Monday, March 23, 2009

Splitting the Shema: A 'How Not To' guide

"Thus he [Paul] starts from the common ground of the basic monotheistic faith (‘There is one God, the Father’);66 first he adds ‘from whom (come) all things’, an assertion with which the Corinthians would have been familiar and with which they would no doubt have agreed; but then he also adds ‘and we to him’ or ‘for whom we exist’ (RSV). Next he appends to this the basic confession of Hellenistic or Gentile Christianity, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’. But with this he does three striking things. First he asserts that Christ the Lord also is one; thereby he splits the Shema (Deut. 6.4), the Jewish confession of monotheism,67 between God the Father and Christ the Lord in a way that has no earlier parallel. Second he adds ‘through whom (came) all things’; thereby he splits the more regular Stoic formulation also between the one God (‘from him’, ‘to him’) and the one Lord (‘through him’; contrast Rom. 11:36) in a way that is best paralleled in Jewish Wisdom tradition (as we have seen). Third, he again adds a reference to himself and his readers – ‘and we (exist) through him’ – using the same preposition as in the preceding phrase.

66 Gentiles would have been as familiar with the belief that Zeus is the ‘Father of men and gods’ as Jews with the belief that Yahweh is the Father of Israel…
67 Deut 6.4 – Lord our God the Lord is one; 1 Cor. 8.6 – to us one God the Father…and one Lord Jesus Christ." James Dunn, Christology in the Making (1980), p. 180.


“…Paul’s ascription of kurios to Jesus, especially in passages like Phil 2.10-11; 1Cor 8.6, which equate him with Yahweh, must have sounded to Jewish ears very much like a repudiation of the [Shema] confession of Israel.” The Obedience of Faith: A Pauline Phrase in Historical Context, Don B. Garlington, Mohr Siebeck, p. 249, n.79, 1991.

“… [Col 1.15-20] is not the only example in the NT of an explicitly monotheistic statement of the Jewish variety (i.e. creational/covenantal monotheism, as opposed to pantheism or Deism), in which we find Christ set within the monotheistic statement itself. The best example of this is 1 Cor 8.6…in which the Shema is actually expanded so as to contain Jesus within it…Paul has modified Jewish monotheism so as to place Jesus Christ within the description, almost the definition of the one God…[a] radical redefinition of monotheism…What then is here being said about the one to whom the poem [Col 1.15-20] refers?... the complete humanness of Jesus, and his complete identification with a being who, though not to be thought of over against the one God of Jewish monotheism, can be spoken of in ways which imply that within the full description of this one God there must be room for (at least) bipolarity

…the allegiance of local paganism [in the Corinthian church] to his or that ‘god’ and ‘lord’ must be met with nothing short of the Christian version of Jewish-style, Shema-style, monotheism. It is this that Paul now states [in 1Cor 8]…v.6 resonates thoroughly with echoes of the far more ancient and widespread formulae from Deut 6.4[1]…[Paul] has expanded the formula, in a way quite unprecedented in any other texts known to us, so as to include a gloss on theos and another on kyrios…Paul, in other words, has glossed ‘God’ with ‘the Father’, and ‘Lord’ with ‘Jesus Christ’…There can be no mistake: just as in Phil 2 and Col 1, Paul has placed Jesus within an explicit statement, drawn from OT’s quarry of emphatically monotheistic texts, of the doctrine that Israel’s God is the one and only God, the creator of the world…Paul has redefined [the Shema] christoligically, producing what we can only call a sort of Christological monotheism. What we do with it at the level of a further analysis of Paul’s Christology, however, is as yet uncertain

…Jesus; in this newly coined formula (newly coined, that is, either by Paul or by someone not long before) takes the place of kyrios within the Shema…[Why] has Paul produced a formula in which there is an implicit distinction between theos and kyrios?...He is going back to the foundations, and laying the claim that the people defined by this formula of belief form a new family with a new code of family behavior…This Christology therefore stands firmly beside that which we have found in Phil 2 and Col 1. Here, as there, we find a statement of the highest possible Christology—that is, of Jesus placed within the very monotheistic confession itself—set within an argument which itself is precisely and profoundly monotheistic. One of the strange things, in fact, about the history of the exegesis of this passage is that no-one so far as I know has commented on this fact…

