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.

23 Comments

  1. Sean Garrigan
    December 15, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

    Rivers,

    “Son of God” and “Messiah” were synonymous, and both terms describe an agency role. A King *was* one of the agency roles in Judaism, i.e. they sat on God’s throne (represented his rule on earth), and could even be offered “worship” (1 Chron 29:20) and be called “O QEOS” (Ps 45:6). “Agency” isn’t an exclusive category that must be called “agency” in or to be “agency”; it’s a functional relationship that is used of many different offices, including, or, better, most especially the Messianic office.

    ~Sean

  2. Rivers
    December 15, 2014 @ 9:40 am

    John,

    I think the “agency” idea can be helpful in some sense, but John the baptizer and the apostles were testifying that Jesus was “the Christ, and the son of God” (John 3:28; John 20:31). These are the titles that really distinguished Jesus from all others. Proving that Jesus Christ was an “agent” of God wouldn’t distinguish him from an ordinary prophet or an angel. This is most evident in Hebrews 1-2, where his status as “the begotten son” (after the resurrection) is what put him above all others when he became “heir of all things.”

  3. john
    December 14, 2014 @ 11:30 pm

    Sean
    Ben Withweingtons comments are most useful.

    As A CPA and someone well versed in Commercial Law I was immediately struck by Christ’s role as Gods divine agent.
    English Law posits something known as the ‘reasonable bystander test’.
    In essence this asks ‘ how would a ‘normal’ bystander with no preconceived ideas interpret a set of facts’?

    There is no doubt that someone reading John’s Gospel and posessing no preconceptions would declare Christs role. to be ‘agential’.

    The problem is that most people have fairly entrenched opinions and find it difficult to hold an unbiased view. .

    It really is all so simple – but the ‘human condition’ tends to make it so complex.

    Blessings
    John

    Blessings
    John

  4. Sean Garrigan
    December 14, 2014 @ 9:18 pm

    For a brief but good excursus on Christ as ‘agent’ in John, see pages140-141 of Ben Witherington’s “John’s Wisdom: A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel”. These pages can be read online, here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Bgi8AZRKfYsC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

    He hedges a bit in the final paragraph, but otherwise he has correctly identified what’s going on in the gospels, most emphatically in John.

    ~Sean

  5. Rivers
    December 14, 2014 @ 11:19 am

    Sean,

    That is a very important point about Jesus Christ having claimed to be “given life” by the Father (John 5:26) so that the son could “give it to others” (John 5:21). This is why it was so important for the apostles to testify that John witnessed “holy spirit” being given to Jesus Christ an his baptism (John 1:30-33) so that he could “baptize with holy spirit” (John 1:33) his disciples after he was glorified (John 7:39). Jesus explained to Nicodemus that it was necessary to be “born of the spirit” (John 3:3-6) in order to have “eternal life” (John 3:15-16).

    I think some interpreters overlook that fact that the apostles also understood that Jesus had to “offer up both prayers and pleadings in loud crying and tears to the One [God] who could SAVE HIM from death” (Hebrews 5:7-9). Jesus was a mortal man who was “made like his brethren in all things” (Hebrews 2:14-17) and therefore subject to death like everyone else. Thus, God had to “give” Jesus Christ “holy spirit” so that he could be raised by its power (Romans 1:3-4).

  6. Sean Garrigan
    December 14, 2014 @ 10:18 am

    I’m not with it this morning, as I forgot to include some of the author’s names. Here they are:

    “…in response to the accusations of the Jews that Jesus had made himself ‘equal to God’ (Jn. 5:18; 10:30,33), the evangelists does not simply give the other side of the argument to ‘prove’ them wrong. Rather, the Johannine Jesus emphasizes that he never claimed to be equal to God, but that his word should be equated with God’s, because he has been sent by the Father, and he speaks only what the Father tells him to say (5:19-47; 10:36-38).” (The Christology of the Fourth Gospel: Its Unity and Disunity in the Light of John 6, by Paul N. Anderson), p. 218

    “One translates the Greek neuter hen. This verse was much quoted in the Aryan controversy by the orthodox in support of the doctrine that Christ was of one substance with the Father. The expression seems however mainly to imply that the Father and the Son are united in will and purpose. Jesus prays in xvii. II that His followers may all be one (hen), i.e. united in purpose, as He and His Father are united.” (John, by R.V.G. Tasker, part of the Tyndale New Testament Commentary Series), p. 136

