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.

22 Comments

  1. John B
    February 6, 2016 @ 6:15 pm

    Very sorry if this was discussed, if so, I missed it.

    I’ve listened to this episode a few times. I particularly appreciate the efforts made to draw in the context of the verses, Christ’s servant attitude etc.

    However, I want to ask if there is an inconsistency here (toward the end); Dale says:
    “Form, that is the condition of a slave… That is in the same condition as other human beings…”

    Is Dale not redefining how morphe functions here via his Adam interpretation? He does not seem to be saying of the first “morphe”, that “Jesus, having the condition of a god…the same condition as other gods”.

    2nd question: is it out of the question that Jesus is indeed being referred to as having the form of a god, an elohim, but did not strive to make himself equal with the ultimate elohim, and instead emptied himself (whatever interpretation you like) taking on the form of a servant?

  2. Rose Brown
    March 19, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

    Hi Dale,

    God’s form as God’s nature

    “The Greek term translated form indicates a correspondence with reality. Thus the meaning of this phrase is that Christ was truly God.” ~ NETBible on Philippians 2:6’s “en morphe theou.”

    “Christ was truly God…” ( Philippians 2:6 CEV).

    In Philippians 2:6-7, it is clear that Jesus has dual form.

    Jesus is ‘God in form.’ ~ Philippians 2:6

    Jesus is ‘servant in form.’ ~ Philippians 2:7

    English Dictionaries define “form” as “essence” (nature) not just “outward appearance.”

    In Biblical Greek, MORPHE means “form” ( nature, outward appearance). It’s dual meaning is used in the Bible. MORPHE as “nature” is used for about 5 times in the NT ( Phil. 2:6, Romans 12:2, Phil. 3:10 and 21,Gal. 4:19 ) and as “outward appearance” in both the OT (Daniel 3:19 ) and the NT ( 2 Timothy 3:5 ).

    The Carmen Cristi ( Hymn to Christ) text in Philippians chapter 2 reveals the truth of the dual nature of Jesus Christ.

    PHILIPPIANS 2:6 Who, [although]existing in the form of God (i.e. the reality of being God; in very nature, God — NIV).did not think it “arpagmos” ( noun) –larceny/seizure ( or benefit/advantage)– to be “isos” ( adverb)–equal– with God,

    PHILIPPIANS 2:7 but he emptied himself ( i.e. poured himself out), [by means of] having been taken the form of a slave (i.e. the reality of being a slave), [by means of] having become in [the]likeness (similarity) of men.

    The participles in Philippians 2:6-7 evince that Jesus has dual form: God-hood and Servant-hood.

    The participles in Philippians 2:6-7 evince that Jesus has dual form: God-hood and Servant-hood.

    The Son did his respective role. He did not act against the divine will ( Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 26:39 ).We, as followers of Christ, should be the same, that is, doing our respective task without “empty-glory” (Philippians 2:3) because Jesus himself said, ” “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). He had been highly exalted ( Philippians 2:9-11) and he is our head (Colossians 1:18).

    NOTE

    Christ did not literally emptied himself.

    Christ did not make himself empty of anything in Philippians 2:7.

    In Romans 4:4, Paul said that “faith is made void ( Grk. EKENOSEN).”Faith did not literally emptied itself of anything. Likewise, in Philippians 2:7, Jesus did not literally make himself empty of anything.

    God’s form as God’s appearance

    God has a form:

    And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,( John 5:37).

    Moses saw God’s back:

    “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:23

    Angels behold God’s face:

    “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10

    The appearance of God is described in Daniel 7,10 and it is the same appearance which Christ had in Revelation 2.

    “The hair of his head was pure like wool” Daniel 7:9

    “The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow” Revelation 1:14

    ======================

    “A Man clothed in Linen” Daniel 10:5

    “A Man clothed with a Long Robe” Revelation 1:13

    ======================

    “With a belt of fine Gold” Daniel 10:5

    “With a golden sash” Revelation 1:13

    ======================

    “His face like the appearance of lightning” Daniel 10:6

    “His face was shining like the sun shining in full strength” Revelation 1:16

    ======================

    “His eyes like flaming torches” Daniel 10:6

    “His eyes were like a flame of fire” Revelation 1:14

    ======================

    “His arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze: Daniel 10:6

    “His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace” Revelation 1:15

    ======================

    “The sound of his words like the sound of a multitude”, Daniel 10:6

    “His voice was like the roar of many waters” Revelation 1:15

    ======================

    “I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground” Daniel 10:9

    “When I say him I fell at his feet as though dead” Revelation 1:17

    ======================

    “And behold a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees” Daniel 10: 10

    “But he laid his right hand on me…” Revelation 1:17

    ======================

    “Then he said to me, Fear not” Daniel 10: 12

    “…Saying, Fear not” Revelation 1:17

  3. Rivers
    December 15, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

    Mario,

    1. I guess we have a different definition of what “quotes” infer. In all the years I’ve been using them, I’ve never had anyone but you call them “scare quotes.”