…In relation to theology, too, we see the emergence of a strikingly new phenomenon: Christological monotheism…probably the first chronologically, [which] must rank as one of the greatest pioneering moments in the entire history of Christology…Continuity with Judaism of course remains: it was, after all, ‘our fathers’ who experienced the Exodus (10.1). But the Jewish worldview by itself stands in need of redefinition, a redefinition provided in the gospel. That is to say, the worldview whose boundary-marker was Torah has been challenged, even though Torah itself, in which the Shema formed the basic confession of faith, is reaffirmed.” NT Wright, The Climax of the Covenant Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology: Ch. 6, Monotheism, Christology and Ethics: 1 Corinthians 8, Publishing, p 114-118; 128-132, 136, 1993.

“[In 1Cor 8.6] Paul bases his argument against his opponent’s position upon the Jewish monotheistic confession, the shema (cf. Deut 6.4), which distinguishes and marks the Jewish way of life. As Paul A. Rainbow has indicated…"Jews never applied this type of formula to their intermediaries, but reserved them very stringently for God alone”[2]. What is most astonishing here is that Paul, a Pharisee who will never relinquish his inherited monotheism, has split the shema in an unprecedented manner:[3] by glossing God with the Father and Lord with Jesus Christ, Paul aligns Jesus with the kurios of the OT (LXX) and places Jesus within the explicit Jewish monotheistic framework. He therefore has modified the Jewish religion at its most essential point and redefined the shema christoligically, indicating a dual referent in theos and kurios as well as acknowledging Christ’s sharing of the Father’s status and functions[4]…The fact that Paul does not consider eis kurios to be an addition to the confession but a constituent part of a “Christianized” shema indicates ‘a sort of Christological monotheism’”[5]. Manifest in flesh: the epiphany Christology of the Pastoral Epistles, Andrew Y. Lau, Mohr Siebeck, p 73-74, 1996.

“…D. R. de Lacey has made a plausible plea for the possibility that in [1Cor 8.6] Paul presents a ‘Christianizing’ of the Shema…Just as his contemporaries saw a dual function in the confession, so Paul sees a dual referent in kurios and theos, glossing the latter with [‘father’] and the former with Jesous Christos.”[6] The Corinthian Correspondence, Reimund Bieringer, Peeters, p 604. 1996.

“[in 1Cor 8.6] Paul refashions, in the light of Christ, the traditional portrait of the one, sovereign, and covenant God. The Shema is reconfigured according to Christian convictions about the centrality of Christ. Thus ‘Jesus Christ’ appears at the heart of an axiomatic Jewish affirmation concerning God…Before his conversion, Paul would have prayed the Shema every day and understood ‘God’ and ‘Lord’ as two terms referring to Israel’s sovereign and covenant God. At some point after his conversion, however, Paul began to understand all this differently, taking ‘God’ as referring to ‘the Father’ and ‘Lord’ as referring to ‘Jesus Christ’ (cf. esp. Phil 2:9-11; so also throughout the Pauline corpus).

In effect, then, the Shema was split into two parts, with the second of those parts focusing on Jesus Christ…Paul’s revised and ‘Christianized’ form of that most distinctive Jewish confession has the effect of transforming one’s awareness of God and his people, with Jesus Christ as the focal point of the whole theological and corporate enterprise. Likewise, these same kinds of transformation is evident in other contexts in Paul’s writings—as, for example; in Rom 3.29-30 where he again cites the Shema in a way that displaces Jewish ethnocentrism (cf. also Gal 3.20). Much more could be said about 1Cor 8.6 [requiring] greater articulation and more careful nuancing (see further Wright, Climax of the Covenant, 120-36; also more broadly Hurtado, One God, One Lord). The point here is simply that in this passage there appears a dramatic revision of a cardinal tenet in the traditional Jewish understanding of the God of the covenant—with the essence of that revision being that Jesus of Nazareth, a Judean itinerant teacher of humble origin and means, who died a humiliating and disgraceful death, is referred to, in a text written only 25 years (or so) after his crucifixion, in a fashion that puts him at the centre of rational Jewish devotion to the sovereign God of the covenant.” The Road from Damascus: The Impact of Paul's Conversion on His Life, Thought, and Ministry, Richard N. Longenecker, Eerdmans, p 127-128, 1997.

