[Note: For other posts on Mike’s work on the divine council, click here for the archive.]
At last week’s annual ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) meeting I read two papers. The first was entitled. “What Is / Are (an) Elohim?” It dealt with why the reality of other gods (plural elohim) is not a threat to monotheism. The reason is that our modern definition of monotheism creates a problem that would not have been seen as a problem for an ancient Israelite. Here is the introduction:
Weve all no doubt heard the Italian proverb (traduttore, traditore): “translator, traitor”the idea being that every translator is a traitor. Im not that cynical, since Im familiar with the difficulty of the translation enterprise, but I have to admit that there are times when translators really do betray the text. This sort of fudging is evident in passages that involve the word elohim when grammar and context clearly indicate the word is pluralespecially when the plural elohim are not foreign deities. The inclination to obscure whats really in the text in these instances is understandable. After all, when Psalm 82 describes the God of Israel as presiding over other plural elohim, that sounds like polytheism. But that admission in turn suggests that the text is being translated so that it conforms to our theological expectations or needs. Surely that strategy cant be recommended. Yet that is precisely what many translators and scholars do in the name of fidelity to God. I would suggest this is dishonest and hypocritical.
In this paper I want to suggest that we need not fear the biblical text, and need not protect people from the biblical text. There is a simple way to resolve the problem of an inspired Old Testament that affirms that there are many real elohim (good or evil) in addition to Yahweh. Though simple, the solution requires us to think like a Semite, like an Israelite, and not as the product of the Reformation or modern evangelicalism. Biblical theology does not begin with us, Calvin, Luther, Aquinas, or Augustine. It begins with the text as it stands, understood within the historical, cultural, and religious context that produced it.
This first paper set up the discussion in the second one. If you will be downloading both these papers to read, it is therefore best that you read them in order:
The second paper was entitled, “Should the Plural Elohim of Psalm 82 Be Understood as Men or Divine Beings?” This paper deals with why the “human interpretation” of Psalm 82 has no merit at all — and in light of the first paper, that view is completely unnecessary. Here is part of the introduction:
How could the psalmist tolerate the existence of multiple elohim within the context of Israelite monotheism? How can the Hebrew Bible affirm plural elohim in this psalm and yet deny that there are other gods in other passages? These questions telegraph why so many Jewish and Christian (evangelical) interpreters argue that the plural elohim of Psalm 82 are humans. Seeing these elohim as divine beings is viewed as a threat to monotheism, the heart of biblical theology. Making them human is the easiest path to removing the problem. But is this correct? My answer is No. In this paper, I hope to show why arguing that these elohim are human beings is inescapably incoherent and, more importantly, completely unnecessary for defending the real point of a monotheistic biblical theology. Toward that end, I will address how an Israelite would have understood the term elohim, thereby providing a corrective to our own mistaken understanding. This will help us see that plural elohim are no threat to monotheism. Ill then provide a positive defense that the plural elohim in Psalm 82 are divine beings by highlighting some transparent details from the text why the plural elohim in Psalm 82 cannot be humans. Lastly, Ill take a negative approach, demonstrating that there is no coherent argument in favor of the human identification.
The Psalm 82 paper was also prompted by criticisms posted in 2009 by Alpha and Omega Ministries (AOM). That I really don’t consider these criticisms serious is indicated by the fact that they have existed on the web since 2009 with no online response on my part (though many have emailed me the link and asked me to respond). Rather than engage people on the internet on these matters, my choice was to submit my views to public peer review at an academic evangelical conference (and I’ve actually done that several times now at ETS in a piecemeal sort of way via other papers). Eventually, I will be merging the two papers to submit to a peer-reviewed journal, hopefully sometime in 2011.
