John 5:27 and Harners thesis

by Blotty 11 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Blotty

    Conclusion to Harners thesis:

    In 1973 A Scholar by the name of Philip B Harner published an article in the journal of biblical literature that would be "revolutionary" he concluded that anarthorous predicate nouns preceeding the verb were primarily qualitative in nature.

    In my view Harner was correct, though he didn't agree with the "a god" rendering he also disliked the "God" rendering in John 1:1c providing an alternative which bibles like the NET have paraphrased (to my knowledge)

    One he didn't cover in his thesis was John 5:27 I would say this "authoratative" why? because the word for authority occurs in the same text where we have the following:

    καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ κρίσιν ποιεῖν, ὅτι υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν.

    see here for the meaning to word rendering "authority":

    AS can be seen we have (Lit) son of man is.

    I am aware that genitives can be definite even without the article, a point some still don't seem to get.. But its true check Dana and Mantey

    Anyway in conclusion I would say this is "authoritative" rather than qualiative as the emphasis is not on the identity of the son of man, nor a characteristic but rather as said earlier in the passage "authority"

  • Rattigan350

    I agree with Harner because the "God" people are not flexible to the possible meanings. And they don't understand the whole Bible and think that words matter.

  • aqwsed12345

    The verses elaborate in more detail what Jesus's life-giving and judgement activities mean. Jesus will not only resurrect the dead and judge people at the end of the world, at the time of his second coming. The decision about man's eternal fate is already taking place, according to whether he accepts or rejects his teaching. Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life and has passed from death to life. The time to attain eternal life is already here when the spiritually dead hear the word of the Son of God.

    The Son can do this (v. 25); for just as the Father, as God, possesses eternal life without end, and is therefore the source of all finite life, so too the Son, who received this from the Father. The Father has life in himself and not from the Son; the Son has life in himself, but from the Father. This parallels verse 21, and repeats its assertion that this power has been given by the Father to the Son.

    "For the Son of Man", that is, the Messiah. The Jews believed even before Christ that the Messiah is the judge of the world. (This is also testified by the apocryphal Ethiopian Book of Enoch, 45. etc. chapters.) Verse 22b echoes this. In the gospel, this is the only non-contextual Son of Man expression that unexpectedly appears alongside the call to the dead (v. 25). This Son of Man image goes back to the primitive Christian usage, which describes the coming Jesus as a judge in the form of the figure appearing in Daniel 7:13, but in John, no other Son of Man saying refers to Jesus as a future eschatological judge.

    Just as the Son took the life and the giving of life to others from the Father, so he gained the power to judge from the Father, which follows the resurrection of the dead, and he possesses this power not only by virtue of his divine nature but especially because he became a man and undertook the work of redemption. The conclusion of his becoming human is judgment; for it is by judgment that the holy and saved humanity is separated from the unholy and condemned, united with Christ, as the body with its head, so that Christ only then fully forms the new man with it, and man again fully submits to God, which is the aim and end of his work of redemption. If, therefore, judgment is the final act of the work of redemption and the incarnation of the Son of God, it is understandable why the Savior, the man of God, will hold it. Others interpret it as follows: because he as a man can judge in a manner suitable to humans. Or: because he as a man humbled himself, and therefore deserves to be glorified in judgment. Or: because as a man he will be merciful and gracious. All these touch only certain external circumstances; the real, inner, all-encompassing basic reason is that which was given above.

    In this verse, the Son of Man saying is a prophecy of the resurrection to judgment, which originated from Judaism after the exile (Dan 12:2; 1Enoch 51:4; 2Esdras 7:32, 2Baruch 42:7; ApocMoses 10:41), and which in early Christianity was generally associated with Jesus, as the "Lord" or the "Son of Man" (e.g., 2Cor 5:10). While some writings regard the resurrection as the reward of the righteous (e.g., Phil 3:20), others imagine a double resurrection, which allows for judgment (e.g., Dan 12:2). Verse 29 adopts the latter view, while verse 21 links the resurrection of the dead with "revitalization," thus referring to the former view. The tension between the "future eschatology" of the physical resurrection to judgment and the "realized eschatology" of the judgment - which is realized by responding to the present call revealed in the words of Jesus - suggests that these verses are independent pieces of tradition.

