Jesus in the Yahweh Verses

In the discussion of Rob Bowman’s closing statement in the Great Trinity Debate at Parchment and Pen, I was asked what I think of the application to Jesus in the New Testament of verses which, in the Jewish Scriptures, refer to Yahweh.

My answer is that Jews who believed God might bestow his name upon an exalted agent would probably have considered it appropriate to ask whether any of the texts mentioning Yahweh in the Scripures refer to the agent called by God’s name. Once the name has been shared, sharing Scriptures which use the divine name is not an unnatural next step. What do others think?

As this past Sunday was Trinity Sunday, there was quite a bit of blogging on this topic, including the 2010 Trinity Blogging Summit hosted by Nick NorelliWeekend Fisher wrestling with the phrase “The Father is Greater Than I” and David Henson’s unorthodoxological thoughts on (un)belief in the Trinity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hi James,I only have a minute but I think that there are any number of questions/issues that one should probably keep in mind when reviewing accounts in which an OT text that originally referred to God is applied to Christ. First, texts and functions that originally applied to earthly kings were applied to Christ and no one argues that he therefore shares in the identity of the original king referenced. Second, I think that there may be cases where it is assumed that an OT text that originally referred to God is applied to Jesus when it may in fact be applying to God himself. Joel 2:32 comes to mind.Third, yes, I think that you are surely correct that if an agent of God can be given God's Name as a symbol of his conferred authority then it would seem to follow quite naturally that texts that originally applied to God could also be applied to Christ. I think that with some apologists the Protestant burden compels them to press texts into services for which they were never originally designed. I mean, if Paul really meant to suggest that Jesus is Jehovah ontologically at Philippians 2, for example, then the apparent absence of any dispute or reaction of any kind over this within Paul's writings becomes one of history's most noteworthy cases of something being conspicuous by its absence. I have to side with James Dunn and Maurice Casey (I think I've shared the quote by Dunn here previously):"Had Paul's christology been equally, or more contentious [than disputes over the law] at this time for his fellow Jews, we would surely have heard of it from Paul's own letters. The absence of such indicators points in the other direction: that Paul's christology and the devotional language of the earliest Christian worship did not cause any offense to monotheistic Jews." (The Partings of the Ways, first edition), p. 205 & 206"The disputes extant in Acts and the epistles are about halakhah rather than christology, and if there had been a general perception among Jewish members of the communities that other Christians were hailing Jesus as fully God, there would have been disputes severe enough for us to hear about them." (From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God), p. 115 ~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    I had said:"First, texts and functions that originally applied to earthly kings were applied to Christ and no one argues that he therefore shares in the identity of the original king referenced."Before someone jumps all over this I thought I should clarify something. I realize that the argument that Jesus shares or participates in the divine identity is based on much more than the mere fact that some OT texts that originally applied to YHWH are applied to him in the NT. My only point in stating the above is simply to show that there is nothing in principle requiring that the application of a text to Christ that originally applied to someone else necessarily suggests that they share the same identity.~Kaz


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