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. Miguel de Servet
    October 14, 2015 @ 5:54 pm

    From the publisher’s description of Triads and Trinity:

    The doctrine was developed during the first four Christian centuries, culminating in the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.

    Yes, the “original sin” started at least as early as Justin Martyr …

    • Matt13weedhacker
      October 15, 2015 @ 9:39 pm

      It started earlier than Justin Martyr. From what I can see, from what actually does survive, (i.e. in writing i.e. AF + ANF + PNF etc), from the first-second-third centuries, it appears that interpretive confusion first arose over:

      [1.] John 10:30 “I and the Father are one”
      [2.] John 1:1 “and the Word was God”
      [3.] John 14:9 “he that has seen me, has seen the Father also”

      And so forth.

      This confusion was at first checked by the living presence of the Apostles, but once they were dead and buried, the restraints were off, and interpretive chaos ensued.

      Bi{2}nitarian Modalism, was the result of a faulty interpretation of John 10:30 “I and the Father are one”. To them this meant: “I and the Father are one [Person]”.

      Tri{3}nitarian Modalism, (possibly contemporaneously and/or slightly later than Bi{2}nitarian Modalism), arose as a result of a faulty interpretation of Matt. 28:19 and John 10:30-part-(C): “are one” etc.

      Tertullian just took the basic tenets of Montantist Tri{3}nitarian Modalism, (consult Hippolytus AH etc), and in an extremely hostile reaction to Praxeas, (also reported to have been a Montantist teacher and leader), and modified this mistaken concept, (i.e. “NEW PROPHECY” interpretation see Adv. Prax. Chap. 30:5 “the Preacher [= Montanus] of a unified monarchy, in fact it’s INTERPRETER, [= Montanus] even by means of it’s economy”), and re-labled it as Ltn., ( trinitas ) “Tri{3}nity.”

      Yet, there was a second century tradition, (apparently “Orthodox” and genuine tradition), of a ???????? = “rule by one Person”, which arose, (at first), against claims that Jesus being called “God” amounted to “Poly-Theism”. This ????????, (the: “Monarchy”), consisted of, and belonged to “one Person”. That person being the Father. This also, had to do with the rise of the “Tri{3}nity.”

      The “Orthodox”, (for want fo a better word), teaching and original interpretation of the Fathers ????????, was also perverted and greatly distorted by the Modalists, (Tri{3}nitarian and Bi{2}nitarian), and the Montantists, and the Gnostics, and other heretics.

      The “Tri{3}nity” heresy arose for many complicated reasons. Not for one simple reason.

      More on this later.

  2. Miguel de Servet
    October 14, 2015 @ 5:48 pm

    Why does a post dated October 14, 2015 have comments that (apparently) are as old as 8 years ago?

    • Sean Garrigan
      October 14, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

      “Why does a post dated October 14, 2015 have comments that (apparently) are as old as 8 years ago?”

      Dale’s review Triads and Trinity was offered some time ago. This is a re-post of that post.


  3. DonDLion
    October 14, 2015 @ 2:26 pm

    Dale, can you recommend a good book or article on the development of ante-Nicene Alexandrian Christology? Thanks.

  4. Raven
    March 8, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

    666… Here is wisdom… let him that has understanding count the number of the beast…. his number is the number of a man… and his number is six hundred… three score… and six… 666… The number of a man is six. Count the number of a man…. Hmmm 3… The idea that God is THREE persons is the obvious historical account that permeates ancient nations even them that are called beasts by the prophet Daniel. What if the seven headed beast referred to the particular seven nations of antiquity that carried the same religious idea that God is three in contrast to the Abrahamic monotheism of Apostolic Christianity; the original descendant of Judaism? Yaheshuah=Jesus=YHWH is become salvation! He is Christ not a member of a three person trinity…. The Son was the anointed… the Father was the anointing… Spirit and Flesh… ONE NAME declaring who He is and what He has accomplished through the death, burial and resurrection of the flesh in which He was manifest by means of anointing. He now and forever is the visible expression of God’s invisible glory made visible. I’m glad I KNOW Him…

  5. Dale
    June 26, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

    Hi Kenny,

    I don’t think it’s a total coincidence, on the other hand, I’ve never seen any “smoking gun” which indicates undue influence from Greek philosophy. Eriugena, and maybe even Boethius, were so neck-deep into Neoplatonism that I wonder if it’s even accurate to call them “Christians”. But in the 3rd-5th centuries, most of these theologians, at least in their own minds they’re trying to base their speculations on the Bible. (Another exception to this rule is probably Marius Victorinus.) You’re right that the corresponedence is unlikely to be a total coincidence, but I’ve not been convinced of any more relation between the two than this: the fact that neoplatonism was much in vogue helped a truly (post 380) trinitarian theory to sound acceptable to the intellectual elites. Tragedy or divine providence – take you pick.

