1 John 1:1.

                      In biblical Greek, LOGOS is used to refer to something that is actually spoken by a person. There cannot be any LOGOS without a mediator who expresses it (verbally). This needs to be taken into account in John 1:1 as well.

                    • Carlos Xavier
                      May 6, 2016 @ 9:04 am

                      The logos is “personal” insofar as it is the word of God, the Father. Just like your word is personal (i.e., an expression of yourself) yet not a separate, distinct person apart from you. Paul teaches the same thing about the spirit:

                      “After all, who knows everything about a person except that person’s own spirit? In the same way, no one has known everything about God except God’s Spirit.” 1Cor 2.11

                    • Rivers
                      May 6, 2016 @ 9:47 am

                      Carlos,

                      Your explanation doesn’t work in the context of the Prologue because “the word” (LOGOS) is referring to an audible, visible, and tangible person (John 1:1, 14; cf. 1 John 1:1). God himself always spoke through mediators who were persons (Hebrews 1:1-2). God doesn’t have a mouth of His own.

                      Jesus also explained that “the word” (LOGOS) came to the prophets from God to be spoken to the people (John 10:34-35) just as he received it from the Father to speak to his disciples (John 14:24). What you’re overlooking is that the term LOGOS refers to the “spoken” expression of the message and not what was in someone’s mind beforehand.

                      Thus, in the same way that you are critical of Danny for going to an extreme of have a Preexisting “word” (LOGOS), you are making the mistake of going to the other extreme and forcing LOGOS to be “impersonal.” Neither approach will hold up to exegetical scrutiny.

                    • Carlos Xavier
                      May 6, 2016 @ 10:12 am

                      Jesus is what the logos became and not the other way around.

                      This should not be difficult but for the millenia old Orthodox corruption.

                      “…for the earliest church, Jesus was accorded the priority in reality that the Rabbis assigned to the Torah. If one were to make the claim of priority in a temporal sense [as orthodoxy does], one would be claiming that Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, had existed with God before the creation of the world. That claim would be worse than unintelligible; it would destroy all coherence in the essential Christian claim that Jesus was truly a human being, that the Word became flesh…
                      Jesus of Nazareth began his life, began to exist, at a definite time in history: the Word became flesh.”
                      Paul van Buren, A Theology of Jewish-Christian Reality, Harper & Row, 1983, 82.

                    • Rivers
                      May 6, 2016 @ 10:33 am

                      Carlos,

                      An abstract “word” cannot transform into an human being. A “word” (LOGOS) is something that is spoken by a person (i.e. “flesh”). There cannot be any LOGOS without the person who actually speaks the message. Thus, either literal or notional preexistence is implausible.

                      The verb translated “became” in John 1:14 (EGENETO) is the same one used of the appearance of John the baptizer (at the beginning of the gospel) in John 1:7 and Mark 1:4. It means nothing more than that someone “appeared” or “came along.” The word doesn’require any implication of Preexistence or transformation.

                      John 1:14 is simply referring to the fact that the risen Jesus was manifested to the disciples after the resurrection (John 21:25; Acts 10:40-42). This is when they understood that he was “the eternal life” (John 2:22; 1 John 1:2).

                    • Danny Andre' Dixon
                      May 6, 2016 @ 10:18 am

                      Carlos, you wrote:

                      “. . . it is clear to any reader that the centurion and the servant are two individuals/persons.”

                      the issue I was trying to call attention to here is not that YHWH is not a multiple personality per se. I was trying to show that you are limiting the scriptures to not allow the interpretation that a passage suggesting that a person acting alone, under the principle of agency, CAN be acting through the actual efforts of another authorized entity.

                      You are making a dichotomy between the Centurion and the servant. The principle of agency is demonstrated as existing between the Centurion and the Jews who he sent to Jesus to speak on his behalf. So you have not addressed the illustrative circumstance that I laid out from Matthew 8:1-13 and Luke 7:1-10. I am trying to keep us on one argument at a time. You seem to be confusing the issue to avoid a direct reply. I hope this is not the case. Is not Dr. Smith making the same mistake?

                      To use your words somewhat, “It is clear to any reader that the centurion and the Jewish entourage are two separate” entities. The centurion is said to have acted alone. By the principle of agency, the Jews acted by his authority. It can be said, then, that the centurion acted DIA – through the agency of – the Jewish entourage. Similarly, based on 1 Cor. 8:6 and Col. 1:16b, Yahweh acted as creator DIA – through the agency of – Christ.

                      Will you please address THIS issue?

                      D.A.D.

                    • Carlos Xavier
                      May 6, 2016 @ 10:50 am

                      Simply out, Shaliach principle doesn’t apply here because it requires 2 persons. I agree with many scholars who do not regard the logos as a person. You obviously do see logos as a person. We will just have to agreeably disagree.

                      Thanks.