    2. I agree that Jesus was quoting from Exodus 3:6. However, I think the numerous “imminency” texts recorded by the apostles plainly suggest that they understood that Jesus Christ was teaching that his parousia and the resurrection of the dead was going to take place in that generation. I don’t think Exodus 3:6 was ever understood to be a resurrection text until Jesus explained it that way.

    3. I used the word “plausible” out of consideration for the opinions of others. There’s no doubt that the intepretation I put forward for John 8:58 is plausible. Your “double ellipse” perspective is also plausible. I just don’t think there’s anything in the context to support your particular interpretation of “nations” in Genesis 17:5 or how it would need to be tied into a conversation about Abraham himself in the immediate context. Paul didn’t interpret the “nations” in Genesis 17:5 the way that you do either (see Romans 4:18).

    4. I think you are mistaken about “all nations” in Matthew 25:32 as well. The apostles understood that Jesus Christ was Lord and Christ over “the whole house of Israel” (Acts 2:36) and that he was born “to rule on “the throne of his father David and reign over the house of Israel” (Luke 1:32-33). After Jesus taught them for “40 days about the Kingdom of God”, they understood that the “kingdom” was about “Israel” (Acts 1:3, 6). David didn’t rule over heathen nations. Even the language of “sheep and goats” in Matthew 25:31-34 comes from what the prophets said about the judgment of the nations of Israel (Ezekiel 34).

    5. No, I don’t think anything was “falsified” at all. I’m just pointing out that all indications are that Jesus and the apostles understood that they were living “in the consummation of the ages” (1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 9:27). Thus, I think we should be interpreting their teaching with that context in mind. 🙂

  4. Mario
    December 15, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

    @ Rivers

    1. This is a definition of “scare quotes”: quotation marks placed around a word or phrase to indicate that it should not be taken literally or automatically accepted as true (HarperCollins; cp. American Heritage). I take good note that by “immortality”, you simply mean … immortality. (I will also make as “daring” as to assume that you mean 1. immortal condition or quality; unending life, NOT 2. enduring fame – see Random House; cp. American Heritage)

    2. With regard to “the regeneration” … what is “evident” to you may not seem equally evident to others. As for “the God of the living”, it is already rather strained to explain the reply that Jesus gave to the Sadducees (Matt 22:31-32; Mark 26-27; Luke 20:37-39) with the imminence of the apocalyptic events. Anyway, this “explanation” is simply untenable: you must have overlooked the simple fact that Jesus (in all three versions) was quoting Exodus 3:6 … it would be more than a stretch to suggest that Jesus, the Apostles and all the listeners could possible believe that the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was “imminent” since the time of Moses … 🙁

    3. With regard to John 8:58 being taken as a resurrection text, again … what is a “plausible interpretation” to you may not seem equally plausible to others. I suggest that you include for your consideration other plausible interpretations. For instance my “double ellipsis” interpretation …

    4. With regard to the “multitude of nations”, I was right in suspecting that you were (cryptically) hinting at something. You are confusing two different words and two different contexts.
    In Matt 19:28 Jesus is certainly referring to the “twelve tribes (phylê) of Israel”, as explicitly affirmed.
    In Matt 25:32 Jesus, in his apocalyptic discourse, says that “all the nations (ethnos) will be gathered before him [the Son of Man]”. There is no evidence that he is limiting himself to the “twelve tribes (phylê) of Israel”.

    Now, may I ask you a question? From your latest comments in reply to mine, it seems that you consider Apostolic Christianity as a strictly apocalyptic movement, that was “falsified” (in the Popperian sense) by the lack of the “coming” of the Son of Man within a generation after Jesus’ death. Did I get (also) this right?

  5. Rivers
    December 15, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

    Mario,

    I don’t know what you mean by “scare quotations.” I just use the quotations for emphasis or for quoting something written by someone else. Why would that “scare” anyone?

