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Offline Peaceful

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Trinity in Bible
« on: February 19, 2013, 04:11:52 AM »
Dear Joseph, you stated:

I find no cogent warrant for such a mainstay belief from my study of the Gospels, its intended purpose and wider Biblical scholarship. I believe these doctrines and beliefs to be a consequence of 'evolved theology' and Christian tradition often 'read into' the Biblical documents.

However, what would you make of these verses:
Matthew 28:19
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Psalm 2:7
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
John 6:27
27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for lthe food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
John 8:58
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.
Luke 24:52
52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
Mark 2:7
7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?


Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Trinity in Bible
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2013, 12:31:49 AM »
Dear Peaceful,

May peace be with you.

Please see my responses to your verses in blue.


Matthew 28:19
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”


The process of baptism, which in the main is the Christian ritual of admission into Christian church, involves the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This verse is not an explicit description of the ‘nature of God’ and there is absolutely no warrant to read this verse in this way.  It is only 'theology' that would potentially read this into this verse. 



Psalm 2:7
“I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”


The Psalms form part of the Jewish Old Testament canon and not the Christian New Testament. Even from a Christian perspective, this Psalm is understood to be authored by Prophet David.

If one were to read Psalm 2:1, it says: "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?”

Now if one were to consult the New Testament (Christian canon) and Acts 4:25 in particular, one reads: "Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?"

Therefore, even the Christians understood this Psalm to be authored by Prophet David and to make use of this verse as support for the Trinity is wholly unwarranted. The concept of Trinity is not accepted by those that follow the Jewish canon (Old Testament) in which this verse is found.



John 6:27
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for lthe food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”


There is no indication in this verse that it teaches the Trinity.



John 8:58
“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”


The Greek word which has been translated as 'I am' is 'Ego eimi'. This is a common phrase in John’s Gospel and if one studies the Bible (which some Christians and many Muslims do not), they would appreciate that this term does not necessarily identify itself with God.

In John 5:43, the same term is used to signify that Jesus has been sent by God. In John 18:5, Jesus uses the same term to confirm that he is Jesus of Nazareth.  The term is even used by a blind man (John 9:8-9).

Now if we consult the context of the verse you share, one notes a discourse already in situ with regards Prophet Abraham and the emphasis the Jews placed on him with possible rebuke of Prophet Jesus’ ministry.


48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
(NIV Version)

Such tension between the Jews and Prophet Jesus is also noted in other Gospels:

Matthew 3:9
“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham”

Only a few verses earlier to the one you have shared, Prophet Jesus says (8:54), "Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.". Therefore, there is no warrant to interpret a narrative a few verses later as supporting the Trinity. If the Biblical Jesus wanted to convey that he was God, he would have simply said it. There is no such explicit statement in the entire Bible.



Luke 24:52
“And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy”


As with the Quran, for an avid student / academic, one must attempt to study from the classical texts. The Greek 'Proskuneo' does not exclusively mean ‘worship’. The term is clearly nuanced as Greek lexicons clearly attest to simply imply 'reverence' / 'respect':

  • to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
    among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
    in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
    used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
    to the Jewish high priests
    to God
    to Christ
    to heavenly beings
    to demons
    [1]




Mark 2:7
“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”


In the Quran, a verse reads: "...And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of God, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found God Forgiving, Merciful" (4:64 - part).

Do Muslims interpret this to mean that Prophet Muhammad was part of God's nature? As I am sure you will agree, of course not. Now if we read the whole verse we note that the Quranic verse starts by saying

"We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by God's leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of God, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found God Forgiving, Merciful".

Therefore, as long as the recipients of the Prophetic message obeyed the messenger, they would have found God forgiving. It has always been the same message for all messengers as the Quranic verse 4:64 clearly attests.

Similarly, Mark 2:7 does not make him part of God's nature nor does this verse sanction the concept of the Trinity.


Just like the Quran, the Bible should be best interpreted from within itself (Bible interpreted through the lens of the Bible) and not extraneous theology.

Original classical terms should be best studied given their usage in their original linguistic contexts and how they have been used in other parts of the scripture. This is as true for the Bible as it is for the Quran. Sadly many Muslims take verses out of context of the Quran and the problematic approach is only accentuated when they read the Bible with inherent prejudice.

I would assume that both you and I would not accept simple translations of verses out of context with respect to the Quran. I also trust that you will equally concur with me that we should also not accept such an approach towards the Bible either. I trust that you will appreciate this point  :)

I hope that helps, God willing.
Joseph.


REFERENCES:

[1] BiblieGateway.com - [online] http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/proskuneo.html [Accessed] 19th February 2013
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Peaceful

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Re: Trinity in Bible
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2013, 06:20:56 AM »
Matthew 28:19
Jesus says in "The Name of." Shouldn't he have said in the NameS of... if they are 3 separate entities?

John 8:58
I'm aware the Greek says Ego Eimi. The same word God describes himself in Exodus. The flaw results from a Greek source text as a post to an original where the Aramaic translation would be Ehyeh.
Note that when he says this while being arrested, the priests fall to the ground.
“before Abraham was born, I am!” means that Jesus is literally claiming to Exist before Abraham was alive. This would mean he was not a created being like other creatures but had pre-birth experiences and this supports the trinity. How can a mere mortal exist 3000 years before his ancestor, even if he was a prophet?

Matthew 22
 43 He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying:
 44 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool" '?
 45 "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his Son?"
Jesus speaks of himself as David's Lord.

Matthew 5
 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
All three beings interact at once.

John 20
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Trinity in Bible
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2013, 04:12:55 PM »
Dear Peaceful,

May peace be with you.

Hitherto, I have always had much respect for your questions and the manner in which you have conducted yourself in your discussions with me.

