So, not only did i end up having to drive back home after 5 hours already on the road, now im stuck at my Dad's work doing database projects. Ive been flat out, and its very late (12:18 am now), but i figure this is my best chance to get my response in, before uni starts in just over a few days. It will be time to farewell the forums - im involved in a few, and theyre just way too addictive for my good!
Continuing on with the discussion, and again I appreciate your input very much:
Quote by me:
You can only come to this conclusion if you presuppose that God is a unipersonal “solidarity-within-unity” type of being.
Well, any argument that presupposes the conclusion you’re trying to prove is certainly not sound, don’t you think?
We need to look at the facts objectively, and use what the scriptures make explicit, as our premises. With regards to the particular passage in question we have the following facts:
1) The Angel is distinct from the Lord (the distinction is necessarily in terms of identity/name/persona alone - further data is required to speak of the nature of their being/essence).
2) The Angel is addressed with the divine name, and given divine worship
3) The ground the angel was standing on, was considered holy.
4) The Angel possesses the name of YHWH in Him.
5) The Angel possesses the divine prerogative to forgive sins.
6) The Angel has the power to destroy Israel’s enemies.
Therefore, The Angel is divine, yet distinct from the Lord.
a) The Angel is a second God.
b) The Angel is a personal hypostasis of God’s being - an extension of His Will and self-manifestation.
7) The scriptures testify that God is One.
Therefore - b)
Look at Exodus 20:3 & the strange syntax therein.
Okay, I’m not going to pretend to be a Hebrew scholar here, and I’m still less than a week premature of even properly
labeling myself a student of the Hebrew language (I will be taking my first class in a 2 year study of classical Hebrew once university resumes, in just over a few days) But I’d like to comment according to the capacity that I feel I can, for I have done my own bit of personal research into the issue - and I believe there’s other factors exclusive to those concerning linguistics, that need to be taken into consideration regarding the true intent of this verse.
In the (original!) Hebrew, this is:
Lo yihyeh lekha elokim aherim al panai.
What's strange about this is that the verb yihyeh ("will have") is singular while the subject elokim ("gods") is plural.
As I see it, your observation only goes to prove the Trinitarian position! God in addressing the nationS (plural), uses the singular verb yihveh (which is actually modifying the nations He is addressing, and not His own being), - a prime example of pluarilty within unity as I see it.
Lets consider some other semantic issues. As I understand it, there are quite a few Hebrew words which can be translated into “one”, a few of them being: ishah; ish; nephesh, yachid, and echad. As I know it, the first three are never applied to God, but rather creation; the first applied to man; the second to woman; and the third to the soul. The word yachid, denotes absolute solitary oneness - its general meaning, whereas in contrast the word echad is often employed in a context of compound unities. Since you believe:
that every word and every letter of the Torah are full of meaning & are there to teach us something
- then you must question, why God would employ the word Echad (a word often used to describe pluralities within unities) in reference to Himself, rather than the word Yachid (a word always used to describe absolute solitary oneness), if He truly wanted to condemn the Christian Trinity? Especially since the verses establishing that God are one, are in direct reference to His being, in contrast to Exodus 20:3 which has nothing to do with the nature of His being?
Here are a couple precedents for the usage of echad to denote a compound unity: a) Gen. 2:24: Here, Adam and Eve (2 distinct persons) become one (echad) flesh. b) Ezra 2:64: The "congregation" of 42, 360 is described as "one" (echad).
Furthermore, we see that plural nouns (such as Elohim, Adonai, Creators, judges) as well as singular nouns (such as El, Creator, judge), plus plural pronouns (such as We, Our, Us) as well as singular pronouns (such as I, me, myself) are used in reference to God. Even the verbs and adjectives employed in relation to God, are used in both their singular and plural forms numerously.
the Torah is telling us that we cannot claim that He who is singular & utterly unique is, in fact, many.
Before I go on to discuss what I believe the verse is plainly saying in light of the above basic linguistic observation, I would like to make a few side comments.