“In an astonishing adaptation of the Shema[7] [1Cor 8.5-6], Paul attributes the lordship of the one God to Jesus Christ. And yet his confession of God as one is still affirmed. Evidently the lordship of Christ was not thought of as any usurpation or replacement of God’s authority, but expressive of it…Paul’s readers [in 1Cor 8.6] could have little doubt that Paul was attributing a role in creation to the ‘one Lord Jesus Christ[8]. What is notable here is that the sequence of prepositions has been divided between the one God and the one Lord. Just as Paul in effect split the Shema between the one God and the one Lord, so the same formula has split God’s role as Creator between the Father and Jesus Christ. The ‘one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things’, clearly existed before the creation of the ‘all things (ta panta)’.” The Theology of Paul the Apostle, James D. G. Dunn, Eerdmans, p. 253, 267-268, 1998.

“My argument is that the exaltation of Jesus to the heavenly throne of God [in Psa 110.1] could only mean, for the early Christians who were Jewish monotheists, his inclusion in the unique identity of God, and that furthermore the texts show their full awareness of that and quite deliberately use the rhetoric and conceptuality of Jewish monotheism to make this inclusion unequivocal…The statement [in 1Cor 8.6] has been composed from two sources…one is the Shema…[and] it is now commonly recognized that Paul has here adapted the Shema and produced, as it were, a Christian version of it[9].” God crucified: monotheism and Christology in the New Testament, Richard Bauckham, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, p 31, 37, 1999.

“That Paul’s resurrection faith entailed Trinitarian, or at least binitarian, belief also emerged clearly when he split the confession of monotheism expressed in that central Jewish prayer, the Shema (Dt 6.4-5). The apostle glossed God with Father and Lord with Jesus Christ to put Jesus as risen and exalted Lord alongside God the Father… (1Cor 8.6) Here the title one Lord expanded the Shema to contain Jesus. Using the classic monotheistic text of Judaism, Paul recast his perception of God by introducing Jesus as Lord and redefining Jewish monotheism to acknowledge a personal distinction within the godhead and produce a Christological monotheism. Interestingly, the apostle did not need to argue for this redefinition of monotheism. He assumed that his Corinthian readers and hearers would agree with him. By and large, Paul reserved God for the Father, whereas he used Lord (or Son of God) for Jesus.” The tripersonal God: understanding and interpreting the Trinity, Gerald O'Collins, Paulist Press, p. 55-56, 1999.

“Paul…goes back to first principles, drawing on the Jewish Shema and putting Jesus right in the midst of the most fundamental assertion in early Judaism of its monotheistic faith.[10]…here he is reading the Shema through the later sapiental reflections on monotheism, Wisdom, and idolatry. The quote from Philo (Quod Det. 54, 84) is especially relevant at this point. Paul is taking what was formerly said of God the Father and Sophia, and now saying the same of the Father and Jesus Christ. But there is even more to this because Paul is also willing to use the term Lord of Christ, which in the Shema refers to Yahweh[11] …Thus [NT] Wright is correct that this new Christian Shema is exactly what Paul needed at this juncture of his argument to reassert a proper Christian monotheism…when a crucified Christ who took on the form of a slave for the world’s redemption becomes part of the definition of deity…” Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrimage of Wisdom, Ben Witherington, III, Fortress, p 316-317,
2000.

“In this astonishing bold association of Jesus with God [1Cor 8.5-6], Paul adapts wording from the traditional Jewish confession of God’s uniqueness, known as the Shema, from Deut 6.4… (Kyrios heis estin [LXX], translating Heb. Yahweh ‘echad). The adaptation of the Shema may be Paul’s own creative formulation here, but, as we have seen, the acclamation of Jesus as “Lord” obviously had long been a traditional feature of Christian devotional practice in Pauline Christianity and in other Christian circles as well, in both Greek and Aramaic.” Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, Eerdmans, p 114, 2003.
There is a concerted effort by some biblical scholars to change [“gloss over, modify, redefine” or “split”, as they like to call it] the clear monotheistic creed of the one God of Israel, the Jewish Shema from Deut 6.4. What people like NT Wright and his disciples seem to miss is the fact that Jesus himself lived by this creed. In other words this was his religious belief. We know this by the answer he gave to a test given by a “teacher of the law” [Mar 12.28-34], done to see if this man [anthropos] was in line with normative Jewish beliefs and not some kind of demon or false prophet/rabbi [as many others claimed]. The passages supporting this erroneous Trinitarian understanding [1Cor 8.4-6, Phil 2.6-10 and Col 1.15-18] are based on a simple misunderstanding of Jesus’ ‘Lordship’ in relation to His God and Father[12].

