This was partially inspired by Greg Deuble who wrote "They Never told me THIS in Church."A man I can certainly admire for his willingness to question his tradition(he was trinitarian) when confronted with legitimate challenges of it.Also,he was willing to change when truths like Deut 6:4 ,Psalm 110:1 etc. demanded it.
These are quotes that I either found in "They never told me THIS in church" by Greg Deuble or on websites.As Christians,we must use reason when we read the scriptures,and when something like I'm about to present repeatedly appears,it's wise to not only take heed but ALSO to understand we can't logically say "that's true here" but "impossible here."That would be both inconsistent and also wreak of bias if we're trying to protect a traditional creed of men.
I don't know how these men who I'm about to quote apply these principles and Hebrew truths when they read the scriptures.That isn't my concern.My concern is simply Hebrew thought as opposed to modern thought when entering scripture.
First let us define the Hebrew concept of the biblical "principle of agency."
GRB Murray (in _Gospel of Life: Theology in the Fourth Gospel_ ) cites the Jewish halachic law as follows: "One sent is as he who sent him."
1 Chronicles 29:20:And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king.
Why would anyone worship a king unless that worship was relative to his own God's,glorifying his own God who endowed him with a certain authority and designated him with a certain glory?
To quote Greg Deuble,who quotes a Jewish Encyclopedia(pp.64-64 "They Never Told me THIS in Church"):
"A common feature of the Hebrew Bible is the concept (some even call it the "law") of Jewish agency. All Old Testament scholars and commentators recognize that in Jewish custom whenever a superior commissioned an agent to act on his behalf, the agent was regarded as the person himself.
This is well expressed in the Encyclopedia of the Jewish religion:Agent:(Heb. Shaliah):The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum,"a person's agent is regarded as the person himself."(Ned 72B;Kidd,41b)Therefore any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principle." The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, R.J.Z. Werblowski and Geoffrey Wigoder
Exodus 23:20 “Here I am sending an angel ahead of you to keep you on the road and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 21 Watch yourself because of him and obey his voice. Do not behave rebelliously against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; because my name is within him. 22 However, if you strictly obey his voice and really do all that I shall speak, then I shall certainly be hostile to your enemies and harass those who harass you. 23 For my angel will go ahead of you
"The angel is distinguished from God yet identified with Him.In Hebrew eyes it is perfectly natural to consider the agent as the person himself.In Hebrew thought,homage given to God's representative is homage ultimately given to God himself."-p.66 "They never told me THIS in Church" Greg Deuble(2nd edition)
"This shows that in Hebrew thought an agent may bear the title of his principle.When God says that His name was in the angel,it meant that God's authority was invested in the angel.Whatever the angel said and did was in reality what God himself said and did.In obeying the angel,the Israelites really were obeying God."-p.67 "They never told me THIS in Church" Greg Deuble(2nd edition)
Manoah,after encountering the Angel of the Lord in Judges 13 says in verse 22:
22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.”
How could someone who isn't the TRUE God(John 17:3) actually be identified as "God?"God places his authority within the commissioned messenger and that messenger essentially becomes "God" to the ones who he confronts on behalf of his sender.Similar to how God MADE Moses "God" to Pharaoh(Exodus 4:16,7:1)and how the judges were gods to the Israelites.(Psalm 82:6)
Take note that in Judges 13:16 (in the same chapter)this Angel of Yah insists that an offering not be offered to him but unto Yah,distinguishing himself clearly from the ONE GOD to whom offerings are made.This Angel was allowed worship because he was endowed with an authority as God's special representative that other angels just did not have!Again,he was regarded as Yah himself in Hebraic thought in that God revealed himself through and endowed this messenger with his authority like no other!This is the Hebrew mind and not the modern one.That could be why there is such confusion,dictating not only some "mystery" "mystical" belief in the 2 natured Christ and a three person Yah but also a blatant disregard for Deut 6:4 and many other texts.We only have ONE Yah.Not three ontologically Yah.
