Bart Ehrman – Two Powers in Heaven


(Published on 8 Sept 2016)
‘Rabbinical scholar Alan Segal produced what is still the major work on the idea of Two Powers in Heaven in Jewish thought. Segal argued that the Two Powers idea was not deemed heretical in Jewish theology until the 2nd century a.d. He carefully traced the roots of the teaching back into the 2nd Temple era (ca. 200 b.c.). Segal was able to establish that the idea’s antecedents were in the Hebrew Bible, specifically passages like Daniel 7:9ff., Exodus 23:20-23, and Exodus 15:3. However, he was unable to discern any coherent religious framework from which these passages and others were conceptually derived. Persian dualism was unacceptable as an explanation since neither of the Two Powers in heaven were evil. Segal speculated that the divine warrior imagery of the broader ancient near east likely had some relationship.

The ancient Israelite knew two Yahwehs—one invisible, a spirit, the other visible, often in human form. The two Yahwehs at times appear together in the text, at times being distinguished, at other times not. Early Judaism understood this portrayal and its rationale. There was no sense of a violation of monotheism since either figure was indeed Yahweh. There was no 2nd distinct god running the affairs of the cosmos. During the 2nd Temple period, Jewish theologians and writers speculated on an identity for the 2nd Yahweh. Guesses ranged from divinized humans from the stories of the Hebrew Bible to exalted angels. These speculations were not considered unorthodox. That acceptance changed when certain Jews, the early Christians, connected Jesus with this orthodox Jewish idea. This explains why these Jews, the first converts to following Jesus the Christ, could simultaneously worship the God of Israel and Jesus, and yet refuse to acknowledge any other god. Jesus was the incarnate 2nd Yahweh. In response, as Segal’s work demonstrated, Judaism pronounced the Two Powers teaching a heresy sometime in the 2nd century AD.’

Categories: Bible, Biblical scholarship, God, Judaism

40 replies

  1. Quran has already refuted and confirmed ( i.e not all strains of jews embraced monotheism) of what’s been said in this video
    Surah 9:30 translation
    ” The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah .” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?”

    Surah 23:91 translation
    ” Allah has not taken any son, nor has there ever been with Him any deity. [If there had been], then each deity would have taken what it created, and some of them would have sought to overcome others. Exalted is Allah above what they describe [concerning Him].”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi

      Look we all know that Bart Erhman is a backslidden Christian or in other words an apostate.
      That even today believes in the crucifixion

      Where did the Jews say Ezra was the son of Allah? Do,you have documentary evidence for the Koran’s claim?

      maybe you can answer this in regards to the two powers of heaven

      Gen 19:23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
      Gen 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

      This text most definitely says there are TWO YHWH’s it needs to be explained rather than just use the comments of an apostate from the Christian faith.


  2. demiurge
    a being responsible for the creation of the universe, in particular:
    (in Platonic philosophy) the Maker or Creator of the world.
    (in Gnosticism and other theological systems) a heavenly being, subordinate to the Supreme Being, that is considered to be the controller of the material world and antagonistic to all that is purely spiritual


  3. So this was only considered heresy because the Christians believed it?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoy!

    Revisiting the story of the Lord Jesus and Zacchaeus

    Williams attempted to respond to post refuting his blatant distortion of Jesus’ visiting the home of as recorded in Luke 19:1-10: Here is what he says:




    Liked by 3 people

  5. Paul Williams

    So what do you think now that one of your favorite scholars has confirmed what Christians on this blog have been telling you for some time?


  6. no seriously I’m gutted – devastated.


