Ukrainian Catholic University
Starting from the early centuries of Christianity the Christian theologians and philosophers tried to think thoroughly over the notion of God, handed them down as revelation preserved on the pages of Scripture. Being prompted: a) by challenges of time, especially by emerging of heresies, and not least: b) by the fact, that the images of God, found especially in the Old Testament texts (or Tanak on Hebrew), are often anthropomorphic , they tried to elaborate a more adequate understanding of God as the Ultimate Addressee of the “right” (ορθοδοξος – “right-praising” i.e. non-heretical) Christian worship and a proper foundation for Christian theology, which would enable it to refute heresies. Many of such formulations are in fact philosophical, influenced by current philosophical systems of those times, or used their terminology.
In such a short paper I don’t pretend to give an exhaustive overview, but limit myself with few crucial figures and their thoughts in this formulating progress, – as examples, well known from the history of theology and philosophy.
I mention among the first Athanasius of Alexandria (295-373) and the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil the Great [330–379], Gregory of Nazianzus [329–389] and Gregory of Nyssa [332–395]), who in the follow-up of the contest with Arian heresy and controversies of the 1st Nicene Council (325) elaborated – in order to ground the Trinitarian doctrine – the distinction between ουσια (= essence or nature) and υποστασις (= person, a concretizing of the “common” ουσια), stating, that God is one ουσια existing in the three υποστασεις, where ουσια means the one essence of God, and υποστασεις “περιγραφουν” (i.e. delimitate them from each other) and “χαρακτηριζουν” (i.e. acknowledge their personal properties as Father, Son and Holy Spirit) the Three Divine Persons, Who exist in an eternal κοινωνια (communion of Persons)  – all these are pure philosophical notions, not found in the texts of the Old Testament. (Notably, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed contains no reference to the Old Testament texts. There is only mentioned: “He rose again, according to the Scriptures” [are meant the New Testament Scriptures which report on the Resurrection of Jesus] and “in the Holy Spirit … who spake by the prophets”, not identifying the prophets nearer).
The formulation of the Trinitarian Dogma is purely rational, though motivated by statements of Divinity of Jesus Christ  and Divinity and Personhood of the Holy Spirit , contained in the New Testament texts; it has no correlates in the Old Testament texts (especially in the Jahwist tradition).
Another significant figure is (Pseudo- ?) Dionysius Areopagita (VI-VII century?), who in the treatise “The Mystical Theology” denies (i.e. submits them to apophases) all the positive Divine Names, considered by him thoroughly in the previous bigger treatise “The Divine Names”, first of all – the explicitly anthropomorphic ones (such as “body”, “form”(ειδος), “perceptibility”, “sense perception”, “standing”, “movement”, “quietness”), but also these, which are found in the Old Testament Scripture (e.g. “Life”, “Wisdom”, “Light”, “Oneness” and “Being” [cf. “I am” – Ex 3:14]) . Being unable to discern the anthropomorphic notions form the true positive Divine attributes, he accepts only the negative approach, more fitting for mystical vision than for forming of a rational notion of God. Dionysius leaves only one Name undenied: η Αιτια (or: ο Αιτιος – in masculine genus) – the Cause: a pure philosophical notion, which would have an approximate theological correlate in the 1st chapter of Genesis: in the image of God Elohim – Creator of the world.
The well known book of st. Bonaventure (1217-1274) “Itinerarium mentis in Deum” is substantially influenced by the work of Dionysius Areopagita. It starts from a pure philosophical consideration of the (things of) world and consists of six steps (and the seventh final station of mystical ecstasy). The fifth step of “Itinerarium” is dedicated to the contemplation of God as Supreme Being. Though st. Bonaventure says, such kind of contemplation is the contemplation of God of the Old Testament, who revealed Himself to Moses as “I am who am” (Ex 3:14) and compares it with an entering the Most Holy Place of the Tent, nevertheless the attributes, by which he characterizes this Being, are purely philosophical: “…ipsum esse nihil habet de non-esse, nec actu, nec potentia”, “et esse nominat ipsum purum actum entis”, “Esse igitur, quod est Esse purum et Esse simpliciter et Esse absolutum, est Esse primarium, aeternum, simplicissimum, actualissimum perfectissimum et summe unum”. They are derived neither from the content of appearance in the Burning Bush, nor from the Old Testament texts elsewhere.
