The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Does Julie think Jesus is God? How will Evangelicals react?

Jason, would you please cite 3 or 4 of these instances in which Jesus is called “the God” in the New Testament.

Ah, I see what you mean. I’m not entirely educated on the concept of co-equality, but imagine that it means that,

a) Nothing supersedes either the will of the Father or the Son, and
b) The will of both Father and Son always perfectly agree.

As for that, given that their wills are in union, I imagine that it’s not problematic to say that the Son is subordinate in power to the Father and yet that they are in some sense co-equal.

But that’s certainly not the only thing defining, and certainly not backing up, the concept of the trinity. If it is true what I have hitherto established, the nature of God is not essentially POWER, but LOVE. Thus, the Son can also be God by virtue of being love (and they would need to both exist as necessary beings in order for there to be any love eternally at all!) But then again… the union of power does seem to unite them in one being in a secondary sense as well.

Ah, at first glance maybe not! But think about this again. You can have a line extending infinitely in either direction, or a line with a beginning which extends infinitely in only one direction. Or think about it this way. In Hilbert’s Grand Hotel Paradox, you could have the whole infinite set of occupants leave together and the hotel would be empty… or you could start with room #4 onward and thus have an infinite number of people exit and yet leave three.

But this is just why infinity is such a problematic number in the real-world of actuality (and is thus avoided by mathematicians, although potential infinity is okay). But in the realm of God’s self-generating being it could potentially be a reality. It would thus be a QUALITY of being rather than a QUANTITY. It’s more like an endless spring of life rather than some static quantity or set.

I’m telling you, I just keep running up against more and more existential problems that are only solved by the concept of the trinity. It’s astounding, really… such fundamental concepts reconciled by what seems on the face of it to be absurd by most (though I don’t think that it’s absurd at all, especially after approaching these issues).

Hmm. I have a problem with a) because the Fathers will does supersede the will of the Son.
b) makes sense because the will of the Son always perfectly agrees with the Father’s because it is perfectly subordinate to the Fathers. Neither of which help the case, per se.

I think I can agree with you to an extent here, because the nature of God is Love (as well as light and spirit). Here is where it gets tricky though. Jesus is divine by nature of his being the perfect representative of the Father, and by having been begotten, rather than created. Jesus is also not the Father, but trinitarians agree with that anyway, so that doesn’t really help either case. I think the sticking point here is that, even though it is denied, the practical effect of trinitarian theology contradicts itself in implying that the Son is in effect the Father while saying that he isn’t the Father, due to this concept of Co-equality; not necessarily in power as such, but in authority. That to my mind is where the trin. formulation breaks down with respect to the Father and Son relationship. There is a whole separate issue as to the identity of the holy spirit, which I think is even more problematic for trinitarianism than the Father and Son relationship

:laughing: I’m not sure that my brain can do this one just at the moment, but I think what it comes down to for me is a question of how the three supposed individuals of the trinity are identified in scripture, and whether that really constitutes a trinity.

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by existential problems only solved by the trinity, but if you have an example or two, perhaps we could look at those and disassemble them to see if they are unsolvable by unitariansim, or even perhaps ‘binitarianism.’


The link I gave is a summary of the results of the mini-series, giving each example and a further link to my extended discussion about it in some earlier part.

I’m actually willing to downgrade one of them now to near or at the bottom of the list thanks to Aaron’s efforts, even though most of his arguments on that example are otherwise quite weak. More on that presently. (I’ll need to update its entry with the appropriate counterargument and discussion, too.)


Was looking forward to an expected reply from you! Thanks muchly for it!

I would like to thank you for noting that I repeatedly bent over very far backward qualifying my examples so as not to make them seem like any kind of staunchly anti-Unitarian slam-dunk, or even to present them as “proof-texts” per se–but I can’t, because you didn’t. :wink:

I should hope anyone actually reading the mini-series would be able to tell that I do not treat even the top examples as being self-evidently unambiguous, obvious and straightforward (certainly not in any mere “proof-text” fashion); and I cannot imagine anyone getting the impression that even my brief summary reports of the other half of the examples are altogether easy to suss out.

Restricting myself for the moment to specific commentary from you (but I very much appreciate the links):

Re Heb 3:4 – I specifically chose this as my least example, and mentioned everything you mentioned. In fact, I went much further than you did qualifying against {ho theos} referring to Jesus there. You might have mentioned that you agreed more with my analysis against it than for it. :wink:

Re 1 John 5:20 – I am pretty sure I myself mentioned everything you did in qualifying my analysis.

