My response to a guy named Georg Kaplan (A Unitarian, and he has made many videos and arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, who has recently come over to Muslim Paul Williams’ blog and we are having good discussions.): (we have been having a cordial discussion at a Muslim blog – “Blogging Theology” – see here “Gullible and Stubborn”.
The quote from Gregory of Nyssa about combining Jewish Monotheism and the best from Greek pagan thought, etc. is a quote I have never heard before,
[Georg made a video of this.]
but I don’t think he is saying that Greek paganism is the “source” of the doctrine of the persons / hupostasis – rather the quote clearly says “The Jewish dogma (Unitarian Monotheism) is destroyed by the acceptance of the Word and by the belief in the Spirit . . . ” These are Biblical sources; not Greek paganism – and many scholars see the hints of the “word” (logos) in Genesis 1 (God spoke by His word everything into existence) and the Spirit also is there in Genesis 1 – 1:2 – “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”. So even those 2 aspects are rooted in Jewish Monotheism.
Furthermore, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Athanasius and Hillary and others had expressions of the Trinity in centuries (and at the same time – Athanasius and Hillary) before Gregory of Nyssa. Ignatius is clear on the Deity of Christ in early second century (around 107-110 AD) and has a simple expression of the Trinity –
“For Ignatius God is Father, and by ‘Father’ he means primarily ‘Father of Jesus Christ’ : ‘There is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son’ (Magn. 8.2). Jesus is called ‘God’ 14 times (Eph. inscr. 1.1, 7.2, 15.3, 17.2, 18.2, 19.3; Trall. 7.1; Rom. inscr. 3.3, 6.3; Smyrn. 1.1; Pdyc. 8.3). [but see the other quote that cites 11 times, below] He is the Father’s Word (Magn. 8.2), ‘the mind of the Father’ (Eph. 3.3), and ‘the mouth through which the Father truly spoke’ (Rom. 8.2). He is ‘His only Son’ (Rom. inscr.), ‘generate and ingenerate, God in man . . . son of Mary and Son of God . . . Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Eph. 7.2). He is the one ‘who is beyond time the Eternal the Invisible who became visible for our sake, the Impalpable, the Impassible who suffered for our sake’ (Polyc. 3.2).
“. . . he does sometimes mention Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together. He urges the Magnesians to ‘be eager . . . to be confirmed in the commandments of our Lord and His apostles, so that “whatever you do may prosper” . . . in the Son and Father and Spirit’ (Magn. 13.2). And in one of his most famous passages he declares: ‘Like the stones of a temple, cut for a building of God the Father, you have been lifted up to the top by the crane of Jesus Christ, which is the Cross, and the rope of the Holy Spirit’ (Eph. 9.1).” Edmund J. Fortman, at a Greek Orthodox web-blog. ( I use that for convenience only; as Protestants, Roman Catholics, and E.Orthodox agree on the doctrine of the Trinity.
This is very early, over 2 centuries before Gregory of Nyssa.
Also, Tertullian, around 190-220 AD, used the basic words, “Trinitas Unitas” (three in one) and “persona” (the Latin equivalent of hypostatis) over 1 century before the Cappadocian Fathers, as did Origen around 250 AD.
From an article by Brian J. Wright, on Jesus as Theos: (footnote 13)
“Ignatius designates Jesus as ‘God’ on at least eleven occasions,” notes Weinandy, “Thus, Ignatius effortlessly and spontaneously wove within his understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son the simple and unequivocal proclamation that Jesus Christ is God” (Thomas Weinandy, “The Apostolic Christology of Ignatius of Antioch: The Road to Chalcedon,” in Trajectories Through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers [New York: Oxford University Press, 2005], 76). Here are 14 such occurrences in Ignatius: Eph. prol.; 1.1; 7.2; 15.3; 18.2; 19.3; Rom. prol. (2x); 3.3; 6.3; Smyrn. 1.1; 10.1; Trall. 7.1; Pol. 8.3.
Excellent summary conclusion of the issue of Jesus as Theos and the Deity of Christ:
No one contests that the NT usually reserves the title θεός for God the Father. Yet this usage, though dominant, is not exclusive.146 The textual proof of the designation θεός as applied to Jesus in the NT merely confirms what other grounds have already established. In fact, the title θεός only makes explicit what is implied in other Christological titles such as κύριος and υἱὸς θεοῦ. Harris adds:
Even if the early Church had never applied the title θεός to Jesus, his deity would still be apparent in his being the object of human and angelic worship and of saving faith; the exerciser of exclusively divine functions such as creatorial agency, the forgiveness of sins, and the final judgment; the addressee in petitionary prayer; the possessor of all divine attributes; the bearer of numerous titles used of Yahweh in the OT; and the co-author of divine blessing. Faith in the deity of Christ does not rest on the evidence or validity of a series of ‘proof-texts’ in which Jesus may receive the title θεός but on the general testimony of the NT corroborated at the bar of personal experience.147
The question now before us is not whether the NT explicitly ascribes the title θεός to Jesus, but how many times he is thus identified and by whom.148 Therefore, with at least one text that undoubtedly calls Jesus θεός in every respect (John 20.28), I will conclude by answering my initial question: When did this boldness to call Jesus θεός begin? It began in the first century. It was not a creation of Constantine in the fourth century. It was not a doctrinal innovation to combat Arianism in the third century. Nor was it a sub-apostolic distortion of the apostolic kerygma in the second century. Rather, the church’s confession of Christ as θεός began in the first century with the apostles themselves and/or their closest followers and therefore most likely from Jesus himself. Brian J. Wright
On the issue of John 1:3-4:
Also, I purchased Murray J. Harris’ Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament on John, and he actually gives cogent reasons for accepting the punctuation of John 1:3 that makes 1:4 begin with “in Him was life . . . ” – page 23. Too much to type out, maybe Google books will allow you to see it.