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Author Topic: How do the Orthodox respond to, "God is NOT a man," in the Old Testament  (Read 3630 times) Average Rating: 0
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Irenaeus07
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« on: June 15, 2008, 01:35:44 PM »

Numbers 23 Verse 19;

[19] God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2008, 02:27:25 PM »

The passage is from Balaam's second Prophecy to Balak.  The Holy Spirit spoke through the deceitful Balaam in describing that God was the Word (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God - John 1:1); Hence, God wasn't one who deceives like a man (who can deceive the Word) nor was He like the son of Man (e.g. Adam) who does not sin and require repentance.

These Prophecies were actually the reversal of curses that Balaam was supposed to deliver to the children of Israel.  Numbers 22:22-38 make it clear that God was putting the words into Balaam's speech via the Holy Spirit.

Edited due to bandwidth hiccups in posting original article
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2008, 05:11:01 PM »

God always tells the truth, and He is reliable to keep His promises. It's really straightforward when you put it in context. SolEx has faithfully given the context above. To try to use this to say God is not human, or never became human, requires one to completely ignore the context.

Our Orthodox Study Bible actually translates this as follows: "God is not like a man, to be deceived, Nor like a son of man, to be threatened. Would He, having spoken, not act? Or shall He speak, and not stand by it?"
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2008, 05:33:56 PM »

Fwiw, at the time, I think it would have been true even if taken literally. Until the incarnation, God wasn't a man.
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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2008, 05:34:35 PM »

^ Good point.
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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2008, 05:53:55 PM »

Fwiw, at the time, I think it would have been true even if taken literally. Until the incarnation, God wasn't a man.
Maybe true from the viewpoint of human history.  From God's perspective, though, where there is no "before" nor "after"... ? Wink

What we do know, however, is that God became man and that we must read Balaam's oracle--yea, even the whole Old Testament--in the light of this Christ, the God-Man.
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2008, 07:05:35 PM »

Fwiw, at the time, I think it would have been true even if taken literally. Until the incarnation, God wasn't a man.

 melkezedek had no earthly father or mother ,,couldn't he be considered jesus in the flesh in the old testament that father Abraham offered bread and wine....???just curious about it...also if he had no earthly parents could he be even considered a human being,,,,SmileyCentral.com" border="0
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« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2008, 07:12:00 PM »

melkezedek had no earthly father or mother ,,couldn't he be considered jesus in the flesh in the old testament that father Abraham offered bread and wine....???just curious about it...also if he had no earthly parents could he be even considered a human being,,,,

There is no clear answer.

The icon of the Hospitality of Abraham shows Abraham hosting 3 angels where the angels represent the Holy Trinity.

In Numbers 22, an Angel of the Lord spoke through a donkey to Barlaam as Barlaam intended on cursing the children of Israel.  Just as the Holy Spirit spoke through the donkey, Melchizedek may have appeared in the same manner - as a representation of the Holy Trinity one in essence and undivided (think of the Burning Bush with the voice of Christ speaking to Moses) - when breaking and blessing the bread and wine.
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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2008, 11:59:54 PM »


Our Orthodox Study Bible actually translates this as follows: "God is not like a man, to be deceived, Nor like a son of man, to be threatened. Would He, having spoken, not act? Or shall He speak, and not stand by it?"

So is the word "like" in the original greek, or is it added commentary?
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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2008, 12:19:18 AM »

So is the word "like" in the original greek, or is it added commentary?

Same passage in Greek:  Source

19 ουχ ως ανθρωπος ο θεος διαρτηθηναι ουδε ως υιος ανθρωπου απειληθηναι αυτος ειπας ουχι ποιησει λαλησει και ουχι εμμενει

The second word, ως , translates as "like."  Therefore, the word "like" comes from the Septuagint Greek and not added commentary.

For grins, one can also look at the Hebrew Text Here.

