Robert Bowman’s Anti-Trinitarian Theology Challenge – Part 3

Continuing from the last Post I will continue dealing with proposition 4 in my attempt to take up Robert Bowman’s anti-Trinitarian theology challenge. In the first post of this series I introduced the challenge, and some preliminary issues and then dealt with proposition 1 which is the proposition that there is only one God. in the last post I started with proposition 4 which is the proposition that Jesus is God, Yahweh, himself, and I’ll continue going directly into some of the scriptures in question.

One scripture that I think is important to address is Acts 20:28, since it’s a translation issue primarily. The text says:

28 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. (Or his own blood).

The Greek of the last part of the text is:

ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου.

Robert Bowman thinks that this verse should be translated as “his own blood.” One argument he gives is that some ancient manuscripts have “Lord” rather than “God,” that doesn’t really get us that far because in the New Testament “Lord” is used for both the Father as a divine name replacement, and for Jesus as the Lord of Psalm 110:1 who sits at Jehovah’s right hand. He then appeals to the early Church Fathers. But which ante-Nicene Fathers quote this text? None of them directly, the most you find is Ignatius in his letter to the Ephesians where he talks about “stirring yourselves by the blood of God.” There is no indication that this was even an indirect quotation of Acts, in fact there is no actual evidence that Ignatius even had the Acts of the Apostles as a reference.

The evidence has to be in the text itself. Let’s say that Luke wanted to say that it was God’s own blood, why wouldn’t he have simply written:

διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὑτοῦ

Or something like that? That sentence literally means “through his own blood.” Instead, it says literally “through the blood of his own one.” Every other usage of the word ἰδίου in the New Testament is in reference to something belonging to something else. So for example, in Luke 6:44 every tree is known by ἰδίου (its own) fruit, the fruit is owned by the tree, the relationship of ἰδίου is between the fruit and the tree. However, the relationship in Acts 20:28 is between αἵματος (Blood) and ἰδίου (Own one), not between θεοῦ (God) and αἵματος (Blood), the relationship between God and the Blood is that he purchased his Church with it, only after that is established does the “own one” to which the blood belongs come in. Let’s say Luke wrote:

ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος.

Then it would be “Which he purchased through his own blood,” since it is clear the relationship is between θεοῦ and αἵματος, which is explained by ἰδίου, the blood is the “own one” of God. However, it doesn’t say that, it says:

διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου

Through the blood of the own one, the own one certainly looks like a new Subject. So with that in mind what is more likely? That Luke was using strange and awkward grammar to make a point, which was also incidentally making a huge Christological point almost by accident? Or that the plain reading of “his own one” (that one obviously being Jesus) is the correct reading?

Let’s move on to Hebrews 1, here’s verse 1 and 2:

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.

Again, perfectly describing the agent of creation model, but let’s look further and deal with the verses which talk about Jesus’ relationship to God himself, and creation. The claim is that in verse 8 Jesus is called God, then in verse 10 creation is attributed to him. Let’s take a close look at verses 8-13:

But of the Son (he says),

“Your throne, O God, is (Or God is your throne) forever and ever,     and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you     with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

10 And,

“In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth,     and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain;     they will all wear out like clothing; 12 like a cloak you will roll them up,     and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same,     and your years will never end.”

13 But to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand     until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

Now in verse 8 which translation is correct? Well, the Greek is:

ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος ,

It could go both ways as you can see, it could be “the through of you, the God” or “The God, (is) the throne of you.” Whatever the translation is, we have to include verse 9 in the exegesis. The Son in verse 8 has a God, and that God is God, the God who anoints. Therefore, the Person we are talking about cannot be God himself. Even if we take the first translation and accept it’s calling the son God, it’s obviously not calling him the most High God, since the Son has a God. To fully understand the verse we have to take a look at where the verse actually comes from, it comes from Psalm 45. Let’s see whom this song is written to in verse 1:

My heart overflows with a goodly theme;     I address my verses to the king;     my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

And verse 16:

In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons;     you will make them princes in all the earth.

The scripture is primarily, originally written for a human King. If we demand that Jesus is being called God here, and thus part of a multi-personal God, then we must argue that the readers of Psalm 45 would have insisted that the earthly Kings, such as King Solomon, were also God, and part of a multi-personal God. Of course no one believes that, then we do we insist on two different hermeneutical principles for two instances of the exact same text? The answer is obvious, theological bias. We know that the Davidic Kings are said to have sat on the Throne of God, the Throne of Jehovah, so what’s more likely? That Both the King (such as King Solomon) and Jesus are actually being described as part of a multi-personal God? Or that both of them sit on God’s throne, and are anointed by God, their God and our God?

