Biblical Polytheism

Biblical Polytheism January 6, 2016

The first of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). (There are two very different sets of Ten Commandments in Exodus, but let’s ignore that for now.)

Have you ever thought much about the wording of this commandment? Why doesn’t it say that Jehovah is the only god? It’s because this section of the Bible was written in roughly the 10th century BCE, the early days of the Israelite religion, when it was still polytheistic. (More on the Documentary Hypothesis which explains these sections here.) The next commandment notes, “I, Jehovah, your God, am a jealous God”—jealous because there were indeed other viable options, and Jehovah insisted on a commitment.

Jewish biblical polytheismJewish Henotheism

Let’s use the proper term for this, henotheism. Polytheists acknowledge many gods and worship many gods, while henotheists acknowledge many gods but worship only one. In this view, different gods ruled different territories just as kings did, and tribes owed allegiance to whichever god protected them.

I’ve gotten a lot of insight into Old Testament henotheism from Thom Stark’s The Human Faces of God. Some of what follows comes from chapter 4 of that book.

The Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 is considered to be some of the oldest material in the Bible—dating to the mid-13th century BCE. We have several somewhat-inconsistent copies, the oldest being from the Dead Sea Scrolls:

When Elyon divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he established the borders of the nations according to the number of the sons of the gods. Yahweh’s portion was his people, [Israel] his allotted inheritance. (Deut. 32:8–9)

Here we see Elyon, the head of the divine pantheon, dividing humankind among his children, giving each his inheritance. The idea of a divine pantheon with a chief deity, his consort, and their children (the council of the gods) was widespread through the Ancient Near East. Elyon (short for El Elyon) is the chief god, not just in Jewish writings but also in Canaanite literature. The passage concludes with Yahweh receiving Israel as his inheritance.

We learn more about terms like “sons of the gods” by widening our focus to consider Ugaritic (Canaanite) texts. Ugarit was a Canaanite city destroyed along with much of the Ancient Near East during the Bronze Age Collapse in roughly 1200 BCE, a period of widespread chaos in that part of the world from which Israelite civilization seems to have grown.

The Ugaritic texts state that El and his consort Asherah had 70 sons, which may be the origin of the 70 nations (or 72) that came from Noah’s descendants listed in Genesis 10.

The Old Testament is full of clues pointing to multiple gods. Genesis is a good place to start.

Then [Elohim] said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

We also see plural gods when Jehovah warns them that man mustn’t eat the tree of life (Gen. 3:22) and that they must confuse mankind’s languages lest their projects, like the Tower of Babel, succeed (Gen. 11:7).

A common Christian spin is either to say that the “us” is the Trinity or that it is a heavenly assembly of angels. But can we imagine that the original audience for Genesis would understand the Trinity? And why imagine an angelic assembly when the polytheistic interpretation of Genesis simply growing out of preceding Canaanite culture is available and plausible?

Psalms is another old book that has fossilized the earliest forms of Judaism. We see the assembly of the gods mentioned several times.

[Elohim] stands in the assembly of El; in the midst of the gods he renders judgment (Psalm 82:1).

For who in the skies can compare to [Jehovah]? Who is like [Jehovah] among the [sons of God], a God who is honored [in the great assembly of the holy ones], and more awesome than all who surround him? (Ps. 89:6–7)

And many more verses celebrate Jehovah while acknowledging the existence of others.

For [Jehovah] is the great God, and the great King above all gods (Ps. 95:3).

All the gods bow down before [Jehovah] (Ps. 97:7).

I know [Jehovah] is great, and our Lord is superior to all gods. (Ps. 135:5)

In a recent post, we’ve seen where the Bible documents how Yahweh lost a fight with the Moabite god Chemosh (2 Kings 3:27).

Migration to Monotheism

We find one indication of the move from henotheism to monotheism in later versions of the Song of Moses. The phrase “sons of the gods” becomes “angels” in the Septuagint (from the 3rd century BCE) and “sons of Israel” in the Masoretic text (7th through 10th centuries CE).

Let’s consider books composed later than Genesis or Psalms.

Deuteronomy was written after the conquest of Israel and before the conquest of Judah, in the 7th century BCE. The philosophy has now moved from henotheism to monolatry. Like henotheism, many gods are accepted and only one is worshipped, but now worship of other gods is forbidden.

Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you (Deut. 6:14)

But you must not turn away from all the comandments I am giving you today, to either the right or left, nor pursue other gods and worship them (Deut. 28:14–15).

Second Isaiah (the second part of Isaiah) was written later, near the end of the Babylonian exile. Here we find the transition to monotheism is complete.

Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me (Isa. 43:10)

The very idea of an idol is ridiculed in Isaiah 44:9–20. Can a man cook his meal over a fire made from half of the tree he used to carve his idol and imagine that an idol from so unrefined an origin is really a god?

What explains this migration to monotheism? A major factor was the Babylonian exile. How could Yahweh, clearly defined as the most powerful of the assembly of gods, have been defeated by the puny Babylonian god Marduk?

Maybe Yahweh let it happen to teach Israel and Judah a lesson. Yeah, that’s what happened! Babylon didn’t defeat Yahweh’s people; they were merely a pawn in his grand plan all along.

A decent provision for the poor 

is the true test of civilization. 
— Samuel Johnson

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2/13/13.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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  • Explorer

    I have had people get upset over the course of my life when I asked who the other gods were, and who the ”us“ referred to when yahweh talked about humans being like “us.”

    Even as a kid, I recognized the straining to explain, and when i would ask follow-up questions like, “so, if that’s not literal, then is the garden of eden also not literal? or the whole god making man thing? Because there doesn’t seem to be anything to figure out what we should take as real except on your say so,” there was clearly frustration at my trying to figure out the logic. No wonder santa is one place where kids learn to pierce the veil of these claims.

    • powellpower

      It’s a shame that despite 3500 years of head start for OT and 2000 years for NT, religious folks still have not managed to change enough of their book to make it consistent to their belief.

      Then again, their beliefs have been changing faster than the direction of winds over the years. Must be hard for them to keep up.

      That being said, assuming the documentary hypothesis is correct, it seems that the ancient folks are better at shaping the books than current crop who just revered the books for no good reason. At least the ancient folks saw the books as malleable.

    • The most pathetic explanation I’ve heard is that “us” = Trinity.

      How could the original audience have known about the Trinity?

      • Dys

        Christians once again telling the Jews that they’re reading their own book wrong. Yet Christians can’t stand it when others do it to them….odd, isn’t it?

