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. Aaron King
    September 13, 2016 @ 7:07 pm


    I know I’m over 50 podcasts behind but I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you so much for all the work and time you put into all of this. When I set out to study about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit over 2 years ago I came up not finding much more than the typical arguments which entailed a generally superficial depth and then closed the door on the issue. I have learned much about early church history, differing time periods and the categorical ways of thinking and organizing/conceptualizing ideas in those time periods, much about the pre-nicene Christians, histories of the Unitarians of various kinds and the Trinitarians (also of various kinds), I have overcome certain preconveived notions of Humanitarian Unitarians, “Arian” Unitarians, Subordinationists, and even Trinitarians. Thanks so much for your continued work and for gathering all of this literature and great scholarly minds into one place so the average layperson interested in theology can access it. I appreciate your time and effort and hope you will continue as long as you’re able.


  2. Miguel de Servet
    August 25, 2015 @ 5:35 am

    At 41:38, Hurtado asks and answers a key question on the foundation of Jesus-worship:

    [Q] “What is your basis for reverencing Jesus” – directed to Paul or some other Early Christian.

    [A] “Because God requires it” – the probable answer would be.

    I fully agree, and, of course, this answer is fully in keeping with Phil 2:9-11.

    The evident consequence, though, is that the worship of the resurrected, ascended and exalted Jesus has nothing whatsoever to do with his “metaphysical status” and/or his “pre-existence”.

    As it happens, though, Jesus, truly man (because of his maternal heritage), is also truly God, NOT because he is the “second person of the trinity” (a political play on words), NOT because he is “eternally generated by the Father” (an Origenian clever trick conveniently recycled in the doctrine of the “trinity”, BUT because he truly is the “one-begotten” of the Father, the Incarnated Word of the Father, conceived by the power of the Father’s Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

    Unfortunately, there came Justin Martyr, who had probably read Philo, and messed everything up …

  3. Miguel de Servet
    August 25, 2015 @ 4:07 am

    Hurtado is certainly a very fine historian of early Christianity. Ultimately, though, his only significant contribution is this: the Jesus-worship started very early, and was fully established within 20 years of Jesus’ death (and resurrection). It was a “mutation” within Judaism, and owes nothing to Gentile contributions. Hurtado deliberately avoids to speak in terms of “trinity”, but repeatedly claims that the NT texts, in particular the Gospel of John, while they speak of Jesus as human and mortal, also speak (?) of his “pre-existence”.

    I am more and more convinced that, until we fully debunk this phoney idea of (personal) “pre-existence”, we will never sort out the “trinity”.

    • Sean Garrigan
      August 25, 2015 @ 5:10 am

      “Ultimately, though, his only significant contribution is this: the
      Jesus-worship started very early, and was fully established within 20
      years of Jesus’ death (and resurrection).”

      Strange to see “only” used this way of Hurtado’s work with its implied minimization, because that contribution was a *huge* paradigm changer.

  4. New Hurtado Podcasts | Larry Hurtado's Blog
    August 20, 2015 @ 5:25 am

    […] and earliest Christian notions of the relationship of Jesus and God.  The first podcast is here, and the second one […]

  5. Jonathan Jensen
    August 16, 2015 @ 4:48 pm


    These are all very good! I’m surprised that you find the time to put all of these things together, being that you do your own studies for your job I’m guessing.

    I understand that this is probably a staggering question, being that there’s a great extent to the content, but have you ever thought of doing an episode on Philo of Alexandria and how his views relate to early Christian thought?

    I was proposed this not too long ago and have been looking into it. I found what I thought was very Tertullian-like in some of his writings as I found them translated online, but I didn’t look through all of them, especially not thoroughly.

    However, the reason I am curious is because, like with various other early Jewish or Christian theology, there is misrepresentation going on. The substance of the talks was primarily on parallels between Philo’s writings and those of the New Testament, also related to the targums or interpretations.

    The person I was discussing these things with saw kind of eye-to-eye with me on how “word of the LORD” was treated in the targums, although I don’t necessarily relate this to Philo. Philo seems to take the stance that all that was created was thought out by God first before creating it, and this he said one might properly call the logos (or Reason) of God, being that it was in His mind. He in another writing calls this God’s firstborn son, and although parallels to this were tried to be made by some I saw online with the Bible, the term “firstborn” is used differently:
    For one, Philo considers all the things of creation as God’s children, and calls God a father for this reason (and not specifically for fathering us or for being the father of Jesus), and, like Tertullian, relates this to the light in the beginning, and also the wisdom. His reasons for doing this are philosophical more than Biblical, but it looks like he comes to the same conclusions as others might based on the Bible.

