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Rebuttal (2b)

  

This is the fourth post in a moderated debate between Biblical Unitarian Danny Dixon and Trinitarian Marc Taylor. A complete list of posts can be accessed here.

Thanks, Marc.

First and Last

Let’s start by noting the weight of the instances that have Jesus calling himself “the First and the Last” in the book of Revelation, associating that designation as following his death and resurrection.

God cannot die (1 Timothy 1:17). The Trinitarian presupposition that Jesus was a mortal God-man can be read back onto the biblical text, but these are more naturally explained as speaking of Jesus who had a beginning when God gave him life (John 5:26; 6:57). He is not eternal. However, “First and Last” is a designation that only applies to Christ in Revelation, and it does so twice (1:17-18;2:8). Revelation talks about Christ being first, calling Jesus the ‘firstborn from the dead’ in Revelation 1:5. This fits the immediate context and the way that John looks at things overall.

Revelation 2:8 also remains connected to the resurrection in mentioning Jesus’ authority over life and death, and Smyrna is told that in facing persecution and death perhaps, they should consider Christ’s example and rejoice that he can give them the crown of life and rescue them from the second death (2:10-11). Furthermore, Revelation 22:13 stresses that this designation is, foundationally a title of authority. And it is connected with Christ’s role as judge at the end of the age. While the ground for this prerogative isn’t mentioned directly in the verse, in the context of the overall book, there is a clear connection to the fact that Jesus has been victorious over death (See Revelation 2:26-27;5:5-7).

That the three titles stand in Revelation 22:13 isn’t necessarily justification that they are one theological statement with one theological truth. God begins and ends creation (Revelation 4:11; 21:66). Christ is first and last as he stands before the church. As to the theological dictionaries and lexicons defining the terms protos and eschatos, the Bible doesn’t present “first and last” as meaning “the eternal one” (the one without a beginning).

Lord of Lords

Jesus is “Lord” because God made him “Lord.” In Marc’s rebuttal point 3e he mentions that Luke 2:11 indicates that Jesus already was Lord. What Marc fails to recognize is that Luke 2:11 does not indicate when Jesus became Lord. And that wouldn’t matter anyway, because God made Jesus to be Lord. That is the clear teaching of Matthew 28:18 and Acts 2:36. God does not need to be given authority in heaven or on earth. And God certainly cannot be made Lord.

As to Jesus being Lord of lords, this sort of language is applied to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:37, but he isn’t “Almighty God” even though they “share the same appellation.” Daniel begins: “O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory.” Notice, Nebuchadnezzar is, like God and Jesus, called “king of kings.” Nebuchadnezzar was king over neither Jesus nor God, yet he was the most powerful king on earth based on the kingship that God gave to him. Marc cites the New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology which translates Kurios as “Yahweh.” In commentary the Dictionary applies this designation to Jesus in Philippians 2:9 where it is supposed to denote “divine equality.” This is sheer interpretative theology based upon a preconception from later Trinitarian development. H. Bietenhard writes in the same Dictionary:

[The] NT church did not reflect on the relationship of the exalted Christ to God the Father as did later church doctrinal teaching. One may perhaps say that there is indeed no developed doctrine of the Trinity in the NT, but that the writers, particularly in the later strata, thought in Trinitarian forms. (NIDNTT_II:516_“Lord”)

J. Schneider also writes:

The NT does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity. [Quoting Karl Barth]: “The Bible lacks the express declaration that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of equal essence and therefore in an equal sense God himself. And the other express declaration is also lacking, that God is God thus and only thus, i.e. as Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (NIDNTT_II:84_ “God”

Jesus’ kingship was limited inasmuch as God, the highest king of all, gave it to him. Similarly, Jesus is king of kings and lord of lords because God gave him that authority (So says Jesus also in Revelation 2:27). Again, the only exception to this is God who gave Christ this authority, as directly taught in Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:27). There is no contradiction between Revelation chapters 17 and 19 which refer to the Lord Jesus and Acts 4:29. In Acts 4, the Father is referred to as the Sovereign Lord in the context.

Marc repeatedly fails to correctly grasp the biblical concept of agency, particularly as it is related in the kings in the Davidic dynasty. We should never forget that the Father-Son relationship, the relationship between the Almighty God and his Son the king, whoever that king might be in the Davidic line, was eternal within the dynasty as established in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. Jehovah talks to Adoni in Psalm 110:1. This is a troubling passage for anyone who sees Yahweh/Jehovah as being the same person as the diminutive entity. Adonai is not Adoni. Yahweh is not “my Lord.” God is not himself Servant/Child (Greek Pais in Acts 4:27). Other Trinitarian scholars note that

it is preferable to retain the text and take this statement as another instance of the royal hyperbole that permeates the royal psalms. Because the Davidic king is God’s vice-regent on earth, the psalmist addresses him as if he were God incarnate. God energizes the king for battle and accomplishes justice through him. A similar use of hyperbole appears in Isa 9:6, where the ideal Davidic king of the eschaton is given the title “Mighty God.” (N.E.T. Bible note 2 at Psalm 45:6, )

Prayer and Latreuo

God’s king represents God and is addressed as God. Indeed he can even receive prayer. People marveled at the authority he had received in Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 9:5). In fact all authority has been given to the Son proving that what Jesus said is true, namely, that he had been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18), which would logically include the authority to be the recipient of prayer and supplication. In fact prayer as proseuchomai is not only offered to God, but as H. Schonweiss has written, “NT prayer is addressed to God or to Jesus” (NIDNTT_II:867_“Prayer’”).

