Trinity in the Old Testament
In another thread: https://www.christiandiscourse.net/discussion/comment/12840#Comment_12840
The most recent example I've noted in my posts is Jeremiah 30.5-24, a passage whose first verse plural pronoun ("we") is followed by 25 singular pronouns that refer to God. If OT writers believe in a multi-dimensional Godhead, then...
Why are there so few plural references to God?
Why is every one of those plural references to God followed immediately by one or more singular pronouns?
Why do references to God in the singular outnumber plural references by as much as a hundred to one?
Specific to Genesis 1.26:
2. On what basis do you conclude that the pronoun "us" in Genesis 1.26refers to "Father, Son, Holy Spirit"?
Beyond what I said above, I will let stand. Must one call all the accommodation terms (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) every time, just to refer to God. All are equal--One. There terms are for man's benefit. God is so much more. God spoke in terms, again, we can grasp. This doesn't make what you say THE correct, in all, absent of the biblical Trinity. CM
I am sorry that Bill, for personal reasons, can’t respond to this post directly. I guess I have to settle for responses from his appointed surrogate. It’s always best to get his views directly, however. With some reflections and a little more study, I would like to add to my limited response by looking deeper at the trinity in the OT:
A general term used to designate God is Elohim, a plural form of EL/Eloah. The term elohim is used 2,603 times in the Hebrew Bible according to Abraham. Several names or titles are used in the Hebrew Scripture for God, like:
- Yahweh (“LORD”)
- El (“God”)
- Elohim (“God”)
- Elyon (“Most High”)
- El Elyon (“God Most High”)
- Adonay (“Lord”)
- Shadday (“Almighty”)
- El Shadday (“God Almighty”), etc.
Another title as a grammatical plural for the living God (besides Elohim) is Adonay (“Lord”). This term is used only for the true God and never designates pagan gods. He is the Lord of His household. See, for examples, Gen 18:30; Exod 34:23; Deut 10:17; Josh 3:11, 13; Pss 35:23; 45:11; 114:7; 135:5; Isa 6:1; Dan 1:2; Mal 1:6.
However, to state that the plural form of the word elohim is evidence for the Triune God is incorrect for the simple reason that this term is used to designate the true living God as well as pagan gods; its meaning depends on the context. "The word elohim is unique in its 'flexibility'—it can be used both in the singular and the plural meaning, as a proper and a common name, as a designation of the God of Israel and of pagan gods".
An example of these two opposite meanings is encountered in Ruth 1:15–16:
“‘Look,’ said Naomi [to Ruth], ‘your sister-in-law [Orpah] is going back to her people and her gods [elohim]. Go back with her.’ But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God [Elohim] my God [Elohim].’” See also 1 Kgs 18:24; Isa 37:15, 19.
Now, you see, one cannot argue from the plural form of Elohim for the notion of the Trinity. The term Elohim does not refer to three persons or three gods. It is rather a neutral expression; only the context decides what the precise meaning of the word is.
What is highly significant is that the name Elohim is used with a verb in the singular (a grammatical contradiction). For example, “In the beginning God [plural] created [singular] the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1).
For exceptions to this rule when the plural verb is used with Elohim, see Gen. 20:13; 35:7; Ps 58:11.
- God is called “Creator” (singular) in Isa 40:28; but in Eccl 12:1 for the expression of “Creator,” the plural form of bara’ is used.
- God is designated as “” in the plural form of ‘ in Job 35:10; Ps 149:2; Isa 54:5.
- Plural adjectives that describe God as holy are in Josh 24:19 and Prov 9:10; 30:3.
As with Elohim, the same is true about the ten expressions of vayomer Elohim meaning “and God [plural] said [singular]” in the first Creation account (Gen 1). The translation is thus not “gods,” but “God,” the one true living God. It is also crucial to note that pagan gods are never designated in the Bible by the name of the Lord (Yahweh). This name is used exclusively for the God who entered into a covenant relationship with His people! Later, I will look into the “We” of God. I hope this helps to bring about a better understanding. CM
- Even-Shoshan, A New Concordance of the Old Testament (Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer Publishing House, 1993), 69–74.
- L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (4th rev. and enlarge. ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979), 85-86
- Allan Coppedge, The God Who Is Triune: Revisiting the Christian Doctrine of God (Downers Grove, IL.: IVP Academic, InterVarsity Press, 2007), 71-72