The Lord said to my lord...

Sat, 25/05/2013 - 18:33
Matthew 22:41-46
Mark 12:35-37
Luke 20:41-44

With the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What does it seem to you concerning the messiah? Whose son is he?” They say to him, “The son of David.” He says to them, “How then does David in the spirit call him lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day to ask him anything.

I have argued in a number of posts recently (see below) that the confession that Jesus is Lord is not the same as the confession that Jesus is God, and that we are likely to miss a critical part of New Testament teaching if we carelessly conflate the two. There is an eschatological or historical narrative about lordship, which in my view aims at judgment against the idolatrous Greek-Roman world, and there is a protological or cosmic narrative, modelled on Jewish wisdom thought, by which Jesus is closely associated with God as creator. In the first, Jesus is given authority to rule at the right hand of God. In the second, he is an agent or means of creation or new creation. These two narratives intersect at some point, and we may imagine that they eventually converged in the conviction that Jesus is God. But in the New Testament, they mostly remain distinct.

God said to his king

The Old Testament verse at the heart of this puzzling exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees is Psalm 110:1. It is cited widely in the New Testament and was clearly regarded as of central importance for understanding who Jesus was.

Because in the Gospels and in the Greek Old Testament the same word (kyrios) is used for the “Lord” who is God and the “Lord” who is told to sit at the right hand of God, it is sometimes thought that this passage constitutes evidence that Jesus thought of himself as God.

In the Hebrew text this confusion does not arise. God (yhwh) instructs the psalmist’s Lord (adoni) to sit at his right hand. YHWH gives Israel’s king authority to rule from Zion. The people of Israel will offer themselves freely to fight for their king on the day of his power (cf. Judg. 5:2). YHWH makes the king a “priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek”. There is some debate about whether the “Lord” (adoni) of verse 5 is YHWH or the king, but either way the protagonists remain distinct: either the king executes judgment on his enemies or YHWH executes judgment on his behalf.

The same basic narrative is found in the Greek version, only the terminological distinction has been blurred. The kyrios who is YHWH gives an everlasting authority to the kyrios who is adon to judge and rule in the midst of his enemies.

There is, therefore, no reason in the psalm itself to confuse the identities of God and his king. But what does Jesus make of it?

Whose son is the messiah?

Earlier Jesus had asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Now, in effect, Jesus puts that answer to the Pharisees. Whose son is the messiah? Is he the “son of David”? Or is he the “Son of the living God”?

In Matthew the “Son of God” is the obedient and anointed representative of Israel, who will fulfil the purposes of YHWH where Israel as a nation failed. Jesus is the “son” who was called out of Egypt as Israel had been (2:15). He is the “beloved Son”, the anointed servant of God (3:17). He is obedient Israel in the wilderness, who remains faithful to the word of God (4:1-10). Peacemakers are called “sons of God” (5:9). As “Son of God” he is tempted on the cross, as he was tempted in the wilderness, to abandon his servant calling (27:40, 43).

Then finally, at the trial, Caiaphas throws back at him Peter’s confession: “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (26:63). Jesus answers, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Here the Son of Man story about the vindication of suffering righteous Israel and the Psalm 110 story about the rule of Israel’s king over the nations are fused together. What Jesus claims for himself is that he is the obedient representative of Israel, the anointed servant of YHWH, who will suffer and be given authority to judge and rule at the right hand of God. This is what offends Caiaphas, not any implied claim to be God:

Given what Jesus has just claimed, it is not hard to see why the high priest has reacted with anger and horror. Jesus has claimed that he will share in God’s power and that he will sit in judgment on Caiaphas and his colleagues.1

The conversation with the Pharisees in Matthew 22:41-46 is part of this narrative. The point Jesus makes is not that he is somehow both “lords” in Psalm 110:1. It is that the messiah will rule not in the limited earthly manner that David and his descendants according to the flesh ruled but at the right hand of YHWH, as a “priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek”. His kingdom will transcend the Davidic kingdom in the sense to be indicated in Matthew 26:64: as a consequence of his rejection by the Jewish authorities, his suffering, his death at the hand of the Gentiles, he will be given authority to judge and rule at the right hand of YHWH.

The point will be made quite clearly by Peter on the day of Pentecost. Jesus’ kingdom differs from David’s kingdom not in that David was a man and Jesus was God but in that David died and was buried (cf. Acts 2:29) but Jesus was exalted to the right hand of the Father:

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:34–36)

  • 1. C.A. Evans, Matthew, 443.

Comments

You assume that there is a simple interpretation of Psalm 110:1 (yours), and following, that this is the perspective of those in Jesus’s time, while it is only perhaps benighted modern evangelicals who have failed to realise that the first ‘Lord’ in verse 1 is YHWH and the second ‘Lord’ is someone else.

The problem with this view is the conundrum in the Psalm to which Jesus draws attention. The anointed one, the messiah to come, was to be a descendant of David, a son of David - 2 Samuel 7:12-16. In the Psalm, David himself addresses the one invited to share God’s throne. So Jesus asks: how could David be addressing his son, the expected one to come from his (David’s) line, as his Lord?

In Matthew’s account, Jesus is making an implicit criticism of the Pharisees in their judgment of himself. They are thinking that he could not be the messiah, if the messiah was an exalted kingly figure. Jesus implies that they are they mistaken about how the messiah would be exalted, which would be through the messiah’s unexpected death and resurrection.

But Jesus takes the interpretation of the Psalm further than this. There is no reason why a biological descendant of David, crucified and resurrected, should not have had a status greater than David and be addressed by David as ‘My lord’ (lower case). But Jesus says the Psalm contradicts this simple understanding, by posing a question where a response in the negative is assumed: “If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?”. In other words, this Lord was considerably more than one who could simply be described as David’s son.

So who could this second Lord in Psalm 110:1 be? The answer is implied in the rather obvious literary device of the Psalmist or his transcribers using the same word for both Lords, in Hebrew and Greek. There was not only a commonality of purpose in the two Lords, but a commonality of identity. At this point, the argument you have given above, that divine identity cannot be and was not assumed in the NT use of ‘Lord’ (2) in Psalm 110:1, unravels, and the divine/human antithesis you describe is not only unnecessary, but the Psalm actually makes better sense, and becomes part of a more coherent story, if the second Lord, identified with Jesus, is understood as divine.

Once the perspective of two divine Lords in Psalm 110 is adopted, you don’t need to split the story of Jesus into the two rather disconnected narratives of the eschatological/apocalyptic Jesus and the wisdom/creator Jesus. It actually seems fanciful to propose such a split, given that the NT authors, even within a proposed narrative historical framework, were living within the urgent demands of that time-frame. Why should they produce, out of the blue, a different Jesus, only marginally connected with the apocalyptic/eschatological Jesus, yet with such prominence in the narrative, as in John, Colossians and Hebrews?

Once the perspective of two divine Lords in Psalm 110 is adopted, the gospels also make better sense, where allusions to Jesus’s divine identity are more frequent than commonly observed, and to my mind compelling.

Everything that was true of ‘Lord’ (2) in Psalm 110:1 was true of Jesus as divine figure. He doesn’t need to be seen as an extraordinary human figure in all his qualities without any adequate biblical prototypes. His fusion of humanity and deity is the only adequate explanation - for both historical narrative accounts and any others.

Your assumption (I’m probably really doing you an injustice in the allegation) is that only benighted moderns have failed to realise that the two ‘Lords’ in Psalm 110:1 have different referents. It took Jesus to show that it was the ancients, in the sense of the scriptural experts of his day, who were benighted in their understanding. In reality, there is no reason why a divine Jesus should not be part of a historical narrative interpretation. The only real problem with this is that the historical narrative account then becomes part of something rather larger, with greater theological significance, and connects with the creation story. Problem? Perfect solution, I’d have thought.

The answer is implied in the rather obvious literary device of the Psalmist or his transcribers using the same word for both Lords, in Hebrew and Greek.

Peter, you realize that in Hebrew it’s not the same word: yhwh says to adoni? Jesus’ version of Psalm 110:1 matches neither MT nor LXX exactly, and there is perhaps the possibility that he used an Aramaic version, which would have had mare for both yhwh and adoni (Fitzmyer). But even in translation both the memory of the Hebrew and the narrative of the Psalm would make it clear that different figures are referred to.

But what Jesus finds in the Psalm is neither a commonality of purpose nor a commonality of identity. What he finds—and this is reinforced by every other reference to Psalm 110:1 in the New Testament—is a relationship and an instatement. The explicit issue he raises is not whether the messiah is YHWH, which is inconceivable even in New Testament terms. What he asks is: Whose son is he? What he clearly sees in the Psalm is a relationship between the Lord who is YHWH and the Lord who is king that is like the relationship between a father and a son. That cannot be understood as a relationship of identity.

Secondly, presumably Jesus found it significant that YHWH makes the messiah sit at his right hand, from which place of honour he will rule in the midst of his enemies. This is what Peter understands from the same verse: YHWH has “made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Jesus’ response to Caiaphas also indicates that he expected to be instated as king, given authority to rule, as an outcome of his suffering.

The express conclusion that Jesus draws from the fact that David calls the messiah “my Lord” is that the messiah is not simply David’s son. Sonship is not identity. David’s “son” is not David. YHWH’s “son” is not YHWH. YHWH’s son, here and throughout scripture, is Israel or Israel’s king, and Jesus finds reason in this Psalm to claim that he will be Israel’s king in a manner that transcends—as a rule from the right hand of the Father in heaven—the Davidic kingdom.

To suggest that the passage implies a merging of identities is frankly wishful thinking. There is simply no reason to reach that conclusion from the texts. I have checked several commentaries. Not one of them takes your line. They all emphasize the resurrection-exaltation-kingdom motif. The closest is Hagner, who quotes Fitzmyer’s view that kyrios in reference to Jesus here suggests that Jesus “was somehow on a par with Yahweh of the Old Testament”. Being “on a par with” is not the same as being identified with, and the point would still be that Jesus was raised to a position of authority equal to God as Israel’s messiah and king.

Andrew

It would be easy to misunderstand my point here Andrew but I actually think that your baseline understanding of ‘Trinity’ is modalistic and is incorrect. The net result is that you dismiss again and again the orthodox understanding of texts yet orthodoxy isnt saying what you think is being said.

John, your comment illustrates the basic problem as I see it. You assume—or at least you appear to assume—that we should begin with an understanding of the Trinity and interpret the texts on that basis. An orthodox understanding of the texts will produce a sound interpretation of the texts, an unorthodox understanding, such as modalism, will produce an unsound interpretation.

That is precisely my problem with “theology”—it reads backwards. It makes a text say something which may be important and even true but which is not actually what the text is trying to say. In my view, your hermeneutic is dishonest. It brings theology into disrepute.