      • Ol’ Hippy

        This explains why I got a deceased Xtian friend so upset when I questioned this very issue. Thanx!

        • Greg G.

          I trust your friend wasn’t already deceased when you asked the question and I hope the question was not the cause of your friend becoming deceased.

      • Jariel

        Well, according to my evangelical Christian preacher pal, EVERYTHING in the Old Testament, and I mean EVERYTHING, is a foreshadowing of Jesus, but I guess it really isn’t a foreshadowing because Jesus already existed, and anyway, God wrote and/or dictated every single word of the OT and the NT, and the original audience was too sinful to understand the foreshadowing anyway, but then… Jesus. Yeah, it makes no sense whatsoever, and just writing this down has given me one heck of a headache.

        • Kodie

          This stands out to me. Hey, I’m god, I’ve got an idea. I want to send myself as a human down to the world, to save all these humans, since the flood was a major fail, but I don’t have any time openings for a few thousand years, despite that I could create everything that exists in a mere 6 days. Oh well, eventually, I’ll get my shit together and cross that task off my list, but in the meantime, I’ll offer some teasers to get people who can’t benefit from this event excited.

        • Alternatively, the whole Jesus-as-salvation thing, the punch line to the entire project, slipped God’s mind for a thousand years or so. He demanded one route to getting on his good side … and then changed his mind.

          I have higher standards for a perfect being.

        • Pofarmer

          Couldn’t he have done the whole Jesus bit instead of killing everything in a ginormous flood?

        • The word in authors’ chat rooms is that God’s original draft had just Adam and Eve, eating the fruit, expulsion from the Garden, and then Jesus.

          Problem was, that was just a novella, and God’s agent said that he needed a long novel to make a splash as a new author.

        • Greg G.

          That’s what I say. If God could make Jesus, a person who doesn’t sin, why didn’t he make Jesus instead of Adam?

        • Scott_In_OH

          Or just make all of us in heaven and skip this whole trial-with-no-clear-rules business.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, if God could make a perfect Heaven. He could make a perfect Earth. ShaZam!

        • Or if free will requires great wisdom to use properly (presumably that’ll be how everyone in heaven lives peacefully for a trillion years without driving each other crazy), then why not give this manual of wisdom to Adam?

          Seeing this issue from another angle, if the fruit of the Tree was that manual of wisdom, why the punishment?

        • Susan

          Couldn’t he have done the whole Jesus bit instead of killing everything in a ginormous flood?

          He could have done away with natural selection entirely.

          The whole drama he concocted is centered exclusively around humans.

          Why bother creating everything else where suffering is innate and meaningless?

          Why not create a single “kind” imbued with souls and give them knowledge so they don’t screw up?

          Done and dunner. I am a more perfect being than Yahwehjesus.

          (And I ain’t no perfect being.)

        • MNb

          What about not planting a tree of knowledge?
          I mean – if I leave crumbs of bread lying around in my house, should I blame the mice for taking a shot? And mice are much closer to human beings than human beings to god, so are we told.

        • Yahweh’s a popular guy. You don’t think you’re going to squeeze something into his social calendar anytime soon, do you?

        • Kodie

          Even if you deleted all instances where god is, by any rational account of his character, a petty, petulant, violent, abusive hate mongerer, I really think if you observed the timetable of his offering of salvation, you couldn’t honestly describe him as a loving god.

        • MNb

          You mean a mere three billions of years after he created life? With some mass extinctions thrown in?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event

        • Kodie

          I mean, even conservatively, using only the bible to describe the course of events. Even if everything was awesome right up to the point when god decided Jesus needed to be born, the average lifespan of humans at that time meant that most of the people in need of salvation would be dead and screwed by the time Jesus got hung up on the cross. But I’m really talking about waiting several thousand years since the botched flood experiment to create a new plan and enact it. Once you start talking about millions or billions of years, you’re really just kidding yourself that there’s a god at all and that the bible is relevant.

        • Greg G.

          I have been wondering why God couldn’t have let Herod’s men find Jesus, kill him, and give salvation for all.

        • a nice shortcut.

        • If understanding and believing the Jesus story is mandatory for avoiding an eternity of hellfire, God was kind of a dick in withholding that for millennia.

    • Dys

      See, I’d actually consider giving them the benefit of the doubt on that particular instance, since it may just be an example of the majestic plural…they royal “we”.

      • Explorer

        In that case, Yahweh should have said, We am Who am, a completely grammatically nonsensical sentence which we know didn’t happen because of the perfection and inerrancy of biblical translations.

        To argue otherwise is to argue that each chronicler of the bible was able to insert an interpretive bias, and that brings down the house of cards.

        • Dys

          In that case, Yahweh should have said, We am Who am

          Uh, no. The majestic plural isn’t restricted to just “we”.

        • Explorer

          In any case, the eternal and unchanging Yahweh dropped the royal “we” on that day because he just wasn’t feeling like a pretty, pretty princess that day.

          Got it.

        • Dys

          You seem to be under the misapprehension that I don’t think the bible refers to polytheism. It does. What I’m also pointing out is that your criticism of insisting that ‘us’ refers to multiple gods in the creation myth doesn’t really hold up that well. There are much better examples of polytheism.

        • I can’t hear Yahweh’s “I am” without thinking of another superhero.

          http://ifanboy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/popeye.jpg

        • Dys
        • Greg G.

          Iron: God’s Kryptonite.

  • ElderMusician

    This question of “the gods” was never satisfactorily answered by my Bible profs at OBU and was part of the reason I left this Bible college, left the Baptist church, and left religion for good. Your explanation is logical and concise. g

    • Robert Templeton

      The notion that gods were sort of allotted to different tribes makes sense in the biblical references that there truly wasn’t one (and only one) god. In some ways, I think that the O.T. was a partial exposition on determining that the God of Abraham (Yahweh or Jehovah) was the ‘winner takes all’ god and therefore the only one ‘left’ to be considered a real god (despite having its ass handed to it by the Canaanites). That is the best that I can do to understand the mind-bending bull that is theology.

      • Greg G.

        I have seen some suggestions that they reconstructed their history from the Babylonian libraries during their exile.

        • I’ve heard that there’s a precedent for a group of people being dumped into a new area but told by their overlords, “We’re doing you a favor! Your ancestors used to live here, and we’re your liberators. What’s that? You say this is all news to you? No problem–we’ve documented your past, and we’ll tell you all about it.”

          Have you heard of this? And the Jews after the Babylonian captivity being given this kind of back story?

        • Greg G.

