Navas and Diaz on John 12

Posted by David Barron October - 29 - 2011 - Saturday

Patrick Navas has been interacting with Hiram Diaz from Grassroots Apologetics, a blog I recently became aware of, on the topic of John 12:41. Patrick provided a nice response to Diaz and Diaz has subsequently responded (a link to Diaz’s initial response is within Patrick’s response). Having observed the interaction thus far I wanted to provide several comments.

In both responses Diaz has displayed an apparent ignorance of Patrick’s theology, arguing as if Patrick denies Jesus preexisted. This, of course, is not the case, and Patrick has argued extensively in favor of this truth, though he has acknowledge some Socinian arguments he views having potential merit.

Diaz has twice ignored the arguments Patrick presents from the text itself, engaging only side points and not the exegesis of John 12 and Isaiah 52/53. This is extremely telling, for an actual exegesis of John 12:38-41 is most damaging to the Trinitarian interpretation, as I’ve detailed before and will highlight here again.

John quotes from both Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 53, with the latter presented first. John says, as accepted in the critical texts, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke about him.” Trinitarians must ignore this “because” as nothing quoted from Isaiah 6 was done because of seeing glory and speaking about him. They argue as if the text says “when,” a later variant that is well rejected. Isaiah said what he said from Isaiah 6 because of a command to do so, and while he did behold God’s glory, there is absolutely no evidence to support this sight serving as a basis for what he said.

Isaiah 53:1 presents two distinct questions, and serves as the focus of John’s argument. Isaiah 6 is cited to further expand upon this. Therefore, unless the text of Isaiah 6 found itself used by Isaiah in a tradition we no longer possess today, John 12:41 would refer back only to John’s primary argument from Isaiah 53:1.

Having said this, I do believe it was likely Jesus who was beheld at Isaiah 6, though it may have only been a vision. In Diaz’s latest response he argues from texts such as Genesis 19 that God is polypersonal, but he seems entirely ignorant of divine agency and how Second Temple Judaism had already accounted for these things by the time Jesus walked the earth. Examples such as in Numbers 12 when compared to Hebrews 3:3-5 make it unambiguously clear that the earliest Christians understood Old Testament theophanies in view of such agency.

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