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Jewishness And The Trinity


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#21 Evangelion

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Posted 11 February 2003 - 03:16 PM

1. First, there are the numerous times when there is a reference to the Lord YHVH. This usage is so frequent that there is no need to devote space to it.

2. A second personality is referred to as the Angel of YHVH. This individual is always considered distinct from all other angels and is unique. In almost every passage where He is found He is referred to as both the Angel of YHVH and YHVH Himself. For instance, in Genesis 16:7 He is referred to as the Angel of YHVH, but then in 16:13 as YHVH Himself. In Genesis 22:11 He is the Angel of YHVH, but God Himself in 22:12. Other examples could be given. A very interesting passage is Exodus 23:20-23 where this angel has the power to pardon sin because God's own name YHVH is in him, and, therefore, he is to be obeyed without question. This can hardly be said of any ordinary angel. But the very fact that God's own name is in this angel shows His divine status.


Fruchtenbaum is floundering on the slippery slope of eisegesis. Not one single apostle ever tried to convince anybody that Jesus Christ was "the angel of Yahweh, and Christ himself never made any such claim. This is a significant point, and should not be overlooked, in favour of Trinitarian speculation.

In reference to the “Angel of the LORD” – yes, this angel is unique. Yes, this angel is sometimes referred to as if he were Almighty God Himself. Yes, this angel exercises God’s own divine privileges on His behalf. Yes, this angel is to be “obeyed without question.”

But the Bible always insists that this angel is an angel; to whit, the angel of Yahweh. This angel, therefore, cannot be Yahweh Himself. If, for example, you had a friend who told you about “the messenger of Evangelion”, who frequently acted on Evangelion’s behalf, would you naturally conclude that this messenger was Evangelion himself? No, the angel of Yahweh is not Yahweh Himself, but a created angel who acts on His behalf, with His authority. Even Augustine, Jerome and Gregory the Great believed so. Dear reader, reflect on this…

Meanwhile, those who are still concerned about the extent to which this angel is capable of acting on God’s behalf, are advised to click here, where they can read a brief essay on the ancient principles of agency and representation.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#22 Evangelion

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Posted 11 February 2003 - 03:16 PM

3. A third major personality that comes through is the Spirit of God, often referred to as simply the Ruach Ha-kodesh. There are a good number of references to the Spirit of God among which are Genesis 1:2, 6:3; Job 33:4; Psalm 51:11; Psalm 139:7; Isaiah 11:2, etc. The Holy Spirit cannot be a mere emanation because He contains all the characteristics of personality(intellect, emotion and will) and is considered divine.


Nowhere are we told in the OT that the Holy Spirit "contains all the characteristics of personality... etc." Luke 1:35 defines the Holy Spirit as "the power of the Most High", and the (remarkably few) passages in the NT which appear to speak of literal personality, are in fact merely examples of personification, rather than literal "personhood."

So then, from various sections of the Hebrew Scriptures there is a clear showing that three personalities are referred to as divine and as being God: the Lord YHVH, the Angel of YHVH and the Spirit of God.


You will notice that Fruchtenbaum makes this rash assertion without even quoting any OT passages which prove his claim. (A common Trinitarian failing.) He simply throws out a few verses in which "the Spirit of God" is referred to, and leaves the rest of it to his reader’s imagination.

But one of his proof texts (Job 33:4) refers to the Holy Spirit as "the breath of the Almighty"! Ask yourself, reader, if you would accept this as "proof" of the "personhood" of the Holy Spirit. Ask yourself if this is really any proof at all.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#23 Evangelion

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Posted 11 February 2003 - 03:16 PM

The Three Personalities in the Same Passage

Nor have the Hebrew Scriptures neglected to put all three personalities of the Godhead together in one passage. Two examples are Isaiah 48:12-16 and 63:7-14.

Because of the significance of the first passage, it will be quoted:

"Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. Indeed My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand up together. All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The LORD has loves him; he shall do His pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be against the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him, I have brought him, and his way will prosper. Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent me."

It should be noted that the speaker refers to himself as the one who is responsible for the creation of the heavens and the earth. It is clear that he cannot be speaking of anyone other than God. But then in verse 16, the speaker refers to himself using the pronouns of I and me and then distinguishes himself from two other personalities. He distinguishes himself from the Lord YHVH and then from the Spirit of God. Here is the Tri-unity as clearly defined as the Hebrew Scriptures make it.


Astonishingly, Fruchtenbaum makes a second attempt at playing the same trick which he previously attempted with Zechariah 2. He wants to confuse his reader by deliberately obscuring the transition from one speaker to the next. (Obfuscation and misdirection are two of the most common practices of Trinitarians, and we should not be surprised to see them used here.)

In fact, when we consult the New English Translation, we find that (as with Zechariah 2) the narrative switches between the prophet (who speaks on God's behalf), and God Himself.

