Saturday, 17 April 2021

A short reply to Jesus' long letter

Dear Jesus,

most of what you say is faultless. In particular, I fully agree that, contrary to what trinitarians, subordinationists and arians say, you only came to exist when you were conceived in the blessed womb of virgin Mary. You call John, who wrote the Gospel known by the same name, your "friend". Well, then, a real friend does not distort the words of a friend. You say that John wrote that "there was something [sic] in the beginning which was with God and which was God, and it was through this that God made all things". Actually, John says something quite specific, because he calls this "something" logos. You correctly cite John 1:1-3, where the word "word" (Greek: logos; Hebrew dabar; Aramaic memra) appears tree times just in verse 1. But, for some peculiar reason you omit entirely to mention John 1:14, where it is said that "the Word became flesh" (ho logos sarx egeneto). As for the casual way with which you would equate "word" (logos/dabar) and "wisdom" (sophia/chokhmah) ("Of course I’m talking about God’s word, or in other words, his wisdom"; "It was that wisdom which much later as it were came down to earth and was available in my teaching and in my example"), I believe it would be safer, less compromizing for you to leave that stuff to professional theologians. 

In the meantime, I believe you may profit from reading the thoughts appended to the “Christian-Muslim debate/discussion, December 12 in Melbourne” of November 25, 2014 at blog, which you obviously did not notice, or did not fully appreciate.

Forever yours,


P.S. Thank goodness, in his glorified state, Jesus is omiscient, so, even if, in the meantime DT has removed the thoughts appended to the “Christian-Muslim debate/discussion, December 12 in Melbourne” of November 25, 2014, that shouldn’t be a problem for him …

Note to whoever it may concern

The above Letter to Jesus is copied from the thoughts appended to the blog A letter from the Lord Jesus: About God and Me (Revised), at, under Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). (

Note on the P.S

Fortunately I had saved the summary and substance of some comments that, under my name Mario, were appended by me to the post Christian-Muslim debate/discussion, December 12 in Melbourne @ the blog in my post Logos-Conception Christology of 10 April 20121.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Logos-Conception Christology

The birth of Jesus from God's Logos in Mary

The present post is the summary and substance of some comments that, under my name Mario, were appended by me to the post Christian-Muslim debate/discussion, December 12 in Melbourne @ the blog. 

The question that is explored here is not primarily to do with the Christian-Muslim debate but rather this: what does "Son of God" mean? What, in particular, when it is referred to Jesus Christ?

We may answer, easily enough, that in the cultural milieu of 1st century Judaism, it was a metaphor, with many sides and layers, but ultimately a metaphor, certainly not a crude literal notion, like the strawman that Mohammed built, including sexual implications like, say, in earlier Greek mythology, Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto, or Heracles was the son of Zeus and Alcmene

But things are not as simple as that. Certainly “Son of God”, in 1st century Judaism, was a metaphor, with many facets. The predominant one, in the way it is used in the NT (and in particular the Gospels), is that of the Messiah, but we cannot ignore that, on the one side, we have the Nativity Accounts in Matthew and Luke (see, in particular, Matt 1:18 and Luke 1:35), and, on the other side, in John we have the Prologue to the Gospel, with its notion of God’s Logos (John 1:1), which (which logos …), at some point, becomes incarnated (Grk sarx egenetoJohn 1:14).

A critical question then, is this: can the Nativity Accounts in Matthew and Luke and the Incarnation of God’s Logos in John be seen as two sides of the same account, without dismissing the former as “mythological” and without resorting to the notion of “pre-existent (or even eternal) person” for the latter?

My answer is a loud YES: the Virgin Conception is the “outer” and miraculous aspect of the “inner” mystery: the Incarnation, with the caveat, though - contra Arians and Trinitarians - that the person of the Son of God, Jesus, was generated precisely at the conception.

Questions & Answers 

[Q] Has anybody ever proposed a position equal (or similar) to mine?
[A] The Catholic theologian Raymond E. Brown has spoken of “conception christology” (as opposed to “pre-existence christology”) in Matthew and Luke. But I believe that nobody has ever proposed to see the Nativity Accounts in Matthew and Luke and the Incarnation of God’s Logos in John as "two sides of the same account”, as I have. Let me refer to it, from now on, as “logos-conception christology” (LCC).

