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Mars Hill Apologetic Discussions
A Return Letter to Robert Hommel Regarding Mantey's Letter to the WTB&TS
By Greg Stafford
(to my knowledge, Mr. Stafford never wrote Part 2)
[NOTE: This is Part One of my reply to Robert
Hommel, who has offered a reply to my online comments regarding Dr. J.
R. Mantey's letter to the WTB&TS, concerning matters relating to the
use of his grammar, and various issues concerning translations found in
In Part One of my reply I am responding to issues relating to John 1:1 and the NWT's/WTB&TS's use of Mantey's grammar. Part Two will consider the remainder of Mantey's letter to the WTB&TS, and Hommel's attempt to justify Mantey's assertions.
For a response to Mantey's claims regarding NWT's placement of the comma after "today" in Luke 23:43, and a complete response to Chapter 7 of Robert Bowman's book Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses, where he discusses Luke 23:43, see the second edition of Jehovah's Witnesses Defended. See also Part Two of my reply to Hommel, for more on Luke 23:43.]
Dear Mr. Hommel:
I have read your open letter addressed to myself, and below I offer a reply that I hope will bring you clarity on several points where I believe you are in serious error.
Mantey's words below are in black,
my original comments are in blue,
your response is in red,
and my response to you is in VIOLET. I will set Mantey's remarks off in
single brackets ([ ]), my original words in double brackets ([[ ]]),
your response in >> << and my response in [< >].
[<PLEASE NOTE: There are two things to which Mantey is expressing disagreement: 1) statements made in the WTB&TS's letter to CARIS, and 2) quotations made by the Society from the Dana-Mantey (hereafter, D-M) grammar. You will further note that Mantey's first point below has to do with one of the WTB&TS's "statements" to CARIS>]
[(1) Your statement: "their work allows for the rendering found
in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures at John
1:1." There is no statement in our grammar that was ever meant to
imply that "a god" was a permissible translation in John 1:1.]
>> Dr. Mantey is hardly confused. He is not drawing a fine distinction in terms between "allows for" and "imply." <<
[<That is PRECISELY why he is confused! Mantey is, as even you admit, not drawing such a distinction, but such a distinction must indeed be drawn. This should have been clear enough from what I wrote just above your reply, but for some reason it was not. To make the statement that D-M's grammar allows for an anarthrous predicate nominative preceding a copula verb to be translated with an indefinite article (as in NWT's "a god" translation of John 1:1) when D-M itself refers to an anarthrous predicate nominative preceding a copula verb which they then translate as "and the place was a market [EMPORION HN]," most certainly allows for, grammatically, the verse they say is a "parallel case," namely, John 1:1, to be translated similarly (D-M, 148; see below on Hommel's baseless assertions regarding Attic Greek). THAT is what the WTB&TS meant by their comments to CARIS, and Mantey's failure to properly distinguish between what D-M "allows for" and what it 'implies' is unfortunate and irresponsible. Please try to distinguish what is grammatically allowable and what is theologically implied.>]
>>He is simply saying his Grammar cannot legitimately be used in support of the WT's rendition of John 1:1. He is well aware of what the WT intends by quoting his Grammar.<<
[< I hope this is not going to be a recurring pattern in your response, Mr. Hommel, but, again, he can say whatever he wants, but the fact is D-M makes reference to a grammatical parallel to John 1:1, which they translate with an indefinite article. How is it that you cannot see this simple point? If I make reference to two texts that use the same grammatical construction and I then translate one of them a certain way, I am then making it allowable to translate the other passage with the same grammatical construction in the same way. Of course, we always consider the different contexts and other relevant issues before offering a translation, but that is where factors other than grammar come into play. Here we are speaking of the grammatical basis presented in the D-M grammar upon which one could say that such and such is allowable. For D-M to parallel the grammar of John 1:1 to Anabasis 1.4.6 and to then translate the predicate nominative in Anabasis 1.4.6 as "a market," certainly ALLOWS for (grammatically) the predicate in John 1:1c. to likewise have an indefinite article in translation. Whether they view the predicate as having the same semantic is irrelevant to the fact that the grammatical construction itself is capable of bearing the indefinite/qualitative semantic. I explained all of this in my response, which you reference below, but for some reason this point was not clear to you.>]
