BEN: I appreciate your take on the much debated term ‘elohim’ which seems to be a generic term for supernatural or spiritual beings, which in some cases polytheists viewed as gods. I wonder what sort of conversation you would have with Mormon scholars about this matter who think we are headed for divinity in some form.
MICHAEL: Glad you asked, as it allows me to direct readers to something unique. I’m actually published in a Mormon journal critiquing Mormonism’s use of Psalm 82. Incidentally, that article was first an ETS paper – where a Mormon Middle Eastern scholar was in attendance. We had chatted online before the event and he assured me he’d be there, and he was. He is in the habit of attending ETS and SBL. He asked for the paper for publication and was very gracious through the whole process. The article makes clear where I disagree with Mormon thought. To cite one item in a nutshell, Mormons affirm (correctly) that the plural elohim of Psalm 82 are supernatural beings. But they then presume that all elohim are interchangeable – that is, they neglect the unique descriptions of Yahweh elsewhere and the denial of those unique descriptions to the other elohim in their theology. This is why Jesus and Satan are brothers in their thought (they’re both an elohim, a supernatural being). This is a serious flaw. Readers can go through the whole article if they wish. In the same issue of that journal, a Mormon scholar responds to me. Then I got the opportunity to respond to him. Most of his article and my rejoinder, though, have us talking about different things (apples and oranges) so those two articles are of less value, at least in my mind). But kudos to them for publishing an evangelical critique in their own journal.