[Q] May Socinian Unitarians be interested in LCC?
[A] If Socinian Unitarians accept the virgin conception as literal (IOW if they subscribe to “conception christology”), they are half way there. No Socinian Unitarian, though, to my knowledge, has ever considered the Incarnation of God’s Logos as the “complementary side” of “conception christology”. Maybe some will, but they have to come to terms with the logos as an essential attribute of God, first …

[Q] May Muslims be interested in LCC?
[A] They could, and it would certainly defuse “Mohammed’s strawman”. Also, in the Quran, unbeknown to most Christians, Jesus is spoken of as "a Word from Him [Allah]" (surah 3, ayah 45) and "His Word, which He bestowed on Mary" (surah 4, ayah 171). Reasonably, though, Muslims may only begin to consider seriously LCC after Islam has undergone a process of criticism substantially similar to the one Christianity has experienced over the last 250 years. Hopefully faster …

[Q] May traditional “orthodox” Christians (i.e. “trinitarians”) be interested in LCC?
[A] I believe NOT. The reasons are so obvious that it is not necessary to expand on them.

[Q] May “liberal” Christians be interested in LCC?
[A] No. In fact even less, if possible, than traditional “orthodox” Christians. The reason is quite simple. For them, there is no (strong or even weak) creedal statement of Christianity left. Everything is fluid, everything is metaphor. Everything is, ultimately, subjective.

[Q] May Jews be interested in LCC?
[A] Apart from the variety of positions within modern Judaism (in alphabetical order: Alternative, Classical Reform, Conservative, Humanistic, Haymanot, Karaite, Liberal, Orthodox, Progressive, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, Traditional – perhaps I have left some out), obviously, the first stumbling block is the very objection to Jesus as the Messiah. IF they accept Jesus as the Messiah AND (unlike most “Messianic Jews”, who often are nothing but “evangelicals in disguise”) they refuse the “trinity”, THEN, of course, LCC should be of interest for them.

[Q] How does the LCC fare vis a vis Christian Creeds?
[A] LCC is a strong re-affirmation of genuine Christian Creed, however minimal. I firmly believe that LCC is entirely compatible not only with the Apostles’ Creed (more appropriately: the Old Roman Symbol – 2nd century), but also with the Nicene Creed of 325 AD, before is was distorted by the additions of Canstantinople in 381 AD, thanks to the Cappadocian scoundrels. The LCC is obviously incompatible with the s.c. “Athanasian Creed.

[Q] How does the LCC fare vis a vis the Christian Scriptures?
[A] I believe that LCC is the only Christology that is perfectly compatible with the Christian Scriptures, and, in particular, with the NT, without requiring arbitrary and/or biased assumptions: first and foremost, “pre-existence.

More about Raymond E. Brown (May 22, 1928 – August 8, 1998)

I believe that it was Raymond E. Brown, the prominent biblical scholar and theologian, who coined the expression “conception Christology”, then shied away from it and, instead of seeing it as complementary of “Logos Christology”, ended up espousing “pre-existence Christology", which is obviously entailed by the doctrine of the "trinity".

This is what he writes:

“Matt[hew] and Luke in different infancy stories affirm that already by conception in the womb of Mary Jesus was not only Son of David but also ‘God with us’ and God’s Son. That was and is true. The formulations of conception christology are problematic only when, by ways of restriction, Christians might think that God’s Son became or began his existence when divine power overshadowed Mary and the Holy Spirit came upon her, so that she conceived without human intervention. Without showing cognizance of the problem, various other NT writings prevent such a misunderstanding by portraying Jesus as present at certain key moments in the OT history of God’s people (the times of Moses and Abraham), or as the one through whom all things were created, or as an entity with God who entered flesh (incarnation), or as the Word spoken by God before the act of creation – the various forms of preexistence christology. All these formulations were and remain true …” (Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology, 1994, pp. 144-5)

And here are the questions that I would love to be (have been) able to ask him directly.

Why would “conception christology”, that Brown rightly attributes to Matthew and Luke as the ONLY christology that they wanted to express, be referred to as “problematic”? Why “problematic”? Because Mary "conceived without human intervention"? But that is exactly the implication of the Angel Gabriel's answer (Lk 1:35) to Mary's immediately prior question (Lk 1:34)!