>> It seeks to support its translation by citing relevant scholarship. Unfortunately, it has chosen to do so through the use of selective quotation. The accepted standards for scholarly citation are well-known - simply put, one must quote accurately and must include or summarize enough context so that the reader can easily discern the quoted writer's meaning. It is considered unethical to quote an author in such as way as to mislead the reader into thinking that he is saying something he is not. Only JW's seem to be of the opinion that the WT has quoted the Manual Grammar in accordance with these standards. <<
[<And only Trinitarians seem to be of the opinion that D-M does not "allow" for the NWT rendering! You are going in circles, Mr. Hommel. You cannot ignore the relevant difference between NWT's claim that D-M "allows for" a certain rendering and Mantey's objection that such a rendering for John 1:1 was not meant to be 'implied.' Of course they did not mean to imply any such rendering, but by not being able to see through their staunch Trinitarianism (see D-M, 140) they apparently could not see the allowance that results from their paralleling Anabasis 1.4.6 with John 1:1. That is their problem, and yours, not ours.>]
[[Of course, we hardly need their grammar to justify what is really a rather obvious translation. Still, when they referred to Xenophon's Anabasis 1:4:6 EMPORION D' HN TO XWRION ("the place was a market") and then say "we have a parallel case to what we have in John 1:1" (Dana and Mantey, 148) the foundation is laid, grammatically, for a parallel translation. But, of course, the theology of the grammarians overrides their good grammatical judgment, as is evident by their Trinitarian coloring of this verse on page 140 of the Manual Grammar.]]
>> If you hardly need the Grammar to support this "obvious" translation, why did the WT bother quoting it in the first place? <<
[< Is that not obvious, Mr. Hommel? Why, it is to show those who object to such a translation that even sources to which you look for grammatical guidance "allow for" such a rendering.>]
>>It is, indeed, an obvious translation. Dr. Mantey translates it as follows: "The Word was deity." As should go without saying, and as Dr. Mantey makes clear in his letter to the WTB&TS, by "deity," he means the One True God, not a secondary, lesser "god" as the WT implies in the appendix of the 1971 NWT.<<
[< Now here is where your blending together of the WTB&TS's "statements" to CARIS and what they quote from Mantey's grammar in the NWT Appendix to John 1:1 causes you problems. What you apparently do not realize is that in the period leading up to the NWT translation Colwell's rule and "the Word was God" (definite) translation were held up as legitimate at almost every turn. The "a god" rendering is NOT a strictly indefinite translation (at least not in NWT), but is meant to convey QUALITATIVENESS by means of the English indefinite article. That even the 1950 translation of John 1:1 is to be understood as primarily qualitative can be seen from the following statements in the Appendix to John 1:1: "[Theos in John 1:1c] tells of a certain quality about the Word or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same as God"; "[the anarthrous predicate] points to a quality about someone" (p. 774, emphasis added). As even Trinitarian scholars have observed:
Since D-M's "deity" is a qualitative translation, as opposed a strictly definite one, then NWT is merely referring to them (just as it refers to Westcott and others who offer qualitative translations, albeit with a Trinitarian sense) as examples supporting their qualitative emphasis on the predicate THEOS in John 1:1c. The WTB&TS is not going to spend time telling the reader about the theology of those whom it cites in the Appendix article, because that is not relevant to their main point, which is to establish the legitimacy of a qualitative rendering. I am sure they figured it was rather obvious how D-M' theology came into play when the meaning of the translation was at issue, but since they are concerned here, not with the interpretation per se, but with the TRANSLATION (that is, a qualitative versus a definite one), then why should we expect to find more in the Appendix concerning D-M than we do? Because you are not clear about what they are trying to do, and no doubt because you have been influenced by Mantey's confusion over this issue, you are having difficulty letting go of the condemnation that has been heaped upon the NWT and the WTB&TS. I encourage you to disconnect yourself from such misunderstandings, spend several months meditating on the issues, and then revisit the matter afresh. >]
>> In support of his translation, Dr. Mantey could easily cite hundreds of ancient and modern grammarians, commentators, and theologians with impeccable credentials. The WT, on the other hand, has used such leading lights as the Unitarian Benjamin Wilson (who had no credentials as a Greek scholar), Johannes Greber (a notorious occultist), and the anonymous NWT Translation Committee. <<