  7. Yahweh and His attributes are inseparable from each other, but the Word and Wisdom (the command and spirit) cannot be God Himself anymore than a person’s voice and word are “persons” of himself but rather attributes/forces coming from the essence and the self. Hence, it is completely absurd to say “My word is a person” and “My voice is myself” but rather it belongs to the person. The same applies to God, he cannot be His own attribute, so the “two Yahwehs” in heaven is allegorical and poetic, just as messenger and king are poetically one and the same. The messenger was considered the king himself. Philo spiritualized the concept of the Messiah, his personification of the Logos as the Heavenly Messiah was allegorical. He never meant God literally has a begotten son (Logos) coexisting with him. Keep in mind Philo was a follower of Hellenistic Judaism and attempted to forge a relationship between Judaism and Platonic philosophy. Hee never heard about Jesus Christ or even Christianity but unwittingly gave the Church many ideas and concepts to build their Logos Christology, like “only begotten”, “Logos”, and “firstborn” of God. This wasn’t something of divine origin. It is pure personification, the way the Targums say “The Word is a warrior” (Ex 15:3) standing as a buffer-word in God’s place, a circumlocution for God Himself, the original reading is “The Lord is a warrior”. The Memra is a Divine person in the Hebrew Scriptures, what the Christians have done is dangerously change personification into hypostatization. They were definitely influenced by Greek philosophy and the pagan theologies of their time.

    “…Having surveyed the various uses of memra in the Targums on the Pentatecuh and the Prophets, G.F. Moore states that, while it is sometimes used as the expression of God’s will, the revelation of his purpose or the resolution of a metaphor for his power, in many cases “it is clearly introduced as a VERBAL BUFFER…to keep God from seeming to come to too close quarters with men and things; but it is always a buffer-word, not a buffer-idea; STILL LESS A BUFFER-PERSON”. He thus categorically denies that memra is “a being” of any kind or in any sense, whether conceived personally as an angel employed in communication with men, or as a philosophically impersonal created potency…or God himself in certain modes of self-manifestation. For Moore, memra in the Targums is no more or less than a buffer-word for the sake of God’s transcendence. Hayward is in agreement with Moore that memra is not an hypostasis or a simple replacement for the Name Yahweh. He defined memra as “an exegetical term representing a theology of the name ‘HYH’. We can therefore conclude with Moore and Hayward that the memra in the Targums is used as NO MORE THAN A BUFFER-WORD for safeguarding God’s transcendence or as a circumlocution for God himself.

    Summary: We have argued that the word of God in the OT, the logos in the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Logos in Philo does not go beyond the POETIC PERSONIFICATION of divine action in the world. We have also reviewed the discussions about the use of the memra in the Targums and concluded that memra is used as no more than a “buffer-word” or as a circumlocution for God himself. (Aquila H. Lee, From Messiah to Preexistent Son, p 76)

    There are problems with the Two Powers in heaven concept. First of all, it seems to suggest that Wisdom is Yahweh himself, whereas the Proverbs makes it evidently clear that Wisdom (the Divine Attribute) is not God Himself but a personification of His knowledge.

    Does not wisdom call out?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
    2 At the highest point along the way,
    where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
    3 beside the gate leading into the city,
    at the entrance, she cries aloud:
    4 “To you, O people, I call out;
    I raise my voice to all mankind.
    5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
    you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.[a]
    6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
    I open my lips to speak what is right.
    7 My mouth speaks what is true,
    for my lips detest wickedness.
    8 All the words of my mouth are just;
    none of them is crooked or perverse.
    9 To the discerning all of them are right;
    they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
    10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
    knowledge rather than choice gold,
    11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
    12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
    I possess knowledge and discretion (Proverbs 8:1-12)

