SUPPLEMENTAL 1

GREEK PHILOSOPHERS AND THE TRINITY

From Eusebeias, PREPARATION FOR THE GOSPEL, Vol 2, pages 535-537)

Plato (Epistle to Dionysus) -- "I must explain it to you then in riddles, that if the tablet suffer any harm in the remote parts of sea or land, the reader may learn nothing. For the matter is thus: Around the King of the Universe are all things, and all are for His sake, and that is the cause of all things beautiful: and around the Second are the secondary things, and around the Third the tertiary."

How was this understood by Platonic disciples?

Eusebeias -- "These statements are referred, by those who attempt to explain Plato, to the First God, and to the Second Cause, and thirdly to the Soul of the Universe, defining it also as a third God."

Numenius (Of the Good) -- "(Eusebias) This is what Plotinus says. ‘This is the reason also of Plato’s TRINITIES: for he says that around the King of all are all the primaries, and around the second the secondaries, and around the third the TERTIARIES.’ And Numenius highly commending Plato’s doctrines in his treatise OF THE GOOD gives his own interpretation of the Second Cause as follows: ‘The First God being in Himself, is simple, because, being united throughout with Himself, He can never be divided. God however the Second and the Third is one."

THE FORMATION OF CHRISTIAN DOGMA (Prof Martin Werner, Bern) -- "The earliest Church authors, however, did not apparently take over their Logos doctrine from Gnosticism. (page 225) ... Thus in the great Gnostic systems, as later in Neoplatonism, the Nous held the place within the Church in its doctrine assigned to the Logos. ... Sometimes Philo is clearly the source of inspiration, sometimes Prov. viii, 22 ff., sometimes it is a question of an attempt at a compromise between this key passage of the Old Testament and John i, I. (226) ... With Justin and Irenaeus the process of de-eschatologising the Primitive Christian conception of Christ, assisted by the Logos doctrine, was able even to achieve the transformation of the apocalyptic Christ into the Platonic World-Soul." (228)

 EB CD-ROM, under "Trinity- history of the doctrine" -- "The diversity in interpretation of the Trinity was conditioned especially through the understanding of the figure of Jesus Christ. According to the theology of the Gospel According to John, the divinity of Jesus Christ constituted the departure point for understanding his person and efficacy. The Gospel According to Mark, however, did not proceed from a theology of incarnation but instead understood the baptism of Jesus Christ as the adoption of the man Jesus Christ into the Sonship of God, accomplished through the descent of the Holy Spirit. The situation became further aggravated by the conceptions of the special personal character of the manifestation of God developed by way of the historical figure of Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit was viewed not as a personal figure but rather as a power and appeared graphically only in the form of the dove and thus receded, to a large extent, in the Trinitarian speculation."

PERSONIFICATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Regarding the masculine gender PARAKLETO(S, N) [Paraclete, Comforter, Helper] --- The dictionary defines "personify" as, "to think or speak of a thing has having life or personality ... as, we personify a ship by referring to it as ‘she’." This personification of abstractions or powers is shown from Genesis 4.7 The New English Bible (NE) says: "Sin is a demon crouching at the door." Proverbs chs 1 and 8 compare Wisdom (SOPHIA) to a woman. Jesus says: "Wisdom is vindicated by all her children." (Lk 7.35 RSV) Paul has "sin" and "death" as kings who "rule" and possess "desires." (Ro 5.14, 21; 6.12) He has the "higher powers" as "she." (Ro 13.3, 4)

Unlike English many languages have verbs with gender. Though PARAKLETOS is masculine, PNEUMA (Spirit) is not, it is neuter, or "it." This is seen in Romans 8.16 where the United Bible Societies’ interlinear renders: "Itself (AUTO) the spirit witnesses with the spirit of us," or, "the spirit itself bears witness." The Catholic New American Bible admits this regarding John 14.17: "The Greek word for 'Spirit' is neuter, and while we use personal pronouns in English ('he,' 'his,' 'him'), most Greek MSS [manuscripts] employ 'it.'"

Other abstractions are given personality. Note the Nazarene at John 3.8: "The wind [PNEUMA, neuter "spirit"] blows where it chooses [wishes, wills, pleases]." Compare 1 John 5.6-8: "There are three that testify [Jn 15.26] the spirit, and the water and the blood."

