NOTES FOR KELLY POWERS VS. DUSTIN SMITH DEBATE REVIEW

In this post I share some of the points which I employed in my debate review of unitarian heretic Dustin Smith and Trinitarian apologist Kelly Powers.  

A PLURAL GOD

The Hebrew Bible employs plural verbs, adjectives, participles etc., with plural nouns for the one true God, just as the following examples show.

FIRST CASE

For God knows (ki yode’a elohim) that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God (ke’lohim), knowing (yoda’e) good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

The verb “knowing” is a plural participle modifying the noun Elohim. Thus, a more literal translation would read, “you will be like Gods/divine beings who know good and evil.” This is further supported by what God says later on in the same text:

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of US, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.’” Genesis 3:22-23

SECOND CASE

“Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let US make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let US build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let US make a name for OURSELVES, lest WE be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down (wayyerred YHWH) to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let US go down (nerada), and there confuse (wanabala) their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused (balal) the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:1-9

Nerada is the plural form of yarad and nabala is the plural of balal. Here, Yahweh describes his actions of coming down and scattering the peoples by himself in the plural. Yahweh’s use of the plural (“Come, let us go down and there confuse…”) is obviously meant to parallel the language of the multitude (“Come, let us…”). The major difference between these two parties is that whereas the people at Babel consisted of a multitude of separate and distinct human beings, Yahweh, on the other hand, is a singular Being who exists as a community of divine Persons within himself.

THIRD CASE

“And when God (Elohim) caused me to wander (hita’u) from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.’” Genesis 20:13

The verb hita’u, translated “cause to wander”, is the plural of ta`ah. The text can therefore be translated as, “When Gods (Elohim), they caused me to wander from my father’s house.”

FOURTH CASE

“and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God (Elohim) had revealed himself (nigelu) to him when he fled from his brother.” Genesis 35:7

The verb that modifies the noun God (Elohim) is nigelu (revealed), which is plural for galah. Thus, the verse literally reads, “Gods, They revealed themselves to him.”

FIFTH CASE

“For what great nation is there that has a god so near (Elohim qarobim) to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” Deuteronomy 4:7

The adjective qarobim is the plural form of qarob. The verse can thus be translated as, “gods who are so near.” The text is likening Yahweh to gods who are nearby their people to save and protect. The passage is basically saying that, unlike the other nations, the Israelites have been privileged to have their Gods nearby to answer them anytime they call on them.

SIXTH CASE

“But Joshua said to the people, ‘You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God (Elohim Qadoshim hu). He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.’” Joshua 24:19

The word translated as “Holy” is the plural adjective qadoshim (“Holy Ones”). The passage can, therefore, be rendered as, “Gods, the Holy Ones is he.”

SEVENTH CASE

“And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went (halaku Elohim) to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods?” 2 Samuel 7:23

The words, “God went,” are in the plural and literally reads, “Gods, they went to redeem.”

EIGHTH CASE

“Mankind will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God (Elohimwho judges (shophetim) on earth.’” Psalm 58:11

David uses the plural shophetim, which if we were to translate it literally would say, “Gods, They judge the earth.”

NINTH CASE

“I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One (qadoshim). Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! Proverbs 30:3-4

Qadoshim in verse 3 is a plural adjective, and is translated as such in the NRSV:

“I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the holy ones.”

Agur speaks of how terribly ignorant he is of the Holy Ones, and then goes on to mention the incomprehensible acts of God and his Son. This basically establishes that qadoshim here is a numerical plural since Agur clearly refers to two distinct entities, e.g. God and his Son who shares in his Father’s sovereignty and incomprehensibility.

TENTH CASE

The following examples all describe Jehovah as the Creators and Makers of all things:

“But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker (`osay), who gives songs in the night,’” Job 35:10

The word ‘osay is the plural participle of asa’ and literally means, “my Makers.”

“Let Israel be glad in his Maker (`osayw); let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!” Psalm 149:2

The text literally says “his Makers” because ‘osayw is a plural participle.

“Remember also your Creator (bora’eyka) in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’;” Ecclesiastes 12:1

Bora’eyka is a plural participle, which is literally, “your Creators.”

