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Debate With A Trinitarian


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#1 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:49 PM

This discussion with a trinitarian demonstrates the lengths to which they will go to make their argument. It also exposes the level of 'scholarship' and 'research' to which you will commonly be exposed when debating a trinitarian. They will rely on a few stock arguments and alleged 'research', many of which have been either debunked or abandoned by modern trinitarian scholars.

#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:50 PM

What I find interesting in this discussion, is that Ray (who vilifies the JWs and their scholarship), has in fact adopted many of their arguments and methods of reasoning.

Here is a list of the JW arguments he has adopted:

1) New Light: He argues that new revelation of what God really meant when He wrote the Bible, is to be found outside Scripture, and that this greater comprehension is gradually understood by the Church over time.

In other words, he is appealing to the JW 'New Light' argument.

2) Governing Body: Of course, this New Light doesn't come to just anyone. Oh no, according to him it apparently comes to the head of the Church, whom you call the 'Governing Body', and whom he believes was represented by the bishops of the Roman Church, and their councils of the 4th century. He argues that these people were the ones who received the 'New Light', and that they are authorities on the Divine revelation.

In other words, he is appealing to the JW 'Governing Body' argument.

3) Special Definitions: He insists that the word 'elohim' has the meaning 'a plurality of persons', despite the fact that he can find no proof to support this meaning, either in lexicons, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, or in Scripture itself. This is like the JW definition of the 'faithful and discreet slave class', which they apply to an organisational body.

In other words, like the JWs he appeals to 'Special Definitions' which does not exist outside his own imagination, and are of his own making.

There are a couple of other JW arguments which he adopts. I'll be exposing them along the way. His level of 'research' is certainly on a par with theirs, and he has appealed to their grammatical parsing of at least one passage.

Ok, now let's get into it...

#3 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:50 PM

Let's start by examining what you have conceded, Ray:

1) The doctrine of the trinity was not revealed in the Old Testament

2) The Jews were not intended to understand God as a trinity

3) The doctrine of the trinity was not revealed explicitly in the New Testament

4) The doctrine of the trinity was not preached as part of the gospel message

5) The doctrine of the trinity was not taught by the apostles as part of their faith

6) There are no verses in Scripture at all which describe God as three persons in one being or essence

7) The doctrine of the trinity is not revealed by God in Scripture, but is inferred by men from Scripture.

8) The doctrine of the trinity was not agreed upon until a couple of centuries after the apostles had lived

9) The theology of the early Church Fathers was influenced by Greek thought (not surprising since many of them were Greeks), and especially by the writings and theology of Philo of Alexandria (again, not surprising since so many of the early Fathers were Alexandrians)

10) The only first century reference to Christ as God in material other than Scripture is found in the heretical book 'The Epistle of Barnabas', which is a forgery never accepted as canonical

Well, I have to say I agree with all of this! It's great! I'm very glad to see that you have come around to this understanding.

I've seen you drift slowly from the view that the trinity is explicitly revealed in Scripture by God, to the view that it is only inferred from Scripture by men, and I've seen you drift slowly from the view that the trinity was taught by the apostles in their gospel proclamation to the view that it was not taught until well after the apostles.

In short, you've learned a lot - and I never expected you would!

#4 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:50 PM

Now, since:

1) The trinity was a doctrine never revealed in the Old Testament

2) The trinity was a doctrine never revealed in the New Testament

3) The trinity was a doctrine never preached by the apostles

4) The trinity was a doctrine inferred from Scripture by men

5) The trinity was a gradual theological development which took centuries (and which was not agreed upon until long after the apostles)

...you have to explain to me why I should believe in a doctrine which is not in the Bible, and which was made up by a bunch of squabbling apostates who took several centuries to decide what they wanted it to be, and then spent another few centuries arguing about what they had supposedly agreed on.

In short, you are asking me to believe in a doctrine which has been invented by men. This 'trinity' doctrine in which you believe is a doctrine of men.
You have even admitted that men created it, and that it took them centuries to even come to any kind of agreement.

So you are not admitting that you believe in a doctrine which has been invented by men, a doctrine which neither Christ nor the apostles preacheed.
That's really the end of your argument right there. You're trying to get me to believe in a doctrine of men. You follow men, and you are trying to get others to follow men.
Sorry, you can follow men, but I'll follow Christ.