Additionally, note that nothing in Romans 10:13 indicates that Paul “applies Yahweh of Joel 2:32 directly to the Lord Jesus to be called upon.” Paul is simply quoting Joel and simply reiterating (through his quotation) the need to call on the LORD/Jehovah in order to be saved. Or he is using the Joel quotation in a translation that had “Lord,” not “Yahweh,” and applying it to Christ since “the Lord” (not ‘Yahweh’) language now fittingly applies to Christ based on his Messianic authority.

According to D. Steenburg, latreuo in early Christian literature demonstrates why Christ, who is not God, can receive worship. Regarding the thought that nowhere “do we find any suggestion that the worship of any exalted being other than God alone was admissible, let alone actual,” he observes that because “Adam had been worshipped may have provided a crucial warrant for the worship of Christ.” He cites latreuo applied to Adam in The Sibylline Oracles:

587God speaking says, “Behold, let us make man
588In a form altogether like our own,
589And let us give him life-sustaining breath;
590Him being yet mortal all things of the world
591Shall serve, and unto him formed out of clay
592We will subject all things.”
Milton S. Terry, translator. The Sibylline Oracles, 8:587-592. (p. 62)

This partly demonstrates why latreuo, translated “serve” above, is used of a human. Steenburg says “that it accounts for the use of morphe [form]” because Adam is seen as being in the form morphe or image of God, justifying using latreuo of him. He then shows how this also accounts for Adam-Christ Christology found in Philippians 2:6-11.

Here, the pre-existent Christ, rejects the notion of grasping at equality with God but chooses to humble himself and become a human servant, willing to die on a cross. Thus he is given glory and honor for what he has done. (See D. Steenburg, “The Worship of Adam and Christ as the Image of God,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 39 [1990], pp. 96-97).

Yahweh’s Messenger is Almighty God?

Please note that “Rabbinic Judaism in the time of Jesus clearly recognized the function of the representative or proxy derived from the old Semitic law concerning messengers. It is expressed briefly in the principle found in the Mishnah, Muller writes, ‘A man’s agent (shaluach) is like himself’ (Berakoth 5:5, and others).” (NIDNTT_I:127-128,“Apostle.”) But the messenger/angel of God is not God himself, or else, what would be the point of calling him God’s “messenger”?

Danny Dixon

28 Responses to “Rebuttal (2b)”

  1. on 29 Aug 2010 at 8:15 pmDanny André Dixon

    In my Rebuttal 2b at the section “Prayer
    and Latreuo,” I wrote: “People marveled at the authority he had received in Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 9:5).” that sentence could better have been expressed as follows:

    “People marvelled at the authority Jesus had received in his ministry (Matthew 9:5).”

    I’m sure there are other errors like this that appear from time to time, and some of them either offend the ear or befuddle the theology I am trying to express. In the latter cases, I hope I will find and correct them; I’m likely to let the other cases slide. 🙂

    Danny Dixon

  2. on 31 Aug 2010 at 3:26 amJaco

    Mr Dixon,

    Thank you for your good Rebuttal. I’d like to add my bit, if I may.

    Latreuo

    Latreuo was used in Biblical times to denote service – either religiously or generally. In the NT it is shown to be the case where sacred service is rendered to God, Jehovah, alone. All of the 21 occurrences show latreuo to be rendered to God alone.

    Now, one could argue that, if Jesus were to receive latreuo (which I contend he doesn’t), the norm of sh’liach would still be a formidable obstacle to face for proponents of the Trinity doctrine. The text cited by Mr. Taylor in his constructive, namely Rev. xxii.3 requires some attention:

    kai o thronos tou theou kai tou arniou en auti estai and the throne of God and of the lamb in her will be

    kai oi doulai autou latreusousin autw
    and the servants of him shall serve to him

    From the above alone, no one can in any way insist that the latreuo was rendered to the Lamb, Christ Jesus. The “auto” or “to him” could mean either God or Christ. The bulk of evidence from the NT, however, will leave us with no choice but to settle with latreuo being rendered to God. In the Apocalypse, doulai or bondservants were shown to be such either in the general sense, of the Beast, or God’s. Latreuo is gives no support to the Trinity whatsoever. In fact, it is yet another obstacle against it.

    Proseuchomai

    Proseuchomai, or prayerful worship, could also, in the setting of sh’liach, be performed to Jehovah’s representative. Although I think proskyneo would have been the word given to that act instead. What baffles me, however, is that Mr Taylor gives this as evidence for his position, while in fact it proves the opposite, since proseuchomai was prayerful worship always rendered to Jehovah alone. The texts he cites are:

    Acts 1:24 “And praying [proseuchomai] they said: Thou, O Lord, heart-knower of all, show which one out of these two did you select”

    Acts 7:59 “and they stoned Stephen as he was calling upon [epikalew] and saying: O Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”

    Maybe Mr Taylor could explain why he uses proseuchomai as evidence for his case, since proseuchomai is not used in Acts 7:59 where it is explicitly stated that Jesus is evoked or talked to. No one will argue that the Apostle John prayerfully worshipped the angel who appeared to him, since he was in vision communicating to the messenger. Why the argument in this case where Stephen communicates with the exalted Christ? Epikalew is a word, unfortunately for Trinitarians, not exclusively limited to prayerful worship.

