I recently came across a blog post by a Steve Hays who was arguing with philosopher and Unitarian Dale Tuggy on John 10:30-36. Hays gave an exegesis … a bad one, but unfortunately Dale didn’t really argue against it. So I figured I’d break down his exegesis point by point:
i) The context of the Jn 10:30 is a dispute over the identity of Jesus. The context of 10:30 is a Jewish audience who recited the Shema every day. The only way Jesus could reasonably expect them to interpret his statement is an allusion to Deut 6:4. In context, the statement would inevitably trigger that association. Hence, he’s claiming to be the Lord of the Shema.
The context is whether or not Jesus is the Christ, as it explicitly says in verse 24. John 10:30 is NOT a reference to the Shema the only connection is the world “one” and John doesn’t even use the same Greek word for one as the LXX does in Deuteronomy 6:4 (John uses ἕν and Deuteronomy uses εἷς, when the NT quotes the Shema it uses εἷς, the original word for one used in the Greek Shema).
So no, it wouldn’t trigger that association.
ii) In v36, Jesus uses “son of God” as a synonym for “God” in v33. They accuse him of making himself “God”. Yet, in v36, he translates their allegation as equivalent to the accusation that he’s the “Son of God”. So he himself uses “God” and “Son of God” as interchangeable labels in that context.
No he doesn’t use “Son of God” as a synonym for “God”, he uses it to mean “son of God”. “Son of God” is never used in any Jewish literature to refer to YHWH. It is used to refer to Kings and to lesser Deities (later understood as angels). So their charge was either completely confused (which would make sense for Johns portrayal of the Jewish enemies of Jesus, they were often confused) or they thought calling ones self a “son of God” in the sense of a lesser deity was blasphemy.
We can’t just assume they mean that Jesus is calling himself YHWH.
iii) To be anointed by “God” is to be anointed by the “Father”. John typically uses “God” as a synonymous proper name for the “Father”–although there are some striking exceptions that accentuate the deity of Christ (Jn 1:1,18; 20:28; 1 Jn 5:20).
Yeah, they use “God” as father, because the Father is God. John 1:1 is almost certainly not calling God YHWH, the same with 20:28 and 1 John 5:20, but those are different issues.
Saying Christ is Deity is not the same as saying he is YHWH.
iv) Regarding vv34-36, his counterargument turns in part on the identity of the “gods” in Ps 82:6. I believe most modern scholars think the original referent is either God sarcastically addressing the “gods” of the nations, or God addressing the angels of the nations (i.e. angels put in charge of nations).
In either case, Jesus is presenting an a fortiori argument. If Scripture can property use a divine designation in the lesser case of angels or heathen deities, then with far more propriety can it be used in the greater case of the Son.
His entire point is that it IS used for lesser Deities and thus it is NOT blasphemy. Meaning he is in that category.
The way Jesus responded would make NO sense if he was YHWH in the flesh.
v) “Sent into the world” (36) implies the preexistence of the Son.
I have no problem with that.
vi) Finally, you falsely assume that “God” is a divine designation, but “Son of God” is not. Yet it’s demonstrable that in the Johannine corpus, as well as some other NT writings, “Son of God” is a divine title.
Actually there is NO precedent for “Son of God” to mean YHWH, it can mean a lesser deity or a king (both of which can also be, in a lesser sense, called god), but never YHWH. What you need for your theology is not that Son of God can mean divinity in some broad sense, but that it can mean YHWH, it cannot.
Ironically you charge Dale with equivocation, but you’re entire argument argues by equivocating between θεὸς as a term for lower Deities lower case “gods” and θεὸς as used for “yhwh”, you can’t bridge that gap without warrant. The same goes for the equivocation apologists constantly use between κύριος as a title for a “lord” and κύριος as a replacement for the divine name, you can jump from one to the other without making a case for it. Also make sure you check the Greek before you say one verse is a reference to another.
The exegesis is simple, Jesus is NOT blaspheming because it’s not blasphemy for beings that are below YHWH to be called “gods” much less “God’s Son”, and if they focused on his works they would know that he actually was the Christ and was sent from God and one with him, in the same way the apostles would be one with both him and God (John 17). It’s quite straight forward. Unless you have an axe to grind.