RE: (long) Re: Simeon's spirit

From: Ben Crick (
Date: Tue Dec 02 1997 - 10:41:37 EST

On Mon 1 Dec 97 (15:21:25), wrote:
> It strikes me that the term "persons" as it is now used in English does
> not represent the intent of the coiners of the term "persons of the
> Trinity" well at all. The concept that seems to me to present fewer
> difficulties in understanding, to eliminate almost entirely the
> "magical thinking" mysteriousness of classical Trinitarianism, and to
> avoid any difficulties with the God of the Shema, is to think of the
> Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as *aspects* of God.

 Dear Charles,

 It was Tertullian who really coined the terms used in the Nicaean and
 Chalcedonian disputations. Tertullian was strictly monotheistic. Before
 all things were created, God was alone: there was nothing external to
 Himself. But he had his Reason with him (so Tertullian is batting on the
 LOGOS "wicket"). Reason is an other or second Thing in God in addition to
 Himself (so in /Adv. Prax./). "Your Reason" is not separate from "you".
 But it is impossible to fit the Holy Spirit into such a concept of God.

 The Spirit is the Deputy /Vicaria/ of or to the Son. The Spirit proceeds
 /a patre per filium/ from the Father by way of the Son. He uses the
 analogy of the the Spirit as the Fruit on the Shoot derived from the Root,
 or Spring; River; Channel. Hmmmm.

 Tertullian's vocabulary is designed to illustrate the thesis that
 Threeness is not incompatible with Unity. There is a Distribution but
 not a Separation within the Godhead; Fruit Root and Shoot all belong to
 the same Plant.

 The Nicaean OUSIA is translated from Tertullian's /Substantia/. Son and
 Spirit are consorts or co-partners in the /substantia/ of the Father
 (Adv. Prax. 3). Older scholars say /substantia/ can mean a piece of
 property jointly owned. Thus Father Son and Holy Spirit have a "stake"
 in the Godhead. JND Kelly, /Early Christian Doctrines/, p 114 says "the
 background of Tertullian's thought is Stoic; he must mean that Substance
 is a highly rarefied species of matter - a sort of ghost-substance"; cf
 Lucretius the Epicurean and his mirror-image theory? In /Adv. Herm. 3/
 Tertullian writes "God is the name of the Substance"; God (Father, Son
 and Holy Spirit) share the same Nature or Essence. Is this the same as

 PROSWPON is Tertullian's /Persona/. PROSWPON can mean a mask; an actor
 wearing a mask; the character an actor plays (as in /Dramatis Personae/);
 the holder of a title to a property. With Tertullian it means an
 individual human or other Being; but not a "consciousness". He uses the
 term in context with the immanent Trinity of Appearance: the Economic,
 not the Ontological Trinity, /Adv. Prax./ 27. "The Spirit is a Person"
 /Adv. Prax./ 8).

 Tertullian was the first to use the term /Trinitas/: "Trinitas unius
 divinitatis" /Adv. Prax./ 3,11,12/. The members of the Trinity are
 numerically distinct and can be counted (/Adv.Prax./ 2). Compare
 Justin Martyr's KAT ARIQMWi hETERON.

 The Nicaean formula Three hUPOSTASEIS in One OUSIA is not identical
 with Three Personae in one Substantia. God is not one Actor wearing
 three PROSWPA as opportunity affords; nor are Father Son and Holy
 Spirit three "aspects" (your word) of Divinity. To settle for the
 word PROSWPON leads too easily into Modalism, Monarchianism,
 Patripassianism and Sabellianism. Sabellius taught that God is a Monad,
 a hUOPATHR (Epiphanius, /Haereses/ 59:7). Just as the sun is one object
 but may be manifested as Light or Heat, so there are 3 "aspects" of God:
 Father, creator and lawgiver; Son, redeemer; Spirit, to inspire men and
 supply Grace (/Haer./ 62:1).

 So, Sabellius concluded, God is one Actor with three Masks. The Father
 was hanging 0on the Cross (Patripassianism). This was rightly rejected.

 I've posted this to b-greek because the Latin is a translation of the
 Greek, and not vice-versa. If this offends the FAQ I'll take it no
 further. 8-)

 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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