When Jesus speaks of the neuter PNEUMA as a masculine PARAKLETOS is he using a "metaphor" (RIEU), "similitude" (UBSint), "figure of speech" (NASB), "proverbs" (KJV), "parables" (KNX), or "comparisons" (NWT) and not literally? (Jn 16.25, 29)

The New Catholic Encyclopedia: "The O[ld] T[estament] clearly does not envisage God's spirit as a person . . . God's spirit is simply God's power. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly. ... The majority of N[ew] T[estament] texts reveal God's spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God. ... On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power. ... Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication of a Third Person."

Catholic theologian Edmund Fortman: "The Jews never regarded the spirit as a person; nor is there any solid evidence that any Old Testament writer held this view. . . . The Holy Spirit is usually presented in the Synoptics [Gospels] and in Acts as a divine force or power. ... Although this spirit is often described in personal terms, it seems quite clear that the sacred writers [of the Hebrew Scriptures] never conceived or presented this spirit as a distinct person." (The Triune God)

The New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: "The majority of N[ew] T[estament] texts reveal God's spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God." (1967, Vol. XIII, p. 575) It also reports: "The Apologists [Greek Christian writers of the second century] spoke too haltingly of the Spirit; with a measure of anticipation, one might say too impersonally."-Vol. XIV, p. 296.

 REGARDING THE HOLY SPIRIT:

Do you agree with the Nazarene? Is the Sender "greater" than the one sent? "A slave is not greater than his master, nor is one that is sent forth greater than the one that sent him." (Jn 13.16) Is the Holy Spirit "sent" or not? (Jn 14.26)

Paul quotes Isaiah 40.13 from the LXX at 1 Cor 2.16 using the exact phrasing: "’For who has come to know the mind [Grk = noun] of the Lord?’ But we have the mind [noun] of Christ." The Hebrew version uses not "mind" but "Spirit [ruwach]." (Compare KJV, NAS, NIV, etc) Would this not indicate, in harmony with Paul, that the Jews in rendering the Hebrew to Greek thought the Spirit to be "mind"? In Isaiah the context of Yahweh’s creative power (i.e. the Spirit) is explained (verse 26): "Who brings out their host by number? By greatness of His Might, for that He is strong in power [dynamic energy]." In Hebrew here the word "power" is from KOWACH meaning "force." (Strongs # 3581) Since this is unseen it is an "invisible force" like wind or breath emanating from the Mind of The God.

The words of church historian Neander --- of whom McClintock and Strong's Cyclopædia describes as, "Universally conceded to be by far the greatest of ecclesiastical historians" --- wrote: "In A.D. 380, great indistinctness prevailed among the different parties respecting this dogma so that a contemporary could say, 'Some of our theologians regard the holy spirit simply as a mode of divine operation; others as a creature of God; others as God himself; others again, say that they know not which of the opinions to accept from their reverence for Holy Writ, which says nothing upon the subject.'"

The New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: "The majority of N[ew] T[estament] texts reveal God's spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God." (1967, Vol. XIII, p. 575) It also reports: "The Apologists [Greek Christian writers of the second century] spoke too haltingly of the Spirit; with a measure of anticipation, one might say too impersonally."-Vol. XIV, p. 296.

 REGARDING THE HOLY SPIRIT AS THE "FINGER OF (the) GOD" (Mt 12.24-29; Lk 12.15-23)

THE DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT THEOLOGY (Vol 3, pp. 689-701) -- "Spirit ... denotes dynamic movement of the air. ... ‘Holy Spirit’ denotes supernatural POWER. ... This is nowhere more clearly evident than in Acts where the Spirit is presented as an almost tangible FORCE, visible if not in itself, certainly in its affects. ... For the first Christians, the Spirit was most characteristically a divine POWER manifesting itself in inspired utterance. ... The Spirit was evidently experienced as a numinous POWER pervading the early community and giving its early leadership an aura of authority which could not be withstood. (Acts 5.1-10) ... It is important to realize that for Paul too the Spirit is a divine POWER."

