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Greg Stafford's Last Reply to Robert Hommel

On John 1:1 and Mass-Count Nouns


It is truly amazing that Hommel does not understand why I will not spend unnecessary time with him, when he completely ignores very basic errors that I point out to him, and responds by labelling this "rhetoric." It is the Trinitarian party that is completely inventing a sense for count nouns. I have explained this several times, and Hommel has not replied to my last response, where I ask him in several strategic locations to reword my views, as I am convinced he has practically no idea what he is talking about. That is one reason why further dialogue with him is pointless.

As for his last reply, Hommel again shows he has no idea what we are talking about. (See below for more on his hypocritical complaining that my saying that he does not understand such things is 'disrespectful.') If he is going to suggest that he and his fellow Trinitarians are NOT claiming a qualitative-only sense for the PN in John 1:1, then, tell us, Hommel, what other sense is there? Is the PN definite? Is it indefinite? If it is NOT qualitative-only, and I agree it is not, then what other sense is there for the PN? Any other sense than qualitative-only utterly contradicts Trinitarianism. If you don't want to accept that and simply deny reality, fine. But that does not change the fact that the predication of THEOS, of whom you say there is ONLY ONE (that is, the Trinity), to any "person" (as redefined by Trinitarians) of the Trinity identifies that "person" with the Trinity. That is why you have to force into the term a purely qualitative sense, for definiteness gives you the Trinity (which cannot be identified as any one of the "persons") and indefiniteness gives you biblical monotheism (such as what JWs believe), and you cannot accept that view and let Jesus be the "only-begotten god" that the Bible says he is. He cannot be THEOS, but a "person" OF THEOS.

It is this argument, and a host of others, that you simply do not understand, and that is why you keep arguing the way you do. If you understood what I am saying, then you would see that qualitative-only is the ONLY way for you to escape, but, as I said before and will explain again below, even this does not help you. That is why Trinitarians redefine the words used in the Bible and make distinctions that the Bible does not make. For example, from the distinction of the THEOS the Word is "with" and the THEOS the Word is in John 1:1, you create a distinction between the "persons" of the Trinity, assuming what you are supposed to prove at the outset, and completely overridding the evidence against your view in the process! Again, if you do not want to understand or accept this, that is not my problem, but yours.

Now, as I said, even if we granted a qualitative-only sense to the PN in John 1:1, THAT, too, contradicts Trinitarianism! If the Word has the nature of THEOS, then he is either "God" (which would mean he is the Trinity, since according to Trinitarianism there is ONLY one God, and that God is the Trinity) or he is "a god." There is no other way to view the singular anarthrous predicate count noun THEOS in John 1:1 (other than a figurative meaning), unless you are living in a fantasy world of make believe, and that is precisely what Trinitarians are doing. They redefine TON THEON to mean the "first person of a consubstantial Triad," and they make a similar leap of linguistic and theological logic for the predicate in 1:1c. I explain all of this in quite a bit of detail in Chapter 2 of my second edition. I also explained this in my last response to Hommel, which he has yet to address.

So, Mr. Hommel, I fully understand your disappointment with respect to my reply. I suggest you get used to it, because your tactics of distortion, or in Hartley's case, deliberately altering passges of Scripture, are easily exposed and no amount of complaining will force Trinitarianism into any passage of Scripture.

There is no burden on myself or any other JW who argues as I do. There are a host of texts with the PN-V construction where the singular count noun is used of a singular, personalistic subject, and conveys either indefiniteness or definiteness, with an emphasis on the qualities of the noun. Again, these are many, and I have articulated the sense of such PNs time and time again. Hommel has not effectively argued against these senses, as I made plain in my plast reply to him. I understand why you want everyone to think he has argued his point convincingly, but that is neither here nor there. Trinitarians have shown nothing to support their view of the PN-V construction, and Hartley's study absolutely proves nothing with respect to a Trinitarian view of the predicate in John 1:1.

