Andrew Perry on 1 Cor. 8:6 Part 2

Is Jesus in the divine identity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So let’s just jump right back into it.

Wright asserts that Paul has taken kurios from Deut 6:4, but offers no argumentation for this proposal.
He then concludes, “There can be no mistake: just as in Philippians 2 and Colossians 1, Paul has placed
Jesus within an explicit statement, drawn from the Old Testament’s quarry of emphatically monotheistic
texts…producing what we can only call a sort of christological monotheism.” We have criticized
Wright’s exegesis of Colossians 1 and Philippians 2 in previous articles, but only Philippians 2 uses a
characteristic monotheistic OT text (Isa 45:23). We might agree that Phil 2:10 places Jesus within the same
eschatological situation as Yahweh in Isa 45:23, but placement within a situation is not the same as
inclusion within the divine identity and so Wright’s comparison is false.

This seems to be too easy a dismissal of Wright. YHWH is the one who won’t share His name with another and for all the talk that Perry made last time about there being no parallel to the Shema for Jesus, can he find a parallel where everyone else bows at another name besides that of God? If it works one way, it ought to work the other way too.

The case for the christological monotheist is based around the claim that kyrios is picking up ‘Yhwh’ from
Deut 6:4 and using this name for Christ, thus identifying Jesus with Yhwh in some sense. The first
counter-argument to this claim is that, even if Paul is picking up ‘Yhwh’ from Deuteronomy, bearing the
name ‘Yhwh’ doesn’t imply an identification of Jesus with Yhwh. This is shown in two ways: first, the
name that is above every name was given22 to Christ by God (Phil 2:9); and secondly, the name was also
given to the Angel of the Lord who led Israel through the wilderness (“My name is in him”, Exod 23:21).

For the first objection, this is an assumption of unipersonalism whereby if a name is given, then that person cannot be in the identity, but this is not explained why. Jesus is given this name as a public vindication of what He had done publicly. Had He not done a public act, He would not have been known in this way.

For the second, I have regularly pointed to the Angel of the Lord as a Trinitarian precursor. He acts in ways that only God can act. He is the one speaking in Exodus 3. He appears to Hagar in Genesis 16 and she refers to Him as the God who sees me. Rather than demonstrating the point is incorrect, Perry is actually with this demonstrating the point is highly accurate!

The Angel of the Lord is a type of Christ leading his people through the wilderness. In the same way that
he bore the name, so too Christ bears the name. Hence, any basis there might be in the possession of this
name for identifying Jesus with Yhwh would also apply to the Angel of the Lord. Yet the Angel of the
Lord is distinguished from Yhwh in the same way that Paul distinguishes ‘one…and one’ in 1 Cor 8:6.

Obviously, great scholars like Bauckham and Wright never noticed that there was a distinguishing here. The Angel of the Lord is often treated as YHWH, but yet somehow is seen as a servant of YHWH. Consider how in Genesis 19:24 we read that YHWH on Earth rained down fire and brimstone from YHWH out of Heaven. If you come in with the assumption that God must be unipersonal, you have to read the texts in a way to avoid any plurality in the Godhead. If you dismiss that, you must remain open to the idea that perhaps God is a unique being in a sense that He is multipersonal while we are unipersonal.

However, before we reach this conclusion, we should ask, as a second counter-argument, whether
kyrios in 1 Cor 8:6 is actually picking up ‘Yhwh’ from Deut 6:4 in the first place. ‘Yhwh’ is a proper name,
but kyrios in 1 Cor 8:6 is not being used here as a proxy for this proper name precisely because it is
modified by ‘one’. The ‘one’ is in a semantic contract with the ‘many’ of v. 5, which in turn has the
plural of kyrios. This in turn brings that plural into a semantic contract with the singular of v. 6. Thus,
because the plural is functioning as a descriptive title, so too kyrios in v. 6 is functioning as a title and not
as a proxy for the name ‘Yhwh’. Accordingly, we can observe a symmetry between the two clauses: just as
‘God’ is not a proper name in ‘one God’ so too ‘Lord’ is not serving as a proxy for a proper name in ‘one

I am unclear as to what difference this makes. It is as if Perry is treating YHWH as a personal name. (By the way, aren’t all names given to someone?) Paul is making a contrasting statement indeed saying that the pagans have many gods and many lords, but we only have one. If he submits two different beings here, then he has a sort of ditheism going on. If he has one God with at least two persons here as both are in the divine nature somehow, then he does not.

Even if we went to the Shema, saying Lord as a proper name wouldn’t make sense. Did the Jews need to know there was only one YHWH? Even when they were  living in idolatry, they could say there was one YHWH, but there was also one Asherah, one Molech, etc. Yet if they say there is one God and one Lord and those are combined, then they have monotheism.

If the first clause, ‘there is one God, the Father’, is monotheistic, what type of clause is ‘there is one Lord,
Jesus Christ’? Is it possible to have a god and a lord within a scriptural faith? Is this conjoining of the Father and the Son so innovative that it redefines Scriptural Monotheism and Jewish Monotheism? Is the
associative partnership implicit in ‘of whom are all things’ (the Father) and ‘by whom are all things’ (the
Son) actually (or still) monotheistic?

