Back to this debate, there’s another point that Dr. Qureshi makes, which has been made before specifically by N.T. Wright in his work on Paul. At about the 31 minute mark Dr. Qureshi says:
In 1 Corinthians 8:6 We see Paul, I’m sorry this is actually pre Pauline, as Bart Ehrman would argue, he does Argue in his new book, the earliest, even before Paul, even before Mark, Christians took the Shema, “Shema Yisrael Yahweh Eloheinu Yahweh Echad” took that and divided that up, between the father and the son.
Now let’s look at the text, of 1 Corinthians 8:6 (in the NRSV, including verse 5 for some context)
5 Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
And here is it in the Greek.
5 καὶ γὰρ εἴπερ εἰσὶν λεγόμενοι θεοὶ εἴτε ἐν οὐρανῷ εἴτε ἐπὶ γῆς, ὥσπερ εἰσὶν θεοὶ πολλοὶ καὶ κύριοι πολλοί,
6 ἀλλ’ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατὴρ
ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι’ αὐτοῦ.
Now then, let’s look at the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4, I’m going to quote it 3 times, English (NRSV), Greek (LXX) and the Hebrew.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a]
[a]Or The Lord our God is one Lord, or The Lord our God, the Lord is one, or The Lord is our God, the Lord is one
Here it is in the LXX
῎Ακουε, Ισραηλ· κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν·
And Finally the Hebrew.
שמע ישראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה ׀ אחד ׃
Now, if you read my last post about Dr. Qureshi’s treatment of Psalm 110:1, you might have noticed something right away, we have a translation issue, the Divine name (YHWH) יהוה Is translated in the Greek as κύριος and the English as “lord.” So now we have a problem, is the word “lord” that Paul (or whoever came up with the statement) uses about in 1 Corinthians 8:6 actually a replacement for the divine name? Or does it just mean lord in the common sense of the word “lord.”
Well, is Paul directly quoting the Shema? Well look at the form the Shema takes. “The Lord (YHWH) Our God” let’s stop here for a second, the first part of the Shema is only telling us one thing, Yahweh is our God, now let’s continue, “The Lord (YHWH) is one,” here we get the oneness, statement, after the second use of Yahweh, and after declaring that that Yahweh is our God.
Now let’s compare that to Paul’s statement. “for us there is one God, the father.” That isn’t what the Shema says. The Shema’s use of “God” is to say that Yahweh (the lord) is our God. The verse goes on to say “from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” So Paul is saying that along with having one God, we also have one lord, and he explains that from God we have all things and through Christ we have all things. This isn’t really the Shema, is it?
Now let’s assume that Dr. Qureshi is correct and Paul is taking this from the Shema, lets read it throwing away the tradition of replacing the divine name with “lord” and see how it reads.
Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Yahweh, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Notice the problem here, if we take the “splitting the Shema” seriously (just to be clear, N.T Wright doesn’t use the term splitting the Shema, he says that Paul finds Christ within the Shema, I think that is an important distinction). Then what we are left with is not “Yahweh our God, Yahweh is Christ and the Father as one” as the Trinitarian would want to say. Rather we are left with “One God, who is the Father, and one Yahweh, who is also called Jesus Christ.” If we really are to take this seriously what we have is a kind of Mormon theology, where you have God and then Yahweh/Jesus as a second god, or perhaps not even that, since the Father is the one God, I suppose Yahweh/Jesus would have to be less than a god. That is if we take it as literally a reformulation of the Shema.
But we can avoid all of this if we just read the prior verse.
Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords
Now the use of “lords” here is, and I’m quite sure almost everyone would agree, simply lord in the common sense of the word, not a replacement for the divine name, unless one wants to argue that there were actually many Yahweh’s out there being worshiped in Corinth, and who people sacrificed food to (the background of the discussion was whether or not Christians could eat food that had previously been sacrificed to Idols), if you want to argue that you have a long road ahead of you, but for the sake of argument let’s just say it’s the common usage of “lord.” Given that the first part of Paul’s argument is talking about there being many “gods” and “lords” in the common language sense of the word lord, wouldn’t it make sense that in the second part of his argument, where he declares that for us there is only one God and one Lord, he would be using the word “lord” in the common language sense of the word? Saying “they have many gods and lords, but we have one God and one Yahweh” leaves the “lords” part un-answered.
If we accept that Paul was a Pharisee who learned from Gamaliel, there is absolutely no way he could have come out of that rabbinical education without knowing the difference between the usage of Lord as a replacement for the Divine name and the regular use of the word lord.
So we see here the same mistake being made by Nabeel Qureshi on 1 Corinthians 8:6 that he made on Psalms 110:1, mistaking the translation of YHWH into Lord with the common use of the word lord. Given Psalms 110:1 is the most common verse from the Hebrew Bible which is applied to Jesus, and in that verse it is the Adoni (my lord), the Royal (Human) sense of the word lord and the common language sense of the word lord (not the divine name pronounced differently), which is applied to Jesus, wouldn’t it make sense that it is this sense of the word “lord” which Paul is applying to Jesus? In contrast to the many “lords” of the world.
In order to kind of round off the argument, let’s look at how Paul often uses lord Jesus and god together in the letters to the Corinthians .
1 Corinthians 1:2,3
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord[a] and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ, αὐτῶν καὶ ἡμῶν·
3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
Then 1 Corinthians 6:11
11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
11καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε· ἀλλ’ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλ’ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλ’ ἐδικαιώθητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν.
And in 1 Corinthians 15: 57
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
57 τῷ δὲ θεῷ χάρις τῷ διδόντι ἡμῖν τὸ νῖκος διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
2 Corinthians 1:2,3
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation,
2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν καὶ θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως,
2 Corinthians 11:31
31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus (blessed be he forever!) knows that I do not lie.
31 ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ οἶδεν, ὁ ὢν εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ὅτι οὐ ψεύδομαι.
2 Corinthians 13:13
13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of[e] the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
13 Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ κοινωνία τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν.
Here we have a couple examples of the usage of Lord Jesus and God (the father) together in the letters to the Corinthians, if I did all of Paul’s letters this would be a really long post. But here’s my point, all of these examples show, that the formula “Our God (The Father) and Our Lord Jesus,” Or “God through the Lord Jesus” or some variation of that, was extremely common. In all these cases, κύριος is best read as plainly what it means in the common language, lord, a common royal title rather than the divine name.
So isn’t it more likely that Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:6 is just using the same formulation he always uses, in order to make a point? Rather than splitting the Shema?
Of course we still have the problem of what Paul means when he says “through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” Of Jesus, maybe I’ll take that up in a later post :).