Consider further, Hommel's words:

<<The predicate noun has a distinct qualitative force, which is more prominent in this context than its definiteness or indefiniteness" ("Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns," JBL, 92,1, p. 77). Now, recall that Harner is recognized as authoritative on this subject by the WT, and that the WT translated Mark 2:28 EXACTLY as Harner suggests. So the ball is in Greg's court - just as it was after my previous post. Let's see him deal with Mark 2:28. But if he tries to argue that the semantic force of this anarthrous pre-cop count noun PN (which is used of a "personalistic" subject) is not overwhelmingly qualitative, he can take up his argument up with the WT. >>>

RESPONSE: Clearly, once again, Hommel does not understand his own argument. Does he mean to say that the PN in Mark 2:28 is similar in sense to the PN in John 1:1? There seems to me to be no reason why the PN in Mark 2:28 is not definite. Has Hommel, or Harner, proven otherwise? No. Hommel merely assumes that this text somehow helps his cause, leaning on the studies of a fellow Trinitarian who proves nothing with respect to the subject text, in the process. Indeed, not only does Mark 2:28 fail to to rescue his view, but he completely overlooks the significance of the context in John 1:1, as compared with Mark 2:28!

In Mark 2:28 is the "Lord of the Sabbath" WITH another "Lord"? Yet, in John 1:1 we have the one called THEOS in 1:1c WITH another who is called THEOS in 1:1b, and where the one called THEOS in 1:1c is further qualified in 1:18 as MONOGENHS THEOS, showing uan nmistakable distinction between the two. THAT is why Trinitarians distinguish, not between the two as THEOS (even though that is precisely what we find in the text!) but between the PERSONS of the Trinity! An assumption has displaced fact.

Again, Trinitarians assume Trinitarianism at the outset and color everything they read accordingly. That is why Hommel cannot make sense out of what I am saying, and why he cannot understand the meaning of these simple texts, because, as they stand, they utterly destroy his theology, and that is unacceptable to him. Since the Trinity MUST be true, nothing can contradict it, and that is why they do what they do when they read what they read, in the Bible.

As I have said before, the purpose of the WT's citation of Harner is to contradict the definite sense attributed to the PN so frequently by Trinitarians. They accept Harner's view that the qualities of the noun are in view in the PN-V construction, and Harner did not at all rule out a qualitative-indefinite sense. What is more, the WT recognizes what I just got through saying, namely, the CONTEXT of John 1:1 clearly communicates an indefinite sense, so regardless of the sense derived from the position of the predicate in 1:1c, the context clearly conveys an indefinite semantic. I argue that the PN itself is quite enough to convey this idea of indefiniteness, but the context makes this unmistakeable, unless you are a Trinitarian whose faith depends on reading the text in the light of post-biblical theology. Thus, Hommel's little game of trying to pit the Society's view against mine, is factually flawed and immature, to say the least. (I encourage the reader to go back and consider how Hommel pesented this alleged 'conflict.')

I also find it most amusing that Hommel chooses to attack me personally, as follows:

HOMMEL: As this rhetorical posture is so common in Greg's apologetics, it's hard to take it seriously any longer. Anyone recall the exchanges with Bowman? How about his response to James White? Anyone followed the antics of "APOK"? Anyone recall what the moderator over at B-Greek had to say about Greg's rhetoric? Greg delights in demeaning those who disagree with him, or who object that he has not proven his points (a far cry from "misunderstanding" them). It is a convenient posture to take, in that one can ridicule one's opponent, while avoiding meaningful dialog on the subject at hand. >>>

RESPONSE: More fantasy...Hommel gives, as you can see, NOT EVEN ONE example. Indeed, what did the B-Greek Moderator say? It seems to me that he accepted what I had to say about Luke 23:43, quite readily.

If Hommel thinks that merely pointing out the fact that he and the others he mentions do not understand certain things (and they do not) is disrespectful, then fine. But that is not how I view the term. Hommel and those he mentions regularly misrepresent the JWs and the Scriptures, and I am going to point that out forcefully every time it happens. So, give us some examples of disrespect, Hommel, and I will place them in their proper context.

In any event, let's see how "respectful" Hommel has been. He wrote to me, in his last reply:

GREG: [< Meijering sums up Athanasius' thoughts on God's being and actions and their relation to each other, when he says: God is the eternal, unchangeable, always identical, real Being, says Athanasius, using both language and arguments which are also found in the Platonists. He is then confronted with the difficulty that many Biblical texts seem to contradict this ontological conception of the divine, especially of the Son. By making use of the Platonic theory that the words are secondary to the matter signified by them, he can explain those texts in such a way that they corroborate his doctrine of the ontological divinity of the Son. --- Meijering, Orthodoxy and Platonism in Athanasius, p. 104. 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.