Re 1 Peter 4:11 – I didn’t just stop in noting the topical ambiguity putting Jesus with the Father in sharing all power and glory due to {ho theos}, but extensively noted how the same author had been treating Jesus up to this point in the epistle, in ways explicitly identifying Jesus as YHWH. That lends a lot of weight toward understanding what the author means here at 4:11 by including Jesus in the power and glory that a devout monotheist would normally reserve religious praise only for {ho theos} and no lesser lord or god. (I still rated the application of the term itself to Jesus as being ambiguous, though.)

While that’s definitely there in the text, the Hebraist shortly after 1:4 has the Father refer to the Son as the original Lord (YHWH in the Hebrew) Who created everything, compared with which this Lord alone is self-existent. (This is mentioned in my argument concerning Heb 1:8, in auxiliary to the analysis of {ho theos} being applied to the Son by the Father.)

Whatever it may mean for Jesus to be exalted to this position after His death and resurrection (which as you say is definitely there in the same text, both at chapter 2 and later), details of that other sort are there, too. The Hebraist is not talking about a mere man who started off as a man and then was eventually made an authoritative lord under the Father by the Father. He is talking about the original YHWH Most High being made into a man by the Father and then being exalted again by the Father.

(And yes I know you disagree with that and provide counterargument links. I’m just replying in summary of my position on that topic, not counter-rebutting your own linked material there.)

Re Heb 8:8… (this is the main portion of my reply.)

This would weigh more if you had produced even one example of the Hebraist clearly by grammatic context calling someone other than Jesus “He” throughout the contextually preceding material. (Even I went out of my way being willing to acknowledge that the author calls someone not a man “the Lord” back at verse two in distinction from Jesus. But not “He” even there.)

As far as I can trace back through the Greek pronouns of He, Himself, Him, His, etc., the last the time the Father by clear contrast to the Son is called “He” is 7:17. (“For He is attesting, ‘You are a priest forever etc.’”)

The next “Him” is at verse 21, as receiver of the same promise, so definitely the Son.

v.24 “His remaining into the eon”, Jesus, explaining that His priesthood is inviolate thereby.

v.25 “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those coming to the God through Him.” Jesus again.

v.27 “for this He does once for all, offering up Himself” Jesus clearly.

8:3 “From this it is necessary for this one also to have something which He may offer” as a priest. Thus Jesus.

v.4 “Indeed, then, if He were on earth He would not even be priest”, Jesus.

v.5 “For see, He is strongly declaring”… this is either YHWH or a not-YHWH angel of YHWH (speaking as YHWH and expecting to be religiously treated as YHWH) giving instructions on how to build the tabernacle. But grammatically the author slides right on into talking about this “He” as if this is the same “He” the author has been talking about since 7:21!

v.6 Three words after quoting YHWH as He, “Yet now He has happened upon a more excellent ministry, in as much as He is the Mediator also of a better covenant”… so which He is this? You and I both agree it is Jesus.

v.8 For blaming them for breaking the earlier covenant, He is saying… what YHWH says to Jeremiah.

v.13 Having finished that quotation, the Hebraist explains, “In saying ‘new’ He has made the former old”, talking about whoever just said that.

9:7 the author goes on now to talk about the design of the earthly tabernacle for a while, and refers to the chief priest as “He” (in a generic fashion not meaning anyone in particular).

Having finished that, the author proceeds to compare it to Christ the chief priest of the impending good things, and doesn’t use that pronoun for a while until 9:14-15, where the pronouns explicitly refer to Jesus. Then not again for another while until verse 25, where there is a large cluster of them all referring to Christ again.

Then at verse 10:5 the author writes “Therefore entering into the world He is saying” a scripture definitely being applied to the Son talking to the Father and having a body being adapted for Him by the Father (with King David speaking to YHWH/Elohim).

And frankly I’m having trouble finding the next time when the author uses that pronoun set in the text to talk about the Father instead of Jesus. (No later than 11:16 anyway. Unless Jesus is the one being called {ho theos} there. :wink: But I wouldn’t argue for that. Your later example of 10:30 on another topic actually doesn’t count, as rather than the pronoun “Him” the author uses the direct article {ho} as shorthand for “with the one Who”. This is a common method of the author referring to God rather than to Jesus so as not to confuse the pronoun trail, including at other non-contentious points throughout this section, although the author uses the same phraseology for Jesus occasionally, too.)

So the author, smack dab in the middle of dozens of verses where he clearly distinguishes he is talking of Jesus whenever he explicitly uses the pronoun set He/Him/His/Himself, shifts casually over to someone twice when quoting scripture, but also just as casually once presents the same “He” as definitely meaning the Son in quoting scripture as being spoken by “He”.

The pattern strongly indicates that the same “He” is the speaker in the two exceptions under consideration.