#5 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:50 PM

Now, let the learning continue...

I have undertaken to prove that God is only a single person, and that this is how He is described consistently from the Old Testament to the New.

I have provided a large body of evidence to prove my case, and you have responded to practically none of it. In fact, I have repeated my case a number of times now, and you have refused to deal with it. You will be seeing it again, and this time I expect you to respond to it. Not that I think you will. You haven't yet, after all.

You argued that you did not have to prove the trinity (which in fact you admit you are unable to do), but rather that since Genesis 1:26 reveals (as you claim), a God who is a plurality of persons.
You appealed to the word 'elohim', claiming that this revealed God as a 'plurality of persons'.

In actual fact, I showed you that the word 'elohim' either means one individual person (one entity), or multiple individual persons (discrete entities).
It does not mean 'a plurality of persons', and it certainly does not mean 'a plurality of persons in one entity', which is what you need it to mean.

So in fact, you have commenced by making an inaccurate claim about the word 'elohim'. I have showed you this before.
You have kept trying to insist that the word here should be understood as 'a plurality of persons', and you have insisted that this constitutes proof that God is 'a plurality of persons' (a concept essential to the doctrine of the trinity), but you have given no proof that it means 'a plurality of persons'.

When I have asked you to give the proof of your claim, you have complained that you do not have the burden. But this is avoiding the issue.
I have already agreed to prove that God is one person, and I have given my evidence. I have also given evidence that the word 'elohim' means either one individual being (one person), or more than one individual beings (each of which is a different person). But all you do is make claims that God is more than one person, that the word 'elohim' means 'a plurality of persons' and then refuse to give evidence for your claims.

You have to understand that if you want to claim that God is more then one person, you must prove this. Simply pointing to a word and saying 'That says God is a plurality of persons' is not good enough. You have pointed to a word which does not mean 'a plurality of persons', and you have claimed that it does mean 'a plurality of persons'.
This means that you are making a false claim about the meaining of this word. Not only that, but when called upon to give evidence to support your claim, you provide no evidence at all.

You might as well point to the word 'elohim' and claim it means 'sausage'. You won't be able to provide any proof of that either.

Until you can prove:

1) That there is evidence that the word 'elohim' can mean ' a plurality of persons'

2) That the word 'elohim' here means 'a plurality of persons'

...then you have no case.

You have failed to provide any support from Scripture, from lexicons, Bible dictionaries, commentators, or Bible translations for your claim that the word elohim here refers to 'a plurality of persons'.

#6 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:50 PM

I, on the other hand, have given the full meaning of the word 'elohim', and proved that:

1) It can refer to one person as one discrete being (and in this sense is used of God Himself, as well as of individual men).
I have given proof of this from Bible dictionaries, lexicons, commentators, and from Scripture itself

2) It can refer to more than one person, where those persons are separate beings (and in this sense is never used of God Himself, but is used of angels, of men, and of false Gods).
I have given proof of this from Bible dictionaries, lexicons, commentators, and from Scripture itself.

You have rejected the idea that either of these meanings applies in Genesis 1:26. You are forced to.

If you agreed with the first meaning, then you would have to agree that God is one being in one person, which is contrary to the trinitarian belief you hold.
If you agreed with the second meaning, then you would be arguing that the word 'elohim' here refers to multiple individual beings who are all Gods, which is polytheism.

You have no other options. You attempt to claim that you have a third option, which is that the word 'elohim' means 'a plurality of persons'.
This third option would be available to you if it existed. It does not. You have falsely claimed that the word 'elohim' can mean 'a plurality of persons', but you have provided no evidence for this whatsoever. No lexical sources, no Bible dictionaries, no commentaries, no grammars, and no passages from Scripture.

#7 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:52 PM

I shall continue to provide my evidence.

Let's have a look at Driver, Brown and Briggs:

(plural)

a)  rulers, judges

b)  divine ones

c)  angels

d)  gods

(plural intensive - singular meaning)

a)  god, goddess

b)  godlike one

c)  works or special possessions of God

d)  the (true) God

e)  God


You will find the entry here.

There you have it - only two senses. It can refer either to plural persons (as rulers, judges, divine ones, angels, gods), or it can refer to a single person (a god, a goddess, the one true God, God). Note the complete absence of the third sense which you are claiming, which is 'a plurality of persons'.
We do not find 'a plurality of persons' here given as a possible meaning. We find either plural persons, or one person, just as I said.
There are only two sense here, just as I said, not three.