In Acts 2.36 Peter explains to the astonished Pentecostal crowd that “God has made” this Jesus of Nazareth, whom people thought a prophet/rabbi/son of God, “Lord Messiah”. Therefore, according to Peter, he has been “lifted high [exalted, vindicated] by and to the right hand of God” [v. 33]. Peter goes on to cite the most quoted verse in the whole of the NT, Psalm 110.1:

“The LORD (God) says to my lord (the Messiah), sit at my right hand, until I make your adversaries your footstool.” Amplified Bible Version
This verse is used by NT writers as a sort of Messianic prototype time and time again to explain, not only to their contemporaries but also to us, where this Lord Messiah is placed in relation to his Lord and God [2 ‘Lords’ indeed but each distinct, separate and each his own person]. David describes the prophetic [future] vision of this figure as my lord [adoni]. The Hebrew translated here as my lord is not referring to another who is also ‘LORD’ [adonay, YHWH] God, since the original Hebrew word is always used for those who are not God but human beings or angelic representatives [adoni]. This tells us that the relationship between God and Jesus is that of Deity and non-Deity. The Messiah is called adoni (my lord) and in every one of its 195 occurrences, adoni means a superior who is not God. Adonai, on the other hand, refers exclusively to the One God in all of its 449 occurrences. Adonai [YHWH] is the title of Deity and adoni never designates Deity.

If the second lord of Ps 110.1 were to be described as Adonai [YHWH] it would introduce “2 YHWHs” into the Bible. This would inevitably change the clear monotheistic Jewish-Christian belief into polytheism. Therefore, Ps 110:1 serves to guard us all against supposing that there are 2 who are YHWH. In fact, this adoni is the supreme human representative and agent of the One Adonai [YHWH], God. This makes the verse the Bible’s master text for defining the Son of God in relation to the One God and Father, which would explain its frequent use by the NT authors.

Yet why is it that a number of commentaries misstate the facts about Ps 110:1? They assert that the second lord is Adonai. He is not. These commentaries seem to obscure a classic text defining God in relation to His Son. The Hebrew text assigns to the Messiah the title adoni which invariably distinguishes the one addressed from the Deity. So it is clear that the second lord figure is made a supreme human lord, who is seen by David as subject to the first LORD, YHWH and not another who is also Lord God (cp. 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; Mark 12:28ff)[13]. There are many lexicons and commentaries that support the correct translation of this Davidic-Messianic Psalm. This highlights the otherwise clear negligence on the part of those who misguide and mislead honest Christian seekers of truth.

“The form ADONI (‘my lord’), a royal title (I Sam. 29:8), is to be carefully distinguished from the divine title ADONAI (‘my Lord’) used of Yahweh.” “ADONAI — the special plural form [the divine title] distinguishes it from Adonai [with short vowel] = my lords” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Lord,” p. 157.

“The Hebrew Adonai exclusively denotes the God of Israel. It is attested about 450 times in the OT…Adoni [is] addressed to human beings (Gen. 44:7, Num. 32:25, II Kings 2:19 [etc.]). We have to assume that the word Adonai received its special form to distinguish it from the secular use of adon [singular of adoni, my lord]. The reason why [God is addressed] as Adonai, [with long vowel] instead of the normal adon, adoni or Adonai [with short vowel] may have been to distinguish Yahweh from other gods and from human lords” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, p. 531.

“The form ‘to my lord,’ l’adoni, is never used in the OT as a divine reference…the generally accepted fact [is] that the Masoretic pointing distinguishes divine references (adonai) from human references (adoni)” Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the OT, p. 22, Herbert Bateman, “Psalm 110:1 and the NT,” Bibliothecra Sacra, Oct.-Dec., 1992, p. 438.

“Sarah used [adoni] in reference to her husband ([Abraham] Gen 18.12), Abraham used it in addressing the angelic visitors (Gen 19:2, [whom he thought were human beings]). Abraham's servant repeatedly called his master by it in Gen 24. The pharaoh of Egypt was called by this title (Gen 40:1), as well as Joseph his "vizier" (Gen 42:10). Ruth used it of Boaz before they were married (Gen 2:13). Hannah addressed Eli the priest by this term (1Sam 1:15). Saul's servants called him by the title as well (1Sam 16:16). Likewise, officers less than the king, such as Joab, had this appellation (2Sam 11:9).” Harris, et. als, Theological Wordbook of the OT, Ref. Ps 110.1.

