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. Silas Z
    November 20, 2016 @ 12:05 pm


    During a visit to the Vatican in 2016, the Audio tour #25 had this phrase:
    “Jesus Christ who works miracles to confirm his divinity”

    it struck my the ‘title of the book’ is based on Peter’s speech. Peter’s point was the miracles Jesus did prove that God had sent/approved Jesus, not that Jesus was God. (Peter did not state: The second person of the Trinity was approved by the first person of the trinity).

    Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know”

    Looking at the example of Paul we note parallels with Peter’s preaching. Paul was a fulfillments of Jesus’ example and saviour.

    The Greek word for approved/attested from G584 (Strong)
    ??????????? – apodeiknumi
    ‘to show off, that is, exhibit; figuratively to demonstrate, that is, accredit: – (ap-) prove, set forth, shew’
    This is used in 1 Corinthians 4:9
    “For I think that God has ****exhibited**** (same Greek word used of Jesus i.e. G584) us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.”

    i.e. How to be Attested by God? -Paul’s example

    For Paul also did great miracles because he also had God’s approval
    “For I think that God has exhibited (same Greek word used of Jesus i.e. G584) us apostles”

    The sacrificial nature of Paul (the apostles) just like the Christ:
    1Co 4:10 “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.”

    Just like Jesus lived in Poverty, so the disciples also live in poverty i.e. they suffered for the truth:
    1Co 4:11 “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless,”

    They are hard working and therefore examples, they bless as their Master had taught them:
    1Co 4:12,13 “and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.”

    Let us take this admonishment from Paul:
    1Co 4:14 “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.”

    Is Paul God the Father? No! But spiritually he has became a Father to those he mentors as he is emotionally bound to their hearts and their well being (Let us also do likewise):
    1Co 4:15 “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

    Follow Jesus, follow also Paul, because Paul is an example of following in Jesus
    1Co 4:16 “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”

    Jesus appealed to the people to trust his words because they were received from God, just like Paul appeals to the Corinthians:
    1Co 4:17 “That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of ***my ways*** in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”

    So for Paul, Jesus was the ‘template’ for him to base his life on!

  2. Rivers
    October 27, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

    Good interview.

    I think the most important thing that Dr. Kirk had to say came at the end of the podcast where he candidly pointed out that “the problem with doing scholarly research is that the discussion is limited by the sources in the footnotes.” This is why scholars inevitably give many of their opinions from a very narrow frame of reference.

  3. OddintheTruth
    October 27, 2016 @ 11:35 am

    Hi Dale – another good one.

    But something seemed a little off. As you and Kirk discussed Hurtado’s work, the summary given of his conclusions came across (to me anyway) as inaccurate – or over-simplified. If I remember my reading of his book correctly, he purposely uses the phrase “cultic devotion” not worship. Worship – as in bowing down in honor or respect – was, as he acknowledges (like anyone I’ve read on this subject), not unusual and not unique to Jesus or YHWH (he covers the Moses stuff in detail).

    However, what was unique to Jesus (and reserved for YHWH) were the 5 or so cultic devotion practices that were centered around Jesus – things like prayer in the name of; baptism in the name of, etc. Can’t remember them off the top of my head. As Hurtado points out, no man or angel was ever the object of such cultic devotion practices. They were unique to YHWH and Jesus.

    • Sean Garrigan
      October 27, 2016 @ 2:58 pm

      Hurtado would say that the constellation of devotional practices in which Jesus played a central role *were* “worship”, and of the sort that could only properly be given to God.

      Hurtado’s thesis is sound to a considerable extent, IMO, but where it seems to break down is in the judgement that only God could be a central figure in the context of such “worship”. The early Christians apparently disagreed, because they engaged in the practices but didn’t believe that Jesus was God Himself.


      • Aaron King
        October 28, 2016 @ 3:17 pm

        Well my question is, among all of the debates which took place between Judaizers and Paul’s camp, isn’t there a glaring absence of an argument about the worship of Christ? If debates surrounding circumcision led to the Jerusalem council meeting in Acts, wouldn’t we think a similar even MORE heated debate would have gone on about this issue? It’s strange that Council of Nicaea took place 300 years later because it seems like it would be one of the first issues settled and written about at length. And regardless of the Christology of any group we’d assume that whether something as integral as *worship* (in any form at all, whether “high worship” or “low worship,” as I’m calling it) would have been discussed early on as well. It seems strangely left out of historical documentation. What does this mean? One would assume that this means the issue was decidedly understood by everyone in the 1st century to the point that no debate was necessary, right?

