Monday, May 26, 2014

Can G-d Become a Man? (Response to Gene Shlomovich) [UPDATED]

So I've never paid any attention to Gene's anti-Messianic site.  Just haven't had any interest.  But I still receive email updates about his new posts.  And this newest one caught my eye...

In it he feebly tries to make the case that the idea of a Trinity is a Christian invention.  Here's my response which, given our history, he will most likely delete:
Gene, 
First, the concept of a tri-unified G-d did not originate with Christianity. Boyarin notes that “…the beginning of the idea of the Trinity occurred precisely in pre-Christian Jewish accounts of the second and visible God.” 
Second, the mystics of the Zohar had no issue with the concept of a Trinity, rooting this concept in Torah itself: 
http://orthodoxmessianic.blogspot.com/2014/05/trinity-in-kabbalistic-writings.html 
Third, even modern Chasidic masters such as Noson Gurary admit that G-d taking on the form of a man is at least possible (even though he rejects that this did in fact occur): 
“13. It may be pointed out that in terms of God’s omnipotence, He could have chosen to have a body of some sort too (not necessarily in the purely physical sense). However, the Torah testifies to the fact that He did not choose to do this (cf. Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16-19),” The Thirteen Principles of Faith: A Chasidic Viewpoint. 
Peter

Here's another response:

Gene,
In the year that you’ve studied this with a Hasidic rabbi, did he show you this:
Zohar: 
“Come and see the mystery of the word [Adonai]: there are three steps, each existing by itself: nevertheless they are One, and so united that one cannot be separated from the other. The Ancient Holy One is revealed with three heads, which are united into one, and that head is three exalted. The Ancient One is described as being three: because the other lights emanating from him are included in the three. But how can three names be one? Are they really one because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit .” (Zohar, Vol III, 288; Vol II, 43,) 
Hear, O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai is one. These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of faith: in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eye alone! The mystery of the audible voice is similar to this, for though it is one yet it consists of three elements-fire, air and water, which have, however, become one in the mystery of the voice. Even so it is with the mystery of the threefold Divine manifestations designated by Adonai Eloheinu Adonai – three modes which yet form one unity. This is the significance of the voice which man produces in the act of unification, when his intent is to unify all, from the Infinite (Ein Sof) to the end of creation. This is the daily unification, the secret of which has been revealed in the holy spirit,” (Quoted from Zohar II, 53b, as excerpted from Studies in Zohar by Yehuda Liebes) 

