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Monday, January 11, 2010

SEPTGOD

Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian ‘proof’ being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the following information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian “proofs,” may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah’s Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. - RDB.


SEPTGOD

(From the RDB Files)

“God” and “a god” in NT and OT Greek

Probably the only bit of scriptural evidence for Jesus to be equated with God that appears to have any real grammatical validity (with the possible exception of Sharp’s Rule which is disputed even by many trinitarian scholars - see SHARP study) is found at Jn 1:1c - “And god [theos] was the word [ho logos].” But even here many trinitarian scholars themselves caution about the lack of the definite article ['the' (or ho in Greek scriptures)] with “god” (theos): “and theos [not ho theos] was the word [ho logos].”

You see, it is quite clear that most inspired New Testament writers (including all the Gospel writers) used the definite article (ho, “the”) with the nominative case theos whenever they really intended the meaning of “God.” And they used theos alone (without the article) to mean “a god” - see the DEF study. (The Hebrew of the OT, unlike the Greek, frequently did not identify ‘God’ by the use of the definite article. Apparently context alone was sufficient in the Hebrew.)

Grammatical “rules” designed to make the definite article (“the”) understood at Jn 1:1c (ho theos [“God”]) – see the DEF study - or to make the word theos (at Jn 1:1c) acquire some esoteric “nature/essence” meaning that somehow also makes Jesus appear to be God – see the QUAL or HARNER study - have been concocted by some trinitarian scholars.

These grammatical “rules” take the word order of Jn 1:1c (a predicate noun without the definite article which comes before its verb) and declare that this “special” word order (actually quite common in NT Greek) somehow causes “a god” (theos) to be “understood” as “God.”

The various trinitarian-concocted rules seriously contradict each other. For example those who want to believe the “rules” that “the” (o, ho) should be understood to be with “god” (theos) at Jn 1:1c (“Definitarians”) believe that those who promote the “quality/essence/ nature” rules (the “Qualitarians”) are terribly, even blasphemously wrong. And those who want to believe the “essence” “rules” for interpreting that Jesus is God at John 1:1c are equally certain that the “Definitarians” are blasphemously, heretically wrong (“Sabellianists”)!

However, both groups are blasphemously, heretically wrong. Jn 1:1c clearly states that “The Word [the pre-existent Christ] was a god.” And a careful, intensive grammatical study of scripture itself proves it. “A god” has taken on an extremely bad connotation in modern times. However, when the scriptures were written, it merely meant “a mighty person” and could be applied to righteous, godly kings, judges and magistrates of Israel, and even God’s angels - please see the BOWGOD or DEF studies.

To say, then, that the Word was “a god” meant that he held a high position of power and authority, but it did not mean that he was equal to God Himself!

Some trinitarians attempt to sidestep the “rules” and their inherent difficulties (and contradictions) by merely making another rule: When you have a sentence with a subject (such as “the Word” in Jn 1:1c) and a predicate noun (such as theos in John 1:1c), these trinitarians will say, the one with the article (“the”) is always the subject and the one without an article is always the predicate noun. In effect they are implying that even if a predicate noun is definite, it will not have the article with it so that it can be identified as a predicate noun! This is simply untrue!

Since most languages (including NT Greek and modern English) usually go from the definite to the indefinite (or specific to general) when using predicate nouns, this “rule” often seems significant. That is, when we use predicate nouns we most often are identifying some specific thing or person (definite) as being one in a certain group or class (indefinite): “the mailman is a veteran;” “the dog in our yard is a poodle;” “my wife [the wife of me] is a lawyer.” We rarely identify or describe something by going from the indefinite to the definite. In other words we rarely say something like “a veteran is the mailman” or “a poodle is the dog in our yard” or “a lawyer is my wife.” So if one has the article and the other does not, it is natural that the one with the article is the subject. But this is not because of "word order" or some rule of grammar. The predicate noun does not have to be without the article.

We also say (and so did those who used NT Greek) “the killer is the butler” (or “the butler is the killer”). In other words it is fairly common to go from one definite to another definite for a specific identification rather than a general identification. (We could also find, at times, where both nouns are indefinite similar to these: “a man is a mammal,” “a tree is a plant,” etc.)

So, for a grammar “expert” to imply that a sentence using a predicate noun must use an article with the subject and no article with the predicate noun so that it can be identified as a predicate noun is entirely improper! A sentence will use an article with the predicate noun (count noun) whenever it is needed to identify it as DEFINITE - Jn 1:4, 8, 20, 21, 25; 4:29; 5:35; 6:41, 51; 7:40; 10:9, 11, 14, 24, 25; 14:6; 15:1 (a) & (b), 5 (a) & (b); 20:15, 31; 21:7 (a) & (b), 12. And it will not use a definite article with the predicate noun (count noun) when it is to be identified as indefinite - Jn 4:19; 6:70; 8:44 (a) & (b); 9:8, 17, 24, 25; 10:1, 13, 33; 12:6; 18:37 (a) & (b).

There is no honest grammatical excuse for the omission of the article in Jn 1:1c (nor in any other comparable, non-prepositional usage found in John’s writings) if it were intended to mean “God.” In fact, even though trinitarian NT grammarians A. T. Robertson and J. H. Moulton are sometimes quoted in an attempt to justify this kind of reasoning, they have also noted the use of the article with the predicate noun when it is meant to identify a “unique or notable” individual. Moulton notes the use of the article in the NT for predicate nouns especially if that predicate noun “is supposed to be a unique or notable instance” (Moulton, p. 183, Vol. 3, 1963). And Robertson specifically agrees with Moulton’s statement and adds that the article also occurs with a predicate noun “when it is the only one of its kind” (Robertson, p. 768.)

Certainly, then, if theos at Jn 1:1c is intended as definite or in any way unique or notable, the article should be with it! And since the article is not with it at Jn 1:1c, it is not definite nor is it a unique or notable instance. In other words, it may be “a god” as one in a class of “mighty ones” which could include powerful kings, judges, and angels. But it cannot be “God” (or anything synonymous) who is certainly unique or notable (and even “the only one of its kind”)!

Parallel examples in the Gospel of John show that John uses the article with predicate nouns when he intends a definite noun or “a unique or notable instance.” For example, “The Prophet are you” (Jn 1:21) has the predicate noun with the definite article (“the Prophet”) coming before its verb and the subject (“you”) coming after the verb. The only reason John used the article here is because it is a unique and notable instance. In fact ‘the Prophet’ here is “the only one of its kind”! At other times when he meant “a prophet” (one of many in a certain class), he did not use the article: Jn 4:19 (one of the closest grammatical parallels to Jn 1:1c in John’s writings) and Jn 9:17.

* * * * *

Unfortunately, none of the parallel constructions with Jn 1:1c in the NT use theos (‘God’/’a god’). This makes no real difference to a proper understanding of the NT Greek usage, of course, since John uses other nouns which are in parallel constructions to John 1:1c (See the DEF, PRIMER, or QUAL studies). But to prevent any possible argument, it would be nice to find a similar construction which actually uses theos.

To find the predicate noun theos in a construction similar to Jn 1:1c we must go to the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament. This has its problems, however, since it is well-known that the many translators of the Septuagint had greatly varying degrees of knowledge of the Greek language (and varying desires for accuracy).

Yes, some of the Septuagint translators apparently were guilty of rendering the Greek in a virtual word-for-word transfer from the Hebrew text.[1] This, of course, prevents us from discovering any knowledge of the Greek grammar itself of that time in the works of such translators.

The Septuagint, too, uses the definite article ('the' or ho in scripural Greek) to identify the only true God. For example, in Genesis the “non-prepositional” nominative case theos (as also found at Jn 1:1c) is used 177 times and 175 of them use the definite article to denote the Most High God.

The only 2 apparent exceptions I have found are Gen. 21:33 and 31:50. But Gen. 21:33 may have an understood verb (e.g., “[who is] God eternal”). If this is so, then this may well be a “shorthand” or abbreviated form which some Bible writers used. This “shorthand” was used at times (especially when using “customary” phrases), and when it was used it frequently left out verbs and definite articles that are then supposed to be “understood” to be there - see the MARTIN study (“Paul’s Use of the Anarthrous Theos”). But even if it is not in the “shorthand” form, “God eternal” in this scripture is obviously an appositive. Appositives often have irregular article usage and frequently drop the article even when the noun is definite - see DEF (note #10).

Gen. 31:50, the only other apparent exception to the rule that the article with theos identifies the only true God in Genesis, is an instance of the abbreviated “shorthand” discussed above. The verb (“is”) is missing and must be understood: “God [is] witness between me and you.” This is also a well known customary phrase that is often abbreviated in NT and OT. Therefore the article is to be understood. So there are really no unexplained exceptions in all 177 instances in Genesis to the rule that “the god” (ho theos) identifies the Most High God! Obviously the Septuagint translator of Genesis used the article with the non-prepositional, nominative case theos to identify God!

Now, since I wish to examine scriptures in Judges and 3 Kings (1 Kings in most English Bibles) which are comparable to Jn 1:1c, let’s see if the Septuagint translators of those books also used the article (“the,” ho) with theos to identify the only true God.

Here are all the uses of the non-prepositional nominative case theos found in:



Judges

1: 7 ho theos (subject) 

3:28 kurios [Jehovah] ho theos (subj.)

4:23 ho theos (subj.)

6:31 theos (an. p.n. precedes verb) 

6:40 ho theos (subj.)

7:14 ho theos (subj.)

9: 7 ho theos (subj.)

9:23 ho theos (subj.)

9:56 ho theos (subj.)

9:57 ho theos (subj.)

13:9 ho theos (subj.)

15:19 ho theos (subj.)

16:23 ho theos (subj.)

18:10 ho theos (subj.)


3 Kings (1 Kings in English Bibles)


1:47 ho theos (subj.)

2:23 ho theos (subj.) 

5: 5 ho theos (subj.)

5: 7 ho theos (subj.)

8:23 theos (anarthrous subj.)

8:27 ho theos (subj.)

8:60(a) ho theos (subj.)

8:60(b) theos (an. p.n./no verb)

11:10 ho theos (subj.)

18:21 ho theos (p.n.)

18:24(a) ho theos (subj.)

18:24(b) theos (an. p.n./no verb)

18:27 theos (an. p.n. precedes verb)

18:37 ho theos (p.n.)

18:39(a) ho theos (p.n./no verb)

18:39(b) ho theos (p.n./no verb)

19:2 ho theos (subj.)

21:10 ho theos (subj.)




The only uses of theos without the article are Judges 6:31; 3 Kings 8:23, 60(b); 18:24(b), and 18:27. All the others (27 out of 32) use the article and are used to denote the only true God!