The AOM response is curious. On the one hand, AOM has found my material useful with respect to countering Mormonism’s use of Psalm 82 (see the above link; better, see my article critiquing Mormonism’s use of Psalm 82 — published in a Mormon journal no less — kudos to them for fair play). But on the other hand, my views are criticized in the same AOM post and answered with rather feckless arguments. That it doesn’t even get my job title right (not hard to check – Logos has one Academic Editor, not several) doesn’t speak well of the quality of the research that went into the response. Nevertheless, the criticisms are understandable in that they are motivated by a desire to defend monotheism. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the AOM writer has much of a grasp of how my position reinforces orthodox Christology (see the last paragraph of the link, but it may be the case that the new Psalm 82 paper probably does a better job of articulating Jesus’ use of Psalm 82 in John 10).
Finally, if anyone wants to respond to my views on Psalm 82 in the future, the new Psalm 82 paper makes it apparent as to what needs to be done: (1) engage the Hebrew text rather than proof-texting the English Bible; and (2) provide coherent responses to the list of items in the conclusion to the Psalm 82 paper. I want to see something with explanatory power and answers to specific issues I bring up in my article, not dismissive online glibness. I want you to tell me –and of course the online or academic communities — how your position faithfully takes all the germane material into account in a way more coherent than my position. Let’s have it. I’ll be happy to post it and interact with it. In the absence of a substantive response, I don’t plan on posting on this again. I have better things to do.
Thanks, Michael. That looks like a very interesting paper. (reading it now)
A question, if I may: where exactly does the AOM post by White seem to call your evangelical commitments into question? I read that article very carefully, and could not detect any such tone directed against you.
I think it does that with the part about John 10. Maybe I’m over-reading it.
I also don’t see where White is questioning your evangelical commitment in his article, so you are over reading it a bit. However, ones adherence to what is “orthodox” doesn’t make one a committed evangelical.
For example, I will say I have been suspicious of your evangelical commitments since reading over your UFO/government conspiracy stuff years ago. I would also add that White has a good point about your arrogance as a scholar. To suggest no one has any worthy criticisms of your view points unless the person is a “scholar” or that you won’t take them seriously unless they are in a “peer reviewed” journal, which are for the most part worthless echo chambers, demonstrates to me there is no teachability or humility on your part. Both of those virtues demonstrate a fullness of the Holy Spirit that only genuine salvation can bring about in a man’s heart. Honestly, who cares how sound a person’s biblical theology may be if the guy is a pompous jerk.
Hey Fred, maybe you’re unfamiliar with the way scholarship works – scholars go back and forth all the time, critiquing each others views. But after you’ve been through the literature and those substantive interactions for years, you really *can* recognize when a critique comes along that is uninformed. AOM’s fits that description, and the content (by its own wording) shows that this is an issue they lack familiarity with. That isn’t the case with peer-reviewed work that goes back and forth. If I get labeled as arrogant for saying “this argument goes nowhere” or “this argument shows the one making it is under-informed” so be it; I’m not afraid to tell the truth when an argument is lame. It is a disservice to others to pretend it isn’t, that it has equal merit with respect to another argument. Shading the truth isn’t a virtue.
Thank you Mike for taking the time to descend your ivory tower to explain to us little folks how things are done.
I guess if you wish to live in a delusional world that you are somehow above any meaningful criticism, then that is your business, but proclaiming a person doesn’t know what he is talking about and his argument is lame is one thing. Demonstrating such to be so is quite another. So far you haven’t demonstrated why White or Turretinfan are wrong and you are right.
Don’t fret. I won’t hold my breath for any meaningful response.
You really haven’t read much of what I write. I don’t view interested lay people as “little folks.” I think a half million words online directed to that audience is proof enough that you’re uninformed here.
Fred, as a reader of Mike’s for over a decade, and one that has the intellectual ability to comprehend maybe half of what Mike is saying sometimes, I can tell you He has responded to my questions over and over with patience and care all from his so called high ivory tower. Come on dude.
Just saw that I responded to a post from over 3 years ago.
Well Fred if your still with us……again……..come on DUDE!
Why not deal with the text and the issue instead of going down the ad hominem road.
Sitting in judgement over another in respect to salvation due to a dispute on a textual interpretation (which has nothing to do with the Gospel) and about someone you have only meet over the internet is NOT advisable or as you say in keeping with the fruit of the Holy Spirit Fred.