  • slimboyfat

    To Harner was essentially trying to provide a Trinitarian solution to John1.1c that was more credible than Colwell’s rule because it didn’t hold water.

    Have you seen the recent article on John 1.1 (apparently the author is a JW)?

  • aqwsed12345


    I have read the article, and as far as the theological part is concerned, it is not at all convincing. The WTS (and its apologists) repeatedly refer to Psalm 82, where the judges are called "elohim", which literally means "gods". However, they do not address at all how typical this terminology, this designation was during the Old Testament, let alone the New Testament. Just because someone is called "a god" does not necessarily make them God (i.e., equal to God, possessing the fullness of deity, like Christ). This is a logically incomplete conclusion.

    After all, if representatives of God can be called "gods", why aren't the apostles or angels called "gods" in the New Testament? Were they not representatives of God? Did Paul accept this (Acts 28:6)?

    I believe that this wording found in Psalm 82 should be evaluated based on the logic of poetic hermeneutics in view of the literary characteristics of the book of Psalms, which does not establish such a general category of divinity. Otherwise, why don't the JWs call the members of the Governing Body "gods", saying: but then the judges were called that too?

    The fact that it was possible for men so to represent God as to be called "gods" or "divine" in the Old Testament was actually a foreshadowing of the Incarnation. “There lay already in the Law the germ of the truth which Christ announced, the union of God and man.” (Westcott)

    In the New Testament, designating the God's angels as THEOS does not occur, so this only appears in one of the Psalms of the Old Testament, and moreover, "Elohim" in Hebrew is a much more general term, which in this case might be better translated as Strength, Mighty One, etc., rather than "God" in proper sense. The word "GOD" in Greek, English, etc., always refers to the omnipotent, creator, infinite single God, and no one else. In the case of Jesus, we do not only rely on the application of the word "THEOS" not just once and without any diminutive additions, but also on such attributes (omniscience, timelessness, hearing of prayers, adorableness, etc.) which cannot apply to the created angels.

    JWs also refer to John 10:34-35. In that dialogue, Jesus was only highlighting the inconsistency of his accusers: if they could be called such in a certain sense, then so could he how much more? He did not say that his divinity would be just this much. However, JWs are also inconsistent, since the judges are clearly only "elohim" in the sense of "exalted position and power", while in WTS theology, the Son's divinity is not just this, but actually a kind of 'homoiousian' sense divine nature, even if they do not use this terminology.

    If you think this passage proves that every reference to Jesus as "GOD" would mean just as much, and just as much, as in the case of angels, then this idea should appear in the pericope. However, there is no mention of this. There is no reference to this detail in the apostolic letters, even though there would have been a great need for such in a polytheistic environment to clarify in what sense Jesus can be called "GOD".

    John 10:34-35 lacks the thought that Jesus could only call himself "GOD" in the sense that Psalm 82 called the judges "elohim". The essence of the pericope is that it points out the inconsistency of his accusers, that there was such a use of language in the Old Testament that called human judges "elohim", based on which if they could, then he (who is truly [the only-begotten] Son of God) how much more can be called so. He begins by saying: "If even they...". So his reference was a kind of apologetic bridge, somewhat like Paul spoke to the Greeks about their "unknown god".

    On the one hand, the apostle sees equality with God in being in the form of God, on the other hand, we know about the angels that they are in a lower form of life than God. Christ has a higher dignity than the angels, according to the beginning of the letter to the Hebrews. So his divine form of life cannot be included in the use of language that occasionally calls angels (and human judges) gods.

    In John 10, Jesus gave a parable to his accusers which means: if even they could be called gods (in a certain sense), then how much more the only-begotten Son then? So it's clearly in the text He is God in a superior sense than the judges were called "gods" in the Psalm. In what sense namely then? He does not explain here exactly, but he makes it clear that it is not just in the same sense, but in a higher, superior sense. "Argumentum a fortiori" arguments are regularly used in Jewish law under the name kal va-chomer, literally "mild and severe", the mild case being the one we know about, while trying to infer about the more severe case. The Jews understood this and that's why they wanted to stone him "again" (v39). However, the evangelist understands this exchange of words coming from Christ's mouth: according to him, the two do not differ. Behold, he himself also approves of that interpretation, according to which Jesus, by calling himself the Son of God, made himself equal to God.