    As can be clearly seen, Acts 1:24 uses proseuchomai in prayerful worship to Kyrios. We know that, among the Hebrew Names rendered Kyrios in Greek, the apostles could either have used Jehovah, Adonai, or Adohn. Both LORD (God) and Lord (Messiah) were rendered “Kyrios” in Greek. Citing this text proves nothing in the case for the Trinity, since the insistence on worshipful prayer to Jesus is an inferrence with no conclusive evidence whatsoever. In fact, the One to choose apostleship in the case of “the twelve,” is most probably the same One Jesus implored for guidance:

    Luke 6:12: “And in the progress of those days, he went out into the mountain to pray; and spent the whole
    night in prayer to God.”

    Here, again, Someone else besides Jesus is called God. The evidence strongly points to Lord God Almighty as the Adonai or Kyrios called upon for selection of apostleship in Acts 1.

    In Christ,

    Jaco

  3. on 31 Aug 2010 at 8:28 amSean

    Jaco,

    Have you checked the LXX on Dan. 7.14?

    καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ἐξουσία καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τῆς γῆς κατὰ γένη καὶ πᾶσα δόξα αὐτῷ λατρεύουσα καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ ἐξουσία αἰώνιος ἥτις οὐ μὴ ἀρθῇ καὶ ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ ἥτις οὐ μὴ φθαρῇ

    And to him was given the dominion, and the honour, and the kingdom; and all nations, tribes, and languages, shall serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed.

    This seems to be the one instance in all of Scripture where λατρεύω is used of a non-deity.

  4. on 31 Aug 2010 at 11:22 pmKarl

    Hey Sean,

    Just wanted to mention that you quoted the Old LXX, which is fairly poor translation of the Masorite text. It is difficult to see how the translator even arrived at this translation when it is compared to the Hebrew original. For this reason, Christians throughout the centuries have used Theodotion’s Greek text instead of the Old LXX version. Theodotion’s more literal translation reads:

    14 καὶ αὐτῷ ἐδόθη ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ ἡ τιμὴ καὶ ἡ βασιλεία, καὶ πάντες οἱ λαοί, φυλαί, γλῶσσαι αὐτῷ δουλεύσουσιν· ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ ἐξουσία αἰώνιος, ἥτις οὐ παρελεύσεται, καὶ ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ οὐ διαφθαρήσεται.

    Notice the use δουλευω instead of λατρεύω. Your english rendering of Daniel 7:14 does not appear to be a translation of the greek text you quoted. Rather, that english text would be a better translation of Theodotion’s text. I’m curious, how you would translate the Old LXX text yourself? (… “all glory serving him”..?)

    Just trying to keep you on your toes 🙂

  5. on 01 Sep 2010 at 2:53 amDanny Dixon

    Karl:

    I think you miss the point. It isn’t so much an issue of which is the best text for Daniel 7:14. The point of the matter is of whether writers of the time could see clear to use the terminology of an entity who was not considered to be God Almighty.

    The Greek author behind the text that Sean quoted was familiar enough with the language to know that the word could so be used with the Hebrew word bd.

    I am thinking that that was Sean’s purpose in bringing up the passage.

    Danny Dixon

  6. on 01 Sep 2010 at 10:02 amDanny Dixon

    Sean:

    Just wondering: is the subscription to posts link broken?

    Danny

  7. on 01 Sep 2010 at 1:31 pmMarc Taylor

    Those who deny that Christ is God will either affirm that Christ can be prayed to/worshiped but this doesn’t necessitate that He is God (such is the position of the Iglesia Ni Cristo church) or that there are no passages where Christ is prayed to/worshiped in that prayer is due to God alone (such is the position of the Jehovah’s Witnesses).
    I am willing to have another debate where one could affirm that only God is to be prayed to/worshiped. I would intend on using Acts 1:24 and Revelation 22:3 for my position (perhaps others as well).

  8. on 01 Sep 2010 at 2:48 pmSean

    Karl,

    I merely quoted the LXX along with Brenton’s translation. I’m surprised the two don’t match, but you are definitely right. In fact, I find the LXX difficult to translate. I cam up with something like “all serving glory to him” or “all glory being served to him “…not quite sure what to do with the participle here.

    Danny,

    The subscribe to posts link at the top of this page works fine for me…I just clicked on it and it worked (try firefox or IE but not Chrome)

  9. on 01 Sep 2010 at 4:05 pmKarl

    Hey Sean,

    I merely quoted the LXX along with Brenton’s translation. I’m surprised the two don’t match…

    That’s because Brenton is not translating the LXX version of Daniel, he is translating Theodotion’s version. Theodotion’s text is one I quoted above.

    I also find the LXX text difficult to translate and I cannot see how the translator came up with his translation based on the Aramaic text. LXX Daniel is full of problems like these which is why it was abandoned in favor of Theodotion’s version by the early Christians. Some have even speculated that LXX Daniel was translating a different text, not our present Hebrew/Aramaic text, that’s why there are so many differences.

    Hello Danny,

    Great job on the debate so far. My comment to Sean was more of a personal nature and didn’t have much to do with the debate. I was trying to get him to double check what he wrote since he is an advanced greek student after all.

    I made a mistake earlier. The LXX translator and Theodotion were actually translating from Aramaic, not Hebrew. So there is no use of the Hebrew word “bd” (עבד) in the passage. The root used is actually “PLH” (פלח).

  10. on 01 Sep 2010 at 10:07 pmDanny Dixon

    Oh, okay. Thanks for the correction!

  11. on 02 Sep 2010 at 7:38 amJaco

    Hi there,

    Sorry for my delay in answering.

    The LXX interlinear I have has douleusousin for pelach’. And, yes, it is the critical major text by Theodotion. Upon comparing LXXTh with LXXOG, of Daniel, I found huge differences in translation!