#8 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:53 PM

Here is Seow on the word 'elohim':

'...as a proper name, or when referring to Israel's God, it is treated as singular. Elsewhere it should be translated as 'gods.'"

(C. L. Seow, A Grammar For Biblical Hebrew (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987), page 19.)


Seow also says that when the word 'elohim' is used of God:

"the form of the noun is plural, but the referent is singular. This is sometimes called 'plural of majesty.'"

(C. L. Seow, A Grammar For Biblical Hebrew (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987), page 19.)


See also:

'When {elohim} refers to the God of Israel it is always singular in concept, even though it has a masculine plural ending.'

(Ethelyn Simon, et. al., The First Hebrew Primer for Adults, 2nd ed. (Oakland, CA: EKS Publishing Company, 1983), page 48.)


I have inserted the word 'elohim' in the '{ }'.

See also Barr:

'(b) Elohim, the ordinary Hebrew name for God.  For derivation see above under El.
The word has a plural form, and the singular form eloah is found in Job frequently and ocasionally elsewhere.
In syntax the normal plural form is treated as singular for congruence with verbs and adjectives, with few exceptions, where the sense is 'God'; when used of other deities than the God of Israel, as in the phrase 'other gods' it is commonly plural in sense and syntactically treated as such.

The plural form has always excited great curiosity.  It should not be treated as a discernment of a plurality within the being of God, and has developed rather from the usage of emphasizing the importance of one god by seeming to concentrate emphasis upon a particular God.  But the widespread usage in Hebrew of this plural form (by far exceeding the frequency in other Semitic languages), was almost certainly encouraged by the believe in the Israelite God as the only one of significance in Israel and therefore as the sum and total of deity.

There are a few places where we may have to think of Elohim as a realm or class of divine or supernatural beings; these beings are sometimes called 'sons of elohim', or 'sons of the gods', the wrod 'son' indicating less physical paternity than membership of a group.  In Psalm 8:5 for example, man is made a little less than elohim, and the comparison may be not with God but with the divine beings as a class.  The Greek text recognized this by interpreting as 'a little less than the angels', so Hebrews 2:7'.

(James Barr, his article entitled 'God' in James Hastings' work 'Dictionary of the Bible', second edition, revised, 1963, single volume, T and T Clark, Edinburgh, page 334.)


You see there that Barr states that the word is to be understood either as meaning one being, or as meaning more than one being.
The third option which you are attempting to claim, is that it means 'a plurality of persons' within the Godhead, but Barr flatly denies this:

' It should not be treated as a discernment of a plurality within the being of God...'



#9 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:53 PM

See also:

'The fanciful idea that Elohim referred to the Trinity of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is either what the grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God.'
(William Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Peloubet, MacDonald Pub. Co., 1948, page 220).

See also:

'Elohim must rather be explained as an intensive plural, denoting greatness and majesty.'

(The American Journal of Semitic Language and Literature, 1905, Volume XXI, page 208).


By the way, that's a multivolume work. You can tell from the volume number.

As Dr James Tabor also points out, (and likewise the quote I gave you from the Journal of Hebraic Renewal), when the word 'elohim' takes a singular verb form and singular prepositions, it refers to one individual person. See also Page H. Kelly, Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1992, page 32).

When the word is applied to God, what do we find? We find that when the word 'elohim' is used of God Himself, the word takes a singular verb form and singular prepositions, thus indicating that the entity referred to is singular, one individual, one person. We find exactly the same when we see the word used of Moses (one person, singular verb form, singular prepositions), and in other places where the word 'elohim' is used of one single individual, one person (not 'a plurality of persons').

#10 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:54 PM

You wrote:

I did not go to Genesis 1:26-27 to prove the Trinity, but only to show you why the burden is on you.


You went there to prove that God is 'a plurality of persons'. We went there. We found the word 'elohim'. The word elohim does not mean 'a plurality of persons'.
It can mean one person, or it can mean more than one indvidual being. It does not mean 'a plurality of persons'. You are making a false claim about the meaning of a word.
If the word 'elohim' meant 'a plurality of persons', you would have a case. It does not. You have no case.

Therefore it makes no difference what you ask me to prove or show, the burden is yours.