Fred if you have a counter point to the huge amount of materiel given on the subject then why not just ask a question or object to it and give your own thought. That would be more productive than going down the ad hominem road.
furthermore i dont think its in keeping with the fruit of the Holy Spirit to sit in judgement over someone’s salvation that is not your job James 4:12 springs to mind here. I hope you will recant that remark and let God be the judge.
Seem my original post did make it. Sorry about the repeat.
Really, Fred? Ever spoken to a non-believer about scripture? Everyone of them thinks they’re an expert on the Bible though few have ever even bothered to crack one open. As frustrating as that experience can be, imagine a highly trained scholar encountering those who, believer or not, are simply unqualified to comment on a given subject. Personally speaking, if I were a scholar of Michael’s caliber I wouldn’t be overly interested or bothered by criticism that came from non-scholarly sources either. Nobody has that kind of time to waste.
I see in Michael an incredibly talented guy who does a darn good job at taking Biblical scholarship and making it accessible to those of us who haven’t taken the time to study the original languages to the same degree Michael has. I don’t always agree with Michael’s conclusions on all things biblical, but I have yet to see a hint of arrogance in anything of his that I have read. In fact I’d be willing to bet that even this modest bit of praise toward him makes him uncomfortable.
As far as being perceived as a pompous jerk being some sort of an indicator that a person lacks a fullness of the Holy Spirit, I’d be willing to bet that the apostle Paul was widely considered to be a pompous jerk by many. And no, I am not comparing Dr. Heiser to the apostle Paul so don’t even go there. I might also add that James White, unfairly or not, is not exactly unfamiliar with being accused of being a pompous jerk himself.
thanks, Gary; appreciated.
James White also isn’t unfamiliar with scholarship.
The point is that he’s not a semiticist or a Hebraist, and *is* quite unfamiliar with *this* area of scholarship.
Gary hits the theological argument on the head with non-believers. I belong to a college website that takes on many current event issues including that of Judeo-Christian thought and belief. They actually do act like experts on a variety of theological topics and those are the POLITE ones. The rest use a lot of invectives and name calling on your belief in fairy tales. Those with a little bit of knowledge will tell you at every possible turn what scripture REALLY says. I wish that I had a 29th of the knowledge and skill set that Dr Heiser possesses. I could be king. Thanks Doc for all of your work.
You’re welcome. As a point of curiosity, I was in a conversation tonight with someone who told me how certain authority figures in the charismatic movement use Jesus’ quotation of Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34-35 as a justification for teaching people they are gods. Yet another example of theological fallout from the flawed human interpretation of Psalm 82.
I’m still not sure what you’re referring to. What about the part on John 10 calls your evangelical commitments into question? It seems to me that White makes a comment about how both non-believing scholarship and liberal Christian scholarship see no need to connect their interpretation of Psalm 82 with Jesus’ use of it in John 10, but that believers should be concerned with this. He then states merely that your interpretation does not allow for Jesus’ application of that text, and goes on to build his case – a challenge to your view, certainly, but not a personal attack. There’s nothing there that says he thinks you’re a closet liberal or secular scholar, at least not that I can see. Maybe you think he’s trying to make a connection between his description of the secular/liberal hermeneutic and your view, but that is hardly clear.
If, after reconsidering, you would agree that article did not contain the insult you perceived (and I think it is clear that it dd not), does this mean you are going to amend or remove your demand for an apology?
sure; absolutely. Since I have had two of you mention this, I will amend the post.
So, you are teachable and humble. 🙂 Just a quick post to say I enjoy your scholarship and understand the process of peer review and discussion. Keep it up as I have a lot to learn.
Agreed. It’s unbelievable how some people, even good apologists, aren’t careful readers! James White is nonetheless good at what he does, but this http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3505&catid=5 is just misrepresentation. He is just so convinced of his own view, he doesn’t take the time to investigate all the data carefully. Yes! this takes time, and since he doesn’t seem to have put much time into responding to Heiser, he misrepresents the material. This is yet another warning for people to be careful readers. We, in today’s technology, can ask questions by email for clarifications. Of course, the receiver of the email must respond. But when feedback is provided, it can avoid so many problems. This is what I do when I do research, and I learned this the hard way.