[<And if Mantey were to cite "hundreds of ancient and modern grammarians, commentators, and theologians with impeccable credentials" supporting a qualitative versus a definite TRANSLATION, then NWT could also have legitimately cited them all. Also, please refrain from using circumstantial ad hominems. They don't work here. Wilson also translated Titus 2:13 in accordance with the preferred Trinitarian translation. Why did his Unitarianism not affect him here? How do you know anything about Wilson's qualifications? Can you please list Granville Sharp's "credentials as a Greek scholar"? Why is this not an issue with you, especially since his "rule" is used in numerous grammars, although most of these grammars written by scholars with "impeccable credentials" almost always misunderstand the rule founded by a man without any "impeccable credentials"! >]
>> "The ground is laid grammatically for a parallel translation?" Tell me, Mr. Stafford, what is the context of the quoted passage from Xenophon in Dr. Mantey's Grammar? What is he attempting to demonstrate? Is he writing about the meaning of the anarthrous predicate or the articular subject? <<
[< Tell me, Mr. Hommel, do we have a grammatically parallel use of the predicate nominative in Anabasis 1.4.6 and John 1:1? Does D-M translate only the subject in Anabasis 1.4.6 or do they translate the predicate also? How do they translate the predicate? If they translate the predicate for one of two grammatically parallel passages with the indefinite article why do you continue to stumble over the fact that this then "allows for" a similar translation of the predicate in the grammatically "parallel" passage? >]
>> As the passage occurs in a section entitled, "With the subject in a copulative sentence," the answer should be obvious. <<
[< Of course it is. So why are you asking? This has nothing to do with my point, which you seem to have conveniently ignored. >]
>>The context is the use of the article to distinguish the subject in a copulative sentence, not the function of the anarthrous predicate. Since, in its letter to CARIS, the WT has not made this context clear in their citation, but rather has used it to support their translation of the predicate of John 1:1c, it has violated accepted standards of scholarly citation. More careful in print, perhaps, the WT at least pays passing reference to the context when citing Dr. Mantey in the appendix of the 1971 NWT. But even here the WT immediately shifts to the meaning of the predicate: "Instead of translating John 1:1 AND THE WORD WAS DEITY, this Grammar could have translated it AND THE WORD WAS A GOD, to run more in parallel with Xenophon's statement AND THE PLACE WAS A MARKET" (p. 1362). The lack of sufficient context allows readers to assume that by "deity," Dr. Mantey means something less than the One True God. The words "could have" suggests that the Grammar provides a basis for rendering the predicate "a god," which it emphatically does not - Mantey's very point in writing his letter in the first place. >>
[< Again, you are going in circles, and lumping the NWT quotations of D-M with the statements made to CARIS. You also seem oblivious to the fact that while the grammatical subject is in focus on page 148-149 of D-M, they also discuss and translate the predicate for the two "parallel" passages. Then they talk about their view of the predicate in both Anabasis 1.4.6 and John 1:1. The latter is, of course, viewed in the light of Trinitarianism. But since we are here discussing the WTB&TS's "statement" concerning what is 'allowed' by the D-M grammar, and since they most certainly, no doubt unwittingly, do, then your point is not established and fails (for the third time I believe) to understand the issues at hand. If this happens again in your response, I will omit that portion, as I do not have the time to explain this simple matter to you a fourth (fifth?) time. >]
>> What of the fact that the Grammar translates "market" as an indefinite noun? Does that "allow for" an indefinite rendering of the "parallel" predicate noun in John 1:1c? Not at all. As Dr. Mantey was well aware, while the use of the article to determine the subject and avoid a convertible proposition may be "parallel" from one Greek sentence to another, the function of an anarthrous predicate nominative is a far more complex issue. Pre-verbal, anarthrous predicate nominatives in copulative sentences can exhibit a range of semantic forces. <<
[< Okay, I will do it a fourth time, but no more. Again, as I have already stated, we are talking about what is ALLOWABLE. We fully understand the different semantics of predicate nouns. But one of those semantics is qualitative-indefiniteness. Since D-M recognizes this semantic, or at least an indefinite one, in their referencing and translating a passage that is a grammatical parallel to John 1:1c., then they ALLOW for the same possibility in translation to exist in relation to passages with the same grammatical structure. This is the last time I will bother explaining this to you. Since you regularly confuse the statements to CARIS with the quotation of D-M in NWT, and since you fail to recognize the difference between what is "allowed" versus what is purposefully 'implied,' then there is really nothing else I can do for you. You have already made up your mind, and at this point you are merely seeking to justify your misuse of Mantey's letter, and his failure to understand the basis upon which the WTB&TS made reference to D-M.