No, that's untrue. You have made the claim that God is a plurality of persons because you claim that the word 'elohim' means 'a plurality of persons'. But it does not.
The word 'elohim' does not mean 'a plurality of persons'. It can be used either of one person, or more than one individual being. Neither of these support the idea of 'a plurality of persons'. You have made a claim about the meaning of the word, and I have proved that your claim is false. I have then asked you to support your claim for the meaning of this word, and you have refused to do so.

Until you can prove that the word means what you say it means, then you have no case. I am not interested in your speculations, or what you think the word should mean.

I've been through this with you before. Your only response was:

However, your first statement begs the question by making what you would prove the presupposition of your argument. You assume in your first statement that elohim must always refers to one of two options, without offering proof. Hence you beg the question.


I have given proof. I have given you lexical evidence, evidence from Scripture, evidence from Bible dictionaries and commentators.
There are only two options.

#11 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:55 PM

So, let's go through it again.

The word 'elohim' can be used in an absolute singular sense, or in a plural sense. Where it is used in a single sense, it refers to one single person.
Thus:

Exodus 7:
1And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god {elohim} to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.


Here we have Moses - a single person - and the word 'elohim' is used of him. This is obviously a use of the absolute single sense of the word 'elohim'.

Psalm 86:
8Among the gods {elohim} there is none like unto Thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto Thy works.


Here we have the gods of the heathen - individual multiple beings - and the word 'elohim' is used of them. This is obviously a use of the plural sense of the word 'elohim'.

I gave you this before, and you said:

No one denies this...so what is your point?


My point is that this is exactly what I have shown you before, and what you have denied that I proved. I have thus proved from Scripture the use of the word 'elohim' to refer to either a single being, or more than one individual being. That is my argument, and those are the passages of Scripture in which that meaning is used.
But you have given me no evidence from anywhere in Scripture that the word 'elohim' means 'a plurality of persons'.

#12 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:55 PM

Commence quote - adapted by another from the Journal of Hebraic Renewal:

But by no means is YHWH ever referred to by plural forms.  In fact, whenever the people of God speak of Him in the Hebrew Bible using a pronoun, they ALWAYS employ the singular form.  Whether it is the third person (He, Him, His) or the second person (You, Your, Thou, Thy) this is the case.  The people of God understood their God to be a single Individual. {6}

Nor is He only referred to in the plural when “God” is the translated word.  Two forms referred to above, El and Eloah used in the Tanakh to refer to the true God, are both singular in form. {7}  When an Aramaic word for God, Elah, is used, it too appears to be always in its singular form when referring to the true God. {8}

The form of the verb used in Hebrew when Elohim the true God is the subject is also instructive.  It is virtually always singular in form throughout the Tanakh.  In Genesis 1, for example - where the reader is first introduced to Elohim the Creator - the Hebrew verb form is always in the third masculine singular whenever {9} we read that “Elohim created” or “Elohim said” or “Elohim made”, etc. {10}

Finally, the Septuagint (known as “LXX”), the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible (probably translated in the third and second century B.C.E.) ALWAYS translated the Hebrew word for God in the singular (Gr. theos).  The LXX version of the Old Testament is often cited in the New Testament instead of the Hebrew. {11}

{6} Two rather emphatic examples: 1 Kings 18:39 and 2 Sam. 7:28.  The relevant part of the former reads, “YHWH, He is God [Elohim]; YHWH, He is God.”  The key portion of the latter reads, very literally, “Lord {adonay} YHWH, You {sing}, He, {is} the God {Elohim}.”

{7} God is translated from El in the following passages: Gen. 17:1, Ex. 34:6, Josh. 3:10, Isa. 5:16 and Ps. 29:3.  From Eloah: Deut. 32:15, Neh. 9:17, Job 4:9 (used more often than Elohim in Job) and Ps. 114:7.

{8} E.g., Dan. 2:28, Ezra 5:2.

{9} Gen. 1:26 says, “Let us make...” where God is perhaps either referring to Himself in the plural (possibly another form of plural of majesty), or is condescending to His heavenly host (i.e., someone besides Elohim, reflecting the normal concept of any first person plural), bringing them into the creative act.  “Make,” of course, is plural in its Hebrew form. 
In the next verse, where Elohim actually performs the action, the verb for “made” is back to its singular form.