Added link to Hebrew Old Testament and corrected initial Biblical Greek Translation.
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2008, 08:04:41 AM »

Actually, I heard from one very staunch heretic, who rejects Chalcedon, exactly what Asteriktos said: "maybe from the point of view of us, silly humans, God "became" man; in fact, God is beyond space and time, so any blabbering about Him "becoming" something that He was not before is blasphemy... Sad
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« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2008, 10:48:13 AM »

I merely meant to say something along the lines of what we say in the creed: "...and became man" (or "was made man"), I did not mean to imply that God (the Son) changes in His essence.
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2008, 11:01:50 AM »

I got your meaning. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, yet He was made Incarnate at a particular point in our time. When speaking of pre-Incarnation religious texts, we must take into account that although prophecy applies extemporally, it was prophesied by people who lived in a particular point in time, and for them certain events had occurred, others were taking place, and still others had not happened yet.
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2008, 11:11:18 AM »

I merely meant to say something along the lines of what we say in the creed: "...and became man" (or "was made man"), I did not mean to imply that God (the Son) changes in His essence.

I know, and what you said is absolutely right, AFAIK. It's just that for this opponent of mine, anything material is an abomination. So, he thinks that Christ "entered into our disgusting fleshly nature" merely for a time being. When He rose froim the dead, He was already in a different, "spiritual" body, and in this pure, spiritual body He went back to His Father in heaven. The purpose of His coming was to destroy "sin in the flesh," i.e., the human body. So, we, if we are true followers of Christ, must do the same - not do any deliberate harm to our body (because that is forbidden), but patiently wait until it will be destroyed by death, and then join Christ in new, purely spiritual bodies.

As for Christ being called "God-Man," my opponent keeps saying that, of course, God is Man in essence. He is just a "real" man, meaning immaterial, "spiritual." So was Adam before the Fall. Materiality is the punishment for disobedience. Christ destroyed it.

He quotes hundreds of lines of Scipture and Fathers, supporting this crazy "theology." It is actually possible. Fathers sometimes were such Platonists, they so hated the "lowly body," etc. St. Gregory the Theologian (Naziansus) wrote, for example, that some idiots are trying to theologize while serving their stomachs "or even something worse than stomachs" (i.e. genitalia). What shame. That should be destroyed. We are purely spiritual by God's design and we will be either burning in hell, or resurrected to life in heaven as pure immaterial humans, real humans...
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2008, 04:04:07 PM »

Actually, I heard from one very staunch heretic, who rejects Chalcedon, exactly what Asteriktos said: "maybe from the point of view of us, silly humans, God "became" man; in fact, God is beyond space and time, so any blabbering about Him "becoming" something that He was not before is blasphemy... Sad

Doesn't Islam teach something akin to this, that God is so transcendent that Him becoming Man is unthinkable?
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« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2008, 04:05:27 PM »

I know, and what you said is absolutely right, AFAIK. It's just that for this opponent of mine, anything material is an abomination. So, he thinks that Christ "entered into our disgusting fleshly nature" merely for a time being. When He rose froim the dead, He was already in a different, "spiritual" body, and in this pure, spiritual body He went back to His Father in heaven. The purpose of His coming was to destroy "sin in the flesh," i.e., the human body. So, we, if we are true followers of Christ, must do the same - not do any deliberate harm to our body (because that is forbidden), but patiently wait until it will be destroyed by death, and then join Christ in new, purely spiritual bodies.

As for Christ being called "God-Man," my opponent keeps saying that, of course, God is Man in essence. He is just a "real" man, meaning immaterial, "spiritual." So was Adam before the Fall. Materiality is the punishment for disobedience. Christ destroyed it.

This is classic Gnosticism, pure and simple.

Quote
He quotes hundreds of lines of Scipture and Fathers, supporting this crazy "theology." It is actually possible. Fathers sometimes were such Platonists, they so hated the "lowly body," etc. St. Gregory the Theologian (Naziansus) wrote, for example, that some idiots are trying to theologize while serving their stomachs "or even something worse than stomachs" (i.e. genitalia). What shame. That should be destroyed. We are purely spiritual by God's design and we will be either burning in hell, or resurrected to life in heaven as pure immaterial humans, real humans...

I've always been fond of the aphorism, "The Devil himself can quote Scripture to suit his purposes".  I think that carries over to the Fathers, as well.
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« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2008, 09:17:51 PM »

This is classic Gnosticism, pure and simple.

I've always been fond of the aphorism, "The Devil himself can quote Scripture to suit his purposes".  I think that carries over to the Fathers, as well.