          That’s the first time I heard all those ideas combined. The archaeology shows that the Jews seemed to have been Canaanites with a different practice toward swine and pork. Ancient records tell about a marauding horde called the “Ibaru” and it had been active in that area. The name sounds as if it could have been transliterated to “Hebrew”, so a few centuries later, a group may have adopted them as their ancestors and the Canaanites were wiped out by those adopted ancestors.

          Another thing I have heard is that there are no Hebrew writings from earlier than the third century BC. I have seen some speculations that the Septuagint was actually the first record of their history and the Hebrew text came from that.

          We know that the OT contains fictional stories. One has to wonder where the fiction ends and the non-fiction begins. Where texts from other peoples support the OT, the OT may not be independent them. If so, and if the other text was biased, then the OT text cannot be reliable.

          It seems to be a matter of which rumors to believe. I haven’t decided yet.

      • tsig

        When it comes to gods there can be only one.

        • busterggi

          No true Scotsman?

        • Greg G.

          I’ll have your head for that one.

        • busterggi

          Ach, you’ve kilt me!

    • tsig

      The gods referred to means things humans take as gods so if you love money that is your god.*

      *actual Christian apologetics

  • Uzza

    “Satan is not a god like Pluto is not a planet”.

    • MarquisDeMoo

      Then there is the Son of God, not going up to heaven to be reabsorbed but to sit on the right hand of God and if that was not enough there is the archangel Gabriel and the host of angels. Hell it is more crowded up there than Olympus.

      • Uzza

        Not only that, the Moslems have put a whole mess of djinns up there too. Place is packed.

        • Greg G.

          Wikipedia says that Hindu scripture says there are 330 million deities.

        • TheUnknownPundit

          Sounds about right.

  • Paul Watson

    The subject of Henotheism embedded in the Tanakh (OT) is an interesting one. The text selections provided in the blog entry are certainly examples of this.
    There is an interesting experiment that can be done using an on-line or
    ebook copy of the OT. I use my Kindle ebook edition of the Tanakh by the Jewish Publication Society, but any will do. Enter the word “gods” as a search term. You’ll get 100+ “hits”. Read through each (or at least as many as you care to) and categorize them by whether the author shows a henotheist or monotheist worldview in that text selection. I haven’t finished this exercise yet, but it is apparent that, in most of these “hits”, the authors clearly have a henotheistic view of the supernatural. An example from Exodus 12:12.

    “For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am HaShem.”

    Here, at the final plague, Yahweh is describing what he will do the firstborn in
    Egypt and the author also has him say that he will punish the gods (elohim) of
    Egypt. Clearly this is a henotheist description since if these gods were false or simply idols, how could they be punished?

    Joshua 24 is another example of the henotheistic viewpoint of the early texts. Here Joshua is giving the Israelites the choice of which god they will follow. (Hashem is the word used to avoid using the Yahweh Tetragrammaton)

    “Now therefore fear HaShem, and serve Him in sincerity and in
    truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in
    Egypt; and serve ye HaShem.

    And if it seem evil unto you to serve HaShem,
    choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers
    served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land
    ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve HaShem.’

    And the people answered and said: ‘Far be it from us that we
    should forsake HaShem, to serve other gods;”

    There isn’t a word in Joshua’s entire speech (it’s longer than the text selection above) to indicate that the gods of their fathers are any less real than Yahweh. They have simply chosen Yahweh as their tribal god.

    An examination of the other instances of “gods” in the OT shows that the
    henotheistic worldview was common among the early OT authors. But I do agree that the later (post exilic) writings are much more monotheist.

    Interesting stuff.

    • Christiane

      I’m familiar with El and Yahweh, but this is the first I’ve heard Yahweh called “HaShem.” Is there a specific meaning to that word?

      • “Hashem” means “the name.”

        This comes from anxiety over the commandment against blasphemy. That commandment is not well defined, so even using his name in a positive way (“This halibut is good enough for Jehovah!”) was thought to cross the line. Even today, you’ll see the word “G-d” in Jewish writings for the same reason.

        It’s like “Abrakadabra”–using the word had power.

        • Christiane

          Oh, that makes sense. I have heard “the name.” Just never in Hebrew.

        • Scott_In_OH

          It’s like “Abrakadabra”–using the word had power.

          Also like “Voldemort.” Sounds like a loose translation of “Hashem” would be “He Who Must Not Be Named.”

        • Greg G.

          Also like “Muad’Dib” in Dune. Don’t say that name when holding a voice activated weapon.

        • When Jacob wrestles with God (or an angel), he asks his name (Gen. 32:29). I’ve heard that that was because the name had power. If you knew someone’s name, you had some power over them.

        • Kodie

          Only if you also know their middle name. We don’t know Jesus’s middle name, but the initial H. gives more power than without.

        • The internet, the Source of All Things True, gives us this: “The H stands for Harold, as in, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, Harold be thy name'”

        • MR
        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Heathens! It’s Haploid, of course.

        • Good point. Jesus only had a single strand of DNA from his mom.

          One wonders how his cells could create proteins, but I think magic explains away a lot of puzzles.

        • ElderMusician

          True that we never knew the middle name of Jesus, but we for sure knew it started with “H”. I’ve heard people swear “Jesus H. Christ!” for most of my life. I’m thinking: where there’s smoke there’s fire. g

        • busterggi

          yes, nowadays we call it ‘blackmail’.

        • Aram

          I read that writing it as G-d was because of the ban on erasing the name of God. Thus G-d makes it safe and certain that even if you accidentally burnt the page it was written on, for example, you wouldn’t be erasing the name of God so you’re still golden.

    • Greg G.

      Even the Egyptians developed monotheism with Ahkenaten where they said Atum was the one god and the others were manifestations of Atum, like the Trinity but with a different prefix.

  • Steven Watson

    Let me account for all the Tanakh’s gods, barring those of the nations like Baal and Chemosh. There is El and his wife; Asherah and her husband, Yahweh, El’s son; Hokmah (Wisdom to you), their daughter and a Son of God, (Who later develops into the Jesus and Christ of Christian myth). That is six pretty much indisputable gods. Then we have the divine beings obfuscated as angels. Divine beings=gods to honest folk. I can’t allow even the fig leaf of henotheism. All the while you have 2nd Isaiah prattling on about one god, more than one god is being worshiped. One of the ways we know stealing cars and shooting up are a thing is there are laws against these activities. Similarly you do not bang on about one god or legislate against other gods if there are no other gods and they are not being worshiped. This goes straight on through to the modern era with Philo’s Logos and the Shekinah etc. The other lot have Father, Son, Ghost and Mum. They only get to call themselves monotheists if we allow special pleading that twists words beyond meaning. Then you have to accept that Hindus are monotheists too.; they will tell you Vishnu is Brahma is Krishna after all. I’ll stop now; my brain hurts and I have to lie down.