    This whole chapter is poetic personification, not hypostatization. The Wisdom is feminine, it doesn’t mean the Logos (Jesus) and nowhere worshipped as GOD (Yahweh) himself but is something that belongs to God, the way a person’s hand belongs to himself and cannot function without the brain. But poetically the hand could be identified as the person himself, so the sunray can be called THE SUN though it is something that belongs to the sun. When people say “the sun is in my eyes” they obviously mean the sunray that is standing in the sun’s place, so saying Wisdom is Yahweh (the two powers–God and His primary attribute) is completely poetic, not identifying them together as the same thing. Yahweh is a singular Divine Person but the Bible personifies His attributes, only those ancient commentators deduced the idea of two powers later mistakenly called “two Yahwehs”. Yet, the scriptures clearly distinguish between Yahweh and His power. Only in the poetic representative sense is the Wisdom “Yahweh” Himself just as a messenger sent from the king is treated as the King himself. Jesus and God are “one in purpose”, not essence (Jhn. 10:30), just as Jesus and the disciples are “one” (Jhn 17:11) and the Church community is “one” (1 Cor. 10:16).
    During ancient times, the messenger from another land sent by the king was considered THE KING and harming the messenger was a declaration of war. The personified Memra of the Targums was actually a buffer-word standing in God’s place to separate His essence from this world, as bringing God down to earth would compromise His transendence. That is why “word of the Lord” replaces “the Lord” in the Targums, though the Davar (the Greek Logos) is certainly not a person (Isa. 55:11) but sometimes personified (Ps. 147:15). The Wisdom of God in the Hebrew Bible is clearly feminine, not masculine, therefore, it cannot be referring to the Logos/Jesus. This more accurately refers to the (Holy) Spirit and Glory of God. Once again, the “second Yahweh” is actually a personification of His wisdom. The Glory/Spirit of God that indwells the Temple (1 Kings 18:10) cannot be God Himself indwelling the Temple.

    Compare the following passsages:

    When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED HIS TEMPLE. (1 Kings 8:10-11)

    “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! (1 Kig. 8:27)

    The Glory of the Lord can be identified as the Christian Holy Spirit, sometimes it is called the Spirit of God and other times Glory. But notice throughout the Bible the Glory/Spirit never communicates or speaks (Gen. 1:1-2), it is a mindless substance hovering the earth’s waters! That is because the Glory of God (i.e. the Holy Spirit) is not a person!

    Therefore, the Spirit/Glory cannot be Yahweh who is a person. Some Jews who may’ve believed in the Two Powers of heaven were saying the Attributes of God, His presence and power (the glory) was simply treated as though Yahweh himself, only in the poetic representative sense. For example, the messenger is the king in the metaphorical poetic sense, not literally or essentially, so the “second Yahweh” (concept and term) cannot be taken literally. This was really God’s attribute personified: “He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly” (Ps. 147:15).

    The Muslims don’t face this problem because the Quran doesn’t personify God’s speech. In other words, the Quran doesn’t personify itself. Also, the Muslims don’t believe the Quran or the Kalam of Allah is a “person” or God Himself, so the correct monotheism is tawhid.

    The following Bible verse makes it clear the Logos of God is not a person, being described as “it” and not “he”.

    So is my word that goes out from my mouth: IT will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent IT (Isa. 55:11).

    The Logos of God is IT and not HE, not a person, but Christians transformed the Logos into a mythical “pre-existent Divine Person” who became flesh in Mary’s womb. But the Unitarians say it was God’s purpose and plan that became flesh, not a pre-existent Divine person. They reject the Trinity and the Two Yahwehs, which is different from Two Powers. The Bible always identifies Yahweh as One Being and Person, the Being and Person are synonymous in our language but Christians draw a convenient distinction between ‘person’ and ‘being’ to avoid tritheism. Otherwise they would be saying THREE BEINGS by saying “three persons!” There is Yahweh (God) and His attribute (Wisdom) and Christians have a conflict because the NT identifies Jesus as the ‘Wisdom of God’ (1 Cor. 1:24), yet the Wisdom according to the Proverbs is feminine!

    The NT says “Christ is OF God” (1 Cor. 3:23) and “mediator” between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5) but Christians changed something OF God into GOD HIMSELF, making the attribute equal with the Essence, making the reflection same as the mirror, the wine same as the glass, the sunray equal to (same as) the sun! But the Muslims dont have this problem, the Quran (attribute) is not God Himself. Muslims never worshipped the Quran the way Christians worshipped the Logos! This is analogous to thanking a person’s HAND for presenting a gift instead of the person himself! The Attribute cannot be identified with the Essence, it is better to worship God as numerically One Yahweh, not two beings or persons making a “Godhead”, so the Jews abandoned this belief. The belief of Two Powers or “Two Yahwehs” according to Alan Segal is from the year 200 BCE, that is precisely the time when the Jews became HELLENIZED under the Greek civilization and the Hebrew Scriptures got translated into Greek at Alexandria. But the Palestinian Jews have always maintained that Yahweh is One Person, not two or three persons. Jesus was a follower of Palestinian Judaism, Paul was a follower of Hellenistic Judaism.