On the sixth step, on which st. Bonaventure says, it is a New Testament contemplation of God as the Supreme Good, we find the most cogent rational (i.e. philosophical) explanation of the Trinitarian dogma on the basis of the main characteristics of Good, namely, its self-diffusion (or “sharing itself”) . But the whole st. Bonaventure’s argumentation and predication of properties of the Supreme Good, brought forward in the Chapter VI, is even more far from the notions of God, found in the Old Testament writings, as on the fifth step (in the Chapter V) of “Itinerarium”. Both: the Supreme Being and the Supreme Good as objects of contemplation are philosophical notions.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) poses on the very beginning of his “Summa Theologiae” the fundamental question on God’s existence and on possibility of knowing it in a rational way (apart from the Bible texts). While rejecting a natural knowledge of God’s existence and a direct knowledge in statu viae of the Divine Essence, st. Thomas presents the five rational a posteriori (i.e. conclusions, drawn on the basis of experience of the world) arguments, known since then as “Five ways” or “classical proofs of God’s existence” : the proofs of existence of the First Mover, the First Cause, the Necessary Being, the Supreme Perfection and Supreme Intellect, which all are pure philosophical notions of God, though the notions of the First Mover and the First Cause (similarly to Dionysius’ view) would have an approximate theological correlate in the 1st chapter of Genesis: in the image of God Elohim – Creator of the world. The notion of the Supreme Intellect would have an approximate theological correlate in the deuterocanonical book of Wisdom (Wis 13:1-5) , but the understanding of the world as a system of final causes is an Aristotelian heredity (cf.: Physics II. 3; Metaphysics A. 3 ff). In contrast, the notions of God as the Necessary Being (3rd way) and as Supreme Perfection (4th way) have no direct correlates in the Old Testament Scripture and are purely philosophical.
It could be observed, that all the mentioned thinkers tried to emancipate itself from the anthropomorphic images of God, found in the texts of the Old Testament (it elucidates also from their attempts to name God by purely rational Names), but in the framework of the Church tradition they could only identify their conclusions with the images of God from the Jahwist tradition of the OT: the hardly fitting and unconvincing attempts. In favor of such identification spoke the alleged impossibility to worship (as a Divine Principle) “the First Mover”, “the Cause” or “the Necessary Being” without God’s Personhood and other Divine Perfections, known from the OT-Scripture. Such an approach is confirmed by the Catholic doctrine  and was already described by Max Scheler: “Man can attain a sure knowledge about God’s existence by means of philosophizing reason, but penetrates God’s inmost essence (respective His essence without its external relationship to the world) only through the acceptance in faith of contents of revelation in Christ, presented in the positive theology”. Thus, what the mentioned thinkers have achieved, were the answers on the question: “Whether God exists?”, and what they have discovered on the rational way, were some God’s indubitable characteristics or attributes (such as eternity, immutability, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience…), but it was too faint in order to acknowledge such “God of philosophers” as the object of a proper religious worship. Hence obtained the well known difference between “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” and “God of philosophers and sages”, pointed out by Blaise Pascal in his “Mémorial”.
But there was another way of “natural theology” or philosophy of God: Two centuries before st. Thomas Aquinas, st. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) developed in his “Proslogion” the most cogent philosophical proof of God’s existence, known as “Ontological argument”. It is very important to see, that st. Anselm doesn’t take here into consideration the widely commented Name “I am who am” (Ex 3:14) as the starting point for his argument, and names God by a pure philosophical Name : “Aliquid quo maius nihil cogitari potest” – “Something, greater of which nothing can be thought”. Anselmian notion “maius” necessarily includes the real existence , therefore, “aliquid quo maius nihil cogitari potest”, in order to correspond to the true content and meaning of this Name, really and necessarily  exists. But Anselmian “maius” includes not only the real existence (otherwise it wouldn’t be different from the “necessary being”, proven two centuries later in the 3rd way of st. Thomas Aquinas, and “existence only” would not correspond to the innermost sense of “aliquid quo maius nihil cogitari potest”). In order to be “maius” indeed, it shall necessarily include all those qualities (considered by st. Anselm in his previous work “Monologion”) which signify it in a simple way and are always better than “non-they” (tale sunt, ut ipsa omnino melius sint quam non ipsa, melius simpliciter): living, wise, powerful, omnipotent, true, just, blessed, eternal and what else is absolutely better than “non-it”.