“The Jews fully accepted the Messianic interpretation of this Psalm. Rabbi Joden said, ‘In the time to come the Holy and Blessed God will place King Messiah at His right hand, according to Ps 110.1’” The One Volume Bible Commentary, p. 699.

“In most of the instances where the title [adon] belongs to Yahweh it appears in the unique and grammatically anomalous form of Adonai; this is probably a vocalization of uncertain date and origin to distinguish the divine title from the usual adoni, ‘my lord,’ addressed to human beings.” Dictionary of the Bible, John L. McKenzie, S.J., p. 516.

“The main form of ‘Adonai’ has a different vowel point under the ‘n’ to distinguish it
from the second much less common form of the word. (The second form of ‘Adonai’ is used in the plural, of men, very occasionally.)…the two words ‘adonai’ and ‘adoni’ are both formed from the root word ‘adon.’ The difference is in the vowel pointing: ‘adonai’ is formed by placing the points ‘quamets’ under nun. ‘adoni’ is formed by placing the point ‘hireq’ under nun. (Just one tiny letter different, but an enormous difference in meaning!)…One sometimes encounters people whose determination to retain Psalm 110:1 as a Trinitarian ‘proof text’ leads them to (selectively) discount the reliability of the Massoretic vowel pointing system, in favor of some otherpersonal preference, especially when it suits their particular theological bias. However unless there is compelling documented evidence for changes of this kind, they are seldom helpful. We must be very cautious about introducing arbitrary changes of this kind, lest we leave ourselves open to accusations of ‘intellectual dishonesty.” Sit Thou at my right hand (Psalm 110:1), Bible Digest, Number 86, Sept. 1998.

“We may note that there is an ambiguity in the English use of the word ‘Lord’ which is not present in the Hebrew Psalm where the first word translated ‘Lord’ is YHWH, the name of God, and the second word is ’adon which can be used of lords and masters. In both cases the Greek text has kyrios, and this facilitated the transfer to Jesus of other Old Testament texts which referred to Yahweh. Here, however, it is simply the attribute of lordship which is given to Jesus; he is not equated with Yahweh.” The Acts of the Apostles, An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1980, pp. 79, 80.

“The Lord of Psalm 110.1 is understood absolutely of God, while my Lord is used of the Promised Messiah. If David then refers to the Messiah (who is also his ‘son’) as my Lord, this automatically reveals that the Messiah is superior to David [and not YHWH]. Matthew is not so much concerned to prove the Davidic origin of Jesus (this is assumed in the structure of his Gospel), but rather to demonstrate that Jesus, who is both descendant of David and Messiah, is superior to David.” A Handbook On The Gospel of Matthew, by Barclay M. Newman and Philip
C. Stine (New York: United Bible Societies,
1988), p. 699.

“The citation is Ps 110.1…Jesus assumes that this second Lord is the Messiah. ‘The Lord said to my Lord’ meant ‘God said to my king’…In Hebrew the phrase says, ‘Yahweh said to adoni’ (neum YHWH la’adoni). Adoni means ‘my master’ or ‘my lord’. The devout Jew would read this phrase by covering ‘YHWH’ (Yahweh), saying instead, ‘Adonai said to Adoni’. Adonai (in distinction from adoni) means Yahweh, the God revealed to Israel. The Greek translation of the Hebrew text wrote simply here, ‘The kyrios to my kyrios’ (Eipen ho kyrios to kyrio mou), using the same word—kyrios—for both Hebrew terms. In the Greek translation, too, the first kyrios is assumed to be Yahweh-God [the second] human ‘lord’ in the Psalm’s second noun is distinguished from the deity of the first ‘LORD’, as strict exegesis suggests…adon in Hebrew means ‘master’ (BDB, 11), a term of superiority…this is all Jesus seeks to establish…(cf. Briggs in McNeile, 327; Green, 186; Taylor, 492, emphasis added, who comments: ‘The value of the saying is not thereby destroyed, since its main importance is the light it throws on the manner in which Jesus interpreted Messiahship’)…If David, then, called the…second kyrios [my lord], whom specifically was David’s first kyrios addressing? The only other person deserving any such title of majesty, to Jewish consciousness, is the Messiah…