“For your Maker (`osayika) is your Husband (bo`alayika), the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.” Isaiah 54:5

The word `osayik is the plural participle of asa’ and bo`alayika is the plural noun form of baal, and can, therefore, be read, “For your Makers are your Husbands.”

None of these references can be simply brushed aside as cases of the plural of majesty since the OT provides additional evidence that the inspired writers knew that there was more than one Divine Person responsible for creating and making all things.

For instance, the OT emphatically testifies that God used his Spirit to create and give life to the entire creation, as well replenishing and recreating it (Cf. Job 26:13; 27:3; 33:4; 34:14-15; Psalm 104:29-30; Isaiah 32:14-15; Ezekiel 36:25-27; 37:12-14; 39:29).

The Hebrew Bible further teaches that, not only did/does God use his Spirit to create and fashion all things, he also employs his all-powerful Word to do so:

By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all their host by the Breath/Spirit (ubarucha) of his mouth.” Psalm 33:6

What makes this all the more interesting is that the Greek version of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint (LXX), translates the phrase “by the Word of the LORD” as to logo tou kyriou. What this means is that God used his Logos to make the heavens.

Lo and behold, this is precisely what the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures teach, i.e. that it was by the Logos of God that creation was brought into being:

“But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word (to tou theou logo) the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” 2 Peter 3:5

However, the NT takes this a step further and identifies God’s Logos as Jesus Christ, the Logos who became flesh! This explains why these inspired writers describe Jesus as the divine Agent whom the Father employed to create and sustain all things (Cf. John 1:1-5, 9-10, 14; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:13-18; Hebrews 1:1-3, 10-12; 3:3-4; 1 John 1:1-3; Revelation 3:14; 19:13).

At the same time, the God-breathed Scriptures are equally clear that only one God created and sustains all things (Cf. Job 9:8; 10:8-12; 31:15; Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; 45:12, 18; Malachi 2:10; Matthew 19:4-5; Acts 17:24-29; Ephesians 3:9; Revelation 4:11).

This is precisely why the historic Christian faith has always affirmed monotheism and outright rejected tritheism. Even though the Holy Bible forces all true believers to accept that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as three eternally distinct divine Persons, these same inspired writings equally forbid the people of God from believing that they are three separate gods.

PSALM 110:1 AND ADONI

Smith asserted that the word used for David’s exalted Lord in Psalm 110:1, adoni, is never used for God.

Jewish Christian apologist Dr. Michael L. Brown’s response to rabid anti-Christian rabbi Tovia Singer demonstrates why this assertion is simply fallacious:

“There are at least three problems with his argument: First, he is incorrect in stating that ‘my lord’ is reserved ‘for the profane, never the sacred.’ Just look in Joshua 5:14, where Joshua addresses the angel of the Lord as ‘my lord’ (‘adoni). Yet this divine messenger is so holy that Joshua is commanded to remove the shoes from his feet because he is standing on holy ground, just as Moses was commanded when the angel of the Lord – representing Yahweh himself – appeared to him (Exod. 3:1-6). This is hardly a ‘profane’ rather than ‘sacred’ usage! Similar examples can be found in Judges 6:13 and Zechariah 1:9, among other places. In each of these, angels are addressed as ‘my lord,’ and in some of these cases, the angels bear the divine presence. Second, Singer’s whole argument hinges on the Masoretic vocalization, which did not reach its final form until the Middle Ages. As every student of Hebrew knows, biblical Hebrew was written with consonants and ‘vowel letters’ only; the vowel signs were added hundreds of years later. Yet both ‘adonai (used only for Yahweh) and ‘adoni (used for men and angels, as we just noted) are spelled identically in Hebrew, consisting of the four consonants ‘-d-n-y. How then can Rabbi Singer make such a dogmatic statement about the differences between these two forms in the Bible? His argument stands only if we accept the absolute authority of the Masoretic vocalization, which in some cases follows the original writing by almost two thousand years. Third, it is not really important whether we translate with ‘my Lord’ or ‘my lord,’ since Yeshua’s whole argument was simply that David called the Messiah ‘lord’ meaning that the Messiah had to more than David’s son. While many Christian translations do render ‘adoni as ‘my Lord’ in Psalm 110:1, they are careful to distinguish between the first Lord (i.e., LORD) and the second.” (Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Messianic Prophecy Objections [Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI 2003], Volume Three, pp. 137-138)

Moreover, there are theophoric names where Jehovah is expressly called adoni:


Adonijah (adoniyah) = “My Lord (Adoni) is Yahweh”
.

“Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur;and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron.” 2 Samuel 3:2-5

Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,” Nehemiah 10:16

Tobadonijah (tob adoniyah) = “My Lord (Adoni) Yahweh is good”.

“and with them the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tobadonijah, the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests.” 2 Chronicles 17:8

Adoniram = “My Lord (Adoni) is exalted”.

“Now King Solomon was king over all Israel.These were his officials: Azariah the son of Zadok was the priest;Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha were secretaries; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the army; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests;and Azariah the son of Nathan was over the deputies; and Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest, was the king’s friend; and Ahishar was over the household; and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the men subject to forced labor.” 1 Kings 4:1-6

“Now King Solomon levied forced laborers from all Israel; and the forced laborers numbered 30,000 men.He sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in relays; they were in Lebanon a month and two months at home. And Adoniram was over the forced laborers.” 1 Kings 5:13-14

Adonikam = “My Lord (Adoni) arose”.

“Now these are the heads of their fathers’ households and the genealogical enrollment of those who went up with me from Babylon in the reign of King Artaxerxes… and of the sons of Adonikam, the last ones, these being their names, Eliphelet, Jeuel and Shemaiah, and 60 males with them;” Ezra 8:1, 13 – Cf. 2:13; Nehemiah 7:18

Therefore, it is simply not true that Yahweh is never called adoni since he definitely is, just as the foregoing examples clearly demonstrate. Besides, adoni simply means “my Lord,” and if Yahweh isn’t a believer’s Lord than nobody is!

PSALM 110:3 AND THE MESSIAH’S DIVINE PREEXISTENCE

The Greek and Latin versions of Psalm 110:3 retain a much older form of the Hebrew verse, which clearly points to the prehuman divine existence of the Messiah:

μετὰ σοῦ ἡ ἀρχὴ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ τῆς δυνάμεώς σου ἐν ταῖς λαμπρότησι τῶν ἁγίων σου· ἐκ γαστρὸς πρὸ ἑωσφόρου ἐγέννησά σε.

With thee is dominion in the day of thy power, in the splendours of thy saints: I have begotten thee from the womb before the morning. Psalm 109:3 (Lancelot C Brenton (Editor), The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English Hardcover; bold emphasis mine)

With you isd rule on a day of your power among the splendors of the holy ones. From the womb, before Morning-star, I brought you forth. (Psalms (and Prayer of Manasses), tr. Albert Pietersma, [Oxford University Press, second printing 2009], p. 603; bold and italicized emphasis mine)

[3] With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength: in the brightness of the saints: from the womb before the day star I begot thee.

Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae in splendoribus sanctorum; ex utero, ante luciferum, genui te. Psalm 109 Douay-Rheims+Latin Vulgate (Bold emphasis mine)

The womb, morning and/or morning/day star refer to the beginning of creation right before God brought the heavenly constellations into being.

ANCIENT JEWISH INTERPRETATION ON CREATION AND SODOM

Here’s how the Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible called the Targumim rendered the Genesis creation account:

I. At the beginning (min avella) the Lord created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was vacancy and desolation, solitary of the sons of men, and void of every animal; and darkness was upon the face of the abyss, and the Spirit of mercies from before the Lord breathed upon the face of the waters.

[JERUSALEM TARGUM. In wisdom (be-hukema) the Lord created. Andthe earth was vacancy and desolation, and solitary of the sons of men, and void of every animal; and the Spirit of mercies from before the Lord breathed upon the face of the waters.]…

And the Lord said to the angels who ministered before Him, who had been created in the second day of the creation of the world, Let us make man in Our image, in Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl which are in the atmosphere of heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every reptile creeping upon the earth. And the Lord created man in His Likeness: [JERUSALEM. And the Word of the Lord created man in His likeness, in the likeness of the presence of the Lord He created him, the male and his yoke-fellow He created them.] In the image of the Lord He created him, with two hundred and forty and eight members, with three hundred and sixty and five nerves, and overlaid them with skin, and filled it with flesh and blood. Male and female in their bodies He created them…