    With regard to “the regeneration” … it’s evident that Jesus and the apostles anticipated that everything pertaining to resurrection life, the kingdom of God, and the final judgment was going to transpire during their own generation. This is why I think Jesus spoke of the Father being “the God of the living” during the time that he was present with the disciples.

    I think this relates to John 8:58 because, if it is taken as a resurrection text (which I think is the most plausible interpretation of “before Abraham comes to be (GENESQAI), I am”), then it would suggest that Abraham was actually going to “see” Jesus Christ during “the day” that Jesus was conversing with the Jewish leaders. Thus, Jesus was saying “before Abraham comes to be [in my day], I am [the one he rejoiced to see].”

    The reason I added (of Israel) with reference to Matthew 19:28 is because it is referring to “the twelve tribes.” The twelve tribes of Israel were the “multitude of nations” that were to be the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 35:10-11; Genesis 49:28). I don’t think Jesus was referring to any other “nations” in the context.

  6. Mario
    December 15, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

    @ Rivers,

    No “misunderstanding” on my part. Check you comment of December 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm. You definitely associated the reference to “immortality” (BTW, you never explained the reason for the scare quotes …) to John 8:58 (“before Abraham becomes (i.e. exists again, GENESQAI), I am” – your very words …)

    Matthew 8:11 would have definitely been a (much more) appropriate citation.

    You have already explained that by “regeneration” you mean “life in the resurrection age”, supporting it with various citations. I have said that I am satisfied with that (with a caveat on the gift of God’s Holy Spirit). Why do you go back on the same point, with another host of verses? Are you perchance trying to say (cryptically) something different? If so, why? If not, what are you trying to say?

    Why that funny parenthetical inclusion (of Israel) embedded in “when the judgment of the nations (…) would take place”? It is simply not supported by the verses of Matthew that you cite.

  7. Rivers
    December 15, 2014 @ 9:50 am

    Mario,

    I think you misunderstood that I was citing Matthew 19:28 in relation to John 8:58 because I understand John 8:58 to be a resurrection text. Perhaps I should have cited Matthew 8:11 where Jesus spoke of Abraham meeting with those of Jesus’ generation in the “kingdom of heaven.”

    I think “in the regeneration” (Matthew 19:28) was referring to the same time that apostles understood that Jesus was arrive (PAROUSIA) to “restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6; Acts 3:19-21) when the judgment of the nations (of Israel) would take place (Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 25:31-32).

  8. Mario
    December 15, 2014 @ 5:02 am

    The quotations I use are just for emphasis.

    Well, then, the quotation of John 8:58 is simply out of place, here. 🙁

    What do you think “in the regeneration” was referring to? Do you think Jesus meant that only the twelve would participate in it? Do you include Judas Iscariot among “the twelve” in Matthew 19:28?

    To cite Matthew 19:28 with reference to Abraham’s resurrection was a very bad choice. Now that you have provided other references, and it’s clear that by “regeneration” you mean life in the resurrection age, I agree. With an essential caveat, though: even if we receive and accept the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, it is NOT irreversible. It is still possible to “fall away”, by own devices. The Lord will decide Judas Iscariot’s destiny, at the Resurrection. As for “the twelve”, Judas Iscariot was replaced by Matthias (Acts 1:26).

  9. Mario
    December 15, 2014 @ 4:33 am

    @ Dale

    1. With your assertion, are you seriously saying that you hold on to an ontological (rather than strictly logical) *definition* of *contradiction*? Well, good for you! 🙂

    2. In spite of your emphatic denial, this is what we read …

    53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. (1 Cor 15:53-54)

    … which means that immortality (*before* the resurrection) is NOT an *essential* feature of human beings.

    You may also want to consider these:

    Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

    12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (…) 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:12,15)

    It’s *conditional immortality*, Dale … 😉

  10. Rivers
    December 14, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

    Mario,

    The quotations I use are just for emphasis.

    I think “regeneration” referred to life in the resurrection age (“the age to come”, Luke 20:34-36). That was the purpose of the “gift of holy spirit” that was given to the disciples (Romans 8:11, 22-23; Hebrews 6:4-5; Titus 3:5).

    Yes, I think Matthew 19:28 refers to the twelve ruling with Jesus Christ “in the regeneration.” The fact that it only mentions the twelve doesn’t preclude that “in the regerneration” doesn’t include others. In fact, Jesus told other disciples that “overcame” would “sit down” on God’s throne just like him (Revelation 3:21).

    What do you think “in the regeneration” was referring to? Do you think Jesus meant that only the twelve would participate in it? Do you include Judas Iscariot among “the twelve” in Matthew 19:28?