"The Holy Spirit is a DYNAMIS [power] and is expressly so called in Lk (24.49) ["Look, I am sending forth upon you that which is promised by my Father. You, though, abide in the city until you become clothed with power from on high."] and DYNAMIS HYPSISTOU, Lk (1.35) ["Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will over shadow you."]. ... In some pass. the Holy Spirit is rhetorically represented as a Person." (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, page 522) (Compare Ac 1.11; 5.11, 55)

Theological Workbook of the Old Testament, Vol 2, page 836-7: "The basic idea of RUAH (Grk pneuma) is ‘air in motion.’ .... "’The RUAH spirit of God is in my nostrils.’ (Job 27.3) .... The ‘breath’ of God may be a strong wind. (Is 40.7) ... His ‘spirit’ may indicate no more than active power. (Is 40.13)"

REGARDING THE HOLY SPIRIT BEING GOD: (Acts 13.1-4)

Note the context, for the first verse mentions "prophets and teachers" in the Antioch ecclesia. Then following this it states: "The holy spirit said: 'Separate to me Barnabas and Paul.'" Does it not seem that the one who really spoke would be one of the prophets? So "the God of our Lord" used His own power and influence (the holy spirit) to speak through such prophet? The work THE PEOPLE'S NEW TESTAMENT WITH NOTES (B. W. Johnson), page 470, footnote #2: "The Holy Spirit said. By an inspiration given to some one of these prophets." This is consistent with examples in the OT where the NT says the spirit said something when it was the prophet. Note Jer 31.31-33 and Heb 10.15, 16: "Moreover the holy spirit also bears witness to us, for after it has said: 'This is the covenant ... '"

Regarding the English word "spirit" --- THE ROOTS OF ENGLISH, page 229: "[Latin SPIRARE, to breathe." Thus it equals both the Hebrew (RUACH) and Greek (PNEUMA) for "breath." Thus, "spirit of God" is reasonably rendered "Breath of God" or "Wind of God." The word "spirit" has taken on a corporeal tone like the word "ghost." Likely, if the word PNEUMA had been rendered "breath" or "wind" in English the Holy Spirit would not have developed so strongly in English as a Person separate from God. Some translators actually do render RUACH as "wind" in Genesis 1.2. (NJB: a divine wind)

Note the parallels between spirit and breath (wind) in poetic verses. Psalm 18.10, "Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind (RUACH/PNEUMA)." (KJV, ASV, JPS, NEB) Psalm 33.6: "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath (RUACH/PNEUMA) of his mouth." (KJV, NJB) Psalm 104.30: "Thou sendest forth thy spirit (RUACH/PNEUMA), they are created." [NJB: you give breath]

What "the spirit of God" is can be understood by comparing it to the "spirit of man." Many score times does the Bible speak of man’s inner attributes of mind which may be vented by his breath such as in anger. This "spirit" is not another person but part and parcel of the person himself. Thus, the "spirit of God" is also that inner attribute of the Divine Mind which the Creator can project from Himself to accomplish His will. The two cannot be separated. Thus, if a person sin against the spirit of God it is the same as sinning against God. (Nu 12.1-16; Ac 5.1-4) If one blaspheme the spirit of God it is the same as blaspheming God, but not necessarily the Son. (Mt 12.31, 32)

REGARDING THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS: 

Some use the words of the Pharisees to prove Jesus is God when they quote them: "No one can forgive sins but God." Is this statement by the religious hierarchy of the day accurate? How did Jesus respond to it and did this prove he thought he was God?

Matthew 9.1-8 reads: "So, boarding the boat, he proceeded across and went into his own city. 2 And, look! they were bringing him a paralyzed man lying on a bed. On seeing their faith Jesus said to the paralytic: "Take courage, child; your sins are forgiven." 3 And, look! certain of the scribes [Lk - and Pharisees] said to themselves: "This fellow is blaspheming. [Mk 2.7 -- Who but God can forgive sins?]" 4 And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said: "Why are YOU thinking wicked things in YOUR hearts? 5 For instance, which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up and walk? 6 However, in order for YOU to know that the Son of man HAS AUTHORITY on earth to forgive sins-" then he said to the paralytic: "Get up, pick up your bed, and go to your home." 7 And he got up and went off to his home. 8 At the sight of this the crowds were struck with fear, and they glorified [The] GOD, WHO GAVE SUCH AUTHORITY TO MEN." Who gave the Son this authority?

