Increasingly over the past couple of years I have heard people say that Christians think that Jesus is Yahweh. I suppose some do (in fact I’ve come to learn that some absolutely do). But I don’t think that’s what Christians have typically though over the years/centuries. I’ll be devoting two posts to the matter.
First some background. In the Hebrew Bible, there are various ways authors refer to God, just as people today speaking English might say God, the Almighty, the Creator, The Sovereign of all, The Lord God Almighty, or if you’re into 60s and 70s theology, the Ultimate Ground of our being – all to refer to the same divine entity.
In Hebrew the basic term for “God” is “El” or “Elohim.” The latter is the plural and is the much more common term. It is much debated why the plural is used; no Jewish or critical Christian scholar, I should stress, thinks that it is because ancient Israelites thought of God as a trinity. More likely it is a plural of majesty, elevating God’s importance. It is worth noting that the plural noun is given a singular verb – already in the first three words of the Bible: “In the beginning (that’s all one word in Hebrew), God (Elohim, plural subject) created (singular verb).”
But God is called various things in the Hebrew Bible, such as El Shaddai (God Almighty) and Adonai (Lord).
On top of these descriptive nouns, though, God has an actual, personal name in the Hebrew Bible. To make sense of this, I need to remind you …
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