  11. Dale
    December 14, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

    Yes, Mario, by definition *impossible*.

    “You should consider that a person (to be accurate, an elect) gains an essential feature (immortality) ALSO by being raised on the last day, at least according to Paul (1 Cor 15:53-54)”

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+15%3A53-54&version=NIV

    No, Paul does not say there that the resurrected person gains an *essential* feature. Though I assume that by God’s will, immortality is a feature that we will never lose.

  12. Mario
    December 14, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

    @Rivers,

    you know very well that my interpretation of John 8:58 is different.

    Why “immortality” with scare quotes?

    What do you mean by “regenerated”?

    Why do you cite Matthew 19:28, a verse where Jesus is clearly addressing Peter and the Twelve?

  13. Rivers
    December 14, 2014 @ 4:52 pm

    Mario,

    Yes, “immortality” … that is why Jesus said that “before Abraham becomes (i.e. exists again, GENESQAI), I am” (John 8:58). Abraham was going to finally meet Jesus Christ when he was “regenerated” and entered the Kingdom at the resurrection (Matthew 19:28).

  14. Mario
    December 14, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

    @ Dale

    I don’t think you [Rose] realize that it is by definition a contradiction for a thing to change its nature.

    I am afraid you have provided a rather loose ontological definition of contradiction. Aristotle’s definition is definitely more accurate:

    “It is impossible for the same attribute at once to belong and not to belong to the same thing and in the same relation.” (Metaphysics, 1005b19-20)

    Leaving aside ontological and/or psychological “contradictions” and considering ONLY logics, Aristotle’s definition of contradiction is this:

    “… the most certain of all beliefs is that opposite statements are not both true at the same time …” (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1011b13-14, my bolding)

    It ONLY regards statements (or propositions). Of course, one can use the term “contradiction” improperly, like a good Hegelian and/or a good Dialectic Materialist, or the term “definition” in an essential sense like a good advocate of Realism (regarding Universals).

    The only way a thing gains an essential feature, then, is by coming into existence – by being generated. And the only way a thing can lose an essential feature is by ceasing to exist.

    You should consider that a person (to be accurate, an elect) gains an essential feature (immortality) ALSO by being raised on the last day, at least according to Paul (1 Cor 15:53-54).

  15. Rivers
    December 14, 2014 @ 7:41 am

    Hi Rose,

    I’m not really concerned about what “Socinian Unitarians” have to say. I’m just interested in trying to understand the biblical text. I don’t think Philippians 2:6-7 has anything to do with “incarnation” or “hypostatic union” either. It seems that you are trying to force the words in the text to conform to those kinds of theological concepts that originated hundreds of years after the apostolic era.

    Paul wrote the book of Philippians after Jesus was “exalted” (Philippians 2:9). Thus, the Present Active Participle of ‘UPARXW in Philippians 2:6 (“existing”) need only refer to what Jesus possessed at the time of writing. There is nothing in the grammar or the context that requires “the form of God” or “equality with God” to be something that Jesus had prior to his “humility” (Philippians 2:7). It makes perfectly good sense that Jesus would be “exalted” (Philippians 2:9) after living a life of obedience (Philippians 2:7) and thus be “existing in the form of God” when Paul is writing the letter (Philippians 2:6).

    I think we need to be careful not to read things like “preexistence” and “incarnation” into these ancient texts when there is nothing in the grammar or the context that requires those implications. A simpler interpretation, that is consistent with the limitations of the writer’s own use of language, it probably the more likely meaning. 🙂

  16. Dale
    December 14, 2014 @ 5:21 am

    Rose, I don’t think you realize that it is by definition a contradiction for a thing to change its nature. In classical thinking, a being may gain and lose “accidents” (non-essential properties, which are not part of its nature). e.g. I can cut off my hair, gain 50 lbs, and start liking rap music. But a being can’t gain or lose its essence – classically, the essence of a human is supposed to be: rational animal (that’s supposed to be my nature). So, I couldn’t exist and not be an animal, nor could I exist and not have the defining human powers of rationality. (Never mind that its less than fully clear what these amount to.) The underlying intuition is that a thing can survive some changes (e.g. getting fatter) but not others (being a potato – I couldn’t be a potato – not even an omnipotent being could change me into one, though he might annihilate me and create a potato out of the leftovers).

    The only way a thing gains an essential feature, then, is by coming into existence – by being generated. And the only way a thing can lose an essential feature is by ceasing to exist.