But this is just begging the question. It is saying that if we go with the understanding of Bauckham and Wright and Capes and others, then we are redefining monotheism. It’s kind of hard to redefine a term that means “There is only one God.” The Trinity necessarily has it that there is only one God. Perry also since he is refusing to look at intertestamental literature is ignoring any data that Jews had to the contrary in pre-Christian thinking. Once again, if anything is redefining it, it is somehow having Jesus being a being that is separate and yet somehow Lord. By framing the Shema in this way, Paul is saying that you can’t have one without the other. If the Son is exclusively Lord, then the Father is not, but if the Father is exclusively God, the Son is not. Putting them both in the same identity avoids the problem.

Our two clause reading of 1 Cor 8:6 is immune to Bauckham’s reasoning for Christological Monotheism.
He says, “there can be no doubt that the addition of a unique Lord to the unique God of the Shema‘
would flatly contradict the uniqueness of the latter…The only possible way to understand Paul as
maintaining monotheism is to understand him to be including Jesus in the unique identity of the one God
affirmed in the Shema‘.” All we have to observe here is that the second clause is not ‘adding to’ the ‘one’
of the monotheism in the first clause and that ‘one…and one’ does add up to two! We do not have to
maintain Paul’s monotheism by deploying a late-20c. theological construct like ‘included in the divine
identity’. We can maintain his monotheism by confining his avowal of monotheism to the first clause.

The language is 20th century, but is the idea? That is the question. We could just as well ask if anyone in the time of Paul was going around talking about Christological monotheism like Perry is. Would that invalidate his case? Absolutely not.

One and one does indeed add to two. So you either have two persons in the divine identity, or you have two beings, one distinctively God, but then the other must be distinctively Lord. If this is the Shema then, it is Perry that is dividing it and not Bauckham.

We will continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)



Deeper Waters Podcast 11/11/2017: Richard Bauckham.


What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Can we trust the Gospels? One of the questions that this comes down to often is the question of who their sources are. Were they written by eyewitnesses? Did they use eyewitnesses? Can we really trust anonymous sources like the Gospels? Did the Gospels even cite their sources?

Even if the Gospels are eyewitness testimonies, can we still trust them? Can’t eyewitnesses get things wrong? Why should we treat the Gospels as if they are serious historical works and their information is something that we can base our lives on?

In order to discuss this, I decided to have come on a second time a scholar who has done in-depth research on this. He has done so much that he has updated his great work on this topic. The work is Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and the author and scholar is none other than Richard Bauckham. So who is he?

I am a biblical scholar and theologian. My academic work and publications have ranged over many areas of these subjects, including the theology of Jürgen Moltmann, Christology (both New Testament and systematic), eschatology, the New Testament books of Revelation, James, 2 Peter and Jude, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the New Testament Apocrypha, the relatives of Jesus, the early Jerusalem church, the Bible and contemporary issues, and biblical and theological approaches to environmental issues. In recent years much of my work has focused on Jesus and the Gospels. Probably my best known books are Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (2006), God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament (1998), The Theology of the Book of Revelation (1993) and Bible and Ecology (2010). As well as technical scholarship and writing aimed at students and those with some theological background, I have also written accessible books for a wider readership, of which the best known is At the Cross: Meditations on People Who Were There (1999), which I wrote with Trevor Hart. A recent book is Jesus: A Very Short Introduction (2011), published in Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introduction series, and providing a historical account of Jesus for the general reader. Various of my books have appeared in translation in Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Farsi.

Until 2007 I was Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. I retired early in order to concentrate on research and writing, and moved to Cambridge. For more information about me, see my Short CV. On this site, you will find complete lists of my publications. You can find out about my forthcoming books. You can read unpublished papers, lectures and sermons. You can find out about the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha project (directed by myself and James Davila).

You can also read some of my poetry, and two story books written for children (adults also enjoy them) about the MacBears of Bearloch.

I hope you’ll be watching for this episode. We’re going to get a good in-depth look at this important book that every student of the New Testament needs to know about. Please be watching for this one and go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Will Dogs Chase Cats In Heaven?

What do I think of Dan Story’s book published by Kingdom Come Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I got Dan’s book in the mail. I had requested it for a possible interview especially seeing as I am married to an animal lover. I don’t hate animals or anything, but I’m not the most crazy about them. Generally, I’ve been a cat person and when it came to choosing our first pet, as luck would have it, Allie found a cat that she just fell in love with. Our little treasure is a white Turkish Angora, possibly another breed as well, named Shiro, the Japanese word for white.

Dan’s book is about addressing the question of if animals will be found in the afterdeath. Some of you might think that there is not much that can be found on this topic. I could understand that, but Dan really brings out a lot that you wouldn’t consider. It’s not light material either. It is a serious look at science and the text.

Dan also includes many stories of animals and their interactions and the way that they think. Many of us are quite interesting to hear about. If you’re an animal lover, you will go through this section with a smile on your face. Dan has done immense research drawing stories from all over the literature.