God's address commences in verse 3:
Isaiah 48:3.
“I announced events beforehand
I issued the decrees and made the predictions;
suddenly I acted and they came to pass.
The quotation marks open here (marking the commencement of God's address) and they do not close until verse 16, in which God's address concludes, and the prophet resumes the narrative:
Isaiah 48:16.
From the very first I have not spoken in secret;
when it happens, I am there.”
So now, the sovereign Lord has sent me, accompanied by his spirit. [32]
Notice the footnote:
[32] The speaker here is not identified specifically, but he is probably Cyrus, the Lord’s “ally” mentioned in vv. 14-15.
Commenting on this passage, Albert Barnes rules out any possibility that a "plurality of persons within the Godhead" is here referred to:
There is evidently a change in the speaker here. In the former part of the verse, it is God who is the speaker. But here it is he who is sent to bear the message. Or, if this should be regarded, as Lowth and many others suppose, as the Messiah who is speaking to the exiled Jews, then it is an assertion that he had been sent by the Lord God and his Spirit.

[…]

Many of the reformers, and others since their time have supposed that this refers to the Messiah, and have endeavored to derive a demonstration from this verse of the doctrine of the Trinity. The argument which it has been supposed these words furnish on that subject is, that three persons are here spoken of, the person who sends, that is, God the Father; the person who is sent, that is, the Messiah; and the Spirit, who concurs in sending him, or by whom he is endowed.

But the evidence that this refers to the Messiah is too slight to lay the foundation for such an argument; and nothing is gained to the cause of truth by such forced interpretations.


[…]

The scope of the passage demands, as it seems to me, that it should be referred to the prophet himself. His object is, to state that he had not come at his own instance, or without being commissioned. He had been sent by God, and was attended by the Spirit of inspiration. He foretold events which the Spirit of God alone could make known to mankind.

Barnes is honest where Fruchtenbaum is not. He concedes that the context and construction of the passage simply will not permit the violent twisting on which Fruchtenbaum's spurious argument obviously relies.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#24 Evangelion

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Posted 11 February 2003 - 03:17 PM

In the second passage, there is a reflection back to the time of the Exodus where all three personalities were present and active.  The Lord YHVH is referred to in verse seven, the Angel of YHVH in verse nine and the Spirit of God in verses 10, 11 and 14.  While often throughout the Hebrew Scriptures God refers to himself as being the one solely responsible for Israel's redemption from Egypt, in this passage three personalities are given credit for it. Yet no contradiction is seen since all three comprise the unity of the one Godhead.


*snip*

The rest of Fruchtenbaum's argument consists of nothing more than a repetition of several (unsupported) assertions, and for this reason I prefer to excise it and deal only with his concluding proof text (Isaiah 63:7-14), paying special attention to verses 7, 10, 11 & 14. (Although I shall include verse 9 for context, and eliminate all but the relevant footnotes.)

Let's see what they look like in the New English Translation:
Isaiah 63:7, 9-11, 14.
I will tell of the faithful acts of the Lord,
of the Lord’s praiseworthy deeds.
I will tell about all the Lord did for us,
the many good things he did for the family of Israel,
because of his compassion and great faithfulness.


[…]

Through all that they suffered, he suffered too.
The messenger sent from his very presence
[20] delivered them.
In his love and mercy he protected them;
he lifted them up and carried them throughout ancient times.

But they rebelled and offended his holy Spirit,
[24]
so he turned into an enemy
and fought against them.

His people remembered the ancient times.
Where is the one who brought them up out of the sea,
along with the shepherd of
[26] his flock?
Where is the one who placed his holy Spirit among them,
[27]

[…]

Like an animal that goes down into a valley to graze,
so the Spirit of the Lord granted them rest.
In this way you guided your people,
gaining for yourself an honored reputation.

Now the footnotes:
[20] Heb “the messenger (or, "angel”) of his face.” This may refer to the “angel of God” mentioned in Exod 14:19, who in turn may be identical to the divine “presence” (literally, “face”) referred to in Exod 33:14-15 and Deut 4:37. Here in Isa 63 this messenger may be equated with God’s “holy Spirit” (see vv. 10-11) and “the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 14). See also Ps 139:7, where God’s “Spirit” seems to be equated with his “presence” (literally, “face”) in the synonymous parallelistic structure.

[…]

[24] The phrase “holy Spirit” occurs in the OT only here (in v. 11 as well) and in Ps 51:11 (ET = v. 13 HT), where it is associated with the divine presence.

[…]

[26] The Hebrew text has a plural form, which if retained and taken as a numerical plural, would probably refer to Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite tribal leaders at the time of the Exodus. Most prefer to emend the form to the singular (hur) and understand this as a reference just to Moses.

[27] See the note at v. 10.
So "the LORD" (Yahweh) is the Father, "his Holy Spirit" is the angel of God's presence (not literally the Holy Spirit, nor Jesus Christ), and "the shepherd" is Moses (not Christ.)

I have seen some desperate measures by Fruchtenbaum during the course of his little spiel, but this was the most desperate of all.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#25 Evangelion

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Posted 11 February 2003 - 03:17 PM

Conclusion



Fruchtenbaum speaks optimistically of “Jewishness and the Trinity.” He tries to convince us that although these two concepts are radically different, they are not incompatible. But the evidence of Scripture is clear. Jewishness and Trinitarianism are not just alien to one another – they are necessarily antagonistic.

Scripture supports the former - unequivocally rejecting the latter - and since it is manifestly impossible to have both, we are left with "Jewishness" as the only viable template for our Christological model.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.




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