Alas, in your last response I find you quite dismissive of my humble efforts to address your queries sincerely and furthermore, I have found you indiscriminately reproducing popular Trinitarian arguments.

These arguments have been addressed by many non-Trinitarian Christians themselves and many Biblical scholars alike. I have felt very disappointed and saddened by the manner of your post and some of your content.

There is not one statement in the Bible which explicitly states that God is formed of three natures. Neither did the Jews ever understand God to be in such Trinitarian communion nor does the Bible explicitly state this. Furthermore, at no place in the Bible does Jesus say explicitly that 'I am God'.

Despite this clear contention, one finds a plethora of ‘implicit’ narratives being taken to peddle a Trinitarian theology.

With respect, all you have provided are the same common arguments to impose a particular 'reading' into the Bible to support the Trinity as do the Christian Trinitarians. Whereas one appreciates that Trinitarian's (Not all Christians) have an agenda to peddle such a 'reading', I am at a loss as to why a sincere Muslim as intelligent as your kind self studying previous scriptures would be inclined to do the same?


For example you say:

Quote
"I'm aware the Greek says Ego Eimi. The same word God describes himself in Exodus."

This shows me that either you have not studied the complete reference in Exodus 3:14-15 or that you have simply reproduced a popular Trinitarian argument dismissively.

Firstly, the New Testament is in Greek and the Old Testament is in Hebrew (See Tanakh at Qumran). However, even in the Greek Septuagint, the Divine name given to Prophet Moses was not simply ‘Ego Eimi’, but rather, it was ‘Ego Eimi HO ON’ which means ‘I am the existence’, ‘I am the being’, ‘I am He who is’ etc.

Now please tell me where in the Bible does the Biblical Jesus use the same 'complete' phrase for himself?  To take Exodus 3:14 and to confound it with John 8:58 to interpret synonymy of Deity is wholly unwarranted and not befitting of any sincere student of Biblical scriptures.

Furthermore, I have already mentioned in my post to you that several individuals make use of 'Ego Eimi' (I am) apart from God himself in the Bible. Even in Luke 1:19, the angel Gabriel said, "Ego Eimi Gabriel." Now this begs the question that why when an angel says, "I am," the angel is not to be interpreted to be referring to himself as God?


Now finally with a view to address your other contentions, you say:

Quote
Matthew 28:19
Jesus says in "The Name of." Shouldn't he have said in the NameS of... if they are 3 separate entities?

A basic tenet from the Athanasian Creed of the Trinitarian concept is not to 'confound the persons'

"That we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance."

If by referring to all three persons as 'one name' is not confounding the three separate persons which is against the very crux of the Trinitarian doctrine, then what is it? If anything, an alternative argument can also be made. (i.e. If the verse intended to teach the Trinitarian doctrine and mentioned the 'three persons / entities', then it should have used the plural 'names'). This is nothing but confirmation bias and intellectually dissatisfying and unwarranted at best.


You further quote from John 20:28 that:

Quote
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

To any astute Biblical scholar, it is probably well appreciated that the Greek word 'Theos' had a much wider purport in its day than usually given credit for by those that read modern translations with a particular bias.

‘Theos’ was a descriptive title that was often given to different authorities. Even the Roman governor in Acts 12:22 was given the title ‘Theos’. We even see the Devil given the same title in 2 Corinthians 4:4. In its classical usage, it was used of someone with Divine authority and not as a personal name or exclusively a reference for God.

Furthermore, to assert that this is support for the Trinity is incredulous when there are clear verses in the Bible which explicitly prove that Jesus considered himself separate from the Father.


With respect peaceful, I have found your post tedious to deal with not only due to my limited time resources but more importantly, as these are well known arguments which have often been refuted by non-Trinitarian Christians and Biblical scholars themselves.

With respect, they are also not the high quality of academic questions that I usually expect from you.

Therefore, please accept my post as my last to you on this matter.

Regards,
Joseph.
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Peaceful

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Re: Trinity in Bible
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2013, 01:15:19 AM »
Sorry that I asked you in am unwarranted manner.  :)

This is obviously not my belief brother. I was just surprised that you made the claim that there is NO warrant for this type of belief. To be honest, I don't know much of the New Testament. I still have to study it more. However, I have read all 4 gospels and I personally felt that the trinity was clearly in the book. You are the authority on Greek, so I was mistaken to ask you of these trivial matters. Salam.


Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Trinity in Bible
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2013, 02:46:31 AM »
Dear Peaceful,

May peace be with you.

Please do not feel that you have to apologise.

I still stand by my statement on a related Q&A which you quoted in your post initiating your enquiry.

"I find no cogent warrant for such a mainstay belief from my study of the Gospels, its intended purpose and wider Biblical scholarship. I believe these doctrines and beliefs to be a consequence of 'evolved theology' and Christian tradition often 'read into' the Biblical documents." [1]

For something to be 'taught' by a scripture as a fundamental doctrine of faith, it must be backed up by explicit statements and not implicit deductions. This is as true for the Quran as it is for the Bible. It is only when we make use of 'implicit' deductions to underscore and support mainstay beliefs that we sow the seeds to all kinds of misleading doctrines. 

I have yet to find a Christian or well versed academic to present clear, explicit statements from the bible which unequivocally states that God is one of three persons in a Triune Divine system and that Jesus is God from authentic well attested classical manuscripts.

That is my humble position.

I was just a little baffled as I normally read high calibre posts / questions / opinions from you, hence why I questioned the nature of your post. Also I felt that my efforts to deal with your enquiry sincerely was simply dismissed without warrant.

Thanks for your thoughts as always on other posts.  :)

Your brother in faith,
Joseph.


REFERENCE

[1] http://quransmessage.com/forum/index.php?topic=658.0
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell