Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mysteries of G-d ... (Part 2)

In a stirring conclusion to a letter which was published about 30 years ago [1], Rev. Richard Wurmbrand  of Torrance CA asserted the following:  "The Jewish people believed from the beginning the one God to be a Trinity. ... It is the Christian Church and not what is called Judaism now, which perpetrates the last religious truth.  Jesus is God."

The assertion is grounded on the revealed Word of God, of course, and certain interpretations of the four letter name of God (YHWH), which Rev. Wurmbrand claimed were "held and transmitted orally since time immemorial."  We cannot hold to "mystical" interpretations as being inspired or canonical, to be sure; but they are interesting, indeed useful, when and where they are stringently normed against the standard of God's Word, and are presented in that light.   Rev. Wurmbrand wrote, "When Jesus commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, He appealed to an article of faith generally admitted in Israel.  So also the prophets before Him.  They did not have to explain themselves.  The teaching about the Trinity belonged to the primordial revelation, before the writing of the first book of the Bible."  Thus, St. Ambrose spoke rightly when he commented on Genesis 18, which details the mysterious appearance of three visitors to Abraham.  But the three were One, who spoke to the patriarch.  St. Ambrose observed:  "Abraham saw three.  He adored One."  Rev. Wurmbrand notes that Abraham "was not astonished to see the One as three."  Indeed.

1.  On Genesis 1

In its very beginning, Genesis reads in the old Hebrew tongue this way: "Be-Reshit bara Elohim et h-shamaim ve-et ha-aretz."   According to Wurmbrand, ancient Hebrews preferred letters as convenient "stand-ins" for numerals.  Thus "be[th]," the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, represents "2;" from time to time it can mean "through," as well as "in" ... which has Christian creedal implications.  The word Reshit , of singular tense, is a term referring to divine "Principle, or "Wisdom" according to some rabbinical commentaries.

Of no little interest to the Christian is its prefix "2."  In olden days, Psalms and entire books were known by the first few passages of their communication; we see this custom retained, in such liturgical devices as the "Gloria  Patri," the "Kyrie," and the "Gloria in Excelsis," as well as the Latin identifiers of the Psalms themselves (cf. The Lutheran Hymnal , p. 123-157).  Be-Reshit is the opening expression of the Bible.  And so it happens, fittingly, that the very Word (or Wisdom) sallies forth and introduces the entirety of God's Word.   Christ, the Incarnate Word, is indeed the first fruits of all that is good; the one thing needful, upon which Mary of Bethany fixed her rapt attention!  The Christian's Holy Bible could be named "Christ (of Two Natures)," as accurately as the 117the Psalm is known as Laudate Dominum.

In this regard, Wurmbrand rightly argued that Be-Reshit captured the "high mystery" enclosed in the name Jehovah, as did certain rabbinical commentators; and that a much preferred and literal English rendering of Gen 1:1 would be along the lines of  "Through the Divine Wisdom, which has two natures, the Godhead (of composite Persons) created the heavens and the earth."  Thus proclaimed, the verse not only elaborates the truth of the Trinity, through the use of the plural form of God (Elohim), but also testifies to the two Persons of our Lord (one hidden ... His Divinity; and the other, revealed ... revealed in the Garden, that the promised Messiah would come in the flesh, the Seed of a Woman as promised to Eve).  How glorious!

 2.  The Name of God
According to Rev. Wurmbrand, some "primordial" Jewish sources perceived the name of YHWH in this way:  "Y" is the Generating Principle, which gives birth to all; the "H" is "Word."  The latter is repeated at the end of the Name, to emphasize emphatically that the Word possesses two natures.  "W" denotes "waw," symbolizing the Hebrew conjunctive expression for  "and."  It is produced, or "proceeds" from the "Y" (Father) and the "H" (Son); or at least so some circles of ancient Hebrew maintained.   The "W" (in text, and in Being) acts functionally to bind together; it corresponds to the Holy Ghost, Whose divine attributes include concord and loving connection.

I can't resist the puckish observation that this YHWH interpretation seems to settle comfortably on the Western side of the great "Filioque" Controversy, but holding to the Latin Rite as I do, I'll admit to some entrenched biases.

3.  The Shema of Israel

In Deuteronomy 6:4, "One" was expressed in the Hebraic language as echad, and NOT iachid.  The difference is of monumental importance. The ancient Hebrews clearly recognized the difference between a single something of "composed" unity, and that of an "absolute" unity.  The atom of physical chemistry (and Democrites) is one, but more precisely an echad made up of elementary particles (protons, neutrons, electrons, etc.).  The Muslim of yesteryear and today sees his god as being an absolute unity, or iachid.  Not so the Christian, nor the patriarchal Jew of old.  In Genesis, two humans (male and female) were made to be one flesh ... an echad.  Likewise, the day of Gen 1:4 is a composed unity of  evening and morning ... one day, an echad.  As Rev. Wurmbrand noted,  God is One, but He too is linguistically designated in His Word as an echad ... thus putting a lie to all so-called world "religions," which preach for wisdom the delusional guesses and hapless approximations of mankind.

The great Shema ... according to Rev. Wurmbrand ... is best portrayed and accurately rendered this way:  "Listen Israel: YHWH Eloheinu are YHWH of composed Unity."  There are no accidents to be found in God's Word.   God's Name is repeated three times.  Echad is used in the ancient texts to evoke the One, and I'm afraid that Maimonides, a physician-scholar-theologian, did the Jewish people no eternal service by favoring the translational rendering of iachid, as a Muslim would.

An obvious and immediate implication is that Islam's Allah is not the revealed God of the Old Testament.  Politicians who think and claim that they are, do so for the base purpose of pandering for votes and achieving a false, earthly national unity (echad).  But they, and sadly some Christian voices, are wrong, in terms of basic doctrine and philological analysis, and need to heed the serious warning of Ps 2:10-12.    JESUS IS GOD.  To assert that God is an iachid, is to deny our Rock and our Redeemer, and to deny our Father as well.  The Father was Father of Jesus Christ, before time and we human beings were on the scene!

Another implication is that high-priest Caiaphas did not reject the concept of the Son of God ("H"), or the Angel of the Lord, who was acknowledged and worshiped as God repeatedly in the Old Testament.  Instead, his furor and his showy robe-ripping was prompted by a refusal to see the smitten and bound Jesus from Galilee, "a respecter of no man," as being the kind of Son of God he desired ... and imagined.  St. Isaiah, centuries before, knew better.

[1] R. Wurmbrand : The Kabbala, the Trinity, and the Two Natures of Christ; The Christian News, 16 May, 1983; p. 13      

No comments:

Post a Comment