You would have done better to try rebutting on grammatic contextual ground, that the author calls (or seems to call) someone “Lord” other than Jesus back at verse 2, and since the author goes out of his way to remind us “the Lord is saying” during the Jeremiah quote, then this must be who he means by “He” instead of Jesus. A factor I myself twice mentioned in the article as qualifying against my argument!–including as my final word on the argument! It is in fact exactly this reason why I ranked it so relatively low in the list.

In further mitigation against my argument, may I volunteer that back at the first chapter the author, in the middle of a bunch of times referring to the Father by “He” pronouns, briefly refers to the Son as “He” at verse 4 before going right back to talking about the Father as “He”? It isn’t until around 2:8 that the author starts referring to Jesus much as “He” instead (although there are a couple of other exceptions before then.)

If I may volunteer this, I will also observe that the same portion of scripture exemplifies that the author casually introduces speaking scriptural quotes by “He” here, where they match naturally with his vast majority usage of “He”. :mrgreen:

But this leads into your next rebuttal, which I think is vastly much better:

His Son “through whom He makes the eons”, you mean. :mrgreen:

The grammar at verse 1 there is not so explicitly contrasting as the translation you quoted; but aside from a special set of exceptions (where David may be said to be anticipating what Christ will say, thus Christ says those scriptures now), and one other exception that can be just as plausibly argued without theological bias to be referring to Joshua instead of Jesus, even I cannot find any other place in Hebrews where the author presents Jesus as being the speaker of the scriptures being cited.

This admittedly would leave my example over as the outlying data point; which can only weaken my argument. This is a fine rebuttal! :smiley: I’ll have to add a (further!) qualification against my argument to the original article, as well as to the summary result (probably lowering it down on the list, too).

You should have gone with this and stayed away from the other arguments, because aside from this one your rebuttals on this example are quite weak and look like they’re merely casting about for some reason why it would be intrinsically obvious in the text itself at that section (without prejudice to theological ideas under contention either way) that the author wasn’t talking about Jesus when casually switching speakers in the midst of a huge block of only talking about Jesus using that pronoun set.

So for example…

…since my argument was never simply “the Hebraist only uses that pronoun for Jesus” (which I am not so silly or ignorant to have tried, however ignorant I might be in other regards :wink: ), this is entirely beside the point (not “moreover”). But since none of these examples is really a parallel to the odd situation at the exemplified location, you had to come up with some implied reason to justify the comparison I guess. :mrgreen:

At Heb 1, the author clearly establishes that both persons, the Father and the Son, are being regularly talked about by name, and provides pretty clear topical pointers about which “He” he’s talking about at any time.

Ditto Heb 2:10.

At 4:3, the Hebraist has already started a section where the “He” set of pronouns is used exclusively when talking about the someone that no one disputes is God Most High, which doesn’t end until verse 10 (unless verse 7 talks about Jesus instead of Joshua!) The author does not elide in a vague brief manner into talking about Jesus (not by name) and back out again by means of the same pronoun.

10:30 isn’t actually an example, as noted before; “He” isn’t used of the Father there in the text.

5:5 and 7 are the same thing. Verse 5 introduces a different person in relation to the person of Jesus by means of “the one speaking toward Him”. 5:6 then uses “He” for the Father, and verse 7 “His” for the Son (and on afterward exclusively for a while, with {ho} by itself preferred as a different shorthand pronoun for the Father as back at verse 5.) Two persons are clearly in view and being discussed, as was already established to be true back previously in verses 1-4.

None of these situations are actually parallel to the situation at Heb 8, unless 3:7-4:10 is supposed to be parallel because the author is also only talking about one person there! (But then my argument said the same thing, although only of the Son not only of the Father, which you’re rejecting.) They are trivially parallel only in the sense that the Hebraist calls the Father “He” in (most of) them, which is the contention to be established against the casual appearance of continuing to use “He” for the Son in Heb 8.

(This is where the factor I myself mentioned against my argument, about “the Lord” not referring to Jesus earlier nearby, would come into play.)

Still, your argument from Heb 1:1 seems quite appropriate when backed up by demonstrable examples everywhere else in EpistHeb that I can find, leaving my example the data point out. I’m willing to acknowledge a very solid refutation on that ground, and will adjust my article (and the subsequent entries) accordingly. :smiley:

Finishing up…

Re Rev 22:16 – your reference to Rev 1:1-2 per se doesn’t actually help, because the pronouns don’t actually indicate who or Who was dispatching the messenger to John, nor whose or Whose messenger was being dispatched. Whereas Rev 22:16 very explicitly says that Jesus was dispatching the messenger to John, or rather the angel says this while speaking for Jesus.

But then you agree that Jesus sent His angel to John to give the message, which is not only exactly what I said but is a crucial part of my argument. So referring back to 1:1-2 has added nothing against my argument. We both would look at Rev 22:16 to clarify what’s being talked about here, not vice versa.