Well... yes, I would like to believe that myself, but in fact, almost every time I look at Fathers, I myself see this weird loathing of the flesh, of the simple and beautiful biology of this creature called "man." They all make things up. They long for "un-biology," unreality, which they call a "better," "un-fallen" reality. I can't imagine a Father saying, for example, "I had sex with my wife last night, and she had three orgasms, and it was so wonderful, and we both were so happy, glory be to God." In their writings, in their entire perception of the world, everything is as far from the above as I am from the Moon (or from the Pluto, or whatever). Christ became Man - but, of course, a chaste man. "Un-chastity" - even in marriage - is low, base, justified only by the sad necessity to procreate. When we are restored to the real, perfect life in the "world to come," we will have bodies - but certainly not genitals; or maybe we will have genitals, but most definitely not erections or orgasms...

It's always this pattern of reasoning; and, actually, if we are consistent, going along this pattern, we eventually arrive to the good old Platonism... Always this hierarchy of "good" mind (spirit, soul, "thin" "ethereal" body - doesn't really matter how you call it), and "lesser," "less good," "lower" flesh, matter, senses, all this that is inevitably perceived as "thick," "meaty," Slavic "debeloye" - and, *by definition*, as something "low..."

In another thread, Username mentioed a few weeks back that it is a paramount feature of Paganism to divide things into "sacred" and "profane" - then, ain't Fathers Pagan? I really don't know...
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« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2008, 10:50:48 PM »

^^^ Sigh. This aspect of Christianity has always frustrated me.

And it's even more difficult for the person who is an involuntary celibate. We are not permitted any outlet at all for our sexuality, but meanwhile, the married people gloat to us about all their wondrous exploits.  It's far worse, I believe, in practise, for the person not blessed with a spouse.
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« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2008, 07:28:45 AM »

^^^ Sigh. This aspect of Christianity has always frustrated me.

And it's even more difficult for the person who is an involuntary celibate. We are not permitted any outlet at all for our sexuality, but meanwhile, the married people gloat to us about all their wondrous exploits.  It's far worse, I believe, in practise, for the person not blessed with a spouse.

In practice, they gloat (and I am very sorry if this happens, and I don't approve of those who gloat, and if I did it, please forgive me because I don't mean to...) - while in theory, they aren't supposed to. There is so much confusion and conflict of this kind; it seems that we all know that humans sin in body and soul and spirit, but, nonetheless, our common "external" mentality is "death to the evil BODY." Give it as hard a time as you possibly can. Askesis literally means "training," but the gist of some Orthodox writings seems to be not training, but murdering. I just can't read, for example, St. Daniel of Rostov or St. Theophan the Recluse - they both are such body-loathers. And even in the writings of those who are "softer" on the body, there still is always this dichotomy, "soul, spirit, intellect, something immaterial - good; body, flesh, meat, senses, desires of the body - worse, lower." Viva Plato and Plotinus!  Huh
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2008, 08:40:40 AM »

In practice, they gloat (and I am very sorry if this happens, and I don't approve of those who gloat, and if I did it, please forgive me because I don't mean to...) - while in theory, they aren't supposed to. There is so much confusion and conflict of this kind; it seems that we all know that humans sin in body and soul and spirit, but, nonetheless, our common "external" mentality is "death to the evil BODY." Give it as hard a time as you possibly can. Askesis literally means "training," but the gist of some Orthodox writings seems to be not training, but murdering. I just can't read, for example, St. Daniel of Rostov or St. Theophan the Recluse - they both are such body-loathers. And even in the writings of those who are "softer" on the body, there still is always this dichotomy, "soul, spirit, intellect, something immaterial - good; body, flesh, meat, senses, desires of the body - worse, lower." Viva Plato and Plotinus!  Huh

All cultures divide "sacred" from the "profane". The next question, of course, is what does all of that mean.

Reading the Fathers takes discernment. Not everything is applicable to non-monastics.

