Dale Tuggy, a Biblical Unitarian, more formally presents Jesus' argument at John 10:34-36.

"34 Jesus replied, “Is it not written in your Law: ‘I have said you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36 then what about the One whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world? How then can you accuse Me of blasphemy for stating that I am the Son of God?"

Tuggy's formalization of Jesus' argument is

  1. The Scriptures do not blaspheme. (premise)
  2. The Scriptures address human recipients of God’s message as “gods.” (Psalm 82)
  3. The Scriptures do not blaspheme when they address human recipients of God’s message as “gods.” (1, 2)
  4. Jesus is God’s Messiah. (“the one whom the Father… sent into the world”) (premise)
  5. [Jesus is greater than those human recipients of God’s message.] (4)
  6. [The title “Son of God” (i.e. Messiah) is a less exalted title than “god” or “God”.] (unstated premise)
  7. Therefore, it is not blasphemy to describe Jesus as God’s Son. (3, 5, 6)

where premises assumed in the discussion between Jesus and the Jews are in brackets.

As Tuggy continues,

"Jesus’s opponents grant 1 and 2, and so they must grant 3, which follows from 1 and 2. They would also grant that 4 implies 5. But they’re resisting 4, though Jesus has given them plenty of evidence for 4, in the form of his miraculous works, given him by God to validate his ministry. His opponents also assume, and would have to grant 6, and that 7 follows from 3, 5, and 6. If calling these lesser people “gods” isn’t bad, then it just can’t be bad to give this greater person (the Messiah) the lesser description, God’s Son.

In sum, the whole issue hinges on 4. The argument is valid (3 follows from 1 and 2, and 7 follows from 3, 5, and 6), and they would have to grant all the other other premises (1, 2, 6). In their blind anger, they want to say that he’s blaspheming by saying that he and God are “one” (i.e. working together). But that charge of blasphemy, Jesus brilliantly and forcefully points out, depends wholly on their stubborn belief, against the preponderance of evidence available to them, that Jesus is not God’s Messiah. Deftly, he shows how their charge of blasphemy assumes the very point at issue; it assumes that he’s not the Messiah."

According to Trinitarians, does Tuggy get Jesus' argument right? If not, where does Tuggy make a mistake?

1 Answer 1


Certainly if the Jews thought that Jesus was merely claiming to be the Messiah, this argument would be valid. Because that is Jesus' argument: if He is the Messiah, calling Himself such is not blasphemous.

Tuggy then invalidly extends this to mean that Jesus is only the Messiah, not God. But when the Jews accuse Jesus of claiming to be God, Jesus answers a different objection: that He called Himself the Son of God. The Jews were left without a reason to stone Him (as the passage says, they tried to arrest Him after that) but were still angry.

Tuggy claims that when Jesus says, "The Father and I are one," Jesus was merely referring to unity of purpose. But that's clearly not the Jews' understanding - as he notes! He writes:

Often [readers] seize on the Jews’ reaction, “you… are making yourself God” [...] They don’t notice that Jesus corrects them about what he’s claiming!

Because He doesn't. The Jews said, "You're blaspheming by claiming to be God!" Jesus doesn't say, "I'm not claiming to be God" but rather, "I'm not blaspheming."

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