{10} The Hebrew word order may be relevant here as well.  In Hebrew prose, the usual word order is that the verb precedes the noun.  In Gen. 1:1, therefore, before the Hebrew reader even gets to the word Elohim, he or she reads “bara” (“created”), the third person masculine singular form, immediately telling him or her that the acting subject is singular in reality.

{11} See Heb. 1:6 for example, where a version of the LXX of Deut. 32:43 is quoted.  The passage is quite different from the Hebrew text we now have and use.


End quote. Full text of this adapted article may be found here.

#13 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:57 PM

Finally:

Commence quote from The Original Bible Project, Dr James Tabor:

"GENESIS (Bereshit)1

Chapter 1 {1} In the beginning2 when ELOHIM3 created4 the heavens and the earth-(2}and the earth was5 desolate and waste;6 and darkness was over the facepl of the deep waters,7 and the Spirit of ELOHIM8 was hovering9 over the facepl of the waters-{3}then ELOHIM said, "Let there be light": and there was light. {4} And ELOHIM saw the light, that it was good:10 and ELOHIM separated between the light and between the darkness. {5} And ELOHIM called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning, day one.11

Footnotes -
3 The most common word for God in the Hebrew Bible is 'elohim (used over 2000 times), which is the masculine plural form of 'el, meaning "a mighty one." It can refer to YHVH, the one true God, to the gods or idols of the Gentiles, to angelic beings, or even to human judges and rulers (see Gen 3:5; 6:2; 35:1; Exo 12:12; Psa 82:1,6; 97:7,9; Gen 23:6; Exo 22:8-9 for illustrations). When used to refer to the one God of Israel, ELOHIM, though plural, normally takes a singular verb and singular prepositions.

verse 26 -
{26} And ELOHIM said, "Let us25 make man ('adam)26 in our image, according to our likeness,27 and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the flying thing of the heavens, and over the animals , and over all the earth, and over every moving thing that moves upon the earth."

Footnotes -
25 The verb is plural, for other examples of the same see Gen 3:5,22; 11:7."


End quote. You can find the OBP here.

The fact that in Genesis 1:27 the verb is singular and the preposition is singular demonstrates that this is the use of Elohim which is used to refer to God alone, a singular person..

The fact that in Genesis 1:26 the word 'us' is associated with 'elohim' demonstrates that God is encompassing in His address others than Himself.

That is exactly what the NET Bible footnotes say as well (you'll be shown them in a moment).

#14 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 07:58 PM

You told me:

You assume in your first statement that elohim must always refers to one of two options, without offering proof. Hence you beg the question.


There you have it. You actually said that I had given no proof of the fact that the word 'elohim' must always refer to one of two options.
In fact, I had. I have demonstrated here that it can refer either to one individual being, or to more than one individual being.
I have demonstrated that this is how it is used consistently in Scripture. I have given you Scriptural examples. I have also given you lexical and grammatical proof.

You have not given me any proof that it means 'a plurality of persons', so I can dismiss your unsupported speculations out of hand.

Here's another quote you ran from:

'Only an inaccurate exegesis which overlooks the more immediate grounds of interpretation can see references to the Trinity in the plural form of the divine name Elohim, the use of the plural in Genesis 1:26 or such liturgical phrases as three members of the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 and the Trisagion of Isaiah 6:3.'

(The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Volume 12, page 18).


That's a multivolume encyclopaedia by the way. You can tell from the volume number.

But let's continue - remember, I'm proving that the word 'elohim' refers either to one individual being, or more than one individual being.
I am proving that it is never used to refer to 'a plurality of persons', and I have given evidence from Scripture that it is used either of one individual being, or of more than one individual being.
I am also proving my case with reference to lexicons, commentators, Bible translations, Bible dictionaries, and Bible encylcopaedias.

There you have it - my argument and my evidence. I want to see this addressed please. If you keep running away from it, I will only keep repeating it.

#15 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 08:00 PM

And the second part explains why you have the burden to start with, the passage presents Jehovah God our Maker as a plurality of Persons... “let US MAKE...in OUR IMAGE”, which places you in immediate conflict with God’s Word.


But this is even easier! I've dealt with this before. You are trying to argue that the presence of the word 'us' here refers to a 'plurality of persons', but this is by no means the case.
As I have said, the use of the words 'us' and 'our' here relate to God encompassing the angels in His announcement of His work of creation (though only in a passive sense).