    The study refers to John 20:17 where Jesus calls the Father "my God" and points out that Jesus said this after his resurrection. A logical step is omitted here, since according to Orthodox Christology, Christ possessed human nature not only until his death, or during his earthly existence, but he did not lay down the human nature he assumed with the Incarnation. Only Watchtower theology asserts that Christ ceased to be human through his death. So the resurrected Jesus, as a man, could continue to call the Father "his God", without this detracting from his real Godhead.

    Hence, the study's argument that Thomas's statement in John 20:28 that he said to Jesus "my Lord and my God" was actually addressed to the Father, also collapses. The next verse reveals that Jesus did apply and understand Thomas's words to himself and evaluated the statement as a confession of faith. If one insists on finding parallels, then the words of John 20:28 remind us of the words of Psalm 35:23.

    Regarding the apostles, who were convinced of Jesus' deity, they never used the Hebrew words Yahweh or Adonai when politely addressing or mentioning Jesus. The likely explanation for this is that these words reminded them very much of the "invisible name," the one who "dwells in unapproachable light," who no man has seen or can see directly while living on this earth (see Exodus 33:20; 1 Timothy 6:16; John 1:18; 1 John 4:12). However, the most stubborn member of the apostolic body, Apostle Thomas, when overwhelmed by the powerful impression of the resurrected Jesus and enlightened by divine grace, fell at the Master's feet and went so far as to declare Jesus as God in his confession of faith. His words, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28), are not mere exclamations of wonder, but the perfect confession of faith, acknowledging that Jesus is the God-man. It's as if he is saying, "You are my Lord, my Messiah, and I believe not only in your resurrection but also in your deity." Cornelius a Lapide correctly summarizes the content of Thomas' confession with the words, "With the words 'my Lord,' he confesses the human nature of Christ, with the words 'myGod,' the divine one." For reference, see J. Knabenbauer S.J. Commentarius in Evangelium secundum Joannem (Paris, 1898) p. 574 and other related works.

    Some have tried to downplay the true meaning and significance of Thomas' words, arguing that they were not directed at the Savior, but were surprised apostle's exclamations directed at God the Father. As if he were saying, "Oh, my Lord and God, what do I see, what a miracle your power has performed! You have resurrected our Jesus!" This is how Theodorus of Mopsuestia (died 428) and subsequently the Socinians and some other exegetes interpreted Thomas' words. However, setting aside the fact that Theodorus' interpretation was condemned by the 5th Ecumenical Council (553), this understanding is refuted by: 1. Jesus, because he clearly refers to Thomas's words as a confession of faith (John 20:29 "Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed"); 2. The words of Thomas, "He said to him" (John 20:28) and "My Lord" which can only refer to Christ; 3. Therefore, since the expression "My Lord" can only refer to Christ, to whom the apostles referred with this address, the associated "and my God" must necessarily also refer to Christ.

    The fact that the word "God" is to be taken in its literal sense here follows also from the fact that John the Evangelist, through the content of his entire book and the communication of Thomas' confession, wanted to show that Jesus indeed led his disciples to the recognition of the truth he expressed at the beginning of his gospel (John 1:6-15), i.e., that Jesus is the God-man who has appeared.

    And only with such an understanding of the word "God" used by Thomas can the closing words of the Gospel be in natural harmony with the evangelist's goal, which was nothing else but to prove that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) and the Son of God, that is, the God-man, and therefore one must believe in him, because this is the condition of eternal life, which John expresses as follows: "But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).

  • slimboyfat

    Jewish and Hellenistic culture referred to subordinate divine beings as “gods” and it is clear that John was using the word in this sense, the same as Philo, and later Justin Martyr, Origen and others, to refer to a “second god” or “divine being” who is subordinate the one true God.

    Any fair reading of the gospel of John as a whole results in the conclusion that Jesus is distinct and subordinate to God.

    Jesus said plainly in John 17.3 that the Father is “the only true God”. It is stretching language and logic beyond what it can bear to assert that what Jesus really meant is: “you are the only true God and so am I. Has anyone who has ever said “you are the only (something)” ever meant to imply that they themselves are that something as well? Nobody reading the gospel of John without any knowledge of Trinitarian dogma would ever reach that conclusion by themselves. It’s complete nonsense.