    “Jesus’ reply is so typical a piece of Jewish argumentation that it rings with authenticity. He directs them to Ps. 82:6, and his argument is: If Scripture (which you will not question) calls men commissioned by God to act for him `gods’, one whom the Father has made his consecrated ambassador to the world can hardly be accused of blasphemy for calling himself `God’s son’. If human leaders have been called gods, how much more may one greater than they make a lesser claim to be not God but God’s son.” (`The Gospel According to John, by A.M. Hunter, from the series, The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible), pp. 107,108

    “The quotation is from Ps. 82:6, where God says to the judges of Israel, `I have said, Ye are gods: and all of you are children of the most High.’ The people’s rulers were regarded as the representatives of God Himself; so of the King (Ps. 45:6 and cf. Exod. 4:16). The argument may be paraphrased thus: If those who were consecrated to their office by the saying of God which I have quoted (or perhaps more generally, If those who in the past have been the organs of the divine word) where actually called ‘gods’ and they must have been so called, for Scripture says so, surely the consecrated ambassador of the Father may without blasphemy call himself `God’s Son.’ (`The Gospel of John’, by G.H.C. Macgregor, part of the series, The Moffatt New Testament Commentary), pp. 241-243

    “When Jesus said: ‘I and the Father are one,’ he was not moving in the world of philosophy and metaphysics and abstractions; he was moving in the world of personal relationships. No one can really understand what a phrase like ‘a unity of essence’ means; but any one can understand what a unity of heart means. Jesus’ unity with God came from the twin facts of perfect love and perfect obedience. He was one with God because he loved and obeyed him perfectly; and he came to this world to make us what he is…

    …Jesus claimed two things for himself. (a) He was consecrated by God to a special task. (b) He said that God had dispatched him into the world. The word used is the one which would be used for sending a messenger or an ambassador or an army. So Jesus said: ‘In the old days it was possible for scripture to speak of judges as gods, because they were commissioned by God to bring his truth and justice into the world. Now I have been set apart for a special task; I have been dispatched into the world by God; how can you then object if I call myself the Son of God? I am only doing what scripture does.’” (Daily Study Bible, by William Barclay, found on The Bible Library CD-ROM, ad. loc. cit.)

  7. Sean Garrigan
    December 14, 2014 @ 10:10 am

    I had said:

    “Ever since the pioneering work of Jan A. Buhner’s entitled Der Gesandte und Weg im 4. Evangelium, most thoughtful expositors have recognized that the concept of legal permeates GJohn.”

    Please replace that with this:

    “Ever since the pioneering work of Jan A. Buhner, entitled Der Gesandte und Weg im 4. Evangelium, most thoughtful expositors have recognized that the concept of legal agency permeates GJohn.”

    ~Sean

  8. Sean Garrigan
    December 14, 2014 @ 10:08 am

    Rose,

    “John 10:28-30 The text refutes the ‘Shaliah Principle’ because it does not present Jesus as a creature-agent of whom a Unitarian Deity made himself manifested but rather, it clearly shows that the Father and the Son are one in terms of nature for their attributes are identical not similar ( Compare Deuteronomy 32:39 LXX with John 10:28-30).”

    Ever since the pioneering work of Jan A. Buhner’s entitled Der Gesandte und Weg im 4. Evangelium, most thoughtful expositors have recognized that the concept of legal permeates GJohn. I think I’ve already provided some of the excellent references, but here are a few more:

    “…in response to the accusations of the Jews that Jesus had made himself ‘equal to God’ (Jn. 5:18; 10:30,33), the evangelists does not simply give the other side of the argument to ‘prove’ them wrong. Rather, the Johannine Jesus emphasizes that he never claimed to be equal to God, but that his word should be equated with God’s, because he has been sent by the Father, and he speaks only what the Father tells him to say (5:19-47; 10:36-38).” (The Christology of the Fourth Gospel: Its Unity and Disunity in the Light of John 6), p. 218

    “Much of what has been mistaken for either subordinationist or ‘equality-to-God’ motifs in John have actually been central components of he agency typology, whereby the agent speaks as God’s ambassador and is therefore able to do only what the sending Father tells him. This is the representative basis upon which the voice of the agent is to be equated with the ‘Word’ of God…The confirmation of the agent’s authenticity is that all of his predictive words are fulfilled, and there is no deception in his teaching. Thus, the agent’s words (and works, as well) become authenticating signs that he has been sent from God, and this at least partially explains the evangelist’s ambivalence toward the signs–valuing them, and yet deeming their main import to be their function as a means to the greater end of revelation. It also explains the content of the Johannine ‘sending’ motif (Jn. 11:27; 17:3,8,18,21)” (ibid, p. 192)