There is no exegetical basis for the view that Jesus is trying to get the Pharisees to understand that he is God. There is every exegetical basis for the view that he is trying to get them to understand that his kingship will transcend the Davidic kingship—that, in effect, through his death and resurrection he will be made, as Peter puts it, both Lord and Christ.

Andrew

My problems with your position is that you imagine you can work in a vacuum with no past and a different future. The net effect of what you are proposing is that we will dump the Trinity and take another position. You ARE saying that the conclusions of the past are incorrect. Monotheists like Jaco are pouncing on your words and this is evidence of the clear place where you find yourself. In your attempt to be ‘an honest scholar’ you imagine that rejecting receieved understan ding no matter how subtly can take place with no one noticing!! You and your website is ‘Evangelical’ but no it isnt and you are promoting what is regarded as false teaching. I also think (please forgive me for this) that you actually dont seem to understand the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. So your rejection is of ‘something else’.

Actually though your position is actually worse than rejecting ‘Trinity’ (which you really must admit your are doing ) because Trinity is an EXPLANATION it is the components are the important and vital bits. The central one being That jesus is God and man.

The issues surrounding this emerged in the 1st century and we can talk about 1st century second temple judaism until the cows come home but the issue of dowe worship Jesus, how does the data we have from the NT be explained when it simply does not fit into ‘agency’ as an explanation.

You are making theological choices your dogmatism is as clear as any trinitarian or anti trinitarian„,its ‘micro’ not macro’ but its real. LORD does not equal YHWH in Rom 10v9 ’ the title distinguishes him from God not identifies him as…’ you said. I am happy to run with many many scholars who would disgaree both modern and older. My theological ‘hero’ F F Bruce wrote a booklet on the Deity of Christ with various lines of evidence that your investigations reject but on thin grounds.

I could take you narrative approach out into the world I inhabit and be slaughtered or immeasurably compromised when I talk to JWs, Mormons, Christadelphians,M oslems. THEY aren’t asking if he was the Messiah and Jewish King THAT is accepted by all of us. They are asking questions which the NT does answer though about so who REALLY is Jesus, should we worship him, how does the relationship of Father and Son work? The pre existence of Jesus his identity as the word, his combining manhood and Godhood are all there in the NT. They may be part of an orthodoxy which is ‘old hat’ to some or not ‘post’ enough. Well I am neither ‘post’ Evangelical (I still trust the scriptures and preach the Gospel) and I neither acept the tag modern or post modern….I am an Orthodox Christian whose faith is in the scriptures (not the Nicene creed which is a brilliant summary of some core teaching). If I felt that central features of this orthodox faith I could no longer hold to I would leave it and not call myself Evangelical….I would not want to lead astray those who think I am one of them. I am 55 I have since my teens engaged with false teachers , pseudo Christian cults some have been delightful people to meet (particularly Christadelphians) others are rrankly peddlers of ‘anti’ teaching who have little positive to say. This lifelong engagement has driven me again and again to read the scriptures and it is only in recent years that I have appreciated the ante Nicene Fathers. My ‘belief’ emerges from an interrogation of the entire Bible and includes much of what you are saying (which I think is ‘foreign’ to most people of the world) and the story of The God of the unibverse who ‘spoke’ and became flesh who died and rose and now is once more this time as man ‘Lord of All’ is a compelling one for people today. Eloquent attempts to discount John 20v28 simply fail…I say to him ‘you are my Lord and my God’ I only have one as all trinitarians have always said .

Just a few additional comments (Ive been with 30 teenagers all day). The orthodox position does to my mind answer all the questions. There are very few texts (all on one hand at most) that cause pause! The modalistic option or the unitarian (misnamed monotheistic) dont do that. Jesus wasnt God (? Jn 1v1, 20v28,) he mustnt be worshipped (heb 1v6, Rev 5), Didnt exist before he came to earth (Jn 17, Php 2v6f, Coll 1, Heb 1,) wasnt involved in the act of creation yet ‘all things were made by/through/in him’. There is a lot of explaining away to do. As I read the major Christological texts in almost any translation (apart from the NWT !) I am puzzled at your approach Andrew. I agree with much of your narrative /historical comments but they still dont cover the bases. Ignatius amost as Johns Gospel ink was drying was repeating ‘Jesus is God’, assorted Jewish groups called into question the ‘deity’ of Jesus, the NT was sufficient to establish the truth then and is now. Embracing Unitarianism creates more problems.

John, all I am doing is pointing out what the texts are saying, at least as it appears to me in the light of New Testament scholarship in general and of the narrative-historical hermeneutic in particular. I do not regard this as inherently anti-trinitarian. I do regard it as fundamentally compatible with evangelicalism because I assume that evangelicalism respects the integrity and authority of the texts.

You are worried about getting to the right destination. I am worried about how we get there. I am not greatly interested in how the New Testament texts were read in the fourth century. I am interested in how the texts were read in the first century. That seems to me the simple task of the exegete. Yes, it is subject to a certain dogmatism—but it is a hermeneutical dogmatism rather than a theological dogmatism, and it is necessary just to give the texts room to breathe. I am quite dogmatic in my insistence that texts should be read on their own terms, not on the basis of how they came to be read in later periods.

My basic problem with the sort of orthodoxy that you defend is not that it’s wrong—I don’t think it was wrong. It’s that it misses the point insofar as it collapses the story down to the question of identity or ontology and thereby excludes history. Orthodoxy as we know it does not answer first century questions. The question that drives the New Testament is not “Is Jesus God?” but “How will Israel’s God come to rule the nations?” What New Testament orthodoxy boils down to is not the confession “Jesus is God” but the confession that “God has made Jesus Lord and Christ”. It seems to me a matter of some importance that we recover this question and the answer which the New Testament gives to it.

Incidentally, I would argue at this point that what we mean by “gospel” is the fundamental point at issue here, not the Trinity.

The argument I have put forward about Jesus’ use of Psalm 110:1 seems to me right. It is backed up by New Testament scholarship. It is backed up by Peter in Acts 2. If instead of ranting at me, you had pointed to some exegetical oversight, then we could have a proper discussion about the text. But all you have done is reinforce my observation that theologians read backwards—indeed, you seem duty bound to read orthodoxy back into the texts regardless.

What I would like to hear from the theologians is a willingness to engage constructively with New Testament scholarship and redevelop orthodoxy on the basis of what is in the texts rather than what they assume is in the texts. I take the point that in the short term this may not be very helpful for apologists debating with JWs, Mormons, Christadelphians and Muslims, but that is not a good reason for not pursuing some sort of redevelopment if the exegetical arguments are sound.

I don’t recall ever making an eloquent attempt to discount John 20:28. As far as I can see, there is no reason to deny that Thomas confessed Jesus as Lord and God. That is part of the witness of the New Testament, though squaring it with John 20:17 is a little tricky.

I also agree with you that Jesus is presented in the New Testament as the means or agent of creation—but not as the creator. In fact, I recently quoted F.F. Bruce on the matter: “He is denoted as the agent by whom God brought the universe into being” (The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon and to the Ephesians, 62).

I will repeat again that I have revisited again and again the biblical material on this issue, I have in the past ‘put aside’ orthodoxy (which I have done on other issues and have changed or altered my beliefs). On this though my beliefs have emerged from the scriptures ‘up’ not from 4th century ‘back’.

CREATOR

I can quote FFB as well (I wont bother at the mo), but draw a line on the right put all that has been created, then on the left put all that has never been created. Then ask if God is on the left obviously then where is ‘The Son’. I have no problem with all things being made in through or (as many translations say) by him, whether the word in John 1, or as in Coll 1. Jesus IS the creator for without him was not made anything that was made. I await yor embracing of the view that this only refers to ‘the new creation’ (a preposterous suggestion). So.

1. Did Jesus in his pre existence participate in creating all thngs or is he part of the ‘all things’. Don’t accuse me on this point of just supporting orthodoxy, I simply believethat orthodoxy is adequatel supported by scrpture.

2. So did Jesus/Word/Son of God exist in any personal sense before Bethlehem or do you choose to believe otherwse?

EVANGELICAL

I sometimes wonder if you are actually playing games and find it helpfu to remain within Evangelicalsm but have embraced some kind of socinianism because of your ‘narrative historical’ approach.

The core elements of the faith ARE being ejected by you and that uts you outside of orthodoxy. The silence you portray in the face of unitarian stateents speak even louder than your words.

You may remember that my main point of arriving here was that I was shocked that someone liing nside the Evangelical world seemed to be reejcting essential elements of that in public. I am still appalled. There are two issues the ‘exegesis’ and the clearly ‘wrong’ nature of your Evangelical label and activities within that world. The EA statement is sufficient to assist in this.

SOUND EXEGESIS?

Mmmm, your selective quotation of some scholars is misleading. However in seeking the support of ‘scholars’ which ones? Are we to compare my list with yours? I guess yours would all not call themselves Evangelical? I find your attempted elimination of the obvious connction between ‘call on the name of YHWH and be saved’ in Joel and its quote referring to Jesus in Romans 10. Forget ‘orthodoxy’ for a moment ..when I approached the NT with my questions I could fully embrace the 1st century context but the mssage did migrate and the text DOES give us answers to later questions. I have observed your comments on John1, Php2, Col1 and Heb 1. I’m sorry Andrew the generally traditonal view holds togeher much better than the convoluted pre assumed unitarian arguments that you and others put forward. (I see no reason to believeJesus is God based on what you have said…so why do you mislead by speaking out both sides?) There is no issue with John 20v17 and v28, the argument is as irrelevant as Jesus cannot be God because in Numbers it says ‘God is not a man’!!

THE GOSPEL

I cannot see what your ‘gospel’ would sound like to the post industrial inner city estate where I gather for Church and do youth work? I tell the story of God becoming man, defeating every enemy we can face, Jesus now risenfrom the dead assures us of our certain bodily resurection and Justice in finality (Acts 17v31) the response to this is to repent believe, be baptised and receive the Holy Spirit. We live in and in hope of the Kingdom, a countercultural way of life anticipating his eventual return. He is now not just ‘in the form of God’ he is now man and he bears the name YHWH which was his pre existent state.

Today we dont live in a second temple judaistic context. Understanding the 1s century is important of course, but we see the gospel travelling from a roomin Jerusalem to one in Rome. From Son of Man to logos, from a jewish to an international context where the ontological nature of Jesus and God IS important.

I cannot see what your ‘gospel’ would sound like to the post industrial inner city estate where I gather for Church and do youth work?

Of course! That’s the whole point of a narrative-historical theology. Good news in the New Testament wasn’t proclaimed to a post industrial inner city estate. Good news was proclaimed to first century Jews. Good news was proclaimed to first century Gentiles. Paul’s gospel was not the same as Jesus’ gospel. Your gospel is certainly a far cry from the gospel proclaimed in Revelation 14:6. They are held together, though, by the fact that the same God is working with the same people. That remains true today. We proclaim good news in the light of the narrative.

