Well....First off, I don't quite understand why you would need first-century extra-biblical references of Jews adoring the Triune God since there is plenty of references to it IN the Bible itself....
Eg: Gospel of Matthew, written by the Apostle Matthew (a Jew) for a jewish audience. The Baptismal formula, given in MAtthew 28:19...Now, I know that there are indeed criticisms that this was a forgery (for that accusation, see here: http://www.tektonics.org/lp/matt2819.html
) Also, if it was indeed a forgery? who forged it?...some say the late church (post 200 AD) did so to fit the REAL Baptismal formula to fit into their Trinitarian ideals....well, what would you do with Baptismal formulas in the Didache for instance, which is a first century Christian Text written also by a predominantly Jewish group of men..The Didache has the Trinitarian formula as it states:
But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water.
But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
If, in case there is any doubts as to whether or not this work relied on the Gospels, Check this expert's observation out (I don't necesasrily agree with the entirety of his observation, but it is an interesting one nonetheless given the current dicussion):
"2. Independence of the Didache from the Gospels -- The Didache has been widely understood as citing either Matthew's Gospel or some combination of the Matthean or Lucan traditions. From this vantage point, it followed that the date of composition had to be set beyond the 80s and that the Synoptic material could be used to help interpret and understand the Didache. Thanks to my work with Willy Rordorf during the summers of 1990 and 1992, I came to an early appreciation of the possibility that the Didache might have been created without any dependence upon any known gospel.
My extensive study of this issue demonstrates that the internal logic, theological orientation, and pastoral practice of the Didache runs decisively counter to what one finds within the received gospels. The repercussions of this conclusion are enormous: (a) I am encouraged to return to a mid-first century dating for the Didache
, and (b) I am prohibited from using Matthew's Gospel by way of clarifying the intent of the Didache."
Other sources of the Trinitarian Baptismal formula are found on the mouth of the Apostle Paul, who was a JEW himself...the Baptismal formula is echoed again in the very first century Corinthian Church are he says:
"4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit
. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord
. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God
who works all in all." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2012:4-6&version=50;
Elsewhere he gives the benediction, which according to most scholars was the traditional norm (gasp!) within the earliest Chrsitian community as the Blessed Apostle says:
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
, and the love of God
, and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you all. Amen." (2 Corinthians 13:14) (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Cor.%2013:14;&version=50;
ALSO, another article that disproves the notion that early Jews couldn't have believed in a Triune God is further disproved in this wonderful article, written on Jewish Wisdom Theology: (http://www.tektonics.org/jesusclaims/trinitydefense.html).....the
main problem with Modalism is that it has to come face to face and provide a concise form of reply to the very concept of the personification of God's Wisdom/Word and Spirit....if this was simply a mere manifestation, then language depicting personification was simply unnecessary (or misleading); however such language is seen all over the Hebrew Bible....what does one do with such form of language?
Also, may I bring to the table the Aramaic Targums, the Aramaic translation of the Tanakh whcih was used in the time of our Lord. This piece of text is very interesting in that it uses an interesting term to depict God....instead of the term "God", the word usage most often seen to refer to GOD's creative power in the Hebrew Canon is the "word of God" which depict personification....example of this are:
Genesis 1:27: God
Created Man/ Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: The Word of the Lord
Genesis 6:6-7: And it repented the Lord
that he made man on the earth/ Targum: And it repented the Lord through his Word
that he made man on earth.
Genesis 15:6: And Abraham believe in the Lord
/Targum: And Abraham bleived in the Word of the Lord
Exodus 20:1: And the Lord
spoke all these words/Targum: And the Word of the Lord
spoke all these words. (pgs 19-20)
(MANY MANY MORE examples found in Dr. Michael L Brown's book titled "Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Vol.2 (Theological Objections) note:Dr. Michael L Brown is a practising Messianic Jew who believes in the One Triune God as well.....so not ALL messianic jews subscribe to Modalism. Actually, Modalist through amongst Messianic Jews is a minority
)The Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion
, on the topic of the Memra or the Word of God has this to say:
Although in a sense an aspect of the Divine, the Logos often appears as a separate entity
, namely, a half-personal emanation of God. The concept was appropriated by Philo in order to bridge the gap between the transcendent God of Judaism and the divine principle experienced by human beings. This view of the Logos as a mediating principle between God and material creation could link up with biblical references to the creative "Word of God" by which the heavens were made (Ps.33:6) and with the concept of Memra (Aramaic: "word") in Targum literature
...(New York: Oxford, 1997, p.423)
The Aramaic Targums (Targum Onkelos) does the same with the Spirit of God...the Shekhinah of the Lord God Almighty. Example:
Exodus 3:6 - Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God/Targum Onkelos: Moses was afraid to look beside the glory of the Lord/ Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Moses was afraid to look at the glory of the Shekhinah of the Lord.
