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"Person"

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"Person"

Postby Isaac Newton » Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:15 am

Can we agree that when Orthodox Trinitarians say "God is three persons , one essence" the standard and universally accepted corresponding Greek word for "person" is ὑπόστασις, and the corresponding Greek word for "essence" is οὐσία ?

As the trinitarian theologian Joseph Bryennios wrote in the 15 century :

Θεὸν δὲ ὅταν εἴπω, λέγω Πατέρα, Υἱὸν καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμά, τὴν ὑπέρθεον καὶ ἀνωτάτην Τριάδα. Πατήρ, Υἱὸς καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, μία Θεότης τρία ἰδιώματα· μία οὐσία, τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις· μία φύσις, τρία πρόσωπα· μία μορφή, τρεῖς χαρακτῆρες· ἓν εἶδος, τρία ἄτομα.


My translation:

"But when God shall say, I speak of [the] Father, [the] son and [the] holy spirit, the overlapping and Anotatin Trinity. Father, son and holy spirit, one Godhead three individuals. One substance, three hypostases; one nature, three persons; one form, three characters; same genus, three persons."
καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ χρῖσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μένει ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ἵνα τις διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς·
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Re: "Person"

Postby demetri » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:48 pm

Isaac Newton wrote:Can we agree that when Orthodox Trinitarians say "God is three persons , one essence" the standard and universally accepted corresponding Greek word for "person" is ὑπόστασις, and the corresponding Greek word for "essence" is οὐσία ?

As the trinitarian theologian Joseph Bryennios wrote in the 15 century :

Θεὸν δὲ ὅταν εἴπω, λέγω Πατέρα, Υἱὸν καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμά, τὴν ὑπέρθεον καὶ ἀνωτάτην Τριάδα. Πατήρ, Υἱὸς καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, μία Θεότης τρία ἰδιώματα· μία οὐσία, τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις· μία φύσις, τρία πρόσωπα· μία μορφή, τρεῖς χαρακτῆρες· ἓν εἶδος, τρία ἄτομα.


My translation:

"But when God shall say, I speak of [the] Father, [the] son and [the] holy spirit, the overlapping and Anotatin Trinity. Father, son and holy spirit, one Godhead three individuals. One substance, three hypostases; one nature, three persons; one form, three characters; same genus, three persons."


Hopefully I do not confuse this too much but you are correct that the "the standard and universally accepted corresponding Greek word for "person" is ὑπόστασις" and, unfortunately to my mind even the Orthodox church uses this translation scheme, that is not exactly what the Fathers of the Early Councils were actually saying. Had they meant to use "person", πρόσωπον seems the word they would likely have used. Instead they constructed the word ὑπόστασις which quite literally means "sub-stance", "under-base or under-basis", "under-footing" or, ...in other words foundation. Conceptually I have an easier time myself understanding that rendering.
I do not "do" Latin (yet) but I can see how this concept (substance) comes through into English, noting that we may commonly today think of "substance" as an elemental, that is not the meaning exactly and the Latin route follows the Greek exactly.

As to οὐσία, I think you are correct but that word can get touchy in other theological debates (such as Chalcedonian Eastern Orthodox debating Non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox on the "nature/natures" of Christ and for that I prefer a religion forum :wink:).
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Re: "Person"

Postby Isaac Newton » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:18 pm

Hi demetri,

demetri wrote:
Isaac Newton wrote:Can we agree that when Orthodox Trinitarians say "God is three persons , one essence" the standard and universally accepted corresponding Greek word for "person" is ὑπόστασις, and the corresponding Greek word for "essence" is οὐσία ?

As the trinitarian theologian Joseph Bryennios wrote in the 15 century :

Θεὸν δὲ ὅταν εἴπω, λέγω Πατέρα, Υἱὸν καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμά, τὴν ὑπέρθεον καὶ ἀνωτάτην Τριάδα. Πατήρ, Υἱὸς καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, μία Θεότης τρία ἰδιώματα· μία οὐσία, τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις· μία φύσις, τρία πρόσωπα· μία μορφή, τρεῖς χαρακτῆρες· ἓν εἶδος, τρία ἄτομα.


My translation:

"But when God shall say, I speak of [the] Father, [the] son and [the] holy spirit, the overlapping and Anotatin Trinity. Father, son and holy spirit, one Godhead three individuals. One substance, three hypostases; one nature, three persons; one form, three characters; same genus, three persons."


Hopefully I do not confuse this too much but you are correct that the "the standard and universally accepted corresponding Greek word for "person" is ὑπόστασις" and,


Yes.

unfortunately to my mind even the Orthodox church uses this translation scheme, that is not exactly what the Fathers of the Early Councils were actually saying.