    • One of the ways we know stealing cars and shooting up are a thing is there are laws against these activities.

      From Robert M. Price is the observation that you don’t see signs saying “Don’t spit on the ceiling” at the bus station. You don’t bother making rules against doing bad things that people simply aren’t doing.

      • Greg G.

        If they didn’t want the signs to be disobeyed, they wouldn’t put them up. If they put a “Do Not Spit On Ceiling” sign, people would try to do it and having it drip onto your head would be worse than stepping in it. God invented reverse psychology so he could put up a “DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT EATING THE FRUIT OF THIS TREE” sign so he could get his ultimate plan moving and maintain plausible deniability when it came to blame placing.

        • I wouldn’t have thought of that.

          Dang–he is omniscient!

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Crap! I was reading comments while falling in and out of consciousness, and I think I flagged you for no reason.

        • Not a big deal, thanks.

          I get two kinds of comments (rarely) that are worth deleting (or blacklisting that reader). They are spam and sexual slander. Annoying Christian comments (mocking, name calling, etc.) I almost always let stand because their vileness hurts them more than me and because I’d like this blog to welcome pretty much all comers.

          I’d like to see a thoughtful and civil Christian even more than a thoughtful and civil atheist.

  • RichardSRussell

    If you want to lay a little snare for an ardent Christian, feign ignorance about the “-im” suffix in Hebrew and ask “I know what a cherub and a seraph are, but what are cherubim and seraphim?” After the TB proudly displays his knowledge that “-im” is the Hebrew way of pluralizing nouns (like the “-s” in English), follow up with “And so that’s true of Elohim as well?”.

    • Snap!

    • Sam

      No no, our supreme master works in mysterious ways and none can truly understand his actions.

      • I just hope that you’re consistent. If you can’t judge his actions bad, you can’t judge them good, either.

        • Sam

          I was being facetious.

  • 100meters

    Does this transformation from poly to monotheism correlate in any way to the transformation of yahweh during roughly the same period, from a corporeal figure to a completely immaterial one?
    By which I mean that first he can’t defeat iron, walks around his garden, actually wrestles with a man, etc…but by the end, he can’t be seen, is omniscient, eternal, invisible. Thoughts?

    • Yes, I think that’s right. I’d like to research this question of the evolution of God. For example, why do modern Christians say that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent? There are some verses that kind of say this … but there are others that could argue the reverse (as you’ve noted). I wonder how much is tradition and how much is backed up by the Bible.

      And the evolution of an immutable God is a huge embarrassment.

  • Aram

    The Bible only became interesting to me when I started reading it as a cultural study of ancient people, cultures, and ideas. I’m pretty much certain at this point the Israelites came out of the Canaanites, with their identical camps barring pig bones seeming to be the beginning of the split. Also interesting to note is how the nasty Samaritans so derided in the Bible are actually Israelite/Canaanite/Jewish as well, just they were the ones left behind during the exile in Babylon and so their customs diverged during their seventy years apart. The Jewish Samaritans most holy place is Mount Gerizim, for example, over Temple Mount.

    On the topic of polytheism etc, if you haven’t read apastasea’s blog postings on Genesis, ‘Mistakes of Moses’, I highly recommend.

    http://apastasea.blogspot.de/2013/04/mistakes-of-moses-expanded-universe.html

    • The issue of Samaritans reminded me of the Emo Phillips joke about the guy on the bridge. (Most of you have heard it, but I’ve appended it.)

      The Samaritans were Jews who had just a couple of small differences with the Jews based in Jerusalem. As human nature works (see the joke), they weren’t seen as brothers with a very similar belief system but rather wicked bastards who had deviated far from the True Path.

      I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!”
      “Why shouldn’t I?” he said.
      I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”
      He said, “Like what?”
      I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?”
      He said, “Religious.”
      I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?”
      He said, “Christian.”
      I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?”
      He said, “Protestant.”
      I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?”
      He said, “Baptist!”
      I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?”
      He said, “Baptist church of god!”
      I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?”
      He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!”
      I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?”
      He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!”
      I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off.
      — Emo Phillips

    • MNb

      The story of the Samaritans is more complicated than that:

      http://www.livius.org/articles/people/samaritans/

      • Greg G.

        Thanks for that very interesting article. It makes me wonder if a denomination split off because of the issue of pork-eating.

      • Aram

        Of course it is. Thanks for the link.

  • Scooter

    An interesting article with several observations; however some comments need some light. For example, “Why doesn’t it say that Jehovah is the only god? It’s because this section of the Bible was written in roughly the 10th century BCE, the early days of the Israelite religion, when it was still polytheistic.”

    Its important to make the crucial distinction between “gods” of which there were many and the one and only”God.” If Jehovah was just the upper echelon of the gods Moses and the prophets such as Isaiah would have written accordingly but Israel’s religion was not based on polytheism. Moses wrote in Deut. 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Isaiah also wrote much about the need to worship the one true God versus the pagan gods that were infiltrating Israel. This is a different narrative than what your sources indicate and would appeal to an atheist.

    “The Old Testament is full of clues pointing to multiple gods. Genesis is a good place to start. “Then [Elohim] said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1: 26). We also see plural gods when Jehovah warns them that man mustn’t eat the tree of life (Gen. 3:22) and that they must confuse mankind’s languages lest their projects, like the Tower of Babel, succeed (Gen. 11:7).”

    It appears you’re making the same mistake as the watchtower cult in reference to the Trinity. This is not a clue pointing to multiple gods but a clue rather pointing to multiple Persons withing One God. The JW’s see the Trinity as a 3-headed monster devised by the Christian church councils. What they misunderstand is that within one Being that is God, there exists eternally 3 coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    • Greg G.

      What they misunderstand is that within one Being that is God, there exists eternally 3 coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

      Ding! Ding! Ding! That’s the heresy of Partialism with ” 3 coequal and coeternal persons” and the heresy of Modalism with “the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.

