Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is a Person?

Written by Dr. Peter Gilbert

http://bekkos.wordpress.com/what-is-a-person/


quote:
"Latin-speaking theologians had considerable difficulty getting used to the terms “ousia” and “hypostasis,” since they were both translated into Latin by the one word “substantia,” substance. In Latin theology “substantia” was used to signify the one Godhead while the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were called “personae,” persons. The use of personae for the three and substantia for the one first occurs in a treatise by Tertullian, Adversus Praxean (Against Praxeas), written sometime about the turn of the third century. There it seems to be applied on the basis of two analogies. The first is to persona as the legal status of one who own property (substantia): the property in this case is the divine monarchy or empire which, like the Roman Empire, remains one though administered by several persons: as the Roman emperor can delegate imperial authority to his son, while the empire remains their one undivided property, so God should be understood to confer the authority of Godhead upon His Son and Holy Spirit, while the Godhead itself remains one and indivisible (Adv. Prax., ch. 3). The second analogy made is to persona in the sense of the three grammatical persons which point out the relations between speaker, person addressed, and thing spoken of. Tertullian cites passages from the Old Testament and gives them in turn the interpretations of Father speaking of Son (as, My heart hath disgorged a good Word; Ps. 45:1), of Father speaking to the Son (as, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee; Ps. 2:7), of the Son speaking of the Father (as, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; Isa. 61:1), and to the Father, of Himself (as, O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I declared Thy wondrous works; Ps. 71:17), finally, of the Spirit speaking (through the prophets) of the Father and the Son (as, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool; Ps. 110:1). The divine persons are here shown to be distinguished and ordered on the basis or pattern of relations of grammatical persons. As Tertullian says, “he who speaks, and he of whom he speaks, and he to whom he speaks cannot possibly be one and the same” (non posse unum atque eundem videri qui loquitur et de quo loquitur et ad quem loquitur; Adv. Prax. ch. 11. Cf. Varro, de Lingua Latina, 8.20: “cum personarum natura triplex esset, qui loqueretur, ad quem, de quo.”)."




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