Therefore, the Spirit of God is also often personified as the Shekhinah of God. Therefore, it is simply impossible (or rather intellectual suicide) to believe that this form of personified language is simply referring to a mere manifestation of God. The dots simply do not connect.....
Let's move on...
Goin back to the Baptismal formula...many Modalists would refute all the proof that is listed above in a second's time and simply maintain that it simply refers to the three manifestations of God (i.e. 1 god in 3 different modes)....well, simple enough at first....but what would happen if you read it in the actual KOINE GREEK...
Here are excerpts from a wonderful article by Fracis J. Beckwith, a Philosophy Professor at the University of Nevada, pertaining to this issue (note: while this article is specifically aimiing to Oneness Pentecostalism, this article is highly relevant for those Messianic Jews who beliweve in modalist teachings as well:
"In *Christ's Great Commission* to preach the Gospel, he instructs his disciples to "go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matt 28:19). It is important to note that the Greek word "name," used in this verse, is singular (homonos). It does *not* say, "in the *names* of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," but rather, it says, "in the *name*...." In other words, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct *persons*, have only one name. This clearly implies the Triune nature of God. Furthermore, the Trinity is revealed at *Christ's incarnation* (Luke 1:35) and *baptism* (Matt 3:16,17), in the *Apostolic benediction* (II Cor 13:13), and in *Christ's own teachings* (John 14:26; 15:26)....
...In the first four parts of this series we concluded that (1) the Bible teaches that there is only one God by nature, and (2) the Bible teaches that there are three persons who are God. From those two premises we drew the inference that the three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - are the one God. We also concluded that the three are distinct persons, not simply three different functions of one person.
But according to the "Jesus Only" sect (a.k.a "Oneness Pentecostalism,"), the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons who share the same nature and being, but rather, they are the same person. Each title--"Father," "Son," and "Holy Spirit"--represents a different mode by which God, a single person, manifests Himself, just as "uncle," "husband," and "brother" each represents a different mode by which Frank Beckwith (FB), a single human person, manifests himself. This is why the ancient heresy which Oneness embraces is called "modalism."
Consequently, anything true of Frank Beckwith uncle (FBu) must be true of Frank Beckwith husband (FBh) and Frank Beckwith brother (FBb). That is to say, it can *not* be the case that FBu is married to Frankie Rozelle Dickerson Beckwith (yes, my wife's name is Frankie) while FBh is not. It can *not* be the case that FBh hit 9 3-pt. jumpshots in a city league basketball game in February 1993 while FBb did not. What is true of FBu, as a person, must be true of FBh and FBb if they are all the same person. Certainly it is true that the relationships that make u, h, and b distinct are different, but the *person* to which these titles apply must possess all the same properties regardless of in what role he is functioning (that is, whether brother, husband, or uncle). That is, everything that is true of the Frank Beckwith who is the uncle of Dean James Beckwith and Dylan Patrick Beckwith is true of the Frank Beckwith who is married to Frankie R.D. Beckwith and who is the brother of Dr. James Beckwith and Patrick Beckwith.
Thus, in order for modalism (or "Oneness") to be correct there *must be nothing true of one "mode" which is not true of another "mode"*. But if there is just one thing true of one which is not true of another, then *they cannot be the same person* and modalism is false.
Understand the monumental task of the Oneness apologist: he must overturn our common sense intuition that when the Bible speaks of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the Bible is in fact speaking of three persons rather than one. That is to say, on the face of it, it would appear that a plain reading of the text clearly presents three distinct persons, since we have numerous verses that indicate communication and relationship between persons, such as when Jesus prayed to his Father and the Holy Spirit descended upon him. In other words, since the common sense plain reading of the text indicates three distinct persons, the burden of proof is without a doubt on the Oneness person to show the common sense plain reading is false. The Trinitarian does not have the burden of proof.
Consider the following:
(1) Jesus of Nazareth is called the one and only mediator between God and man (I Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). This would mean that God the Son has a property - mediatorship - which is possessed by neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit, since the text is saying he is the ONLY mediator *between* humanity and the Godhead.
(2) "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, `This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" (Matt. 3:16-17). The Son has the property of "being the Son loved by the Father" but not the property of "being the Father who loves the Son." The Spirit has neither property. Thus, we have in this verse a clear distinction between the persons of the Trinity.
(3) "`No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come - neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows.'" (Matt. 24:36). Here the Son has a property (not knowing the day or hour of his second coming) which the Father does not. Imagine if I said, "Only Frank Beckwith as an uncle knows what he's getting from his wife for Christmas. Frank Beckwith as a brother does not know what he's getting from his wife for Christmas." You would have to infer from this that there must two Frank Beckwiths. If not, then it is logically incoherent.
(4) "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matt. 28:19). In the Greek, tou ("the") is used for each title, and each is separated by kai ("and"). This helps support the view that in this text three distinct individual persons are being spoken of:
...in the name of *the* (tou) Father *and the* (kai tou) Son, *and the* (kai tou) Holy Spirit.
If the Greek text had been referring to only one person, it would have most likely read:
...in the name of *the* Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
...in the name of *the* Father, *the* Son, and *the* Holy Spirit.
I don't want to make too much of grammatical constructions, but it seems that because of the use of both the article and its own conjunction, it is highly unlikely that the author was talking about only one person (on this, see Bruce Tucker, TWISTING THE TRUTH: RECOGNIZING HOW CULT GROUPS SUBTLY DISTORT BASIC CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES (Bethany House, 1987)).
If two things have every property in common, then they are one thing (e.g., Norma Jean Baker and Marilyn Monroe, Casius Clay and Muhammed Ali). But if there is *only one property that is not the same*, then they are separate persons. This is called the indiscernibility of identicals (II), or in symbolic form:
(x) (y) [(y=x)-->(P)(Px<-->Py)]
That is, for any entities x and y, if x and y are the same thing, then any property P, P is true of x if and only if P is true of y. If x is the Son and y is the Father, then if Oneness is true, x must be identical to y. On the other hand, if something is true of the Son which is not true of the Father, then the Son is not identical to the Father and Oneness if false. II is a principle of sound reasoning which is the basis for all thought. But we have seen that there are things true of the Son which are not true of the Father and there are things true of the Spirit which are not true of either the Father or the Son.
Suppose the Oneness person denies the applicability of logic to God. But, of course, he can't, because this very claim *presupposes* logic. That is, the Oneness apologist is saying "It cannot be the case that we can apply logic to God," which means that God cannot both be "a being to which logic applies" and "a being to which logic does not apply." So the Oneness person assumes the most fundamental principle of logic--the law of non-contradiction--in his denial of logic. Also, Oneness itself as a theory of the Godhead presupposes a number of logical virtues which its proponnents think it exemplifies in comparison to Trinitarianism: coherency, simplicity, consistency with the biblical text, etc.
Of course, much more can be said critiquing the Oneness view of God. There are many verses Oneness apologists use in order to prove their case. I simply do not have the time to go over them. My purpose was to present a positive case for the traditional doctrine of the Trinity and why church history has supported this doctrine. Scholarly responses to oneness can be found in Gregory Boyd's ONENESS PENTECOSTALISM AND THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY (Baker Books, 1992) and E. Calvin Beisner's forthcoming book "JESUS ONLY" AND ONENESS PENTECOSTALISM (Zondervan, 1995), published as part of Zondervan's series of small books on cults."
Also, please consider this: The very Shema found in the Tanakh (Deut 6:4) shows that God, albeit while not being shown to be Triune by any stretch of the imagination, is indeed a composite unity and not an absolute one, as modalism teaches. Modalist thought often renders God as an absolute unity, which has often interacted with his earthly creatures through different manifestations. The Shema, however renders it differently:
Shema Y'israel, Adonai Eloheynu, Adonai ECHAD (Deuteronomy 6:4) (note: it doesn't use the word for absolute unity: 'yachid'
, rather it uses the composite unity term 'echad'
....Messianic Jews must...MUST come face to face with this word usage since it is indeed, part and parcel of the Jewish understanding of God)
In conclusion, I hope and pray that you read through all of this and digest the information slowly and take this to prayer in front of the One True God....
+ The Pilgrim