“1. Did Jesus in his pre existence participate in creating all thngs or is he part of the ‘all things’. Don’t accuse me on this point of just supporting orthodoxy, I simply believethat orthodoxy is adequatel supported by scrpture.” Have you guys ever considered the thought that Paul’s reference to “all things” in Col. 1 and John 1 doesn’t refer to physcial material things of the universe? Probably not. Why? http://beyondcreationscience.com/index.php?pr=Home_Page

Thanks for your various points. A request for further clarification, if I may, and some responses.

Peter, you realize that in Hebrew it’s not the same word: yhwh says to adoni? Jesus’ version of Psalm 110:1 matches neither MT nor LXX exactly, and there is perhaps the possibility that he used an Aramaic version, which would have had mare for both yhwh and adoni (Fitzmyer).

Could you explain what you mean by “in Hebrew”? Which Hebrew version of the OT are you talking about? If Jesus was using an Aramaic version (surely extremely unlikey, even of such a version actually existed) the word Fitzmyer identifies is the same for YHWH and Lord.

What he asks is: Whose son is he? What he clearly sees in the Psalm is a relationship between the Lord who is YHWH and the Lord who is king that is like the relationship between a father and a son. That cannot be understood as a relationship of identity.

Yes indeed, but even if OT allusions to YHWH’s father/son relationship with Israel are being drawn on in some way (not explicitly), surely the thought goes far beyond anything that was conceived of by the Pharisees, or anyone else, in their understanding of the OT and Jesus himself. Perhaps “identity” is an inexact word. There is a common identity between father and son, for instance, which is what I meant. It’s not that they are the same person, of course not.

But what Jesus finds in the Psalm is neither a commonality of purpose nor a commonality of identity.

Both are found in what you describe as relationship, and instatement. For relationship read identity, though I’m taking it further than you. Jesus is instated as king to rule over, or in the midst of, his enemies. This is precisely what I describe as commonality of purpose and identity.

That Jesus goes beyond what might be understood from a relationship of human messianic figure alone to YHWH I take from the use of the word kyrios in both applications in Psalm 110:1 quoted in Matthew 22:44. This echoes the same identical words which I understand are from the Hebrew MT (and as far as I know, the LXX), or even some lost Aramaic translation.

The literary effect of the Psalm is a conundrum, or gnomic. It is highly suggestive of a closer relationship between YHWH and messiah than of two entirely separate figures. Just as, eventually, the father/son relationship of Jesus in the NT was seen (and I believe is seen in Matthew) to be more than the YHWH/Israel relationship of the OT, or even simply the YHWH/king-messiah relationship of Psalm 2, or the relationship of father and son in 2 Samuel 7:14.

Secondly, presumably Jesus found it significant that YHWH makes the messiah sit at his right hand, from which place of honour he will rule in the midst of his enemies.

Yes, exactly. But what would that look like? I suggest it looks like something much more than a reprise of OT precedents, though that is also included.

The express conclusion that Jesus draws from the fact that David calls the messiah “my Lord” is that the messiah is not simply David’s son. Sonship is not identity. David’s “son” is not David. YHWH’s “son” is not YHWH. YHWH’s son, here and throughout scripture, is Israel or Israel’s king, and Jesus finds reason in this Psalm to claim that he will be Israel’s king in a manner that transcends—as a rule from the right hand of the Father in heaven—the Davidic kingdom

This is taking the meaning of ‘identity’ as ‘the same person’, which I never intended or said, and is actually totally confusing what I said. There is a play on identity, in the sense that there was an ‘identity’ relationship between David and David’s son, just as there is between YHWH and Jesus. ‘Son’ in the OT is not an exact term; it does not exclusively mean Israel or Israel’s king, and to say that it is used that way ‘throughout scripture’ is misleading. It is used very rarely in the OT, and draws on the sense of a close, intimate relationship, in which the son is ‘like’ the father. (Son of = ‘like’).

Of course, I totally agree that “Jesus finds reason in this Psalm to claim that he will be Israel’s king in a manner that transcends—as a rule from the right hand of the Father in heaven—the Davidic kingdom” - but we mean very different things by that statement.

In your commentaries:

They all emphasize the resurrection-exaltation-kingdom motif. The closest is Hagner, who quotes Fitzmyer’s view that kyrios in reference to Jesus here suggests that Jesus “was somehow on a par with Yahweh of the Old Testament”.

Yes of course; the resurrection-exaltation-kingdom motif is central. But I am also suggesting exactly what Hagner (and others) say, and that’s not to be confused with something I did not say, that the two Lords were the same person. That would be a complete misredaing of what I said.

Andrewsreply reinforces the undertsanding I have that Andrews understanding of the Trinity is ‘modalistic’. He is questionning/rejecting/ a WRONG view of the Trinity .

John, just to be clear, the post is not about my understanding of the trinity. The post is about my understanding of Matthew 22:41-46. Just accept the fact that we’re approaching the question of Jesus’ relation to the Father from different directions.

Could you explain what you mean by “in Hebrew”?

You’ve lost me. In the Hebrew there is no “obvious literary device” whereby the same word is used for both “lords”. The same word (kyrios) is used in the LXX, and a putative Aramaic version might also have used mare for both YHWH and the king/messiah. But there is no possibility of confusing the identities in the Hebrew.

…surely the thought goes far beyond anything that was conceived of by the Pharisees, or anyone else, in their understanding of the OT and Jesus himself.

Quite possibly. But the instatement of a heavenly king/messiah as a consequence of his suffering and death would have gone beyond what the Pharisees understood—or the high priest, as Matthew 26:64-66 makes clear.

For relationship read identity

You can’t go around making words mean whatever you like. I have a “relationship” with my wife. I don’t share an “identity” with my wife. I don’t share an identity with my son.

That Jesus goes beyond what might be understood from a relationship of human messianic figure alone to YHWH I take from the use of the word kyrios in both applications in Psalm 110:1 quoted in Matthew 22:44. This echoes the same identical words which I understand are from the Hebrew MT (and as far as I know, the LXX), or even some lost Aramaic translation.

Peter, that’s just the problem. The words are not the same in the MT:

נאם יהוה לאדני

The fact that kyrios is used twice in the Greek does not mean that they are the same Lord. Jesus says nothing to indicate that he took it that way. Quite the contrary. He argues that one “lord” is the “son” of the other. Paul uses “head” for God, Christ, and the husband in 1 Corinthians 11:1. He doesn’t mean that they are all the same person. YHWH is kyrios by convention in the Greek. The king/messiah is kyrios because he is king or messiah in relation to Israel and the nations.

It is highly suggestive of a closer relationship between YHWH and messiah than of two entirely separate figures.

Only because you want it to be. There is nothing in the texts to support that idea.

‘Son’ in the OT is not an exact term; it does not exclusively mean Israel or Israel’s king, and to say that it is used that way ‘throughout scripture’ is misleading. It is used very rarely in the OT, and draws on the sense of a close, intimate relationship, in which the son is ‘like’ the father. (Son of = ‘like’).

When Jesus asks “whose son is the messiah?” and quotes Psalm 110:1, there is no question that he means “son” as a reference to Israel’s king. You can make the relationship between the son and the father as close as you like, but being close to someone or being “like” someone is not the same as sharing an identity with someone.

Psalm 110:1 is used in the New Testament to make the point that Jesus has been given authority to rule at the right hand of YHWH. In that sense he is on a par with YHWH. It is not used, and cannot be used, to prove that Jesus was identified with, shared the identity of, YHWH.

Thanks for your correction to my statement about the Hebrew MT, where YHWH is the first protagonist of Psalm 110:1, and Adoni (or possible Adonai) is the second. That was careless of me, but it does not actually alter the point I was really making about Matthew 22:44.

I personally think Matthew is using the repetition of Kyrios to suggest something more than a divine YHWH distinct from a human messiah, and that he is reading the Psalm in the light of an understanding of Jesus as more than human agent - just as he does throughout the gospel. I think this is a literary device, which supplies meaning in a different way from scriptural cross reference - and Matthew does this elsewhere also.

I don’t think I was using the word ‘identity’ in the way you describe, and I do think you were misreading the point I was making. Your wife doesn’t come into it. Your son might illustrate something of the point I was making. My daughters do share something of my identity. That does not make them the same as me, any more than your son is the same as you.

You will see that I made this point after I had acknowledged that the primary meaning of the passage as it was used by Jesus was to refute the Pharisees, probably in their perception of a contrast between an exalted kingly figure as described in the Psalm, and the lowly appearance of Jesus. (How could he then have been the messiah?).

A climactic line in the passage is this: “If then David calls him ‘Lord’, how can he be his son?”. In other words, Jesus implies that the messiah was more than a son of David alone. So in what sense was the son of David also David’s Lord?

If this had been simply too puzzling for the Pharisees to answer, Matthew would have said so. But Matthew says: “From that day on, no-one dared to ask him any more questions”. The immediate and obvious reason for this is that they would then have been identified with the enemies of the first Lord defeated by the second Lord, in the verse from Psalm 110 Jesus has just quoted.

I am not disputing the conventional interpretation of the passage which underlies your own interpretation. But I am arguing that the passage suggests more than this, that the messiah who would avenge God’s enemies was more than a human agent, which is contained in the literary device of the repetition of Kyrios.

A divine second Lord is also implied in the trinitiarian hints in the passage, where we have ‘Spirit’ in addition to the two Lords - again, something Matthew does elsewhere and on more than one occasion. Matthew is doing more than recording history. He is editing his material, and using literary devices for theological effect. You are welcome to look this up in your commentaries. I’m just looking at the passage.

As for eschatology, there is plenty of that in the passage. The messiah would bring judgment on God’s enemies, and they would include representatives of the very nation that most had assumed the messiah would come to save. I go beyond this, and suggest that the messiah came to reign in more than an opponent-slaughtering sense, but also in a sense that he would reign “in the midst of” his enemies - ie while they were still alive and around him (though this part of the Psalm is not quoted by Jesus). The NT shows this to be the case, through the church.

Jesus defeats his enemies by being seated, rather then in a military campaign. He rules “until” his enemies are brought beneath his feet. This suggests a process, which continues until the final judgment.

I don’t reject your eschatology; I just don’t think it goes far enough, or takes account of what that reign would look like when it came through the church. All that I said about Jesus bringing the narrative of creation and victory over his enemies together into one narrative still stands, though you avoided addressing that in the previous comments.

For your interpretation to stand, there have to be two rather disconnected narratives continuing into the NT. I don’t think this reflects how the narrative is presented at all - as I suggested earlier.

Peter, “Adonai” as the second referent is hardly a possibility. There is absolutely no evidence for it. All the evidence points in the opposite direction. The recipient of the oracle is nothing else but utterly human.

But I am arguing that the passage suggests more than this, that the messiah who would avenge God’s enemies was more than a human agent, which is contained in the literary device of the repetition of Kyrios.

But this so called “literary device” is a figment of your imagination. Nothing in the passage leads us to suspect that Matthew thought these two lords were to be identified in some way.