      • Scooter

        No on both counts. Partialism says that God is made up of 3 parts- that Father, Son and Holy Spirit together are components of the one God. This leads to the error that each of the persons of the Trinity is only part God, only becoming fully God when they come together.
        A closer look at this by Dr. Louis Berkhof in his “Systematic Theology” addresses the following 6 points:

        1. There is in the divine Being but one indivisible essence.
        2. In this one divine Being there are 3 persons or individual subsistences, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
        3. The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the other 3 persons.
        4. The subsistenc3e and operation of the 3 persons in the divine Being is marked by a certain definite order.
        5. There are certain personal attributes by which the 3 persons are distinguished.
        6. The church confesses the Trinity to be a mystery beyond the comprehension of man.”

        The error of modalism or Sabellianism is seen in today’s Oneness movement or “Jesus Only”. This is a denial of the Trinity based upon a denial of the distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It accepts the truth that there is only one true God, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are fully God, but it denies that the Bible differentiates between the persons. Instead the advocates of this position either believe that the Father is the Son, and the Son is the Spirit, and the Spirit is the Father, or that they make the Son merely the “human nature” of Christ (thus denying His eternal nature) the mode depending on the occasion of God’s appearance. Televangelist T.D. Jakes for example falls within this error.

        • Greg G.

          1. There is in the divine Being but one indivisible essence.

          The beginning of the problem. Christianity wants to pretend it is monotheism.

          2. In this one divine Being there are 3 persons or individual subsistences, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

          3. The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the other 3 persons.

          When you divide the Trinity into parts, it is the heresy of Partialism.

          4. The subsistenc3e and operation of the 3 persons in the divine Being is marked by a certain definite order.

          5. There are certain personal attributes by which the 3 persons are distinguished.

          When you describe the Trinity by their modes, it is the heresy of Modalism.

          6. The church confesses the Trinity to be a mystery beyond the comprehension of man.

          That is because the only two types of ways to describe the Trinity is called a heresy. The church never figured out a coherent way to make 3=1, but different groups had their own ideas, which the other groups labeled “heresies”. Religion’s inability to compromise left them with the Trinitarianism mess.

        • adam

          “1. There is in the divine Being but one indivisible essence.”

          Then why have 3 gods?

        • Scooter

          Adam, A lot of folks have tried to explain or explain away the Trinity with diagrams or examples from nature but invariably they all fall short. The basic problem is that we can apprehend the idea of the Trinity but we can’t comprehend it. If God is who the Bible says He is then as finite creatures you and I will not be able to solve this mystery. I’m afraid we can’t even explain gravity although we can see how it works.

          Your interesting diagram unfortunately provides a major error in thinking. The Jehovah Witnesses and the Modalists would likely agree with you but here’s the problem. But first a definition: Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each word of this definition is important. Each term carries weight and cannot be ignored. These few words present the three great foundations of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity: monotheism, the existence of three divine Persons, and the equality of those Persons.

          The phrase “one Being” communicates the truth that there is only one true God, the Creator of all things. The Trinity is purely monotheistic. The Being of God is what makes God, God. It is the substance of God. When we speak of such things, we are entering into the discussion of ontology, the study of “being.” God’s being is eternal (i.e., not limited by both time and omnipresent (not
          limited by space). In this matter God is utterly unique. Human beings are limited by both time and space. It is here that we encounter the vast chasm that separates the Creator from all creation. God is infinite in His being,
          while all creatures are, by nature, limited. This is what’s wrong with your diagram. The “being” of humans is finite and therefore you can have 7 billion “Human beings” now on the planet. However since God is infinite He fills up the total “being” of the divine essence of who God is.

          It is vitally important that we recognize the difference between the words Being and Person. The failure to recognize that the definition given above is using these
          two terms in different ways is one of the prime reasons for confusion in regard to the Trinity. Being is what makes something what it is. Person is what makes
          someone who he or she is. When speaking of the
          Trinity, we speak of one what (the Being of God) and three whos (the three divine Persons). Most cultic rejections of the Trinity such as the Jehovah Witnesses focus on blurring this distinction.

        • Greg G.

          The basic problem is that we can apprehend the idea of the Trinity but we can’t comprehend it. If God is who the Bible says He is then as finite creatures you and I will not be able to solve this mystery.

          Was God incapable of creating the ability to comprehend the Trinity in humans? Why would it be revealed in such a way that it could not be comprehended?

          It is difficult to comprehend four-dimensional space and higher dimensional space but we can solve problems in them mathematically. But the Trinity still doesn’t work out that way either.

        • Scooter

          Well Greg, first off I have to say that the words “God” and “incapable” don’t really go together. Perhaps God had given man that ability when Adam and Eve were first created and perhaps this was one of the losses that happened after the rebellion. Just speculation. God has His purposes and I suspect that an infinite God will never be fully comprehended. What He has given to man however is the general knowledge that He exists and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after Him. I would say at this point in our existence this is far more important than trying to understand the Trinity seeing as our future depends on it.

        • And perhaps it’s actually 6 angels that can dance on the tip of a needle and not 5, but who cares? It’s mental masturbation. Ditto the Trinity.

        • Greg G.

          Well Greg, first off I have to say that the words “God” and “incapable” don’t really go together.

          I have heard it said that God is incapable of committing sin.

          I think any infinity is impossible to fully comprehend but that doesn’t mean we can’t perform calculations on it.

          What He has given to man however is the general knowledge that He exists and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after Him.

          I was diligently seeking him many years ago but it was accidentally discovering that creationists lie about science and scientists that made me start to doubt. Hearing a preacher say that scientists said “X” when I had just read them saying “Y, not X”, things that could easily be looked up, then in the next breath speaking just as confidently about heaven, things that were impossible to know, even from scripture, made me question his reliability. When I tried to get satisfactory answers to questions raised, nobody had one, not the preachers, not my mentors, not my mentors’ mentors.

          Once I was relieved of those silly beliefs like Adam and Eve, everything began to make more sense. Once I made new friends, I was much happier.

          What He has given to man however is the general knowledge that He exists and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after Him.

          Nope. We have a hyper-sensitive agency detector that was essential to our ancestors surviving in a world of predators. It was more prudent to be wrong a lot about a strange noise being an imaginary entity and scampering to safety than to be wrong once about it not being a real predator. Those with a genetic trait for that became ancestors more frequently than the braver cousins who lacked it. Religion exploits many of such traits.

        • MR

          I was diligently seeking him many years ago but it was accidentally discovering that creationists lie about science and scientists that made me start to doubt.

          Similar story here. Maybe science has it right, maybe science has it wrong, maybe I can’t know for sure; but if you are misrepresenting what science says (right or wrong), well…, then I know for certain you are wrong. All your talk of truth and God and moral superiority go down the tubes.