<<Dr. Mantey also knew that Xenophon wrote in Attic Greek, making the semantic force of emporion even less useful as a "parallel" with a predicate nominative in John's usage. Statistical analyses have shown that in the Koine Greek of the NT (and, more specifically of the fourth Gospel), preverbal anarthrous predicate nominatives in copulative sentences are rarely indefinite (Harner, Wallace, and Dixon). >>
[<The statistical studies you mention are all very subjective and contain numerous misclassifications based on theological driven criteria. If you had read my discussion with Don Hartley you would see this, or even if you had read my book. You have advanced nothing to show a difference between the force of a preverbal PN in Xenophon and John. The indefinite nuance is the most prominent in the examples from the Johannine corpus, which can be seen by a consideration of the context of those texts containing an anarthrous preverbal nominative. You, of course, give no examples to support your position; you simply fall back on the studies done by other Trinitarians, all of whom I have interacted with and whose findings I have disputed through critical analyses of the texts in question. Could you please interact with the following examples from the Fourth Gospel, and tell me how force of the predicate is different from that in Anabasis 1.4.6: 4:19; 6:70; 8:34; 8:44c; 8:44g; 8:48; 9:17; 9:24; 9:25; 9:28; 10:1; 10:2; 10:13; 10:36; 12:6.
"Rarely," did you say, Mr. Hommel? Also, again, do not forget to provide examples from Xenophon to support your assertions regarding the semantics of the preverbal PN in his writings, as compared with John. For example, I could cite Anabasis 1.4.6 or Anabasis 1.1.9 as examples of preverbal PNs with an indefinite semantic, but now I am doing your homework for you, since you are apparently unwilling or unable to document your point about alleged differences in the semantics of the preverbal PN in Xenophon and John. >]
>>Thus, the WT is either being na´ve or deceptive by suggesting that an indefinite predicate nominative in one Greek sentence (in an older dialect, no less) should be grammatical grounds for rendering a predicate nominative indefinite in another. <<
[< The deception or naivete comes from one who asserts a different semantic force for the predicate in Attic versus Koine when no such study has been offered to support such an assertion! The predicates in 1.4.6 and 1.1.9 are clearly indefinite, and being Attic does nothing to change this! The fact that the Johannine preverbal PNs also show a primarily indefinite sense in a great many instances and are written in Koine also does not affect the bottom line, which you continue to ignore. I have found a number of Patristic citations that exhibit a primarily indefinite semantic, also. So unless you can offer an acceptable analysis whereby Greek of different periods can be shown to differ from one another in the semantic force of anarthrous PNs preceding the copula, then your argument will remain circular. >]
[A. We had no "rule" to argue in suppport of the trinity.
[[Where, then, might we ask, do "the facts inherent in Biblical language" distinguish between the "person" (as distinct from "being") of Christ and the "person of the Father," which the grammar discusses on page 140? How does PROS TON THEON (John 1:1b) "point to" such a distinction, which is what the grammar claims?]]
>> Nowhere does Dr. Mantey argue that John 1:1 contains a full definition of the essential Trinity. >>
[< Interesting, for I did not say they "argue that John 1:1 contains a full definition of the essential Trinity"! Neither it nor any other verse in the Bible, or combination of verses for that matter, contains or articulates such a teaching. You have misquoted my point so that you don't have to deal with it. You will notice, though you apparently did not before, that I refer specifically to D-M page 140, where we read: "The use of THEOS in Jn. 1:1 is a good example. PROS TON THEON points to Christ's fellowship with the person of the Father; THEOS HN hO LOGOS emphasizes Christ's participation in the essence of the divine nature." In the paragraph just prior to this quotation, they also lean heavily upon their Trinitarian presuppositions, not grammar. So my point above remains untouched, and my question remains: How does PROS TON THEON (John 1:1b) "point to" such a distinction, which is what the grammar claims?>]
<<He merely says that theos in John 1:1c must be translated "God," not "a god." >>
[< I am sorry, where does D-M say such a thing? >]
<<Yet, if we fully engage the whole counsel of Scripture regarding the Unity of God, if we fully accept the claims made in the surrounding context of John's Gospel, if we apply the grammatical term "qualitative" properly, these two Persons must be One God, for they share the same Nature and attributes. Now, you may argue that the Bible does not portray God as multi-personal, but that is a different argument than saying the grammar of John 1:1 does not "imply" a personal distinction, while maintaining an ontological unity. >>
[< In order for the grammar to imply such a distinction, this distinction would have to be articulated SOMEWHERE in the Bible, preferably in the Gospel of John. But it is not, which is why you fail to cite any references for discussion of the point. You have to misapply the term qualitative to convey a Trinitarian sense that is nowhere articulated in the Bible. You have to take an ontological distinction (NOTE: John distinguishes the two in terms of THEOS, not PERSON) and change it into a "personal" one (which is itself devoid of an ontological distinction, but only in later Trinitarianism!) in order to fit with later theology. John does not do this, so neither do we.