If Jesus had quoted the Psalm in the Hebrew there is no literary device, no repetition. Even in the Greek the second “lord” is differentiated from YHWH both by the possessive pronoun and by the whole action of the Psalm.

The distinction between YHWH as “Lord” and the king, or kings, as “lord” is found elsewhere without any confusion (eg. Ps. 136:3; Is. 26:13; Jer. 22:18; 34:5).

The implicit subordination of the messiah as “lord” to YHWH as “Lord” is evident in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28, where Paul cites Psalm 110:1 to explain the kingdom that has been given to the Son and then says that it will be given back to God, the Son will become subject, and God will be all in all. The status represented by Psalm 110:1 is not even permanent.

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:25–28)

I like Craig Evans summary (Matthew (New Cambridge Bible Commentary), 386):

Jesus challenges the adequacy of the scribal habit of referring to the Messiah as the “son of David.” The appeal to Ps 110:1, where David himself calls the Messiah his “lord,” implies that Jesus regards the epithet “son of David” as insufficient as a reference to the Messiah. Evidently, Jesus holds to a higher view of the Messiah. This figure is so exalted that even the great David, the archetype of the Messiah, has “by the Spirit” addressed him as “Lord.” On what basis does Jesus hold to such a lofty view of the Messiah? Probably because the Messiah is “son of God” (Matt 4:3, 6; 8:29; 14:33) and like the “son of man” figure of Dan 7:9-14 has received his kingdom and authority directly from God himself (and not from the line of David). ]esus’ stunning teaching, as well as his interpretation of Ps 110:1, will come to the fore in the later hearing before the high priest and the council.

The wider framework of Matthew’s gospel does suggest divine status for Jesus, and that should guide us as to how we read the parts - with respect to Unitarian visitors to this site and yourself. Even you have problems tying together a divine Jesus whom you believe in personally with your particular reading which says the opposite.

Within this framework is Psalm 110 as quoted in Matthew 22:44 and the NT. I think I’ve set out very clearly the various elements of the passage which are the immediate substance of Jesus’s confrontation with the Pharisees, so I’m not overriding any of that. I think the fear which Jesus instils in his opponents is that they may be identified with YHWH’s enemies as described in Psalm 110:1. I’ve affirmed as far as I can your understanding of the eschatological significance of the passage, though I don’t think it goes far enough, but that’s another matter.

So I don’t quite know why you are so agitated about my observation on divinity/divine status in the second Lord (“a figment of your imagination” etc), unless your motive is to stamp on anything which questions your viewpoint. What is very obvious to me in Matthew, but not to you apparently, are the intimations of divinity in Jesus. For trinitarians, there has to be an understanding of the meaning of Psalm 110 in relation to Jesus, who did not become God at some later point after his earthly ministry, but was God all along. As I believe this is the most coherent way of reading scripture, as well as the most widely accepted in the Christian tradition, it affects how the details are read too.

I’m ready to concede that the issue of Jesus’s divinity is not central to the argument of the passage. It is recognised by commentators, if not made much of, eg New Bible Commentary - R.T France (MA, BD, PhD, Principal Wycliffe Hall Oxford at the time of writing): “more than merely a son of David”, “superhuman authority ( as in 26:64)”, “he would be reocognised at last not as a son of David (the title does not occur again), but as ‘Son of God’ (27:54)”.

Commentators need then to ask, how does this interpretation affect the meaning of the two Lords as quoted in Psalm 110:1? First, you say: “If Jesus had quoted the Psalm in the Hebrew there is no literary device, no repetition.” But that’s the whole point, the passage does quote the psalm in the Hebrew, but uses the two identical Greek words.

You then say: “Even in the Greek the second “lord” is differentiated from YHWH both by the possessive pronoun and by the whole action of the Psalm”. Neither point has a bearing on the issue. The possessive inflection of the second “lord” makes no difference - it’s still the same word. The whole action of the psalm neither affirms nor denies divine status ot the second “lord” - the action could be appropriate to either.

You say: “The distinction between YHWH as “Lord” and the king, or kings, as “lord” is found elsewhere without any confusion”. Yes, and elsewhere YHWH is described as King in his own right, as you well know.

You also say: “The implicit subordination of the messiah as “lord” to YHWH as “Lord” is evident in 1 Corinthians 25-28 etc”. The complete paragraph here requires more attention than can be given in this comment. At the moment, all I can say is that, yes, there is subordination of the messiah to YHWH, but I believe you completely misread that and the rest of the Corinthians passage. I’ll happily discuss this with you on another thread, if you like.

I also very much like Craig Evans’s summary which you quote. It doesn’t contradict what I was saying at all! Trinitarians have to be consistent though, and have to ask: what is the significance of Psalm 110:1 in Matthew 22:44 (and elsewhere in the NT) if Jesus was indeed divine? I suggest that there are at least two hints of his divinity in the episode. One is the a trinitarian appearance of Father, Son and Spirit (two Lords, David “inspired by the Spirit”), which is not unique to Matthew. The other is in the two Lords themselves - whose common identity (or status you find that word is difficult) is suggested by the repetition of Kyrios for both. A literary device, which reflects how Matthew’s (or his Greek transcribors’ into Greek, though I think Greek is the language at issue here) creative use of OT quotations.

Who would have thought so much printer ink could have been spilt over such an innocent observation? Still, it is raising important underlying issues of consistent biblical interpretation. I hope my offering goes some way to addressing that and to calming uproar in the theological hencoop.

P.S. I’m getting some weird hyper links appearing in the text which I can’t remove. I hope they don’t transfer to the site.

For trinitarians, there has to be an understanding of the meaning of Psalm 110 in relation to Jesus, who did not become God at some later point after his earthly ministry, but was God all along.

This is exactly the mistake I want to highlight—the assumption that because we are trinitarians, we have to find the trinity in everything that is said about Jesus and God. No good reason has been put forward by you or anyone else for thinking that Jesus makes reference to Psalm 110:1 in order to assert a claim to be divine. The Psalm cannot be read as confusing the identity of God and the messiah or king. Jesus makes no statement tot hat effect. He highlights only the question of sonship.

I’m ready to concede that the issue of Jesus’s divinity is not central to the argument of the passage. It is recognised by commentators, if not made much of, eg New Bible Commentary - R.T France (MA, BD, PhD, Principal Wycliffe Hall Oxford at the time of writing): “more than merely a son of David”, “superhuman authority ( as in 26:64)”, “he would be recognised at last not as a son of David (the title does not occur again), but as ‘Son of God’ (27:54)”.

Does France actually say that being “more than merely a son of David”, having “superhuman authority”, and being recognised as “Son of God” are attributes or evidence of divinity? Or is that your inference?

Andrew - Once again you have totally misread me. I did not use the passage as a starting point for proving the trinity. In my last post, I very clearly and repeatedly said that if you take the rest of Matthew as a framework, in which, in my opinion, the divinity of Jesus is a consistent theme, then it is natural to apply the framework to Matthew 22. This raises questions about the status and relationship of the two Lords in Matthew 22:44. In what sense of the word Lord is this passage casting Jesus, the divine messiah?

Once you have asked those questions, some further features of the passage begin to appear. It’s interesting that Matthew uses the same Greek words - Kyrios - of God and of Jesus. It’s interesting that there is a threefold emphasis: Lord (YHWH), Lord (understood from the wider framework as the divine Jesus), and the Spirit. Matthew does this sort of thing on more than one occasion.

I did not suggest we have to find the trinity in everything that is said about Jesus and God. I did not even say that Jesus was using Psalm 110:1 in order to assert a claim to be divine. On the other hand, if the interpretive framework of Matthew is that Jesus is divine, and added to the belief of Christians about Jesus throughout the tradition from the very earliest times (ie very shortly after his resurrection), which is also the consensus of some of the best contemporary scholarship, then of course the second Lord in Psalm 110:1 is a divine figure. That is also a reasonable inference to draw from the language that is used about the second Lord. If the language leads one commentator you quote to think of that Lord, who is identified with Jesus, as “on a par with God”, what does “on a par with” mean if not “on a par with”?

This is not the same as saying that the passage in Matthew is a proof text of Jesus’s divinity. Of course, the passage is being used in a number of ways, not least as a warning to his opponents that they could end up meeting the fate of the enemies of God described in verse 1 of the Psalm.

I have said all along that the things that you say are true of a a messiah as human agent are no less true of the messiah as divine being. In all my posts, I cleared the ground very thoroughly, not jumping to the conclusion that Jesus’s primary meaning is his divinity, and also suggesting some things which I thought would be of further interest to you in your own interpretation. However, I also suggested that I think Jesus is going beyond this, at least in Matthew’s presentation of him, in which there are hints of divinity and the trinity.

These things are not “proofs” of Jesus’s divinity or the trinity. But they do align with a presentation of Jesus which I believe is consistent throughout Matthew, and of course the rest of the NT.

You should not infer from this, nor should anyone else, that it represents a “reading back” into the gospel from the theological standpoint of a much later, non-Jewish age. Matthew does the “reading back” for us. The broad hints contained in a presentation throughout Matthew, consistent with the rest of the NT, provide material for an understanding of Jesus in relation to God and the Spirit as divine and trinitarian. This is important because it has a huge bearing on our understanding of the narrative as a whole, and clearly, the narrative then becomes significantly different from your casting of it.

Just to be clear, R.T. France does not address the double Kyrios issue of Psalm 110:1, nor does he mention the trinitarian hints which I have suggested. The entry in NBC is brief, but it’s obvious that in using words like “superhuman” he means above or beyond humanity, and that in distinguishing”son of David” from “Son of God” (the lower/upper case distinction is his), he is going beyond saying that the latter is just another way of saying the former. The clearest implication is that France thinks we are looking at a divine figure, particularly in Matthew 27.

In my opinion, these are issues which arise in Matthew 22.

Peter, at some point you need to concede. Having been schooled by Andrew on the interpretation of Psalm 110, you fall back on old standbys such as “interpretive framework” and “hints” in Matthew’s presentation. Sometimes what you are looking for isn’t there.

The interpretive framework of Matthew is that Jesus will be messiah and king over God’s people. He is “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1). He is the ruler “who will shepherd my people Israel” (2:6). He is reverenced as Israel’s king (2:11). He is the “beloved son”, obedient Israel, the servant of YHWH (3:17), who refuses to worship satan and worships YHWH alone (4:10). He is given authority as the Son of Man, who suffers and is vindicated, to forgive sins (9:6-8). He is the Son of David who defeats Israel’s enemies (12:22-29). He is the messiah, the Son of the living God, who will suffer and be vindicated by God (16:13-28). He is the Son of Man who, when God’s people are restored, will sit on his throne, along with his followers, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (19:28). He rides into Jerusalem as Israel’s king, Son of David (21:4-10). He is the king to whom God has given authority to judge and rule over Israel and the nations (25:31; 26:64). He is executed as a self-proclaimed king of the Jews (27:29, 37, 42).

