The Jewish Trinity
By Yoel Natan
Glossary and Abbreviations
Synopsis of The Jewish Trinity
Chapter 01: The Syntax War Between Trinitarians
Chapter 02: Proto-Sinaitic Trinitarianism
Chapter 03: The Presences of Elyon
Chapter 04: The Shema
Chapter 05: The Trinity in Daniel 01-05
Chapter 06: The Prophet Behind the Prophets
Chapter 07: Various OT Presentations of the Trinity
Chapter 08: The NT Use of OT Yahveh Texts
Chapter 09: The “I AM” Statements
Chapter 10: The Song of Moses (Deu 32)
Appendix A: MT Plurals Referring to Yahveh
Appendix B: OT Texts That Suggest or Speak of
the Deity of the Messiah
Appendix C: Trinitarian Proofs
Appendix D: A Sampling of the NT Use of OT Yahveh Texts
Augustine said that Christology is latent in the OT, and patent in the NT.[i] Christians have applied Augustine’s analysis to other distinctively Christian doctrines. For instance, conventional wisdom says that while the doctrine of the Trinity was implicit in the OT, it is explicit in the NT.[ii] [iii]
This book shows that if one reads the OT without wearing unitarian blinders, the OT is as explicit about the Trinity as the NT. The reader of this book will come to know the OT as ancient Trinitarian Yahvists knew the OT—a book replete with Trinitarian proofs.
Synopsis of Chapter 01: The Syntax War Between Trinitarians and Unitarians
This chapter deals with the main difference between the ancient reading and the modern reading of the OT. The ancients read the several thousand plurals that refer to Yahveh as collective nouns with different nuances. Collective nouns that refer to Yahveh are potent Trinitarian proofs, especially considering the sheer number of instances.
During Intertestamental times, unitarian readers argued that all plurals referring to Yahveh were majestic plurals. The majestic plural proponents said that plurals referring to Yahveh indicate majesty, but do not hint at the existence of persons called Yahveh. This chapter shows that the majestic plural usage is an incorrect reading of thousands of plurals referring to Yahveh, and that these plurals, in fact, constitute Trinitarian proofs.
At Mount Sinai, the Son revealed that his name was Yahveh. Previously, only the Father was known as Yahveh. So Genesis contains both the Proto-Gospel (Gen 03:15) and Proto-Sinaitic Trinitarianism.
In Genesis, the Father was known as Yahveh and the Most High (Elyon), the Son was known both as God of Mights (El Shaddai) and as the Malek Yahveh, and the Spirit was known as the Spirit (Ruach). The Trinity was known as haElohim, literally, “[All] the Gods.”
This analysis of Genesis is confirmed by examining the Genesis narrative, as well as other sections of the OT that refer back to Genesis. The Trinitarian interpretation of Genesis debunks the JEDP theory. Also, the theories that say the Malek Yahveh was a mere creature, or was impersonal, are refuted.
Synopsis of Chapter 03: The Presences of Elyon
This chapter discusses the Presences of Elyon. Important passages include how the Israelites saw the “Living Gods” (khayyim Elohim) (Deu 05:26) during the giving of the law. Moses said that at the giving of the law, “[All] the Gods” (haElohim) stood on three mountains:
This is the blessing that Moses the man of [All] the Gods [haElohim] pronounced on the Israelites before his death. Yahveh [the Father] came from Sinai, and [the Son] dawned over them from Seir; he [the Spirit] shone forth from Mount Paran. He [the Father] came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his [the Father’s] mountain slopes (Deu 33:01-02).
Later, the Father sent his Presences, the Son and Spirit, to Canaan. The Father said:
‘My Presences [plural noun], they will go [plural verb] with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then Moses said to him, ‘Your Presences [plural noun], if they do not go [plural verb] with us, do not send us up from here’ (Exo 33:14-15).
The Presences’ other appearances in the OT are also discussed.
Synopsis of Chapter 04: The Shema
The Shema is a simple Trinitarian formula:
Hear, O Israel: Yahveh [the Father] [and] our Elohim [the Son], Yahveh [the Spirit] [are] a united one [echad] (Deu 06:04).
The correct interpretation and import of the Shema can be inferred from OT Shema-like statements (Hos 12:06; Zec 14:09).