The only use of theos without the article in Judges is used to denote “a god” (Judges 6:31) as translated by trinitarian scholars and translators themselves! - see The Septuagint Version , Zondervan, 1970. (And every one of the 16 trinitarian Bibles I have examined, including KJV, ASV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, etc. agrees with this rendering.) So the Septuagint translator of Judges clearly used the definite article with theos to denote the Most High God (and “a god” was indicated, according to all trinitarian renderings, by the OMISSION of the article)!

3 Kings 8:23 can (and probably does) intend “god” - see 1 Kings 8:23 in NJB, Mo, Beck, LB, GNB, NEB, and Tanakh (JPS). 3 Kings 8:60 (b) and 18:24 (b) both refer to the only true God, all right, but both are without a verb and are probably, therefore, in the “shorthand” mentioned above which often causes the article to be understood. (They both have the article in the original Hebrew.) And 3 Kings 18:27 very plainly denotes “a god” as most (if not all) Bible translations make clear (and it is also without the article in the original Hebrew).

So, again, the Septuagint writers of Judges and 3 Kings always used the article with the non-prepositional nominative case theos (sometimes, rarely, with an understood article: “shorthand” or appositives) when referring to “God” and did not use the article with theos when referring to “a god”! This is exactly the case with the writer of John 1:1.

So for those who say there are no parallels to John 1:1c (in spite of John 4:19) to be found in the scriptures: Judges 6:31 (by a Septuagint writer who always uses the article for “God” and not for “a god”) says literally “if theos (‘god’) he is...” This is an instance of the predicate noun theos without an article coming before its verb just as in Jn 1:1c! And it is universally understood to mean “a god” by trinitarian scholars and translators themselves!!! And, obviously, should be in Jn 1:1c also - “the Word was a god”!

And, for those trinitarians who say Jesus cannot be called (or understood to be called) ho theos because using the definite article (ho) with theos that way would make him the entire Godhead [2], notice that Jehovah, the Father alone is called ho theos as a predicate noun in 3 Kings 18:21 - “If is Lord [Jehovah] ho theos, follow him.” This is translated, “If Jehovah is God [ho theos], follow him.”

Also notice 3 Kings 18:39 - “truly [Jehovah] ho theos; he ho theos.” This means “Truly Jehovah IS God; he IS God!” - see ASV, KJIIV, LB, JB, NJB. (Of course we see the same thing in the NT. E.g., Jn 6:27 - “The Father, God himself, has set his seal” - JB, where the Father alone is called God, ho theos in the actual NT Greek.) Not only is Jehovah being called ho theos as a predicate noun here, but, notice, there are no verbs. If there were truly any validity to the trinitarian assertion that the meaning for the predicate noun which precedes its verb is greatly different from the one which follows its verb, the writer of 3 Kings would never have left the verb out in this verse! Since there really is no such differentiation in the Bible Greek, it was not necessary to use the verbs. Whether before or after the understood verb, we see the predicate noun ho theos applied to the Father alone here. This can be done simply because the Father (Jehovah) alone IS the entire “Godhead”! He, alone, is the God (ho theos)! Jesus (or kings or judges or angels, etc.) are not ho theos even though they may be called theos (“a god”) in their own right (see the BOWGOD study).

Especially note the Greek constructions of 3 Kings 18:27 ('god he is') and Judges 6:31 ('if god he is'). 3 Kings 18:27 has a predicate noun (theos) which is without the article and which precedes its verb (as in John 1:1c). And it clearly means “he is a god”! The trinitarian-devised grammatical “rules” to make “a god” mean “God” (“the god”) are absolutely wrong as far as the writer of 3 Kings is concerned! The writer of Judges also confirms that judgment. At Judges 6:31 he has written “if theos he is.” This is translated “if he is a god” by trinitarian translators and scholars!

Again, this is a predicate noun without the article which precedes its verb (as in John 1:1c). The trinitarian-concocted grammatical “rules” to make “a god” mean “God” (“the god”) are clearly wrong as far as the writer of Judges is concerned (and as verified by most trinitarian translators themselves)!

One possible problem with the grammar and syntax of the Septuagint is the claim that some of its writers were sometimes so literal in translating the Hebrew into Greek that they would merely change the Hebrew words into Greek and retain the original Hebrew word order, article usage, etc. of the original Hebrew. And, of course, any grammatical rules applied to NT Greek would probably not also apply to OT Hebrew. Therefore, if the translator didn’t render it into grammatical Bible Greek but merely used the word order of the original Hebrew, an anarthrous OT Hebrew predicate noun before its verb would not be significant.

Yes, a literal translation into Greek which retained that Hebrew word order would not have the same significance as something that had been originally written in the Greek, following Greek grammar and syntax rules! However, this does not seem to be the case with the use of the article with “God” in Judges and 3 Kings.

There were a number of translators who wrote the Septuagint (tradition claims that at least 70 expert Jewish scholars were involved). It is not surprising, therefore, to find (as in the NT itself) that there are a number of different styles found in the various books of the Septuagint. Some books are much more literally translated than others.

So when I noticed the significance of the Greek grammar of Judges 6:31 and 3 Kings 18:21-37, I had to determine if the word order and article usage of these scriptures had been affected by a too literal translation of the original Hebrew by the Septuagint writers of Judges and 3 Kings.

First I examined the use of the article with the non-prepositional nominative case theos (as also found in Jn 1:1c) in these two Bible books. I found that the Septuagint translators (of Judges and 3 Kings) had not been influenced by the use (or non-use) of the article with “God” in the original Hebrew.

In more than half of the verses listed above for Judges and 3 Kings the use (or non-use) of the article with “God”/“god” was different in the Greek Septuagint from the use (or non-use) of the article in the original Hebrew!

Then, looking at word order, I found that Judges 6:31 in the Hebrew was “if god he” with no verb. So the Septuagint writer was free to put the verb wherever he wanted or leave it out entirely. And he chose to put that verb after the predicate noun (“If theos he is”) to mean “a god” according to trinitarian scholars! They obviously do not believe it means “if he is God” (per Colwell, Walter Martin, et al.) or “if he is completely filled with the QUALITIES [or ‘ESSENCE’] of God” (per Harner, Wallace, et al.) or any other trinitarian interpretation frequently misapplied to the parallel Jn 1:1c!

And also at 3 Kings 18:27 we can see that the Hebrew was “for god he” with no verb. So this Septuagint writer was also free to put the verb wherever he wanted. And he, too, chose to put that verb after the predicate noun (“for theos he is”) to mean “a god”! It does not mean “for he is God” or “for he possesses all the qualities of God” (nor does it verify any other trinitarian-concocted “rule” for the parallel Jn 1:1c)! Here, then we have two clear examples of the anarthrous theos coming before its verb and plainly meaning (according to trinitarian scholars) “a god”! The rules invented by some modern trinitarians to “explain” that Jn 1:1c means “the Word was God” are completely false!

We know that Jehovah is the only personal name of the Father (Is. 63:16; Is. 64:8; Deut. 32:6; Ps. 89:26, 27 [cf. Heb. 1:5 and Ps. 2:7] in ASV, KJIIV, Young’s, and other Bibles which properly use “Jehovah”).

Jehovah is never called “the Son;” “the Messiah;” “the Firstborn;” “the Only Begotten;” etc. because he is an entirely different person (the Father).

We never see the Father with Jehovah (nor the Father with God) simply because the Father is Jehovah (and the Father is God). However we frequently see the Son, the Messiah, with Jehovah (and with God), because the Son is not Jehovah (nor God) but a different person (Ps. 110:1 [compare Acts 2:33-36 and Eph. 1:17, 20]; Micah 5:4; Ps. 2:1, 2 [compare Acts 4:25-27]; Ps. 2:7 [compare Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5]; Is. 53:10 [Christian scholars recognize that all of Is. 53 refers to the Messiah]).

Therefore, knowing that Jehovah is the Father only, we must (if we are to know God at all) carefully examine a number of significant scriptures:

2 Kings 19:15, 19 - “O Jehovah, the God of Israel,... thou art the God, even thou alone .... that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou Jehovah art God alone.” - ASV. “God” is ho theos (“the god”) here in 4 Kings 19:15, 19 of the Septuagint.

Ps. 86:1, 10 - “...O Jehovah,...You alone are God.” - KJIIV. “God” is ho theos in the Septuagint (Ps. 85:10).

Is. 37:16, 20 - “O Jehovah, ... thou art the God, even thou alone” - ASV. The Septuagint reads: “O Lord [Jehovah] of Hosts, ...thou alone art the God [ho theos] of every kingdom of the world .... thou art God [ho theos] alone.”

Is. 45:18, 21 - “For thus says Jehovah .... I am God, and none else (is).” - KJIIV. “I am God [ho theos]” in the Septuagint - Is. 45:21, 22.

Jer. 10:10 - “But Jehovah is the true God; he is the living God” - ASV.

John 17:1, 3 - “Father, ... this is everlasting life, that they may know you, the ONLY true God” - KJIIV.

1 Thess. 1:9, 10 - “serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven” - KJV.

We find, then, that Jehovah alone, who is the Father alone, is God ALONE!

Jehovah is called (and calls himself) the God. This is written as “I am ho theos.” Even many trinitarian Bible scholars (the ‘Qualitarians’ at least) admit this statement in Bible Greek would mean this person alone is the entire “Godhead”! (That is why they insist that Jn 1:1c cannot mean ‘the Word is the god’! The definite article with theos, they say, would mean that the Word is the entire “Godhead” by himself! - But see the DEF study, f.n. #12.)

So when we find Jehovah, the Father only, consistently and repeatedly described as ‘he is the god (ho theos)[3], and we find grammatical constructions parallel to Jn 1:1c (‘god is the word’) with the anarthrous (‘without the article’) predicate noun (theos) coming before its verb and clearly meaning ‘a god,[4] then we can understand the identification of the only true God (Jehovah) and the one he sent forth, Jesus Christ. “Father, .... This is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent forth.” - John 17:1, 3.

Yes, the entire “Godhead” is the Father (Jehovah) alone! It does not include the Son (1 Cor. 11:3; John 17:1, 3; 1 Cor. 8:6) in some mysterious “trinity”!



...........................................................................





NOTES



1. This may have been a result of poor knowledge of the Greek itself and/or because of excessive devotion to the exact literal wording of the Hebrew original by the Hebrew translator.

2. “Qualitarians” (those trinitarians who insist that John 1:1c must be understood to show a “qualitative” equality with God) say this. They also say the “Definitarians” (those trinitarians who insist that “the” must be understood at John 1:1c) are practicing heresy! - see the QUAL study.



3. And even in the NT we find the definite article used with the non-prepositional nominative case ‘God’ (theos) to describe the Father! - E.g., John 3:16, 17; 6:27; Acts 2:32; 3:26; 5:30, 31; 13:30, 33; Ro. 1:9; 1 Cor. 1:9; 11:3 - the entire “Godhead”.