    The story of the terminology is quite tortured, and I don’t even have the patience to sort it out. Hanson’s The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God has a lot about it, as does (in shorter form) the popular books by Pelikan and also Early Christian Doctrine. (All linked under Books.)

    Good stuff on this issue you’re interested in is hard to find – the theologians and historians aren’t so good at untangling neoplatonism, and the philosophers generally don’t have the patience to chart out the ridiculously complicated details of word usage and influence.

  6. Kenny Pearce
    June 21, 2007 @ 10:45 pm

    I’m very interested in possible relationships between early Christianity and Platonism generally, and I think that, as you say, the doctrine of three hupostases in Neoplatonism is the most likely historical antecedent to trinitarian theology. While I haven’t studied this stuff in depth as of yet, it is probably significant that one of the Neoplatonists (Plotinus, I think?) identifies the three hupostases as (if I recall correctly) to hen (“The One”), logos, and psuche. The correspondence to the persons of the Trinity is striking, especially since psuche is in most contexts a near synonym of pneuma. It’s hard to believe that this is pure coincidence, especially since the councils use the word hupostasis for the persons of the Trinity.

    • Matt13weedhacker
      October 15, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

      You cannot go past Edwin Hatches:


      If you want an in depth study, this is a very very good resource. Very thorough. Caveat emptor, he is Tri{3}nitarian.

  7. JohnO
    June 21, 2007 @ 1:43 pm


    I agree, we don’t need syncretism, yet all of your Greek educated church fathers did need it. They took the NT, and syncretized it with Greek thought. Who doesn’t need it? A person who thinks like a Hebrew. Where none of this Trinitarian doctrine of God is even possible. Like Second Temple Judaism of which Jesus belonged to. Their God was YHWH, one individual person who alone was God. There was no other Persons beside him. This belief was cast in stone in the Shema. (I don’t necessarily care to hear how we can fit three Persons into the Shema today. I care to say that the Jews of the time exclusively belived the Shema to say that God is one Person, YHWH, the Father of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). This is how all Jews thought about God and the Shema during the Second Temple Period. Jesus never corrected the Jewish understanding of Shema, in fact in Mk 12 he agreed with them. So there we have your posited God-man telling men that they are right, The Father is the only person who is God. This person standing in front of you is not God.

  8. Dale
    June 20, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

    A word of clarification: by no means do I think all antitrinitarians are crackpots! The crackpot ones are those who superficially look into the issue, find a few three-headed Hindu statues (or whatever) and conclude that the doctrine is a pagan one. You should note some of the books I’ve linked. Trinitarian arguments that the doctrine is the best explanation of what’s in the NT must be engaged, not carelessly dismissed – which is precisely what the non-crackpot antitrinitarians do.

    Syncretism? Who needs it? 🙂

  9. JohnO
    June 20, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

    It is well known that the New Testament offers no such doctrine, and there is no evidence that Jesus of Nazareth regarded himself as a member of the Trinity. The doctrine was developed during the first four Christian centuries, culminating in the Council of Constantinople in AD 381

    This is what crackpot antitrinitarians like myself just sit on while you look for your

    Maybe these other religions and philosophies were God’s ordained vehicle to “make straight the way” for the Cappadocians (or whoever) to finally (take your pick) draw out the implications of the Bible for the metaphysics of God or expand on the contents of the Bible, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, creating a new but true doctrine

    So why don’t we look in all other religions for God’s ordained truth? Why don’t we become interfaith which find the best from all other religions and syncretize? We do have a figure in history (Constantine) who syncretized pagan religion with Christianity. This is well know and taught in many seminaries.