  • aqwsed12345

    "Jewish and Hellenistic culture referred to subordinate divine beings as “gods”"

    In the Hellenistic culture, they called their gods "gods", the Greeks had a bunch of separates words for the category of lesser divinity, for example hemitheoi, i.e. demigods. There were many other terms in Greek for mythical beings with divine features, but the name "theos" was used only for their major/proper gods. So John, who wrote in Greek, would have had many other words available than "theos" to describe a lesser category of divinity, which is ontologically inferior to that of the Father, which is attributed to the Son in WTS theology.

    In the Jewish culture, the command was "thou shalt have no other gods before me", and there were no minor gods, or lesser divine beings in the Judaism either. So no, the use of this terminology of Psalm 82 was not at all common.

    "the same as Philo, and later Justin Martyr, Origen"

    The Jewish Philo of Alexandria did not believe in such a secondary god, and Justin and Origen did not believe either, contrary what your secular-skeptic sources claims:

    "Christ is called both God and Lord of hosts." (Justin Martyr: Dialogue with Trypho, ch, 36)
    "And that you may understand that the omnipotence of Father and Son is one and the same, as God and the Lord are one and the same with the Father, listen to the manner in which John speaks in the Apocalypse: "Thus saith the Lord God, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.") For who else was "He which is to come" than Christ? And as no one ought to be offended, seeing God is the Father, that the Saviour is also God; so also, since the Father is called omnipotent, no one ought to be offended that the Son of God is also called omnipotent." (Origen: De Principis, On Christ, Book 1, Ch 2)
    "Nothing in the Trinity can be called greater or less, since the fountain of divinity alone contains all things by His word and reason, and by the Spirit of His mouth sanctifies all things which are worthy of sanctification." (Origen: De Principis, Book I, ch. 3, section 7)
    "John as a whole results in the conclusion that Jesus is distinct and subordinate to God."

    Or at least distinct in person from the person understood by the term "the God" in the typical terminology of the NT (and as the Trinity also professes), but at the same time it also professes him to be the fully true God. He does indeed speak of a kind of subordination, which he does not attribute to an ontological inferiority, and which is amply explained by his human nature assumed by his Incarnation.

    "Jesus said plainly in John 17.3 that the Father is "the only true God"."

    The Father is indeed the only true God, which is not the same as the JWs read it, ie. that "only the Father is true God alone". The apostle Paul also uses this wording in 1 Cor 8:6. This is therefore not opposed to the deity of Jesus, but to the false deities. In the same way, the fact that Jesus is the only Lord does not mean that only Jesus is truly Lord alone, opposed to the Father. This is the answer of Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae I, q.31, a.4) too, that it's to be understood in syncategorematical, and not in categorematical sense:

    • Whether an exclusive diction can be joined to the personal term? He considers several Scriptural and liturgical passages – “That they may know thee [i.e. the Father], the only true God.” (Jn 17:3); “No one knows the Son but the Father.” (Mt 11:27); “You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ” (from the Gloria).

      Thomas Aquinas explains that all these verses must be understood as exclusive not of the other Persons of the Trinity but only of other natures. Thus, “no one” does not mean no other person, but rather no other nature. Thus, when the term only is applied to one of the divine Persons, the other Persons are not excluded – for all are united through the unity of the single divine Essence. However, this only holds true for those things which are predicated of the Persons by reason of the shared Essence. Thus, each and every Person of the Trinity is said to know the others, to be all powerful, to be most holy, etc.

      Some terms, on the other hand, are not predicated of the Persons by reason of the Essence, but rather by reason of the relation. Examples of this would be: The Father alone is un-begotten; the Son alone is begotten; the Spirit alone proceeds from the Father and the Son.

      Finally, in the case of the second Person, some terms are predicated not by reason of his divinity (either his divine Nature or his divine relations) but on account of his human nature. Thus, only the Son became incarnate; only the Son has died; only the Son will come again.