Why should seeing God’s intervention in the womb of the Virgin Mary by His Holy Spirit as His way of bringing about His Son be seen as a “restriction”? Why not see it as the concrete explanation of the words "the Word became flesh" (Jhn 1:14)?

Why does Brown assume that “various other NT writings” (presumably Paul’s, John’s and Hebrews) would have considered “conception christology” (as opposed to “preexistence christology”) a “misunderstanding”?

Why resort to the scripturally unwarranted gambit of assuming that it was the “preincarnated Jesus”, rather than YHWH (or the malakh YHWH - "messenger of YHWH" - on YHWH's behalf), who interacted with Abraham and Moses? Or that YHWH would have resorted to an unscriptural “preincarnated Jesus” "as the one through whom all things were created"? Or that God (actually, a “person” thereof, unless one adopts Sabellianism) would have “become flesh”? Or that God’s Word, before the Incarnation was a person-of-god, rather than an essential attribute of God?

I am a great admirer of Raymond E Brown’s freedom and independence of inquiry, but I suspect that, sadly, in his later years he lost his intellectual integrity and lapsed into the most trite and embarrassing loci of “orthodox” traditionalism.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Dale Tuggy admits that he made a blunder on Jesus' pre-existence


In his recorded debate with Michael Brown (podcast 250 – Tuggy vs. Brown debate – audience Q&A - January 11, 2019), Dale Tuggy (03:30 and on) seems to have made a blunder when, in his opening statement, he referred to his presentation Clarifying Catholic Christologies where, among other, he considered the possibiliy that Jesus pre-existed. From there to affirming, as Justin Martyr did, that the Old Testament shows that "there was another God and Lord", "holding second place", it is an almost inevitable step.

Once Dale Tuggy had made that clumsy concession, it was almost inevitable that Michael Brown had room to roam freely, because (as I have repeatedly warned Dale Tuggy, but whe won't heed), if you want to keep affirming the One God of the Biblie, either you end up in "Biblical Unitarianism" (the modern name of the heresy of Theodotus the Tanner - as the quotations provided by Jenn amply confirms), or you settle (after going through the sequence, pre-existence => second god => eternal generation => Arian crisis => homoousios) for the fully fledged (co-equal, co-eternal, tri-personal) "Trinity" of the Cappadocian scoundrels.

There is another way, the way of the logos, essential attribute ("hand" - together with the other "hand", God's pneuma) of the One and Only God, the Father Almighty and of the incarnation of God's logos (John 1:1,14 - which is just presented in a different, more specific way in Luke 1:35). For some reason which I cannot fully explain, the Conciliar Fathers at Nicea (325 CE) chose not even to mention the logos in the Creed, even though (unlike the homoousios) it was fully scriptural. Not only, it was an integral part of the draft of creed that Eusebius of Caesarea had brought with himself at Nicea, but was discarded (see post Why wasn't the Logos included in the Nicene Creed?)

Monday, 11 February 2019

Post-Christendom? Narrative-historical hermeneutics? Mmm ...

Are they really good reasons? Read on ...

Browsing the web, I have recently found a blog by the curious name P.OST (P dot OST, ""How to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference", @

I don't think I even considered what it was about, in the beginning. Looking back at the list of  Comments, I now realize that I had a real "commenting binge" on it, with as many as 100 comments exchanged in little more than 10 days, mostly with the blog author, Andrew Perriman. My first comment was appended to the (rather old) post The message of the Bible in one sentence (8 years old - 2011 - I don't think I even read it) and it goes like this:

God promised to Abram that He “will make him the father of a multitude of nations” (Gen 17), not just one nation; then came Moses, and the Israelites thought that that promise was only for them; then came Jesus and infuriated the Jews because he said to them, “Before Abraham become [father of a multitude of nations I am [the Messiah]”; now we are waiting for God to bring about the original promise to Abraham: the Kingdom of God. (Miguel de Servet 29 January, 2019, @
 I didn't get any comment in reply.

The same day, I read (this time I did) the (more recent - 29 November, 2018) post In the beginning was the Word, etc. As it was about a subject I am particularly interested in (see my The Incarnation of God’s Logos (The Prologue of John’s Gospel); Why wasn't the Logos included in the Nicene Creed?Dale Tuggy's book on the Trinity), I posted my comment (see here), and Adrew Perriman very politely replied.