4. The examples from the Septuagint do not have the subject of the sentence as a separate word because it is unmistakably included in the verb itself in the NT Greek language. For example, ego eimi means ‘I am,’ but it is unnecessary to use ego (‘I’) since the verb eimi, by itself, includes the meaning of ‘I’ (and only ‘I’) - like 'soy' in Spanish! Therefore, the lists of NT examples of parallel grammatical usages to John 1:1c given by all the trinitarian writers and scholars I have examined have included similar ‘understood-subject-in-verb’ examples (e.g. John 10:36 listed as parallel to John 1:1c by E. C. Colwell; D. B. Wallace; R. H. Countess; etc.). I have not always included them among my examples in my other study papers simply because they could be confused with examples which seem to use participles as subjects, and they are not quite as parallel to Jn 1:1c as some other examples - see the DEF and PRIMER studies. The examples here in the Septuagint, however, do not have this confusing exception to the rule.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

HUMPTY

HUMPTY

(From the RDB Files)


(DEFINITIONS OF “GOD”)



“And only one [day] for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t - till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.” - Ch. 6, Through the Looking-Glass



* * * * * * * *

When the ancient Hebrews used the word elohim, they meant only one of two things: (1) a single person who was considered “a god,” a mighty person in a higher sense of the word or (2) “gods” (by which they meant more than one mighty person - each being a “god” in its own right). The word elohim is plural and that plurality could be understood as either in number (“gods”) or excellence, majesty (“God”) - see the ELOHIM study.

Elohim was used to refer to (1) pagan gods (plural in number) - Judges 10:6; (2) a pagan god (a single person considered to be of major importance - plural of majesty) - Judges 11:24; (3) the one true God of Israel (a single person, the Father, Most High over all - plural of excellence) - Deut. 6:4; Exod. 3:15; (4) angels of God (“gods” - plural in number) - Ps. 8:5; Heb. 2:7; (5) judges of Israel (“gods” - plural in number) - Ps. 82:1, 6; John 10:33, 34; (6) human king of Israel (“god” - plural of majesty) - footnotes for Ps. 82:1; 45:6 in the NIVSB. - See the BOWGOD study.

However, it was never used in the Hebrew scriptures to mean “more than one person in one god”! Instead, when elohim was used for one God (or “god”), it invariably was intended as one person! And when it was used in its numerically plural sense, it invariably referred to a number of persons, each of whom was a single god! There simply was no thought of a multiple-person God!

When the famous 70 Jewish scholars began translating the Hebrew OT scriptures into the Greek Septuagint (around 200 B. C.), they translated elohim into the singular theos (God/god) whenever the “plural of majesty” had been intended by elohim. And they used the Greek theoi (gods) whenever the “plural of number” had been intended by elohim. And when we examine the Septuagint, we find that when the God of Israel, Jehovah, is being described, it always has elohim translated into the singular theos.

There is no clear, honest evidence that the Jews (including all the inspired prophets) ever considered their one (echad) elohim as a “multiple person” one God - see ISRAEL study. For us to even consider such a concept, we must have some clear-cut, honest proof (scriptural and historical). We must not come up with our own definition of “God” when we find it in the Bible so that it fits our desired meanings. It must be the intended original meaning.

Deut. 6:4 literally says (in both the ancient Hebrew scriptures and the Septuagint): “Hear Israel, Jehovah the God [elohim, theos] of us, Jehovah is one [echad, heis].” The Jews never considered “Jehovah Elohim” as anything but a single person. The singular personal name (Jehovah) shows this. The Jews’ usage of the word elohim shows this. The statement “Jehovah is one” shows this. The Jews’ teachings, writings, traditions, etc. for thousands of years show this. The writings of men of other nations (both friends and enemies) over thousands of years show this.

If, somehow, Deut. 6:4 really meant “Jehovah is one” in a figurative sense (different persons composing this “one person” are all united in purpose), it would be made clear from context as all other such figurative uses are - e.g. John 17:22; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:14. And it’s entirely incredible that Moses himself, and all the many inspired prophets down to the time of the Apostle John, never clearly revealed such vital information. That it had to be “revealed” hundreds of years after the completion of the inspired scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16, 17, RSV) by men who were already actively adding other non-scriptural apostasies to Church doctrines (1 Tim. 4:1-3; see HIST study) makes it virtually certain that it is terribly wrong.

The only way trinitarians can overcome clear scriptural statements that the Messiah is not God (and is not Jehovah) is to construct a conveniently variable definition for “God” and “Jehovah.” “It means just what I choose it to mean [whenever I want it to mean that] - neither more nor less.”

They have to define some uses of “God” (and the singular personal name “Jehovah”) as meaning “the Father alone.” Other uses they will tell you mean “the Son alone.” And still other uses mean “all three persons of the Godhead (or some other combination that fits their doctrine)”! There are no contextual clues for such interpretations. Surely, if the doctrine were true, the inspired Bible writers would frequently give some clue as to their intended meaning: “God the Son said to Abraham ....”; “God the Holy Spirit brought Paul to ...”; “Jesus God [or God the Messiah] was sitting at the right hand of Jehovah God [or God the Father].” We should see “God” (without identifying modifiers) only when “all three persons” are being spoken of. Otherwise there should usually be modifiers to explain what is being intended. Unless, of course, God (and Jehovah) is truly only one person - the Father alone.

Imagine, for example, how ridiculous it would be if we had a number of persons named Mary and never specified them (or only identified one of them): “Mary washed Peter’s feet while Mary was in the kitchen cooking. But Mary, unfortunately, couldn’t be there since she was traveling to Bethany with Mary.” Instead, the Bible writers frequently specify which Mary is being referred to: “Mary the Magdalene,” “Mary, the mother of Jesus,” “Mary the sister of Lazarus,” “Mary the mother of James and Joses,” etc.

Yes, look up all the uses of “Mary” in Young’s Concordance. Notice how many are specifically identified even in the short descriptions found in Young’s. If you look up the scriptures listed there, you’ll find that nearly all are specifically identified. - See the TC study: ‘Unitized Title’ and endnote.)

If we can expect such concern for identifying the right person (among those sharing the same name) in the case of those named “Mary,” we should surely expect at least as much concern for those “sharing” the personal name of God!!

Do we really accept the claim that in the 7000 times “Jehovah” is used it is applied to one or another  (or sometimes all) of the 3 persons of a "trinity,' but is never specifically identified (other than “the Father,” of course)? And do we really believe the claim that of the thousands of uses of “God” it is never specified just which person of the "trinity" it is (except for “the Father,” of course)?

“Yea, let them be confounded and perish; That they may know that thou [singular personal pronoun] alone, whose name is Jehovah [singular masculine personal name], art the Most High over all the earth.” - Ps. 83:17,18, ASV.

If the trinity doctrine were true, it would be entirely incredible that God is so often called “God the Father,” but Jesus is never called “God the Son,” and the Holy Spirit is never called “God the Holy Spirit”! Why is the one so often specifically identified while the others are not? (Because God is the Father only - “Who alone art truly God” - John 17:1, 3, NEB.) - There is no trinity!

I have seen a trinitarian booklet claim that a few times plural verbs are found with elohim. This is supposed to be evidence that elohim is one God composed of multiple persons. This booklet lists 4 places where this is supposed to occur in the Bible: Gen. 20:13 (“they caused me to wander”); Genesis 35:7 (“they appeared to him”); 2 Sam. 7:23 (“they went”); and Psalm 58:11 (“they judge”).

But there are thousands of places where “God” has a singular verb and pronouns! What is the significance of only four examples that seem to make a different statement?

And are these 4 examples really exceptions? I have three Hebrew Interlinears: (1)The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, John R. Kohlenberger (JRK), Zondervan, 1980; (2) The Interlinear Bible, Green, Baker Book House, 1982; and (3) The Interlineary Hebrew and English Psalter (Psalms only), Bagster, Zondervan, 1979 printing - all are trinitarian publishing companies.

Gen. 20:13 “HE make wander” - JRK; “had made me wander” - Green.

Gen. 35:7 “THEY appeared to him” - JRK; “revealed HIMSELF” - Green.

2 Sam. 7:23 “THEY went” - JRK; “went out” - Green.

Ps. 58:11 (12) “ones judging” - JRK; “judging” - Green; “judging” - Bagster.

It’s not surprising that trinitarian-published interlinears would support a trinitarian interpretation. But notice that at least one trinitarian interlinear (two for Gen. 20:13 and Ps. 58:11) in each of the above four examples has not given such an interpretation!

It’s certainly possible that in only four verses (out of thousands) the Hebrew manuscript is ambiguous enough or simply not clearly understood well enough so that a trinitarian interpretation can be one possibility. This is not proof nor even good evidence. For example, at 2 Sam. 13:39 it says of King David “she longed” to go to Absalom. Proof positive that King David is actually the Holy Spirit (which is always feminine in Hebrew), right? No, we know from thousands of other scriptures that David nearly always has masculine verbs just as we would expect. But if I wanted King David to be God, I could make my own definitions of “David” and “God” which would “prove” my case! (See the DAVID study.) No matter what straightforward scriptural statement anyone could find proving that David is not God, my variable definitions for “God” and “David” would invalidate them. Is this the kind of “proof” we should find acceptable?

However, it appears that a trinitarian interpretation in these four verses is not even an honest possibility. When I examined a number of trinitarian Bible translations, I found that not even the most avid (nor the ones which were most “free” in their translating - such as GNB and LB) translated any one of these four scriptures in any way resembling a trinitarian interpretation. This simply would not be if there were the slightest chance that this might be an honest interpretation. Not only did GNB, LB, RSV, KJV, NIV, The Amplified Bible, the Septuagint, and Lamsa’s translation from the ancient Syriac not give any indication of a plural verb in these scriptures, but many of them indicated a singular verb and pronoun instead.

For example, GNB, RSV, AB, NIV say “revealed himself” at Gen. 35:7. And NIV, Sept., and Lamsa have “went out to redeem as a people for himself” at 2 Sam. 7:23. And at Ps. 58:11 GNB, NIV, KJV, Septuagint, and Lamsa all say “A God who judges [’judgeth’ - KJV],” and “judges” [”judgeth”] is strictly a singular verb.

* * * * * *

Witness: “Christ cannot be Jehovah. He is described in the Bible as sitting at the right hand of Jehovah.” Ps. 110:1.

Trinitarian: “But ‘Jehovah’ in this scripture means the Father only (or, possibly the Father and the Holy Spirit).”

Witness: But you said ‘Jehovah’ means the Father, Holy Spirit, and the Son at Deut. 6:4.”