To expound further:
"The angel as God's representative is clearly distinct from God in all He says and does.The commissioned angel can even speak in the first person as though he is God himself speaking.The same applied to the Jewish judges.To stand before these human magistrates was to stand before "God" and hear His judgments.But no Hebrew ever considered the judge to BE God.Clearly,we must endeavor to understand the bible according to its own culture,times,and thought-forms."p.71
Interesting point Mister Deuble.Reminds me of Jesus's rebuke of the Pharisees for assuming the same things trinitarians do,that Jesus can't have God's authority without actually committing some crime unless he IS the same God he worships and who commissions him.Jesus said,rebuking them:
John 10:33 The Jews answered him: “We are stoning you, not for a fine work, but for blasphemy, even because you, although being a man, make yourself a god.” 34 Jesus answered them: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said: “you are gods”’? 35 If he called ‘gods’ those against whom the word of God came, and yet the Scripture cannot be nullified, 36 do you say to me whom the Father sanctified and dispatched into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, I am God’s Son? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me. 38 But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, in order that you may come to know and may continue knowing that the Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father.”
I think Jesus's own words are a sufficient enough rebuke for the Jews and the trinitarians who have a similar thought process in that Jesus can be the agent through whom God works(Acts 2:22) without becoming a portion of that one's substance or equal to his own God..Jesus also let us know he is in union with his father the same way Christians are in union with him.(John 17:21-26)As the same substance,multiple persons?I think not.
“The Jewish concept of agency, which involved a legal relationship as
much as anything else, can be summed up in the key phrase: ‘A
person’s agent is as himself.’ An agent is a person authorized to
perform some specific set of tasks and empowered to speak and act for
the one sending the person. The agent was acting for the sender on
occasions when the sender could not or chose not to be personally
present. This agent was to be treated as the one sending him or her
would have been treated had that one come in person. An affront to the
agent was an affront to the sender; a positive response or treatment of
the agent was seen as a positive response or treatment of the sender.
In many ways this was also how ambassadors or envoys were viewed in
the ancient world—they were just other kinds of agents.”Ben Witherington, III, John’s Wisdom: A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel (Louisville,Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press), 140.
Why would Yah choose to designate a very special agent to reveal himself?Could it possibly be because no one could see him face to face and actually afterward proceed to continue living?This is an indisputable reality that Christians conveniently ignore for Yah's supposed "second person." He put his name in the Angel of Yah and gave a name to Yeshua.Why?Because he can!Could it be because not even the heavens can contain his glory,much less a "vessel" or "messenger" or "Godman?"Could it be because after mankind fell,he needed a mediator because he was too holy to be directly reached without first a human priesthood which wasn't sufficient then the ultimate High Priest ,his anointed Christ?Based on explicit scriptural statements I would say so!
Let us observe what REALLY happens when one of God's greatest messengers and agents EVER asks God if he can see Him.
Exodus 33:17 And Jehovah went on to say to Moses: “This thing, too, of which you have spoken, I shall do, because you have found favor in my eyes and I know you by name.” 18 At this he said: “Cause me to see, please, your glory.” 19 But he said: “I myself shall cause all my goodness to pass before your face, and I will declare the name of Jehovah before you; and I will favor the one whom I may favor, and I will show mercy to the one to whom I may show mercy.” 20 And he added: “You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.”21 And Jehovah said further: “Here is a place with me, and you must station yourself upon the rock. 22 And it has to occur that while my glory is passing by I must place you in a hole in the rock, and I must put my palm over you as a screen until I have passed by. 23 After that I must take my palm away, and you will indeed see my back. But my face may not be seen.”
Listen to Jehovah!How could you EVER read an account like that and think MANY saw God face to face and proceeded to live?The only explanation that makes sense and keeps the integrity of God's word intact..is that this biblical agency principle as evidenced throughout all of scripture is applicable theologically to Yah and his Angel,in whom he invested his authority.Just like the other scriptural examples where agents are identified as and treated as their senders even though they didn't exist in the same "substance."
I will not be exhaustively covering scriptural examples where agents bear their senders' names and authority,actually IDENTIFIED as their sender and treated as their senders would be treated without anyone ever assuming that the agent existed as a "person" of a "multi-person" "being" that the sender supposedly is.I'll just BRIEFLY cover a couple examples.