    “An ambassador whose demands were contested might quite naturally say: `I and my sovereign are one’; not meaning thereby to claim royal dignity, but only to assert that what he did what his sovereign did, that his signature carried his sovereign’s guarantee, and that his pledges would be fulfilled by all the resources of his sovereign. So here, as God’s representative, Jesus introduces the Father’s power as the final guarantee, and claims that in this respect He and the Father are one. (The Gospel of St. John, from The Expositor’s Greek Testament, by Marcus Dods, D.D.), p. 793,794

    “One translates the Greek neuter hen. This verse was much quoted in the Aryan controversy by the orthodox in support of the doctrine that Christ was of one substance with the Father. The expression seems however mainly to imply that the Father and the Son are united in will and purpose. Jesus prays in xvii. II that His followers may all be one (hen), i.e. united in purpose, as He and His Father are united.” (John, part of the Tyndale New Testament Commentary Series), p. 136

    “Jesus’ reply is so typical a piece of Jewish argumentation that it rings with authenticity. He directs them to Ps. 82:6, and his argument is: If Scripture (which you will not question) calls men commissioned by God to act for him `gods’, one whom the Father has made his consecrated ambassador to the world can hardly be accused of blasphemy for calling himself `God’s son’. If human leaders have been called gods, how much more may one greater than they make a lesser claim to be not God but God’s son.” (`The Gospel According to John’, from the series, The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible), pp. 107,108

    A “consecrated ambassador to the world” is a legal agent.

    “The quotation is from Ps. 82:6, where God says to the judges of Israel, `I have said, Ye are gods: and all of you are children of the most High.’ The people’s rulers were regarded as the representatives of God Himself; so of the King (Ps. 45:6 and cf. Exod. 4:16). The argument may be paraphrased thus: If those who were consecrated to their office by the saying of God which I have quoted (or perhaps more generally, If those who in the past have been the organs of the divine word) where actually called ‘gods’ and they must have been so called, for Scripture says so, surely the consecrated ambassador of the Father may without blasphemy call himself `God’s Son.’ (`The Gospel of John’, part of the series, The Moffatt New Testament Commentary), pp. 241-243

    A “consecrated ambassador” is type of legal agent.

    “When Jesus said: ‘I and the Father are one,’ he was not moving in the world of philosophy and metaphysics and abstractions; he was moving in the world of personal relationships. No one can really
    understand what a phrase like ‘a unity of essence’ means; but any one can understand what a unity of heart means. Jesus’ unity with God came from the twin facts of perfect love and perfect obedience.
    He was one with God because he loved and obeyed him perfectly; and he came to this world to make us what he is…

    …Jesus claimed two things for himself. (a) He was consecrated by God to a special task. (b) He said that God had dispatched him into the world. The word used is the one which would be used for sending a messenger or an ambassador or an army. So Jesus said: ‘In the old days it was possible for scripture to speak of judges as gods, because they were commissioned by God to bring his truth and justice into the world. Now I have been set apart for a special task; I have been dispatched into the world by God; how can you then object if I call myself the Son of God? I am only doing what scripture does.'” (Daily Study Bible, found on The Bible Library CD-ROM, ad. loc. cit.)

    Many others could be offered, but I have to head for work. BTW, Jesus was *granted* life in himself (John 5:26), by God, and he was given the authority to grant it to others. God doesn’t need to be granted life in himself.

  9. Rose Brown
    December 14, 2014 @ 3:47 am

    @Dale and @Sean,

    John 10:28-30 The text refutes the ‘Shaliah Principle’ because it does not present Jesus as a creature-agent of whom a Unitarian Deity made himself manifested but rather, it clearly shows that the Father and the Son are one in terms of nature for their attributes are identical not similar ( Compare Deuteronomy 32:39 LXX with John 10:28-30).

    In John 10:28-30, the Father and the Son are ‘one’ in terms of having the same abilities to give life and preserve life by a powerful hand [I give them eternal life… my hand…my Father’s hand].In the Old Testament, only God has these abilities ( Deuteronomy 32:39).The Jews correctly understood this but they won’t believe (v. 33-38).

  10. Sean K. Garrigan
    February 2, 2014 @ 8:32 pm

    Hi Dale,

    Yes, we do agree on the important aspects of the account:-) Maybe it would help you see my point if you were to do what I did and try to place yourself on the side of Jesus’ opponents in the account. Not that you have to agree with me, but it would be nice if I could help you to understand the basis for my conclusions.

    If I were one of Christ’s accusers who just charged him with claiming to be God (=YHWH), and he replied by saying that agents of God were called “gods” in the OT, I would have said: Look, Jesus, we aren’t charging you with claiming to be a god the way those judges were gods as divine authorities; we’re charging you with claiming to be God, i.e. YHWH Himself!