    Liked by 4 people


    I meant to say the Memra is NOT a Divine Person in the Hebrew Scriptures


  9. What is attribute and essence? The Logos is something that God has, just because God possesses His attribute doesn’t mean it exists apart from God in the literal sense, as the attribute cannot be separated from the Essence. For example, the sunray is always attached to the sun, so God’s attributes are attached to God in a manner that is unknown. This is simply analogy using the creation (the sun) but no human being knows that God generates, it was the anciente Gnostics who philosophically concocted the idea that God generates a being like himself called the Logos, they also imagined God’s attributes to be beings or semi-divinities, it would parallel the Hindu pantheon of gods as hypostasized attributes of the One God. Hence, the Christian concept of Divine personhood of the Logos is similar to the Hindu/Gnostic concept of God’s family of generated Attribute-beings. The Gnostics also claimed human souls were generated by God too, emanating as sparks of Divine light trapped in human bodies as a punishment for collapsing from grace for becoming exhausted after adoring God continuously. This concept of the Logos was borrowed by the Christians from the ancient Greeks and Gnostics, it was applied to Jesus and gave him imaginary pre-existence before his human manifestation. The Wisdom of Proverbs cannot be God Himself, it is always distinguished from him.

    Then I (wisdom) was BESIDE Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him,
    (Prov. 8:30)

    If the Wisdom is God Himself and stood alongside God it would mean that God was BESIDE HIMSELF which meant “insane” to the first century Jews. Jesus’ own family suspected Jesus of being insane, that is, beside himself:

    And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is BESIDE HIMSELF. (M. 3:21)

    There were Jews who took this language literally but the dominant view is figurative and poetic:

    According to the findings of a recent monumental study of the origin of Christ in the Bible, Bible readers instinctively hear the text of John 1:1 as follows: “In the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God,” or “In the beginning was the Son and the Son was with the Father…”[2]

    This reading of the passage provides vital support for the traditional doctrine of the Godhead, shared equally by Father and Son from eternity. Paraphrased versions sometimes go far beyond the Greek original. The Contemporary English Version interprets John to mean that two beings were present at the beginning. “The Word was the One who was with God.” No doubt, according to that translation, the Word would be equivalent to an eternal Son. It would certainly be understood in that sense by those schooled on the post-biblical creeds.

    But why, Kuschel asks, do readers leap from “word” to “Son”? The text simply reads, “In the beginning was the word,” not “In the beginning was the Son.” The substitution of “Son” for “word,” which for millions of readers appears to be an automatic reflex, has had dramatic consequences. It has exercised a powerful, even mesmerizing influence on Bible readers. But the text does not warrant the switch. Again, John wrote: “In the beginning was the word.” He did not say, “In the beginning was the Son of God.” There is, in fact, no direct mention of the Son of God until we come to verse 14, where “the word [not the Son] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory of a unique Son, full of grace and truth.” Until verse 14 there is no mention of a Son. The Son is what the word became, but what is the word?

    Imagine I told my child, “Our car was once in the head of its designer, and now here it is in our garage.” The child might respond: “How could that car fit into the head of the designer? It would be too big.” Fair point, but based on a large misunderstanding. The application to our problem in John 1:1 is simply this: The fact that the word became the man Jesus, the Son of God, does not necessarily or automatically imply that Jesus, the Son of God is one-to-one equivalent to the word before Jesus’ birth. What if the word, the self-expression of God, became embodied in, was manifested in, the man Jesus? That makes very good sense of John 1:14. It also avoids the fearful, never-resolved complexities of Trinitarianism by which there are two or three who are fully and equally God. If our theory is right, John will have been speaking about a preexisting divine Purpose, not a second divine person.