Given this fully consistent and explicit interpretive framework, there is no reason to think that Matthew 22:41-44 is saying anything more than that Jesus expects to receive an extraordinary authority from God to judge and rule. He will sit at the right hand of God. He will receive God’s own authority. He will have an authority “on a par” with God, equal to God’s authority. But at no point does Matthew confuse the identities of Jesus and YHWH such that we might argue that Matthew understood Jesus to be YHWH.

I can understand that later readers have needed to frame Matthew differently, but it still seems to me a serious misreading of the text to claim that Matthew himself does this. He is quite clear how the story about Jesus is to be framed. Your “broad hints” are entirely unfounded.

You have also clearly falsified France’s witness to suit your own agenda. France does not say that Jesus was “superhuman”. He says that Jesus received a “superhuman authority”. I completely agree with that. I agree that Jesus is claiming a status as “Son of God” that is much higher than that of any earthly “son of David”. I’ve made the point a couple of times, though you keep ignoring it, that Peter used Psalm 110:1 to affirm that God had made Jesus Lord and messiah in contrast to David, who was not raised from the dead (Acts 2:22-36).

Starting with the accusations, and I wish you wouldn’t do this, I said of France: “that in using words like “superhuman” he means above or beyond humanity”. That isn’t ‘falsifying’ anything; I’ve said no more and no less than France.

“Son of David” is a messianic term. France says that “Son of God” is more than “son of David”, introduces the word “superhuman”, and points to the word “Son of God” being more than simply messianic (as in “son of David”) in its final use in Matthew 27. (Significantly, it is gentile Romans, “the centurion and those with him”, not Jews, who use the term).

Neither the term “son of David”, nor “Son of God” are mentioned in Acts 2, so it’s not a good place to go for arguing the difference between them. You confuse the issue entirely by saying that, in Acts 2, Peter contrasts the David who died with Lord and messiah, as if “David” is equivalent to “son of David”. “Son of David” is bound up with messianic allusions. It does not simply mean “any of David’s human descendants” or “like David”, or something similar.

I agree totally with your first paragraph, as far as it goes (which isn’t far enough). You then say:

Given this fully consistent and explicit interpretive framework, there is no reason to think that Matthew 22:41-44 is saying anything more than that Jesus expects to receive an extraordinary authority from God to judge and rule. But at no point does Matthew confuse the identities of Jesus and YHWH such that we might argue that Matthew understood Jesus to be YHWH

He doesn’t confuse the identities. Throughout his gospel, Matthew slips in time and again pointers and allusions, as he does here, to a greater than human identity. There is a great deal to suggest that Jesus was more than he appeared to be, and more even than Jesus has appeared to be to you!

An approach with more integrity would be to acknowledge a different viewpoint from your own without resorting, frankly, to abuse. That I think your position is ideological rather than rational, I take from the way you have responded as this particular dialogue has developed. I don’t think I could have been more sensitive to your interpretation, acknowledging and affirming it, reinforcing and even extending it, than I have done, but proposing difference based on attentiveness to the text. As the proposed alternative ultimately undermines your limited narrative, perhaps I should not be surprised that you are so vehemently opposed to it.

France, according to your original reference, appears to have said that Jesus has a “superhuman authority”. You then seemed to infer from this that France “thinks we are looking at a divine figure”, as though he were saying: Jesus is superhuman, therefore he is divine; or perhaps, Jesus has superhuman authority, therefore he is divine. That, at least, appeared to be your argument. My point was that someone can be given superhuman or divine authority to act without actually being divine—and I doubt that France meant his comment to be taken in the sense which you appear to have taken it. If you did not mean to say that France thinks of Jesus as a superhuman figure (as distinct from a figure who has been given superhuman authority), then I take back my charge of falsification with apologies.

Presumably, the centurion means that Jesus rather than Caesar is the true Son of God—the point being, as I have argued all along, that Jesus is exalted as Son of God to judge and rule over the nations with an authority given to him by Israel’s God. Or if he is merely reiterating the disciples’ confession (14:33), he means that Jesus is Israel’s messiah (cf. 16:16; 26:63).

The point about Acts 2 would be that a mere “son of God” would die like David, whereas the Son of God who is David’s “lord” will not see corruption but will reign at the right hand of God. And as I have highlighted repeatedly, Peter believed that Jesus had been made Lord and Christ. He cannot possibly be saying that Jesus was made YHWH.

Throughout his gospel, Matthew slips in time and again pointers and allusions, as he does here, to a greater than human identity.

So what exactly are these slippery hints, allusions and pointers that you keep referring to?

France added nothing new to the current and earlier dialogue regarding the status of the second lord of Ps. 110:1. It’s an oversell. Nothing France used to push for his cherished doctrine - “sharing” a throne, sitting at God’s right hand, receiving “co-regency” with God, etc. - were in any way new and compelling. Attempting to seek for ANE precursors also proved desperate. *underwhelmed*

I actually think that France is not very clear in his use of terms, and leaves them somewhat open to interpretation. I don’t think his interpretation is yours, however.

France avers that “son of David” was a messianic term used of Jesus, and understood and accepted by him as such. He then says: “Rather, the point is that Messiah is more than merely a son of David, as shown by David’s words in Psalm 110:1”.

He says: “The same text is used again in 26:64 to claim for Jesus a superhuman authority”. What exactly France means by this is open to interpretation; it could mean what you say it means, or it could imply (as I think it does) “superhuman because the agent was superhuman”. This is because of what France goes on to say.

France then describes what is added to the messianic expectations (or rather, what were not the expectations), that Jesus would be rejected and die on the cross. However, in so doing “he would be recognised at last not as a son of David, but as Son of God”.

If France had understood “Son of God”to be a synonym for Messiah, he would not have made the distinction between “son of David” (messiah) and “Son of God” (whom?).

The implication is that France sees “Son of God” as being more than “messiah”, which takes us into territory way outside your understanding or interpetation of the word. I understand France as saying that “Son of God” has divine overtones, though he doesn’t quite come out and say so. He leaves himself little option other than to mean that.

This is what the centurion would have meant if he was using anything like the Roman understanding of the phrase. We don’t have to take it that way, but what else could Matthew have meant? Not your interpretation, I don’t think. A man dying on a cross was not likely to become a judge. But he could show by his death what kind of person he was, which was more than human and, in this particular case, divine qualities.

The point about Acts 2 would be that a mere “son of God” would die like David, whereas the Son of God who is David’s “lord” will not see corruption but will reign at the right hand of God.

On what authority are you making these different meanings of “son of God/Son of God”?

Peter believed that Jesus had been made Lord and Christ. He cannot possibly be saying that Jesus was made YHWH.

That’s correct, but part of Jesus’s self-surrender in becoming man was to willingly place himself in submission to his Father, and in so doing identifying himself with man. He was exalted to his original status, which was Lord, which in this case implies authority over much more than pagan idolatrous Rome or apostate Judaism, and was fully restored to his preminence with God and as God.

So what exactly are these slippery hints, allusions and pointers that you keep referring to?

A disingenuous, or very naive comment. If you haven’t explored fully all the many allusions to Jesus’s divine nature in Matthew (and trinitarian scenarios), you shouldn’t be proposing something entirely different.

The conversations taking place on the adjoining thread (Adam, original sin and wrath aganist the Jew) are a model of how blog comments should be: short, focused, deferential. It has more than once been suggested that I develop my comments on my own blog. Problem is that most of what I’m prompted to think through (with occasional exceptions) arises from posts on this blog.

Matthew 22:41-46 is a case in point. Here, for instance, is what Wayne Grudem has to say:

Matt. 22:41-46), but who is David’s “Lord” if not God himself ? And who could be saying to God, “Sit at my right hand” except someone else who is also fully God? From a New Testament perspective, we can paraphrase this verse: “God the Father said to God the Son, “Sit at my right hand.”’ But even without the New Testament teaching on the Trinity, it seems clear that David was aware of a plurality of persons in one God. Jesus, of course, understood this, but when he asked the Pharisees for an explanation of this passage, “no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did any one dare to ask him any more questions” (Matt. 22:46). Unless they are willing to admit a plurality of persons in one God, Jewish interpreters of Scripture to this day will have no more satisfactory explanation of Psalm 110:1 (or of Gen. 1:26

Wayne Grudem - Chapter 18 from Systematic Theology. An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Zondervan, 1994)

Before anyone goes rushing to their theological machine guns, the quote needs to be read in the context of the whole chapter. It won’t wash with Andrew, because ultimately the whole argument (which is about the trinity) rests on your understanding of salvation, which Andrew has radically redefined. I don’t know if it will wash with Jaco and the Unitarians (not that he defines himself as Unitarian), because I don’t know what Jaco’s understanding of salvation is.

Do I agree with Wayne Grudem? Here, provided it includes many other things that need to be said about Matthew 22:41-46, yes. Elsewhere, there’s much that W.G. says that I don’t agree with. There’s much that that many people say that I don’t agree with fully, whilst agreeing with a lot that they say otherwise. I don’t always end up agreeing with what I’ve said, in the light of criticism and subsequent reflection. (I don’t fully agree with what I said about ‘lord’ in the previous comment, for instance).

I haven’t changed my position on Matthew 22:41-46, however. But I have added to it in the light of conversations that have taken place. That’s why I like talking to Andrew on his blog. I’m quite sure he doesn’t always like talking to me, but that’s another matter.

So I’m going to sum up, for what it’s worth, my thinking on Matthew 22:41-46.

In the first place, it’s not an easy passage to follow completely. If we disagree on that, we’re far apart from the outset.

The context is important. Various people, incensed by Jesus’s temple actions in Matthew 21, have been questioning him: chief priests and elders of the people, “By what authority etc” - Matthew 21:23-27; Pharisees, “laid out plans to trap him in his words” - 22:15-22; Sadduccees - marriage at the resurrection; Expert in the law, “which is the greatest commandment?” - 22:34-40.

Introducing all this, but preceding the temple action, is the triumphal entry, when Jesus comes as king (Matthew 21:5) and is openly acclaimed as “son of David”, which means King/Messiah. The triumphal entry episode concludes with Matthew 21:10-11 - “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ ” The slightly more limited answer of the crowds (“This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee”) should not distract us from the importance of the question. “Who is Jesus?” is a question that Matthew has asked before, and remains a key question of the gospel.

Matthew 22:41-46 is the final and climactic confrontation of Jesus with his detractors, leading up to the “woes” of Matthew 23, the discourse of Matthew 24, and the five parables following. It is in many ways the most important thing Jesus has to say about himself before his crucifixion. It is laden with significance.

To sum up, as I see it, the key elements of Matthew 22:41-46, which provide its meaning.