Exactly such a way of “natural theology”, paved by st. Anselm of Canterbury, forms foundation for the philosophical theology of our venerable hero of anniversary. In his treatise “Gott als Gottesbeweis”  Josef Seifert deepens and clarifies the true sense of the ontological argument, defending it before all possible objections, raised against it throughout the history of the Western philosophy. Among other things concerning the argument, Seifert shows explicitly, that “aliquid quo maius nihil cogitari potest”, in order to be so, shall be the Epitome of all perfections – foremost, of the so called “pure perfections”, i.e. qualities, already listed and characterized by st. Anselm (see above), but also other, no less noble: first of all, the personhood, understood as a (self-) conscious and free substantiality, able of spontaneity and affective responses. (We see that also the qualities, brought forward by st. Anselm, such as wisdom, omnipotence, truthfulness, justice, beatitude etc. are in fact personal qualities: they can occur only in combination with personhood – in a real person as their bearer). Therefore, God as “Id quo maius nihil cogitari potest”, Whose existence is proven in the version of the “Ontological argument”, refined and deepened by Josef Seifert, is, on the one hand, the Being, which simply is and cannot not to be, and as such – the ontological foundation, apt in fact for all philosophical systems (because all philosophical systems have some notion of some “existential ground” which cannot not to be) and a source of all and every other being – in the world or even beyond it . On the other hand, He is the Infinite Goodness, and as such – the proper object of religious worship, which deserves our love as a due response on its perfection.
Moreover: In contrast to the possibility of mistake, always present in situations known from religious texts (e.g. Abraham could have had believed not the “right divinity”), any mistake or error in recognition of the Supreme Perfection, Who is simultaneously the Supreme Being and Supreme Person (“Id quo maius nihil cogitari potest”) is excluded: there IS simply the Personal Being, Who cannot not to be.
Josef Seifert applies such an approach of precision not only to the “Ontological argument”. In his previous book “Essere e persona” he deepens and develops also the “Cosmological arguments”: the “Five ways” of st. Thomas Aquinas. Especially deserves our attention the Seifert’s rethinking of the Thomasian 2nd (proof of the First Cause), 3rd (proof of the Necessary Being) and 4th (proof of the Supreme Perfection) “ways” in regard of personal characteristics of the Divine Being. So in the context of the 2nd “way” Seifert rethinks the notion of the First Cause as the free one, because if there are “infinitely many possible worlds and infinitely many possible contingent beings”, i.e. the “potential infinity of unlimited possibilities”, which in principle could be ever brought into existence by the First Cause, then “the actually existing entities out of the unlimited number of possible entities and worlds must be elected freely by the First Cause”; it “must involve a mysterious free choice of the First Cause who chooses to bring into being certain contingent entities, not others”. In the context of the 3rd “way” Seifert states, that if “there is neither an intrinsic, nor an extrinsic absolute necessity for the world’s being, but that it truly is contingent and non-necessary, then … the necessarily existing Being can give rise to contingent entities only if it possesses freedom. … Moreover, only if the Necessary Being is a person and possesses freedom to act, nay more, only if he can freely choose to create contingent beings, can the true contingency of their existence find an explanation”. If we add to it, that there are “contingent persons who are themselves endowed with freedom” and consider, that “the cause of a free subject can only be a free being. … No being besides a free one could possibly create freedom” , then it becomes evident to us, that by such deepening and precision of the 2nd and 3rd “ways” Josef Seifert turned them into rational proofs of the Divine Personal Being, with Whom the contingent persons can enter in communion, and Whom a gratitude (expressed also in prayer and worship) for the very gift of existence on the part of contingent persons is due.