Now what about verse 10 where it is claimed that Jesus is described as the creator. The assumption is that because Jesus is being talked about in verse 8 and 9 that he must be being talked about in verse 10 to 12. But who is talking in verses 8 and 9? It isn’t God, since it refers to God in the third person, which is the God of Jesus, this is someone else speaking who is neither Jesus nor God. The person who is speaking is the Psalmist. In verse 6 and 7, it also refers to God and the Son in the third person. Therefore, when we get to verse 10 we have to realize this is not God speaking, it is the Psalmist. In this verse, the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Psalm 102, which is a prayer to Jehovah.

Could this usage of κυριός in Hebrews 1:10, however, be referring to Jesus, applying the divine name to Jesus? Not if we take Hebrews 10:13 into account. It says, “To which of the angels has he said,” who is the “he” being talked about here? Is it still the psalmist? No, it’s obviously the κυριός from Hebrews 1:10, so this is Jehovah talking to Jesus in Hebrews 1:13, the same Jehovah (κυριός) as in Hebrews 1:10. We can be sure of it when we read where this is quoted from, it’s quoted from Psalm 110:1, which is Jehovah talking to “my lord” which is the Messianic King. So obviously it cannot be Jesus being talked about in Hebrews 1:10 can it? Because otherwise in Verse 13 it would be Jesus talking to himself saying that he will sit at his own right hand until he makes his own enemies his own footstool, which is absolute nonsense.

In Hebrews 1, in the Greek, we have two words for “he says” being used. One is εἶπέν and εἴρηκέν, the Aorist and perfect past test form for “speaking” in other words “he said” and “he has said.” These are used in verses 5 and 13 when talking about What Jehovah has said. The other one is used in verse 6 and 7 (in verse 8 the original Greek doesn’t include “he says,” some translations add that for clarity) is “λέγει” which is the present tense for “he says” (or “it says”), thus showing a clear distinction between when God is talking and when the Psalmist is talking. This must be kept in mind when exegeting Hebrews 1.

The last text I want to talk about is 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Robert Bowman includes this verse along with 1 Corinthians 11:3 in his “Objections section” claiming that Christ is still subordinate to God as the incarnate Son, but equal in nature. Let’s see if that “answer holds up to the text.

Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 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 this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

This is not talking about a mere relational subordination. Notice the language at the end, after all things are subjected to Christ (by God) both the Christ and all things become Subject to God, so that God may be All in All. Think of the implications here. God being All in All is contingent on all things being subjected to him, and this includes Christ. So Christ is among the things included among “All,” the things which are subjected to God so that God may be in them. This is not a mere difference in roles, this is a difference in Godship, Authority and even Ontology. God is not subject to anyone, if he is then that one whom he is subjected to is in fact God. God does not need God to be in him, God is God, he is necessarily in himself. This should be obvious, and it is. What Robert Bowman tries to do is minimize what the actual text is saying by arbitrarily adding in the non-biblical Aristotelian category of “nature” into the text when no such thing is there. Christ is part of what God of the “All” which God will be in, thus he cannot be that God.

The scripture being quoted here is Psalms 110:1 (which we also say in Hebrews 1:13), this is the scripture most often attributed to Jesus, being the “my Lord” which Jehovah speaks to. This is a song to the King, not God himself, not Jehovah, it presents Jehovah as speaking to the King. Paul knew this, Paul know what the implications of this were.

I could continue dealing with all the scriptures, but it would take forever, since, as typical of many Trinitarian apologists, many scriptures are cited, few are exegeted, and since I wish to actually examine what the texts say it goes somewhat slower. I could for example talk about how someone being described as the “image” of someone necessarily means that the image is not the same as that which the image is of. I could talk about Jesus himself saying he is not God in John 10 (which I have talked about before in this Post and this one). I could talk about the absurdity of the Most High God himself having a God. I could talk about how the word προσκυνέω, which is translated as worship, is actually given to all sorts of people who are not Jehovah. I could talk about all sorts of things, but I think I have posited enough to show that the case for Jesus being Jehovah himself is extremely weak, if not impossible.

Read Part 4 here.

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Robert Bowman’s Anti-Trinitarian Theology Challenge – Part 3

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