This is exactly what AB Davidson says (A.B. Davidson, "God," Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Volume II, page 205, multivolume edition, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1905), what Dr James Tabor says (James Tabor's 'Original Bible Project', here), what the NET Bible footnotes say (you can find the NET Bible here), and the article from the Journal of Hebraic Renewal (adapted here).

We turn now to the NET Bible (you can find it here), and read this from their footnote on Genesis 1:26:

The plural form of the verb has been the subject of much discussion through the years, and not surprisingly several suggestions have been put forward. Many Christian theologians interpret it as an early hint of plurality within the Godhead, but this view imposes later trinitarian concepts on the ancient text. Some have suggested the plural verb indicates majesty, but the plural of majesty is not used with verbs. C. Westermann (Genesis, 1:145) argues for a plural of “deliberation” here, but his proposed examples of this use (2 Sam 24:14; Isa 6:8) do not actually support his theory. In 2 Sam 24:14 David uses the plural as representative of all Israel, and in Isa 6:8 the Lord speaks on behalf of his heavenly court.

In its ancient Israelite context the plural is most naturally understood as referring to God and his heavenly court (see 1 Kgs 22:19-22; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Isa 6:1-8). (The most well-known members of this court are God’s messengers, or angels. In Gen 3:5 the serpent may refer to this group as “gods/divine beings.”

See the note on the word “evil” in 3:5.) If this is the case, God invites the heavenly court to participate in the creation of mankind (perhaps in the role of offering praise, see Job 38:7), but he himself is the one who does the actual creative work (v. 27). Of course, this view does assume that the members of the heavenly court possess the divine “image” in some way.

Since the image is closely associated with rulership, perhaps they share the divine image in that they, together with God and under his royal authority, are the executive authority over the world.


You will note that they dismiss the idea that the phrase 'Let us make man in our image' is a reference to any 'plurality of persons' in the Godhead.
That is, as they say, imposing 'later trinitarian concepts on the ancient text'. Which is exactly what you are doing, of course. Consider yourself reprimanded.

At this point we turn to the NET's note on Psalm 8:5:

Psalm 8:
8:5 and make them almost like the heavenly beings?"

16tn Heb “and you make him lack a little from {the} gods {or “God”}.” The Piel form of rsj, “to decrease, to be devoid,” is used only here and in Eccl 4:8, where it means “to deprive, to cause to be lacking.” The prefixed verbal form with vav consecutive either carries on the characteristic nuance of the imperfect in v. 5b or indicates a consequence (“so that you make him…”) of the preceding statement (see GKC §111.m). Some prefer to make this an independent clause and translate it as a new sentence, “You made him….” In this case the statement might refer specifically to the creation of the first human couple, Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 1:26-27).

The psalmist does appear to allude to Gen 1:26-27, where mankind is created in the image of God and his angelic assembly (note “let us make man in our image” in Gen 1:26).
However, the psalmist’s statement need not be limited in its focus to that historical event, for all mankind shares the image imparted to the first human couple. Consequently the psalmist can speak in general terms of the exalted nature of mankind.

The referent of <yhla (elohim, “God” or “the heavenly beings”) is unclear. Some understand this as a reference to God alone, but the allusion to Gen 1:26-27 suggests a broader referent, including God and the other heavenly beings (known in other texts as “angels”). The term <yhla (elohim) is also used in this way in Gen 3:5, where the serpent says to the woman, “you will be like the heavenly beings who know good and evil.” (Note Gen 3:22, where God says, “the man has become like one of us.”) Also <yhla (elohim) may refer to the members of the heavenly assembly in Ps 82:1, 6. The LXX (the ancient Greek translation of the OT) reads “angels” in Ps 8:5 (this is the source of the quotation of Ps 8:5 in Heb 2:7).


Again, the NET Bible interprets the phrase 'Let us make man in our image as referring to both God and His angelic assembly.
God is including the angels when he speaks of 'us' and 'our'. But as the note in Genesis 1 pointed out, the angels are not active participants, rather, as the NET Bible says:

God invites the heavenly court to participate in the creation of mankind (perhaps in the role of offering praise, see Job 38:7), but he himself is the one who does the actual creative work (v. 27).


That is the explanation for the use of the words 'us' and 'our'. You will note that the idea that the word 'elohim' means 'a plurality of persons' is dismissed.
You will also note that the idea that the words 'us' and 'our' refer to a plurality of persons within the Godhead is also dismissed.

