My thoughts are rather schizophrenic at the moment, so forgive me.
Now in the original Old Testament, God is called many things: El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty), El Elyon (The Most High God), Adonai (Lord, Master), and so on and so forth. I believe there are around 300 different names given for God in the Bible, but don't quote me on that. However, the name I want to look at is Elohim. It is the plural form of God in Hebrew.
Here's the first verse in Genesis in Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ. The word God is never mentioned, instead it gives the name Elohim: אֱלֹהִים. Elohim is used 32 times in Genesis 1 alone.
This can also be used to denote a title, as Elohim directly translates as God of Gods. However, it is still considered plural.
Now the interesting part: in Christian theology it is assumed that Elohim refers to the God head, the three in one. The Trinity; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We come to this conclusion from Mathew 3:13-17. Were Jesus was baptized, the skies opened, a dove came down and YHWH's voice was heard.
This presents a Problem: God is referred to as a plurality in the Old Testament, yet "officially" the church did not recognize God as 3 entities in until Jesus' baptism in the new.
>Elohim is plural
>Trinity wasn't revealed until NT
>Multiple other names of God given in the OT
So here's my question:
Could it be Possible that Elohim is not referring to the Trinity, as we think; but a collective title referring to Adonai, YHWH, El Shaddai and the rest? Could it be possible the the Trinity as we know it isn't the full God head?
I'm aware we have many different religious persuasions here on /sanc/, I look forward to hearing all of your perspectives. Both people who consider themselves Christian and non.
No. 20272 - GoetIncubus - April 27th, 2012 - 2:03 AM
I remember reading someplace that Elohim is a kind of quirk of the Hebrew language, in that, to stress something's magnificence, you pluralise it. It's a cool idea though: what we think of as being one entity could be a host of discrete beings - it's made doubly interesting in that we probably know very little about what would distinguish Adonai ha-Aretz from El from YHVH.
You're bringing up something that is monumentally complicated. Granted, my knowledge of ancient languages and contextual placement is limited, but:
-I don't really think Elohim is plural as in multiple entities. I think Goet was right because I seem to remember that quirk thing as well. Hebrews had a lot of really strange conventions in their language that don't quite cross over into English. Another example I know of would be the endless repetition over and over to emphasize things, read any psalm and the same thing will be said about 4 different ways.
-The 3 names I recall from Old Testament class were the tetragram YWH, Elohim, and El Shaddai (as you already listed) though it's not an 'exhaustive list' as it were but many of the names mean the same thing. (see repetition section) So while it's interesting I don't think there are many implications other than just naming conventions.
-Ho-kay, the Trinity. Seriously, it's fucking complicated. I know, I know that it's a cop-out answer but I really do believe that the complete understanding of the concept of the Holy Trinity is not something attainable by our mortal minds. That being said, I have no stats to back it up, but the vast majority of Christians I know understand little or nothing about the Trinity, let alone our religion in general. Sad but true.
Anyway, I see the Trinity as coming out of necessity for functionality. Why he did so with the given timing, will always be a mystery to me, but God knew that he needed to make a new covenant with humans in general, not just Jews. The whole foundation of the Christian theology in general is a system of Covenants that were stacked up on top of each other, from Creation all the way until AD 33 (or 30, whatever), that were successively broken and re-established.
For example, it leads to a lot of other discussions (and a lot of confusion on the Church's part) but the entire Old Testament was rendered complete, null, and void by Christ. God used the human form of Jesus as a vehicle to accomplish that. I would say the main goals of separating himself into mortality would be thus:
-fulfill all OT prophecies (which mathematically, could nearly only be accomplished with divine intervention )
-Put an end to the OT era, and toss out many un-needed or too complex laws
-Experience human pain/suffering/anguish ect to...
-Become the ultimate sacrifice to reaffirm a new covenant built on spirituality, rather than the old sacrificial system.
One of the things I've hypothesized is that since God was taking his monotheistic religion from Judaism to Christianity and including EVERYONE it just makes since that he would simplify things and get rid of "old world" (even then) requirements of his followers.
People often so how out-dated and needlessly complicated Christianity is as a whole but I really don't think so. Now moving on the Holy Spirit part, that was the final piece of the puzzle, instead of going through a middle man like a high priest now everyone the world over can a have a personal spiritual relationship with God. Its not this lame ass thing you see with people talking in tongues or trying to heal the sick or something, that's it, just the fact that now you can pray directly to God without being someone 'special' like a prophet or the High Priest.
The nature of the Trinity is mind-boggling. The amount of material written on it I'm sure encapsulates the actual Bible several hundred to thousand times over. How can one entity be 3 at once? Not sure. I'd toss a lame ass illustration at you like the states of water one but I hate that one. It's one of those things that God needed to do so he just did it, for an entity that exists outside of time and any sort of tangible limits it's not like it should be difficult.
Oh and small side note I do think that in some ways God does have limits but that's another discussion entirely.
Thank you for the responses. I took into context the grammar of the word itself, yet neglected to examine the verbs surrounding it. The verbs are indeed, singular. MAH BAD.
But it does spark an interesting discussion.
Goet: The “I-M” at the end of the word Elohim makes this word a masculine plural noun. In fact as a basic Hebrew lesson, the letters “I-M” ending a Hebrew word, it is speaking of more than one (plural). Yet there is another usage in Hebrew of the “I-M” ending and it’s called the “plural of Majesty”. That is adding the “I-M” at the end of a word can also denote greatness rather than plurality.
Zebus: The trinity is certainly a very complex and overwhelming idea.
The first mention of the Trinity is in the Athanasian Creed: "...we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity... for there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost is all one... they are not three gods, but one God... the whole three persons are co-eternal and co-equal... he therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity..."
This is difficult considering that Jesus himself stated "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord"
In all honesty I'm not too familiar with doctrine surrounding the trinity; at least not as much as I'd like to be. In school I was instructed that the Holy Spirit acted as a filter between man and God. I believe you covered this in your referencing the personal relationship between God and man. I hadn't viewed the baptism as a new covenant before, or even heard it being described as one. I'll look into that.
>Oh and small side note I do think that in some ways God does have limits but that's another discussion entirely.
Well you could remember the Kabbalic tree of life, and the assertion that there are 10 distinct emanations of god through time/the universe. The trinity in that system is the first three sefirot at the top, purity, action, and manifestation (in my interpretation.) Or you could consider the Kabbalistic symbolic meaning of each letter of the various names of god, and read the names as all describing one god, but as symbolic 'prayers' or invocations of the various aspects. Just some thoughts, I'm no expert.