John's grammar and vocabulary involve an ontological distinction between hO THEOS with whom the Word was, and THEOS as a description of the Word's mode of being. There is nothing to indicate ontological unity in this passage, and everything points to an ontological distinction! Indeed, even the context points to such a distinction when it calls the Word the "only-begotten god." (1:18) Of course, Trinitarians are fond of mistranslating this verse since it is so lethal to their views, but, I ask, where do we find another instance of an adjective immediately preceding a noun of the same gender, number and case where the preceding term is not taken as an adjectival modifier for the term that follows? Also, if the Word and the Father are the same God, then is the Father the "only-begotten G-god," also? He would have to be, according to you, for there is only one God and that triune God involves both the Father and the Son, not to mention the holy spirit, which would also have to be the "only-begotten G-god." John 1:1, its context and the context of the entire Bible cannot be made to agree with Trinitarianism. It stands in direct contradiction to such a teaching.
You next question reveals just how little you understand of our/my position, and why you need to spend several months, perhaps even a year or two, familiarizing yourself with the facts. But, that is what you should have done in the first place: >]
>> We might ask, Mr. Stafford, if you demand that Trinitarians prove their view of God from the grammar of a single verse, where do we find the notion of the inferiority of the Word in the grammar of John 1:1? After all, Mormons are quite happy to admit the Word is "a God," while denying that the Word is in any way inferior to God the Father. How can you demonstrate, from the grammar alone, that the Word is a created being, even if He is "a god"? You see, Mr. Stafford, you must import your theological suppositions that "a god" is the same as "an angel," and angels are not co-equal with God but were created by Him. While you may believe your suppositions are more Biblical than those of Trinitarians, it is disingenuous to accuse Trinitarians like Dr. Mantey of somehow engaging in an exegetical practice less sound than your own. <<
[< I do not believe that John 1:1 teaches the inferiority of the Word to the God with whom he existed, so your naive question is moot. Mantey is the one who claimed that PROS TON THEON involves the Word's "personal fellowship with the Father," and by this he means that they are distinct in "person" but one in nature, and the "with" involves the "fellowship" between the two "persons." John does not say any such thing. He says, quite clearly I might add, that the Word was with GOD. Therefore, the Word cannot be the same God with whom he was! It is really that simple, and fully supported by the grammar, which somehow you cannot see.
If the topic was the temporality of Christ's preexistence, there are a host of passages supporting such a view, and once you show that you are capable of carrying on an honest conversation about the ontological distinction inherent in the grammar of John 1:1, then we can proceed on and discuss other passages. As it stands, above you have shown your ability to miss the point and ask me a question that does not relate in any way to my argument so as to detract from your inability to prove anything from the grammar of John 1:1, without appealing to your Trinitarian presuppositions. Knowing that you must do this, you have to try and make it seem as if I am forced into doing the same, but you could not do that without failing to properly understand what I am arguing in the first place! Instead, you had to invent an argument on my part, namely, that I somehow obtain the "inferiority" of the Word to the Father from John 1:1. These tactics will not work here, I can assure you of that. >]
[C. Your quotation from page 148(3) was in a paragraph under the heading: "With the subject in a copulative sentence." Two examples occur there to illustrate that "the article points out the subject in these examples." But we made no statement in this paragraph about the predicate except that, "as it stands the other persons of the trinity may be implied in 'theos'." And isn't that the opposite of what of what your translation "a god" infers? ]
[[Most certainly, but the work of Lane McGaughy has shown that in equative clauses where both the subject and the predicate nominative have the article, the first one is the subject and the second is the predicate, thus, there would have been no confusion about such matters, had John used the article for THEOS in reference to HO LOGOS. The grammar's statement about "the persons of the trinity" clearly reveals that theology, not grammar, is the basis for their translation, and a post-biblical theology at that. Nowhere does the Bible say anything about a triune God, and nowhere does it mention anything about how one can be a separate "person" without also being a separate BEING. Trinitarians created this distinction long after the Bible was written, and have been reading it back into the text ever since, unfortunately.]]
>> "Most certainly?" Then you admit the WT's inference is deceptive. Thank you for at least honestly admitting this point.
[< Mr. Hommel, are you reading what I say, or just quoting me for the fun of it? My "most certainly" is clearly in reference to Mantey's observation that we disagree with his theology. The reference to their grammar where they cite a grammatically parallel passage to John 1:1 and translate that parallel passage with the indefinite article ALLOWS for the parallel passage to be translated similarly. It does not demand it, but it does allow for it. Grammar alone is what the WTB&TS is focusing upon here, not theology. Mantey fails to deal with the text to which he parallels John 1:1, which is why WTB&TS makes reference to it! Instead he goes off on a tangent about his theological position, which has nothing to do with the WTB&TS's reference to their section 148(3). >]
<<However, your comments with regard to McGaughty are hardly relevant. McGaughty wrote his dissertation in 1972. Dr. Mantey's letter was written just 2 years later. There is no evidence he was aware of McGaughty's study. Even if he was, it has no bearing on what was written in the Manual Grammar, which was published some 47 years earlier. >>
[< Once again you fail to see a rather obvious point. NOWHERE do I suggest that Mantey SHOULD HAVE known of this matter involving the article with the subject and predicate in copula clauses! I am merely commenting on what Mantey wrote in his letter and for the benefit of those who might misconstrue him to mean that the only reason why John did not use the article for the predicate in 1:1c. is so the subject and predicate could rightly be distinguished, correcting him. If you don't understand what I am saying or why I am saying it, even though here it should have been obvious even to you, then either ask for clarification or avoid touching on the subject until you obtain a proper understanding. >]
<<Dr. Mantey's point, as is plain to all but the most willfully blind WT apologist, is that the WT cited the Grammar out of context, for the context is the use of the article to establish the subject of the sentence, not the definiteness or indefiniteness of the predicate. Further, as the Grammar also states on page 149, had John used the article with both theos and logos, he would have made the two a "convertible proposition," that is, interchangeable. Thus, as the Grammar points out, the anarthrous theos in John 1:1c is significant beyond merely distinguishing it as the predicate.
[<You are in error, as everyone not blinded by a fanatic zeal to discredit Jehovah's Witnesses can see. You are also confusing their quotation regarding "deity" as a qualitative translation and their statement that his grammar allows for the NWT translation, which it does. I am not going to go over this point with you again. Four or five times is quite enough. From this point on if you continue to repeat yourself and repackage the same issues then I will simply delete them. >]
>> Dr. Mantey's assertion that "the place was not the only market," which the WT has jumped on in support of its translation, has nothing to do with the indefiniteness of the noun emporion, but rather that the "place" and the "market" are not one in the same - are not, in other words, 'convertible.' The WT's confusion regarding the concept of a convertible proposition is further manifest on page 1363 of the 1971 NWT: "The proposition "The Word was a god" is a convertible one." This statement is nonsense: a convertible proposition relates to two definite nouns (Mantey, p. 149; Wallace, p. 42; etc.). The WT thus inadvertantly endorses Colwell's reading of theos as definite, the inevitable conclusion if the subject and predicate nominative in John 1:1c are convertible. <<
[<Here you are so far out of touch with what is really happening that it is hard to imagine you being clear on much of anything else. You are assuming far too much for the WTS, and until you provide a basis for your contentions then I believe they are a misreading of the primary WT sources relating to this point. The fact that that place was not the only market most certainly does have something to do with it being indefinite! As for convertibility, it does NOT relate solely to definite (to the exclusion of indefinite) nouns! The problem with Trinitarians is they have to change the semantics of the count noun THEOS in 1:1c to match that of a mass noun, so they can give Jesus the full nature of God, but allow for other "persons" to share it. This is eisegesis of the worst kind. You are forced into inventing a semantic for preverbal PN count nouns whereby you can give it the semantic you want, but yet you do not see that you would have to do the same thing with TON THEON in 1:1b. (indeed, everywhere where the Bible used "God" for one of the three "persons" of the Trinity!), which you do in fact do, by redefining TON THEON to "the Father" as understood by later Trinitarianism, namely, as the first person of the consubstantial Triad. "The Word was a god" is most certainly a convertible clause.