Calvin, 3:43, raises the honest historical question: ‘Might not God have raised up someone of the human race as Redeemer to be David’s Lord and Son at the same time? For it is not God’s most essential name that is used [here], but only Adonai [Adoni] (Lord), which [name] in fact is often applied to men’…” Matthew: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28, Frederick Dale Bruner, Eerdmans, p 243-244, 2007.
In this last quote the author refers to Jesus’ godhood and double nature [Catholic doctrines to be sure]. Nevertheless, it is amongst the most incisive studies I have found thus far, tackling the oft times misapplied meaning of the word adoni by some scholars and linguists, failing to recognize the distinction made by the Psalmist. In the Calvin quote the author actually corrects Adonai with Adoni. Even so, this did not stop Calvin’s correct interpretation of who the second lord was, even though he seems to be reading the verse as: ‘YHWH said to Adonai [YHWH]’.

It is understood from a proper exegetical study of the verse that the title kyrios [lord] is given to Jesus as the response of God to his obedient servant. Whereby the Son now exercises the lordship of God the Father in order to subject all things to Him:

“…for God has put all things in subjection under [Christ]. But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection [to Christ]’, it is evident that God [Himself] is exempted whosubjected all things to [Christ]. However, when everything is subjected to [Christ], then the Son Himself will also subject Himself to [God the Father] who put all things under [Christ], so that God may be all in all” 1Cor 15.27-28 [my translation using the Amplified Bible version, emphasis added].
Thus, in Mar 12.28ff we not only learn that the Shema is the faith of Jesus but it is also “the greatest [most important] commandment of all” [v. 28]. This is the understanding that is most prevalent in mainstream, modern scholarly works regarding the Jewish Shema of Israel:

“The Shema was repeated daily by the Jews. It was the foundation text of their monotheism, which was not a speculative theory but a practical conviction… in this Jesus stood in complete agreement with Pharisaism.” Peake’s Bible Dictionary, p 696.

“We must never forget that Christianity was built on the foundation of Jewish monotheism. A long providential discipline had secured to the Jewish people their splendid heritage of faith in the One and only true God [Deut 6.4]…. This was the corner stone of the religion of Israel. These were perhaps the most familiar of all sacred words to the ears of the pious Jew. They were recited continually. Our Lord himself had them frequently in his mind (Mat 22:37; Mark 12:29, 30; Luke 10:27). That he thought of God always as the Supreme One is unquestionable.” Dictionary of Christ and Gospels, Vol. II Trinity.

“Jesus taught no new doctrine of God…The God of whom Jesus speaks is the One God of Israel (Mark 12:29), the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus has based his view on the OT revelation of God and the knowledge of the nature of God, as derived from this revelation, he accepted as valid. Nowhere do we find him stating and teaching anything as the nature of God which was impossible on the basis of the OT religion…. When he affirmed that none were good but God only (Mark 10:18)… he sought to unfold no new view of God, which would have required a special explanation and basis for the Jewish mind. But he appealed to those features of the Divine character whose recognition he could take for granted [employing] the name of Father to designate God.” Wendt, Teaching of Jesus, p 184-185, 1906.

“Jesus’ affirmation of the Shema is neither remarkable nor specifically Christian. Exalting the law is hardly what one would expect an early Christian prophet to do…The affirmation that ‘the Lord our God is one Lord’ is implicitly an injunction to recognize and obey the only God. The only God is identified as YHVH. The commandment proper which follows presupposes this identity. A comment in Josephus (Ag, Ap. 2.22 sec 190) reflects similar thinking. ‘The first that leads all of the commandments concerns God…Jesus affirmation of Deut. 6:4b, 5 is thoroughly Jewish and is unremarkable…Jesus’ double commandment summary of the Law places him squarely in the center of Jewish piety… Jesus is not presenting Israel withsome new strange doctrine.” Word Bible Commentary on Mark 12:28ff.

“It is possible to translate: ‘Yahweh, our God, is one Yahweh’ — in which case the Shema affirms that Yahweh cannot be divided into several Yahweh manifestations (poly-Yahwism), like the Baals of different sanctuaries [or the Trinity of later Nicene Christianity]. Or we may translate: ‘Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone’ — in which case the Shema affirms that Yahweh is the only and the unique God [Jesus reaffirms this in John 17:3].” The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, New York: Abingdon Press, 1962, vol. 2, p. 427.