    Yes, Karl, I agree with you that pelach’ in Aramaic was used. The Targums have translated abad in various places as pelach’. BDB has it:

    1) To serve, worship, revere, minister for, pay reverence to.

    1a) (Peal.)
    1a1) to pay reverence to.
    1a2) to serve.

    Theodotion translated pelach’ in various other places as douleusosin.

    My reference initially was to latreuo in the NT, since translational opinion may not have played such a prominent role there as it might have been with the LXX. From a theological perspective Jesus’ companions and their pupils undoubtedly had a much better understanding of who he really was than the translators/copiists of the LXX.

    The only persons I found to have made a major issue out of LXXOG’s rendering of LXXDan were the anti-Islamist, Sam Shamoun, and (if I’m not mistaken) Trinitarians Rob Bowman and Ed Komoszewski.

    Mr Taylor,

    I do not think that mentioning spec. Christian sects is appropriate. Regardless of who believes what, the theological issues at hand need to be addressed. The sects you mention have a reputation of various sensitive issues. I couldn’t care less what they believe. If Nordic mythology has Odin die on the Yggdrasil to save the world, so be it. Jesus died for my sins, and that is the Biblical truth, regardless of the similarities this has with other religions.

    Jaco

  12. on 02 Sep 2010 at 4:35 pmMarc Taylor

    Mentioning the sects is appropriate for that is what they believe. Stop making a big deal out of nothing. Despite your corrective tone you chose not to accept debating the topic of praying to/worshiping Christ.

  13. on 02 Sep 2010 at 9:16 pmLorna

    When you say that the son is not “god” but “divine” based on one interpretation of John 1:1, are you saying he is a “DIVINE MAN”? Did the angels who presented themselves in human form to mankind from time to time–did they cease to be angels and become human because they took on the form of flesh when they visited earth? I mean this seems to be what I am understanding you to say of Jesus/Yeshua that when he was in heaven he was the word, but when he came to earth in the form of human flesh he was just a man–a divine one–but just a man. When he returned to heaven and took the throne at the right hand of god, he is a man is what I think I am understanding. So, once those angels who visited Hannah, etc in the form of flesh returned to the heavens, are they now men? The scriptures say that we entertain angels unaware, and I don’t think they were talking simply about a person delivering a message because we would KNOW when it was a PERSON delivering a message, do those angels who come in the form of flesh re-enter the heavenly with the status of “just a man” (with the possibility of divine status). I am trying to wrap my brain around the understand of man but divine. I mean Adam was created “in the image of god”; is he divine?

  14. on 03 Sep 2010 at 12:25 amDanny Dixon

    First of all, I am not basing my thoughts on an interpretation of John 1:1. I am basing it upon the correct translation of the passage. There are a couple of things I’d rather wait to see what Marc will say before I explain myself further. If he does not–and I do want to give him a chance to tackle John 1:1.

    Second, I am not saying he is a divine man at present. He is an exalted man. He is what believers, those who are members of the new creation family can expect to be one day.

    Jesus’ experience is a unique one to that of messengers who had come before. His mission to the earth required that he be a one of a kind entity. He was unlike the other prehuman sons of God. He was, as I pointed out in the Greek, monogenes. It would be improper to make comparisons of him and angels. The primary point of Hebrews 1:5-14 is that he was not like them.

    I don’t know what the angels became when they came to deliver messages in human form or serve as ministering spirits. At least two angels in Genesis 18 are said to be men. As far as the Hannah-Samuel story is concerned, I had a little trouble finding the story of an angel appearing to her in human form. I do recall the Lord’s angel appearing to Samson’s mother and father and ascending into heaven in the flame of fire (Judges 13:15-20).

    There is more detail regarding Jesus entrance into the earthly realm. He receives life as a human being as a result of the Holy Spirit’s action regarding her (Luke 1:35). On another note, whether the notion was mistaken or not, there was at least speculation on the part of Jesus’ disciples as to whether someone could have had a pre-earthly existence and then be born; interestingly, I don’t think I’ve ever known any Mormons, who do believe in pre-mortal existence, to use John 9:1-2 to make their point. But it is an interesting verse that might be considered in trying to answer your question.

    Again, please understand that I am not saying that Jesus was a divine man. I believe he divested himself of his divinity, as Philippians 2:6ff also teaches.

    As to entertaining angels unaware, I have often felt inclined to help strangers, not because I thought they were angels sent to bring me a message, but that they were angels sent, perhaps, to teach me to be hospitable (Hebrews 13:2).

    I guess I am trying to say that it is a Trinitarian error to try to wrap your mind around the idea of a human but divine. That’s certainly not what I am trying to say. I am saying that The Word of God became a human by birth to Mary after having divested himself of his divinity that John 1:1c says that he had as one who was “a god”/”divine.”

    Adam was created in the image of God as a man. The image of God for him means he was God’s representative on the earth with governing prerogatives on the earth as God’s agent. Jesus serves in a similar role as God’s Son with authority given to him to act on God’s behalf in this world during his ministry (Matthew 9:5). Both Adam and Jesus are called the son/Son of God (John 3:16; Luke 3:38). Both Jesus and the first man are called “Adam” (Genesis 2:20; Luke 3:38; Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:45).

    I appreciate your questions. Not sure if I answered adequately.