Trinitarian: “Yes, that is what it means in many scriptures.”

Witness: “But the Bible never identifies Jehovah in different ways in the thousands of instances it uses the Only Personal Name of God. When he is identified, it is always “the Father” alone. How do you know the many variations in meaning of that name when the Bible never distinguishes them?”

Trinitarian: “Because we know Christ is equally God. Therefore, ‘Jehovah’ must have these meanings.” [Such fallacious reasoning is known as ‘Circular Reasoning.’]

Witness: “Trinitarians say Jesus was fully God at the time the Bible describes him as being with God and when he called God ‘my God’.”

Trinitarian: “Sometimes ‘God’ means the Father only; sometimes it means the Son only; sometimes....” [Such fallacious reasoning comes from ‘Unsupported Pre-suppositions’ (or just plain wishful thinking).]

* * * * * *

“When I use a word, it means just what I want it to mean - neither more nor less.” (I.e., “I make the rules: Heads I win; tails you lose.”)



Such an approach to logic and reasoning is often identified under the category of “stacking the deck” and is, for obvious reasons, considered an improper method.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

NAME

NAME - What’s In a Name? (From the RDB Files)

“Jesus,” “Immanuel,” and Is. 9:6

Another fairly common trinitarian so-called “proof” that “Jesus is God” uses the meanings of personal names. It is very true that personal names were extremely important to God and to his people as recorded in the Bible. The meanings of their names were often carefully selected by their parents and were sometimes changed during their lifetimes because of changing circumstances.

Many trinitarians will tell you that, since the name “Jesus” (probably “Yehoshua” in Hebrew) means “Jehovah is Salvation” (or “Jehovah Saves”), then Jesus is Jehovah.

If that were true, then all the other people in the Bible whose names had that same meaning (which includes all those named “Jesus,” “Joshua,” “Jeshuah,” and “Isaiah”) are also Jehovah!

It is very interesting that Joshua was originally named ‘Hoshea’ (“Salvation” - p. 303, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publ.), but Moses began to call him ‘Joshua’ (Yehoshua: ‘Jehovah is Salvation’ or ‘Jehovah the Savior’ - p. 358; “[Jehovah] Saves” - Young’s Concordance; “Jehovah Saved” - Strong’s Concordance) at a certain point. - Numbers 13:8, 16. Obviously Moses meant in no way to imply that Hoshea had become Jehovah! The addition of “Jehovah” to Hoshea’s name merely indicated Moses’ understanding of Hoshea’s loyalty to Jehovah (and that any salvation that might occur through the man Joshua most certainly came originally from Jehovah!)

(Notice that the actual name for “Joshua” in the original language of the NT is identical to the name for “Jesus.” See Heb. 4:8 and compare Heb. 6:20 in the NT Greek portion of a New Testament Greek-English interlinear Bible. Also see Acts 7:45 and compare Acts 16:7 and Matt. 26:51.)

Not only that, but hundreds of others with names similar to “Elijah” (“God Jehovah”), “Abijah” (“Father Jehovah”), “Eliathah” (“God is Come” - Young’s), “Jehu”[1] (“Jehovah is He” - Today’s Dictionary of the Bible; Strong’s Concordance; Young’s Concordance; and Gesenius), etc. are also obviously not Jehovah Himself!

It is certain that many (if not most) of the personal names of God’s people had meanings which were meant to honor God, not to glorify the person who bore that personal name.[2]

I hardly think anyone would consider Ananias (Acts 5:1-6) as being Jehovah simply because his name means “Jehovah has shown favor” or “Jehovah is Gracious” - p. 35, Young’s Analytical Concordance; p. 673, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible (TDOTB), Bethany House Publishers, 1982. Nor is it necessary to imagine that this doomed wretch was in any way the subject or the object of “Jehovah’s Favor”!

Of course it is possible that Ananias’ parents meant that their new son was a favor from Jehovah, but this interpretation is only one possibility. It is just as possible that the name was intended solely as a praise to Jehovah for all He has done (for mankind generally and for Israel specifically). It is certain that no one should believe that this man who was destroyed by God was either Jehovah Himself or a “favor from Jehovah” - no matter what his personal name actually meant!

Should Jesus really be considered to be God because he was symbolically “named” Immanuel (Is. 7:14; Mt. 1:23) which means “God is with us”? No more so than Gabriel was calling himself God when he visited Mary and declared: “The Lord is with thee” - Luke 1:28. Nor did Zacharias mean that John the Baptizer (his new son) was actually God when he was asked, “I wonder what this child [John] will turn out to be?”, and he answered, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to visit his people and has redeemed them.” - Luke 1:66-68, LB.

Gabriel and Zacharias (Zechariah) meant exactly what Israelites have meant throughout thousands of years when saying “God is with us” and similar statements. They meant “God has favored us” or “God is helping us”! - Joshua 1:17; 1 Samuel 10:7; 2 Chron. 15:2-4, 9 (cf., Jer. 1:8; Haggai 1:13).[3] But if we insist on trinitarian-type “proof,” then Gabriel must have meant that he (Gabriel) is God! And Zacharias (whose own name means ‘Jehovah is renowned’ - p. 678, TDOTB) must have meant that John the Baptizer is God! – Also see 1 Sam. 17:37; 2 Sam. 14:17; 1 Ki. 8:57; 1 Chron. 17:2; 22:18; 2 Chron. 1:1; 35:21; 36:23; Ezra 1:3; Is. 8:8, 10; Is. 41:10; Amos 5:14; Zech 8:23. (Also see “Immanuel” in the Insight books.)


This understanding is seen throughout the Bible. For example, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” - 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, RSV.

Or, in a Psalm many of us apply to ourselves or our friends:

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me - ASV.


The widely acclaimed trinitarian Bible dictionary, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Vol. 2, pp. 86, 87, states:

“The name Emmanuel [or Immanuel] which occurs in Isa. 7:14 and 8:8 means lit. ‘God [is] with us’ .... In the context of the times of Isaiah and King Ahaz the name is given to a child as yet not conceived with the promise that the danger now threatening Israel from Syria and Samaria will pass ‘before the child knows how to refuse evil and choose the good.’ Thus, the child and its name is a sign of God’s gracious saving presence among his people .... [The name Emmanuel] could be a general statement that the birth and naming of the special child will indicate that the good hand of God is upon us.” - p. 86. And, “The point of the present passage [Matt. 1:23] is to see in the birth of Jesus a saving act of God, comparable with the birth of the first Emmanuel. Both births signify God’s presence with his people through a child.” - p. 87.


Or as noted trinitarian scholar Murray J. Harris tells us:

“Matthew [in Matt. 1:23] is not saying, ‘Someone who is “God” is now physically with us,’ but ‘God is acting on our behalf in the person of Jesus.’” - p. 258, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.
(emphasis added)

* * * * *

Isaiah 9:6

Many (but not all) trinitarians will tell you that Is. 9:6 proves that Jesus is God.

Is. 9:6 says –

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

All Christians, I believe, accept this son as being the Christ. Some will tell you that since the meaning of this symbolic name includes the words “Mighty God, Eternal Father,” then Jesus is the Mighty God and the Eternal Father”

But there are at least two other ways this personal name has been interpreted by reputable Bible scholars. (1) The titles within the name (e.g., “Mighty God”) are intended in their secondary, subordinate senses. (2) the titles within the name are meant to praise God the Father, not the Messiah.

First, there is the possibility that the words (or titles) found in the literal meaning of the name apply directly to the Messiah all right but in a subordinate sense. In other words, Christ is “a mighty god” in the same sense that God’s angels were called “gods” and the judges of Israel were called “gods” by God himself (also by Jesus - John 10:34, 35), and Moses was called “a god” by Jehovah himself. This is the interpretation of Is. 9:6 by the WT Society at the time of this writing (1986).

Yes, men and angels were called gods (elohim - Hebrew; theos - Greek) in a proper, but subordinate, sense by Jehovah and his inspired Bible writers (see the DEF and BOWGOD studies). Although they were given this elevated title in a proper sense (not false gods), it was obviously with the clear understanding that it in no way implied a comparison with the Most High, Only True God. (A bank employee calling his boss, the head of the bank, “the president” would certainly not imply an equality of position, power, etc. with “The President” [of the USA].)[4]

The word “god” as understood by those who used that term simply meant a “mighty one” - see Young’s Concordance. In fact the word “Mighty” as found at Is. 9:6 (Gibbor in the original Hebrew) is also applied to the angels at Ps. 103:20 (see a modern concordance such as the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). It is interesting that the ancient translation of the Old Testament that Jesus frequently quoted, the Septuagint Version, renders Is. 9:6: “and his [the Messiah’s] name is called the Angel [aggelos, messenger] of Great Counsel.” (And a footnote in Zondervan’s Edition adds that the Alexandrine text renders it, “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty One, Potentate, Prince of Peace, Father of the age to come.”) The very early (ca. 160 A.D.) Christian Justin Martyr quoted Is. 9:6 also as “The Angel of mighty counsel” - “Dialogue With Trypho,” ch. LXXVI.

So, just as “Lord” was applied to anyone in authority: angels, masters over servants, husbands, etc., so, too, could “god” be applied to anyone (good or bad) who was considered a “mighty person.” Of course only one person could be called the “Most High God,” or the “Only True God,” or the “Almighty God”!

In the same way, “Eternal Father” could mean that the Messiah is one who has been given eternal life and through him God has brought eternal life to many others. (We might make the comparison that the Heavenly Father has brought men to life in this world through their earthly fathers.) This would be intended in a clearly subordinate sense and not to take anything away from the ultimate honor, glory, worship, etc. due the Most High God and Father in heaven - Jehovah.

At any rate, even trinitarians do not confuse the two separate persons of the Father and the Son. They do not say the Son is the Father. They say the Father and the Son are two separate individual persons who are equally “God”!

Therefore, since we obviously cannot take “Eternal Father” in the literal sense to mean that Jesus is the Father[5], we cannot take the rest of that same name (esp. ‘Mighty God’) in its literal highest sense and say that Jesus is Mighty God, etc., either.

In addition to the distinct possibility of the use of the secondary subordinate meanings of the titles such as “God/god” as explained by Bible language scholars (see the BOWGOD study), we can see by the actual renderings of some trinitarian Bible translators at Is. 9:6 that they believe such subordinate meanings were intended by the inspired Bible writer.

Instead of “Mighty God,” Dr. James Moffatt translated this part of Is. 9:6 as “a divine hero;” Byington has “Divine Champion;” The New English Bible has “In Battle Godlike;” The Catholic New American Bible (1970 and 1991 revision) renders it “God-Hero;” and the REB says “Mighty Hero.” Even that most-respected of Biblical Hebrew language experts, Gesenius, translated it “mighty hero” - p. 45, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon.

