Trinity in the Old Testament

C McC Mc Posts: 3,626

In another thread: https://www.christiandiscourse.net/discussion/comment/12840#Comment_12840

@Bill_Coley said:

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:

1.     Notice that the plural reference to God in v.26 is followed in Genesis 1.27 by three singular pronouns, and that the chapter ends with an additional singular reference in Genesis 1.31.

2.     On what basis do you conclude that the pronoun "us" in Genesis 1.26refers to "Father, Son, Holy Spirit"?

CM RESPONDED:

Bill,

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 examplesGen 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 expressiononly 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

SOURCES:

  • 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
Tagged:

Comments

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,693
    edited February 1

    @C_M_ posted

    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.

    @C_M_ , I am utterly disgusted at your slimy remark ...

    WHO is Bill's "appointed surrogate"?

    In addition, once again I will mention, that I am not interested in corresponding here with commentary or lexical sources, but with the person and THEIR PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING of things. You do NOT make clear in your posts what is actually from YOU and what you quote from others.

    Stand up for yourself instead of hiding behind other authors and theologians ... In case you haven't noticed, YOU are doing what you describe about Bill. YOU seem unable to speak for yourself and almost constantly use your "self-appointed surrrogate theologians and commentaries". I am sick and tired of reading YOUR "SURROGATES'" ideas.

  • reformedreformed Posts: 2,849

    It is dishonest debate if you aren't allowed to reference commentaries and theologians.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,693

    It is dishonest debate if you aren't allowed to reference commentaries and theologians.

    When doing so then please point out what you are referencing and why and then make clear what is your own point and position. I find it dishonest to write some post here as if it all was the poster's ideas and then throw in at the end a list of sources ... without it being clear at all whose opinion the post states.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 2,043

    @Wolfgang posted:

    I agree that we should cite (and when possible, link to) the source for each quoted passage we include in our posts. A list of sources provided at the end of a post is surely helpful, but in my view functions more as a bibliography than footnotes or text citations when it doesn't identify which parts of the post came from each of those sources.

    On another matter, I fail to see the value, let alone the common decency, of introducing honesty or dishonesty into discussions of how we cite the sources from which we quote. Honesty and dishonesty pertain to poster intentions, not to the content of a poster's posts. In pursuit of the CD expectation that we will "criticize ideas, not people," it seems to me we're better off proposing "best practices" when it comes to citing sources, and staying away from discussions of honest or dishonest use of said sources.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 2,043

    @Wolfgang posted:

    Yikes! In my previous post, I forgot to include what Wolfgang posted, giving the impression that he posted what I wrote. My bad. Here is what Wolfgang posted and to which I then responded in my previous post:

    When doing so then please point out what you are referencing and why and then make clear what is your own point and position. I find it dishonest to write some post here as if it all was the poster's ideas and then throw in at the end a list of sources ... without it being clear at all whose opinion the post states.

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,626

    Wolfgang, what happened to "criticize ideas and not people"? Am I experiencing a reaction to truth? Now that you have washed your mouth on me, what do you say about the content I posted?

    Wolfgang, as for your beings "sick and tired of reading YOUR "SURROGATES'" ideas" or your "not interested in corresponding here with commentary or lexical sources, but with the person and THEIR PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING of things", try exercising your options as a user of these forums:

    1. Actually consider the content of what's posted.
    2. Don't leave a comment.
    3. Don't criticize the poster.
    4. Don't read it. But would you get truth and hear from others on the subject matter.
    5. Grow to love the truth of the subject matter.
    6. You said, "WHO is Bill's "appointed surrogate"? I don't know. Does he has one? Are you seeking the position? Better yet, does he need one?
    7. Slow down and be kind.
    8. May I suggest you adopt your fellow poster Bill, statement below:

    On another matter, I fail to see the value, let alone the common decency, of introducing honesty or dishonesty into discussions of how we cite the sources from which we quote. Honesty and dishonesty pertain to poster intentions, not to the content of a poster's posts. In pursuit of the CD expectation that we will "criticize ideas, not people," it seems to me we're better off proposing "best practices" when it comes to citing sources, and staying away from discussions of honest or dishonest use of said sources.

    Thanks, Bill, for the thought. The intent of this poster is to share truth on the subject matter, rather it originates with me or others. Besides, other voices need to be heard on this subject matter in these forums. Everybody doesn't agree with you, Wolfgang. Furthermore, "SURROGATES" aren't bad, they just need to be in agreement with the message and the messenger. So, Mr. Wolfgang, be at peace. The sky is not falling. I will see you around the forums. CM

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,626

    Wolfgang said:

    @C_M_ , I am utterly disgusted at your slimy remark ...

    See I quoted you, Wolfgang. Did the cat's tale got caught under the rocking chair?

    Is Wolfgang the only authority in these forums? There is no winning with you Wolfgang. CM

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,693

    You said, "? I don't know. Does he has one? Are you seeking the position? Better yet, does he need one?

    This quoted CONTENT from post of @C_M_ appears hyporitical in light of previous posted content by same poster.

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,626

    Wolfgang, you said:

    "...  @C_M_ appears hyporitical in light of previous posted content by same poster".

    I don't agree with you, of course. Regardless, let's get back to the main point, the content -- looking deeper at the trinity in the OT.

    A short review:

    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 expressiononly the context decides what the precise meaning of the word is, with a few exceptions (see above). 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). 

    Again, see SOURCES:

    • 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

    New understanding? CM

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,693
    edited February 4

    New understanding? CM

    No ... as old as Methusaleh ...

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,693

    How so? CM

    what you posted about Elohim etc from your source is ancient music to me ....

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,693

    Has anyone found the "Holy Trinity" somewhere in the Hebrew scriptures? Also, IF the TRINITY God is in the OT, why did the Israelites seemingly not know about it nor worship it ?

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 2,043

    @Wolfgang posted:

    Has anyone found the "Holy Trinity" somewhere in the Hebrew scriptures? Also, IF the TRINITY God is in the OT, why did the Israelites seemingly not know about it nor worship it ?

    It won't surprise you, Wolfgang, but I'm convinced that a Trinitarian view of God is not to be found anywhere in the OT. Yes, there is a handful of plural pronouns that refer to God, but those pronouns declare God's majesty, not God's quantity. In addition, all of those plural pronouns are quickly and in their same contexts succeeded by singular pronouns.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,693

    What about Trinitarian believers here who have mentioned that they believe the Trinity to be found in the OT :..what's your answer as to why the Israelites did not know about it nor worship a Trinity God ???

Sign In or Register to comment.