“The Jewish confession of faith, the Shema of Deut 6:4 will become the universal creed [cp. Zach 14.9].” The Interpreter's Bible, VI, p. 1112.

“What God is in-and-of-God self is beyond human comprehension and, therefore, not
subject to revelation: no words exist to reveal God’s literal Being beyond the fundamental Israelite confession of faith: ‘Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one’ (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29). Beyond this, any attempt to describe God’s Being in literal terms can only amount to theological nonsense, such as the incomprehensible inclusion of three Persons within one Being, the second Person of which being 100% God and 100% man [=200% & not 100%]. God only knows how many intelligent people have been led to reject Christian faith due to the ecclesiastical misrepresentation of God as
a theological absurdity.” Robert Hach, in his paper “The Biblical Concept of Mediation,” presented at Atlanta Bible College Theological Conference, 2005.

“Yahweh is the individual personal name of God (Vol. 1, 67). Elohim, though plural
in form, is seldom used in the OT as such. Even a single heathen God can be designated with the plural Elohim (Jud 1:24; I Kings 11:15; 2 Kings 1:2). In Israel the plural is understood as the plural of fullness. The One God theos is the most frequent designation of God in the NT. Belief in the one, only and unique God (Mat. 23:9; Rom 3:30; I Cor 8:4, 6; Gal 3:20 I Tim. 2:5; James 2:19) is an established part of primitive Christian tradition. Jesus himself made the fundamental confession of Judaism his own and expressly quoted the Shema (Deut 6:4; Mark 12:28ff. Mat 22:37; Luke 10:27). This guaranteed continuity between the Old and the New Covenant. For the God whom Christians worship is God the Father (Acts 3:13; 5:30; 22:14; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). The confession of the One God appears in an expanded form in Eph 4:6… Jesus Christ does not usurp the place of God. His oneness with the Father does not mean absolute identity of being…. After the completion of his work on earth he has indeed been raised to the right hand of God,but he is still not made equal to God. Although completely co-ordinate with God he remains subordinate to him (I Cor 15:28). He represents us before God, but this is not to say that Christ is equal with God. In Revelation a distinction is always made between God and the Lamb.” New International Dictionary of NT Theology: GOD, Ed Colin Brown,
p 80.

“It is believed by some that the Hebrew word ‘one’ (echad) that is used in Deut 6:4 and other verses indicates a ‘compound unity’. This is just not true. Anthony Buzzard writes:

‘It is untrue to say that the Hebrew word echad (one) in Deut. 6:4 points to a compound unity. A recent defense of the Trinity argues that when “one” modifies a collective noun like “cluster” or “herd,” a plurality is implied in echad. The argument is fallacious. The sense of plurality is derived from the collective noun, not from the word “one.” Echad in Hebrew is the numeral “one.” Isa. 51:2 describes Abraham as “one” (echad), where there is no possible misunderstanding about the meaning of this simple word.’ p. 15.

Deut 6:4 is one of the strongest texts against the Trinity. God is ‘one’, not three-in-one’ or some other plurality. This has been the rallying cry of Jews down through the ages that have stood aggressively against any form of polytheism or pantheism. Jesus quoted this verse as part of the first and great commandment (Mar 12:29-30).

It is quite inconceivable that Christ would be promoting some form of the doctrine of the Trinity while at the same time quoting Deuteronomy that God is ‘one’ to a Jewish audience who would be sure to misunderstand him. It is much more reasonable to believe that Jesus was simply affirming that if we are to love God with all our heart we must be certain who He is—the one God of Israel.” Graeser, Lynn, Shoenheit, One God & One Lord, p 442-443, 2003.
In conclusion I offer another quote by NT Wright, who not long after his surprising exegetical discoveries of 1Cor 8.6 [Climax of the Covenant, 1993], seems to retract his previous findings. This is an often found phenomenon amongst Trinitarian scholars whose beliefs fluctuate between binitarianism, tritheism or modalism:

“The answer Jesus gave [to the question about which is the greatest commandment of all] was thoroughly non-controversial, quoting the most famous Jewish prayers [Deut 6.4]…The Shema…was central to Judaism [and Jesus] then as it is now...” Jesus and the Victory of God, p 305, 1996.
[1] It is extraordinary that Nestle-Aland have no marginal reference to Deut 6.4 beside v.6, but only with v.4. Even so detailed a study as Willis [1985] does not mention the Shema. Dunn 1980, 179 f. and n.67, sees the same phenomenon as I do here, but draws different conclusions. See, similarly, Grasser 1981, 199 f.