In other words, your claim that the word 'elohim' refers to 'a plurality of persons', is dismissed, and your claim that use of the words 'us' and 'our' refers to a plurality of persons within the Godhead is also dismissed.

#16 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 08:01 PM

Look, even Calvin managed to get this right:

Moses has it Elohim, a noun of the plural number. Whence the inference is drawn, that the three Persons of the Godhead are here noted; but since, as a proof of so great a matter, it appears to me to have little solidity, will not insist upon the word; but rather caution readers to beware of violent glosses of this, kind.

They think that they have testimony against the Asians, to prove the Deity of the Son and of the Spirit, but in the meantime they involve themselves in the error of Sabellius, because Moses afterwards subjoins that the Elohim had spoken, and that the Spirit of the Elohim rested upon the waters. If we suppose three persons to be here denoted, there will be no distinction between them. For it will follow, both that the Son is begotten by himself, and that the Spirit is not of the Father, but of himself.

For me it is sufficient that the plural number expresses those powers which God exercised in creating the world. Moreover I acknowledge that the Scripture, although it recites many powers of the Godhead, yet always recalls us to the Father, and his Word, and spirit, as we shall shortly see. But those absurdities, to which I have alluded, forbid us with subtlety to distort what Moses simply declares concerning God himself, by applying it to the separate Persons of the Godhead. This, however, I regard as beyond controversy, that from the peculiar circumstance of the passage itself, a title is here ascribed to God, expressive of that powers which was previously in some way included in his eternal essence.


That's from Calvin's commentary on Genesis.

#17 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 08:01 PM

1) The word 'elohim' can refer either to one single being, or it can refer to more than one individual being.

I have shown both uses of this from Scripture, and I have provided support for this from other sources:

- C. L. Seow, A Grammar For Biblical Hebrew

- Ethelyn Simon, et. al., The First Hebrew Primer for Adults, 2nd ed

- Dr James Tabor (Original Bible Project)

- The NET Bible commentators

- Page H. Kelly (Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1992, page 32)

- James Barr (his article entitled 'God' in James Hastings' work 'Dictionary of the Bible', second edition, revised, 1963, single volume,T and T Clark, Edinburgh, page 334)

- Driver, Brown, Briggs Lexicon (see link above)

2) Where the word 'elohim' is used to refer to the one true God, the grammatical constructions used indicate that one single person is being referred to.
I shown this from Scripture, and I have provided support for this from other sources:

- C. L. Seow, A Grammar For Biblical Hebrew

- Ethelyn Simon, et. al., The First Hebrew Primer for Adults, 2nd ed

- Dr James Tabor (Original Bible Project)

- The NET Bible commentators

- The article adapted from the article in the Journal of Hebraic Renewal

- Moses Stuart (Biblical Repository, July, 1835, page 102, 103)

- James Barr (his article entitled 'God' in James Hastings' work 'Dictionary of the Bible', second edition, revised, 1963, single volume,T and T Clark, Edinburgh, page 334)

- Driver, Brown, Briggs Lexicon (see link above)

3) That the words 'us' and 'our' used in Genesis 1:26 are indicative of God addressing His angelic host, and not indicative of a 'plurality of persons' in the Godhead.
I have provided support for this from the following sources:

- The NET Bible commentators

- AB Davidson (A.B. Davidson, "God," Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Volume II, page 205, multivolume edition, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1905)

- Dr James Tabor (Original Bible Project)

- The World Bible Commentary

- The article adapted from the article in the Journal of Hebraic Renewal

#18 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 08:01 PM

No, It is precisely because you “insist” that elohim here refers to a single Person, that puts you in conflict with the Scripture, and that’s why the burden is on your head.
Hence, now, with that burden firmly in place, please prove that this plurality MUST be polytheism, because that’s what you’re claiming.


I have proved it. If you wish to appeal to the plural sense of the word 'elohim', rather than the singular or 'intensive plural' sense, then you must interpret it here as a plurality of individual beings. This means that you would be interpreting the word 'elohim', as 'a number of individual gods'. That is polytheism.

That is exactly what the JWs do, and that is exactly why they are accused of polytheism.
It is also what the Mormons do, and that is exactly why they are accused of polytheism.