Is Jesus the only one who could forgive sins? Note what Jesus says to Peter and the apostles: "And after he said this he blew upon them and said to them: "Receive holy spirit. 23 If YOU FORGIVE THE SINS of any persons, they stand forgiven to them; if YOU retain those of any persons, they stand retained." (Jn 20.22, 23)

Is it fair to state that this argument about who can forgive sins as proof of Jesus’ deity is misused? Is it fair to say that the idea originated with the enemies of Jesus?

ADDENDUM RE JOHN 1.1

A fair and correct rendering of John 1.1 ought to be: "In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was (facing) toward The God, and the Word was divine. This Divine One was with the God in the beginning."

John McKenzie, S.J., Dictionary of the Bible: "Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated 'THE WORD WAS WITH THE GOD [= the Father], and THE WORD WAS DIVINE BEING.'" (Published with nihil obstat and imprimatur.) (New York, 1965), p. 317.)

If we substitute another word -- one less biased to the Trinitarian filter -- "Lord" -- and using Psalm 110.1 (KJV) as the basis of an example of Deu 10.17 -- Lord of lords -- we would render John 1.1, 2: "In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with the Lord, and the Word was a lord. This Lord was with The Lord in the beginning."

The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol 2, page 81: "Several passages in Jn. contain ascription of divinity. Jn. 1.1 ... The fact that there is no definite article before theos here has been taken to imply that the Word may be understood as being some kind of divine being but not in the fullest sense of the term. Such views have been put forward from Origen. .... R. E, Brown points out that there are instances of nouns with the definite article after the verb. ‘to be’ in Jn (e. g. 11.25; 14.6), implying that we might expect the article here (Jn 1.1) if Jn. had meant to say ‘the word was God.’"

Several more translations which give this rendering or one very similar:

Some renderings are: 1808: "and the word was a god." The New Testament in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome's New Translation: With a Corrected Text.

1864: "and a god was the word." The Emphatic Diaglott, interlinear reading, by Benjamin Wilson.

1928: "and the Word was a divine being." La Bible du Centenaire, L'Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel.

1935: "and the Word was divine." The Bible-An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed.

1946: "and of a divine kind was the Word." Das Neue Testament, by Ludwig Thimme.

1958: "and the Word was a God." The New Testament, by James L. Tomanek.

1975: "and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Siegfried Schulz.

1978: "and godlike kind was the Logos." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider.

The reason the New English Bible opted for a completely different rendering of John 1.1 ("When all things began, the Word already was. The Word dwelt with God, and what God was, the Word was.") is explained: (Professor C. H. Dodd) "A possible translation . . . would be, 'The Word was a god'. As a word-for-word translation it cannot be faulted. ... The reason why ("the Word was God") is inacceptable is that it runs counter to the current of Johannine thought, and indeed of Christian thought as a whole." (Technical Papers for the Bible Translator, Volume 28, January 1977)

Ernst Haenchen (Das Johannesevangelium. Ein Kommentar) (1984). "John 1:1: ‘In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and divine [of the category divinity] was the Logos. ... "In order to avoid misunderstanding, it may be inserted here that the·os' and ho the·os' ('god, divine' and 'the God') were not the same thing in this period. Philo has therefore written: the Logos means only theos ('divine') and not ho theos ('God') since the logos is not God in the strict sense. . . . In a similar fashion, Origen, too, interprets: the Evangelist does not say that the logos is 'God,' but only that the logos is 'divine.' In fact, for the author of the hymn [in John 1:1], as for the Evangelist, only the Father was 'God' (ho theos) Joh17:3); 'the Son' was subordinate to him (cf. Joh 14.28). But that is only hinted at in this passage because here the emphasis is on the proximity of the one to the other. ... It was quite possible in Jewish and Christian monotheism to speak of divine beings that existed alongside and under God but were not identical with him. Phil 2:6-10 proves that. In that passage Paul depicts just such a divine being, who later became man in Jesus Christ. . . . Thus, in both Philippians and John 1:1 it is not a matter of a dialectical relationship between two-in-one, but of a personal union of two entities."-Pages 109, 110.