        • Sean Garrigan
          October 29, 2016 @ 8:10 am

          “Well my question is, among all of the debates which took place between
          Judaizers and Paul’s camp, isn’t there a glaring absence of an argument
          about the worship of Christ?”

          You’ve asked what I consider *the* most important historical question that one should ask when considering the arguments put forth by many orthodox expositors, and most particularly the folks who belong to the “Early High Christology Club”, along with those who endorse their views.

          James Dunn and Maurice Casey asked essentially the same question:

          James D.G. Dunn: “The silence on this score [i.e. over early concern about ‘Christ Devotion’] cannot be because we have no means of knowing what Jewish reaction to earliest Christian theology was at this stage; on the contrary, we can see well enough from the literature of first generation Christianity that Paul’s understanding of the law was a sore bone of contention for those who valued their Jewish heritage highly. Had Paul’s christology been equally, or more contentious at this time for his fellow Jews, we would surely have heard of it from Paul’s own letters. The absence of such indicators points in the other direction: that Paul’s christology and the devotional language of the earliest Christian worship did not cause any offense to monotheistic Jews. So far as both Paul and his fellow Jews were concerned, early Christian devotion to Jesus still lay within the bounds of the Jewish understanding of God in his dealings with his world and people.” (The Partings of the Ways, 1st edition), pp.205, 206

          Maurice Casey: “The disputes extant in Acts and the epistles are about halakhah rather than christology, and if there had been a general perception among Jewish members of the communities that other Christians were hailing Jesus as fully God, there would have been disputes severe enough for us to hear about them.” (From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God), p. 115

          During one of the radio interviews/debates that Bart Ehrman participated in after writing his book “How Jesus Became God”, he asked a similar historically critical question (to paraphrase):

          If the writers of the Synoptics believed that Jesus was God, wouldn’t they have talked about it?

          As I recently suggested to another party who was recently interviewed here, just think about that question for a moment and let it inspire what Tom Wolfe calls “the Aha! phenomenon”:-) If the writers of the Synoptics believed that Jesus was God, then I would assume that they would have been at least as obsessed with that idea as so many later apologists have been, and many even today continue to be. Not only would they have talked about it, it seems to me, but they wouldn’t have been able to stop talking about it! Moreover, the questions that the proposition naturally raises would have flashed through the early communities like lightening across a cloudy sky, and like the thunder that follows lightening, the clamorous response would have been near deafening, as everyone struggled to make sense of the new paradox.

          These questions reveal the Mûmakil in the orthodox room, i.e. an Oliphaunt which is conspicuous for its absence, namely: Clear evidence of the sorts of concerns, conversations, and disputes that one would expect to see in the earliest writings if these folks were drawing the right Christological inferences and reaching the right conclusions.

          So the early high Christology folks would have us believe that Jesus was included in the divine identity and/or a recipient of the sort of worship that could only properly be given to God, yet no one from among the earliest Christians raised his hand in class and said: Um, excuse me, but what?

          If the high Christology folks were drawing the right inferences and reaching the right conclusions, then Nicaea would have happened centuries earlier, because the questions that would have followed would have necessitated early apostolic doctrinal delineation that would have savored of what we see in the later creeds.


          • Aaron King
            October 29, 2016 @ 12:04 pm

            Thanks for your very helpful response.

            • Sean Garrigan
              October 31, 2016 @ 6:35 am

              Thank you for asking such an important question.

              Just to give you a little more of an idea of why I consider a feature of Hurtado’s view to be so problematic, consider this: Hurtado and most who embrace his general thesis would likely say that offering cultic worship to anyone other than God would have been considered idolatrous.

              With that in mind, put yourself back in the early years of the young movement. You are a young Jew who has met with a group of early Christians and decided to join their movement. They invite you to dinner, and you reenact the last supper with them. You jointly pray to the Father in the name of Jesus before eating the bread and the wine (a cultic act). You eat the bread and the wine, which represent the body and blood of Jesus (a cultic act). You sing a hymn to Christ ‘as to a god’ (a cultic act), after which you all raise your eyes to the sky and jointly pray ‘come Lord Jesus’ (a cultic act).

              The next day you and several others join one of the apostles on a missionary outing. You find a woman who is possessed by a demon, and watch the apostle out the demon in Jesus’ name (a cultic act). Later you come upon a young girl whose parents are hysterical because she just died from a snake bite. You watch the apostle bring the young girl back to life in Jesus’ name (a cultic act).