Of course, you are not trying to appeal to the plural sense of the word 'elohim'. As I said before, if you were doing that, you would be appealing for polytheism.|
You are trying to argue for a non-existent third choice, which is neither the plural sense, nor the singular ('intensive plural'), sense.

What you are trying to do is to ignore the fact that the word 'elohim' can be understood only in two senses (one absolutely singular, one absolutely plural), by trying to tell me that there is a third sense which is 'a plurality of persons'. But you have provided no lexical support for this, nor any commentators who define elohim in this way, nor have you provided any Scriptural examples of the word 'elohim' being used as 'a plurality of persons'.

You are appealing to a meaning which simply does not exist. The only two options available to you are:

1) The absolute plural - that the word here refers to multiple gods, as it does elsewhere when it refers to the false gods of the heathen
That is polytheism.

2) The absolute singular (or 'intensive plural') - that the word refers to one person, as it does elsewhere when it refers to Moses.
That is unitarianism, better described as monotheism.

You have rejected both of these meanings, and you have introduced a third meaning, which you claim is the meaning here used in the text.
You claim that this third meaning is 'a plurality of persons', but you have failed to provide any evidence that the word 'elohim' may mean 'a plurality of persons', and you have given no Scriptural examples of the word 'elohim' being used with the sense 'a plurality of persons'.

#19 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 08:02 PM

I quoted:

From the Word Bible Commentary ("From a team of international scholars, a showcase of the best in evangelical scholarship"):

"When angels appear in the OT they are frequently described as men (Gen. 18:2). And in fact the use of the singular verb in v. 27 does in fact suggest that God worked alone in the creation of mankind. ‘‘Let us create man’’ should therefore be regarded as a divine announcement to the heavenly {angelic} court, drawing the angelic host’s attention to the master stroke of creation, man. As Job 38:4, 7 puts it: ‘‘When I laid the foundation of the earth all the Sons of God shouted for joy’’ (cp. Luke 2:13-14)."


To which you replied:

Just as I said above, the Divine communication merely serves as an announcement to the angels, not as an invitation to participate, but merely to observe and witness the crowning work of God’s creative activity. As the above commentary says, God worked alone.


I agree. Did you think I wouldn't?

Ah but this God who worked alone is a plurality of Persons.


No, this does not say that the God who worked alone is a plurality of persons. You made that up.

Again, please read Job 38:7 and you will see that the angels are portrayed as joyful onlookers, not participants.


I agree. I am not arguing that they are participants. I am arguing that the use of the words 'us' and 'our' were used by God because He was including the angelic host in His address (although they did not participate actively in the creative work.

In this interpretation, I am supported by:

- The World Bible Commentary

- Dr James Tabor (Original Bible Project)

- The NET Bible commentators

- AB Davidson (A.B. Davidson, "God," Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Volume II, page 205, multivolume edition, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1905)

#20 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 08:03 PM

And better yet, look at his next statement...

“If the writer of Genesis saw in the plural only an allusion to the angels, this is not to exclude interpretation (b) entirely as the sensus plenior of the passage.”
Well, what IS interpretation (b)??? Here is interpretation (b) on the previous page , 27:

“(b) From the epistle of Barnabus and Justin Martyr, who saw the plural as a reference Christ (g.T. Armstrong......).”

Ray: So, the reference to “Christ” is not to be excluded, he says, but continues , “Certainly the NT sees Christ as active in creation with the Father, and this provided the foundation for the early Church to develop a trinitarian interpretation. But such insights were certainly beyond the horizon of the editor of Genesis...” (P. 28)


Yes, of course he has to do that. He makes the same argument you do - that the Biblical writers didn't understand what they were writing, and it would take a group of squabbling apostates to argue it out thousands of years later, over a couple of centuries, and then come up with something never taught by Christ and the apostles.
The best he can do is whine 'But it doesn't mean it can't mean...', which is the classic argument from silence (one of your more common faults).

In other words, he, like you, is intent on reading back into the text the doctrines of men. You are appealing here to the epistle of Barnabas (an apostate apochryphal work), and Justin Martyr (whom even you agree was not orthodox, and did not believe in the trinity). So you are grasping at straws - and apostate straws at that.

I'm not interested in what your grubby little apostates wrote thousands of years after the inspired writer, nor am I interested in what your grubby little apostates invented.
I'm interested in what the Bible says. Clearly, you are not.




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