First of all, lets assume for arguments sake, that God is telling the nations “Do not say that I am many” - Again, many with regards to what? As a Jew, you would affirm that God has a plurality of attributes correct? Now can you give me one objective reason to turn around and say “Well God wasn’t speaking of His attributes, He was speaking concerning His personhood.”?
We both know, that there is absolutely no basis for this, and hence your argument is inconsistent and bias towards your very presuppositions - a presupposition which in itself is very intellectually presumptuous to say the least (no disrespect intended!). Furthermore, it is interesting that you employ the word “unique.” to qualify the very nature of God's existence. As Christians, we affirm likewise, that God is unique, and that means in every aspect
- Being, attributes, personhood, etc. etc.
Lets briefly analyze the concept of being and personhood, and do a comparison between our respective ideologies of God’s personhood and being, and the being and personhood of man.
We’ll start with being
. Christians affirm that God is one in reference to His existence/being, however despite the fact each individual human, can also be said to be one being/existence, Orthodoxy maintains that the nature of God's existence transcends that of creation, such that:
“If we say He exists, we must qualify this immediately by adding that He is not one existent object amongst many, that in His case the word ‘exist’ bears a unique significance.” (Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, page 14)
With regards to personhood, it is clear that each human being is one person. The reason for this, is quite simple. A person by definition, is simply a continuously existent substantial principle of the intellectual mind. Of all the aspects of the human intellectual mind: knowledge, ego, self-consciousness etc. It is the ego alone, the “self” which qualifies as our person. Why? Very simply because, as finite human beingsGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âªour knowledge is not a continuously substantial principle of our beings (i.e. we are not born with a set amount of knowledge), rather it is finitely progressing, from the day we are born, to the day we go to school, to the day we graduate from university etc etc and contingent upon certain external factors (what books you read, what people you speak to etc etc). Self-consciousness, also fails this criteria, for this is something that comes and goes.
So at this stage, we see that man is one person as the very result of his finite nature. To restrict God to one person, is to deny His transcendence and uniqueness, as the result of comparing His personhood to that of a man; a personhood which is restricted as such, purely because of the finite nature of man.
The Word, the encapsulation of God’s infinite divine knowledge/reason is a persona of His own being - for God possesses His knowledge since all eternity, and it is eternally infinite.
In effect, God is using Exodus 20:3 to tell us (inter alia): Do not claim that I, the One, am I, the Many.
I see this as quite a creative conclusion to come to, unfortuantely i dont believe it is exegetically sound. Besides the fact that the singular verb is clearly modifying what the behaviour of the nations should be (rather than the being of God - and hence a great example of plurality within unity), we must consider the historical context.
The first commandment clearly concerns the fact that YHWH alone is to be the object of or our worship. The neighboring cultures, such as the Egyptians, were polytheists, believing in many Gods to the exclusion of the God of Israel. There was absolutely NO one who had any conception of One God with multiple persona’s, this kind of thinking simply did not exist, so to argue that God is commanding people not to ascribe more than one persona to Him, although clearly not the intended implication nonetheless, simply does not fit in its historical context - it wouldn’t make sense at all.
I think the verse speaks plainly, the Lord YHWH is the One exclusive God, and the command is directed to the polytheists of that day, telling them to reject their many gods which they have taken besides/to-the-exclusion-of/in-the-presence-of (al-panai - an expression which can also be said to intimidate the fact that to acknowledge any other gods besides Him is something very provoking to him; a sin that kind of dares Him to His very face, such that he cannot overlook or connive - See Ps. 21:2, 44:20) YHWH - the One and only God of Israel.
I would say that we see all references to angels in the Tanakh as "actual created angels."
Well as you mentioned before - the word for angel, simply means messenger/agent; so I can see no real objective reason, why every one of these "messengers" must be an “actual created angel” - I think we will just have to agree to disagree I think. The very reason why I concluded that the Angel of the book of Revelations is an “actual created angel” is that it refused to receive divine worshipGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âªin contrast to the “Angel” of the book of judges, which openly received the title “my Lord” and the divine worship that followed, without objection, and even went further, commanding Joshua to take off his shoes in the place which the angel was present.