From then on it was a real flood of comments, on my part.


I suppose the main reason is that I felt that my position was deeply antithetic to what Andrew Perriman describes as narrative-historical method, and applies to what he calls post-Christendom theology (BTW, I suppose P.OST, the name of the blog, is some "subliminal shorthand" for post-Christendom). But Andrew Perriman's thought is so spread out over many posts and comments, that it took me a while just to figure it out. There are several labels that Andrew uses. I found of some relevance "evangelicalism" and  "emerging church".

In this post, Andrew Perriman has tried to give 10 good reasons to switch to a narrative-historical hermeneutic. To me, it is all words, words, words. But who am I to Judge. You'd bettere judge for yourselves.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Who and what restrains the mystery of iniquity?

The expression "mystery of iniquity" comes from the Second Letter to the Thessalonians, in a passage where Paul explains that the "Day of the Lord" will not arrive "unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition".

Here is the quotation of the entire passage, in a modern translation.
1 Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. 5 Surely you recall that I used to tell you these things while I was still with you. 6 And so you know what holds him back [to katechon], so that he will be revealed in his own time. 7 For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him [it?] back [ho katechon] will do so until he is taken out of the way, 8 and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival. 9 The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, 10 and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. 11 Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. (2 Thess 2:1-11 - NET Bible)
 What makes this passage particularly obscure and hard to understand, is not only the reference to the mysterious "man of lawlessness" and "hidden power of lawlessness" but, most of all, the reference to "what holds him back [to katechon]" and to "who holds him back [ho katechon]".

As a NET Bible note to the quoted text says:
16 tn This gives a puzzling contrast to the impersonal phrase in v. 6 (“the thing that restrains”). The restraint can be spoken of as a force or as a person. Some have taken this to mean the Roman Empire in particular or human government in general, since these are forces that can also be seen embodied in a person, the emperor or governing head. But apocalyptic texts like Revelation and Daniel portray human government of the end times as under Satanic control, not holding back his influence. Also the power to hold back Satanic forces can only come from God. So others understand this restraint to be some force from God: the preaching of the gospel or the working of the Holy Spirit through God’s people.
I fully agree with the conclusion of the a.m. note: the "thing that restrains" is not a human entity, like the Roman Empire or, today, the United Nation, or even the Vatican. It is most likely to be the power of God Himself, who "restrains" the power of evil, so that it is "already at work", but not in a fully manifest way, not until "the lawless one will be revealed".

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Messiah: Mashiach or Moshiach? Or Moshia?

  Image result for moshia

According to what we read, the English word Messiah is the adaptation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Strong's H4899), usually transliterated mashiyach (or, more correctly māšîaḥ). The Hebrew word is a masculine noun, which is, in fact, a passive participle of the verb מָשַׁח (Strong's H4886) which means to rub (with oil), to anoint, and, by extension to consecrate. So the messiah is one who has been appointed to a high function, especially the King of Israel or the High Priest. When Israel was not independent, and stopped having a king, the word מָשִׁיחַ (māšîaḥ) became associated with the expected King of the house of David who would restore Israel to its greatness.  

In much Jewish literature in English, the word Messiah is replaced by Mashiach, so as not to confuse the latter with the former, which is considered irremediably corrupted by Christian use.

Often, we find Moshiach, instead of Mashiach. The difference is quickly dismissed as a difference in transliteration, or, maybe, as due to a difference in pronunciation by the Ashkenazi Jews. 