  15. on 03 Sep 2010 at 5:28 amLorna

    1) You say that you are basing John 1:1 on the “correct” interpretation of the passage. Correct according to which scholar? I mean each scholar says their interpretation is correct, so I say “based on one interpretation of John 1:1”. We know there are various manuscripts out there. The coptic, which I believe is where you are drawing your interpretation, is Egyptian with Egyptian influence simply written in Greek characters. What you are saying is akin to my saying that John 1:18 in which it says the only begotten god in the “oldest and best” greek manuscripts is the correct interpretation, but I am pretty sure you would not agree with this.

    2) I want to understand you correctly. You are now saying that he is NOT divine? If he is that “word” that was “divine” as an “accurate” interpretation of John 1:1 according to the coptic, when did he cease to be divine, and what scriptures are you basing that on? I referring to the fact that you say there is an exalted man sitting at the right hand of god right now.

    3) Why would it be “improper” to make comparisons of him and angels, when apparently you see it as proper to make comparisons of him and man. You say he was a man on earth, and now you say he is an exalted man in heaven which can be compared to what we will become. So, again, why is it improper to make comparisons of him leaving his “divinity” in heaven as the word, coming to earth to be a man, and then returning to heaven as an “exalted man” with that of angels leaving that “angelic form” in heaven as angels, coming to earth to be in the form of a man, and then asking if they then return to heaven as a man since that was the pattern for Jesus/Yeshua?

    I quite agree he was “monogenes”, and “The primary point of Hebrews 1:5-14 is that he was not like them. (the angels)”

    You say: “There is more detail regarding Jesus entrance into the earthly realm. He receives life as a human being as a result of the Holy Spirit’s action regarding her (Luke 1:35). ” Since when is it necessary to have a simply human birth by the overshadowing of the holy spirit? Even when there were miracle birth in the “old testament”, god did not change the natural course of conception to bring forth humans–not in Sarah’s case, not in Hannah’s case. As a matter of fact some would say that the nephillim were a result of non-human interaction with humans which produced something other than simply a man. Yet, god the father in his administration sends his spirit to overshadow Miriam/Mary and he only gets a mere human?

    You say: “As to entertaining angels unaware, I have often felt inclined to help strangers, not because I thought they were angels sent to bring me a message, but that they were angels sent, perhaps, to teach me to be hospitable (Hebrews 13:2).” I am glad you agree that these are angesls and not mere men. My point was that if we are entertaining these angels unaware or in human form, when they are done bringing the message in what form do they return to the heavenlies–as men or in some other form? A second point would be are they no longer angels, becaus you see them in the form of a man?

    You say: “On another note, whether the notion was mistaken or not, there was at least speculation on the part of Jesus’ disciples as to whether someone could have had a pre-earthly existence and then be born…” I am not sure what you are talking about; I am assuming you mean Nicodemus, but I don’t want to stray from what I was talking about in my original post or bring the Mormons, who believe that men existed as “sparks” and will become “gods” into this at this point.

    You say: “Again, please understand that I am not saying that Jesus was a divine man. I believe he divested himself of his divinity, as Philippians 2:6ff also teaches.” I agree that he divested himself as Phillipians teaches also. Which brings me to the question? What is your understanding of “divinity” ? I mean is there some hierarchy of god, then divne or god-like, then arch angels, cherubim, seraphim, messenger angels, then humans, or how do you see this “divne but not god?”

    I will respond to the remainder of your response (to include anything that you seem to have missed) after some travel time. There are a couple of things that you have said that I find to challenge my position, so I will be circumspect and honest in my final resolve which I don’t want to make until ?October? when the debate is complete.

  16. on 03 Sep 2010 at 7:10 amLorna

    According to the Lord Jesus Christ only God is to receive latreuo:

    “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only (kai auto mono latreuseis).”’” Matthew 4:8-10 – cf. Luke 4:5-8

    The book of Daniel was written in Aramaic. Notice the use of the word “pelach/worship” in Aramaic.

    He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him (yipelachun). His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

    “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship (yipelachun) and obey him.” Daniel 7:27

    “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve (pelachin) is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve (pelachin) your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’” … Then Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve (yipelachun) or worship any god except their own God.’” Daniel 3:16-18, 28 – cf. 3:12, 14; 6:16, 20

    The Aramaic verb pelach, which is translated in the above texts as serve, refers to the cultic worship which is to be rendered to God alone. Moreover, the Greek translation of Daniel (e.g., the Septuagint [LXX]) uses the word latreuo for pelach. In fact, here is a partial quotation from the Greek version of Daniel 7:9-28 by second century Christian apologist Justin Martyr:

    But if so great a power is shown to have followed and to be still following the dispensation of His suffering, how great shall that be which shall follow His glorious advent! For He shall come on the clouds as the Son of man, so Daniel foretold, and His angels shall come with Him. These are the words: ‘I beheld till the thrones were set; and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool. His throne was like a fiery flame, His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The books were opened, and the judgment was set. I beheld then the voice of the great words which the horn speaks: and the beast was beat down, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. And the rest of the beasts were taken away from their dominion, and a period of life was given to the beasts until a season and time. I saw in the vision of the night, and, behold, one like the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven; and He came to the Ancient of days, and stood before Him. And they who stood by brought Him near; and there were given Him power and kingly honour, and all nations of the earth by their families, and all glory, serve Him (latreuousa).

    In light of this it is therefore apparent that the Son of Man is a fully Divine Person otherwise he could not receive pelach/latreuo since that would be idolatry, e.g., rendering to a creature the worship and service due only to the Creator! As the following Evangelical scholars explain:

    “… The book of Daniel contains a vision in which people of all nations, tribes, and languages ‘serve’ someone who is ‘like a Son of Man’ (Dan. 7:13 NASB)… In the Septuagint version of Daniel the word translated ‘serve’ is latreuo, which is also used in the Rahlfs edition of the Septuagint and in other critical editions of the Greek Old Testament. In the Greek version of Daniel produced in the late second century A.D. by Theodotion, the word translated ‘serve’ is douloo, a far more common Greek word that has a broader range of meanings.