(That “God” gives the revelation to “Jesus” to give to show to His and/or his slaves, is not something I dispute either and will be discussed in principle as I go.)

I have no disagreement about the angel belonging to the Son by virtue of having been given (like everything else) to the Son by the Father. But this is a concept that can obviously be understood both in a unitarian and a trinitarian way. Whether it counts as a plausible alternative depends on how other contexts add up there.

It should be noticed, though, that even that defense leaves the Son on the other side of a hard thick dividing line with the Father compared to anyone else. We may be given all things in the Son, but we don’t get to send angels, identifying themselves as our angels, to speak for us personally (much less while the angels make claims originally attributed to YHWH in speaking for us personally!) Similarly, Christ may share the throne with us as the Father shares the throne with Him, but we don’t get to sit on the throne receiving the worship of all creation (or of any creation), or on the throne at all actually.

Which naturally leads to the worship distinction problem posed by this angel.

This sounds like you’re basically agreeing we shouldn’t even respectfully worship not-God creatures that we know to be such out of politeness. So much for worshiping a not-God Jesus then!

Nor by the same token are we supposed to worship not-God angels who show up with messages from God, even when they start speaking for God directly. So much less for worshiping a not-God Jesus then!

Adam Clarke’s defense, which you quoted, leaves over exactly no reason to properly worship the Son either, as we can be under no obligation to the Son for information or anything else we receive from Him, all things having been given to the Son from God alone.

I think I recall you defending at great length, on such principles as these, why the scriptures (not least RevJohn) indicate we are still supposed to worship Jesus (and/or the Angel of YHWH) in a religious fashion otherwise reserved for God alone. My memory may be faulty, though.

But your defenses for why it was not proper to worship the official messenger of God sent by God alone, when He comes bearing a message from God alone, speaking for God alone, even when the messenger speaks as though God is directly presently speaking, can even be extended in the same principles as a refutation in themselves for why the heck Jesus should be considered as having anything more than a merely technical place in this chain of transmission!–much moreso for sending an angel of God in Jesus own name to speak for Jesus! It seems like unitarians would be mistaken to attribute such things to Jesus at all in any personally authoritative way, even though that’s just how the texts present the situation. (And as I’m sure you know, some unitarians do in fact refuse to worship Jesus or treat him as having any more than a technical place in passing along this or that gift of God, just like any other mere messenger serving God.)

My point regarding Rev 22:16 still stands. As I myself explicitly said in its argument, the angel should be sent from the God of spirits alone; and up until 22:16 there is no textual indication otherwise. Even at 22:16 Jesus does not say “I and My Father are sending His angel” or “our angel” or whatever. Just as God alone is to be worshiped, not the messengers God sends, God alone sends the angel; but Jesus sends the angel to speak for Himself, just as Jesus is to be worshiped–not as only a messenger of God, Who alone should be worshiped.

Re 2 Thess 1:12 – the ESV gets to this by adding a “the” to make two distinctive referents. Otherwise the initial “the” would govern the terms connected by the “and”, which as I demonstrated is standard operating procedure for a phrase of this sort.

I totally welcome the comparison to the opening salutations of the same letter (and 1 Thess, incidentally, and Philippians, and Ephesians (both at the beginning and ending salutation), and Galatians, and 2 Cor, and 1 Cor, and Romans, and I got bored of looking up examples at this point :wink: ), where neither {theos} nor {kurios} have direct articles (and {theos} in each case has a name title attached to it, “Father”, that very distinctly distinguishes it from Jesus Christ, not incidentally.)

The opening phrases could have also been written like {apo tou theou patros [he_mo_n] kai tou kuriou Ie_sou Xristou}, with two direct articles, and distinguished between the persons similarly. Whereas if verse 12 had read {tou theou he_mo_n kai kuriou patros}, no one would be disputing for a moment that it was talking about God the Father, even though it would be extremely unusual for Paul to speak of anyone other than Jesus as “Lord” including earlier nearby. The conclusion would be that Paul had chosen to take a moment to affirm the Father as Lord, too, for whatever reason.

(I have now added an addendum comment to that entry saying basically the same thing in a little more detail.)

Regarding Segal’s 2PiH: while I haven’t read this yet, it’s a classic work that I often see respectfully referenced (although never in much explicit detail) in ortho-trin apologetic books of various sorts. There are copies available through Amazon for less than $72 by the way, although $50+ shipping is still pretty steep. I snagged one of the new ones myself, so now there’s one less. :mrgreen:

My understanding of the book from hearing prior references to it (and this is backed up by descriptions at Amazon), is that the Two Powers concept in Judaism was a popular minority way among the rabbis of trying to deal with much the same issues in the Jewish OT that Christianity came to embrace. My impression has not yet been that the book intended to present this idea as normative in Judaism (until Christianity came along to run with the idea in application to Jesus Christ, necessitating the split).