Yeshua’s short version of the Shema is, “I and the Father are one” (Joh 10:30). Whenever Yeshua discussed the Shema, he always mentions two or three of the divine persons of the Trinity, for instance:
§ After quoting the Shema (Mat 22:36-40), Yeshua said that David was inspired by the Spirit when David said that the Father and Son were his Lord (Psa 110:01, 05; Mat 22:43-45; Mar 12:36-37; Luk 20:42, 44), and
§ After speaking a Shema-like statement, “I and the Father are one” (Joh 10:30), Yeshua said that the judges to whom the word of God came were called “gods” (Psa 082:06; Joh 10:35). Yeshua added:
What about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? (Psa 082:08; Joh 10:36a).
Yeshua here alluded to Yahveh the Father’s statement to the Son in the same Psalm:
Rise up, O God [the Son] and judge the earth, for all the nations are your [the Son’s] inheritance (Psa 082:08; Joh 10:36a)!
Daniel informed Nebuchadnezzar that the golden head of his dreamscape statue represented Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, the Babylonian Empire. The statue’s other body parts represent succeeding kingdoms down to the end of time as we know it.
The gold head showed that a distinguishing characteristic of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was wealth. The other body parts were made of inferior metals and clay to show that the distinguishing characteristics of subsequent kingdoms would not be wealth.
The gold head also revealed that a distinguishing characteristic of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was homogeneity. His was a unified kingdom. The Medo-Persian that followed was bifurcated as shown in the arms united to the torso. Alexander’s kingdom bifurcated into the Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties, as was shown by the bronze thighs. Rome was divided into the Western Latin speaking and Eastern Greek speaking parts, as was shown by the two iron calves. The Roman Empire dissolved leaving nations of iron to exist in the midst of nations of clay.
In the end the Son would establish a kingdom not built on the foundations of the old kingdoms represented in the statue. The Son’s kingdom would last forever. Nebuchadnezzar saw the Son in Dan 03:25, and Daniel saw the Son in the Dan 07 Son of Man vision.
There is a relationship between the statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan 02) and the golden statue that Nebuchadnezzar built (Dan 03). Nebuchadnezzar’s landscape statue of Dan 03 was like the dreamscape statue of Dan 02, but was golden from head to toe (Dan 03).
Nebuchadnezzar’s statue represented Nebuchadnezzar’s prayer to his gods. Nebuchadnezzar wanted his gods to veto Yahveh’s plan to cut Nebuchadnezzar’s golden kingdom off at the neck—hence, the gold from head to toe. Nebuchadnezzar wanted the Babylonian Empire to be the sole empire until the end of the world, and not just until the Medo-Persian Empire was formed.
Daniel instructed Nebuchadnezzar about Yahveh, the “Most High,” just as Joseph had instructed Egyptian royalty (Gen 45:08; Psa 105:17-22). Nebuchadnezzar used OT Trinitarian terminology that Moses, Joshua, and others had used. Nebuchadnezzar’s Trinitarian speech is recorded in Dan 02—03. By Dan 04, it seems Nebuchadnezzar matured into a full-fledged Trinitarian, as his letter to his subjects shows (Dan 04).
The OT prophetic books should be read as the words of the preincarnate Son rather than as the words of the prophets. The few phrases and sections that are obvious words of the prophets should be considered mere inspired interjections. That the OT prophetic books can, for the most part, be understood as the words of the Son implies Trinitarianism.
In OT prophetic books, first person speech (for example, “I,” “me,” “my”) should generally be read as the words of the Son. Quotations are most often the words of the Father as quoted by the Son. Third person speech (for example, “he,” “him,” “his”) referring to Yahveh generally is the Son speaking about the Father or the Spirit.
Ezekiel, Jonah and Zechariah give interesting presentations of the Trinity. Jonah distinguished between Yahveh the Father and the Presences of Yahveh, who are the Son and Spirit. Jonah’s Trinitarian language includes mentions of “[All] the Gods” (haElohim) and “Yahveh Elohim.”
In Ezekiel and Zechariah, both the Spirit and Son take on various roles, call each other Yahveh, and refer to the Father and quote the Father.
Synopsis of Chapter 08: The NT Use of OT Yahveh Texts
The first part of this chapter concerns NT quotations and allusions to OT Yahveh texts. Many examples are given in the appendix that complements this chapter. The list of NT allusions and quotations to OT Yahveh text is meant to be representative rather than exhaustive.
The second part of this chapter concerns whether Yeshua primarily spoke Greek or Aramaic. This has some bearing on whether Yeshua identified himself as:
§ Yahveh the Son by his applying OT Yahveh texts to himself,
§ The divine Son of Man described in the Dan 07 vision (as is discussed in the Song of Moses chapter),
§ The “I AM” (as is discussed in the “I AM” and the Song of Moses chapters), and
§ The subject of the Shema along with the Father and the Spirit (as is discussed in the Shema chapter).