    “Whichever Greek translation one chooses to follow, the underlying Aramaic word (Daniel 2:4-7:28 was originally written in Aramaic, not Hebrew) is pelach, a word that is always used to refer to rendering religious service or performing religious rituals in honor of a deity. In other words, latreuo is an excellent Greek translation of pelach. That is why all extant ancient Greek versions of Daniel usually use latreuo elsewhere in Daniel to translate pelach (Dan. 3:12, 14, 18; 6:16, 20 [6:17, 21 in Greek]). In the early chapters of the book, Daniel and his Jewish friends had refused to ‘serve’ the image of Nebuchadnezzar or to ‘serve’ Darius, identifying themselves as those who ‘serve’ only their God, the living God (3:12, 14, 17, 18, 28; 6:16, 20). In this setting, the vision of people from all nations ‘serving’ the Son of Man presents a startling contrast. The ‘service’ that Daniel and his friends refused to give to Nebuchadnezzar’s image or to Darius, Daniel envisions all nations giving to the heavenly Son of Man.

    “Daniel’s reference to the Son of Man being ‘served’ implies a divine status for the Son of Man, not merely because of the use of that one word, but because of the context in which it is used. The universal sovereignty attributed to the Son of Man is earlier attributed to Daniel’s God by the Babylonian and Persian kings… This language of a kingdom that will not be destroyed and that will endure forever is then applied to the kingdom of the Son of Man… Within this larger context, the reference to all peoples ‘serving’ the Son of Man is confirmed as an expression of religious devotion. The One whom you regard as Ruler of your entire universe for all time is by definition your God, and it would be the height of folly not to render devotion or service to him.” (Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 1: The Devotion Revolution – Jesus Shares the Honors Due to God, Chapter 5. The Ultimate Reverence Package, pp. 67-69; underline emphasis ours)

    Moreover, Jesus is identified as this very same Son of Man that Daniel saw,

    “Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:61b-62 – cf. 13:26-27; Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 7:55-56

  17. on 03 Sep 2010 at 10:49 amJaco

    Lorna,

    What is the meaning of pelach according to the lexicons?

    Secondly, if religious devotion is what Jesus will receive, instead of obeisance, where in the NT is latreuo applied to Jesus?

    Jaco

    P.S. I will leave Danny to reply on John 1:1. I do not believe in pre-existence Christology (contrary to Danny and Patric Navas). But even they have a better chance at John 1:1 than the Trinitarians do. Time and again John 1:1 turns out to be doctrinal ambush to Trinitarians…

  18. on 03 Sep 2010 at 11:38 amDanny Dixon

    I do appreciate the comments that you’ve made on the use of the word latreuo and how it is translated in the biblical texts.

    What I think you, and perhaps Marc, are failing to realize is that people who used the language in early Christian literature were not opposed to the use of the word when speaking of human beings. I cited a reference from the Sibylline Oracles in my rebuttal to Marc’s latest constructive speech to demonstrate that the word was so used of Adam. I also cited a scholar who gave a very good reason to explain why such a usage would have been acceptable, namely because Adam existed in God’s image. He was God’s vice-regent, agent on the earth.

    Jesus is God’s agent on the earth and in that sense, then he could receive worship. When Jesus is dealing with the devil in Matthew 4, Luke 4, the issue at hand isn’t whether Jesus should be worshipped. The devil was trying to get Jesus to worship him. When Jesus represents that God is to be worshipped (latreuo) there isn’t any point at issue as to whether he, God’s representative should be worshipped. I’m sure Jesus could have said, worship only the Father and me his regent. This wasn’t necessary even though it was true. God’s agent is God’s shiliach, and whatever is true of the sender is true of the one he has sent with authority. I gave a quote from the Mishnah on that point. No one is making reference to that point . . . at least not yet.

    It is not necessary to conclude that because Jesus is given latreuo that he is equal to Almighty God. I need to hear a response to the information that I have given. If one’s agent is to be considered as himself in Hebraic thought, why cannot ones agent receive the glory and worship and honor that is associated with oneself especially when there is scripture indicating that this was precisely what the Almighty had in mind. The Father “has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (I’ll have more to say about this language in my next rebuttal. The point is, however, that since God can receive honor and glory his Son should as well, as this was the Father’s will. But the point is simple, if God wills that his agent should receive latreuo, then his agent can receive latreuo. )

    The research represented in the question is to be commended for it represents a thorough interest in the matters at hand and a desire to do adequate research in to biblical and historical data behind the subject. However, one ought also to take into consideration the fact that one’s agent is as the person sending that agent.

    Jesus receives latreuo because he is Almighty God’s agent. He is not himself Almighty God.

  19. on 03 Sep 2010 at 1:05 pmDanny Dixon

    Lorna:

    I don’t know why you would think I was drawing my comments from the Coptic version of the New Testament. I cited my sources earlier. I will give them again here:

    In my first constructive speech I referenced the standard advanced Greek grammar used in colleges and seminaries currently written by Daniel Wallace. Regarding the Greek construction in John 1:1 he says that it “is likely to emphasize the nature of the Word, not his identity. That is to say, the Word is true deity but he is not the same person as the Theos [“God”] mentioned earlier in the verse” in Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics [Zondervan, 1996], pp. 45, 46).