I suppose I’m willing to be convinced it was normative, since it sure wouldn’t hurt my own position any. :wink: However, as Aaron rightly points out, the more pertinent question would be whether such interpretations were correct, not how normative they were (or weren’t!) After all, no Christianity was normative to Judaism, insofar as the two ideas differed (whatever those differences were at any given time).

Note: I have now updated the mini-series, with an in-depth presentation of the rebuttal to the Heb 8 example, and attribution to Aaron. :smiley:

I decided the rebuttal was strong enough to remove Heb 8 from the list altogether, and have made changes to that effect with a note explaining the change was made. :slight_smile:

Jason, I have yet to see a single verse in the New Testament where Jesus is clearly called “the God”.

Your statement that He is called “Yahweh” does not help. I think that the Father and the Son both share the name “Yahweh”, and yet the Son of God is not “the God”. Jesus addressed the Father as “the only true God”.

Indeed, the following verse seems to speak of two different Individuals, each of whom is called “Yahweh”:

Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from Yahweh out of heaven. (Genesis 19:24)

In the context, there were three “men” who visited Abraham. Two of them left to go to Sodom. The one remaining was addressed by Abraham as “Yahweh”. I see this “man” as the Son of God. Through Him, the Father rained sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. One Yahweh was in heaven; the Other on earth (the One who had been talking to Abraham). The One in heaven was the source of the sulfur and fire. But He sent it by means of the One on earth.

This, too, I learned many years ago from reading Justin Martyr’s account of the event — an account he shared with Trypho and the Jews who were with him, when he was trying to convince them that Jesus is the divine Son of God.


Thanks! On the 14 ho theos texts, I agree ambiguity “cuts both ways,” and even allows all to wax confident that they must support whatever they already find convincing in the wider datum. So I logically focused on the 5 you see as most unproblematic (you add that they require your view unless there’s bias that Jesus can’t be called God; but they’d just think your own bias cuts in the opposite direction :wink: ).

I suggested grammatical translators often see these verses as possibly referring to God the Father, and to Jesus. E.g. that Titus 2:13 could mean that the one who will manifest "the glory of the great God (the Father) and (also) the one who is our savior (Jesus) is Christ. And I asked, don’t some serious Trinitarian translators render that as a possibility?

You appear to respond, No, they can’t think “the grammar seriously points” to such a thing, and that your longer article proves this. I see you say there that the article must belong both to God and Savior, who must both be Jesus himself, rather than a description of God’s glory, and you again say, “no one would ever think” otherwise. I remain skeptical that it’s that certain, tho I lack your level of confidence that the alternative view outweighs yours here. Still my impression is that there’s enough ambiquity for it to remain a possible meaning. Unready to lay out the grammatical necessities that you invite, I am ordering Dunn’s book on this, and will re-engage if I gain more clarity on an alternative interpretation.

If by “my view” you mean “that Jesus is grammatically being called {ho theos} there”, yes I said that those examples require that Jesus is grammatically being called {ho theos}. Which I repeatedly stressed was the limit to my argument.

I went extremely far out of my way, repeatedly, and in several different fashions, to emphasize that this would not require my theological views if so. I did note that those examples would (by tautology) be very problematic for people who, for whatever reason, want to deny that Jesus is ever called {ho theos} in the NT, and that if they wanted to keep denying this they would have to read some interpretation into the text over-against the grammar on the page. But then I even went on to say that this wouldn’t necessarily be the wrong thing to do!

I really don’t know how much further backward I can bend over to be fair and accommodating–I’m practically crawling around on my palms in a reverse arch already! The fact that after doing all that you still think I’m trying to argue that since Jesus is called {ho theos} therefore trinitarian theism must be true, is very bothersome. Should I have printed what I actually said (repeatedly) in bold large-font multi-colored italics???


“the God”

(I got tired of formatting it in multi-colors. But I can keep adding those, and maybe a bunch of exclamation points, if you still think I am not being obvious enough yet.)

I am arguing that the data is there, and not not-there (against what some apologists have occasionally said), the end, period.

I mentioned that of course a systematic theology about what the scriptures are testifying should account the data in one way or another; but I wasn’t making such a systematic argument in this mini-series, and I practically went to Antarctica trying to give examples of how non-trinitarians might deal with the data without saying anything about the propriety of them doing so (except for allowing that they could theoretically be right to do so!)

