This is my brief comment on an extract from the article The Trinity Delusion by Adam Pastor in the Adoni Messiah blog. The article content is the usual rehash on the Shema ("Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one"). The points from both sides of the discussion table about God usually fixate on the same: quantitative values of singular and plural pronouns. Of course, the original Deuteronomy 6 passage can't be beat, not because it was, as some cheer for their side, seemingly championed by Jesus. The quotation of the Shema in Mark 12 by Jesus is seized upon by some as an endorsement by Jesus of their particularly numeric, quantitative take on God. What, you might wonder is the Jewish awareness and response to that plurality? Rabbi Goldmark summons it up this way: "We just ignore it." Amazing. There is a gag reflex which overcomes some at the mere sound of a non-biblical term (which is equally unnecessary and non-useful to my understanding and my contribution to the discussion [for those who may not know it that term is, "trinity"]) which is suggestive of a plurality concerning God. One can hardly blame a man for not thinking clearly when he is gagging.
The default interpretation of the Shema from the Jews adapted by
the saints in Christ to their Christology is on the assumption that surely the Jews, being God's chosen people, would know the answer to the riddle about expressions or references to God involving singular or plural forms. The truth is that there were more than a few matters on the Jewish interpretation of scripture on which Jesus questioned and challenged them. One example of these challenges was when he admonished on them about their profession of believing and being disciples of Moses. Jesus said if they believed in Moses as they claimed, they would believe in Jesus because, he said, Moses wrote of Jesus. One reputed scholar alleged anti-Semitism at the thought that anyone would hold a view different than that of the Jews on the Shema. He says the Jews were the recipients of the scriptures. Yes, this is true as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:1,2 that the Jews were "entrusted with the oracles of God", _ not the interpretation. Every generation is to examine and learn the scriptures and become convinced in their conviction on the interpretation as they learned those oracles.
The questions posed in the article by Pastor are the usual assortment. However, there is one question posed by Jesus which he did not answer for his listeners. It is in the context of the Mark 12 passage on the Shema which is preceded by a brief enlightenment of the Sadducees by Jesus. It's a heartfelt personal favorite of mine in which Jesus prefaces and ends with two powerful and similar phrases: Isn't this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God? and You are therefore badly mistaken.
There was a scribe who was impressed when he heard how Jesus had answered the Sadducees. Whether or not the question he posed to Jesus, Which commandment is the greatest of all? was another attempt to throw Jesus back into a doctrinal debate with the Sadducees; the scribe played it safe for himself. Basically, he reiterated for Jesus the Shema, the first commandment, and the second command. It is to this answer from the scribe that Mark notes that Jesus SAW (not as Adam Pastor notes in the article that Jesus told him) that the scribe answered, wisely. There's nothing wrong or non-biblical about the scribe's answer. It is as safe as the children's standard Bible class answer to most any question: God! Jesus! What the scribe, presumably a man who understood the scriptures, was unwilling to do in the presence of the Sadducees was to risk anything other than a safe, non-controversial answer. Jesus commended the scribe: You are not far from the kingdom of God.
This, then, leads Jesus to pose the question from Psalm 110 in the following verses.
- ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
- “Sit at my right hand,
- until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet.”’
Matthew's account relates the Pharisees were present and took their turn at Jesus when they saw He had silenced the Sadducees. Jesus' question seems directed as much to the Sadducees, the Pharisees and the scribes. The question had an unsettling effect because in the context of the much referenced Shema on God being one here Jesus has posed a question from Psalm 110 about "The Lord" and "my Lord." The familiar tactic of modern scholars who resort to splicing of nouns and verbs in their original language was not the approach taken by Jesus or the writer of Hebrews in the first chapter. The Hebrews' writer interprets and applies Psalm 110 to Jesus.
Finally, I prefer to leave it to the individual to discern for themselves the one God so I will close with this last point. It is safe to say all believers accept the deity of the Father as being God. Leaving Jesus, whom the Father sent, out of that picture for the time being it is also the Holy Spirit whom the Father sent. This Holy Spirit who brought all things to their remembrance which Jesus had taught them was to also lead them into all truth.