        • Kodie

          I can totally see how it’s really important to distract oneself by seeking the rewards given by a fictional character. It’s very easy to say you don’t understand who he is and what he wants and then give him magnanimous qualities made especially for you. It isn’t a who and doesn’t want or give anything.

        • The failure to recognize that the definition given above is using these two terms in different ways is one of the prime reasons for confusion in regard to the Trinity.

          Alternatively, this is all just word salad to justify an existing conclusion. Much easier than saying, “Golly, it’s just a mystery” is to admit that it’s just made-up bullshit. There is no clear message of the Trinity in the Bible. If you teleported back in time to ask Paul or even Jesus to help you understand the Trinity, they’d have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • adam

          ” The basic problem is that we can apprehend the idea of the Trinity but we can’t comprehend it.”

          Yes, it is a test to see who can believe this kind of bullshit nonsense..

          “monotheism, the existence of three divine Persons, and the equality of those Persons.”

          Three ‘divine Persons’ = 3 ‘gods’

          The fact that YOU can believe that 1+1+1=1 shows how stupid religion makes one. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3de0bbc78be2b9edc80e405aeccb20082adea847d14d3d875aa5563ddaac4f45.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7a541266e3e4c1006a8158c37b5a493b61d9c5d9e463c3b844dedcc77b870258.jpg

        • MR

          Yes, it is a test to see who can believe this kind of bullshit nonsense..

          ^1

          People like to feel that they’re privy to secrets. “It’s a mystery, ooh-ah, and I’m a part of it, even if I don’t really understand it, even if it doesn’t really make sense, because I get to belong to a special group, an exclusive group of people who believe the unbelievable! That makes me special. I am special. I am special!”

        • adam

          ” exclusive group of people who believe the unbelievable”

          “Imagine that you live in a world where 90% of the people around you
          sincerely believe in something that appears to you to be downright
          whacky, if perhaps relatively pleasant on the surface in many respects.
          Say they believe in Santa Claus; beard, the big red suit, the flying
          reindeer, the sled loaded with a billion gifts, the North Pole Workshop,
          Mrs. Claus and the elves; all of it.

          But in this fantasy world, they’re not content merely to believe in
          Santa Claus, they want you to publicly agree all the time that you also
          believe in Santa, in their specific version of same, and they pressure
          everyone else in numerous ways to pretend that they’re not strange or
          childish for believing in this. They don’t just limit it at that even,
          they insist everyone kiss their ass about their Santa belief
          every damn day of their lives and if you don’t humor them at the drop of
          hat under any circumstances, you’re being disrespectful, you’re out of
          line. No matter how much you humor them, they always demand more.”

          http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/11/15/165089/-What-it-s-Like-to-be-an-Atheist

        • Scooter

          Well if you’re playing a math game let’s try 1x1x1=1

        • Greg G.

          How about 1x1x1x1=1 or 1x1x1x1x1x1x1x1x1=1? While we are cherry-picking mathematical equations, 0x0x0=0 seems more appropriate.

        • Scooter

          Yes, I hope Adam understands your comment about “cherry-picking”

        • Greg G.

          I was hoping that you would understand that any accusation of “cherry-picking” is an admission of “cherry-picking”. It acknowledges that there are points to be made about your position and that you are omitting those.

        • adam

          “I hope Adam understands your comment about “cherry-picking”

          Yes, just as I see yours.

        • Nope. sqrt(1) = 1. 1! = 1. In fact, 0! = 1–wow!

          There’s evidence for the Trinity everywhere! Or something!

        • adam
        • Given #6, why bother trying to explain it? Just admit that it’s unknowable, to be taken completely on faith, and be done with it.

    • The test is to ask what the original audience would’ve thought. Are you saying that the original hearers of Genesis would’ve understood “us” as referring to the Trinity? I’m pretty sure not.

      • Scooter

        I suspect you’re right in that the original audience most likely would not have grasped this understanding of the nature of God; however does that fact cancel the truth of what and who God is? As we read through the Old Testament literature there were many things that these people didn’t understand as God was revealing himself to Israel one step at a time so to speak. This sort of reminds me of how we teach our children as they mature. Another thought comes from the apostle Paul who wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come”, that what Israel experienced was likely not understood by the majority. Even today most Jews who are religious are still looking for their Messiah but missed Him entirely when the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in the person of Jesus. A further example of scripture being written but is awaiting its full explanation is in the book of Revelation. Consider all the books on prophecy that have been written and theories bandied about when the second coming will transpire. It seems to me that this will be fully understood only when it happens.
        So the Trinity was fully revealed when all of the scriptures were completed and we see now the references to the nature of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father-all pointing to the one God. A difficult subject for sure but one that can be apprehended although not comprehended.

        • does that fact cancel the truth of what and who God is?

          God could indeed be a Trinity who has their own good reasons to only hint at that truth, but that’s not where the evidence points. We see polygamy back then in that part of the world, so when the Bible uses the celestial “we,” that’s a pretty obvious reference to multiple gods. We won’t have certainty but have no choice but to follow the evidence to the most plausible explanation.

          As we read through the Old Testament literature there were many things that these people didn’t understand as God was revealing himself to Israel one step at a time so to speak. This sort of reminds me of how we teach our children as they mature.

          That’s a terrible analogy. The people back then were as smart as you are. If you can be taught the gospel story so that you understand it well as a young adult, surely those people could’ve handled the even simpler Jewish message.

          As for verses tap dancing away from the problem of an inconsistent or changing view of God, again the naturalistic explanation is the obvious one—people’s view of the divine changes with time.

          Even today most Jews who are religious are still looking for their Messiah but missed Him entirely when the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in the person of Jesus.

          No prophecies were fulfilled, sorry.

          A further example of scripture being written but is awaiting its full explanation is in the book of Revelation. Consider all the books on prophecy that have been written and theories bandied about when the second coming will transpire. It seems to me that this will be fully understood only when it happens.

          What’s to understand? It’s just another religious book, no more accurate than any other one.

          So the Trinity was fully revealed when all of the scriptures were completed and we see now the references to the nature of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father-all pointing to the one God.

          The doctrine of the Trinity took almost 4 centuries to work out. Don’t tell me that it’s plainly there in the Bible.

        • MR

          We see polygamy back then in that part of the world, so when the Bible uses the celestial “we,” that’s a pretty obvious reference to multiple gods.

          You meant to say polytheism, yes?

          I wish Scooter could hear how desperate his forced explanations sound: “Squint, ignore the obvious and just believe what I say!”

          I’m sorry, but convoluted arguments stated confidently just don’t cut it anymore. That trick worked when we were children. Face it, the Old Stories just don’t make sense; they never did. We were just trained to ignore the inconsistencies. I can’t do that anymore.