In an article  (where “mashiach” with an “a”) is used, it is expressly affirmed:
The word "mashiach" does not mean "savior" [color added].  The notion of an innocent, semi-divine (let alone fully divine) human being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in normal Jewish thought, though it seems to have been invented or adopted by Jewish apostates in the early Church.  Unfortunately, this Christian concept has become so deeply ingrained in the English word "messiah" that this English word should probably no longer be used to refer to the Jewish concept.  Thus, we prefer to use the less familiar word "mashiach" throughout this page. (Mashiach: TheMessiah @
In another article (where “moshiach” with an “o”) is used we read this quite different statement:
According to tradition, the prophet Isaiah [Isaiah 60:22; Yeshayahu 60:22] was referring to the future arrival of the savior [color added] of the Jewish people -- Moshiach ben Dovid -- Moshiach, a descendant of King David, from the tribe of Yehudah. There are many similar references to his eventual arrival in the Jewish Bible and subsequent commentaries, and this is one of the most-discussed concepts in Torah literature. [Moshiach and the World Today @]
Curiously enough, in Isaiah we find the word “messiah” (מָשִׁיחַ) used only once, and it is used for Cyrus (the Persian king who defeated the Babylonians and issued an edict allowing the Jews to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple), who is called “the Lord’s anointed” (Isa 45:1).

On the other hand, in Isaiah we repeatedly find God referred to (or referring to himself) a “saviour” (or “deliverer” - Isa 43:3,11;45:15,21; 49:26; 60:16; 63:8). The word used is invariably מוֹשִׁיעַ,  (Hiphil Active Participle from יָשַׁע – Strong’s H3467, to save, deliver), transliterated môšî`a.

While the origin is very different, the aspect and the sound of the two words, מָשִׁיחַ (māšîaḥ, “anointed”, “consecrated”) and מוֹשִׁיעַ (môšî`a, “saviour”, “deliverer”), is very similar.

Perhaps too similar.

Perhaps, by denying that the word "mashiach" (or “moshiach”) has anything to do with "saviour", some Jews want not so much to deny that Jesus is Messiah ("anointed"), but that he is Saviour. A prerogative jealously kept exclusively for YHWH.

Monday, 16 April 2018

"Behold the Lamb of God"

"Adoration of the Mystic Lamb", Jan van Eyck, central panel, detail  (circa 1426–1432)
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:29-36 KJV)

The words that we read at the beginning of v. 35 ("Again the next day ...") emphasize that this is the third day since John the Baptist was introduced to us and, faced with the insistent questions of the "Jews", he declared to be only the "voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord", the voice of the forerunner and announcer of the Messiah. The second day John "sees Jesus coming unto him" and addressing his disciples, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world", he who "baptizes in the Holy Spirit ... the Son of God". The following day, meeting Jesus again, turning to his disciples, he says again: "Behold the Lamb of God!" This insisted reference to Jesus, on the part of John the Baptist, as "the Lamb of God", who even "takes away the sin of the world" is not accidental. It is hard to think that John the Baptist does not refer (or at least the author of the Gospel does not attribute to him a reference) to the sacrificial role of Jesus. Isaiah 53 can be heard here, and in particular "... he was like a lamb led to the slaughterhouse ... he shall bear their iniquities" (Is 53:7,11). But how would John the Baptist, who repeatedly declares, regarding Jesus, "I did not know him" (Jn 1:31,33), recognize in him the "suffering servant" destined for the atoning sacrifice? It is possible to think that, once again, John the Baptist had in mind another poem on the "Suffering Servant", in which it is said, "I have put my spirit upon him" (Is 42:1, see also Is 61:1-2, which Jesus applies to himself in the synagogue of Nazareth - Lk 4:18-19). And indeed John says:
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me: "Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizes with the Holy Spirit." (Jn 1:33)
It has also been suggested that, if the Greek text of the Gospel of John is, at least in part, the translation from an original Aramaic, then "lamb of God" could be the literal translation of talyâ d'alâhâ, in which talyâ can mean not only "lamb", but also "son" and "servant" #. In short, the expression may contain a "stratification" of multiple meanings. We could have here, on the part of John the Baptist (or of the author of the Gospel) a kind of play on words, which would allude not only to Jesus as "lamb of God" (spotless, that is the perfect sacrificial victim), but also as "son of God" (at least in the sense of his messianic dignity) and "servant of God", in the same sense in which Isaiah uses this expression (Is 42, 49, 50, 52-53), and likewise the Apostle Paul (Phil 2:7-8): the perfect, even slave-like obedience of the Son of God to God, the Father Almighty.

# The Aramaic origin of the Fourth Gospel, C.F. Burney, 1922, p. 107. Before proposing the “Aramaic solution”, Burney suggests also that the expression "lamb of God" may harken back to Genesis 22, and, in particular to the phrase, “God will provide himself a lamb ...” (Gen 22:8)