Concerning the 4th “way”, Josef Seifert shows convincingly, that this argument proves not only the existence of some “maximum in each genus of perfection”, but the Infinite Reality and Actuality of all perfections κατ’ εξοχην – the Supreme Perfection, and that only such Supreme Perfection deserves the name of “God” and is worthy of religious worship. In the words of Seifert: “The fourth way, the argument that proceeds from limited perfection to absolutely infinite perfection, has the immense advantage that only here it becomes clear that God is indeed God, i.e., that the Absolute Being is absolutely infinite in goodness and in power and in value, and therefore also worthy of all worship and love, of all adoration and praise. … Thus only the argument that proceeds from the imperfect beings of the world to the absolutely perfect God, and all the other arguments in conjunction with it, constitutes that part of the cosmological argument which allows us to speak truly of a proof for God’s existence”.
Taking into consideration all presented above, I state, that the emancipation from the anthropomorphic images of God, found in the texts of the Old Testament, and elaboration of a more adequate understanding of God as the Ultimate Addressee of the “right” Christian worship and a proper foundation for Christian theology is achieved in the philosophical theology of Josef Seifert, written down foremost in his two books: “Essere e persona” and “Gott als Gottesbeweis”. From the philosophical theology of Josef Seifert a next step can be done, which leads us beyond philosophy directly into the realm of religious acts – properly speaking, without a need of recurrence to the texts of (the Jahwist Tradition of) the Old Testament: it alone provides a proper understanding of the true Object of a due religious worship.
Facit: I can hardly imagine a further and more precise development of philosophical theology after the work of Josef Seifert on this field.
 In the Old Testament Jahwist tradition God is very often portrayed as an anthropomorphic, at the most – a supra-human, but contingent being. E.g. He walks in the garden (Gen 3:8), appears in the shape of man (Gen 18:2; Ezech 1:26) accompanied by two “angels” (Gen 18:2; both of them went then by foot and reached Sodom only at evening – Gen 18:16-19:1); He stands on a ladder (Gen 28:13), is somebody, with whom Jacob could physically wrestle (the name “Israel” means: “One who wrestled [or struggled] with God” – Gen 32:25-30). He appears in fire and smoke, thunder and lightning (Ex 3:3; 13:21-22; 19:16-18); He flies on a winged creature (or device?), breathes smoke and fire out of his nostrils and mouth (out of a device’s snoot?), throws burning coals with lightning (2 Sam 22:9-13; Ps 19:11-13), hail mixed with fire (Ex 9:18, 24; Ps 105:32; Ezech 38:22) and stones (Josh 10:11), and drives on wheels (Ezech 1:15-20). He is somebody, to whom the scent of burned fat, flesh and bones of animals is a “sweet odor” or a “sweet-smelling oblation” (Gen 8:21; Ex 29:18, 25, 41; Lev 1:9, 13, 17; 2:9; 3:5, 16; 4:31; 8:21, 28; Num 15:3, 24; 18:17; 29:2, 8, 13, 36). There could be found more such examples.
 See: Antonios Phirigos. Introduction to the History of Patristic and Byzantine Philosophy. (Ukrainian translation [yet unpublished] of Rev. Stepan Uhryn). – Chapter 9: Arius and Athanasius; Chapter 12: Basil called the Great; ff.
 John 1:1, 14, 18; 5:23; 8:58; 10:30; 12:45; 14:9; 16:15; 17:10; 20:28. Rom 9:5. 2 Cor 4:4-6. Phil 2:5-6. Col 2:2-3, 9; Tit 2:13; Hebr 1:8. 1 John 2:23; 5:10.
 Matt 28:19. John 14:16-17. Hebr 9:14. Acts 5:3-4. 1 Cor 6:11. 2 Cor 13:13.
 See: Dionysius Areopagita. The Mystical Theology. – Chapter 4 and 5, p. 361-367.//Дионисий Ареопагит. О Божественных именах; О мистическом богословии – со схолиями св. Максима Исповедника (The bilingual Greek-Russian edition). Русский перевод и вступительная статья Г.М. Прохорова. – Глаголъ: Санкт-Петербург, 1995. Volume I.