I say I would be perfectly happy without them there (because I don’t in fact need them); I say I would actually prefer to have none of them there compared to a lot of them, due to the obvious importance in the texts of distinguishing between the persons of the Father and the Son; I go out of my way excusing other people for not seeing them; I accept a solid refutation of one of them from a critic and print that refutation into the appropriate article (with attribution to the critic) while removing that example from the list…

Can you tell me, please, just how much farther I need to go to be safe from implied accusations that I am only being un-self-critically biased in order to make the texts say what I want them to say in a fashion that unfairly represents the case and cheats against my opponents???!

But until you provide an actual argument from them as to why they are doing so, it doesn’t matter that some serious trinitarian translators render that as a “possibility”. At most that’s an argument from innuendo. Do you want me to make guesses about why they would do so for Titus 2:13?? Since I can’t imagine why they would do so on grammatic grounds (although I’m hardly inerrant about such things), and since you report no grounds at all (grammatic or otherwise), I’m at a loss as to why they would have any grammatic argument otherwise. My guess, since I think I do understand the grammatic issues involved here, would be they do so for something other than grammatic reasons, over against the grammar on the page. Which I explicitly allowed they might be “right” to do!

If you’re going to quote me, I recommend quoting me on what I actually said in context. Where have I ever once said that no one would ever think otherwise than that God and Savior both describe Jesus Christ at Titus 2:13 (or any other contended example)?

I did repeatedly say that if the nouns were different while the grammatic form was kept exactly the same, there would be no dispute from anyone about the meaning of the phrase and whether it all applies to the person at the end (thus the problem isn’t the grammatic form but the fact that {ho theos} is being used); and I provided examples to back up that claim. You’re welcome to dispute those examples if you wish. But that is very much different from me claiming that no one would ever think the actual examples on the page being contended about were anything other than what I claimed. I would be engaging in self-contradictory nonsense if I claimed that! :unamused:

Since I am not and never was saying that no one is contending about the examples being contended about (duh), and since consequently that is not my argument in any way, shape, form or fashion, can we please move on to an actual criticism of my actual argument?

Thank you! And if his book is at Amazon it may be searchable with SITB; which one did you order?

By the way, I forgot that I hadn’t activated my addendum article at the Cadre, on the transmission variant Bob asked about at Heb 1:8 (and why it was really not worth talking about at the end of an already long article. :wink: ) … um-on.html

This has some relevance to other questions about translating the grammar there, too, so yay. :slight_smile: I hope it’s informative, even if ultimately rather trivial. :ugeek:

I found the following video interesting and would appreciate any comments from those with some knowledge of such things: … ure=relmfu

Nice explanation. That’s how I read it, Pilgrim. I’m not a grammar expert, but intuitively I can’t make sense of the wording any other way.

More on that “Granville Sharp Rule” here: … grammarian


I’ll have something to say about the G-S Rule, and why I didn’t appeal to it per se, when I post some comments on Aaron’s linked arguments, particularly the one from Biblicalunitarian which dismisses 2 Thess on that ground.

The short of it is that the “G-S Rule” per se has definite problems, but there are standard formal interpretation issues involved in at least three of my examples despite the fact that they can also be subsumed under G-S. Throwing them out for that reason involves a partial category error, although a forgivable one. (BU’s article on it, linked to by Aaron in connection to 2 Thess, is well worth reading otherwise for explaining why G-S isn’t particularly helpful.)

Edited to add: I sure hope people will take the time to notice that the guy in the video is proceeding along the notion that arguing Jesus is referred to as {ho theos} in these places “proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is God”.

Not ‘adds data toward a systematic conclusion about what the scriptures testify on this matter’. The verses themselves supposedly “prove that Jesus is God”.

…why am I being treated like I’m only doing what this… person… is doing???

I do have to say that I am very jealous of his Greek pronunciation. :mrgreen: (Although I don’t know why he’s omitting the rough breathing sound in front of {he_mon}. :confused: )


Thanks for your diligence! The Dunn book I’m getting is “Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?” I never thot you’d “argued that orth-trin must be true.” I was questioning precisely your grammatical certainty. I KNOW you can’t imagine why serious trinitarian grammatical translators could think a rendering is possible that you think impossible. For you say, “the problem clearly can’t be the grammar,” and suggest no one can dispute the grammar.

I know you state that the whole phrase at issue must apply to the person at its’ end. Though I admit I don’t grasp the argument that you think proves no exceptions to this, to a novice like me, that does not seem to be the only possible way to construe it. And my impression in reading such debates is that disputes about grammatical and linguistic ‘rules’ never cease. Thus for now, my instinct is that it’s likely that the reason some translators would differ with you is that they actually would differ with your certainties about what ‘grammar’ requires.

I only say “the problem clearly can’t be the grammar” after I have provided numerous examples where the exact same grammatic construction is disputed by no one, or would be disputed by no one, in variations up to the point where {theos} is used after a {ho}. Then suddenly there’s dispute, including people saying they want to dispute the grammar.

