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Review: “Dynamic Oneness,” by Suzanne Nicholson

November 4, 2014

I’ve just received notice that my review of Suzanne Nicholson’s book, Dynamic Oneness:  The Significance and Flexibility of Paul’s One-God Language (Cambridge:  James Clarke & Co., 2011) is forthcoming in Journal of Theological Studies.  The online final version is available here.

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4 Comments
  1. brettongarcia permalink

    Thanks for this interesting reference. This might relate to your interest in the changing name of the “Lord,” or “Christ,” or Jahweh, in some other texts. I am interesting in the changing concepts and names of the Lord.

    The “one” is an interesting change; though one with a history. Almost 400 years before Paul of course, we are told in Plato that the Greek philosopher Parmenides asserted that the whole universe was “one” thing (Being?). This notion of “oneness” as the supreme entity, has remained an influential concept, not only in philosophy but also in religion. Since although it is almost a monotheistic theology, it also allows for “many” different parts within it.

    Possibly Paul used this notion, this flexibility, to allow him some freedom in reformulating the concept of God. Though Paul cites the OT, many feel he bends it in some new directions.

    In what directions specifically? Paul had apparently read Plato; he invokes the Theory of Forms in effect in Hebrews (8.5). And he has a taste at times for a variable idea of God; citing the inscription “to an unknown god” as in effect his justification for inserting the emerging Christian concept into the dialogues about gods and so forth, to Greek audiences.

    If Paul was indeed thinking in Platonistic /Parmenidean terms, if the whole universe is one supreme “Being” in effect, then anything in the universe (as it might seem to some), might be said to be part of God.

    This would allow some very considerable flexibility indeed, in any Christian or Pauline reformulation of traditional Jewish ideas. Including changes in or additions to, even the name of God himself. Allowing for, for example, “Jesus” and so forth.

    • Brettongarcia: (1) I don’t know what you mean in your first sentence. (2) The Greek philosophical notions of “monad” etc. have nothing to do with what Paul or other NT authors hold. The “oneness” they affirm is primarily to do with cultic behaviour: No worship to be given to any deity but the one biblical deity. The philosophers dabbled with various notions but it had no effect on their cultic behaviour, nor did they advocate any change. (3) There is no evidence at all that Paul “read Plato”. Paul didn’t write Hebrews!! And “the unknown god” is in Acts! (3) Paul shows no hint of any notion of “the whole universe . . . one supreme ‘Being'”. You really MUST study the texts in question before you draw such hasty, ill-informed views and state them so confidently and publicly.

  2. Tim Reichmuth permalink

    Dr. H.,

    I did not see this review on your pages. Is it only available for a fee? I realize it is a huge privilege when an article/review is allowed to be accessed for free on your site, so not a complaint, just making sure I didn’t miss it.

    Tim

    • Tim: If you click on the “here” highlighted in my posting, it should take you into the online version of the review.

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