    In any case, what I’m saying is that there are parallels that are trying to be forced and those kinds of assertions can be dangerous when untrue. I was curious as to whether or not you were planning to do a podcast on this subject Philo, being that it seems there is sometimes a tendency for people to kind of think that John was referring to Philo’s works in order to accommodate Greeks, or something like that. Though it’s not about Trinity theory, it is related in the minds of these peoples to Trinitarianism, and what’s startling to me is that, if they were truly related, it would kind of undermine Trinitarianism, being that it is contrary to it, and would probably be as- or more-Unitarian than either Tertullian or Justin, and it looks as though Justin and/or Tertullian had possibly derived some of their ideas of God from Philo and tried to apply them to the Bible. For instance, we see the Son of God in the Bible as being a son after or upon his birth in all instances, but for the earlier Christian philosophers, it seems that Jesus was “son” when he was begotten before he was born. I can see no reason nor justification for this in the Bible *at all*, and that is what leads me to believe that they may have been influenced by him, having been philosophers themselves, using some of his types of arguments (with their shortcomings) in their works.

    I noticed the article you posted from Philip Jenkins on Philo, but it didn’t seem very detailed. I don’t think Philip Jenkins was 100% accurate in saying that the Logos to Philo was the craftsman, being that when Philo talks about the world being created by means of the Logos, he speaks of it as though God first thought it out as the Logos, and that the Logos was actually ALL of creation, only in thought. That the thought was the first thing which was made by God (although to him not exactly created, but not exactly uncreated either), he seems to differ from Tertullian in that he didn’t seem to think of the Logos as a kind of “substance” coming from God’s “substance”, but rather treats it as an aspect of God which would have been extended into the world. He speaks of the Logos as though it were a being at times, which is kind of confusing, but I’m wondering (since I didn’t read all of his stuff by far) if he doesn’t treat the Logos in somewhat of the same way as the targums: that it is God as we know or experience Him in a second-hand sense, e.g. by His words or messages. For instance, in targum Jonathan in Isaiah 6:1, it says, “In the year in which King Uzziah was smitten with the leprosy the prophet said, I saw the glory of the Lord sitting upon His throne, high, and lifted up unto the highest heavens, and the temple was filled with the brightness of His glory.” Is that there speaking of God’s glory as another person, of speaking of God in “immanence” in the sense that, since God can’t be seen (according to Exodus), and since Isaiah says he saw God, and it says His glory filled the temple; is that why it says, “I saw the glory of the Lord sitting upon His throne”? If not, the glory of the glory filled the temple, which is kind of redundant. In the same way, people are treating the Word of God as though it were a person in the Old Testament or in the targums (although in the targums I can and have proved that it’s synonymous with spoken words, as in Isaiah 1:10), and then saying that this person the Word of God spoke all things into existence (by His word — the Word’s word).

    To me, this just screams a misunderstanding, and is only another log on the fire of the concerns I have that I’m wondering if I would hear about in any upcoming podcasts relating to Philo.

    If so, that’s cool; and if not, that’s also cool — I was just wondering! 🙂

  6. Dan McClellan
    August 11, 2015 @ 9:08 am

    I think Dr. Hurtado is exactly right about the problems with retrojecting later theological CATEGORIES into a time period when they simply didn’t exist. Preexistence isn’t a WORD that was used in the New Testament, but the WORD and the CATEGORY are different things, and John clearly presents Jesus as existing prior to his birth. The Greek notion of ousia, on the other hand, is a conceptual category that doesn’t appear anywhere to have been in circulation in conceptualizing Jesus and his mission in the New Testament. As Hurtado points out, the Semitic concept of personhood is related to function, not ontology. This is a big part of my doctoral dissertation, and one of the reasons Richard Bauckham’s notion of “divine identity” is presentistic and, in my opinion, misses the mark.

    I have to disagree with a few things, though. I don’t think Hurtado is right in characterizing Dunn’s argument as Jesus not being worshipped as a separate deity. That seems to me to impose a Nicene lens on an argument that Dunn seems to me to be repeatedly trying to distinguish from the standard Nicene reading of Jesus’ worship in the New Testament. I read Dunn as insisting Jesus was given bits and pieces of worship, but it was not unfettered or on par with the worship given to God. In other words, it was a lesser kind of worship, not a full kind of worship aiming through Jesus at God. He was getting the JV worship to God’s varsity worship. Dunn points out that while Jesus receives this and that form of worship, the Greek latreuo (or latreuein), which is the technical term for “cultic worship,” is never used in reference to any worship directed at Jesus. It is exclusively used in reference to God, which problematizes, in my opinion, Hurtado’s frequent reference to Jesus being the recipient of “cultic worship” normally reserved exclusively for God. In reality, cultic worship throughout the New Testament, according to the standard Greek use of the terms, is still exclusively reserved for God and not Jesus.