The medium of “the blog” especially amplifies our inclinations towards poor (unfair) scholarship, personal attacks, and off-the-cuff remarks because we are in such a hurry (isn’t that what blogging is all about anyway, being in a hurry?) which can easily and quickly turn viscous and sinful. I think it is very wise not to use it for the purpose of attacking and responding to others. Kudos to Dr. Heiser for not responding to AoM regarding this, but leaving his professional work to speak for itself.
that’s what it’s for. One stop and I’m moving on. Can just point to links now. A great time (and sanity) saver.
First, let me say I have not read either paper yet as I’m catching up on my reading after being away for the holiday.
Secondly, let me say I was raised an evangelical Southern Baptist – so that tradition shades my understanding of ideas/word/phrases (etc) which leads into the third which is…
I had two items I was curious about which may be answered in one of those papers but I wanted to ask beforehand anyway.
1.) What do you mean precisely by “…an inspired Old Testament”? I am just curious since many people view this inspiration differently and what it really, truly means to them as an individual anyway.
2.) I’m hoping this one is answered/addressed in one of the papers. How do you understand and translate Deut 4:35 in the Hebrew in relation to your thesis? I’m not saying they contradict, I just want to know how you read it in relation, if that makes sense?
not clear to me what “this inspiration” means in your question – can you reword what you’re angling for in a direct question?
All of the so-called “denial statements” in the OT (like Deut 4:35) are addressed in my dissertation. An abbreviated form of that material is found in the free download of my divine plurality paper:
Thank you for the directly link regarding the denial statements. I’ll take a look at that now.
Regarding the clarification:
You used the phrase “…an inspired Old Testament”.
For some that hold to an inspired Old Testament, this takes the form of dictation to human writers who recorded the material faithfully and without fail. For others, this inspiration takes more the form of a divine leading and subject to the human writer’s understanding. (These are only 2 points on a spectrum given for clarification – not to be exhaustive)
So, I wanted to know what you meant by your phrase “…an inspired Old Testament”. That’s all. I’m curious where you fall on the spectrum.
Does that help?
yes – see the inspiration discussion on the front of this blog (under the header). I don’t believe in any form of dictation. Instances where God says “write this down” are very rare in the Bible (and even in one of those – the Law at Sinai – the words that were written get changed from Exodus to Deuteronomy).
Ooh. My bad. Obviously, I didn’t poke around enough to see that you had already covered this. Thanks for taking the time to point me toward it.
The plurality paper answered my question exactly regarding Deut 4:35. (And gave me more to think about to boot!) Thanks!
Thanks for posting your ETS papers here. I continue appreciate your work, and I’m sure I speak for many others as well.
I have a question concerning your first paper (What Is An Elohim?). You make the comment, “The Hebrew Bible never asserts that human rulers, Jew or Gentile, are in charge of the nations.” As far as I can see, this is correct. However, I’m curious as to how you would respond to a NT passage like Revelation 20:4 which asserts that human rulers (they are sitting on thrones) are given authority to judge (per Psalm 82:2). Setting aside your other arguments for the moment (i.e. they die like men, princes are used of heavenly beings in other places etc., arguments which I view as fatal to the human interpretation of elohim), I could see someone making this argument, especially if coming from an amillennial view: Human rulers are judging, presumably, the nations today, therefore it is plausible that the rulers and therefore elohim in Psalm 82 are humans for we have an example of just this sort of thing in Revelation 20:4.
