Robert Bowman on the role of Christ in Creation

Rob Bowman in his book, “Putting Jesus In His Place” (PJIHP 2007 ) argues that there is no reason to believe that Scripture teaches the Son is not also the Source of creation, along with the Father, as expressed by Greek words that signal “source” such as EK (from).

He says:
“It is true that the New Testament never says that all things are “from” (ek) the Son. This particular wording occurs only a few times, however, in the entire New Testament with reference to all things in creation being from God or the Father (Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; 11:12; 2 Cor. 5:18). The absence of this wording with reference to Jesus is therefore too slender an argument from silence to prove any inferiority of the Son’s role in creation.” [16]. PKIHP (Kindle 2102)

And his footnote reads:
[16] Some sort of “economic” distinction between the distinction between the roles of the Father and the Son (as well as of the Holy Spirit) in the work of Creation is consistent with both Scripture and the historic doctrine of the Trinity. All we are insisting here is that any such distinction falls short of implying that the Son performs an inferior role. Still, it does seem to us that the New Testament does not provide compelling evidence for hard and fast distinctions in the roles of the Father and the Son in creation.
End Quote.

How many times must Scripture teach that the Father is the “source” of “all things” before Rob will accept it?

In a Facebook forum, I said to Rob:

“And yes, John 5:19,30 is a losing proposition for you because Jesus himself denies doing anything of himself, or being the cause of divine works by his denial using AP[O]. [1]

Since “all things” (e.g. 1 Co 8:6) were made EK the Father, there are no “things” which the Son could have originated. That is simple math, and Jesus confirms this at John 5:19,30.”

As the ASV renders it:

19 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself [1], but what he seeth the Father doing: for what things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner.

Therefore, Jesus denies he has been the cause of divine works.

—-
[1] BDAG in its entry for the preposition APO at John 5:19 and 30 gives the gloss,

5. to indicate cause, means, or outcome, from … e. to indicate responsible agents for someth., from, of

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Rob Bowman on Romans 11:36 and the New World Translation

Back in 1989, Rob Bowman published the book “Why you should believe in the Trinity.”

In it, he criticized the New World Translation for their rendering at Romans 11:36.

There he says:

“The JWs try to turn this evidence on its head by pointing out that these texts all say tht God made the world through Christ, and conclude from this that Christ was God’s” junior partner, as it were” (p71) in the work of creation. They note that in 1Corinthians 8:6 creation is said to have come from the Father, but only through Jesus. — There are at least two reasons why this objection cannot be valid. First, the New Testament also states that the world came through God (Rom. 11:36), specifically through the Father (Heb. 2:10). (The same Greek word translated “through” or its contracted form [di’] appears in all these verses.) This means that “through” does not imply a lesser or secondary role in creation, as the JWs claim. This is apparently so embarrassing to the Witnesses that they translated di’ as “by” instead of “through” in Romans 11:36-“Because from him and by [di’] him and for him are all things” (NWT). It is also noteworthy that Romans 11:36 says that all things are “for” (eis) God, whereas Colossians 1:16 says that all things are “for” (eis) Christ.” —Rob Bowman, Why You Should Believe In the Trinity, 1989

Robert Bowman here quotes Romans 11:36 with the Greek preposition δια rendered as “through.”

Furthermore, he says that this embarrasses JWs so much that the NWT renders δια as “by” and not “through.”

A decade or so ago, Jessica Carter accused Rob of committing the “root” fallacy based on these statements.

Rob Bowman recently defended these statements in a Facebook forum.

It certainly looks like Rob argues that δια can only be rendered with the English word “through” here.

Back when Rob wrote this, the Thayer Greek lexicon has this to say regarding δια at Romans 11:36. There it has the sense “of one who is the author of the action as well as its instrument, or of the efficient cause.”

THAYER

BDAG on this verse gives “b. with focus on the originator of an action,” and gives the gloss “by.”

Therefore, with the focus on “the originator of an action,” the rendering of “by” for δια is perfectly acceptable.

So the question to ask Rob Bowman is, who should be embarrassed?

Rob, would you change anything in your book, now, if you had the chance?

The Origin of the Doctrine of the Trinity according to John of Damascus and Gregory of Nyssa

The Patristic historian, Harry Wolfson, demonstrates how Gregory of Nyssa and John of Damascus describe the Trinity as a combination of Jewish and Greek dogma. This presentation provides the quotes in English and also the Greek from Mignes Patrology. — https://youtube.com/watch?v=4Exc6ZIWids

Harry Austryn Wolfson was a scholar, philosopher, and historian at Harvard University. Wolfson authored an astonishing variety of works which included the Church Fathers, and the foundations of Western religion. Wolfson also wrote the book “The Philosophy of the Church Fathers.” There on pages 362 and 363 he reveals two shocking quotes from two revered Church Fathers and gives his interpretation.

Speaking of the doctrine of Trinitarian apologists, he says: “… its own conception of the Trinity was looked upon by the Fathers themselves as a combination of Jewish monotheism and pagan polytheism… to them this combination was a good combination; in fact, it was to them an ideal combination of what is best in Jewish monotheism and of what is best in pagan polytheism…The Christian conception of God, argues Gregory of Nyssa, is neither the polytheism of the Greeks nor the monotheism of the Jews and consequently it must be true, for”

“the truth passes in the mean between these two conceptions, destroying each heresy, and yet, accepting what is useful to it from each. The Jewish dogma is destroyed by the acceptance of the Word and by the belief in the Spirit, while the polytheistic error of the Greek school is made to vanish by the unity of the nature abrogating this imagination of plurality.”

“As restated by John of Damascus, this ideal combination in Christianity of what is best in Judaism and paganism reads as follows: “On the one hand, of the Jewish idea we have the unity of God’s nature, and, on the other, of the Greek, we have the distinction of hypostases, and that only.”

Has Wolfson made a compelling case that the Trinity doctrine part Jewish and part Greek? Let’s look at these two quotes together.

On the left pane, we see how the two Trinitarian apologists describe the beliefs of the Jews. On the right, the Greek. In the center are the “useful” parts of each. Together, the Jewish and Greek elements contribute to the Trinitarian doctrine.

I have never seen these quotes discussed by modern day Trinitarians. Certainly they deserve serious discussion.

Georg Kaplin

The Two Readings at John 1:3-4

 

[In response to posts from Ken Temple,  to my post, here]

Ken,

You assert that Jesus is claiming to be Yahweh at John 8:58 and give John 5 as support. But at John 5,   Jesus said he could only do what the Father showed him and that the Father would show him more in the future.

But Jesus said he was given life at John 5:26 and to allow this to fit into your theology you say he was given it eternally.   And for this you cite John 1:1-5.   But to make this work, you fight against the latest scholarly edition of the Greek text as found in Nestle Aland.

I presented evidence from the Nestle Aland that Athanasius quoted the reading that refutes you. To this you say, you are not convinced.   That is why I remind you how we got to this point.  You bear the burden of proof, as this is necessary for your assertions that are not found explicitly taught in Scripture.   That being said, I am happy to provide the evidence, as I did this research decades ago.

Here is the page from the United Bible Societies with the critical apparatus. It is easier to follow that the Nestle Aland and they have the same text. I have highlighted the authors who punctuate in the same way as the text for the NA and USB critical editions.  Athanasius is there.

 

What I did next, was to take the list of authors to get the dates they wrote. I put these into a table.  I have Athanasius highlighted in red.

Next, let’s look at the authors who favor your punctuation.

I then plotted the dates for a visual.

 

The data does not lie, and is very consistent. This is the reason why our critical editions favor the punctuation as found in the main text

 

Best Regards,

Georg