Also, The NIV Study Bible, in a f.n. for Ps 45:6, tells us:

“In this psalm, which praises the king and especially extols his ‘splendor and majesty’ (v. 3), it is not unthinkable that he was called ‘god’ as a title of honor [cf. Isa 9:6].” (Bracketed information is included in original footnote; emphasis is mine - RDB.)

In addition, Rotherham has rendered “Eternal Father” as “father of progress,” and the New English Bible translates it: “father of a wide realm.”

The above-mentioned Bible translations by trinitarian scholars which apply the words in the name at Is. 9:6 in a subordinate sense directly to Jesus clearly show that they do not believe this scripture implies an equality with Jehovah the Father.[6]

But, some may ask, if ‘a mighty god’ were intended in this name, why is “God” given a capital ‘G’ in most translations of this name?

The answer is that in English translations of names we often find the major words within a name (or title) are capitalized. This is similar to the way book titles, names of buildings, ships, etc. are written in English. ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ ‘The World Trade Center,’ ‘The Empire State Building,’ ‘Allure of the Seas’ (cruise ship), etc., are modern examples.

................................... 

And second, another way competent Bible scholars have interpreted the meaning of this name is with the understanding that it (as with many, if not most, of the other Israelites’ personal names) does not apply directly to the Messiah (as we have already seen with “Elijah,” “Abijah,” etc.) but is, instead, a statement praising the Father, Jehovah God.

Personal names in the ancient Hebrew and Greek are often somewhat cryptic to us today. The English Bible translator must fill in the missing minor words (especially in names composed of two or more Hebrew words) such as “my,” “is,” “of,” etc. in whatever way he thinks best in order to make sense for us today in English.

For instance, two of the best Bible concordances (Young’s and Strong’s) and a popular trinitarian Bible dictionary (Today’s Dictionary of the Bible) differ greatly on the exact meaning of many Biblical personal names because of those “minor” words which must be added to bring out the intended meaning.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, for example, says the name “Elimelech” (which is literally just “God King”) means “God of (the) King.” Young’s Analytical Concordance says it means “God is King.” Today’s Dictionary of the Bible says it means “ God his king” - p. 206, Bethany House Publ., 1982. And an online meaning is given as “My God is the King.” - http://www.kveller.com/jewish_names/display.php?n=Elimelech&k=840
 And, “God is my King.” - http://www.jhom.com/calendar/sivan/symbolism.htm .

Those missing minor words that the translator must supply at his own discretion can often make a vital difference! - For example, the footnote for Gen. 17:5 in The NIV Study Bible: The name ‘Abram’ “means ‘Exalted Father,’ probably in reference to God (i.e., ‘[God is the] Exalted Father’).” - bracketed information is in the original.

This is why another name the Messiah is to be called by at Jer. 23:6 is rendered, 'The LORD [YHWH] IS Our Righteousness' in the following Bibles: RSV; NRSV; NEB; NJB; JPS (Margolis, ed.); Tanakh; Byington; AT; and ASV (footnote). Of course other translations render it more literally by calling the Messiah "The LORD [YHWH] Our Righteousness" to help support a 'Jesus is God' doctrine. Some of these (such as the NASB) actually render the very same name at Jer. 33:16 as "The LORD [or Jehovah] is Our Righteousness"! - [bracketed information is mine].


(Unfortunately for "Jesus is Jehovah" advocates, the very same name given to the Messiah at Jer. 23:16 is given to a city at Jer. 33:16.) [7]


But perhaps most instructive of all is the name given to the prophet’s child in Isaiah 8:3 shortly before his giving the name found in Is. 9:6.


Is. 8:3
Maher-shalal-hash-baz: Literally, “spoil speeds prey hastes” or “swift booty speedy prey.” Translated by various Bible scholars as: “In making speed to the spoil he hasteneth the prey” - - “swift [is] booty, speedy [is] prey” - - “the spoil speeded, the prey hasteth” - - “Speeding for spoil, hastening for plunder” - - “There will soon be looting and stealing”- - “Speeding is the spoil, Hastening is the prey” - - “The Looting Will Come Quickly; the Prey Will Be Easy” - - “Take sway the spoils with speed, quickly take the prey” - - “Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey” - - “Swift the Spoils of War and Speedy Comes the Attacker” - - “Make haste to plunder! Hurry to the spoil!” - - “Make haste to the spoil; fall upon the prey.”   - - “Your enemies will soon be destroyed.’” - TLB. - -They hurry to get what they can. They run to pick up what is left.” - NLV.

And John Gill wrote:

“‘hasten to seize the prey, and to take away the spoil.’ Some translate it, ‘in hastening the prey, the spoiler hastens’; perhaps it may be better rendered, ‘hasten to the spoil, hasten to the prey.’” 



In light of the above therefore, the personal name at Is. 9:6 has been honestly translated in the footnote as:

“And his name is called: Wonderful in counsel IS God the Mighty, the Everlasting Father, the Ruler of Peace” - The Holy Scriptures, JPS Version (Margolis, ed.)

to show that it is intended to praise the God of the Messiah who performs great things through the Messiah.

Also, An American Translation (by trinitarians Smith and Goodspeed) says:

“Wonderful Counselor IS God Almighty, Father forever, Prince of Peace.”

And The Leeser Bible says:

“Wonderful, counsellor of the mighty God, of the everlasting Father, the prince of peace”

Of course it could also be honestly translated:

“The Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God Is the Eternal Father of the Prince of Peace.”[8]

And the Tanakh by the JPS, 1985, translates it:

[a]“The Mighty God is planning grace;

[b] The Eternal Father [is] a peaceable ruler.”

This latter translation seems particularly appropriate since it is in the form of a parallelism. Not only was the previous symbolic personal name introduced by Isaiah at Is. 8:1 a parallelism (“Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz” means [a]“quick to the plunder; [b] swift to the spoil” - NIV footnote) but the very introduction to this Messianic name at Is. 9:6 is itself a parallelism: [a]“For unto us a child is born; [b] unto us a son is given.” It would, therefore, be appropriate to find that this name, too, was in the form of a parallelism as translated by the Tanakh above.

So it is clear, even to a number of trinitarian scholars, that Is. 9:6 does not imply that Jesus is Jehovah God.

We often find trinitarians insisting that the three “persons” of the "Trinity" all share the very same personal name: Jehovah (or Yahweh). This is impossible on the face of it. After all, a personal name is a name given to a single person as a method of identifying that individual person. And trinitarians themselves agree that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate persons! Just as each person has his very own identifying title (“Father,” “Son,” “Holy Spirit”), so too, must they each have his very own personal name (“Jehovah,” “Jesus,” and ???).[9]

Many people recorded in the Bible were given personal names praising Jehovah as the Father (e.g. “Abijah,” “Abiah,” “Joab,” etc.). No such names ever praised him as the Son, Messiah, Holy Spirit, etc.

Straightforward statements of Scripture actually identify Jehovah as the Father (e.g. Is. 64:8 - “O Jehovah, thou art our Father,” ASV) but never as the Son, Messiah, Firstborn, etc.

The unique personal name 'Jehovah' is always applied to the Father (never the Son, etc.): in Ps 110, for example, the heavenly glorified Jesus sits at the right hand OF Jehovah (cf. Acts 2:33-36 and Eph 1:17, 20); “Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise [the Messiah]” - Is. 53:10, ASV; Jesus does his work “in the majesty of the name of Jehovah HIS GOD” - Micah 5:4, ASV; “I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me [Christ], Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee.” - Ps 2:7, ASV (cf. Acts 13:33); “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, Against Jehovah and against his anointed [Christ]” - Ps. 2:2, ASV (cf. Acts 4:25, 26).

Isn’t it clear that “Jehovah” is the name of the Father only? Jehovah is the Father’s unique personal name. No other person has that personal name. (In cases where more than one person really do share the same personal name in the Bible writings and there is a possibility of confusing the identity of them, that personal name is usually further identified: For example: “Simon who is called Peter” - Matt. 4:18, RSV; “Simon, the Cananaean” - Matt. 10:4, RSV; “Simon, a tanner”- Acts 10:6, RSV.)

It would certainly be foolish not to do this, and we continue the same custom today. And yet the only time this most important of all personal names [”Jehovah”] is further identified, IT IS ALWAYS AS THE FATHER!) Jehovah is the Father only. But many trinitarians are forced to deny this because only Jehovah (the Father alone) is God - 2 Ki. 19:19; Is. 37:16; 45:5, 21, 22, ASV. Only the Father (Jehovah alone) is God!

The Personal Name “Jehovah”

“5. ‘Jehovah’ - The name most distinctive of God as the God of Israel is Jehovah .... The meaning may with some confidence be inferred ... to be that of the simple future, yahweh, ‘he will be.’ It does not express causation, nor existence in a metaphysical sense, but the covenant promise of the Divine presence, both at the immediate time and in the Messianic age of the future.... It is the personal name of God.... Characteristic of the OT is its insistence on the possible knowledge of God as a person; and Jehovah is His name as a person. It is illogical, certainly, that the later Hebrews should have shrunk from its pronunciation, in view of the appropriateness of the name and of the OT insistence on the personality of God, who as a person has this name. [The ASV] quite correctly adopts the transliteration ‘Jehovah’ to emphasize its significance and purpose as a personal name of God revealed.” - The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, p. 1266, Vol. 2, Eerdmans, 1984.

So the ASV properly translated the thousands of places in the Holy Scriptures where this Holy Name appears as “Jehovah.” Unfortunately the vast majority of Bibles today still follow the dishonest tradition of changing those thousands of instances into “LORD.”[10]

Jehovah denotes specifically the one true God, whose people the Jews were, and who made them the guardians of his truth. .... The substitution of the word Lord is most unhappy, for it in no way represents the meaning of the sacred name.” - p. 220, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Hendrickson Publ.

“The name of God is described as his ‘holy name’ more than all other adjectival qualifications taken together. It was this sense of the sacredness of the name that finally led to the obtuse [stupid] refusal to use ‘Yahweh’ [‘Jehovah’], leading as it has done to a deep loss of the sense of the divine name in [English Bibles] (with the notable exception of JB).” - p. 813, New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House Publishers, 1984.

Jehovah, the special and significant name (not merely an appellative title such as Lord) by which God revealed himself to the ancient Hebrews” - p. 330, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publ., 1982.

“Here is why we did not [use ‘Jehovah’ in the NIV Bible]: You are right that Jehovah is a distinctive name for God and ideally we should have used it. .... We are the victims of 350 years of the King James tradition. It is far better to get two million to read it - that is how many have bought [the NIV] to date [1979] - and to follow the King James [‘LORD’], than to have two thousand buy it and have the correct translation of Yahweh [or Jehovah].... It was a hard decision, and many of our translators agree with you.” - Edwin H. Palmer, Th.D., Executive Secretary for the NIV (See 'Tribute' in foreword of The NIV Study Bible, 1985.), quoted from letter published in 15 July 1979 WT.



Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian ‘proof’ being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the information in this paper, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian “proofs,” may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah’s Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. – RDB.

.............................................................................................



NOTES



1. “JEHU - ‘Jehovah is he.’

(1.) The son of Obed, and father of Azariah (1 Chronicles 2:38).

(2.) One of the Benjamite slingers that joined David at Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:3).

(3.) The son of Hanani, a prophet of Judah (1 Kings 16:1, 7; 2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:34), who pronounced the sentence of God against Baasha, the king of Israel.

(4.) King of Israel, the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 9:2), and grandson of Nimshi.” - Easton’s Bible Dictionary, ‘Jehu,’ from Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publ. (Also p. 331, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House, 1982.)



So four different men, worshipers of the one true God, Jehovah, were namedHe is Jehovah’ in the Holy Scriptures!





2. “Now Malchiel means ‘God is king,’ ... Gedaliah ‘Jehovah is great,’ Zerahiah ‘Jehovah hath risen in splendor,’ Jehozadak ‘Jehovah is righteous,’ and Joel, if a compound name, ‘Jehovah is God.’ A moment’s reflection makes clear that these names do not describe the persons who bear them, but in every case speak of God. They emphasize the important facts that personal names might be, and often were, memorial and doctrinal, and that personal names were a part of the ordinary speech of the people, full of meaning and intelligible to all, subject to the phonetic laws of the Hebrews, and obedient to the rules of grammar. ....

“But with Jehoshaphat, Abijah’s grandson, early in the 9th cent. [B.C.], the custom became established. Henceforth it was conventional for the king of Judah to have for his name a sentence with Jehovah as its subject. .... During the five centuries and a half, beginning near the close of Solomon’s reign and extending to the end of Nehemiah’s administration, 22 high priests held office, so far as their names have been preserved in the records. Of these pontiffs 17 bear names which are sentences with Jehovah as subject, and another is a sentence with El [God] as subject. .... evidently the priests of Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem not only recognized the appropriateness for themselves and their families of names possessing a general religious character, but came to favor such as expressly mentioned God, especially those which mentioned God by His name of Jehovah.” - p. 2115, Vol. 3, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Eerdmans, 1984 printing.





3.

Barnes' Notes on the NT:

Phil. 4:9



And the God of peace shall be with you.



The God who gives peace. Comp. Hebrews 13:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:23. See Barnes "Philippians 4:7". The meaning here is, that Paul, by pursuing the course of life which he had led, and which he here counsels them to follow, had found that it had been attended with the blessing of the God of peace, and he felt the fullest assurance that the same blessing would rest on them if they imitated his example. The way to obtain the blessing of the God of peace is to lead a holy life, and to perform with faithfulness all the duties which we owe to God and to our fellow-men.



**********************

The Adam Clarke Commentary

Ruth Chapter 2



Verse 4. Boaz came from Beth-lehem



This salutation between Boaz and his reapers is worthy of particular regard; he said, Yehovah immachem, "Jehovah be with you!" They said, yebarechecha Yehovah, "May Jehovah bless thee!" Can a pious mind read these godly salutations without wishing for a return of those simple primitive times? The words may be thus paraphrased: "May God be with you, to preserve you from accidents, and strengthen you to accomplish your work!" "May God bless THEE with the increase of the field, and grace to use his bounty to the glory of the Giver!"



***********************

The Adam Clarke Commentary



Luke 1:28



The Lord is with thee

Thou art about to receive the most convincing proofs of God's peculiar favour towards thee.



**********************



The Adam Clarke Commentary

Phil. 4:9



And the God of peace

He who is the author of peace, the lover of peace, and the maintainer of peace; he who has made peace between heaven and earth, by the mission and sacrifice of his Son, shall be ever with you while you believe and act as here recommended.



*********************

The Adam Clarke Commentary



Ps. 46:7



The Lord of hosts is with us

We, feeble Jews, were but a handful of men; but the Lord of hosts-the God of armies, was on our side. Him none could attack with hope of success, and his legions could not be over-thrown.



*********************

John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

Phil. 4:9



"Moreover, the Christian, although walking (as we have seen) in the midst of evil and of trial, is to occupy himself with all that is good, and is able to do it when thus at peace, to live in this atmosphere, so that it shall pervade his heart, that he shall be habitually where God is to be found. This is an all-important command. We may be occupied with evil in order to condemn it; we may be right, but this is not communion with God in that which is good. But if occupied through His grace with that which is good, with that which comes from Himself, the God of peace is with us. In trouble we shall have the peace of God; in our ordinary life, if it be of this nature, we shall have the God of peace. Paul was the practical example of this; with regard to their walk, by following him in that which they had learnt and heard from him and seen in him, they should find that God was with them."





**********************

The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible



Luke 1:28



the Lord is with thee;

so the angel to Gideon, (Judges 6:12) or "be with thee", an usual form of salutation among the Jews; (Ruth 2:4)



***********************

The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible



Ruth 2:4



and said unto the reapers, the Lord be with you;

to give them health, and strength, and industry in their work



**************************

The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible

1 Chronicles 22:18



Is not the Lord your God with you?

Blessing them with wealth and riches:



************************

The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible



2 Chronicles 1:1



And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom,

Well settled and established on the throne of his father, after the death of some persons, from whom he might expect trouble, see (1 Kings 2:46)



and the Lord God was with him;

directing and instructing him, prospering and succeeding him



*************************



Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

Ruth 2:4



Jehovah be with thee. Jehovah bless thee

(Ruth 2:4). It seems that these were customary salutations, acknowledging the blessing of the Lord in the abundance of the harvest.



***************************

Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament



Ps. 46:7



Jehovah of hosts is with us

(Psalms 46:7). If God be for us, who can be against us, is the New Testament echo of this confidence. The great security is in God.





4. Remember, there was no capitalization (or punctuation) in the original Bible manuscripts (or their copies for many hundreds of years thereafter). Therefore, it is strictly up to the personal interpretation of the translator as to when and where he wants to add capitalization! Of course, since the words in question at Is. 9:6 are parts of a name, all the major words found there are often capitalized in English (as is done for most other names). For example, Ex. 17:15 - “The-LORD-Is-My Banner” - NKJV, NASB, NLV, and “The LORD is my Banner” - NIV, REB, GNB, and “Under-the- Eternal’s-Banner” - Moffatt. Is. 8:3 - “Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz”, NIV, NKJV, NJB, ETRV, and “Quick-Loot-Fast-Plunder” - GNB. Rev. 19:13 - “the name by which he is called is The Word of God,” most translations.

Therefore, it is not meaningful that ‘God,’ ‘Father,’ etc. are also capitalized in most translations of the name at Is. 9:6. (Trinitarian Dr. James Moffatt, for example, translated this name in Is 9:6 in all lower case letters.)





5. Jesus was never called by the title “Father,” and he didn’t want anyone to take the title “Father” (in a religious sense, of course) other than his Father, Jehovah, in heaven. (Matt. 23:9) The relationship between Jesus and men (some men, at least) isn’t described as Father and sons but brothers. (Ro. 8:29; Heb. 2:10-18)

The evidence given in the Aid book proving that the title “Alpha and Omega” must be applied to the Father and not Jesus, applies equally well to the title “Eternal Father” of Is. 9:6. The Aid book says:

“The title [Alpha and Omega] occurs again at Rev. 21:6, and the following verse (21:7) identifies the speaker by saying: ‘Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.’ Inasmuch as Jesus referred to those who are joint heirs with him in his kingdom as ‘brothers’ not ‘sons,’ the speaker must be Jesus’ heavenly Father, Jehovah God.” - Aid, p. 57.



6. “… on occasion [Elohim (‘God’ or ‘god’ in Heb.)] is used of the heavenly beings {Angels} around Yahweh’s throne (Ps. [8:5]); ... 97:7; 138:1), judges (Ps. 82:1, 6... and also John 10:34-36), Moses (Exod. 7:1; cf. 4:16), and the apparition of Samuel (1 Sam. 28:13; cf. Isa. 8:19). It is also relevant to note that Isaiah [9:6] combines the two terms used in Psalm 45 to address the king (viz, [‘Mighty’ and ‘God’]) and applies the title to the ideal king of the future {Christ} .... Because, then, Israelites regarded the king as God’s viceroy on earth, his legitimated son who exhibited divine qualities, it is not altogether surprising that ... a Davidic king should exceptionally be given a title [Elohim: “God” or “god”] that was in fact not reserved exclusively for deity.” - p. 202, Jesus as God, Murray J. Harris (highly trinitarian), Baker Book House (highly trinitarian), 1992.



7. For those trinitarians who insist that the “name” of the Messiah given at Jeremiah 23:6 (“Jehovah Is Our Righteousness”) proves that he IS Jehovah - - compare Jeremiah 33:16 where the very same “name” in the original OT Hebrew is given to a CITY. - KJV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NEB, JB, NJB, NIV, ASV, NAB (‘70), NAB (‘91’), GNB, AB, Tanakh, JPS (Margolis, 1917), Beck, Moffatt.



8. After I posted some of this on the “GreekTheology” internet discussion group, I received this reply from “bar_enosh”:



“Several Jewish versions do follow this thought, that the "name" here actually describes God, or what God is doing through the Child.  For example, the Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society, 1985) reads: "He has been named 'The Mighty God is planning grace, The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler.'"



“The Stone Tanach (Artscroll Mesorah, 1999) gives: ‘The Wondrous Adviser, Mighty God, Eternal Father, called his name Sar-shalom [Prince of Peace].’



“These renderings essentially follow the classical Jewish commentators, such as Rashi and Kimchi, who render 'the God, who is called and is Wonder, Counselor, the mighty God, the eternal Father, calls his name the Prince of Peace.  Another commentator, Luzzato, renders, "God the mighty, the eternal Father, the Prince of Peace, resolves upon wonderful things," and is prophetically declarative, as were the names of Isaiah's sons.  (Keil & Delitzsch)



“Grammatically, the Hebrew terms in the Hebrew text can be read in several different ways, as mini-sentences or as straight ‘titles.'  Additionally, Jewish commentators generally apply the sentence-title to King Hezekiah, or to Hezekiah as a "type" of the Messiah.  But they translate in a way that shows God as the actor, in behalf of this child who would bear the name.”





9. Even IF the trinity were true (and it clearly is not), it seems ridiculous that the three separate PERSONS of the “trinity” would all have the same personal name. Why differentiate between them at all then? It is more than just strange that we would take the effort and time to call one the Father, and one the Son, and one the Holy Spirit to identify those separate persons and then not have them also differentiated by distinctive personal names!