But forget about the Zohar. The idea of a multiplex godhead is an ancient Jewish concept: 
Proverbs: 
{8:22} The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. {8:23} I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. {8:24} When [there were] no depths, I was brought forth; when [there were] no fountains abounding with water. {8:25} Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: {8:26} While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. {8:27} When he prepared the heavens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: {8:28} When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: {8:29} When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: {8:30} Then I was by him, [as] one brought up [with him:] and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him; {8:31} Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights [were] with the sons of men. 
Sirach: 
5 I came out of the mouth of the most High, the firstborn before all creatures:
6 I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth, and as a cloud I covered all the earth:
7 I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of a cloud.
8 I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven, and have penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and have walked in the waves of the sea,
9 And have stood in all the earth: and in every people,
10 And in every nation I have had the chief rule:
11 And by my power I have trodden under my feet the hearts of all the high and low: and in all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.
12 Then the creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and he that made me, rested in my tabernacle,
13 And he said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect.
14 From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him.
15 And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem.
16 And I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God his inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints.
17 I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress tree on mount Sion.
18 I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho:
19 As a fair olive tree in the plains, and as a plane tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted.
20 I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon. and aromatical balm: I yielded a sweet odour like the best myrrh:
21 And I perfumed my dwelling as storax, and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes, and as the frankincense not cut, and my odour is as the purest balm.
22 I have stretched out my branches as the turpentine tree, and my branches are of honour and grace.
23 As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches.
24 I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.
25 In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.
26 Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.
27 For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.
28 My memory is unto everlasting generations.
29 They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst.
30 He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin.
31 They that explain me shall have life everlasting.
32 All these things are the book of life, and the covenant of the most High, and the knowledge of truth.
33 Moses commanded a law in the precepts of justices, and an inheritance to the house of Jacob, and the promises to Israel.
34 He appointed to David his servant to raise up of him a most mighty king, and sitting on the throne of glory for ever,” (Sirach 24:1-34) 
Philo: 
“‘[W]hereas the voice of mortals is judged by hearing, the sacred oracles intimate that the words of God are seen as light is seen, for we are told that all of the people saw the Voice, not that they heard it; for what was happening was not an impact of air made by the organs of mouth and tongue, but the radiating splendor of virtue indistinguishable from a fountain of reason….But the voice of God which is not that of verbs and names yet seen by the eye of the soul, he [Moses] rightly introduces as ‘visible.’” (Migr. 47-48)
‘To His Word, His chief messenger, highest in age and honor, the Father of all has given the special prerogative, to stand on the border and separate the creature from the Creator. This same [i.e. the Word] both pleads with the immortal as suppliant for afflicted mortality and acts as ambassador of the ruler to the subject. He glories in this prerogative and proudly proclaims, ‘and I stood between the Lord and you’ [Deut 5.5], that is neither uncreated by God, nor created as you, but midway between the two extremes, a surety to both sides’. (Heir 205-6) 
Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel: 
‘Four nights are written in the Book of Memories: The first night: when the Lord was revealed above the world to create it. The world was unformed and void and darkness was spread over the surface of the deep; and through his Memra there was light and illumination, and he called it the first night.’ 

7 comments:

  1. Hope you follow the discussion him and me have on his blog on a few posts.

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  2. I'll have to go back and read the posts. Has he deleted any of your comments? I was just curious.


    I'm actually surprised that he seems to be allowing an open discussion over there. I just added another comment introducing some things from Proverbs, Philo, Palestinian Targum. Waste of time of course.

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  3. We had a nice amicable discussion on 3 topics there, until today. I guess he painted himself into a corner so he decided not to release my last 3 comments. which is typical for him. whereas i supported myself with Scriptures and Rabbinic writing he on the other hand is not capable of this kind of discussion. He presupposes something and tries to discuss it on philosophical grounds. When someone debunks his "line" he tends to ban them. Oh, well....

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  4. I'm curious whether you might go into a bit more detail on your points here, and any other you've mentioned on his blog. I would go read there, but I really, really don't want to give him the traffic. This is an issue I've come up against many times, and while I have a number of responses, I'm always on the lookout for more.

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  5. Sorry to hear that. Yes, it's very bad form to censor comments. I suspected he might be doing that but I wasn't sure. Let that be a warning I guess to anyone reading this who might be thinking of commenting on Gene's blog.

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  6. Jonathan,


    I posted some quotes from the Zohar for the record which are quite favorable to the concept of a multiplex godhead. Then I quoted Sirach, Proverbs, some Palestinian Targum, etc, to show that this idea of a multiplex godhead goes way back in Jewish writings.


    Gene decided to focus on Boyarin's character (not that it matters since he's not the only scholar to have noticed evidence in ancient jewish writings for multiplex godhead).


    Let's see, Gene then attacked my credibility on the basis that (gasp) I use copy/paste. Mind you, he couldn't say anything against the content. Just has a problem with copying and pasting (oy vey).


    That's pretty much it. Dan also made some great comments that Gene deflected in one way or another. Gene is a master at deflecting. He is a worthy opponent to be sure.


    I'll try to do a post later about evidence in ancient jewish literature for multiplex godhead.


    Shalom and Blessings,


    Peter

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  7. Jonathan,


    I updated this post with my other comment. Hope it is of some use.


    Shalom

    ReplyDelete