    My point is that sometimes – and outside of philosophy, usually – “nature” doesn’t mean essence, but only non-essential qualities. “She has a good nature now, but when she was a teen, she was an unholy terror.” I’m not saying there that she changed her essence, but only that she changed (for the better).

    So the verb forms that incorporate morphe (Rom 12, Phil 3, Gal 4) that you mentioned most surely don’t have to do with essence (metaphysical nature), but simply with non-essential features that can be changed, such as my character improving and becoming more like Jesus’s.

    And in Phil 2, because the English “nature” is so flexible, and often means non-essential features (not a thing’s nature), it can be correct to translated “nature” (though “form,” I’d argue, is less likely to confuse), even though no point about essences / natures is being made.

    I hope that helps.

  17. Rose Brown
    December 14, 2014 @ 4:28 am

    @Rivers,

    In Philippians 2:6-7, it is clear that Jesus has dual form. Even Socinian Unitarians concur with this.Both the Greek word HUPARCHON in verse 6 and the participles in verse 7 prove this beyond any shadow of doubt.

    Jesus is ‘God in form.’ ~ Philippians 2:6
    Jesus is ‘servant in form.’ ~ Philippians 2:7

    Yes. The Carmen Cristi is about different historical contexts: the incarnation and the exaltation.

    “What he was, he retained and what he was not, he assumed.”

    Philippians two six is about the original existence of Christ who is “God in form.” The Greek word HUPARCHON in Philippians 2:6 denotes , “existing before until now.”

    Philippians two seven is about Christ who assumed a form of a slave by becoming similar to humans.

    Philippians two nine is indeed about the exaltation of Christ. The Greek word
    ECHARISATO in Philippians 2:9 denotes ” given without one’s merit.”

  18. Rose Brown
    December 14, 2014 @ 4:10 am

    @Dale,

    Thank you for your reply.

    The following NT text do have MORPHE to mean “nature.”

    Philippians 2:6,7 morphe, morphen
    Romans 12:2 metamorphousthe
    Philippians 3:10 symmorphizomenos
    Philippians 3:21 symmorphon
    Galatians 4:19 morph?th?

    Obviously, the followers of Christ do not change their physical appearance to look like Christ. No plastic surgeries here! LOL

    Rather,being ‘new creatures’, it is an inward reality — 2 Corinthians 4:6, 5:17 — this coheres with 2 Peter 1:4 wherein it is said that followers of Christ ‘partake’ in a God-like (theias) nature (physeos).

  19. Rivers
    December 13, 2014 @ 9:42 pm

    Rose,

    I’m not sure that it’s likely that Jesus had a “dual form” in Philippians 2:6-7 because the writer is talking about the “form” that Jesus had in different historical contexts. Philippians 2:6 is referring to the time of his “exaltation” (Philippians 2:9) and Philippians 2:7 is referring to the time of his “humility.”

  20. Rose Brown
    December 13, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

    @Dale,

    In Philippians 2:6-7, it is clear that Jesus has dual form.

    Jesus is ‘God in form.’ ~ Philippians 2:6
    Jesus is ‘servant in form.’ ~ Philippians 2:7

    English Dictionaries define “form” as “essence” (nature) not just “outward appearance.”

    In Biblical Greek, MORPHE means “form” ( nature, outward appearance). It’s dual meaning is used in the Bible. MORPHE as “nature” is used for about 5 times in the NT ( Phil. 2:6, Romans 12:2, Phil. 3:10 and 21,Gal. 4:19 ) and as “outward appearance” in both the OT (Daniel 3:19 ) and the NT ( 2 Timothy 3:5 ).

    • Dale
      December 13, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

      Hi Rose,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes – it says that Jesus is, like Adam, in the form of God. And that he took on the form of a servant, even to death. The English “form” like the Greek morphe can mean many things. Both can, particularly in philosophical contexts, mean essence, the defining features of a thing/substance, without which it can’t exist. Of course, Paul’s letter is not a philosophical context – that is important, I suggest, for reading it. In the 4th c., both the “Arian” and Nicene sides assumed too much then trendy philosophy – mostly but not entirely Platonism. Anyway, I don’t see the philosophical use of morphe in any of the passages you listed. I haven’t done a systematic study, but I’ll bet it is rare at best in the Bible. Do you?

  21. Sarah
    July 16, 2014 @ 7:12 pm

    Well done! I especially enjoyed the multi-cultural scripture readers in part 2. They did a fantastic job of making the text come alive. Thanks again for all the hard work put into this.