    In my second constructive, I referenced .H. Dodd, who directed the work of the New English Bible translators, from 1950. He writes, “‘The Word was a god.’ As a word-for-word translation it cannot be faulted” (“New Testament Translation Problems II,” Bible Translator_28.1[1977]:101-102). I made the comparative point that this translation/sense is not only grammatically possible, but grammatically the most natural reading (Other texts with the same grammatical construction are John 8:34: “Everyone who does sin is a slave of sin”; John 8:48: “You are a Samaritan”; John 9:24: “This man is a sinner”; John 1:1 “the word was a god’).

    In comment 3 under Marc’s rebuttal 1b I referenced Joseph Henry Thayer, editor of an older lexicon of New Testament Greek. I noted that Thayer held, particularly regarding Jesus as the Logos in the first few verses of John, the Logos (the Word) “is expressly distinguished from the first cause” ( J. H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977 reprint], p. 133). In other words, the Word is not God the first cause of everything. The comment is made on the basis of grammar, not theology, as I am prepared to demonstrate further.

    Marc has given no response to any of the comments on Greek grammar in any of his following rebuttals or constructive statements. I am sure that he will do so at some point. He needs to for sure! I was anticipating some response from Marc on the above, and am prepared to cite other current standard works on the subject (a number of pertinent points regarding the Greek in the passage have been noted as to the logic of the verse as well as the strict grammar of it as well.)

    Danny

  20. on 03 Sep 2010 at 1:27 pmDanny Dixon

    Re: Comment 15 above

    Lorna:

    You say that you are “pretty sure [that I] would not agree” that John 1:18 should be translated “only begotten God,” but you are incorrect. My conclusions are not primarily based upon your reasons provided, but the fact based on the most likely reading according to those scholars associated on the scholarship of New Testament Greek manuscript study in what is known as lower criticism or textual criticism. Key conclusions are summarized in the 2nd edition of the Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, pp. 169-170, edited by Bruce Metzger, et al.

    I cited that source in my Second Constructive (3a) presentation, pointing out how the translation “the word was a god” also harmonizes well with the most likely manuscript reading of John 1:18 that speaks of Jesus as “an only-begotten/unique god” who dwells “in the bosom of the Father.”

    Danny

  21. on 03 Sep 2010 at 4:29 pmKarl

    Hello Lorna,

    you wrote:

    The Aramaic verb pelach, which is translated in the above texts as serve, refers to the cultic worship which is to be rendered to God alone.

    This is not completely accurate. “Pelach” in aramaic means to plow, work or serve. It can refer to religious service or to service offered to men. In this way it is similar to the Hebrew word “עבד” which is often translated with “Pelach” in the Targums. Look at these two examples from Targum Onkelos:

    תַּרְתַּא עַסְרֵי שְׁנִין, פְּלַחוּ יָת כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר

    “They served (pelach) Kedarlomer for 12 years…” (Gen. 14:4)

    וְאַף יָת עַמָּא דְּיִפְלְחוּן בְּהוֹן, דָּאֵין אֲנָא

    “But the nation that they will serve (pelach), I will judge.” (Gen. 15:14)

  22. on 03 Sep 2010 at 5:24 pmDanny Dixon

    Karl:

    You’re not suggesting that pelach in those two passages means they would worship Kedarlomer or the nations, are you?

    Anyway, it’s not my means of approaching the argument.

    Danny

  23. on 03 Sep 2010 at 5:52 pmrobert

    “If one’s agent is to be considered as himself in Hebraic thought, why cannot ones agent receive the glory and worship and honor that is associated with oneself especially when there is scripture indicating that this was precisely what the Almighty had in mind. ”

    Danny
    When someone is appointed agent for someone than they can only representate them from that point forward. They can not be credited for things that were done before they were appointed.God only deserves the glory for being the only uncreated,the glory for all creation and the wisdom of his Word . Jesus can not receive glory for these acts because they are alone God’s!

  24. on 03 Sep 2010 at 6:25 pmLorna

    Yes, Karl, you are right. Thanks for that correction. Pelach can refer to labor. However, when it refers to worship (context) it is only used of worshipping god. When Jesus was in the wilderness I don’t believe he was telling satan that god alone should we do servile work to. He was saying to god alone should we worship. Latureo can mean servile work also since it is the verb form of the noun latris which means “hired laborer”, but the context in the wilderness does not suggest that he is warning people not to labor under other people, so the wilderness conversation is concerning worship. Javo asked where does Jesus receive latreuo. It is in that prophetic text in Daniel if you are to translate from the Aramaic to the Greek. Daniel 7:14 offers additional evidence that Messiah would receive true worship. Here, the Aramaic word ‘pelach’ is rendered latreuo in the oldest versions of the LXX, refering to the sacred service (= “worship”) offered to God alone. Yeshua/Jesus is “Son of Man” in this passage who prophetically receives worship. Now, you must 1st believe this son of man in Daniel 7:14 is a messianic prophecy. While modern Jewish commentators deny the Messianic import of this passage, this was not the case with the earliest Jewish exegetes. The Babylonian Talmud associates this passage with Messiah (Sanhedrin 96b-97a, 98a, etc.). A fragment in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q246) quotes this verse and calls the messianic figure “Son of God,” “Son of the Most High,” and “a great god of gods,” which indicates that the Qumran community looked for a divine messiah of some sort, and believed Dan 7:13ff referred to Him. The Midrash Numbers (13:14) says that Dan 7:14 refers to “King Messiah.” I’m unaware of any earlier testimonies of the rabbis.