        • Polytheism, yes. Thanks for the correction.

        • Greg G.

          Those polysyllabic words sound the same to me.

        • Greg G.

          We see polygamy back then

          Polygamy or polytheism?

          Why couldn’t the Trinity create humans to be smart enough to comprehend the Trinity?

        • Apparently he did create humans that smart. They’re walking among us right now. Problem is, the Jews 3000 years ago were just as smart.

        • adam

          Because the propaganda says monotheism.

        • Greg G.

          If a trinitarian objected that “Human” is a classification while “God” is an identifier, you could substitute “Smith” in place of “Human”.

        • Scooter

          “No prophecies were fulfilled, sorry.”

          That statement doesn’t eliminate nearly 300 references to the coming of Messiah, all of which were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Throughout the New Testament the apostles appealed to 2 areas of the life of Jesus to establish His messiahship. One was the resurrection and the other was fulfilled messianic prophecy. The Old Testament prophecies were written over a one thousand year period.

          “The doctrine of the Trinity took almost 4 centuries to work out. Don’t tell me that it’s plainly there in the Bible.”

          I didn’t say it was plainly there but that it was fully revealed.

        • 300 references to the coming of Messiah, all of which were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

          Show me. Pick a couple of the best ones and summarize them.

          I’ve responded to Psalm 22 plus Isaiah 7 and 53 in other posts, so you can read and respond to them.

        • MR

          In order to help guard against bias, my rule of thumb was always, would this argument/prophecy be compelling if it was from a religious tradition with which I disagreed? Could I buy into this if it were in, say, the Book of Mormon or the Koran? Would I find this believable if we were talking about Mohamed?

          Personally I find it remarkable that God forgot to mention that the messiah would be his son…, and, oh, yeah, God himself to boot! Oops, who cut that from the [edit:] original draft?!

        • Scooter

          As a quick preamble let me first quote Jesus Himself. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matt. 5:17
          “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27

          The first prophecy that comes to mind is found in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” ( note that this is the only place where we read of a “seed” coming from a woman indicating the virgin birth) This passage in Genesis is the first prediction relative to the savior of the world, called the “seed of the woman.” In this oracle God foretold the age-long conflict which would be waged between “the seed of the woman” and “the seed of the serpent.” I see a small measure of this conflict going on between atheist apologists such as Dawkins and Harris and Christian apologists such as Craig and Lennox. The head wound to Satan indicates a final victory for Christ while the bruised heel indicates a minor wound which occurred at the crucifixion.

          Of course as you know a most significant prophecy occurs in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” The fulfillment of this takes place in Matthew 1;18, 24, 25 and Luke 1:26-35. The challenge from skeptics to this prophecy has focused on the word, “virgin”. In Hebrew the word “virgin” is denoted by 2 words:
          1. “Bethulah”: The proper meaning denotes a virgin maiden as seen in Gen. 24:16; Lev. 21:13; Deut. 22:14 plus others.
          2. “Almah”: (veiled) Means a young woman of marriageable age. This word is used in Isaiah 7:14. As the Holy Spirit directed Isaiah’s word selection, he did not use “bethulah”, because both the ideas of virginity and marriageable age had to be combined in one word to meet the immediate historical situation (you brought up this idea more than once in reference to understanding the Trinity for the audience of that day) and the prophetic aspect centering in a virgin-born Messiah. (Unger, UBD, 1159). “Virgin” is denoted in Greek by the word “parthenos”: a virgin, marriageable maiden, or young married woman, pure virgin. Matthew 1:23; 25:1,7,11
          Note: When the translators of the Septuagint translated Isaiah 7:14 into Greek they used the Greek word “parthenos”. To them Isaiah 7:14 denoted that the Messiah would be born of a virgin.

        • let me first quote Jesus Himself. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matt. 5:17

          And you’re telling me that you follow this? All the rules in the Old Testament, you follow them all? I’m surprised.

          The first prophecy that comes to mind is found in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” ( note that this is the only place where we read of a “seed” coming from a woman indicating the virgin birth)

          (1) It’s a snake. It’s not Satan.

          (2) There is nothing here to indicate a virgin birth.

          God foretold the age-long conflict which would be waged between “the seed of the woman” and “the seed of the serpent.”

          People don’t like snakes—is that it? Doesn’t seem very profound. I wouldn’t call that a prophecy but rather a just-so story.

          The head wound to Satan indicates a final victory for Christ while the bruised heel indicates a minor wound which occurred at the crucifixion.

          Or at least that’s your interpretation. It doesn’t literally say that.

          Of course as you know a most significant prophecy occurs in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

          I dismantle this claim here.

          The challenge from skeptics to this prophecy has focused on the word, “virgin”.

          There are far bigger issues in that blog post. I’ll encourage you to read that rather than repeat them here.

        • Scooter

          “And you’re telling me that you follow this? All the rules in the Old Testament, you follow them all? I’m surprised.”

          You’re missing the point-Its Jesus of Nazareth who kept the law fully. Its because of His righteousness that a substitutionary righteousness can be given to a repentant sinner.

          I did read your blog post and I see that a couple of commenters already addressed your skepticism so I likewise won’t repeat comments.

        • No, no one has successfully responded to my rebuttal to the claim that Isaiah 7 is a prophecy of Jesus. You think you can? You’d be the first! Go for it.

          Its Jesus of Nazareth who kept the law fully. Its because of His righteousness that a substitutionary righteousness can be given to a repentant sinner.

          So … Jesus has to be an observant Jew to be a proper sacrifice … but you’re OK not being a Jew even though Jesus leaves open no opportunity to be anything otherwise? “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets,” remember?

        • Scooter

          “…but you’re OK not being a Jew even though Jesus leaves open no opportunity to be anything otherwise?”

          I’m not quite following your thinking here. There were many “observant Jews” who would never qualify as Messiah because “observant” did not mean perfect. Only Jesus being God Himself (Trinity) lived a perfect life keeping every “jot and tittle” of the law. Humans could never and can never do this and therefore are under judgment and the wrath of God. Its interesting and revealing that the apostle Paul refers to those who are reconciled to God through faith in Christ as the “Israel of God.” (Gal.6:16) In Romans 2:29 Paul also wrote, “No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”

        • There were many “observant Jews” who would never qualify as Messiah because “observant” did not mean perfect.

          That’s not what I’m saying.