Every scripturally important person has his own personal name in the Bible (and in everyday life). When it so happened that more than one person actually had the same name in Scripture, they would, as one would naturally expect, nearly always be further differentiated. For example: “Simon who is called Peter” - Matt. 4:18, RSV; “Simon, the Cananaean” - Matt. 10:4, RSV; “Simon, a tanner”- Acts 10:6, RSV.

Notice how the inspired Bible writers identified even much less important persons in the Scriptures. Yes, just as writers today, the Bible writers very often identified their subjects so as not to confuse their readers. More than one individual in the Bible actually shared the same singular, personal name, but the Bible simply does not allow them to be perpetually confused!





(1) Judas - Lk 6:16 (bis)-examine all 12. Why do some have ‘identifiers’ (‘appositives’)?

- Acts 1:13 - examine all 11 names. Why do some have identifiers?

- Acts 5:37



(2) Mary - Mk 15:47

- Jn 19:25

- Acts 1:14

- Acts 12:12


(3) James - Mt 10:2

- Mt 10:3

 - Acts 1:13

- Acts 12:2



Do we ever see in the Bible one name or title shared by different persons continually being used with no further identification (or only occasional identification of only one of them )? No, only when a person cannot be confused with another of the same name is there no need of further identification. For example, Abel (like Job, Balaam, Cain, Isaac, Moses, etc.) is the ONLY person so named in the Bible, and thus there is no need for identifiers when “Abel” is used. But when confusion could arise, further identification is usually provided with Bible names! - Matt. 23:35 (note Zechariah’s identifier - - why?); James 5:11; Jude 11; Gal. 4:28; Acts 6:11.

Certainly the much more important name of Jehovah would not be without identifiers if more than one person really had that name: ‘Jehovah, the Son;’ ‘Jehovah, the Father;’ ‘Jehovah, the Holy Spirit.’ Needless to say, except for “Jehovah is the Father,” this NEVER occurs in scripture. “Jehovah” is used without further identification nearly 7000 times in the inspired scriptures (and when he is identified it is always as the Father!). This simply would not happen if “Jehovah” were really the name of three persons!



10. Unbelievably, most trinitarian scholarly (and not-so-scholarly) works completely ignore this terrible blasphemy. For example the respected trinitarian scholars Dr. Sakae Kubo and Prof. Walter F. Sprecht in their review of modern Bible translations were so upset by the New King James Version’s use of clearly spurious [added by later copyists] passages such as 1 Jn 5:7 (KJV; NKJV) that they wrote:

“The brochure advertising this revision [the NKJV] gives as the purpose of the project “to preserve and improve the purity of the King James Version.” To improve the purity would surely include the removal from the text of any scribal additions that were not a part of the autographs [original writing]. No devout reader of the Bible wants any portion of the sacred text as penned by the original authors removed. But neither should he want later additions, in which some passages have crept into the text, published as part of the Word of God.” - p. 294, So Many Versions?, Zondervan Publ., 1983 ed.

How ironic (and extremely hypocritical) when the most blasphemous removal of (and addition to) the original inspired words, the most sacred Name of God Himself, is virtually ignored. The only mention of such a practice by nearly all trinitarian Bibles is certainly not condemned by these scholars, but actually condoned. (e.g., pp. 156, 227).

Friday, January 1, 2010

BOWQT

Note: Although I haven’t been able to find Watchtower Society (WTS) responses to all of Bowman’s criticism, I believe that my responses are nevertheless honest and accurate. Jehovah’s Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject in question before using this information with others. – RDB.




BOWQT

(From the RDB Files)

Bowman: “Quoting out of context”



Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) are continuing their “practice of quoting out of context” - p. 95, Why You Should Believe in the Trinity - An Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Robert M. Bowman, Baker Book House, 1989, seventh printing, Dec. 1993.

This is one of Bowman’s (as well as his predecessor’s - Walter Martin - see NWT study) favorite attacks. But every quote by anyone is nearly always to some extent “out of context”! Otherwise we wouldn’t be “quoting from” a source; we’d be reciting the entire book (or speech or play, etc.).

For example, we might read in a newspaper the following review by a movie critic:

The Wormy Apple is probably the best example of a nearly perfectly worthless movie that I have ever seen.

"Oh, the music in one 2-minute scene was absolutely delightful even though the acting, dialogue, and visuals in that same scene were abominable!

"And, for those who are enamored with the color green, which floods every scene from beginning to end, this otherwise wretched film is invaluable. You must go to this movie only if you care to see your last dinner one more time! What an incredible waste of film!” - New World Times Movie Review.

We might honestly quote ‘out of context’ from this review by writing:

The Wormy Apple is … a …worthless movie….” - NW Times Review.

Or we might dishonestly quote ‘out of context’ by writing:

The Wormy Apple is probably the best … movie that I have ever seen. ….absolutely delightful…! This … film is invaluable. You must go to this movie …! What an incredible … film!” - NW Times Review.

Information that the author considered important was left out of both quotes, but only one is actually dishonest. That is, only one makes the original writer seem to say something that is contrary to what he actually said.

So the real question Bowman should ask should be:

“Are JWs dishonestly quoting out of context?”

For example: Bowman insists that JWs misconstrue the Trinity concept (although its definition is quite variable from sect to sect and even from person to person within most sects). He “proves” this by quoting from the “Trinity” booklet (Should You Believe in the Trinity?, Watchtower, 1989):

‘that God alone is the Almighty, the Creator, separate and distinct from anyone else’ (p. 12), is thought by JWs to contradict the Trinity, whereas it is in full agreement with it.” - p. 12, Bowman.

Now, if JWs understood and taught that that phrase, by itself, contradicts most concepts of the trinity, then Bowman would be correct in his accusation. But that is not what they said and not what they teach.

Notice the complete sentence in the JW “Trinity” booklet:

“What comes through very clearly to an impartial reader [of the entire Bible] is that God alone is the Almighty, the Creator, separate and distinct from anyone else, and that Jesus, even in his prehuman existence, is also separate and distinct, a created being, subordinate to God.” - p. 12.

And a similar statement on p. 3 added,

“They also believe that the holy ghost is not a person but God’s spirit, his active force.”*

Now Bowman’s quote itself is a dishonest quote “out of context” because he pretends that JWs are claiming that his partial quote, by itself, contradicts the trinity concept when they claim no such thing (as the complete sentence clearly shows). It’s all right to “quote out of context,” but it is not all right to claim that that quote means that the author is intending something different from what he clearly is saying in the full quote.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Again, Bowman tells us (p. 23) that JWs are dishonestly using scholarly quotes on p. 6 of their “Trinity” booklet. He points out that the partial quotes by JWs leave out statements by those trinitarian authors that there is data found in the NT from which trinitarians have formulated the trinity doctrine, that trinitarians see trinitarian elements in the NT. Well, of course! They wouldn’t be trinitarians, I hope, if they couldn’t “see” such “elements.”

But here is how the “Trinity” booklet introduces those “partial” quotes:

“Well, then, do the Christian Greek Scriptures ... speak clearly of a Trinity?”

The quotes then show many authorities admitting that the NT does not speak clearly of a trinity. The fact that most trinitarians claim to find “evidence” from which to construct a complete trinity doctrine was not the point of the quotes as the introduction plainly states. (Such trinitarian claims of scriptural evidence are even examined on pp. 23-29 of the “Trinity” booklet.) This is not dishonest quoting by the JWs, but it is dishonest of Bowman to make such a claim.

And again, it is certainly not dishonest to quote only those portions of a statement which are pertinent to the subject you have already defined as your topic in this paragraph or section. You must not misconstrue those portions, however. Certainly it would have been wrong, if someone had quoted these sources partially and implied that those quotes meant that the authors didn’t see any trace of what might be interpreted as elements of a trinity doctrine. (Of course it would be extremely difficult to believe that a trinitarian would say such a thing in the first place.)

- - - - - - -

Again Bowman tells us about JWs “quoting [dishonestly] out of context.”

The JW [Trinity] booklet continues citing scholarly sources out of context to give the impression that these sources deny that the early church’s faith was trinitarian.

For example, the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics is quoted as follows: “At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian.... It was not so in the apostolic and subapostolic ages, as reflected in the NT [New Testament] and other early Christian writings” (pp. 6-7). The first part of this quotation is cut off in mid-sentence, and reads in full, “At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian in the strictly ontological reference [emphasis added].” Here the point is that while the early Christians viewed God as trinitarian economically, in his activity in the world and in their experience, they did not explicitly speak of God as trinitarian ontologically, in his very essential nature or being. But this by no means implies that the early Christians denied that this was so. Thus, the article continues on the same page, “It should be observed that there is no real cleavage or antithesis between the doctrines of the economic and the essential Trinity, and naturally so. The Tri-unity [or essential Trinity] represents the effort to think out the [economic] Trinity, and so to afford it a reasonable basis.” This is consistent with the article’s earlier assertion that “if the doctrine of the Trinity appeared somewhat late in theology, it must [?] have lived very early in devotion.” - pp. 25-26.

So, is the “Trinity” booklet really “citing scholarly sources out of context to give the impression that these sources deny that the early church’s faith was trinitarian”?

Well, here is the stated purpose by the JWs for the quotes they are giving in this section of the “Trinity” booklet (p. 6):



Taught by Early Christians?

_______________________________

“Did the early Christians TEACH the Trinity?

Note the following comments by historians and theologians”

There then followed four quotes from four different sources. Three of them are trinitarian and probably (like the trinitarian source examined by Bowman) also express some belief that the “Trinity” (in some nebulous form) was really “understood” by these Christians, but somehow they just never happened to teach it! - - - (How else is a trinitarian going to hang on to his tradition when he finds that the very first Christians did not teach a trinity? By telling himself, “Oh well, they must have been thinking it, they just never said it aloud.”)

But the sole stated purpose for quoting these sources was to show that the earliest Christians did not teach the trinity! It is not dishonest in any sense to quote the portions of a statement that apply to your stated purpose alone!

When you ignore the stated purpose given by someone for the quotes they use and tell your readers, in effect, that they gave those quotes for a different reason, you truly, dishonestly “quote out of context,” or in plain English: you lie.

It is inconceivable (if they really believed in the essential lifesaving doctrine of the Trinity) that none of the earliest Christian writers ever clearly wrote about it or taught it. - See the CREEDS study.

It is also beyond credibility that those earliest Christians believed in a three-in-one God, and yet none of the Jews and Gentiles who wrote about them ever wrote that they had any such belief! And the Jews, especially, would have written of nothing else when referring to Christians since such a corruption of their concept of God was overwhelmingly offensive to them. - See the ISRAEL study.