    It is commonly known to Bible readers that in Proverbs 8 wisdom was “with [Hebrew, etzel; LXX, para] God.” That is to say, God’s wisdom is personified. It is treated as if it were a person, not that Lady Wisdom was really a female personage alongside God. We accept this sort of language, usually without any confusion. We do not suppose that Prudence, who is said to be dwelling with Wisdom (Prov. 8:12), was herself literally a person. When the famous St. Louis Arch was finally completed after several years of construction a documentary film announced that “the plan had become flesh.” The plan, in other words, was now in physical form. But the arch is not one-to-one equivalent with the plans on the drawing board. The arch is made of concrete; the plans were drawn on paper.

    (Anthony Buzzard,

    Ehrman is taking the meaning in the sense of Greek hypostatization and not Jewish personification. When taken literally it would appear that God has a second person called Wisdom, but poetic language cannot be taken literally. Once the poetic device is understood the notion of “two powers” in heaven disappears. What about Exodus 24:9-12

    Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.

    Did God really come down and communicate with Moses? Or did God communicate through his glory? If the whole Essence (God Himself) came down that would contradict 1 Kings 8:27. Therefore, when God spoke Moses didn’t actually see His face (Essence) or countenance (shaql), he only saw His glory although the Bible in this context necessarily calls Elohim (“God”) in the representative poetic sense, not another Yahweh. The Glory is being called “God” here, but that Glory wasn’t GOD Himself otherwise Moses and the Seventy would’ve died, they didn’t die because that “God” they saw wasn’t God Himself (the Essence) but His power. The part about “feet” is anthropomorphsim. A person’s breath may stand for the person himself.
    The Attributes are reflections pointing to the Essence.

    “And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isa. 6:3)

    Obviously the Glory cannot be God Himself, otherwise that would imply God is literally everywhere.

    The late renowned Jewish scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel said:

    “The glory is the presence, NOT THE ESSENCE OF GOD; an act rather than a quality; A PROCESS, NOT A SUBSTANCE. Mainly the glory manifests itself AS A POWER overwhelming the world. Demanding homage, it is a power that descends to guide, to remind. The glory reflects abundance of good and truth, the power that acts in nature and history. ‘The whole earth is full of His glory’ It does not mean that the glory fills the earth in the way in which the ether fills space or water fills the ocean. It means that the whole earth is full of His presence”

    In English the phrase that a person “has presence” is hard to define. There are people whose being here and now is felt, even though they do not display themselves in action or speech. They have “presence”. There are other people who may be here all the time, and no one will be aware of their presence. Of a person whose outwardness communicates something of his indwelling power or greatness, whose soul is radiant and conveys itself without words, we say he has presence” .. The glory ..The glory is neither an esthetic nor a physical category. It is sensed in grander, but it is more than grandeur. It is, as we said, a living presence or the effulgence of a living presence. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, pp 83)


  10. Clearly, the concept of pluralism of god is found deeply embedded in both jewish thought and the Old Testament.

    Worse still, mohammed gave absolutely no indication that allah had any idea of these ancient biblically grounded concepts probably because he had no access to the ancient literature.


    • Trey
      That concept is the Jewish thought of golden calf to have God in the FORM of something to worship. If Jews believe in something does that makes it true? So you believed in the idolatry of the Jews because they are Jews. Who told you Jews never believed in idolatry? They did believed in idolatry. The faithful ones remain monotheists and worship the only one God of Abraham, Moses, Isaac etc.

      God clearly told the Jews He is not more than one and the FORM the JEWS were worshiping is not Him(God) but an idol and cannot be God because God CANNOT be in different forms at the same time in different places but His knowledge is everywhere.

      God cannot be in the belly of Satan. If God is everywhere why will He warn us not to go near satan or evil person?

      Is God the snake of voodoo priests? the snake is a form. If God is present in every form why will He punish voodoo priests and idol worshipers for worshiping a snake(form)?


      Liked by 1 person

  11. Mohammed worship a stone, he calls it ,”Allah subhana wa taala”. There is no connection with YAHWEH elohim worshipped by Jews and Christian. Thats why all Muslims are stupid


  12. Proverb 8:30.
    wa’eh’yeh ‘ets’lo ‘amon wa’eh’yeh sha`ashu`im yom yom m’sacheqeth l’phanayu b’kal-`eth.

    Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.