The evidence will show that Yeshua spoke both Aramaic and Greek. Galilee, where Yeshua grew, was home to many gentiles who tended to speak Greek. While Aramaic was more prevalent in Judea, inscriptions and literary evidence show that Greek was common there, too.
Given Yeshua’s language abilities, it is implausible that he inadvertently gave the impression that he was, for instance, the “I AM.” His audiences were astute enough to know what Yeshua was saying, and they even tried to stone Yeshua more than once for blasphemy. Not once did Yeshua say he was misunderstood.
The NT writers knew both Aramaic and Greek, and they were familiar with the OT Hebrew. This means that the NT writers consciously applied OT “I AM” statements and Yahveh texts to Yeshua. Given their language abilities, they faithfully recorded Yeshua’s statements, and no meaning was inadvertently added or lost during translation or transcription.
Yahveh the Son was the divine speaker of Exo 03—06, as was discussed in the chapter on Proto-Sinaitic Trinitarianism. Yahveh the Son said in Hebrew:
I AM who I AM [Hebrew: “ehyeh asher ehyeh”]. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM [ehyeh] has sent me to you’ (Exo 03:14).
The Greek LXX version reads:
I AM [Greek: egw eimi] WHO IS [ho wn]…WHO IS [ho wn]…(LXX Exo 03:14).
Note that the Hebrew word ehyeh mentioned three times in Exo 03:14 is translated as “egw eimi” and “ho wn.” This chapter discusses the occurrences where Yeshua and the NT writers applied “egw eimi” and “ho wn” to Yeshua. In this way, the NT writers show that Yeshua is Yahveh the Son—the divine speaker in Exo 03.
The Song of Moses shows God’s strategy for saving Jews and gentiles. The Father’s strategy is to try to save errant Israel by every means possible, lastly by sending his Son. The Son is far superior to Moses. After being rejected by the Jewish leaders, the Son turns to save the gentiles. This has the effect of making Israel jealous enough to come back into the Trinity’s fold.
One section in this chapter presents a Son of Man theology where the Dan 07 Son of Man is linked to the Proto-Gospel (Gen 03:15). The chapter ends with a discussion on how the Son is far superior to Moses in that the Son is:
§ The “I AM,”
§ The Son of Man (Dan 07), and
§ God the Son.
Synopsis of Appendix A: MT Plurals Referring to Yahveh
This appendix discusses plurals referring to Yahveh that are found in 38 chapters of 18 MT books. These are plural verbs, adjectives and nouns other than the common plural noun Elohim (literally, “Gods”). All plurals referring to Yahveh should be considered Trinitarian proofs.
Synopsis of Appendix B: OT Texts That Suggest or Speak of the Deity of the Messiah
This appendix lists the texts, provides a short summary statement of each text, and directs to the reader to where there is further discussion of each text.
This appendix first summarizes four categories of Trinitarian proofs. Four categories of Trinitarian proofs are:
1. Many passages that are prima facie evidence for the doctrine of Trinity contain MT or LXX plurals referring to Yahveh. Examples include the “us” in Gen 01:26; 03:22; 11:07 and Isa 06:08. More examples are found in the MT plurals appendix,
2. OT Yahveh texts applied to individual persons of the Trinity in the OT and NT are prima facie evidence for the doctrine of Trinity. These are discussed in the “I AM” and Song of Moses chapters, as well as in the NT use of OT Yahveh texts chapter and its complementary appendix that goes by the same name,
3. Texts that suggest or speak to the deity of the Messiah should be considered indirect proofs of the Trinity. These proofs are summarized in a table in a separate appendix, and
4. General Trinitarian proofs are listed with an explanation in this Trinitarian proofs appendix.
Synopsis of Appendix D: A Sampling of the NT Use of OT Yahveh Texts
A list of OT Yahveh texts quoted or alluded to in the NT is provided with an explanation of their significance. The passages are grouped according to the person or persons of the Trinity to whom the OT Yahveh text is applied.
[i] “In vetere Testamento novum latet, in novo vetus patet” (Augustine, Questions on the Heptateuch, II, 73).
[ii] Hodder and Stoughton, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1980, Part 3, p. 1597.
[iii] Wiley, H. Orten. Christian Theology, Volume II, Part III, Chapter XX, “Christology,” Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, 1940.