    But it seems to me that the content of the charge that Jesus committed blasphemy by “making himself QEOS” must be contextually equivalent to the content of Jesus’ claim to be God’s Son, in light of the exchange:

    “we are stoning you for blasphemy because you make yourself God!”

    “do you say to me…`You blaspheme,’ because I said, I’m God’s Son?”

    At this time in Jewish history, a claim to be God’s Son didn’t imply that one was thereby claiming to be God Himself — that would come later. Jesus’ claim to be God’s Son was a claim to be the Messiah, and as one who would sit on God’s throne it would be fitting to refer to him as “God” or “a god”, in light of the OT paradigm.

  11. Dale
    February 1, 2014 @ 7:41 am

    Hi Sean,

    Thanks for that latest comment – yeah, I noticed the lack of definite article there – thanks for pointing out that passage in Hurtado.

    Either way, the charge is the same – blasphemy – either because (they think) he’s claiming to be God (as many translations have it) or a god. Either way, they’re concern is that he’s disrespecting God. Of course, they’re wrong. As you point out, he corrects them – that his claim is to be SON of God, which just can’t be blasphemous, when it is even OK for men to be called “gods.” His correction holds, though, whichever way we translate their charge – so I don’t see the point about his “non sequitur” if the charge is that he’s claiming to be YHWH.

    A picky point, really – we agree on the import of the passage.

  12. Sean K. Garrigan
    January 31, 2014 @ 10:57 pm

    Sorry if that last reply wasn’t as tightly constructed as it could have been. I’ve had a long week and I’m dead tired tonight. In fact, my pillow is calling me, so I’ll see you here tomorrow.

    ~Sean

  13. Sean K. Garrigan
    January 31, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

    Hi Dale,

    I consider your view to be among the possibilities. Charging Jesus with “making himself God (=YHWH)” hyperbolically for what may have appeared to be outlandish behavior is one way to read the account. However, about this:

    “Sean, in your blog post, you think Jesus is missing the point, if he was being accusing of being God himself.”

    Not really, Dale. What I argue is that Jesus’ reply is a non sequitur if the Jews were charging him with being God (=YHWH), and that Jesus’ reply answers and thereby helps to clarify the nature of the charge.

    I personally think that the New English Bible offers a better translation of verse 33 in light of context, though they insert the word “mere”, which isn’t in the Greek:

    “You, a mere man, claim to be a god”

    Larry Hurtado has also favored rendering the anarthrous QEON as “a god”, i.e.:

    “The Greek word for ‘god’ here has no definite article. I personally suspect that we are intended to understand the statement as the accusation that Jesus is compromising God’s uniqueness in making extravagant claims for himself. That is, Jesus is accused of making himself ‘a god’.” (How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?), p. 52, ftn 45

    While Jesus’ reply is a non sequitur if the Jews were charging him with making himself God (=YHWH), it makes perfect sense if the Jews were charging him with making himself “a god” in light of the correspondence that clearly seems to be implied between the accusation and the response:

    “You claim to be a god”
    “Is it not written, ‘You are gods?'”

    I think the logic is pretty clear. Jesus is saying, “You claim I’m guilty of blasphemy for calling myself God’s Son, yet in your own law God Himself referred to lesser divinely appointed authorities as “gods”. The logic is broken, however, if Jesus was called “God” (=YHWH). As Jesus said:

    “do you say to me…`You blaspheme,’ because I said, I am God’s Son?”

    If the Jews thought that Jesus was claiming to be YHWH, then that question doesn’t naturally follow.

    ~Sean

  14. Dale
    January 31, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

    Hey Sean and Jaco,

    I agree that in John 5, the Jews don’t think Jesus is claiming to be God himself, but rather somehow equal to God (in authority?). He corrects them on that.

    As I read it, they do accuse him of (insanely, in their view) claiming to be God himself in John 10. http://youtu.be/iu-srRpS0Bc?t=4m29s

    He clarifies that he’s only claiming to be SON OF God, and argues that this isn’t blasphemy, for humans lesser than him may even by called by the title “God” or “gods.”

    Sean, in your blog post, you think Jesus is missing the point, if he was being accusing of being God himself. But the Jews, in John, are portrayed consistently as blind and confused. As I read it, they are stupidly jumping at his statement that he and his Father are one (without understanding it).

    It is bizzarre to think, when you have a monotheistic conception of God, that any sane human whatever could claim to be him. But keep in mind that at various times Jesus’ opponents thought he was insane or possessed!

