"role" is thus at the transitional point where it gives birth to-theidea of person.
cite merely one text by Justin to
thisprocess. "When you hear that the prophets make statements as
a person were speaking (hos apo prosopou), then do not sup-pose that they were spoken immediately by those filled withthe spirit (i.e., the prophets) but rather by the Logos who movesthem."3 Justin thus says that the dialogical roles introduced bythe prophets are not mere literary devices. The "role" trulyexists; it is the prosopon, the face, the person of the Logos who
speaks here and joins in dialogue with the prophet. It isqute clear here how the data of Christian faith transform andrenew a pre-given ancient schema used in interpreting texts.The literary artistic device of letting roles appear to enliven thenarrative
their dialogue reveals to the theologians the onewho plays the true role here, the Logos, the prosopon, the personof the Word which is no longer merely role, but person.About .fifty years later, when Tertullian wrote hisworks, he was able to go back to an extensive tradition ofsuch Christian prosopographic exegesis
which the wordprosopon
persona had already found its
claim to reality.Two examples must suffice.InAdversus Praxean, Tertdianwrites, "How can a person who stands by himself say, 'Let usmake man
our image and likeness,' when he ought to havesaid, 'Let memake man in my image and likeness,' as someonewho
single and alone for himself.
he were only one andsingle, then God deceived and tricked also in what followswhen he says, 'Behold, Adam has become like one
the plural. But
did not stand alone, becausethere stood with
the Son, his Word, and a third person,the Spirit
the Word. This is why he spoke
the plural, 'Letus make' and 'our' and 'us.'"4 One sees how the phenomenonof intra-divine dialogue gives birth here to the idea of the per-son who is person
an authentic sense. Tertullian similarlysays
his interpretation of "The Lord said to my Lord" (Psalm110:1), "Take note how even the Spirit as the third personspeaks of the Father and of the Son, 'The Lord said to my Lord,sit at my right hand
put your enemies at your feet.'Likewise through Isaiah, 'The Lord says these words to myLord Christ.'.
In these few texts the distinction within the
qext cited by Andresen,
Person in theology
isdearly set before our eyes. For himself exists the onewho speaks, namely, the Spirit; further the Father to whom hespeaks, and £inally the Son ofwhom he speaks."sI do not wish to enter into the historical details ofthese texts.
merely summarize what results from them forthe issue of the idea "person." First, the concept "person"grew out of reacling the Bible, as something needed for itsinterpretation. It is a product of reading the Bible. Secondly, itgrew out of the idea of dialogue, more specifically, it grew as anexplanation of the phenomenon of the God who speaks dia-logically. The Bible with its phenomenon of the God whospeaks, the God who is in dialogue, stimulated the concept
erson." The particular interpretations of Scripture texts of-fered by the Fathers are certainly accidental and outdated. Buttheir exegetical direction as a whole captures the spiritual di-rection of the Bible inasmuch as the fundamental phenomenoninto which we are placed by the Bible is the God who speaksand the human person who is addressed, the phenomenon ofthe partnership of the human person who is called by God tolove in the word. However, the core of what "person" can trulymean comes thereby to light.
say: Theidea of person expresses
its origin the idea
dialogue andthe idea of God as the dialogical being. It refers to God as thebeing that lives in the word and consists of the word as
and"you" and "we."
the light of this knowledge of God, thetrue nature of humanity became clear
a new way.
Person as relationThe first stage of the struggleefor he Christian con-cept of God has been sketched above. I want to add
11,7-10; ibid., 1172.
my judgment it would be important toinvestigate. he rabbinic antecedents of this prosopographic exegesis. Inter-esting relevant material
Sjijberg shows that
rabbinic literature the Holy Spirit
personal categories: he speaks, cries, admonishes, mourns, weeps,rejoices, consoles, etc. He is also portrayed as speaking to God. Sjoberg noteson this '3hat the stylistic device of personification and dramatization s typicalfor rabbinic literature" and "that the pesonal reaction of the Spirit is alwaystied to words of.SacredScripture" (p.
Acloser analysis of the texts couldperhaps show that the patristic elaboration of the concept of person does nottake its point of departure from the literary criticism of antiquity, but fromthis .rabbinic exegesis.