>> The Bible says nothing directly about the pre-incarnate Jesus being the Angel Michael. You must resort to a series of alleged associations, such as Jesus having the "voice of an archangel," being the "Bright Morning Star," etc., to make such an assertion. Why, then, do you insist that Trinitarians play by different rules? The Bible says there is only one God (Deut 6:4). Jehovah says he knows of no other gods (Is 44:8). The Bible clearly teaches that the Father and the Son are called God. Even most WT apologists do not dispute this. You claim that many beings may be rightly called "gods," and the Son is one of them. Trinitarians claim no one may be rightly called God but Jehovah (all others are false gods). This letter is not the place to engage these matters in detail. The point is that Trinitarians believe they stand on a firm Biblical foundation for proclaiming the Trinity. For if the Bible declares that God is One, and if no others may rightly be called God, then Jesus, who is rightly called God, must - in some way - be that One God, together with the Father.
[<That expression, "in some sense," is where you go off the cliff. In reference to the identity of Michael the Archangel as the Lord Jesus Christ there is abundant scriptural testimony, but that is ALL we are trying to prove: IDENTITY. Trinitarianism, on the other hand, is not just trying to prove that Jesus is God (you don't even believe that without qualification!), but you are asserting that there is an articulated basis upon which you can prove the existence of a certain TYPE of God, namely, a triune being, and that there are three "persons" who are called "God," but yet are not really God (= the Trinity); rather, they are three "persons" who share in the nature of the one God. So you are equivocating on your position by saying that there is only ONE GOD, but then citing Scripture where you believe the three persons are called "God," yet you go on to redefine "God" in reference to the three persons, not as the Trinity (which is how you define the term in your first proposition, "there is only one God"), but as a qualitative description for each of them, denoting their participation in the alleged Godhead. THAT is far different from saying, "This person (Michael) is elsewhere called 'Jesus.'"
Your assertions are also highly selective in that you do not include others (angels and certain humans) who are called "G-god" or "G-gods" as belonging to the Godhead, for you have preconceived views from post-biblical creeds telling you what to believe. Finally, the propositions you put forth are directly opposed to a great many verses that teach an ontological distinction between God and the Word, such as John 1:1, 18 and a variety of others, not the least of which involve those passages where Jesus refers to the Father as his GOD, without any qualification at all (Rev. 3:12).
So, again, in the case of the Michael = Jesus question, we are pointing to statements in the Bible that point to this identification; but you are asserting much, much more (and selectively at that) and in contradiction to the use of language in Scripture. You must, therefore, refrain from equivocating on your use of "God" and show where the Trinity is articulated in the Bible. If it is not articulated in the Bible, then it cannot be dogmatically held up as a Bible teaching.
>> Finally, I feel I must address your sweeping statements about "post-Biblical theology." The fact is you cannot demonstrate from the historical record that the Trinity is post-Biblical. For to do so, you would have to prove that first Century Jews were henotheists as opposed to monotheists, and this you cannot do, for they held no such beliefs. >>
[< In fact, there is plenty of evidence to show that they recognized gods other than Jehovah, but who are subservient to Him. Since I discuss this at length in my book, I will defer you to my discussion there. Obviously you are not familiar with the Bible's teaching regarding such divine beings, and you apparently have not read the Pseudepigrapha or the DSD very carefully at all, either. As for being monotheists, that only hurts your cause, for over and over and over and over again the one God is NEVER identified as the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," but always as the Father as DISTINCT from the Son. (1 Cor. 8:4-6) Even Jesus himself called the Father the ONLY true God. So, you have a problem: Since Jesus effectively removed himself from the category of "the only true God," then he is either a false god or a secondary god subservient to the Father. We take the latter position, which is entirely consistent with the Bible, but you are forced into viewing Jesus as a false god, for you cannot accept the secondary category because of your fealty to the creeds of a post-biblical time. Of course, you will try to say that Jesus is included in the category of "the only true God," but he will not allow you to do that, as he himself restricted that to the Father (John 17:3). The only way to get around this is to deny the truth of what Jesus said, and distort the Scriptures. Thankfully, I just have to read them and accept what they say, as I do not have to make them fit with post-biblical notions about a triune being.