But if the grammar was really so flexible, there wouldn’t be (as far as I can tell) universal agreement about the meaning of the exact same grammatic form when nouns are used which everyone is willing to agree apply safely to Jesus.

That means the issue isn’t grammatical. The issue is terminological (at least, and maybe conceptual/theological). The grammar is uncontentious until {ho theos} is used there.

So, working backward on counter-argument links provided by AaronR (seeing as how I myself went far out of my way to qualify the first examples as being obscure for various reasons which will no doubt be recapitulated in his linked counterarguments):

HEB 1:8 acknowledges that the Son is being called {ho theos} in the text here. Since that was what I was primarily arguing, and not (primarily) what it means for Jesus to be called {ho theos} here, there is no refutation but rather confirmation of my argument.

They somewhat obscure this acknowledgment, because they routinely treat the situation without referring to the presence of the direct article. The first part of their commentary implies, however, that they recognize {ho theos} is being used here, since they argue that the usage of the direct article doesn’t always refer to God Most High. Their counter-example, 2 Cor 4:4, does refer to Satan as {ho theos tou aio_nos), “the-god of this age”; although they don’t bother to mention that the immediate qualifier (“of this age”) is a clear limitation to the concept of “the-god”, and that the immediate topical context indicates that Paul intends a denying contrast to that title. Their exception doesn’t really prove that it’s easy, normal and expected for entities other than God Most High to be called {ho theos}.

The site is also rather disingenuous at times about what is being argued against. “Hebrews 1:8 is like other verses in that just because the word ‘theos’ (‘GOD’) is used does not mean that it refers to the Father.” Modalists might try to argue that it does, but trinitarians certainly do not, although they do think it refers to God Most High. (i.e. there is a tacit theological exclusion being made in the refutation, so that God Most High must only mean the Father.) Also, it is not only “just because” the word {theos} is being used; the term {ho theos} is being used.

Considering how strongly the site itself lays stress on ‘god’ lacking direct articles where they think this is convenient to their position, it seems strange that if “the god” is not really a problem they aren’t consistently open about “the god” being used here, even if they decide for other reasons it shouldn’t be translated “the God” (capital G).

The rationales of the article otherwise are theological in nature, not grammatic. (e.g. “Christ cannot be the supreme God because the supreme God does not have a God.”) Whatever their worth might be, they don’t actually address the gist of my argument, which is about the textual characteristics (and against a denial that the textual characteristic is there)., which I should warn readers features pop-under ads aggressive enough to get through my Norton onto my Mac (not about theology, mine was about women’s shoes), outright denies that the proper translation is a Greek grammar question at all, and asserts that it is instead “a question of theological interpretation”. This is probably just as well, since their subsequent attempt at grammatically analyzing the phrase tries to make out that God is speaking to the Son about Himself (not the Son) in the 2nd person, i.e. the Father says to the Son “your throne O God” but means “My throne” and vocatively addresses Himself as {ho theos} instead.

I have some things to say about this kind of attempt, as it happens, in the addendum to the Heb 1:8 argument that I posted in response to Dr. Bob’s question about the textual transmission issue there. (Although I don’t mention that particular attempt exactly.) It should be obvious, though, that Angelfire is working hard to impose a theological interpretation over-against the grammar. Whether they are right to do so is a whole other question, but if they didn’t do so Jesus would be being called {ho theos} in the text–because that’s how the grammar per se naturally reads.

Neither article refutes my argument per se; both articles acknowledge and affirm my argument, insofar as they touch at all. Frankly I am a little confused as to why Aaron even linked to them as rebuttals. (Possibly he didn’t read them and/or my argument?) I sure wouldn’t want to hang my rebuttal on Angelfire’s bizarre grammatic solution, though.

(Made more onerous by Angelfire’s strident mocking of trinitarians for supposedly foisting our theology into this text in extreme fashions. :unamused: )

HEB 1:10

I referenced this in my argument for Heb 1:8 as parallel support, the idea being that immediately after calling Jesus {ho theos} the Father goes on to call Him YHWH by applying this quotation (about YHWH in the OT, translated as {kurios} of course) to the Son, thus addressing the Son as YHWH. And not as any lesser YHWH either, apparently, as the text is pretty clear about what this YHWH does and has done and how He compares to anything else in creation.

But anyway, the argument was that the Father addresses the Son as YHWH here by saying to the Son this scripture addressed to YHWH, and that the statements made about YHWH here also thus grammatically apply to the Son.