The Buddha gave a sermon on the proper way to catch a snake. He likened his teaching to capturing a snake: it's very easy to misunderstand and misapply the teachings, thinking that one is making spiritual progress, when one is actually doing damage. I would say that there is always a danger in house-holders reading teachings meant for monastics.
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« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2009, 05:36:12 PM »

In practice, they gloat (and I am very sorry if this happens, and I don't approve of those who gloat, and if I did it, please forgive me because I don't mean to...) - while in theory, they aren't supposed to. There is so much confusion and conflict of this kind; it seems that we all know that humans sin in body and soul and spirit, but, nonetheless, our common "external" mentality is "death to the evil BODY." Give it as hard a time as you possibly can. Askesis literally means "training," but the gist of some Orthodox writings seems to be not training, but murdering. I just can't read, for example, St. Daniel of Rostov or St. Theophan the Recluse - they both are such body-loathers. And even in the writings of those who are "softer" on the body, there still is always this dichotomy, "soul, spirit, intellect, something immaterial - good; body, flesh, meat, senses, desires of the body - worse, lower." Viva Plato and Plotinus!  Huh

All cultures divide "sacred" from the "profane". The next question, of course, is what does all of that mean.

Reading the Fathers takes discernment. Not everything is applicable to non-monastics.

The Buddha gave a sermon on the proper way to catch a snake. He likened his teaching to capturing a snake: it's very easy to misunderstand and misapply the teachings, thinking that one is making spiritual progress, when one is actually doing damage. I would say that there is always a danger in house-holders reading teachings meant for monastics.

Good Point... I second it.  laugh
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« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2009, 05:43:04 PM »

^ You resurrected a year old dormant thread to agree with Buddha?   Huh
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« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2011, 10:38:08 PM »

A Problem with saying God became man?

(1) One site said that if Christ was God and died, this would mean one of the persons of God died- basically God died, and concludes:

Quote
[Therefore], the death on the cross was not simply experienced by the flesh, but also by the divine part of Jesus. It points out that John's Gospel says Jesus "became man."
http://unveilingchristianity.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/god-is-not-a-man-jesus-is-not-god/

So here we see God's divinity acting as if God was human. So it seems contradictory to say he was God and his divinity didn't act in a human way.
And then we have the contradiction that God died for about three days, yet He is immortal.


(2) The site then sounds like it makes sense when it interprets Numbers 23:19 to mean:

Quote
because God does not err that he is not human/man and it is because he is not man/human that he does not err!”

Numbers 23:19 says: “God is not a man, for he does not lie nor the son of man for he does not repent…”. Our second verse has it the other way around as if trying to reiterate what was previously said in Numbers. That verse is found in 1 Samuel 15:29 which reads,

“And also the Glory of Israel will not lie nor repent; for He is not a man(lo adam), that He should repent.’”http://unveilingchristianity.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/god-is-not-a-man-jesus-is-not-god/

In other words, he doesn't repent, therefore He is not a man.

=====================

However, I recognize that the translation for me is unclear.

Apparently it literally translates as:
Quote
לֹ֣א lo 3808 Nor
אִ֥ישׁ ish 376 A man
אֵל֙ el 410 God
וִֽיכַזֵּ֔ב vi·chaz·zev, 3576 lie
וּבֶן־ u·ven- 1121 A son
אָדָ֖ם a·dam 120 of man
וְיִתְנֶחָ֑ם ve·yit·ne·cham; 5162 repent
הַה֤וּא ha·hu 1931 has He
אָמַר֙ a·mar 559 said
וְלֹ֣א ve·lo 3808 Nor
יַעֲשֶׂ֔ה ya·'a·seh, 6213 do
וְדִבֶּ֖ר ve·dib·ber 1696 spoken
וְלֹ֥א ve·lo 3808 Nor
יְקִימֶֽנָּה׃ ye·ki·men·nah. 6965 make

http://biblos.com/numbers/23-19.htm

Quote
It is not true that God is a man and will lie and the son of man and He will change His mind”. The negation is distributed to each phrase [/color]http://unveilingchristianity.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/god-is-not-a-man-jesus-is-not-god/

In other words, if it is translated differently, it could mean that God is not a man who lies.
But I am not sure which translation is correct.


The Septuagint's words "God is not LIKE a man" is a mistranslation from Hebrew. It clearly says "God is not like...."


So I would like to see if there are some better explanations. Ones already given are that:
(A) He was not a man at that point in time, but became one later.
The problem with this explanation is that God is outside time.
(B) The context is just talking about God's nature.
The problem with this is that When Jesus resurrected, I think he was still of flesh. In fact, I think Jesus is still of flesh, right? So, He is God And still a man, since it says He "became man"


Here, the KJV translation of Numbers 23:19 says "God is not a man". But then John says God "became man."
So it seems there could be a contradiction.

Any ideas, please?




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