              Finally, you return to the home where you celebrated the last supper days before, and once more you sing a hymn to Christ ‘as to a god’, pray ‘Come Lord Jesus’ and then sit back to relax and discuss the events of the journey.

              This picture is, as Hurtado says, a “novel mutation” in early Jewish cultic worship. As Hurtado would say, Jesus didn’t teach that he was God, and the early Christians would have been perplexed by a question like “Was Jesus God Himself?” To them, the one God was the Father. Yet, again, Hurtado would also say that the cultic devotion to Jesus represented a form of high cultic worship that could only be properly given to God Himself.

              If I had been that young Jew who just joined the new movement, I would have been very anxious over the possibility that I was guilty of idolatry, and so I would have asked the leader(s): Jesus is someone other than God Himself, yet over the past several days we have engaged in practices that constitute the sort of worship of him that should only to be given to God Himself. On the one hand I can see that God is blessing our work, but on the other, how am I to escape God’s judgment as one guilty of idolatry?

              As I said, that question, once asked, would have flashed through the congregations like lightening across a cloudy sky, and the thunder that ensued would have been much more clamorous than the disputes over issues of law or socializing with Gentiles, etc., which made it into the NT. Once the paradox was so presented, it would have required a solution, not simply because we humans don’t care for paradoxes (many philosophers struggle with the Trinity to this day), but out of a natural fear that the constellation of cultic practices in which they engaged may constitute idolatry.

              Hurtado offers an answer to the delimma: God required that Jesus be treated as he was by the early Christians. If he’s correct, then THAT’s the answer, and there’s no need to go beyond that and redefine God’s very being in an effort to find a different solution, which would constitute a multiplication of hypotheses. The earliest Christians didn’t feel the need to redefine God’s being in binitarian or trinitarian terms, so why should we?


              • Aaron King
                October 31, 2016 @ 8:10 pm

                I feel that this mental exercise you had me imagine above was very good for me to undertake. I also think that nearly everyone who believes the Trinity rarely thinks about the Trinity and usually end up functionally treating The Father and Son as 2 in some very real sense. Many of them say the Holy Spirit is a “person” but then treat the Holy Spirit much less personally than the Father and Son. I believe I understand your position which I will attempt to summarize: If Jesus weren’t God but he was far above every being, even every archangel and any other conceivable heavenly being as King over them all then it does make sense that kinds of allegiance, honor and respect could be paid to him and in fact if God the Father says this is his eternally-anointed King and by bowing to him it is not competition with Him but rather an acceptance of the King whom he has installed (viz. fulfillment of Psalm 2) then it is not idolatry, it is rightly ordered recognition of kingship which came from God, is under God, and glorifies God. Right?

                Thanks again Sean.

                • Sean Garrigan
                  November 1, 2016 @ 7:22 am

                  “I believe I understand your position which I will attempt to summarize:
                  If Jesus weren’t God but he was far above every being, even every
                  archangel and any other conceivable heavenly being as King over them all
                  then it does make sense that kinds of allegiance, honor and respect
                  could be paid to him and in fact if God the Father says this is his
                  eternally-anointed King and by bowing to him it is not competition with
                  Him but rather an acceptance of the King whom he has installed (viz.
                  fulfillment of Psalm 2) then it is not idolatry, it is rightly ordered
                  recognition of kingship which came from God, is under God, and glorifies
                  God. Right?”

                  That’s a fair general summary of my position. I would qualify what I’ve said so far a little by pointing out that, while I agree with Hurtado in that the “mutation” in early Christian worship was “novel”, I don’t think that the actions I described necessarily constitute worship of Jesus, at least not in the highest sense that is only appropriate to God.

                  While prayer may be a form of worship, prayer to the Father “in Jesus name” doesn’t obviously imply worship of Jesus, nor does calling out to Jesus necessarily constitute a high form of religious worship. I’ve called out to Jesus with no intent to worship him.

                  While the Lord’s Supper is performed as an act of worship, Jesus is the sacrificial meal, not the God to whom the sacrifice is offered, and so here again, nothing about worshiping Jesus is implied by that action.

                  As the chief cornerstone of the temple and even the temple itself metaphorically, Jesus isn’t the object of worship, but the “place” where Christians gather to worship God.

