Sunday, December 29, 2013

Quotations from the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern

I will be adding quotes to this blog as I find them. So, this post will periodically be updated.

The following quotes either show how having an understanding of Jewish theological traditions can make the case for the Trinity stronge, or at the very least shows how some Jewish theological traditions are consistent with Trinitarianism. All highlights are mine.
 My comments are in Blue.

Regarding Mark 12:29 and Jesus' recitation of the Shema:

...Likewise, here in the Sh'ma (Deuteronomy 6:4) there are two such r'mazim: (1) the triple reference to God, and (2) the use of the word "echad," which often means a multiple unity (such as "one" cluster of grapes or "one" bundle of sticks) instead of "yachid," which nearly always excludes multiple oneness. -page 97
Notice that Stern does not make the common Christian mistake in claiming that "echad" [always] means "compound unity." Echad merely means, "one." Whether it is compound or simple oneness. By "triple reference to God" Stern is talking about the fact that God is mentioned three times in the Shema. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD [1st reference] our God [2nd reference], the LORD [3rd reference] is one."

R'mazim is plural for remez.
 (2) Remez ("hint") — wherein a word, phrase or other element in the text hints at a truth not conveyed by the p'shat. The implied presupposition is that God can hint at things of which the Bible writers themselves were unaware. - page 12
(1) P'shat ("simple") — the plain, literal sense of the text, more or less what modern scholars mean by "grammatical-historical exegesis,"...- page 11
See Wikipedia's article on PaRDeS
Notice also that this Jewish concept of God hinting at deeper meanings is consistent with the Christian understanding of Progressive Revelation.

Regarding John 8:58-59:
Before Avraham came into being, I AM. This and 10:30 are Yeshua's clearest self-pronouncements of his divinity. On "I AM" see 4:26N. It was very clear to the Judeans exactly what Yeshua's claim was, because they immediately took up stones to put him to death (v. 59) for blasphemy. Claiming to be God and, specifically, pronouncing God's name (as Yeshua had just done) were punishable by death (Leviticus 24:15-16 and Mishna Sanhedrin 7:5, "The blasphemer is not guilty until he pronounces the Name."). - page 183

Regarding 1 Cor. 12:4-6:
The word "Trinity" is never used in the New Testament, but the elements which led theologians to develop such a concept are seen in passages like this one, where Spirit, Lord, and God refer respectively to the Holy Spirit, Yeshua the Messiah, and the Father. There seems to be less significance in the attribution of the three activities — giving to the Spirit, being served to the Lord, and working to God (the Father) — than in the oversight of all the activities by the same one God. - page 476

Regarding 2 Cor. 13:14:
The wording of this benediction implies equality between the sources of grace, love and fellowship (Greek koinonia, which can also be rendered "communality," "commonness," "communion") — that is, between the Father (God), the Son (the Lord Yeshua the Messiah) and the Holy Spirit (the Ruach HaKodesh). But this equality remains an implication and is not stated as a proposition. As pointed out elsewhere, Adonai is never called a "Trinity" in the New Testament. However, the three terms which appear here, along with equivalent terms, are used in various ways in both the New Testament and the Tanakh when speaking of God. - page 519

Regarding Phil. 2:6
The pre-existence of the Messiah was a familiar concept in rabbinic Judaism (Yn 1:1-18&NN), so that it is unnecessary to resort to the idea that Sha'ul is drawing on pagan notions of a "heavenly man" who descended and carried through a mission of redemption for mankind. The Tanakh provides more than sufficient ground for this passage in its material about Adam (Genesis 2:4-3:22) and the suffering Servant of Adonai (Isaiah 52:13-53:12); there is no need to resort to explanations that assume Hellenistic or Gnostic influence. - page 596
Notice how this quote refutes forms of Unitarianism that deny the pre-existence of the Messiah.

Regarding Heb. 1:6b
The Hebrew text of Psalm 97:7 says, "Worship him, all gods (elohim)." Since Judaism allow that elohim sometimes means "angels," the Septuagint's rendering, "Let all God's angels worship him," is not surprising. What is surprising is that whereas in the original, the object of worship is Adonai, here it is the Son. This is another of the New Testament's indirect ways of identifying Yeshua with God (see Co 2:9N). Verse 4b parallels Pp 2:9; this parallels Pp 2:10-11. Needless to say, if angels worship the Son, the Son is "better than angels." - page 666

Regarding Heb. 3:2-4
...This passage is also notable in that it equates the "spirit of the Messiah" (a term used at Ro 8:9&N) with the "spirit of God," who is the same as the Ruach HaKodesh ("Holy Spirit"; Ep 4:30&N)........The logic of vv. 3-4 leads to the conclusion that Yeshua is to be identified with God, since he is the one who built everything (compare 1:2). As usual, the New Testament does not state outright that Yeshua is God but makes this identification indirectly (see 1:6b&N, Co 2:9&N). - pages 670-671

 Regarding Rev. 1:4
...The One who is, who was and who is coming. This is based on God's self-identification in Exodus 3:14, "I am who I am," or, "I will be who I will be." Compare MJ 13:8. In the Siddur a line from the popular Jewish hymn, Adon-`Olam, reads: "V'hu hayah v'hu hoveh v'hu yihyeh l'tif' arah" ("He was, and he is, and he will be, into glorious eternity"). The substitution of "is coming" for "will be" seems to allude to Yeshua's return. - page 787

Regarding Rev. 1:8
The "A" and the "Z," literally, "the Alpha and the Omega," that is, the one who existed at the beginning and who will exist at the end. Here and at 21:6&N the phrase refers to God the Father; but at 22:13&N it refers to Yeshua. It means the same thing as the One who is, who was and who is coming (on which see v.4N). - page 790

Regarding Rev. 1:17
...Yeshua says, "I am the First and the Last," here, at 2:8, and at 22:13 (see v. 8N above). At Isaiah 44:6, 48:12 it is God the Father who so describes himself. Many titles and descriptions which the Tanakh applies only to YHWH are in the New Testament applied to Yeshua (for another example, see 3:7&N). Since the New Testament distinguishes Yeshua from God the Father, we conclude: (1) Yeshua is to be identified with YHWH, with God; yet (2) Yeshua is not the Father. See Yn 1:1N, 20:28N; Co 2:9N. - page 793

Regarding Rev. 1:18
The Living One; compare the phrase, "El Chai" ("the Living God"), at Joshua 3:10, Psalms 42:3, 84:3...[the rest is also relevant but I chose not to add it]

Other passages in Stern's commentary that have relevant comments include:
John 1:1a, 1b-3, 14, 18; 10:30-33; 14:9, 10-11; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 10:9; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 2:9; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 22:13

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