And a garden from the Eden of the just was planted by the Word of the Lord God before the creation of the world, and He made there to dwell the man when He had created him. And the Lord God made to grow from the ground every tree that was desirable to behold and good to eat, and the tree of life in the midst of the garden, whose height was a journey of five hundred years, and the tree of whose fruit they who ate would distinguish between good and evil. Genesis 1-6 (Targums Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee, by J. W. Etheridge, M.A. First Published 1862)

From the beginning with wisdom the Son of the Lord created the heavens and the earth… And the Lord said: Let us create man in our image, similar to ourselves, and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. And the Word of the Lord created the son of man in his (own) image, in a resemblance from before the Lord he created him, male and his partner he created them. And the Glory of the Lord blessed them and the Word of the Lord said to them: Be strong and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fishes of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that creeps upon the earth. And the Glory of the Lord said: Behold I have given you all the herbs that produce seed that are on the face of all the earth and every tree that has fruit on it – the fruit-bearing tree – to you I have given them as food. Genesis 1:2-3, 26-29 Genesis 1:1, 26-27 (Targum Neofiti, pp. 497, 499  https://archive.org/details/neofiti1genesis/Neofiti%201%20-%20G%C3%A9nesis%20-%20Translation-English/page/n3/mode/2up; bold emphasis mine)

And THEY completed the creatures of the heavens and the earth and all the hosts of them. And the Word of the Lord completed on the seventh day his work which he had created because there was rest and repose before him on the seventh day from all his work which he had created. And the Glory of the Lord blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because on it there was a great rest and repose before him from all his work which the Glory of the Lord created to do. Genesis 2:1-3 (Ibid., p. 500; bold and capital emphasis mine)

These ancient versions refute Dustin Smith’s desperate and dishonest appeal to plural of majesty since they either explain the plurals of Genesis 1:26 in reference to God addressing the angels or to the Word and Glory/Spirit of God.

And pay close attention to Neofiti’s claim that the Son of God created the heavens and the earth, and it’s use of the plural “they” to highlight the fact that Jehovah creating all things by the Word of the Lord, the Glory of the Lord and God’s loving Spirit!

SODOM’S DESTRUCTION

Here’s how these same ancient witnesses explain Genesis 19:24, where Jehovah on earth brought sulphur and fire from the Jehovah who was in the heavens:

And the Word of the Lord had caused showers of favour to descend upon Sedom and Amorah, to the intent that they might work repentance, but they did it not: so that they said, Wickedness is not manifest before the Lord. Behold, then, there are now sent down upon them sulphur and fire from before the Word of the Lord from Heaven. [JERUSALEM. 24. And the Word of the Lord Himself had made to descend upon the people of Sedom and Amorah showers of favour, that they might work repentance from their wicked works. But when they saw the showers of favour, they said, So, our wicked works are not manifest before Him. He turned (then), and caused to descend upon them bitumen and fire from before the Lord from the heavens.] And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and the herbage of the earth. Genesis 18-22 (Targums Jonathan Ben Uzziel & The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum)

And the Word of the Lord made to come down upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from before the Lord, from the heavens. (Targum Neofiti, p. 544)

FURTHER READING

JEHOVAH GOD: OUR PLURAL CREATOR AND SUSTAINER

JEWISH SOURCES ON THE WORD AS A DIVINE PERSON

JUDAISMS’ VIEWS ON THE MESSIAH’S PREHUMAN EXISTENCE

Refuting Another Unitarian Canard Against the Deity of the Lord Jesus

Examining Psalm 110:1 — A look at Its Implications on God being a Multi-Personal Being and upon the Deity of Christ

Psalm 110:1 – Another Clear Testimony to Christ’s Deity Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4

The Binitarian Nature of the Shema [Part 1], [Part 2], [Part 3]

PROVERBS 8:22-36: THE ETERNALLY BEGOTTEN SON

PROVERBS 30:4: THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE SON

A Look at the Trinity From a Messianic Jewish Perspective

Don’t Christians Believe in Three Gods?

Jesus and the Mysteries of Kabbalah

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