HOMMEL: {{Is this the best you can do? }}


RESPONSE: Now, that is a very respectful person, don't you think? Are these the kind of answers you want me to provide from now on, Mr. Hommel? As I wrote in response:

GREG: I ask, Mr. Hommel, DID I SAY, "Here is the best I can do"? You asked a question and I referred to a recognized work that deals with the subject of pagan philosophy in the writings of one of the great defenders of Trinitarianism. I obviously wrongly ASSUMED that you would not just read the two quotes I gave, but look up the source itself, and then look up the references contained therein. Anyone who has honestly studied the writings of early Trinitarians like Athanasius knows that they were strongly influenced by paganism in their denial of the biblical use and meaning of words, and in constructing their own theology. But, you here make a truly immature comment and ask, "Is this the best you can do?" In light of your earlier hypocrisy in regards to your claim in reference to my comments, and your reference of those texts that speak of respectful dialogue, I have no more time to spend with you, on these subjects.


RESPONSE: And what about Hartley? Well, here is his idea of "respect":

FROM MY Surrejoinder to Don Hartley: Q-Class Count Nouns, John 1:1c, and Other Related Matters. By Greg Stafford


HARTLEY Now, the facade Stafford wishes to advance is the notion that he remains open minded and others who disagree with him, if they have reached conclusions opposite from his own, are somehow recalcitrant or reading later theology into the text. It is ironic how this later theology is always Trinitarian rather than Arian.


RESPONSE: "Facade"? What was that about "attitude" and "rhetoric" you were saying, Hommel? Then there is this gem of respect from Hartley:


HARTLEY: Now this alone indicates Stafford's real problem. He does not want to admit of such a semantic category beyond stating that it is "possible."


RESPONSE: Here Hartley tries to tell me what my "real problem" is, and that I 'do not want to admit' something. This is hardly different from my claiming that Hartley or Hommel do not understand something. The difference is Hartley and Hommel apparently have a lot of pride and don't like being told when they don't understand something. They cannot even accept that such comments are my subjective view based on my numerous discussions with them. I think I have the right at this point, to give my view of the situation, as do they. But their ego just can't tolerate that, apparently, and so it forces them to make hypocritical claims that I have some "attitude" that they and others (Bowman and White) do not. Of course, I responded to this very claim from Bowman, and even he then apologized for remarks that he had made after his hypocrisy was exposed. Does Hommel mention that? Of course not...

There are MANY other examples of this kind of "attitude" and "respect" from Hartley, Hommel, Bowman, White and others, such as:

HARTLEY: The disconnect between what I have said and Stafford's response is amazing


but anyone who has read the discussion knows that Hommel's hypocritically one-sided attempt to derail the discussion and plunge it headlong into personal attacks is an act of sheer desperation. Why else would he bring such subjects up, in such a one-sided, distorted manner?

Note that I have not called Hommel or anyone else "idiots." But Hommel claims:

HOMMEL: It may be convenient for Greg's apologetics to portray his opponents as idiots, but if so many of us "misunderstand" his points, we may well ask if the problem doesn't lie with his inability to articulate them, or (more likely) with the incoherence of the arguments themselves.


RESPONSE: See how he reads so much negativity into what I say? Just because Hommel or Hartley do not understand certain things does not make them idiots, necessarily. But this is the kind of logical leap that misinforms Hommel's replies.

Of course, does anyone think that his party of Trinitarians are going to accept what I say? That is why he tries to create this "Greg against the world" mentality. It just does not exist outside his circle of fellow Trinitarians.

Indeed, a classic example (and this is what you will find all throughout my last major reply to Hommel) of where Hommel shows an incredible ability to completely miss the point and read into my words something that is nowhere to be found, is this:

GREG: It is Hommel, Hartley and others like them who continue to assume and force their meaning into the singular count-noun predicates of the aforementioned construction, and they even tamper with the text as did Hartley with Luke 7:39. If we had done what Hartley did there, then I doubt Hommel would fail to see the dishonesty. But since Hartely is a Trinitarian...

ROBERT: I'll let Don handle this one, when he finds a spare minute or two. If you have evidence that I have "tampered" with a text, please let me know. Until then, this is simply a classic ad hominem (Hommel is a Trinitarian apologist. Trinitarian apologists like Harley "tamper"


RESPONSE: First of all, what is there to handle? How else can one make sense of the facts with respect to Hartley's mishandling of the text? Secondly, WHERE do I say anything about YOU tampering with the text?! How could you so badly misunderstand such a simple point? From my reference to Hartley's tampering you somehow believe that I claimed YOU had tampered with the text, simply because you are a Trinitarian! Since you obviously do not understand what I said, I will break it down as follows:

1) Hartley assumes a meaning for PN-V count nouns and tampers with the text of certain examples.