Certainly, prior to the council of Nicea (325CE) none of the "church fathers" even imagined a distinction between ὑπόστασις and οὐσία . The two terms were virtual synonyms. The inspired writer of Hebrews does not draw a distinction either (see Hebrews 1:3),.. or at the very least he viewed ὑπόστασις as meaning "substance" or "essence" and not "person."

Had they meant to use "person", πρόσωπον seems the word they would likely have used. Instead they constructed the word ὑπόστασις which quite literally means "sub-stance", "under-base or under-basis", "under-footing" or, ...in other words foundation. Conceptually I have an easier time myself understanding that rendering.


The early church fathers (2nd, 3rd and even 4th centuries), yes. However, once the dust had settled upon the christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries, the "church fathers" of this era, and forever henceforth, came away with a new definition of ὑπόστασις, -- one which directly contradicts the definition given to us in Hebrews 1;3, and which became the hallmark of Trinitarian orthodoxy. Now ὑπόστασις meant "person and not substance," whereas previously it had meant "substance." Thus the rallying cry of the Orthodox for 1600 years has been that God is μία οὐσία, τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις (one essence, three persons).

So Trinitarian orthodoxy uses some of the same words that the bible does (eg. Hebrews 1:3, ὑπόστασις ), but with new , unprecedented and scriptually contradictory definitions. I find that to be quite disturbing.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:


251 In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church had to develop her own terminology with the help of certain notions of philosophical origin: "substance", "person" or "hypostasis", "relation" and so on. In doing this, she did not submit the faith to human wisdom, but gave a new and unprecedented meaning to these terms, which from then on would be used to signify an ineffable mystery, "infinitely beyond all that we can humanly understand".
καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ χρῖσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μένει ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ἵνα τις διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς·
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Re: "Person"

Postby demetri » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:53 am

Well, my friend, I fail to see a conflict in usage. I am sure of my take on the language. Whatever the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" states does not compute for me.

Translations can be such a pain. If it is a theological debate or discussion you seek, I can suggest other Internet venues. "Person" has in fact given me pause; I prefer a term more denoting "distinctness but still integral" which hypostasis does in fact do.

This thread beyond definitions, like the concurrent one on ΛΟΓΟΣ in John 1.1 which has its own problems do to ignoring ΣΟΦΙΑ and the relation between the two in Orthodox understanding, belong on a religion forum, methinks.
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Re: "Person"

Postby Isaac Newton » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:49 pm

demetri wrote:Well, my friend, I fail to see a conflict in usage. I am sure of my take on the language. Whatever the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" states does not compute for me.

Translations can be such a pain. If it is a theological debate or discussion you seek, I can suggest other Internet venues. "Person" has in fact given me pause; I prefer a term more denoting "distinctness but still integral" which hypostasis does in fact do.

This thread beyond definitions, like the concurrent one on ΛΟΓΟΣ in John 1.1 which has its own problems do to ignoring ΣΟΦΙΑ and the relation between the two in Orthodox understanding, belong on a religion forum, methinks.


That's interesting...IMHO if the bible defines ὑπόστασις as "essence" , and it does, but we define the same word as "person but not essence" there is a serious problem. ..
καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ χρῖσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μένει ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ἵνα τις διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς·
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Re: "Person"

Postby demetri » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:12 pm

Sorry friend. I cannot make sense of your problem. I'm not about to get into a "No, it doesn't/Yes, it does" contest with you. I just think you are wrong.
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Re: "Person"

Postby Isaac Newton » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:29 pm

Hi Demetri,

demetri wrote:Sorry friend. I cannot make sense of your problem. I'm not about to get into a "No, it doesn't/Yes, it does" contest with you. I just think you are wrong.


It is not my intention to get into a shouting match, nor are we infact doing that. I think if you did the following you would understand what I'm saying.

(a) Look at the definition of ὑπόστασις at Hebrews 1:3

(b) Now take a look at how the orthodox define ὑπόστασις

The two definitions are contradictory.
καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ χρῖσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μένει ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ἵνα τις διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς·
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Re: "Person"

Postby demetri » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:39 pm

Isaac Newton wrote:Hi Demetri,

demetri wrote:Sorry friend. I cannot make sense of your problem. I'm not about to get into a "No, it doesn't/Yes, it does" contest with you. I just think you are wrong.


It is not my intention to get into a shouting match, nor are we infact doing that. I think if you did the following you would understand what I'm saying.