                  In Philippians 2, Jesus is placed above all others as the super-exalted Messianic King, so the obeisance offered isn’t obviously “worship” there in any sort of hard sense, either. Some have argued (to me) that Kings received a sort of “secular” obeisance/worship, but the obeisance Jesus receives is religious, and therefore constitutes worship in the fullest sense. I find that to be a very strange argument for two reasons:

                  (1) Ancient Jewish Kingship wasn’t “secular” as we understand it today. The Jewish King sat on God’s own throne, metaphorically speaking, and the peoples’ allegiance to the King was as much a part of their religious life as their obedience to the Law of Moses. This was a Theocracy.

                  (2) It suggests that the nature of the obeisance is transformed ontologically depending on the location of the one who receives it. So, to bow before an earthly King in recognition of his place on God’s metaphorical throne is “secular” and therefore no problem, but to bow before a heavenly King who sits on God’s metaphorical throne must be worship in the highest sense just because of the location of the King so honored? That just doesn’t work, IMO, and seems to involve a reinterpreting of those actions in later terms/categories.

                  Even in Revelation, it is as “Lamb of God” that Jesus is honored, and rightly so. Here again, the primary difference between the obeisance to God and the King in Revelation and the obeisance to God and the King in 1 Chron. 29:20 is the *location* of the recipients and the universality of the action (i.e. it isn’t just the Jews who offer it). But again I have to ask: How does the location of the one honored effect an ontological transformation of the obeisance from worship that can be offered to God and His King to worship that can only properly be offered to God alone? How does the multiplication of beings who bow change the nature of the bowing?

                  So here I part with Dale a bit, in that he agrees with Hurtado that Jesus is worshiped, while I agree more with James Dunn. However we chose to describe those actions, however, one thing is very clear: God in the OT and NT is worshiped without qualification, whereas the “worship” offered to Jesus is qualified. Again, though, the ultimate question isn’t “What is the nature of the ‘worship’?” but “Why did the early Christians offer it?” The answer, as Hurtado suggests, is probably:

                  Because God has exalted him and therefore requires that we treat his Son this way.


                  • Aaron King
                    November 2, 2016 @ 2:06 am

                    Yes it is actually interesting to note that Jesus being at the right hand of God seems to be offered as a reason for his status over and over again in the New Testament. This is usually glossed over by most because their minds are almost programmed to think that Jesus’ status is merely the result of his ontology. His seat at God’s right hand doesn’t seem to signify a position of power and authority to them as they read the Bible but the other way around (i.e. of course he would get that seat because his essence is one with the Father’s!) Now, someone can believe that about Jesus but the NT depicts it as you’ve noted I will definitely grant you.

                    In regard to worship, if someone accepts the Bible as God’s word but does not believe Jesus is God then a short way to describe the difference between God the Father and Jesus in terms of worship which should be rendered unto them respectively I think can be found in a statement by Samuel Clarke where he said,

                    “Absolutely, supreme honour is due to the person of the Father singly, as being alone the Supreme Author of all being and power. This is evident because honour or worship being nothing else but a solemn acknowledging those attributes to belong to a being, which are indeed his peculiar properties, ’tis plain that the person of the Father, being alone self-existent, independent, unoriginated, and absolutely supreme, can alone be honoured as self-existent, independent, unoriginated and absolutely supreme.”

                    I think this makes sense whether one is “Subordinationist” or “Arian” or “Socinian” in his theology.

  4. Raymond NAVARRO
    October 26, 2016 @ 9:56 pm

    This was briefly touched on in the podcast:

    I wonder why If I could be represented by a man I never met, and then imputed the guilt of this man, I could not also be represented by a man, I never met and imputed his righteousness? Why must there be this asymmetry between the first Adam (man) and he second Adam (God-man)? In other words, it seems more coherent to suppose – that If I was represented by a one-natured man the first time round, I should be represented by a one-natured man the second time as well.

    If you don’t already presuppose a certain means/model of the atonement, the idea that the second Adam was also a man (one-natured) seems more consistent/symmetrical with this whole concept of representation.

    • Rivers
      October 28, 2016 @ 8:58 am


      Good point. As far as the Law was concerned, only a “kinsmen” redeemer was required (Leviticus 25:25). The writer of Hebrews was careful to identify Jesus as a man qualified (by “flesh and blood”) to redeem his brethren (Hebrews 2:11-16).

      The whole “Adam Christology” concept seems overblown to me. Paul’s gospel was predicated upon the faith and obedience of Abraham (Romans 4:11-16) who was the one who received “the gospel” (Galatians 3:8) and the “promises” (Galatians 3:16-17). Adam is certainly not the central figure related to Jesus.