A theological response (Part II)

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By John Barnhart

    This is the remainder of my attempt at the theological response that David McLoughlin sought for his letter published in our March 13 edition.

    I’ll make one last note on the Old Testament before going on to Mr. McLoughlin’s allegation that the New Testament contains multiple, conflicting Christologies.

    The Old Testament does not contain “Elohist” or “Yahwist” traditions. Elohim is a plural form of the Hebrew word el, which means god. English translations translate it God, beginning with a capital letter. The foreign language translations, that I can read, do the same (Dios, Dieu, Deus, ').

    Yahweh is the personal name of the God of Israel, derived from the Hebrew verb for “to be.” Jerome, in his Latin Vulgate, transliterated it as Jehovah and that form appears a couple of times in the Authorized Version (King James). Jews consider it too holy to pronounce and substitute Lord. The Authorized Version and many modern English translations follow this, using LORD, in all capitals. The foreign language translations that I can read do something similar, using their word for Lord, beginning with a capital letter (Señor, Seigneur, Senhor, ").

    The two words are scattered throughout the Old Testament. They are both used in the same books and, in many cases, in the same chapter of the same book. Yahweh and Elohim refer to one person just as David McLoughlin and man refer to one person.

    There are not three conflicting set of Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are given in the 20th chapter of Exodus and repeated in the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy. The same set of 10 commandments appear in both, in the same order. Chapters 34 and 35 of Exodus do not contain the Ten Commandments at all. They consist primarily about instructions for feasts and the material to be gathered for the construction of the Tabernacle.

    As far as who Jesus is, Paul in Romans 8:2-4 notes that God sent his Son, that is the person who was born in Bethlehem was already the Son of God before He was born in a human body.

    All three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) contain the account of Jesus’ baptism and report God speaking from heaven announcing to those gathered proclaiming that Jesus is His Son.  All three of them give the account of the Transfiguration, in which God’s voice from heaven declares Jesus to be His beloved Son, an event that occurs much later than Jesus’ baptism.

    Luke uses the the same words as Mark at Jesus’ baptism (compare Luke 3:22 with Mark 1:4). Prior to this, however, Gabriel had already announced that Jesus would be called the Son of God, before Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb. See Luke 1:32. Matthew 3:17, the account of Jesus’ baptism, uses the same words as Mark 1:4, yet Matthew 1:18-25 clearly indicate that Jesus was already the Son of God while Mary was pregnant with him.

    John points to Jesus as co-eternal with God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” This is in total agreement with Matthew, who quotes Isaiah in Matthew 1:23 to declare that Jesus is God with us. He also quotes (Matthew 2:6) from Micah 5:2 which reads “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” (NASB) Matthew, like John, declares Jesus co-eternal with God.

    One should also note that the subordination of Jesus to the Father in John, to which Mr.  McLoughlin referred also occurs in I Corinthians 15:28. You can also note that, in Matthew 28:19, Jesus told His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the order of Father followed by Son appears in the greetings in most of the epistles.

    This ends my effort at the theological response Mr. McLoughlin requested.