<<In fact, the historical record - from the Targums, from the works of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, from Roman records, from the Bible itself - is clear. Jews and early Christians were fiercely monotheistic; yet early Christians believed that Jesus was God and worshipped Him as such. The only way to resolve a Father and a Son, both of whom are One God, is to accept the multi-personal nature of that One God, or begin redefining terms like One and God. Sadly, you have chosen the latter, following the path of every heretic since Marcion. >>
[< You are so far out of touch with historical sources such as these, and others, that, again, I will defer to my published discussion. I will gladly do so especially since you cite NO REFERENCES from any of the above sources, so that we might put your claim to the test and show how you selectively choose those texts that YOU believe prove your point, and ignore others. When you get around to citing evidence, let me know. Until then, I have made my position available for all to read and the fact that you have ignored it shows that you are not interested in considering issues at length, but only with repeating those ideas you believe are accurate. You also deny the plain meaning of words and equivocate at almost every turn. Why, we have not seen such heretical practices since the Athanasius! (Actually, that is not true, we see them quite regularly in our modern times.) >]
>> Think about it, Mr. Stafford: one of the first great heresies in the early Church was Monarchism. Monarchism could only have arisen if early Christians held both to monotheism and the full divinity of the Father and the Son. For, to committed henotheists who read the "easily translated" John 1:1c as "The Word was a god," the notion that the Father and the Son were one person (Monarchism or modalism) would be impossible, as would be the idea that the Word was equal to the Father in His essential nature. Historian Harold Brown writes: "The fact that Gnosticism and adoptionism could not hold their own in the face of orthodoxy, and that orthodoxy itself came under attack from modalism at the other end of the theological spectrum, is another evidence of the fact that the early church simply could not deal with the evidence of the New Testament and its own experience of Christ except in terms of acknowledging his deity. It was easier to slip into modalism and confuse Christ with the Father than to say with Gnosticism that he was a mere lesser aeon; or with adoptionism that he was only a man" (Heresies, p. 101).
>> So, Mr. Stafford, what historical evidence can you show that accounts for the rise of the peculiar notion of Christ's full divinity, if early Christians were henotheists with a clear understanding of the Biblical passages that - according to you - mandate Christ as a secondary deity? <<
[< It is quite simple that those advocating Trinitarianism in the post-biblical period were influenced by Greek philosophy and a misguided view of biblical monotheism. Says Meijering:
Meijering sums up Athanasius' thoughts on God's being and actions and their relation to each other, when he says:
That you are unaware of these facts, and have to ask me how your post-biblical view of God came about, is very telling indeed. May I ask you, Mr. Hommel, where in the Bible is there any articulation of a tri-personal deity, such that we are told to recognize personal distinctions in a Godhead where each "person" is not distinct in being, and where they are all co-equal in power? The fact that your entire basis for believing such teachings revolves around your equivocation of the term God and your redefining of the term "person," shows that your belief is rooted not in the Bible text, but elsewhere, namely, post- and non-biblical philosophies. >]
[You quoted me out of context. On pages 139 and 149(VI) in our grammar we stated "without the article, 'theos' signifies divine essence......'theos en ho logos' emphasizes Christ's participation in the essence of the divine nature." Our interpretation is in agreement with that in the NEB and the TEV: "What God was the Word was" an with that of Barclay: "The nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God", which you quoted in your letter to CARIS.
[[No, there was no out-of-context quotation, for the NWT is merely contradicting the once-popular view that THEOS in 1:1c is definite, which view resulted from a misreading and subsequent mishandling of Colwell's rule. Thus, while NWT's and Mantey's understanding of the qualitativeness differs, NWT is merely building on the common ground that THEOS is in fact qualitative. Nothing more should be read into their citation of the Manual Grammar.]]
[< As I told you already, it is a qualitative translation using the indefinite article, and your failure to relate the NWT's use of D-M to the Colwell controversy is your undoing, in part. >]
END OF PART ONE>]
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