123: How do you get from one God to a three-in-One God? How do you relate to a God like that? Is it important that the Father and the Son are not confused? How much of what I believe is church tradition? Here are snippets of my journey, which to my greatest surprise has stumbled over some answers.
Having completed my main review of the New Testament (and some Old Testament) texts, cataloguing almost 500 passages, I am "celebrating" that milestone by publishing a part of the paper that helps me in the processing and weighing of these texts, which is currently entitled Chapter 2: Key Notions Defined. It is also is an opportunity for me to tidy up these definitions. Here is the next one:
Nathan Macdonald shows that our modern understanding of
monotheism is quite different to the expression and commitment required in First
Century Judaism to the One True God, maker of Heaven and Earth. Even the word monotheism,
our English word derived entirely from Greek words, was never used back then.
We can only trace it back in English to Henry Moore (17th century),
although a single mention of μονόθεον in Greek is found in a Byzantine hymn, of
unknown date (but definitely a few centuries earlier, since the Byzantine empire
finishes decisively in 1453).
Monotheism today forgets
the dynamic and life in the ultimate God, it forgets the praise that is for him
alone, and instead intellectualises. Or as Chiara Peri puts it in her brief
essay The Construction of Biblical Monotheism: an Unfinished Task: “In its historical development, monotheism is a dynamic process rather
than a static reality.” The “mono” also can distract our focus – and translators’ focus – from the
plurality of heavenly beings. God’s angels can be extremely powerful and
awesome, even speaking on His behalf. The biblical authors speak of multitudes,
and of course the “Heavenly Host” and the “Lord of hosts”, akin also to a
heavenly (good) army. In the Torah, the Israelites are instructed that they
shall have no other gods before YHWH, which clearly presupposes a belief in
their existence. Modern translations have tended to squash this
emphasis perhaps in light of a more rationalistic monotheism. It is more than a
little interesting to note that Jesus himself seems to re-address wrong
thinking about what we call monotheism when he is accused of blasphemy in John 10:34.
Please also see my brief presentations of "God" and "Deity":