It is equally inconceivable (if the Trinity - or its “economical” equivalent - had really been believed in by the Christians for the first 200 years) that none of the earliest Baptismal confessions (or the creeds that first grew from them) ever taught the trinity (or even mentioned “God the Son” or “God the Holy Spirit” or anything equivalent)! If such knowledge were really understood at that time, it would have to be part of those Christians’ teaching and confession! It is not! See the HIST (f. n. #21, 23-26) and the CREEDS studies.

- - - - - -

Bowman continues his “quoting out of context” attack on pp. 89-91.

Before examining the biblical evidence for the belief that Jesus is God, it may be helpful to respond to the JWs’ use of an unidentified article from the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library which they quote to prove that biblical scholars agree with them that Jesus was not God.


First, the JW booklet Should You Believe in the Trinity? quotes this article as stating: “The fact has to be faced that New Testament research over, say, the last thirty or forty years has been leading an increasing number of biblical scholars to the conclusion that Jesus... certainly never believed himself to be God” (p. 20). This is a correct assessment of modern biblical scholarship, but the Witness booklet has omitted a part of the sentence that puts this fact in an altogether different light. The full sentence reads (with the omitted portion emphasized):


“Yet be that as it may, the fact has to be faced that New Testament research over, say the last thirty or forty years has been leading an increasing number of biblical scholars to the conclusion that Jesus himself may not have claimed any of the christological titles which the Gospels ascribe to him, not even the functional designation ‘Christ,’ and certainly never believed himself to be God.”


That is, the same biblical scholars who deny that Jesus claimed to be God also doubt that he called himself the “Christ,” or Messiah. The JWs can hardly claim this judgment to be a reliable one. - pp. 89-90.


.... It is therefore unfortunate that the Witnesses quote out of context from these


scholars against trinitarianism. - p. 91. [underlined emphasis added.]


Well, again, the stated purpose of this section of the “Trinity” booklet is:


“The fact is that Jesus is not God and never claimed to be. This is being recognized by an increasing number of scholars. As the Rylands Bulletin states:....” - p. 20.


The JWs don’t need to agree with any other statements made by this scholar (or any others) to honestly quote the portion that proves the point of their stated purpose! And, in fact, Bowman admits that the JWs’ quote “is a correct assessment of modern biblical scholarship”! - p. 89.

The fact that he, as well as JWs themselves, disagrees with other possibilities and speculation by many modern scholars has nothing to do with the point at hand. Bowman, as well as nearly everyone else, selectively (and partially, of course) quotes from scholars whom he disagrees with on various other issues - - so what?

This, like many of his other accusations, is a red herring thrown onto the path in an attempt to lead us away from the point the JWs are making (and to cast ever more accusations of dishonesty at them).

The only reason for the quotes, as stated, is to show that an ever-increasing number of scholars (whether we choose to believe them on this point - or any other - is entirely irrelevant) are absolutely convinced (as opposed to speculating as to whether Jesus himself may not have actually claimed certain titles for himself) that “Jesus is not God and never claimed to be.” Bowman admitted this was true! Anything else on this point is obfuscation and hypocrisy as far as it relates to JWs’ “dishonesty” and “quoting out of context.”

But, nevertheless, Bowman tells us, “the Witnesses quote out of context,” again!

- - - - - -

As for his claim on p. 95, Bowman is again very dishonest in his accusation that JWs are “quoting out of context” from the Journal of Biblical Literature (JBL):

It should also be mentioned that the [“Trinity”] booklet continues the JW’s practice of quoting out of context from scholarly sources. Most notable is their use of an article in the Journal of Biblical Literature on John 1:1. The booklet goes so far as to claim that the JBL article says that the Greek construction of John 1:1 “indicates that the logos can be likened to a god” (p. 27). This is absolutely false.

Bowman calls this “quoting out of context” from the JBL, and then puts quotation marks around “indicates that the logos can be likened to a god” to show the exact words which the JW’s were guilty of “quoting out of context.”

Well, fortunately, I happen to have a photocopy of this entire article by Philip B. Harner as found in the March, 1973, Journal of Biblical Literature (Vol. 92). - See Harner JBL.

But first, here is the actual quote from the JW “Trinity” booklet:

The Journal of Biblical Literature says that expressions “with an anarthrous [no article] predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning.” As the Journal notes, this indicates that the lo’gos can be likened to a god. It also says of John 1:1: “The qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun [theos] cannot be regarded as definite.”

The JWs quote twice from the JBL in this paragraph and properly enclose those quotes with quotation marks. The statement in question (which Bowman claims is “quoting out of context”) in the middle of the paragraph is not enclosed with quotation marks. The wording itself shows, in context, that it is a paraphrase, a restatement, or an interpretation of what was stated in that article, but not a quote!

You simply cannot “quote out of context” when you’re not quoting at all! But this quote by Bowman from the “Trinity” booklet is itself certainly in the category of dishonestly quoting out of context. He has repeated the words properly, but by his use of quotation marks (and his accusation of “quoting out of context”) he is clearly saying that the JWs claimed to quote those words from the JBL. This is obviously false!

As to whether the JBL article made a statement that can honestly be paraphrased, restated, or interpreted as “this indicates that the logos can be likened to a god,” let’s examine pp. 85, 86 of that JBL article. There is a very complex series of statements and interpretations by Harner beginning with 5 different ways John could have written John 1:1c. These are labeled clauses A, B, C, D, and E. The interpretations and conclusions concerning these, starting on p. 85, are somewhat mixed together and somewhat confusing. Harner states that clause D

“... would probably mean that the logos was ‘a god’ or a divine being of some kind....”

Bowman accuses the JWs of misquoting this statement by Harner (concerning clause D) and dishonestly applying it to clause B (which is the clause actually used in John 1:1c).

Well, I can see where a reader might be confused and make such a conclusion from Harner’s statements, but the JWs did not do that. The above statement clearly states that “the logos was ‘a god’”! The JW statement was that this “indicates that the logos can be likened to a god”! Believe me, if the JWs were going to quote or paraphrase this statement by Harner as applying to John 1:1c, they would certainly have said “the logos WAS a god.”

Instead, I believe the “Trinity” booklet paraphrases or interprets a statement by Bruce Vawter which Harner claims is an explanation of the meaning of John 1:1c. Harner says,

“Bruce Vawter explains the meaning of the clause [Jn 1:1c] succinctly and lucidly. ‘The Word is divine, but he is not all of divinity, for he has already been distinguished from another divine Person.’” - pp. 85-86.

So, is it dishonest to paraphrase or interpret “The Word [logos] is divine” as “The logos can be likened to a god.”? Well, here are the actual meanings of “divine”:

“1a: Of or relating to God: proceeding from God ... b: of or relating to a god; having the nature of a god; like a god or like that of a god.” - Webster’s 3rd New International Dictionary, unabridged, 1962.

Harner gave his own interpretation of Vawter’s use of “divine”:

Undoubtedly Vawter means that the Word is ‘divine’ in the same sense that ho theos [God] is divine.” - p. 86.

If Harner is allowed to make up his own interpretation of Vawter’s meaning for “divine,” then JWs should be allowed to give an honest interpretation of their own.

Although they could have used definition #1a. above (e.g., “The Word proceeded from God”), I don’t believe the JWs have interpreted dishonestly by taking definition #1b. from the authoritative Webster’s 3rd New International Dictionary to paraphrase or interpret Vawter’s use of “divine.” It would certainly have been dishonest to claim that it was a quote, though. JWs didn’t do that; Bowman did!

(Incidentally, the admission by Harner, and many of the trinitarian scholars he quotes [and perhaps Bowman himself - p. 95] that only the word order prevents the very same words at John 1:1c from meaning ‘The Word was a god’ [as in Harner’s clause D] is very important! In most cases - including John 1:1c - the word order makes no essential difference to the meaning! - see the "HARNER: JBL 'Qualitative' Article Refuted" study, endnote #1.)

So we find that Bowman frequently falsely accuses JWs of dishonestly quoting other sources. He has even made up a “quote” by JW’s to “prove” their “dishonest” quoting! But the very best illustration of dishonest quoting that I have found is on p. 93 of Bowman’s book where he claims to quote the JWs’ “Trinity” booklet (p. 28):

Third, it is by no means necessary to translate nouns in such constructions [as found in Jn 1:1c] with the indefinite “a” or “an,” as even the Witnesses admit when they say that “when the context requires it, translators may insert a definite article in front of the noun in this type of sentence structure” (p. 28...)

But here is the honest quote from the JWs’ trinity booklet (p. 28):

Colwell had to acknowledge this regarding the predicate noun, for he said: ‘It is indefinite [“a” or “an”] in this position only when the context demands it.’ So even he admits that when the context requires it, translators may insert an indefinite article in front of the noun in this type of sentence structure.

Bowman actually changed the wording to make the JWs appear to say just the opposite of what they had actually said (and to “prove” his point that “god” at John 1:1c can honestly be translated “the god” - which in NT Greek means “God”)! This is absolutely the most dishonest form of “quoting” that is possible!

Remember, this is the seventh printing of Bowman’s original 1989 publication. If he remains true to the form of his mentor and predecessor, Walter Martin, this will never be corrected - not even for the 50th printing!

If Bowman (like Martin - see the NWT and the MARTIN studies) is this dishonest in the areas that I am able to check, why should I believe him in any of the other areas that I am not yet able to check?

.................................................................



NOTE



* Here is a more complete quote from page 3 (which the writers reasonably assume will be read before the statement on page 12 partially quoted by Bowman above):



"Various Trinitarian concepts exist. But generally the Trinity teaching is that in the Godhead there are three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; yet, together they are but one God. The doctrine says that the three are coequal, almighty, and uncreated, having existed eternally in the Godhead.

"Others, however, say that the Trinity doctrine is false, that Almighty God stands alone as a separate, eternal, and all-powerful being. They say that Jesus in his prehuman existence was, like the angels, a separate spirit person created by God, and for this reason he must have had a beginning. They teach that Jesus has never been Almighty God’s equal in any sense; he has always been subject to God and still is. They also believe that the holy ghost is not a person but God’s spirit, his active force.

"Supporters of the Trinity say that it is founded not only on religious tradition but also on the Bible. Critics of the doctrine say that it is not a Bible teaching, one history source even declaring: “The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan.”—The Paganism in Our Christianity.

"If the Trinity is true, it is degrading to Jesus to say that he was never equal to God as part of a Godhead. But if the Trinity is false, it is degrading to Almighty God to call anyone his equal, and even worse to call Mary the “Mother of God.” If the Trinity is false, it dishonors God to say, as noted in the book Catholicism: “Unless [people] keep this Faith whole and undefiled, without doubt [they] shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: we worship one God in Trinity.” – p. 3, Should You Believe in the Trinity?, WTBandTS, 1989.

(An RDB File)