1 Samuel 13:3 Then Jon´a·than struck down the garrison of the Phi·lis´tines that was in Ge´ba; 4 “Saul has struck down a garrison of the Phi·lis´tines, and now Israel has become foul-smelling among the Phi·lis´tines.” So the people were called together to follow Saul to Gil´gal.
So who actually struck down a garrison of the Philistines?Saul or Jonathan?Obviously,Jonathan even though he is actually called "Saul" in the very next verse!
To quote Greg Deuble from appendix 3 "divine Agency" in his book:
"In Hebrew thought,a king's personality extended through his entire household so that the messenger-representative was conceived of as being personally -and in his very words and actions-the presence of the sender."
2 Chronicles 4:11:Hi´ram made the cans and the shovels and the bowls.So Hi´ram finished doing the work that he did for King Sol´o·mon on the house of the true God.
YET in verses 18-20 it says:
18Thus Sol´o·mon made all these utensils in very great quantity, for the weight of the copper was not ascertained.19 And Sol´o·mon proceeded to make all the utensils that were at the house of the [true] God and the golden altar and the tables with the showbread upon them, 20 and the lampstands and their lamps of pure gold, to light them up before the innermost room according to the rule;
So who REALLY made the temple utensils etc.?Solomon OR Hiram?Obviously,Hiram who is actually identified AS "Solomon" because,to quote R.A Johnson:
"In Hebrew thought a patriarch's personality extended through his entire household to his wives,his sons and their wives ,his daughters,servants in his household and even in some sense his property..In a specialized sense when the patriarch as lord of his household deputized his trusted servant as his malak(his messenger or angel)the man was endowed with the authority and resources of his lord to represent him fully and transact business in his name.In Semitic thought this messenger-representative was conceived of as being personally -and in his very words-the presence of the sender."-R.A Johnson ,The One and the Many in the Israelite conception of God,quoted by Juan Baixeras,"The Blasphemy of Jesus of Nazareth
Let me emphasize AGAIN I don't know how these men apply this principle theologically.And again,that isn't my concern.I personally find these principles in scripture.Simple as that.
Let me give one final scriptural example.I am trying to avoid the ones I've already covered in other blogs.
Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zeb´e·dee approached him with her sons, doing obeisance and asking for something from him. 21 He said to her: “What do you want?” She said to him: “Give the word that these my two sons may sit down, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
Mark 10:35 And James and John, the two sons of Zeb´e·dee, stepped up to him and said to him: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever it is we ask you for.” 36 He said to them: “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 They said to him: “Grant us to sit down, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
So who ACTUALLY asked these things of Christ?Obviously,the MOTHER of James and John who was commissioned by them to inquire of their Lord these things.YET scripture ACTUALLY identifies her in the book of Mark AS her two sons because in Hebrew thought,the AGENT IS TREATED AS IF ,EVEN IDENTIFIED AS IF THEY ARE THE SENDER.
It is only anyone's inference that the Angel of the Lord was the preexistent Christ.I don't care how strong you think the evidence is..it is STILL an inference.Do not base your doctrine on inference when we have the sufficiency of scripture to define God and Christ succintly.I'm not saying you shouldn't ever speculate or search the "deeper things of God" but to be dogmatic about something that scripture isn't explicit about,to recognize a biblical principle and fail to let it apply where we don't want it to is all foolishness.
The NIV Study Bible recognizes the divine agency principle seemingly from what it says!
"Traditional Christian interpretation has held that this “angel” was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ as God’s messenger-Servant. It may be, however, that, as the Lord’s personal messenger who represented him and bore his credentials, the angel could speak on behalf of (and so be identified with) the One who sent him. Whether this “angel” was the second person of the Trinity remains therefore uncertain."
There were some text debates on these agency videos Brian and Bill uploaded on youtube in response to mine.(if interested visit youtube channels 21Crosscheck21 and MCO4help)Youtube user scripturaltruths from scripturaltruths.com,Dave,was able to articulate quite well why ancient Hebrew thought is important to the modern day bible reader. He said in a comment:
"The Jews had no problem calling an exalted figure by God's name without equating the two ontologically. For example, among the Dead Sea Scrolls (11Q13,The Coming of Melchizedek. )Psalm 7:7-8 is applied to the heavenly Melchizedek, wherein YHWH appears in the Hebrew text, yet without equating the two. If the Jewish author of that text could write as much, why could Paul not do the same without equating them ontologically?"