I see the verse as teaching that the recipe (as it were) for realizing one's spiritual potential (I am deliberately not using the word "salvation" here; "salvation" is a Christian frame-of-reference, not a Jewish one) is in the Torah & not in a divine or semi-divine figure who will bring it to us from Heaven, even embodied in his person.
Where are you reading “spiritual potential” in the verses in question? That’s what im trying to understand. The object of the passage is the Law, not Spiritual completion i.e. when the verse says “who will bring..it
to us” - the object - “it
” - is the TorahGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âªthe implication being: “You already have the Torah in your possession, no one needs to go into the heavens to bring it down to you, nor does anyone need to go beyond the seaGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âªits right here there front of your noses, what excuse do you have not to follow it?”
Even the ancient Targums agree with this plain interpretation. The Jerusalem Targum paraphrases this particular passage: Jerusalem Targum paraphrases it saying:
``the law is not in heaven that it should be said, oh that we had one of us, as Moses the prophet, who could go up to heaven and bring it to us! nor is it beyond the great sea, that it should be said, oh that we had one of us, as Jonah the prophet, "who could descend into the depths of the great sea", and bring it to us;''
The Talmud, putting an interesting twist to it states:
"says Abdimo bar Chama bar Dousa, what is the meaning of that Scripture, "neither is it in heaven, nor is it beyond the sea?" it is not in heaven, for if it was in heaven you must needs go up after it, and if it was beyond the sea, you must needs go over after it; Rabba says, not in heaven is it, you will not find it in him that exalts his knowledge in himself as the heavens, nor will you find it in him that enlarges his knowledge in himself, as the sea; R. Jochanan says, not in heaven is it, you will not find it in those that are of a haughty spirit, nor beyond the sea is it, you will not find it among traders abroad, or merchants.''
As St Paul pointed out in the context in which he quoted these verses in Romans 10, “life” is found in the Torah, only with regards to those who perfectly observe it.
Upon consulting the targums, we find that this was understood as a reference to eternal life; Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrase the words, "he shall live in them", to "in eternal life". Likewise Jarchi explains it as, "he shall live in the world to come"; which agrees with the note of Rabbi Aben Ezra, who interprets it of life in both worlds; saying that if a man understands the secret of them, he shall live for ever, and shall never die.
Of course, "no matter how hard one strives, we all ultimately fall short,"
Hence the necessity that God perfect our humanity, and renew our nature, such that we can achieve a certain state of spiritual perfection where we don’t fall short. It is through such spiritual perfection that the Torah testifies that one may have life (Lev. 18:5).
For on the one hand, both the Old and New Testament acknowledge that man is sinful by nature, and are transgressors of the law:
"There is not a righteous man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not"
1 Kings 8:46:
“If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near”
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Yet on the other hand, they command us to be perfect and holy as God.
I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. 45 I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
2 "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
" 'Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD , who makes you holy.
1 Peter 1:15
15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[a]
”Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
but the important thing is the effort, the striving (like in that parable from The Chosen I mentioned in my previous post). As one of our Sages says, "You are not called upon to complete the work but neither are you free to desist from it."
That’s where we disagree, for the scriptures testify that we ARE called upon to complete the work, and we can indeed complete the work, yet this is impossible without the incarnation and atoning sacrafice of the Lord. Striving is an “important thing” as you said - and I quoted you quite a few New Testament scriptures that attest to this - but it alone is not sufficient. Allow me to modify this parable of yours in a Christian context.
A king had a servant whom he loved very much, even as a son (I employ the term servant, only to distinguish him from the unique Son). But as the servant grew up, he & his father (for he addresses his King as such, according to the intimate and affectionate relationship they shared) gradually grew apart until at last they were almost totally estranged. The servant moved far away, becoming acquainted with his Father’s enemy, who offered him many gifts and bribes, to stay and serve and work for him instead. But the king still loved his servant very much, though his servant had fallen in love with, and started to serve the King’s enemy, and, more than anything else in the world, wanted him to return to him, for he had so much more to offer. So he sent a message to this effect to his servant, bidding him to return. The servant, deep down in his heart wanted to, but the bridge he crossed to get to the Father’s enemy had collapsed, and the King’s enemy had set up a barrier to prevent the servant from going back.
So he sent a message back to his father & said, "I cannot come back to you; the barrier is too strong, and the separation between the two cliffs too vast for me to overcome. The king, loving father that he was, sensed what was in his servant's heart and sent another message to his servant & said, "Then I will send you my only Son, he will bridge the gap, and break down the barrier for you, even if the enemy conspires against him, and leads him to shame, suffering and death. Once His mission is accomplished, you can make your way home my child, and I’ll be waiting to receive you with open arms."
The bridge was established by the incarnation of the Lord's Word; the barrier broken down by His sacrafice. Works, repentence, sacraments, can now clearly help us make that journey back to the Father through His Grace and the work of His Holy Spirit.
I am aware of Paul's statements in Galatians 2:16 and Romans 3:28. I suppose that thhey are the core of the theological divergence/difference between our respective faiths.
Indeed, however, I would still conclude that the whole idea that works alone, do not and cannot justify us in the sight of God or lead us to eternal life, to be a principle evident in the Hebrew scriptures.
Again, Leviticus 18:5 comes into play. Those who keep the Law without transgressing it, have life.
Yet, we find that the scriptures teach that it becomes impossible for man, even to obey “easy laws” because of the weakness, corruption and sinfulness of our human nature. If we go to Deuteronomy 31:14-22, we find that Moses prophecied that Israel would fail to do what God commanded and would, therefore, come under God's judgment. Moses is then told to write down his song as a testimony against them. cf. Deuteronomy 32.
It is interesting that at the conclusion of the Son of Moses, God says the following:
43")Rejoice, O nations, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And will render vengeance on His adversaries,
And will ATONE for His land and His people."
God will atone for both the people and the land after all the judgments of 31 come upon them.
Joshua basically says the same thing, that Israel is incapable of pleasing God. If we go to Joshua 24:14-28. Joshua plainly tells them that they are not able to serve God because he is Holy. When they still insist they can, he then says that they have testified AGAINST themselves. Clearly, these passages affirm what Paul said, that by the doing of the Law no one can be justified because no one is able to perfectly obey them, in perfect holiness, just as God is holy.
A further indication of their incapability can be seen from the sacrificial system and priesthood which God established. If man is capable of doing what pleases God just by “striving to do the best one can, and repentance”, then there would be no need for atonement or for a priest to mediate on behalf of the people. What this all means is that the Law was given to show Israel why they can't please God and why they need a Savior, a Mediator to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. This, again, is basically what the NT says. Cf. Galatians 3:19-25; Hebrews 8:5-6; Romans 3:28; 10:1-10.
With regards to the Jews for Judaism article:
The Augustinian conception of original sin that it presents, is not one accepted by Orthodoxy.
Let me quote you from Bishop Kallistos Ware’s book, “The Orthodox way”, on page 62 he says:
“For the Orthodox tradition then, Adam’s original sinaffects the human race in it entirety, and it has consequences on both the physical and moral level: it not only results in sickness and physical death, but in moral weakness and paralysis. But does it also imply inherited guilt? Here Orthodoxy is more guarded. Original sin is not to be interpreted in juridicial or quasi-biological terms, as if it were some physical “taint” of guilt, transmitted through sexual intercourseGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âª.The doctrine of original sin means rather that we are born into an environment where it easy to do evil and hard to do good; easy to hurt others, and hard to heal their wounds; easy to arouse men’s suspicions, and hard to win their trust.”
Hence, Psalm 51:5 reads: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.”
The above mentioned sacrificial system indeed attests to the sinfulness of man. The Sin offering reminds us that due to the corruption of our human nature, a person can even sin without being aware of it i.e. "sins unintentionally" (Leviticus 4:13, 22,27).
Okay, one more post to go, then its time to lie down...