The site agrees that it was talking about YHWH originally, and agrees it’s talking about Jesus Christ now. The site then just kind of flatly asserts that the person being addressed has changed from YHWH to Jesus Christ, and tries to argue that the actions being described have also changed from what was originally being talked about (YHWH’s original creation of all things and His unique self-existence compared to any of them), to a different action (Jesus Christ’s creation of the new heavens and the new earth.) Never mind that in the OT no one less than YHWH would be creating the new heavens and new earth, too, just like He created the old one! Be that as it may, it’s an argument from a non-trinitarian theology over-against what the grammar would otherwise be plainly saying. (They do try to connect it to a verse later topically, but the verse only adds the support they want if they read their Christology into the verse first: a point they rather gloss over. Whether they’re right or wrong to do so, that isn’t the kind of argument I’m making.)

The site reports a second argument which, although they don’t subscribe to it, AaronR says he himself subscribes to. On this argument, the “and” or {kai} which begins verse 10 isn’t read as continuing the declaration of the Father to the Son with another declaration, first from this scripture, then from this new one; but rather as breaking off from the author’s rhetorical argument to praise God the Father for a while, before picking back up afterward with a final brief comparison of the Son to angels. The idea is that this is the kind of God Who has promised a throne to Jesus, so we can be sure the stability of the kingdom of that throne is proportionately secure.

There is nothing actually in the grammar to indicate this, of course. The main rationale for the attempt is that otherwise the Father would be calling Jesus the original self-existent YHWH in comparison to any of the angels, which is how the grammar per se most naturally reads. And that would be binitarian theism (at least) which has to be wrong. Still, while totally impossible to prove, I can’t think of any way to disprove it from the grammar either, although the theory does require breaking the flow of the author’s rhetorical structure–another advantage for the grammatic interpretation, which not only preserves but thus climaxes the structure (with verse 13 afterward, still in structure, neatly bookending the structure on either side with references to Psalm 110. This, in other words, is how the author interprets the riddle of Psalm 110: is the ADNY there only adonei or Adonai? I find the author’s answer is “both”.)

On the other hand I do admit that Norton (the author cited at the site as representative of this argument) does connect his theory topically to how the Psalmist applies the statement, which is definitely a point in its favor.

Angelfire, as before, pretends that the trinitarian must start by assuming God is saying a second thing to the Son, as though this was not how the grammar would naturally read. Then he continues as though the “nearest antecedent = nearest last word” argument from 1 John 5:20 (which as I carefully qualified isn’t universal and which in that case features an emphatic “this one” unlike here) is merely being thrown out to match “He” at verse 13 with “the Father” at verse 8 instead of with “you, Lord” at verse 10.

Angelfire agrees that God the Father is speaking at verse 13; what he wants to argue is that God the Father is being spoken about as Lord at verse 10. To do so he himself must violate the same (not inviolable) rule, and ignore that normally the “you” being addressed in verse 10 would be the same “you” being addressed in verse 9, namely Christ.

AF’s rhetorical structure hinges on the word {kai} being used to introduce a new argument element to which the Hebraist then contrasts the next element with a {de}. The contrast is then inferred that at verse 10 the Hebraist is explaining that no angel has ever been asked to sit at God’s right hand and never will, because God is so much greater than all creation; but the Son will be given that spot.

Actually, AF’s argument is rather vague in its details and logical validity there (not least because this isn’t the topic of that citation at all). He is very emphatic (probably because the cited scripture is equally emphatic about the utter and categorically unique supremacy of YHWH/Lord) that the emphasis of the scripture means no created angel will ever sit with the Father; but then in practically the next breath he expects the reader to ignore this same criteria in regard to the merely created Son!

His interpretation also voids the rhetorical structure of the Father quoting verses about (and in every case to) the angels or to the Son. He also manages to obscure that the Father starts off quoting one verse and then immediately quotes another verse with {kai} (although not only with {kai}, but {kai palin} “and again” is irrelevantly different.)


The Father says this scripture to the Son about the Son
and again that scripture to the Son about the Son
yet to angels the Father says this scripture about the Son

and to the angels He says this scripture about the angels
yet to the Son He says this scripture about the Son

•••and the Hebraist says this scripture to the Father about the Father•••
yet to the Son the Father says this scripture about the Son.

AF thinks this retains the structure of the rhetoric, and in fact that the rhetorical structure even demands it, which trinitarians are only being wishy blinkered about not seeing.

So I’m having to guess what his logic is supposed to be. But after accusing trinitarians of wishful thinking he’s satisfied, and that seems to be the most important thing. :slight_smile:

AF’s approach actually validates (in a backhanded fashion) the observation that the most natural reading of the grammar, would be that the Father is continuing to say something to the Son, namely a second scriptural citation (much as the Father started off by doing). One doesn’t have to assume trinitarianism to read the text that way; but the problem seems to be that reading it that way would weigh toward at least binitarianism. Thus something else has to be tried over-against the grammar in order to avoid the result.

That’s a problem of the implications of the grammar, though.