Monday, 13 November 2017

Revelation not Reinvention

Paul considered Christ as belonging to the Godhead. That's not because Paul was bad at thinking like a Jew: it's because he saw that as consistent with the Jewish monotheism. Paul wasn't redefining God, or making up another god - he was understanding God as He always was.

The 'Shema O Israel'

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.

wasn't an inner analysis of the Godhead: it flew in the face of pagan polytheism. But there are other verses in the Jewish Scriptures which offered more of a glimpse into God.

For example, in creation God said "let us make..."

The creator 'God' Himself (Elohim) is normally a grammatically plural word. Elohinu אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ is also plural, in Deuteronomy 6:4 itself.

When three men visited Abraham, he responded to them using the title 'Lord'.

David prophesied "the Lord said to my Lord".

Other Messianic Psalms, and prophecies, talk about the son, in a way that links him with the divine.

The Spirit of God was always considered the Divine presence on earth, while at the same time God was understood as sitting upon His throne in heaven. For example, God was saying "Let there be..." while the Spirit of God was moving over the waters. Didn't that imply at least in some sense separate entities?

And the Book of Proverbs personifies Wisdom. It's not unusual then that Paul would say that Jesus has of God been made unto us wisdom.

All of that was possible within the Jewish monotheism stated in the 'Shema O Israel'. So Paul didn't need to part from that in order to discuss the divinity of Jesus Christ!

Notice that the Apostles didn't seem to go to great lengths in his epistles, nor as far as we know in his sermons, to discuss at length God, the 'trinity', though he does deal with it somewhat. If the concept was so inconsistent with the Jewish monotheism, you'd think it would have been a pertinent issue, as pertinent at least as the place of the Torah, and that we would see more evidence of them having to deal with it.

Paul attributes Old Testament verses to Jesus, which the Old Testament attributed to the Lord God.

So, not only the New Testament concept of God, but also the wider gospel story itself, isn't a reinvention of the Old Testament and of prophecy - it's the revelation of what the Old Testament and prophecy always meant or of how it was always going to turn out.

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