"-John 1. A Commentary on the Gospel of John Chapters 1-6, pages 108-10, translated by Robert W. Funk.]

REGARDING DE 6.4 [ דחא ] e-chadh’ = KJV: "The LORD [YHWH] our God is one LORD [YHWH]."

Some argue that the Hebrew here for "one" means "first" and therefore infers first of three (or, one of three), or a Trinity. The Hebrew may be either ordinal or cardinal. Because the verse has been used against Trinitarianism by Jews as well as some Christian theologians, Trinitarians have embarked on an argument using a nuance of the Hebrew echadh to mean "the LORD is one (of three)." Of course, if the Hebrew word could be used in this manner it would only mean, "the LORD is first" or "one of" an unknown number, certainly not three. The following indicates scholars are divided, even Jewish ones, on the exact meaning. It would seem such an obscure and confused phrase should not be the basis for some Trinitarian support. Consider:

Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol 1, page 30, though having a trinitarian bias, says: " ... the question of diversity within unity has theological implications. Some scholars have felt that, though "one" is singular, the usage of the word allows for the doctrine of the Trinity. ... The verse concentrates on the fact that there is one God and that Israel owes its exclusive loyalty to him."

New Jerusalem Bible: "Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh." Footnote "b" --- Another translation is sometimes suggested, ‘It is Yahweh our God, Yahweh alone.’ But e phrase is certainly a declaration of monotheism."

Various renderings of the critical phrase: MOF: the Eternal, the Eternal alone, is our God; GDSP: the Lord is our God, the Lord alone; LB: Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone; NJB: Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone; AMP: Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone; NIV: the LORD is our God, the Lord alone.

The Jewish translation Tanakh renders the phrase: "The LORD is our God, he LORD alone." [With a footnote: "Others, ‘The LORD our God, the LORD is one.’"]

The Oxford Companion to the Bible, page 693: "’Hear, O Israel, YHWH is our God, YHWH alone/is one.’ ... Modern scholars do not agree on its interpretation. ... It could mean that there is only one acceptable manifestation of YHWH, namely in Jerusalem. The Shema could also imply that among all gods Israel is to worship only YHWH (henotheisim), or that YHWH is the only God (monotheism)."

It should be remembered that our Lord quotes the Shema in Mark 12.29 and this was rendered in Greek, just as the Jewish Greek LXX has it: "The Lord our God is one [Grk: eiz = heis] Lord." To which the Jewish scribe responds with his understanding of what Jesus said: "He is one, and there is no other." The Greek word used (heis) likely means literally "one" or "alone." A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (page 229-30): "(heis) ... numeral one. ... 1. lit.---a. in contrast to more than one. ... c. alone ... Mk 12.29."

Regarding Mark 12.29, A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of Mark (United Bible Societies), page 382: "There is no general agreement as to the precise meaning of this saying, for two reasons: (1) it may be there are two clauses, with the verb ‘is’ implied in the first one, thus --- ‘The Lord (is) our God’; (2) relation of (the second) kurios ‘Lord’ to heis ‘one’, which may be understood either, ‘is one Lord’, or, ‘the Lord is one’. Nor are matters settled by referring to the Hebrew of Deut. 6:4 since that passage, as seen below, is also variously translated. ... On the last three (words) . . . there is wide disagreement: ‘the Lord is one’ (ASV, RSV, Gould, Taylor); ... ‘is one Lord’ (AV, Moffatt, Goodspeed, Weymouth, Williams, Montgomery, BFBS, Berkeley; Lagrange); ‘is the only Lord’ (Manson, Synodale, Brazilian) ... [Regarding the Hebrew De 6.4] The difficulty lies essentially in the quest as to whether the declaration has to do with the nature of Yahweh --- ‘he is One’ --- or to his relation to Israel --- ‘he alone is our God.’"

The New Encyclopædia Britannica says: "Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord' (Deut. 6:4). . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies. . . . By the end of the 4th century . . . the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since."-(1976), Micropædia, Vol. X, p. 126.

Rabbi Dr. J. H. Hertz: "This sublime pronouncement [De 6.4] of absolute monotheism was a declaration of war against all polytheism . . . In the same way, the Shema excludes the trinity of the Christian creed as a violation of the Unity of God."


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