Dan also does go into eschatology here and I was very pleasantly pleased. Dan rightly gets that Heaven is not some far off place in eternity and this world is an afterthought. No. This is the world that we are meant to live on. This is where we are to fulfill our purpose. The final reality will be the marriage of Heaven and Earth. This will be far better than Eden in the end.

Dan interacts with a number of great biblical scholars in this work. Great minds like Richard Bauckham and Anthony Hoekema show up in this work. He will also interact with many philosophers like C.S. Lewis and Peter Kreeft. If you know works of apologetics, you will recognize names in here.

Dan’s handling of the Biblical text is also very careful and reasoned. Some passages that you would think have nothing to do with animal resurrection are brought in, such as Jesus being with the wild beasts in Mark. I came to this one with skepticism as well, but Dan made a good argument and having it backed by Richard Bauckham gives some credibility.

There are some minor points I will disagree with Dan on still. I am not convinced about a literal millennial kingdom, but I don’t think that that is necessary for the thesis in the book. The points I saw of disagreement were over peripheral points and none of them were substantial to the main thesis of the book.

Animal resurrection is something we can hope for and it’s not a hill I’m willing to die on yet, but it’s certainly one that I think a strong case has been presented for. I think anyone who is interested in this question should look at the information presented in this book. It’s a good and short read that is readily approachable by all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Paul’s Divine Christology

What do I think of Chris Tilling’s book published by Eerdmans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For some time, names like Bauckham and Hurtado and others have been dominant in discussions of Christology as we have seen more and more movement to what is called an early High Christology. In fact, this Christology is so early and high that it has been said that the earliest Christology is the highest Christology. Jesus from the resurrection is said to be seen as within the divine identity and is fully God and fully man. This alone is a powerful argument for the reality of the resurrection as it would take something quite remarkable to convince devout Jews that a crucified Messiah figure was not only really the Messiah, but God incarnate.

Chris Tilling is also a voice in this debate. Tilling was one of the people who contributed to Michael Bird’s project of How God Became Jesus. Tilling is an enjoyable scholar to read who I think is serious in everything he does. Why? Because when you see his Facebook page and his own blog, he is often quite humorous and there is no contradiction between being humorous and being serious. Yet when it comes to the New Testament, Tilling is a force to be reckoned with and knows the material very well. In fact, a look at his argument for an early high Christology is a way of saying that we have missed the forest for the trees.

One of my favorite shows that unfortunately has not only gone off the air now but has had the book series come to an end was the series Monk about the obsessive-compulsive homicide detective. My parents always wanted me to see if I could solve the case before Adrian Monk. The episodes can be enjoyable to watch again and when you do, you can look back at the cases that are solved and see all the clues you missed the first time through and think “Why didn’t I see that the first time?” Reading Tilling’s book can be like that. It can make you think about passages in the NT and say “Why didn’t I think of that the first time?”

Tilling relies not on a philosophical idea such as the God of the philosophers, but notes that the identity of God in Jewish thought was based on His covenant relationship with Israel. Only God was said to be in that covenant. If that is the case, then what about seeing if someone else suddenly shows up in this relationship and has a similar relationship to Israel? What if they have a similar relationship to the church, which is pictured as in the covenant of Israel as well. What if we find analogies from the OT that are used of YHWH and Israel and yet when we find their counterparts in the NT, it’s Christ and the church?

It really is a simple idea, and yet it’s a remarkable one as the Christ-relation shows up all throughout the NT. Just look and see how Paul, who Tilling is focusing on, speaks so highly of Christ and never even really a hint of holding back. You never see Paul giving a warning about saying to not go too far in your adoration of Christ. Instead, Paul speaks as if it was his natural language of his devotion of Christ and His role in salvation history. We have phrases like “To live is Christ”, “I sought to know nothing other than Christ crucified”, and “Live to the Lord” with Christ as the Lord. This is not even counting the references that seem to explicitly make reference to the deity of Christ like Romans 9:5 or the maranatha in 1 Cor. 16.

In fact, thinking along these lines, just recently I was pondering marriage as it’s a topic I read up on a lot more now that I have my own Mrs. and was pondering the idea of how Christ loved the church and then thought along the lines of Tilling about why Paul says that. Paul could have easily said “As God loved Israel”, but he didn’t. He chose to use Christ and the church and in effect is saying that Christ is the supreme example of love and it’s not the love of God, but just the love of Christ. The Christ-relation is indeed a huge impact and it should be one that the scholarly world is looking at for some time.

Now for some criticisms. There were times in the book that I thought it looked like Tilling was going more for quantity than for quality. You’d have a shotgun approach I thought of several different passages but they weren’t engaged with as much depth as I would like. There were times I would have liked to have seen a few passages explored in greater depth and then you could find several analogous passages that are like that one.

Also, there are times a layman could get lost at a few passages. It would be good to see something like this reproduced on a more popular level especially for those laymen in the field who will be meeting groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christadelphians. An argument like Tilling’s would be an invaluable reference for the furtherance of the Gospel and answering those who wish to challenge the deity of Christ and the fact that the argument is simple and powerful and has loads of verses in support of it is extremely helpful.

Overall, this is a book well worth your time to read and I suggest you do so.

In Christ,
Nick Peters