    “Revelation” is the keyword for the understanding of this passage. This establishes the relationship between what is stated here and the words in John’s Gospel:
    “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

    Wisdom is, of course, a divine attribute, but The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary observes correctly: “‘Wisdom’ is here personal Wisdom, the Son of God. For many personal predicates are attributed to Him: Thus, subsistence by or with God, in Prov 8:30; just as John 1:1 saith, ‘The Word was with God,’ which cannot be said of a mere attribute.”


  13. Ehrman said in 0:27 “There was a strain of judaism that insisted that in fact there was some kind of secondary divinity ruling the world with God himself.”

    Even those jews who knew better and who had heard from God Himself with their own ears, some of them deviated guilty of intentional idolatry, such as the case of worshipping the golden calf of Sinai. The question whether this is authentic jewish monotheism? Also in what sense this secondary figure divine?, Judaism tradition had many divine figures such as the Angels and metatrons but they are not the same as YHWH. My understanding is that the theology that the rabbis were contending as heretical was a pagan concept that had taken a hold amongst some Jews.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Eric

      The truth is that it is mere conjecture the degree to which the plurality of god was accepted by ancient israelites. The doctrine was more widely accepted than we think – Philo wrote about god’s plurality and during his time he was highly respected by the jews of his time.

      The important thing is that the doctrine is strongly supported in the Old Testament


    • It is too weak links for trinitarian to find legitimacy in this two powers notion, scholars do not say anything specific “religious school,” as it were, which it was assumed to be representing.

      I have not seen any evidence (I have read Segal’book and More rexently Daniel Boyarin) that two powers (or more correctly many powers in heaven or divine council) was not conceived of by early judaism belong to any specific group—including jewish follower of Jesus, nor Gnosticism.

      Trinitarianism is very distinct doctrine and to what I have been learnt so fat are more rooted in greco roman mitology than ancient Israelite monotheism.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Eric

      The targums which date back to the return from babylon show a clear conception of god as a plurality. The word and spirit of god are portrayed as having agency independently from the father and the targums were the scripture of the common man. They were read out in the synagogues accompanied by hebrew translation.

      This suggests that the concept of pluralism of god was far more commonly accepted than muslims want us to believe. It also explains why monotheistic jewish followers of jesus so easily accepted him as divine – pluralism of god was obvious to ancient jews.

      The problem for muslims is that the quran nor mohammed had any idea what christians or jews believed. The quran can offer no insight into the truth of what ancient israelites believed.


    • Which Targum you refer to? Can you cite here the original please..

      Liked by 1 person

    • Eric

      Don’t understand the question.


    • Trey

      “The important thing is that the doctrine is strongly supported in the Old Testament”

      What “doctrine”?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Paul btw one of your favorite Heretics Anthony Buzzard is going to be on Jonathan Mclatchie’s Zoom Program today at 3 PM EST, thats 8 pm London Time.


  15. I believe Paulus or Ken Temple used to say on this blog that the Jews were not Unitarian in the strict sense of the term that we describe them today.
    I think there is some truth to this. Biblical monotheism is not the same as modern day Unitarianism. In fact the word Unitarianism is quite difficult to define and I know this since I call myself a Unitarian. Perhaps a more accurate description for myself should be biblical monotheist, to worship and understand God as He is described in the Bible.

