For Higher Critics-Why does NT have a TRINITARIAN slant so foreign to OT

by jwfacts 25 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • jwfacts

    The Old Testament YHWH was a simple solo God Almighty. In the New Testament the Nature of God becomes quite confusing based on some expressions of Jesus and the NT writers. From a Higher Critic point of view, why did the NT writers introduce such confusion?

    The confusion can be seen by the development of 3 main concepts about the Nature of God, each with what would appear gaping discrepencies.

    Arianism - the idea that the Father is God Almighty and separate from the Son. Followed somewhat by JW's. The JW view is obviously wrong as Jesus was worshipped in the bible, prayed to and referred to as God.

    Modalism - the idea that God was the Father, became the Son and is now the Holy Spirit, as followed by some Born Again groups.

    Trinity - The idea that there is but one God, who is simultaneously Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    There are scriptural arguements to support and refute each concept. Why did the NT writers introduce such confusion?

  • barry

    Gday JW , I beleive tha that christian doctrine is developed and thats what Vincent of Lerins beleived in the fifth century. john Henry Newman is the modern champion

    of the developement of doctrine and he wrote an essay on testing a doctrine if it is a true developement of doctrine.

    The beleif the Jews had st the time of christ is that they were promiced a land, not eternal life or a trip to heaven and so the beleif of going to heaven is also a developement of doctrine.

    In the christian era slavery was permitted but later it was decided that slavery should be avoided as much as possible. Another developement

  • jwfacts

    Interesting point. If that is the case then my question is why the doctrine developed in such a confused manner. Is it because the NT writers were themselves not in agreement about the doctrine of the Nature of God? Or were they in agreement, but finding it hard to reconcile with the OT?

  • aniron

    Where the early Christians in first century confused?

    Or was the confusion caused by men raising questions about the nature of God?

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan
    Why does NT have a TRINITARIAN slant so foreign to OT
    The Old Testament YHWH was a simple solo God Almighty

    • Let us make man in our image, after our likeness
    • Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language
    • And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him.

    That's from the first parts of the first book

    be careful about how you hear, for to him who has more will be given

  • parakeet

    ***Why did the NT writers introduce such confusion?***
    Because they didn't know what they were talking about? But then again, I'm only a "lower" critic. :-)

  • jwfacts

    You are right is saying that there are OT passages that can be taken as supporting a Trinitarian view, however they are not explicit enough or regular enough that OT readers were able to develop a Trinitarian doctrine.

  • Leolaia
    Why did the NT writers introduce such confusion? Is it because the NT writers were themselves not in agreement about the doctrine of the Nature of God? Or were they in agreement, but finding it hard to reconcile with the OT?

    Or the early Christians drew on a variety of different OT and contemporary Jewish models of the eschatological divine agent (e.g. as a Law-giver prophet in the mold of Moses or Elisha, a priestly messiah in the mold of Melchizedek, a Davidic king enthroned in the eschatological kingdom, a Danielic and Enochic "Son of Man" figure who brings eschatological judgment, a sapiential characterization of the agent as Wisdom or Logos, the kurios and/or the Suffering Servant of Deutero-Isaiah, etc.), which led to different characterizations of Jesus in early texts and these texts were later collected into a corpus to be used and (re)-interpreted as the basis of a harmonistic theology or as the means of disproving or validating an existing theology. In the first century, the overriding concern in christology was Jesus' eschatological role and function, not on how the Son and the Father were precisely related to each other, etc. which was more of a second and third century concern.

    The early attempts to define Jesus embraced both strictly monotheistic and ditheistic trends current in Judaism (cf. Metatron who eventually becomes a "lesser YHWH" in 3 Enoch, the hypostasization of the bat qol, the "two powers in heaven" interpretation of Daniel 7, the deuteros theos of Philo Judaeus, etc.), and the use of henotheistic OT texts to refer to the Son (such as the plural in Genesis 1) contributed also to a pluralistic view of God. The theological debates of the second and third centuries were partly aimed at resolving these conflicting impulses (i.e. seeing God as "one", and recognizing Jesus as "God" yet distinct from the Father), modalism representing one solution and trinitarianism representing another. In modalism, the distinction of the Father and Son is sacrificed in favor of oneness. In various theories of trinitarianism and binitarianism, the distinction between the two is maintained while the oneness of the two is also maintained without division. In later Arianism, the distinction between the Father and Son is maintained by sacrificing the oneness between the two. All of these represent different solutions of working through the material inherited from the OT and NT, utilizing newer tools such as technical vocabulary and philosophical concepts (which necessarily reinterpreted biblical texts in novel ways).

    The jump between the OT and the NT only seems striking when you omit intertestamental Jewish texts that already anticipate many distinctively Christian ideas, such as the "Book of Parables" of 1 Enoch, Wisdom, Philo Judaeus, 11QMelch, etc.

  • Honesty

    Simple, really.

    God revealed Himself as YHWH to the Jews.

    He didn't reveal that He is also God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit because the Jews would not have been able to differentiate Him from the gods of the nations surrounding Israel. They had a hard enough time staying faithful to Him as it was. If He had fully revealed Himself to them before Jesus came down from heaven and lived among them, they all would have totally rejected Jesus.

  • Narkissos

    Thanks to jwfacts' pm I'm resurrecting this thread for a few brief remarks.

    As Leolaia suggested, the strange "dotted line" made up of the OT, the NT and the (pre-)Trinitarian debates of the 3rd and 4th centuries only makes sense when you consider them in a wider perspective -- just as the form of continents and islands emerging from the sea are only strange spots on the map until you take into account the submarine geography which explain them pretty clearly.

    In addition to the so-called "intertestamental period" I'd point to two other major "missing" (or, rather, "sub-scriptural") links: (1) the long polytheistic tradition of ancient Israel, where Yhwh was not "the only and almighty God," but rather a subordinate deity, second to El; and (2) the Gnostic component of 1st- and 2nd-century Christianity, in which the true divine (or supra-divine) was not the Creator God of monotheism, but a much more fluid notion encompassing both the basic unity of the Spirit and the plurality of its successive emanations. Much of the intertestamental theology can be construed as a resurgence of former polytheistic motives within the new frame of official Jewish monotheism: the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days in Daniel, for instance, can be traced back to the earlier relationship of Yhwh to El. And the high Christology of John which will play an essential part in the (pre-)trinitarian debates clearly depends from an early Gnostic perspective where the unseen "God" is revealed in Christ and the believers. The repression of polytheism in the official post-exilic Judaism, and the repression of Gnosticism in the late 2nd-century orthodox-catholic church, led to the ignorance of the original meaning of the texts and a "deaf's dialogue" about what they could possibly mean from a confessionally correct perspective. When polytheism is ruled out from the interpretation of a phrase such as "let us make man in our image"; when the Gnostic plèrôma is ruled out from the interpretation of a phrase such as "that they be one as we are one", then those texts become desperately ambiguous, lending themselves to dozens of contradictory interpretations -- just because their original meaning has become unthinkable.

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