 “… the existence itself has nothing of the non-existence, neither by act nor by potency”, “and existence means the pure act of being itself”, “Therefore, the Existence, which is pure, simple and absolute, is the first, the eternal, the simplest, the most actual, the most perfect and the most one Existence”. – See: Бонавентура, Путеводитель души к Богу (Sancti Bonaventurae Itinerarium mentis in Deum. – The bilingual Latin-Russian edition). – Caput V, pp. 124-128. (English translation is mine – P.H.).
 “… nam bonum dicitur diffusivum sui, summum igitur bonum summe diffusivum est sui, summa autem diffusio non potest esse, nisi … in summo bono aeternaliter esset productio actualis et consubstantialis et hypostasis aeque nobilis, sicut est producens per modum generationis et spirationis, – ita … quod … esset Dilectus et Condilectus, genitus et spiratus, hoc est Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus, nequaquam esset summum bonum, quia non summe se diffunderet. … et potest … diffusio cogitari …, in qua diffundens communicat alteri totam substantiam et naturam…” (“… because good is called something which diffuses itself, and the supreme good diffuses itself in a supreme mode, and the supreme diffusion cannot be otherwise, as only … there should be in it an eternal, actual and consubstantial, and hypostatic producing, equally noble, i.e., through bearing and breathing, – so … that … there would be the Beloved and Con-Beloved, born and breathed, i.e. Father and Son and Holy Spirit; because it would be not the supreme good, if it would not diffuse itself in a highest possible way. … [Therefore] it can be such diffusion thinkable, in which he, who diffuses himself, communicates to other the whole [own] substance and nature…”). – Ibid., Caput VI, p. 140. (English translation is mine – P.H.).
 St. Thomas Aquinas. S.Th. I, q. 2, a.3: Whether God exists?, in: The “Summa Theologiae” of st. Thomas Aquinas. Part I, QQ. I – XXVI. Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (2nd rev. edition). – Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd. / Benzinger Brothers: New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, San Francisco, 1920. – pp. 24-27.
 Especially Wis 13:5: “For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen”.
 The Divine supreme perfection is mentioned only in the New Testament: “You therefore are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48), and on the necessity of His existence could be concluded in a derived sense from His everlastingness: “But you are the same, and your years have no end” (Ps 101 :28).
 For instance, the blessed John Duns Scotus [1265-1308] in the 1st chapter of his treatise “De Primo Principio” identifies the Name (properly speaking, it is rather an ontological status than a name), spoken in the Burning Bush: “Ego sum qui sum” (Ex 3:14) with pure philosophical notions “verum esse” and “totum esse”and then proceeds to prove by means of logical polysyllogisms and conclusions, built on philosophical concepts and theories, the existence of this true and whole Being as the First Principle. See: Блаженный Иоанн Дунс Скот. Трактат о Первоначале (Doctoris Subtilis et Mariani Ioannis Duns Scoti Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Tractatus de Primo Principio. – The bilingual Latin-Russian edition). – Издательство Францисканцев: Москва, 2001. – p. 2 ff.
 See: Catechism of Catholic Church, ## 31-38 and there adduced references.
 Scheler, Max F. Vom Ewigen im Menschen. Band I. Halbband I: Religiöse Erneuerung. – Der Neue Geist/Dr. Peter Reinhold: Leipzig, 1923. – p. 44. (English translation is mine – P.H.). Scheler states explicitly: “revelation in Christ”, but it is commonly held, that God Father, revealed in the New Testament, is the same God, who was revealed in the Jahwist tradition of the Old Testament. In order to verify this common conviction, a thorough analysis of the New Testament texts is needed.
 See: Blaise Pascal. Le Mémorial. Quoted in : Seifert, Josef. Gott als Gottesbeweis. Eine phänomenologische Neubegründung des ontologischen Arguments. – Universitätsverlag C. Winter: Heidelberg, 2000. – Footnote 55 on the pp. 49-50.