    I think this is what the prophets and authors of the Bible were like. Without all the Hellenistic input, I believe Jews have always worshipped one God, not a plurality or duality. The so called 2nd power wasn’t a 2nd God, but rather a physical manifestation of the same invisible God. Hard to explain but an example would be the multiple times in the Bible that the term “Angel of the Lord” is used. In multiple occasions, whenever someone saw or spoke to this particular Angel they would say that they had seen God, as opposed to when someone saw another angel such as Gabriel whom they wouldn’t worship or say they have seen God. You can see this in Genesis 18 where Abraham sees 3 men who were in fact angels, yet he isolates one of these angels and speaks to him individually. This Angel is actually the “Angel of the Lord” again and remains with Abraham whilst the other 2 leave to go to Sodom.
    If you follow the conversation in Genesis 18, in verse 9 all 3 angels ask where Sarah is, but in verse 10 only one of them says that he will return next year. In verse 13-14 it is now God speaking but he repeats what one of the Angels said in verse 10, that he will return next year. Later on in verse 22 as the men/angels get ready to leave, “Abraham remains with the Lord.” So here we see that one of the Angel’s stays behind with Abraham and the other 2 go on their way. Abraham has a discussion with this Angel but by now he is already identified as God. This becomes more apparent right at the beginning of the next chapter as Genesis 19 begins with “The 2 Angels arrived in Sodom”. So what happened to the 3rd Angel? Well he is the one who stayed with Abraham who is also identified as God. This is the same “Angel of the Lord” that many other prophets such as Jacob and Moses saw. It is a manifestation of the invisible God. It doesn’t necessarily make him a 2nd God. We find this again in Judges 13 where an “Angel of the Lord” approaches Manoah and his wife (Samson’s parents) and in verse 22 Manoah panics because he thinks they will die as they have “seen God”.

    The way the 2 powers was described makes it sound like the Jews worshipped 2 separate God’s which isn’t true. Whenever they saw a physical manifestation of God they would still associate that with the one God of Israel rather than turn it into a separate object of worship. But I do believe in the 2 powers in some degree simply because of when you combine all those Biblical passages that mention something of that kind such as Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1. These passages and more, to me make it obvious that it is referring to the Messiah who is Jesus Christ and as he himself says “all authority on heaven and earth has been given to me” and “the son of man will be seated at the right hand of God”. That doesn’t diminish monotheism at all since there is still only one God as even Paul himself says. Even if God shares some of His power with Jesus, Jesus is still subjected to Him for example, Jesus doesn’t know when the final hour will be, he will eventually hand everything over to God and he also says that God is not only greater than him but also his God too.
    For the Jewish believers in Jesus Christ this would not have made any difference to their belief in one God. This obviously didn’t affect Jewish thought either since no Jew considered it heretical until as has been mentioned, around the 2nd century when they wanted to dissociate themselves from Christians.

    The question we need to ask then is who was being more honest in their beliefs, the Jews who rejected Jesus or the Jews who accepted him? If it was the Jews who believed in Jesus then is the “2 powers in heaven” belief really heretical or did opposing Jews just say that to attempt to falsify Christianity? Bare in mind I’m not talking about Trinitarianism as that came much later.


  16. Personifying the attributes of God, in the sense of taking His attributes as divine persons is a major error.

    If we personify His Knowledge and Wisdom and say that His Word(Logos) is a person, why must one stop there? Could it not be argued that His Mercy is a person, Justice is a person, Creative ability is a person and so on.

    Also if Word of God is the Son of God, then what about the words of the Word of God? Do they become the sons of the Son of God and therefore the grandsons of God?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think you missed the point in the video where Ehrman says that scripture forced this exegesis on religious authorities. There are passages in the OT where god is shown to be in more than one place at the same time. Deal with it.


  17. Trey

    I say;

    September 10, 2016 • 9:36 pm

    I think you missed the point in the video where Ehrman says that scripture forced this exegesis on religious authorities. There are passages in the OT where god is shown to be in more than one place at the same time. Deal with it

    I say;
    There are passages in the Bible that says clearly God is invisible. If so, how can someone see God in different forms in more than one place? Bart Erhman is telling you to deal with the inconsistencies of Bible not me.

    How can the invisible God SHOWN, SHOWN, SHOWN i.e. past tense of see in some form in more than one places?

    The invincible God said He cannot be shown at more than one place in a form by warning the Jews that the calf(form) they are worshiping cannot be Him. If He can be in forms in different places why must He say this?

    “which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only [monos] Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone [monos] possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:16



    Deuteronomy 4:16
    so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

    The likeness of Jesus is male so Jesus cannot be God.



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