      Thomas Aquinas advises us, regarding the use of terms like “alone” or “only” or “no one”: “Such a way of speaking is not to be taken too literally, but should be piously expounded, whenever we find it in an authentic work [whether of the Fathers or of Scripture].” Hence, it is clear that modern theologians and preachers should avoid speaking in this way, on account of the confusion that can be easily caused. Yet, it is important for theologians to discuss the question, for the pastoral benefit of the faithful who can be led into false opinions by the words even of the Bible and of the holy Fathers, who wrote before the modern heresies had yet plagued the Church.

    "Nobody reading the gospel of John without any knowledge of Trinitarian dogma..."

    But why should such person read John's Gospel, if the Bible is a church book? JWs also believe this:

  • aqwsed12345

    Quote from HERE:

    John 10:30: There is no doubt that at the very least in this passage Jesus' unity with the Father in terms of thought and purpose is underscored. This is easily discerned from the context. But note that the unity which is suggested is unity of thought and purpose concerning the saving activity of God. In v. 28 it is Jesus, not the Father, who gives eternal life. The Father's hand and Jesus' hand function the same. What the Father has given Jesus is greater than all other things. All of these ideas lead up to the statement that "the Father and I are one." While this statement, as Calvin rightly observes, does not directly state that the two share one essence, it does, from the context leading up to it, suggest strongly an equality between the Father and Son concerning their respective roles in the salvation and preservation of God's people, which in turn implies the deity of both.
    The writer of the pamphlet completely misinterprets the following verses. He claims that in 31-38 Jesus denies the Jews interpretation. But does he? A careful reading will reveal that Jesus' response is much subtler than this. He first of all points out that his works are good, which of course implies that the doer is good and worthy of no punishment such as the Jews want to inflict. In response to their charge that Jesus is blaspheming by making himself out to be equal with God (they may have been thinking that Jesus was setting himself up as a rival God) Jesus does not give a straightforward "no, your wrong, I wasn't saying anything of the kind, I just meant that God was my Father because he created me a few thousand years ago". Instead he gives an answer that is designed to make them think about what his equality with (yet distinction from) the Father might mean. He argues from the lesser to the greater. If the scripture can call mere humans "gods" [Theoi in Greek and elohim in Hebrew (Ps 82:9)] then what about the one who has an absolutely unique relationship with the Father, a relationship best designated by the term son? There has been a great deal of discussion in the history of interpretation on exactly what elohim meant in Ps 82:6. It is obviously a highly metaphorical application, but its precise nuance does not affect the point Jesus is making. The Father has set him apart and sent him into the world to perform has saving office. In fact, the Father dwells in the Son and the Son in the Father. Again, Jesus gets back to the fundamental equality that was suggested by the context above. And once again the Jews get the point and seek to kill him, for any mere man claiming equality with God is blaspheming, and must receive the death penalty. While sonship in itself does not necessarily imply equality, the language used of Jesus' sonship here and elsewhere strongly suggests a uniqueness and an equality that exists only between these two.
    John 17 has been dealt briefly with above. Here I will remind the reader that the unity of the Father and the Son is pictured as both the model for the believers' unity and also that which actually brings it about. Another way of saying this is to say that our unity is analogical of the unity found within the Trinity, but like all analogies, is not identical with it. When believers are dwelling together in harmony and love, that unity should reflect who God is in his own unity (Jn 17:20-23; cf. Jn 13:34-35).

    Check THIS to, pages 47-54, according to the PDF, 51-58 according to the book.

  • Blotty

    Slim: yes I have - I like the thesis alot - could I get a source for the author being a JW?

    aqwesd - you have contributed nothing other than an opinion and things scholars disagree with - they don't employ the word for demi-god as the meaning associated with that is not what is meant + spreading misinformation on more than one subject- again please get out of my threads and let others have s ay with scholarly contributions and not theologically driven essays

  • iloowy.goowy

    Psalm 82 is not talking about human judges. It is a Divine Council scene. God Almighty is calling to account the Sons of God that He placed over mankind as judges. They failed and perverted justice, therefore they will die like men do for their wickedness. God Almighty calls upon one who will inherit the nations, i.e. a Divine being, a god, and the one foretold to do that is none other than the Son. Look up Michael S. Heiser's Unseen Realm or also Supernatural. Hey, even The Bible Project videos get it right!

    YHWH is an Elohim, but no other Elohim is like YHWH.

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