 The argument returns – on an independent way and in its own formulation – in the Rene Descartes’ “Meditations on the first philosophy”. Exactly the Cartesian version of argument was labeled by Immanuel Kant in his “Critique of the pure reason” as “Ontological argument”, and this label is now used broadly for naming of all versions of arguments of this kind. – See: Kant, Immanuel. Kritik der reinen Vernunft. – Text der Ausgabe von 1781. Unter Benutzung der Ausgabe von Karl Kehrbach neu herausgegeben von Richard Hoyer. – Atlas-Verlag: Köln (w. year). – pp. 342 ff.
 See: Seifert, Josef. Essere e persona. Verso una fondazione fenomenologica di una metafisica classica e personalistica. – Vita e Pensiero: Milano, 1989. – p. 552.
 Anselmus Cantuariensis. Proslogion. – Chapter II, in: Ансельм Кентерберійський. … – p. 172.
 In contrast to the Platonic thought, which elevates ideal contents on the level of a true and Supreme Being, it is an Aristotelian heredity: a concrete really existing entity (τοδε τι) is “maius” than ideal λογοι and ειδη. See: Seifert, Josef. Essere e persona. Verso una fondazione fenomenologica di una metafisica classica e personalistica. – Vita e Pensiero: Milano, 1989. – pp. 307-317.
 “Nam potest cogitari esse aliquid, quod non posit cogitari non esse; quod maius est quam quod non esse cogitari potest”. – “Because it can be thought something, which cannot be thought non-existing, and it is greater than it, which can be thought non-existing”. – Anselmus Cantuariensis. Proslogion. – Chapter III, in: Ансельм Кентерберійський. … – p. 172. (English translation is mine – P.H.).
 Anselmus Cantuariensis. Monologion. – Chapter XV, in: Ансельм Кентерберійський. … – pp. 38-42.
 Seifert, Josef. Gott als Gottesbeweis. Eine phänomenologische Neubegründung des ontologischen Arguments. – Universitätsverlag C. Winter: Heidelberg, 2000.
 Cf.: Ibid. – p. 25-27.
 Seifert, Josef. Essere e persona. Verso una fondazione fenomenologica di una metafisica classica e personalistica. – Vita e Pensiero: Milano, 1989. – p. 486 (English text of Josef Seifert).
 Ibid. – p. 483 (English text and emphases of Josef Seifert).
 Ibid. – p. 484 (English text of Josef Seifert).
 Seifert, Josef. Essere e persona. Verso una fondazione fenomenologica di una metafisica classica e personalistica. – Vita e Pensiero: Milano, 1989. – p. 502-503 (English text and emphasis of Josef Seifert).
 Though, such an approach is not an achievement exclusively of Josef Seifert. The mentioned blessed John Duns Scotus understood already this possibility, because in the very first lines of his treatise “De Primo Principio” he addresses the First Principle of things as the object of prayer and contemplation: “Primum rerum Principium mihi ea credere, sapere, ac proferre concedat, quae ipsius placeant maiestati et ad eius contemplationem elevent mentes nostras”. (“May the First Principle of things concede me to believe, to think and to present, what is pleasant to His grandeur and elevates our minds to contemplation of Him!”). But the he was not consequent enough and didn’t endure in the taken philosophical intention: in the next lines he turned to invocation of the “I am who am” from the Ex 3:14. – See: Блаженный Иоанн Дунс Скот. Трактат о Первоначале (Doctoris Subtilis et Mariani Ioannis Duns Scoti Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Tractatus de Primo Principio. – The bilingual Latin-Russian edition). – Издательство Францисканцев: Москва, 2001. – Chapter I, p. 2. (English translation is mine – P.H.).
1. Good News Bible. Today’s English Version. – American Bible Society: New York, 1992. – 1188 p.
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3. Kant, Immanuel. Kritik der reinen Vernunft. – Text der Ausgabe von 1781. Unter Benutzung der Ausgabe von Karl Kehrbach neu herausgegeben von Richard Hoyer. – Atlas-Verlag: Köln (w. year). – 496 p.
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