2) If JWs did the same, you would be all over them.

3) You have absolutely no explanation for Hartley's tampering with Luke 7:39.

4) But because he is a Trinitarian... (... = you will not 'be all over him for it').

Your failure to understand such basic comments is amazing. What is more, you do this all the time! It is not occasional, but constant. So, if you and others do not want to be thought of as "idiots" (your word, not mine), then stop acting like one. It is your own fault that you are in this defenseless position. I am simply making known the consequences of your actions.

As for the "personalistic" qualification, that is what we are dealing with, is it not? Surely this parallel point should not be a problem for you, is it? In any event, you may provide a list of ANY PN-V count nouns, and let us see what sense they have. I have already exposed your mishandling of a variety of such texts, in my last reply. If you have others, let's have them.

Another proof that Hommel does not understand my arguments, can be seen from the following:

GREG: This last point (about other uses of THEOS for Jesus) is very important, for how will Trinitarians get a qualitative-only sense out of its use, say, in Hebrews 1:8, even if their preferred translation ("Thy throne, O God...") were granted? They cannot appeal to the fronting of a PN before a copula, but they really don't need to! Regardless of the grammatical construction of the text, any verse that they accept as an instance where Jesus is called THEOS MUST MEAN that he shares in the nature of God, as "God the Son the second person of the Trinity." Again, an assumption is used to override the sense of any such passage, so that, ultimately, it can be brought into harmony with Trinitarian theology.

ROBERT: Greg, you'll have to explain further why Trinitarians must be bound by the restrictions you'd like to place upon us with regard to the usage of THEOS. I think you may be getting sense of the term (Q, Q-d, I, I-Q, D, D-Q) and meaning of the term, as well as the referent of the term confused again. Unless you can show an example of Jesus being called God in a convertible proposition (which John 1:1c would be, if the semantic force of THEOS were definite), Jesus being called "God" with a definite or Q-D semantic in a non-equative phrase (particularly a vocative, like Heb 1:8) is certainly no problem for Trinitarianism at all. Indeed, it is a further claim in its favor, for if Paul, John, or the Father Himself call the Son God, why should we question that appellation? The WT makes the assumption whenever Christ is called "God," it must mean in the sense of a secondary "god," based on the "grid" of its interpretation of other Scriptures, so that these verses can be brought into harmony with WT theology. The heart of the matter is that Christ is not only called "G/god" (as are others in certain contexts), but that He possesses the Divine Nature of God (which no other so-called "gods" do). The WT (and you) must therefore demonstrate how God's Nature may be possessed FULLY by the Son, and yet claim that the Son is not equal in nature to Him.


RESPONSE: Trinitarianism teaches that there is ONLY ONE GOD. That ONE GOD is the Trinity. Therefore, any predication of THEOS for any one "person" of the alleged Godhead contradicts Trinitarianism, UNLESS they (and they do) quickly redefine THEOS to mean a "person OF GOD." But that is not what THEOS means. THEOS is nowhere defined as meaning "a person of God." If so, where?

If Jesus or the Father are ever called THEOS in the NT, and they are, then that is the end of Trinitarianism, for there is only ONE THEOS according to Trinitarians, and that THEOS is the Trinity. But that is why I said they redefine THEOS, not only in PN-V constructions, but EVERYWHERE the term is used for those whom they assume to be 'persons of a consubstantial Triad.'

I trust it is clear to all that speaking with Hommel is pointless. He does not understand the arguments, he misinterprets basic points that I make and turns them into personal attacks against him (!), and assumes Trinitarianism in his reading of the Bible. There is no reasoning with such a man. He does not like to hear this, of course. Who would? But sometimes the truth hurts, and that is not the fault of the one bringing it to light, but the one who seeks to hide in the darkness.

I am really not interested in speaking with Hommel any longer. If and when he replies to my last submission on the DebateLog, I will see if he has properly reworded my arguments, and only if has done so (and there is no way he can without utterly contradicting the his previously submitted straw-man arguments) THEN I will reply to what he wrote.

As it is, I have found even more serious errors in Hartley's thesis, and I will present these in my forthcoming reply, which, like his, may take several months, as there is really no pressing need to further expose arguments that have already been shattered.

As I said, if anyone has any questions at all about these subjects, please email me about them. As it is, I have not been contacted by anyone, so it seems no one is concerned at all about my not having addressed a particular point, except for Hommel, who has shown he does not listen to what I say, anyway. I will no longer countenance his hypocritical behavior.

Best Regards,


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