Brian and Bill accused Dave of looking at extrabiblical mystical literature to get his ideas to which Dave repeatedly defended himself.He said:
"I never suggest that these works are on par with scripture. Instead, we learn from the DSS and other texts how the 1st century Jews thought and wrote. The burden of proof is on you to show that the NT's authors did not write as their contemporaries, which is my only argument. The NT authors quoted OT texts about God and applied them to Jesus. Jewish writers of the time did the same and applied them to exalted figures."
In another comment he said:
"I maintain that if we are to understand the Bible, we must understand how the people who wrote the Bible and read it at that time thought. You choose to read the Bible as a modern, I choose to learn how people in the 1st century would have read it."
Because apparently Brian(21crosscheck21) and Bill(MCO4Help) didn't like that Dave had done his research and understands the importance of examining how the Hebrews thought in ancient times in regards to agents being as the principles,called their names and titles,they continually accuse and berate instead of offering anything of real value.It's called ad hominem.If you want to see the full text debates,they're on all the videos Bill and Brian uploaded.
Bill looked at a website and jumped to a million conclusions..One of Dave's comments was:
"There appears to be a huge body of scholarship of which you are completely unaware. Authors such as Hurtado, McGrath, etc., fully recognize agency and its christological import, with varied conclusions on the precise implications. You would do well to consider some of the authors who discuss this in detail, though going to the source texts is certainly ideal. You believe scholarship is against me when just the truth of the matter is just the opposite."
Dave also said:
The bottom line is actually that I can and have given clear examples of how the NT writers paralleled Jewish writers of their time, leaving little ambiguity as to what they thought.
Because Brian and Bill just weren't understanding Dave's logic,he said:
"You continue to miss the point, but I'm getting to the point where I wonder if you're doing it intentionally for fear of the implications. The fact is, there are unambigous parallels between the methodologies of the NT's authors and those of other Jewish literature in the language employed of Jesus and exalted agents, respectively. It is not about the interpretation itself, but the methods employed and the way things were written. In this there is great significance."
These men,Bill and Brian,admit that in scripture agents/representatives can bear the names of the principles,or their senders.Yet when it comes to this Angel,conveniently enough,they inexplicably pretend that's an impossibility with nothing but what seems to communicate:"I'm a trinitarian and if I admit it's possible my theory about the angel of the Lord being the second person of his sender's substance loses merit!"Why yes it would!
If for some reason I do have what the Hebrew and scriptural reality IS actually TERMED wrong,then again,I'm going to need better proof than a quote from a website and an assumption that even if that website is correct,it can't have a broader application,as evident in ancient Jewish literature contemporary to the bible and what seems to be explicitly "just like" the Jewish law throughout the bible itself,making it applicable anywhere I find it in scripture logically.And not just where it doesn't threaten a 4th century creed that defies scriptural creeds.(like 1 cor. 8:5,6.1 cor. 15:27,28,Deut 6:4,John 17:3,Mark 12:28-34 etc.)
So what we have here are men who admit that representatives of the ones who sent them in scripture are technically identified as their senders' names and titles.What we DON'T have here is a willingness of anyone to explain why it's throughout scripture yet not logically applicable to the Angel of the LORD.
I will NOT be quick to dismiss this principle's application where it would shake faith in my tradition.I also,like Dave,recognize the worth in heeding contemporary-to-the-bible Jewish literature for genuine evidence of Hebraic thought in relation to the theological application of this Jewish law.
Please keep in mind the Exodus account where Moses wasn't allowed to see the ACTUAL Most High face to face and also:
1 John 4:12:No one has ever seen God
I'm not interested in anyone's inferences or personal thoughts on this text.I'm interested in what the text deliberately communicates.
Thanks so much for visiting my blog!Yah bless you immensely.