1. Jesus asks the Pharisees: “Whose son is he (the Christ)?”; that is, so it was thought, the Christ, the anointed one, deliverer of Israel from pagan Rome, the one who would usher in the return of YHWH to the temple and defeat of His enemies, establishing Israel in her supposed destiny of worldwide preeminence.

2. The Pharisees reply: “the son of David”. The question of whether this could validly be applied to Jesus is not raised here, but in 21:11, and as it was generally known, Jesus was described as “the prophet from Nazareth”, ie not of the tribe of Judah. Yet in 21:9, Jesus had been acclaimed with the words “Son of David” - which are clearly messianic, as is the acclamation of Psalm 118:26.

3. Jesus then asks them about Psalm 110:1 (which the majority opinion of current scholarship concludes is messianic), raising the question of the relationship between David in the Psalm and the exalted lord David addresses as “my Lord” (again, the majority opinion being that the exalted lord is not David himself or Solomon).

4. David in the Psalm is the inferior party to the exalted lord he addresses. The “son of David” was someone far greater than even David himself, to the extent that Jesus can ask “If David calls him ‘Lord’, how can he be his son?”

5. The question of Jesus’s own identity now returns. By implication, if Jesus is being identified by the crowds, for instance, as “Son of David”, and therefore Messiah, he is now saying he is more than David’s son. The crowds at least might enforce their own exaltation of the lord of Psalm 110. Perhaps the Pharisees, seeing the popularity of Jesus, dared not question the implicit association because of their fear of the crowds. Behind the association lay an even more troubling threat: the defeat of the second lord’s enemies by YHWH himself, as described in Matthew 22:44 which quotes Psalm 110:1.

6. The introduction of the exalted lord into the question of the messiah’s identity focuses us on the identity of that lord, and Jesus own identity itself. Without going into all the arguments about “adoni” and “adonai”, the question of the identity of the exalted lord is raised in Matthew 22, and the way in which such an exaltation might be applied to Jesus. How far could such an exaltation go, in what it said about the identity of the one exalted? It is not entirely clear in Psalm 110 that the second ‘lord’ could not have been identified, that is to say be equal to, YHWH himself. It would not be the first Psalm that suggested the possibility of two “Gods” - eg Psalm 45.

7. I believe that in the passage itself, an extension of identity from human to divine in the exalted lord is suggested. The device of the twofold “kyrios” in the Greek wording of Matthew’s quotation of the Psalm makes such a suggestion. The trinitarian possibilities in the reference to God, Spirit and exalted Jesus in the passage also make such a suggestion.

8. The relationship of the passage itself to the rest of Matthew also makes a divine identification of the second lord possible. Matthew was not written as a pre-resurrection document, but in the light of all that had happened following the resurrection. This included a firm grasp of Jesus’s post-resurrection exaltation, as the references to Psalm 110 in the gospel and elsewhere in the NT show. In Matthew also, certain phrases and terms which have their origins in the OT seem to be in transition. “Son of God” is one such phrase, and a key term in Matthew. If it cannot yet be directly equated with a formula like “second person of the Trinity”, it has clearly moved beyond meaning simply human king, messianic king, or representative of Israel the people. Its use in Matthew strains beyond the boundaries of such a limitation, as the previous conversations have amply illustrated. This is in addition to trinitarian episodes in Matthew and OT allusions to the work of YHWH as God now being fufilled in Jesus as a man.

9. Provided that all the elements of the passage are understood and in place, and particularly the forthcoming exaltation of Jesus and overthrow of his enemies, without which the drama of the confrontation is entirely misunderstood, then it is, I believe valid to go beyond this and understand here, as elsewhere in the NT, that the two Lords of the Psalm were more than one (YHWH) relating the other as exalted human agent alone. The gnomic style of the passage conceals a greater possibility, and invites us to include this in our understanding of how Matthew is presenting things, from the standpoint of a later but more fully informed viewpoint, which includes the divinity of Jesus himself.

This identification then spills over into the narrative into which these things are being presented. As I’ve said before, this is where the limited narrative presented by Andrew diverges from a metanarrative, which is obvisouly the one I espouse. It’s important for the survival of Andrew’s narrative to do as much damage as possible to the meta-narrative. This is done efficiently, but not, to my mind, convincingly, not least because it misses, I think, much that we are being challenged with in, for instance, our reading of Matthew’s gospel. It is, I think, the same challenge to us as it was to the original recipients of the gospel, but that’s another discussion.

Hi Peter,

(Matt. 22:41-46), but who is David’s “Lord” if not God himself ? And who could be saying to God, “Sit at my right hand” except someone else who is also fully God? From a New Testament perspective, we can paraphrase this verse: “God the Father said to God the Son, “Sit at my right hand.”’

Do I agree with Grudem? Most certainly not. (Not surprising, is it? Lol!). It is entirely clear that Grudem employs circular argumentation here, as well as a false dilemma, namely that David’s Lord can only be God himself. That’s not true. David’s lord can, for instance, be Saul (before David’s own coronation), or it can be an angel (addressed as adoni’) or, (very conveniently ignored by Trinitarians like Grudem) David’s Lord can be the Messiah who, even though he would be David’s descendent, his exalted status would render him Lord over his royal ancestor, David. It is, really, as simple as that. That was also what Jesus reiterated in his exchange with the Pharisees, with the implication that, since he (Jesus) satisfies all the requisites for being Messiah, they (the Pharisees) are dealing with the lord of King David.

[A]nd the way in which such an exaltation might be applied to Jesus. How far could such an exaltation go, in what it said about the identity of the one exalted? It is not entirely clear in Psalm 110 that the second ‘lord’ could not have been identified, that is to say be equal to, YHWH himself. It would not be the first Psalm that suggested the possibility of two “Gods” - eg Psalm 45.

I agree with you up to point 6 (although you don’t go far enough as my paragraph above), where you introduce a slippery slope. “How far would that exaltation go?” can simply be answered as, “as far as would be necessary for him to be Messiah, king against the kingdoms and lord even of King David.” It is entirely clear that the second lord would be ontologically distinct and non-identical to YHWH. Functionally identical as the one executing YHWH’s rule? Definitely! And you and others should be satisfied with this, for what more do you want than Yahweh’s rule? You have it! And you have it in the human Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who was and is nothing more than utterly human.

7. I believe that in the passage itself, an extension of identity from human to divine in the exalted lord is suggested. The device of the twofold “kyrios” in the Greek wording of Matthew’s quotation of the Psalm makes such a suggestion. The trinitarian possibilities in the reference to God, Spirit and exalted Jesus in the passage also make such a suggestion.

There’s no such thing as “extending of identity from human to divine.” This is logically and linguistically dubious. Jesus is never ontologically reclassified in the NT. In fact, from the kerygma of the apostles and the letters of Paul, even in his exalted state, Jesus was nothing else but utterly human (Ac. 17:31, 1 Cor. 11:3, 1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus executed divine rulership and in him the actual Origin of such rulership could be discerned (something I call referential identity).

What many theologians miss, especially Evangelical fundamentalists, is that human language and cognition does not work as simplistically as a hand-held word-processor (“junk in, junk out”). Cognitive linguistics is very complex. Many factors dictate and shape meaning and shades of meaning in words, and these play decisive roles in capturing those meanings in language. To simply recognise that “kyrios” is used for the first referent and “kyrios” is used for the second, hence the quantum leap toward some dubious “inclusion into the divine identity” is embarrassingly reductionistic. Sadly such messy scholarship sells in populist apologetic works (not surprisingly so, considering what other monstrous scandals have been committed in the name of Christianity). Unless one assumes trinitarian possibilities (which is also too vague to state this way – triadic would be a slight improvement), the supposed implications you refer to above would totally escape the notice of the strictly monotheistic/monolatrous Christian of the first century. The restrictions imposed by this monotheistic/monolatrous environment would not allow that Jewish Christian to wander into quasi-polytheistic constructs akin to that of the Trinity.

In Matthew also, certain phrases and terms which have their origins in the OT seem to be in transition. “Son of God” is one such phrase, and a key term in Matthew. If it cannot yet be directly equated with a formula like “second person of the Trinity”, it has clearly moved beyond meaning simply human king, messianic king, or representative of Israel the people.

Again the implicit direction your argument takes above is toward Nicea/Chalcedon. “Transition” would be allowed but gives no-one carte blanche (especially not Nicea/Chalcedon) to determine the extent of that transition. As far as I can tell, considering the milieu in which the First Gospel was written, no drastic deviation in Son of God language has occurred after Jesus’ exaltation. What trinitarians do not allow for is the experiential “transition” from conceptual and imaginative OT references to the Messiah to the actual awesome reality in the person of Jesus. Identity with YHWH is simply non-point altogether.

Thanks Jaco. I also think there is circular logic in Grudem’s argument. I agree with his conclusion, however, though don’t get there quite by the route of his logic.

I was really quoting him to show that belief in the deity of the second lord is something held by a very well known and widely respected contemporary theologian. The chapter on the Trinity from which the extract is taken is worth reading.

I do wonder who you think Jesus is, to pose what I think is a key question in Matthew’s gospel. By that, I also wonder who Jesus is in your life - apart from being, as you once said, your hero.

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your reply.

It bothers me somewhat to find so many trinitarians asking me who I believe Jesus is. It bothers me, not because I might have the wrong Jesus, but because of the impression it leaves me with, namely that Jesus can only mean something to a Christian believer if Jesus’ character is embellished with later fabulous sublimations and fabrications. It would be sad if this were so, especially since I find so much in life and nature and in humans that attest to the awesomeness of God YHWH, without having to embellish these phenomena with myth and fable; even less so with creationist imaginations.

The realness of Jesus in my life comes from my knowing what he did in history and what role he plays in my life today. It is truly amazing how much value Jesus lent to humanity in general and what an attestation that was to the value humanity has in YHWH’s eyes. The closest analogy I can use is to find the most understanding and unconditionally accepting Rogerian therapist in the world and imagine how Jesus went about in similar ways to reach out to people, to touch them and heal them, and bring them into God’s presence. That is how I experience Jesus. I also experience Jesus whenever I imitate him. If I am kind and considerate and I sense the effect those gestures have on people, I sense Jesus in action. In that sense he is indeed my hero.

But Jesus does not replace YHWH. I see YHWH when I view the moons of Jupiter through a telescope. I see YHWH when I see the budding leaves and branches of by bonsai trees. I experience Yahweh when I’m on silent retreat for a few days. There is no convolution for me. Jesus will always be my hero, the one who rescued me. But he will never replace my Almighty God and Creator Yahweh. He won’t need to do that. My earliest recollections of worship and the divine have been the clear understanding of who God was, and who Jesus was. By grace alone, neither Nicea/Chalcedon/Calvin, nor the Watchtower succeeded in ruining those earliest comprehensions I had of God and Jesus. I can only echo the words by Professor Hendrikus Berkhof who said:

[To Jesus:] “You are the true Man, as God has intended you from the beginning; the true, obedient Son, the man of love who, accepting all consequences, was willing not to keep but to lose his life for others, and who, by this exceptional life of love and obedience, has started the counter-movement of resurrection in this world.

“And as the true Man, you are also the Man of the Future. You are not just a strange exception, for then you would only be an accusation against us. God has given you as the Pioneer and Forerunner, as the Guarantee that through your sacrifice, your resurrection, and your spirit, the future is opened for us, obstinate and enslaved people.”

Hendrikus Berkhof, “What Do You Say That I Am?” Reformed World 32 (1973), 291-305See More

Be assured of my great respect for you, Peter.

The question was genuine, and open. No trinitarian tripwires attached! Thanks for the reply.

God bless you, Peter. I wish all Trinitarians could be like you.

Once the perspective of two divine Lords in Psalm 110 is adopted, you don’t need to split the story of Jesus into the two rather disconnected narratives of the eschatological/apocalyptic Jesus and the wisdom/creator Jesus.

There’s nothing very odd about the split story of Jesus. As Richard Bauckham argues—though really the point is obvious—YHWH is both creator of all things and sovereign over history, and the distinction is reflected in how other “figures” participate in the two roles: word and wisdom, on the one hand, angels and other exalted figures, on the other. It’s entirely plausible to maintain, as Bauckham does, that the New Testament argument about Jesus draws on these two distinct narratives. The question is how. On the basis of identity or on the basis of agency or appointment or some such.

It’s entirely plausible to maintain, as Bauckham does, that the New Testament argument about Jesus draws on these two distinct narratives. The question is how. On the basis of identity or on the basis of agency or appointment or some such.

I think that’s the point I was addressing.

Bravo, Andrew. Especially the point about people reading into the texts backwards. All the arguments for the trinity in these passages would have been a complete shock to the authors.

Well, the accusation doesn’t stick. To read the Trinity back into the texts is the wrong way around, however to see how the texts point forward and lead you to an explanation like Trinity is perfectly legitimate. The collection of texts and arguments throughout the NT for what is traditionally known as ‘the deity of Christ’ is huge, to read Php 2 as if he didnt pre exist is really odd and to hold t this position involves such a lot of explaining away of John 1, Heb 1 and of course theother Johannine material. Seeds of trinitarian type thought are there too (Mthw 28v19) but the bottom line is that the ‘unitarian’ or ‘socinian’ explanations feel very unusual and forced.

The NT writers were comfortable attributing the name of God to Jesus, to worshipping him, seeing him share a throne with the Father, being ‘equal with God’, sharing Gods glory before the world was all at the same time as believing that God would not give his glory to another.

They didnt see him as being created and saw him as part of the creative process (with the Father and the Spirit), they recorded the father commanding the angels to worship him Heb 1v6, did so themselves (proskuneo) even when this was traditionally forbidden (Lk 4v8).

The ancient dewcription of Jesus in pre existence being ‘the same stuff’ (homousios) of God and the newer description of being ‘included in the Divine identity’ (bauckham) make abundant sense.

You are spot-on, Berry

The shoe-horning of the post-biblical construct back onto the biblical text is as flawed as looking for Muhammad in the Bible or identifying Jesus with the archangel Michael. Same indirect, circularly inductive kind of argumentation strained to prove a presupposed doctrinal preferrence. Since when does the way arguments “feel” have a bearing on an argument’s validity and soundness?

Have you read Murphy O’Connor, John Macquarrie, JAT Robinson and Schillebeeckx on their masterful treatment of Christological issues? As soon as post-biblical shackles are removed, the original plan and purpose of God in Jesus and the upliftment his ministry brought about for the nation and later the Gentile are miraculously unlocked.

Be blessed,

Its not hard to see the components of the Trinity existent in the NT. The early Fathers clearly operated with a clear divine/human Christ understanding. The at least 12 references of Ignatius to ‘Christ our God’ doesn’t provide us with some aberration from centuries later but a natural onflow from the data in the NT.

To impose some kind of straightjacket on the Nt that it cannot bring anything new or different than its context is frankly incorrect and minimises the revelation of God in Christ.

I see plenty of ‘reading back’ into the Nt of later ideas and dogmatism. It isnt from the orthodox though. Its frm many socinians and unitarians who are desperate to ‘knock’ the Trinity. A good wander around the multiplicity of fine scholars who accept the orthodox view as a biblical view would be recommended Hurtado, Bauckham, Fee, older ones like Bruce, Metzger,

I find many of the arguments put forward here by ‘unitarian’ or non or anti Trin people rather odd. Such as ‘we believe in one God the Father’ not a trinity. Well surprise surprise, guess what the words of the Nicene creed are …it starts with ‘We believe in one God thwe Father ……’. You see what is being attacked is not the historic Trinity teaching which simply describes in later language what emerged from the pages of the Nt . The Trinity is but a description and is far less important than its components the most important being Who Jesus is and the relationship between him and his Father.

The ‘obvious’ meaning of the prologue to Johns gospel supports what came to be known as orthodoxy. Likewise the same could be said of Hebrews 1, and Collossians 1 and the fanciful Adam theology proposed for Php 2 simply has to be ‘read in’ to the text and anyway has been I believe discredited.

The book I recommended elswhere Paul Paveo’s ‘In the beginning was the Logos’ is a great straightforward read and explains much of the detail surrounding Nicea and how the ‘precision’ developed later (for example at Chalcedon) is not a simple summary of the biblical material about the Divinity of Jesus and F and S relationship. Apart from one word ‘homousios’ Nicea is utterly biblical and that one word is an attempt to exclude false teaching which had been recognised as such from the beginning and even in the pages of the Nt.

Andrews narrative/historical approach can be adequately incorporated into or alongside an orthodox understanding.

Interstingly with the young people I work with last night we looked at ;The Great commission’ passage in Mthw 28. ‘In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’. I debated an anti Trinitarian and he really really tried to get that passage branded as like 1 John 5v7. His wish wasn’t matched by the reality though, the textual basis of that werse is unassailable.

Andrew doesnt believe the Trinity is incorrect or false ….. I believe he is right.

Andrews narrative/historical approach can be adequately incorporated into or alongside an orthodox understanding.

I would put it the other way round. I would say that the orthodox understanding, which was a historical development, can be adequately accommodated in the narrative-historical approach.

I would disgaree about many specific textual interpretations and exegesis but wouldn’t disagree with what you just said apart from that ‘orthodoxy’ is seen throughout the NTand was clarified later. Mmmm seems to be calm descending Andrew.

JT, thanks for taking the time to respond.

Its not hard to see the components of the Trinity existent in the NT. The early Fathers clearly operated with a clear divine/human Christ understanding. The at least 12 references of Ignatius to ‘Christ our God’ doesn’t provide us with some aberration from centuries later but a natural onflow from the data in the NT.

No, which Ignatius recension are you referring to? Apparently the one which is utterly trinitarian/modalist. Ignatius’ short recension was completely non-trinitarian, so I see no support there. YOur reference to the patristics operating within a divine/human Christ is an oversell. You are equivocating since the Chalcedonian divine/human dichotomy is far more complicated that how the earliest Fathers understood Christ to be. Recently a whole series of articles were discussed on Prof. Dale Tuggy’s www.trinities.org. The earliest Fathers were nothing else but unitarian.

To impose some kind of straightjacket on the Nt that it cannot bring anything new or different than its context is frankly incorrect and minimises the revelation of God in Christ.

To one who is discontent with the NT or who has not fully grasped the value of an unsophisticated and unimbellished NT your comment above is pretty understandable. But, 1) that does not give anyone carte blanche to embellish without restraint. I think Nicea/Chalcedon did, simply because their constructs are irreconcilable with NT theology/culture/language/logic. These constructs are misfits and nothing less. 2) It is rather concerning that one would want to embellish the NT narrative. What happened to all Scripture is inspired so that man would be fully equipped? And 3) if that is one’s motive, then one cannot criticize the embellished theologies of other “cults,” since theirs would in principle be no different…except technicalities, history, sentiment and stigma…

Its frm many socinians and unitarians who are desperate to ‘knock’ the Trinity. A good wander around the multiplicity of fine scholars who accept the orthodox view as a biblical view would be recommended Hurtado, Bauckham, Fee, older ones like Bruce, Metzger,

I don’t think so. Any unbiased assessment of the growing number of trinity critics since the 70s - from within the Church - will show that proper criticism of this post-biblical construct is long overdue. It is NOT logical/intellectual prowess, as much as sentiment and fear of ridicule that has stifled due criticism of this doctrine. The criticisms have been compelling and has had quite an impact already, especially since dissenters are ostracised by the Church (the Church can be very Watchtower-like).

Apart from one word ‘homousios’ Nicea is utterly biblical and that one word is an attempt to exclude false teaching which had been recognised as such from the beginning and even in the pages of the Nt.

Without homoousios neither Nicea nor Chalcedon exists. To be God of God without the notion of implicit or inherent ontological identity with God (homoousios), one sits at worst with homoiousios and at best with a functional identity which is precisely what the first Church understood to be the case with Jesus. Jesus is NOT of the same ousios as the Father (ousios is a misnomer and an irrelevant concept to introduce anyway). Jesus is the human in whom God revealed Himself most fully. And since that would induce a race of New Creation humanity, we would also express divinity (Ro. 8:29; Eph. 3:19).

You see what is being attacked is not the historic Trinity teaching which simply describes in later language what emerged from the pages of the Nt .

I disagree with you here. The trinity was no mere reformulation in contemporary language. It was a reinvention, a theological overhaul and emerged as a misfit compared to the ancient understanding of “God.” Nothing trumps the oddities found in the trinity - from the overall formulation of it in terms of natures, essences, etc., the redifining of language, as well as the conundrums one sits with once one goes into the details. What is odd to one person is certainly not odd to another. Such a subjective approach to anything is bound to be fallatious in its outcome.

The Trinity is but a description and is far less important than its components the most important being Who Jesus is and the relationship between him and his Father.

This is a refreshing and level-headed statement above. I wish all “orthodox” (inverted commas intended) Christians would be as reasonable. (Assuming that you would remain consistent with what you say above).

The ‘obvious’ meaning of the prologue to Johns gospel supports what came to be known as orthodoxy. Likewise the same could be said of Hebrews 1, and Collossians 1 and the fanciful Adam theology proposed for Php 2 simply has to be ‘read in’ to the text and anyway has been I believe discredited

I don’t think so. These sections above have various degrees of difficulty to both trinitarianism and biblical monotheism (I do not consider trinitarianism to be biblical monotheism). In a proper Jewish mindset, John 1 does not arrive at the kind of post-biblical inventions such as dictated by Nicea and Chalcedon. Far from it. Too many categories/meanings/concepts need to be redefined, tweaked and changed. And whether you downplay his scholarship or not, James McGrath has done a masterful job in highlighting the Jewish understanding of logos-Christology. To me, who’s grown up in a Calvinist Church but was never conditioned according to Chalcedonianism, Heb. 1, Php 2 and Col 1 has a natural monotheistic understanding. I don’t see how the Jewish follower of Jesus would have had any different understanding. That is NOT something a life-long Calvinist/Chalcedonian can say.

I debated an anti Trinitarian and he really really tried to get that passage branded as like 1 John 5v7. His wish wasn’t matched by the reality though, the textual basis of that werse is unassailable.

Fortunately that youngster is not isolated, and will probably come across great articles by both trinitarians and nontrinitarians alike who do not see the Nicean/Chalcedonian trinity in that passage. The weakness of that text as proof the trinity is certainly not based on textual tradition.

Andrew doesnt believe the Trinity is incorrect or false ….. I believe he is right.

I think Andrew is the person who best knows what he believes - consciously or sub-consciously. I am just delighted that this exchange could take place in good spirit.

Bottom line is that there is not a single reference in the entire Bible that you can point to in which you could say: “this is where the author is referring to the trinity.”

Now, I find that a little strange, that the holy book doesn’t have a single reference to the true nature of God. You can find a lot of places where it is hinted that Jesus is more than a man. But those turn out to be either: 1) mischaracterizations of the authors’ intent or 2) a misunderstanding of the words used.

For example, in antiquity saying someone was the Son of God or the Messiah, or was to be seated at the right hand of God, or performed miracles, etc., those had no inherent divine connotation.

When Jesus is accused in John 8 (I think) of calling himself a God, he quotes the book of Judges in which Israelite leaders were called gods. The point is clear: he was comparing himself to people who were called gods because of their role as God’s agent, but they weren’t divine beings.

I used to believe as you do, I read most of those guys you reference, but in the end I couldn’t honestly defend my own positions. Arguing the trinity, with all the paradoxes and Greek philosophical concepts, is hard. The truth has to be more simple.

What an odd wayto look at things!! There is no need to see the Trinity as being read back in to the bible. It emerged to respond to error, to challenge and to clarify truth. Its easy to see from day one through the apostolic fathers right up to nicea the line of orthodoxy. The various passages in the NT mentioning F S and Sp show the components were there later to be ‘described’. Berry…what type of non trinitarian are you now, Oneness, Unitarian, JW, C delphian ?? The One God who will not share his glory with another hasn’t because the Word, the SOn ,Jesus isn’t ‘another’ he is the same stuff. He shares his nature and is worthy of worship and honour Heb 1v6 and JN 5v23.

What type am I? Funny how every fundamentalist type comes here immediately demands to know what side everybody is on. So if a person says he or she belongs to a group of which you disapprove, you can safely dismiss everything they say because, well, what would you expect from a fill-in-the-blank (yuck!).

I’m none of the things you mentioned, BTW.

The various passages were there to be described? Sure, but only when you twist the meaning away from how they were originally intended. That’s why I beg of you to show me one passage in which the author intended to describe the trinity. You can’t, because there are none.

Later “authorities” reinterpreted certain passages in ways that reflected later ideas (such as the trinity or Plato’s immortal soul, neither of which any first-century Jew would have agreed with).

Berry

And you so totally misunderstand orthodoxy.passages which prove the various components of what would later become described as ‘Trinity’. I wish non or anti trinitarians will TRY to understand , any decent work on the Trinity will help you. Labelling me a fundamentalist may atest to your own bankruptcy of ideas Berry!!

Trinity emerged over a time to descxribe the data of the NT and in response to challenges to what was mainstream belief. The oft and tiringly repeated accusation that Trinitarians are proved wrong by the biblical phrase ‘one God the Father’ is exhaustingly wearisome…take a look at the first line of the Nicene creed ‘We belive in One God the father….. the relationship between Father and Son was seen based on biblical evidence was that of ‘same nature’ not similar, or lesser. The exalted language of the NT about Jesus shows that clearly. If we draw a line between creator and created then we place Jesus on the creator side not created ‘without was not made anything that was made’. The detailing out and explanation of that was one of the foundations of the exlanation known as ‘Trinity’. I reccomend Pal PAveo’s book @In the beginning was the Logos’ PLEASE read it you will find it helpful.

JT,

the relationship between Father and Son was seen based on biblical evidence was that of ‘same nature’ not similar, or lesser.

There is no “same nature” (Roman/Greek philosophical category) hint in the utterly Hebraic text of the NT. The Niceans/Chalcedonians found what they had been looking for by imposing alien ideas onto the biblical text.

The exalted language of the NT about Jesus shows that clearly.

This can only be true if it can be shown that what Jesus said and did made him INHERENTLY different to the extent of recategorising him as GOD. This would also have to coincide with the absence of the opposite of inherent qualities, namely IMPUTED or DERIVED qualities which inherently belong to someone else. The former can simply not be proven. The latter is given overwhelimingly as evidence/explanation for Jesus’ words and deeds.

If we draw a line between creator and created then we place Jesus on the creator side not created ‘without was not made anything that was made’

This was an artificial line. This dispute had not occurred during the first century either, so I think the Pauline/Johannine quotation is anachronistic. Jesus was the content of the logos, hence the “purposive” notion of creation linked to Jesus, the content of logos.

Some sobering reality checks on the ancient controversies can be found here: http://www.christianmonotheism.com/media/audio/One%20God%20Conferences/2012/Trinitarian%20Controversy%201.pdf

I agree that Jesus is claiming a status as “Son of God” that is much higher than that of any earthly “son of David”. I’ve made the point a couple of times, though you keep ignoring it, that Peter used Psalm 110:1 to affirm that God had made Jesus Lord and messiah in contrast to David, who was not raised from the dead (Acts 2:22-36).

As I understand it, and leaving aside the whole divinity/trinity debate… the designation “Son of God” was like saying Jesus was/is “God’s man for the hour”, much as, though of course far exceeding the likes of Moses, who in relation to Pharaoh was designated “God” – So the Lord said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. Ex 7:1 cf Ex 4:16; Jer 1:10a.

As far as I can tell, any qualifying “as” or “like” [ως] which I assume is the probable intent which most translations furnish, isn’t actually in the text; so it’s a pretty strong declaration.

When I originally responded to this post, I was responding to what the text is understood to be saying in context in Matthew. While it points specifically and in various ways to the exaltation of the messiah Jesus and the defeat of his enemies, it’s my view that the text goes beyond this, and raises questions of Jesus’s divinity - to the reader, if not the Pharisees.

This takes us back to Psalm 110, and its meaning. Is there an allusion to a double godhead in verse 1? There was a conversation about this a long time ago - possibly on openseourcetheology.net, most of the details of which I had forgotten.

Then I came across this web page which covers many of the issues being raised, but in relation to Psalm 110. I commend it to the site here, as it provides an in-depth argument for the divinity of the second lord in Psalm 110. This is not to side-line the arguments presented on the introductory post above, but it does make a case for what many if not most commentators, in my opinion, take for granted, that there is a dual divinity in Psalm 110.

Thanks Jaco. I’d be interested to see the complete version of your article, when you get round to it.

In one sense, there isn’t an issue, since nether I nor anyone that I know of uses the frequent citation of Psalm 110:1 in the NT as a proof of Jesus’s divinity. That comes from many other places, but not Psalm 110. The reason the second lord in Psalm 110:1 is understood to be divine is a corollary of Jesus’s divinity, given that the second lord is understood to be Jesus in the Psalm, and given a consistent understanding of Jesus as divine (which, for you, is not the case, of course).

In Matthew 22:41-46, Jesus is not, I believe, refuting the Pharisees with a claim to his own divinity. I do think Matthew intended the reader to recognise this significance, however, as I have explained. Elsewhere in the NT, it becomes even more clear, in my opinion, that a divine second lord was understood by the NT authors, eg Hebrews 1:13, taken in context.

I don’t think you have covered Sam Shamoun’s argument thoroughly yet, and that in particular, there are grounds for interpreting the second lord as divine within the Psalm itself. ‘Hopelessly desperate’ seems an overstatement; I think he has understood and acknowledged the position of a Unitarian (or Christian Monotheist) understanding of Psalm 110 very well.

Thanks, Peter

I know full well that the Psalm is not used as proof of the trinity. What that Psalm does provide, however, in its full historical understanding and consistent application in the NT, is that the second lord is not-Yahweh and therefore not-God. They are not one and the same, hence the obvious contradiction with what eventually developed to be the “orthodox” Trinity.

I agree with you that Jesus is not using that text to prove his own divinity, but I cannot see how Matthew intended that. There is no reason for him to do so, since establishing Jesus as miraculously born human, son of Yahweh (hence, again a distinct entity) and the Son of Man (again a distinct entity) is Matthew’s explicit intention, fully in line with that Psalm’s understanding. Sometimes we may perceive others’ intentions through our own assumptions.

It escapes me that a divine messiah should again be assumed in Heb. 1:13. A human (hence non-angelic) Messiah is a much stronger implication of the catena in Heb. 1.

It was not my intention to cover Shamoun’s elaborate argument thoroughly. I focused on his linchpin argument. His surrounding arguments are uncompelling in my opinion. Shamoun has a knack of belaboring unrelated points to full exhaustion, obviously revealing his true (in)sincerity. There are many more influential scholars with much more noble character than Shamoun’s whose scholarly robust (albeit erroneous) arguments much rather deserve proper scrutiny.

I have very little available time lately and my paper doesn’t seem to reach completions with new developments and additions. But be assured that I will send it to you once it’s considered presentable.

Thanks, as always.

P.S. Professor Dale Tuggy has written an excellent paper on Richard Bauckham’s Christology of “divine identity” proposal. As expected, Bauckham’s proposal collapses under logical scrutiny and turns out to be much weaker philosophically than the Social Trinity proposals of earlier centuries. After its release in Theology Today it may be distributed publicly.

Colossians-1:19

For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.

John 14

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

Thank you, Roger

I agree with all those text within the Sitz im Leben they would have for an ancient monotheistic Jew who worshipped only One as God Almighty. Therefore, in the rerun of the Eden story in which Jesus succeeded where Adam failed, we see a reflection of God and His glory in man again. This was possible since Jesus was open to God’s spirit (John 3:34) and reflective of his glory (John 1:14). So, hearing Jesus meant hearing God Almighty (John chapters 5 to 7); seeing Jesus meant seeing God Almighty, the Father (John 14:9, 2 Cor. 4:4-6); obeying Jesus meant obeying God Almighty (John 17:17). None of these texts necessitate the one-to-one identification of Jesus with the Father, and for the same reason not with God Almighty either.

Moreover, the same fulness of deity can be enjoyed by worshipers of God. The writer of Colossians was apparently aware of the letter to the Ephesians which in 3:19 holds pleroma or fulness out to worshipers as well. Even the very late 2 Pet. 1:4 refers to true worshipers as those who partake in divinity. If one’s appreciation of mankind is high and reflective of God’s glory, then one will have no issue with accepting the Messiah as utterly human and nothing more.

All the best.

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