          I’m saying that the guy you follow says that he didn’t come to destroy the Law. That is, he didn’t come to upset everything and set up a new religion. His mission was quite the opposite—to satisfy and support the Jewish tradition. Given that, I’m surprised that you slap his face by being a Christian.

        • Scooter

          Bob, another mix-up. The mission of Jesus wasn’t to satisfy and support the Jewish tradition. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were legalists. They added their own laws to the law of God. Their “traditions” were raised to a status equal to the law of God. They robbed people of their liberty and put chains on them where God had left them free. Jesus attacked the the legalism of the Pharisees. The Pharisees that opposed Jesus thought of themselves as faithful keepers of the Mosaic law. yet in emphasizing minor details they neglected what matters most (see Matt. 23:23-24). Their elaborate interpretations of the law denied its true spirit and aim. So did Jesus come to uphold these substituted human traditions for God’s authoritative law? Obviously not.

          Jesus actually did come to upset everything that was held dear by the religionists of that day. He said he came to bring a sword and set a father against a son because those who accepted Him would become enemies of the those holding to human traditions.

        • The mission of Jesus wasn’t to satisfy and support the Jewish tradition.

          Despite what it says in the quote you gave? “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.”

          They robbed people of their liberty and put chains on them where God had left them free.

          It’s hard to imagine laws more annoyingly binding than God’s.

        • Greg G.

          No, Bob. Don’t you see? Jesus came to make bacon cheeseburgers sin-free.

          Can Orthodox Jews eat a cheeseburger made with Kosher all-beef burgers and goat cheese?

        • Jesus came to make bacon cheeseburgers sin-free.

          Aha! And I thought it was for a frivolous reason.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Those burgers taste horrible!

        • Greg G.

          Don’t knock it until you’ve fried it.

        • adam

          “They robbed people of their liberty and put chains on them where God had left them free. “

        • adam

          “Only Jesus being God Himself (Trinity)”

        • Scooter

          As well as only the Father being God Himself and the Holy Spirit being God Himself.

        • Greg G.

          Let me stop you right there, Patrick.
          /Irish accent off

        • adam
        • Again, I challenge you to respond to my argument that Isaiah 7 wasn’t a prophecy of a messiah.

          Your “Pish! That’s been thoroughly refuted!” won’t cut it.

        • adam

          “You’re missing the point-Its Jesus of Nazareth who kept the law fully.”

          Of course, and his followers are supposed to according to him as well.

        • adam

          Satan?

        • Greg G.

          Genesis 3:15: If Satan was disguised as a serpent, why were serpents punished? Are you not afraid that God might send you to hell for my sins if he can’t tell Satan from a serpent?

          Isaiah 7:14: The New Testament authors used the Septuagint and it says “parthenos” so they wrote a story about Mary being a virgin. If they had used the Hebrew text, they would never have invented that part of the story. Christianity pretty much ignored the Hebrew writings until Jerome made a big deal about it in the 5th century.

          The gospel authors wrote fictional stories based on the OT scriptures. Even the epistles only spoke of Jesus in OT terms, not as if they knew anything about him from oral tradition, save for 1 Timothy and 2 Peter which show they got their information from the gospels.

        • The Jewish Messiah was and is supposed to be a conquering hero who acts like the new King David to bring the nation of Israel to peace and prosperity as the Jewish people are able to live free according to their own rule, without worrying about foreign attacks. That has always been, and will always be, the consensus view of Jews. That’s a fact. And the Jews are still waiting.

          The Messiah conditions aren’t even met now in modern day f-ing Israel even when it has nuclear weapons and the protection of the world’s last, lone superpower. Such things sure as anything didn’t happen with Jesus. Jesus was an ant stepped on by an elephant. He failed miserably in enacting the last days of the world. There were no last days. History ground on. There was no new Israel under Jesus. He didn’t force the Romans out of Jewish lands. He failed. Period.

        • Scooter

          The only failing here is your understanding of the Biblical narrative. The Jews were looking for a political hero but they didn’t understand their scriptures as in Isaiah 53 that messiah would come to be the sacrificial lamb as an atonement for his people. It was God’s intention to save the people from their sins not their political enemies. When Jesus came and didn’t play the political part and upset the religious leaders by exposing their evil deeds, they wanted to crucify Him which of course had already been decreed by God “before the foundation of the world.” When Messiah returns he will indeed deal with all His enemies and the Bible says the Jews who rejected Him the first time and still do, will mourn for him as an only child when they realize it was Jesus all along.

        • busterggi

          Christianity exists only because of retroconning the OT.

        • MNb

          “they didn’t understand”
          No.
          Only you do.

        • MR

          The arrogance of belief: “I know you’re religion better than you.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7bc16f3ebd2cc5c1b0caccaaa62cb1e33c069389a088a80a2d4687a059ad705d.jpg

        • MR
        • So the Jews didn’t understand their own holy book? The authors of Isaiah put stuff in that the original audience would only be baffled by and that later Christians wouldn’t benefit from either … except to reinterpret so they could say to their neighbors, “See?! Toldya.”

          How far will you go to salvage this worldview?

        • adam

          “When Messiah returns he will indeed deal with all His enemies and the
          Bible says the Jews who rejected Him the first time and still do, will
          mourn for him as an only child when they realize it was Jesus all along.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          the world’s last, lone superpower

          tangent: i suspect you’re underrating China (or at least very-near-future China) there.

        • adam

          ” As we read through the Old Testament literature there were many things
          that these people didn’t understand as God was revealing himself to
          Israel one step at a time so to speak. ”

          An IMPOTENT ‘god’

          If this is the very best that YOUR ‘god’ can do, then WHY call it ‘god’?

  • It’s fascinating how the Jews, even as their viewpoints changed and different traditions competed for influence, as a group pretty clearly believed that being one of the ‘sons of gods’ or one of the ‘sons of man’ or perhaps even one specifically special ‘son of god’ or ‘son of man’ didn’t mean that you were the same at all as the actual Yahweh. Then along comes the various Christianities, and the pattern gets developed where all of the contradictory faiths have to get smoothed together. The trinity is invented.

    The original Christians who thought things like that Jesus was just a normal man born normally that got elected by God, like other ‘son of man’/’son of god’ figures such as King David, into something special… they’re squashed. The other original Christians who thought that Jesus was the original, standard Yahweh appearing in the guise of a man and was no more really human than a statue becomes human if it gets clothes put on it… they’re squashed. 2+2=5 has to happen, and thus the Jewish material about ‘sons of god’/’sons of man’ get warped into something new in a way that’s oddly similar to like retcon-ing Star Trek fanfiction.