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Sunday, June 25, 2023

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I read Tony’s post, I wonder if I can “simplify” the view to say something to the effect of: Man (human beings) are various exemplifications of God, his essense, in material vessels. And if this is a plausible analogy, can’t we continue to analogize, and then use that analogy as the base of another? Let’s say ideas about interconnectedness, we are all just a dream of God, etc.

I am sure Tony would say no such thing, and neither would I. The Creator-creature relation in Christian metaphysics is not easily made sense of, but it is surely not the exemplification relation. Is it analogous to the dreamer-dreamed relation? If Socrates is God's dream-object then the former would lack the freedom and selfhood he would have to have to be an image of God.

Tony's argument seems to boil down to a simple refusal to incorporate anything that smacks of metaphysics in unraveling the deeper mysteries of the Hebrew scriptures. But when mysteries are presented, beings like we are will naturally go metaphysical, and the theological traditions we are heir to are an immense aid in keeping the concepts consistent and within scriptural parameters.

Not to mention that, yes, Paul used Hellenistic terms and concepts extensively in his writings, which made for a natural segue into Aristotelian and Platonic concepts in plumbing the depths of the mysteries of the scriptures. But this was not to the detriment of his essentially Jewish message. I think N T Wright made the case in his magisterial four volumes on Christian Origins that early Christianity, Jesus' work, and Paul's message were fundamentally Jewish and scriptural in orientation, which I think presents a real problem for Tony's anti-metaphysical thesis. For Jesus, Paul, and other writers in New Testament times had a thorough knowledge of the scriptures and were clear and explicit that those scriptures supported the notion of an afterlife and survival of the individual personality of believers. You can also throw into this group the author of Maccabees and other non-canonical but important writings, as well the Pharisees, who were no slouches when it came to scriptural interpretation.

Given this, and notwithstanding Tony's learned parsing of the Hebrew in Genesis, I think it becomes necessary to make some sense of the notion that the personality survives bodily death, and Aristotelian and Platonic concepts have long been the favored theological solutions.

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