    I would also argue that Hurtado seems to be assuming that the practice follows the belief, but it is usually the case with ritual innovation that the theological rationale for rituals follows after the practice itself. A practice is introduced or borrowed for one reason or another, and it takes a community some time to figure out what kind of conceptual models underlie it. Sometimes an authority asserts a single theological rationale, but sometimes you get competing theories. Instead of insisting that, whatever the mechanisms, Jesus was suddenly outright worshipped and so must have followed on the heels of a real-life resurrection of someone identified with God, I think a much more interesting and critical question is how these ritual practices developed. Instead of just assuming the underlying motivations, we should see what we can learn from trying to piece the evidence together. Does it not make just as much sense to frame devotion to Jesus as an expansion of that limited worship Hurtado repeatedly acknowledges was offered to these divine agents and intermediaries? He insists there was this mutation, but why not a mutation of that attested form of devotion?

    • Rivers
      August 12, 2015 @ 8:30 am


      Although it’s true that “the word and the category are different things” (as you say), it really doesn’t help. For example, any Trinitarian would simply claim that the “category” of the Trinity doctrine is taught by the biblical writers even though the “word” Trinity is not found in scripture.

      I think it’s a bit presumptuous to claim that “John clearly taught Jesus existed before his birth” because there isn’t even any reference to the “birth” of Jesus in the 4th Gospel. Moreover, “preexistence” is only an interpretation of the writer’s use of other language. Without a word for “preexistence”, we have to leave the rest of the language open to other interpretations.

      • Sean Garrigan
        August 25, 2015 @ 5:11 am

        “I think it’s a bit presumptuous to claim that “John clearly taught Jesus existed before his birth”

        You must not understand what “presumptuous” means;-)

        • Miguel de Servet
          August 25, 2015 @ 9:04 am

          Maybe “presumptuous” is not appropriate, but what matters is that the claim that “John clearly taught Jesus existed before his birth” is the result of vast misunderstanding.

  7. des111168
    August 11, 2015 @ 1:16 am

    Good episode.

    As for Arians worshipping two gods… one big and one small… is that really what they did? I’m still reading about them, but wasn’t it more of a case of Jesus being god-like… by God’s own hand… but still not being A god? As someone else put it, keep in mind that what we know about Arius and his followers comes almost completely from his enemies that wanted him destroyed (and hunted down and destroyed any of his writings and doctrines that they could find).

    • Sean Garrigan
      August 11, 2015 @ 4:14 am

      I think Arius simply applied QEOS (=god) to Jesus in a different sense from how he applied it to God the father, which was a well-established practice going all the way back to the Pentateuch, and possibly earlier.

    • Rivers
      August 11, 2015 @ 8:13 am


      Yes, that’s true. There are no writings preserved from Arius himself, so all the presumptive talk about what he supposedly believed is rather useless. I think it’s compelling for some people to call themselves “Arian” in order to try to identify with someone in the early church who was thought to be opposed to the Trinity doctrine.

      • des111168
        August 12, 2015 @ 2:47 am

        Well, I more or less identify myself that way, if someone wants to nail down what I believe. I’m keeping my mind open, and may yet change it, but I say that I’m Arian-ish until I read something that sways me, since I think the Socianians are probably wrong about Jesus being “promoted” to Son status and not being pre-existent. So “Arian” seems a nice quick way to sum up what I think at the moment. It’s strictly for convenience purposes. BTW, know who else identified himself as a kind of modern Arian? Gary Gygax, the Dungeons and Dragons inventor.

        • Rivers
          August 12, 2015 @ 8:36 am


          Yes, the labels are convenient to help people to identify others with a summary view. I don’t like being associated with “Socinius” because I know little or nothing about him. I’m just trying to use the resources I have available in this generation to take a fresh look at all of the evidence. I think we can do much better than either Arias or Socinius.

          • Roman
            August 13, 2015 @ 5:40 am

            People use the terms Arian and Socinian in order to distinguish the Christologies of Unitarian Subordinationists who believe in a pre-incarnate Jesus and ones who don’t, I get why People have reservations using the Language becuase of Association With individuals but unfortunately there is no way around it.

  8. Rivers
    August 10, 2015 @ 6:32 pm

    Hi Dale,

    Thanks for engaging another interesting guest. Unfortunately, I got the impression that Dr. Hurtado was using the “I’m just a historian” approach to skirting the theological issues that you were asking him about. Like Dr. Heiser, it seemed like Hurtado was unable to assert a firm position of his own.

    He also seemed inconsistent with regard to his comments about “language.” For example, in the beginning of the interview, he claims that “we have to refrain from discussing Christology in the later theological language of the Church Fathers”, but then he spoke at length about how “preexistence” is clear in the Gospel of John.

    I’m hoping the next podcast with Dr. Hurtado will have less “scholar speak” and a more theological substance. I would like to know what he actually believes about the things you asked.