  15. Marc Taylor
    January 31, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

    John,
    I’ll decide if I want to post or not. Unlike you I simply don’t go by a “this person said so way of thinking”. That may work well in how you formulate your beliefs and live your life but not with me. I need some kind of proof as to whether or not the person or people are authoritative enough to make that call.

    The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24, NASB).
    Of Christ it is also used “universally”:
    1. Thayer: the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed, [generally translated authority]); a. univ.: Mt. 28:18 (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, exousia, page 225).
    2. TDNT: The inclusion of heaven and earth in the saving event in Jesus Christ means that no entity in heaven or on earth can possess autonomy: Mt. 28:18 (5:518, ouranos, Traub).
    3. Danker: the right to control or command, authority, absolute power, warrant
    Of Jesus’ total authority Mt 28:18 (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, exousia, page 353).

  16. John
    January 31, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

    Marc
    Please don’t respond to my comment.
    I shall not be responding to you in future.
    I sense that by doing so I am merely fuelling some sort of ‘addiction’!
    Best
    John

  17. John
    January 31, 2014 @ 1:48 pm

    Marc
    There are two persons referred to here .
    The one doing the empowering and
    The one being given ‘all power’

    Surely there is a ‘domain’ issue here ?
    God operates in his own unique domain
    The risen Christ’s domain is ‘heaven and earth’

    You also have 1 Corinthians 15 v 28 to deal with.

    You previously gave us the standard Trinitarian view of this – and I do NOT accept it.

    Best Wishes
    John

  18. Marc Taylor
    January 31, 2014 @ 10:04 am

    John,
    If God gave Christ the ability to be omnipotent then the Almighty created another Almighty (cf. Matthew 28:18).

    No John, there is not more than one being who is the Almighty but what it does show is that the Almighty is not an absolute unitarian being.

  19. John
    January 31, 2014 @ 8:39 am

    Marc
    Christ never said he was God and he never said that He was equal to God.

    In all cases the scriptures tell us that Christ was someone empowered by God and someone through whom God worked.

    You will know of the famous verses in John 10 which are twisted by Trinitarians for doctrinal reasons.
    “Is it not written in the Law ‘I said “ye were ‘gods’ ?
    If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, then the scripture cannot be set aside.

    Christ was of course referring to the fact that the Jewish judges and lawgivers were called ‘gods’
    Christ described himself as ‘Son of God’ – which meant that He should also be referred to as ‘a god’

    Christ was accusing the Jews of hypocricy .
    This scripture is also an oblique reference to Psalm 82 -in which God addressed the council of the ‘gods’ and accused them of having ruled badly – and warning that they would be judged!

    Blessings
    John

  20. Marc Taylor
    January 31, 2014 @ 6:59 am

    Another thing that proves that Christ claimed to be God here is His omnipotence.

    In the speech by Stephen in Acts 7 concerning the “Son of Man” Simon Kistemaker remarks, “Why does he use this title? Because Stephen fully recognizes that Jesus as the Son of man has fulfilled the Messianic prophecy (Dan. 7:13-14) and has been given all authority, power, and dominion in both heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18).” (Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles, page 279).

    The fact that the Lord Jesus is omnipotent proves He is Almighty.

    Now if some choose to play word games by denying how these words are PROPERLY defined that’s their choice but the serious minded Bible student will know better.

  21. Jaco
    January 31, 2014 @ 6:41 am

    Nice piece, thanks, Sean. Several other NT scholars have come to the same conclusions.

  22. Sean K. Garrigan
    January 31, 2014 @ 6:24 am

    Nice piece, thanks for pointing it out. I would take the argument a step further, however, and point out that when the Jews charged Jesus with “making himself equal with God” (Jn 5:18) and making himself “God” or “a god” (Jn 10:31), they probably weren’t even thinking in ontological categories. There’s a post on my blog, entitled “The charge against Jesus at John 10:31” where I briefly address this in relation to John 10:30-36.

    See:

    http://kazesland.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=1

    Albeit brief, the argument was born from extended research conducted over a number of years.

  23. Marc Taylor
    January 31, 2014 @ 3:52 am

    Yes, the Lord Jesus did tell the Sanhedrin He was God.

    Stephen R. Miller: Verse 14 further reveals that “all” humanity will worship the son of man, and “all” humanity naturally would include the saints The employment of this title by Jesus Christ is one of the strongest evidences that He attributed Deity to Himself (The New American Commentary: Daniel, page 209)

    The Greek word in Daniel 7:14 (LXX) for ‘serve’ is latreuo so when those that heard the Lord Jesus apply this section of Daniel unto Himself they knew the Lord Jesus was claiming to be God.