(a) Look at the definition of ὑπόστασις at Hebrews 1:3

(b) Now take a look at how the orthodox define ὑπόστασις

The two definitions are contradictory.


I have done (a) already, twice.
I understand the Orthodox definitions (which may not be exactly what you think it is).

The only conflict I see is if one relies or insists that essence and hypostasis are 100 % equivalent or even synonyms outright OR insists that "person" is being meant outside of meaning distinctness.
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Re: "Person"

Postby Isaac Newton » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:07 pm

demetri wrote:
Isaac Newton wrote:Hi Demetri,

demetri wrote:Sorry friend. I cannot make sense of your problem. I'm not about to get into a "No, it doesn't/Yes, it does" contest with you. I just think you are wrong.


It is not my intention to get into a shouting match, nor are we infact doing that. I think if you did the following you would understand what I'm saying.

(a) Look at the definition of ὑπόστασις at Hebrews 1:3

(b) Now take a look at how the orthodox define ὑπόστασις

The two definitions are contradictory.


I have done (a) already, twice.
I understand the Orthodox definitions (which may not be exactly what you think it is).

The only conflict I see is if one relies or insists that essence and hypostasis are 100 % equivalent or even synonyms outright OR insists that "person" is being meant outside of meaning distinctness
.


That's not the conflict. . And what precisely does that mean ?

The problem is that apostle Paul defined ὑποστάσεως one way (as meaning essence) but orthodoxy contradicts his definition by defining ὑποστάσεως as not essence (but person). Remember, it is one of the hallmarks of orthodoxy to distinguish between "person" and "essence."

I don't know how much more simply I can put it...
καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ χρῖσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μένει ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ἵνα τις διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς·
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Re: "Person"

Postby demetri » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:02 pm

This is the FIRST time I have EVER seen essence and hypostasis equated, ever. Many times I have seen debates on Essence and Nature, but never the issue you have. It seems you have invented one where it does not exist.

Note: when I agreed with your opening comment about "the standard and universally accepted word for "person" I did not extend my acceptance or agreement of your treatment for "essence".
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Re: "Person"

Postby Isaac Newton » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:02 pm

demetri wrote:This is the FIRST time I have EVER seen essence and hypostasis equated, ever. Many times I have seen debates on Essence and Nature, but never the issue you have. It seems you have invented one where it does not exist.

Note: when I agreed with your opening comment about "the standard and universally accepted word for "person" I did not extend my acceptance or agreement of your treatment for "essence".


Could you please tell me what you think "the issue" which I "have" is ?
Last edited by Isaac Newton on Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ χρῖσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μένει ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ἵνα τις διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς·
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Re: "Person"

Postby Isaac Newton » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:46 am

What I am saying in this thread is well known to the astute trinitarian theologian, though most seem to be oblivious to it, for want of Greek perhaps .. Here's Peter Diamond vs James White, both trinitarian scholars. The issue of the unbiblical definition of the word ὑπόστασις in the triune formula was incidental to their main argument, but it certainly steals the limelight:

The way I’d like to comment on White’s argument also has to do with Muslims. Namely, I think that White’s argument against Catholic veneration of saints could easily be turned against him by an astute Muslim debater in discussing the Trinity. They could easily point out that the doctrinal formula of mia ousia, treis hypostaseis is unbiblical. Not only does the Bible remain silent about the way the eternal relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is to be explained philosophically (the closest it comes is John 1:1), Hebrews 1:3 actually seems to deny the Christian usage altogether.

The passage in question describes the Son as the χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως of the Father, the very image of his substance. The word for substance here is hypostasis. Now hypostasis is a familiar word from Trinitarian dogma, but the problem is that there it means not the substance but the person. (As an aside, the King James Bible actually translates Hebrews 1:3 as “the express image of his person”.) The word for “substance” or “being” in Trinitarian dogma in ousia, and it is one of the highest priorities in Christian theology not to confuse being and person, as White so often underlines in his presentations of the Trinity to Muslims.

So, what we have here is that the Bible uses some of the same words as later theology uses, but uses them differently, and indeed in diametrically opposite ways. The same is true, it seems to me, in the whole latria-dulia-issue. Later theology can define its own terms, the Bible is simply not meant to do that for us. If Hebrews 1:3 doesn’t prove the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is unbiblical, neither can the Bible reject the latria-dulia-distinction. The Bible predates both of these theological controversies and doesn’t address them as such.
καὶ ὑμεῖς τὸ χρῖσμα ὃ ἐλάβετε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μένει ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ἵνα τις διδάσκῃ ὑμᾶς·
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