[2] Paul A. Rainbow, “Jewish Monotheism as the Matrix for New Testament Christology: A Review Article”, NovT 33/1 (1991) 83; cf. idem, “Monotheism and Christology in 1 Corinthians 8.4-6”, unpublished D. Phil. Thesis, Oxford, 1987, pp. 66-100.

[3] L. Hurtado, One God, One Lord, Phaladelphia, 1988, pp. 97-98. Hurtado contends that Paul, having thus described Christ in 1Cor 8.6, has expressed a profound Christian adaptation of a contemporary Jewish “divine agency category” which is intended to give Christ universal superiority, “but at the same time he is the unique agent of the ‘one God’”. In this way, Christ is granted “a position of enormous importance while still protecting the uniqueness of God”. Christ is understood as an object of religious veneration: he is thought of as superior to pagan gods and the title ‘Lord’ places him alongside God the Father. Cf. idem, “The origins of the worship of Christ”, Themolios 19:2 (1994) 4-8.

[4] D. R. Lacey, “’One Lord’ in Pauline Christology”, in Christ the Lord, p. 200. He has persuasively argued that Paul, by transferring the phrase eis kurios to Jesus, “was perhaps doing no more than systematizing what was already expressed by his Christian predecessors: that Jesus was worth of divine honor…In Christ he found one who was equal with God but who was not simply the totality of deity” (pp. 191-203, 202.).

[5] N. T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant, Edingburgh, 1991, p. 129.

[6] Cf. DE LACEY, One Lord (n.1), p. 200. On p. 196 he refers to the linking of Dt. 6,4 with Zech 14,9 which was seen as the eschatological fulfillment of the second reference “the Lord (is) one”: “At an early stage the rabbis put these two passages together, so that ‘The Lord our God’ referred to the present relationship between God and his people Israel, while the second part of the affirmation, ‘the Lord (is) one’, referred to the coming universal rule of God over all the nations”.

[7] Dunn, Christology 180; also Partings 180, 182; Wright, Climax 121, 128-32 (“Christological monotheism”—fullest statement in 114-18). Rainbow, “Jewish Monotheism” 83, notes the remarkable step of Jews using a “one” formula for any other than God. But is it correct to say that “to Paul, Jesus’ lordship can almost threaten the Father’s godship” (de Lacey, “One Lord” 200-201)?

[8] Pace Murphy-O’Connor, “1Cor 8.6”, followed by Kuschel, Born 285-91, who see only a reference to the new creation. The fact that the confession is made of Jesus Christ as the exalted Lord does not alter the content of the confession.

[9] F.F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians (NCB; London: Oliphants, 1971) 80; D.R. de Lacey, ‘”One Lord” in Pauline Christology’, in H.H.

[10] Rightly, Wright, Climax of the Covenant, 129.

[11] Paul it appears also does not flinch from calling Christ God as well, for instance, in Rom. 9.5 on which, cf. Wright, Climax of the Covenant, 237-38.

[12] If verses like Mat 27.46; John 20.17; Eph 1.17; Rev. 3.2, 12 are not clear enough in communicating to the reader that Jesus has a God, whom he calls Father, I am at a loss to know what is.

[13] Most of the following quotes are taken from The Doctrine of the Trinity, Sir Anthony Buzzard, Charles Hunting, 1993; Jesus was not a Trinitarian, Buzzard, Restoration Fellowship, 2007.

4 comments:

Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Nephesh

Seeing that you are posting quotes by
Sir Anthony Buzzard & Charles Hunting;
may I also recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

NEPHESH said...

yep, i'm related to Sir Anthony, whats your connection if any?

Adam Pastor said...

Related! Wow!

Well, I simply agree with the majority of his theological views,
especially in regards to GOD, Christ and the Kingdom.

And I do like the video!

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

NEPHESH said...

I'm glad.

So where do you hail from? Do you have a ministry?

What do you do?