                    • Danny Andre' Dixon
                      May 6, 2016 @ 6:01 pm

                      Agency requ8ires to persons, I see now: The logos is not a person because God acted alone. And God acted alone because the logos is not a person.

                      It’s all clear to me now.

                      Thanks for clearing that up, Carlos.

                      Yes, thanks!

                    • Rivers
                      May 6, 2016 @ 10:45 pm

                      Danny,

                      I agree with you that LOGOS is certainly referring to a person in John 1:1.

                      The use of the Greek pronoun OUTOS in John 1:2 (to refer to “the word” in John 1:1) and the use of OUTOS for John the baptizer in John 1:7 indicates that the writer is making a comparison between the two persons. There would be no reason for the redundancy in John 1:2 unless the writer was using OUTOS as a comparative.

                      Moreover, the pronoun OUTOS is used again in John 1:15 to refer to the same “word” (LOGOS) in John 1:14, and also three more times to refer to Jesus in John 1:30, 33, 34. I don’t think my fellow Biblical Unitarians who isolate John 1:2 and claim that OUTOS refers to some “impersonal plan or purpose” are not paying attention to the way the writer is using the grammar.

                      The difference between you and me is that I think the person that is called “the word” (LOGOS) is John 1:1 is the human Jesus (as in John 1:14; Revelation 19:13). This is because I would argue that the writer is applying “in the beginning” to the historical time of the public ministry of Jesus (and not to the time of the Genesis creation).

                    • Servetus
                      May 8, 2016 @ 10:56 pm

                      Hi Danny, this isn’t related to your discussion specifically but, recognizing your name on here, I thought I’d try getting in touch with you. I’ve seen you participate in a debate before on the Trinity/deity of Christ. As I understand it, you have an Arian type Christology. I reject the idea that any literal pre-existence is taught in the bible. I wonder if you’d be interested in having a discussion or debate about it? I actually agree with you on John 8.58, by the way. I think the proper rendering is something like “I have existed since before Abraham existed”. Incidentally I don’t think that is about conscious pre-existence as I already mentioned. Hope to hear back from you.

                    • Danny Andre' Dixon
                      May 9, 2016 @ 2:40 am

                      I’d be willing to have an extended debate or discussion about this. But I’d be tied up until say; beginning the second week of June. I have to finish up a school year where I am teaching and get myself moved to another location where I will be spending the summer in ministry (I would have time to do this beginning then). Please contact me at Facebook at Danny Andre’ Dixon or email me at DixonDALaw@gmail.com in the next couple of days.

                    • Danny Andre' Dixon
                      May 6, 2016 @ 10:33 am

                      Carlos, you wrote:

                      “. . . it is clear to any reader that the centurion and the servant are two individuals/persons.”

                      the issue I was trying to call attention to here is not that YHWH is not a multiple personality per se. I was trying to show that you are limiting the scriptures to not allow the interpretation that a passage suggesting that a person acting alone, under the principle of agency, CAN be acting through the actual efforts of another authorized entity.

                      You are making a dichotomy between the Centurion and the servant. The principle of agency is demonstrated as existing between the Centurion and the Jews who he sent to Jesus to speak on his behalf. So you have not addressed the illustrative circumstance that I laid out from Matthew 8:1-13 and Luke 7:1-10. I am trying to keep us on one argument at a time. You seem to be confusing the issue to avoid a direct reply. I hope this is not the case. Is not Dr. Smith making the same mistake?

                      To use your words somewhat, “It is clear to any reader that the centurion and the Jewish entourage are two separate” entities. The centurion is said to have acted alone. By the principle of agency, the Jews acted by his authority. It can be said, then, that the centurion acted DIA – through the agency of – the Jewish entourage. Similarly, based on 1 Cor. 8:6 and Col. 1:16c, Yahweh acted as creator DIA – through the agency of – Christ.

                      Will you please address THIS issue?

                      D.A.D.

                    • Rivers
                      May 5, 2016 @ 8:46 am

                      Danny,

                      Even though I would be considered a Biblical Unitarian, I do agree with you and David Barron that “the word” (LOGOS) in John 1:1 must be referring to a person. All of the grammatical and inter-textual evidence in the Prologue favors it. I think it is a mistake to suggest that LOGOS refers merely to an “impersonal plan or purpose” or an abstract “wisdom.”

                      Where I would differ with you and David Barron is with regard to the assumptions you are making about “when” Jesus Christ was “with [toward] God” (John 1:1) and when “all [?] were created through him” (Colossians 1:15-16). I would argue that both of these passages are resurrection texts, and not about Preexistence (or anything that happened in the historical era of the Genesis creation).

                      For example, from an inter-textual perspective, when the writer of the 4th Gospel uses the terms PROS TON QEON (“with [toward] God”) and PROS TON PATERA (“to the Father”) throughout the rest of the book, it’s evident that it always refers to the proximity that the human Jesus would have with God the Father as a result of his resurrection and ascension. This is where he was when the Prologue was written (John 1:18).