    The early church fathers who commented on Dan 7 all associated it with Jesus. Not one understood it as mankind collectively (cf., Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho, 31; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4:20:11; Tertullian, Against Marcion, 3:7, 4:10, etc.; Hippolytus, Christ and AntiChrist, 2:26; etc.).

    It is only modern day Jewish scholars who says this is the collective humanity.

  25. on 03 Sep 2010 at 6:37 pmLorna

    Yes, I clearly understand that Jesus was telling satan that he should not receive worship. The focus or point was that Jesus delcared that ONLY god should receive worship AND NOT god and his agent.

    Also, am I mistaken in saying that Daniel Wallace uses the coptic text at John 1:1? I could be wrong, but I believe that is the case. So, knowing that you agree with Wallace, I in turn said since you rely on the coptic text at John 1:1. Also, I believe I recall you referring to the coptic text in relationship to John 1:1 when you wrote elsewhere (outside of this site).

  26. on 04 Sep 2010 at 2:17 amDanny Dixon

    Re: Comment 25

    Lorna:

    The Textual Commentary does not mention the Coptic Version as being the reason for the decision of the committee to choose the reading monogenes theos And Daniel Wallace’s book does not mention the Coptic Version as the source for his decision of translation.

    Danny

  27. on 04 Sep 2010 at 9:14 amJaco

    Danny,

    I appreciate your explanation on latreuo, based on other extra-biblical works. The points you make are indeed valid.

    Lorna,

    My question was to show in the NT where Jesus received latreuo.

    As regards Ralph’s LXX, here is an exerpt from Henry Wace:

    Theodotion’s work was not so much an independent translation as a revision of the LXX, with its insertions usually retained, but its omissions supplied from the Hebrew–probably with the help of Aquila’s version. Theodotion’s was the version Origen usually preferred to the other two for filling omissions of the LXX or lacunae in their text as he found it; and from it accordingly comes a large part of the ordinary Greek text of Jeremiah, and still more of that of Job.

    Thus in these books we have fuller materials for learning the character of his version than that of either of the others; and still more in his version of Daniel, which has come down to us entire, having since before Jerome’s time (how long before we are not told) superseded that of the LXX so completely that the latter was lost for centuries, and is now extant only in a single Greek copy, the Cod. Chisianus, and in the Syro-Hexaplar translation contained in Cod. Ambrosianus (C. 313 Inf.). Any one who compares this version with Theodotion’s which is usually printed in all ordinary editions of the Greek O.T. must agree with Jerome (Praef. in Dan.) that the church chose rightly in discarding the former and adopting the latter. Indeed, the greater part of this Chisian Daniel cannot be said to deserve the name of a translation at all.

    It deviates from the original in every possible way; transposes, expands, abridges, adds or omits, at pleasure. The latter chapters it so entirely rewrites that the predictions are perverted, sometimes even reversed, in scope. We learn from Jerome (in. Dan. iv. 6, p. 646) that Origen himself (“in nono Stromatum volumine”) abandoned this supposed LXX Daniel for Theodotion’s. Indeed, all the citations of Daniel, some of them long and important passages in Origen’s extant works, agree almost verbatim with the text of Theodotion now current, and differ, sometimes materially, from that of the reputed LXX as derived from the Chisian MS.

    He seems, moreover, to have found the task of bringing its text to conform to the original by the aid of Theodotion’s a hopeless one, as we may judge by his asterisks, obeli, and marginalia in the two MSS. referred to. Yet that this is the version which Origen placed as that of the LXX in the penultimate column of the Hexapla and Tetrapla is certain.
    Wace, Henry (1911), A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies.

    Latreusosin in the older LXXDan is in no way “better” than that of Theodotion. In fact, its additions, interpolations and carelessness in transmission (possibly by later copyists) prompted Theodotion to produce a master text. So, feeble evidence there.

    In Christ,

    Jaco

  28. on 04 Sep 2010 at 3:43 pmKarl

    Hello Lorna,

    Yes, Karl, you are right. Thanks for that correction. Pelach can refer to labor. However, when it refers to worship (context) it is only used of worshipping god.

    My point wasn’t just that pelach can refer to labor. “Pelach” in aramaic means to plow, work or serve. It can refer to religious service or to service offered to men. I would recommend that we stay away from the word “worship” because that only has one meaning to us. “Serve” is a better translation for pelach and (as I have shown) it is not exclusively given to God. If you wish to prove that the messiah is himself God Almighty you will have to present other evidence.

    Javo asked where does Jesus receive latreuo. It is in that prophetic text in Daniel if you are to translate from the Aramaic to the Greek.

    If I were to translate pelach into greek I would use “douleuw” not “latreuw”. This is precisely how Theodotion translated it. Consequently, for this reason and many others, Theodotion’s translation is a much more accurate translation. The (trinitarian) Christian church even accepted Theodotion’s translation over the LXX because it was more accurate. (Thank you Jaco for so thoroughly informing us about this)

    Daniel 7:14 offers additional evidence that Messiah would receive true worship. Here, the Aramaic word ‘pelach’ is rendered latreuo in the oldest versions of the LXX, refering to the sacred service (= “worship”) offered to God alone.

    Does he recieve true worship in LXX Daniel 7:14? I would challenge you to translate that passage into english from the greek. Who or what is worshiping the messiah here? Sean and I already addressed this problem earlier. The LXX does not say “all nations, tribes and languages shall serve him” as Theodotion and the Masorite text do.

  

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