The original goal of God in creating humanity (one reason the “imaging” passages are plural) is that humans would reign as Yahweh’s imagers on earth as part of His administration over all creation. The non-human imagers, members of Yahweh’s council, administered the non-human realm; the human imagers were given authority to “be Yahweh” on earth. Both testaments presume a joint human-divine administration under Yahweh of all that Yahweh created (visible and invisible). Restoring the rule of God on earth after the fall (“kingdom”) is a working backward to the Edenic situation. Eventually, all things end as they began, but before that ending, the nations placed under lesser elohim must be reclaimed. That is the mission of the Church now (think great commission; Jesus’ earlier sending of the 70/72 – a deliberate mirror number to the nations at Babel / cf. Deut 32:8-9; Pentecost – which is an East-West reclaiming of the original land masses known to the writer of Gen 10-11; etc.). (And don’t forget Paul said “don’t you know that you will rule over angels” – think of the three-tiered council structure). All of these themes are covered in my “Myth that is True” book — and the full*first* [not final] draft of that will be done by year’s end.
Incidentally, there were many pre-Christian Jews who saw this “we’re Yahweh’s council members on earth” motif prior to the NT; the Qumran material has a lot of that in it – the idea that earthly followers of Yahweh rule with his council.
MSH. in 2 Peter and Jude , they both make a reference to the angels that sinned ( Gen. 6 ) .. but you say that the sons of God are other divine beings…. i’m a little confused.. which is correct?
“angel” is a functional term (not an ontological one) and is used in late Judaism and the NT as a generic reference for divine beings. There is no Old Testament verse that links “sons of God” and “angels” — “sons of God” has its own history in Semitic literature and is a different rank of being than “angel” in Semitic descriptions of heavenly host beings.
thanks .. i been reading your Divine Council info and my eyes have been opened ! thanks for all the information you give here.
The book you cite in the first paper sounds interesting: Cult Image and Divine Representation in the Ancient Near East. I don’t suppose there’s an ebook version readily available or perhaps you could suggest some reading that goes further into area that you cited regarding the ancients use of idols to interact with their assigned deities?
Would you please clarify for me as to whether or not you claim the ‘elohim’ in Exodus as being human beings or not?
I think I answered this in an email. The word elohim used in Exodus 18 refers to the singular God of Israel, not humans. It is never used to describe the humans selected by Moses to help him judge Israel.
When Jesus was speaking to the Jews in John 10 :34-38 where he said ‘Ye are gods,’ was he speaking to the mortal Jews who were there, or was he speaking to someone else?
he was quoting Psa 82:6 about the divine council scene in Psalm 82. He was not describing humans as gods. See the PDF on my website:
A couple more questions:
Jesus quoted Ps. 82 during his discourse with the mortal Jews who were present at that time, as it is said…”Jesus answered them…Is it not written in your law…”
According to your answer, ‘he was quoting Ps. 82 ‘about the divine council scene in Ps. 82’. Do you mean the ‘divine council scene in Psalms 82’ included the Jews who were present during his discourse, or do you mean ‘the divine council scene in Ps. 82’ was referring to someone other than the Jews who were then present?
The DC scene in Psa 82 wasn’t to Jews. It was to the elohim of the council (v. 1). The same terminology in psa 82 is used in Psa 89 of a council in the heavens (and nowhere in the OT do we read that the Jews had jurisdiction over the nations, per Psa 82).
I actually think the paper was clear on the above.
From the PDF file, you stated that when God said ‘you shall die like men’ it meant that they that they would became mortal.
Here are two of your quotes:
(1) The point of verse 6 is that, in response to the corruption of the elohim, they will be stripped of their immortality at God’s discretion and die like humans die.
(2) The point is not that the (elohim) were put to death at the moment Yahweh judged them, but that they must die as a result of their actions (i.e., they
would become mortal).
Just a few questions about the elohim becoming mortal.
(1) Has this already taken place, or will it take place in the future?
(2) Do ‘they’ all become mortals at one time, or does it happen in intervals?
(3) Have these mortals at any time been on the earth, and if so, are they on the earth now, and how would you know it if you saw one?
(4) How do you envision that a spirit can become a mortal? Do they just appear, or are they born of women?
What I said is that they lose immortality; you’ve read “become mortal” into that (the ideas are not equal, but that’s getting a bit off point). I view this as an eschatological event that (see the end of the psalm) is associated with the reclaiming of the nations. The latter is a theme heavily tied to the gospel in the NT.
All this stuff is in my Myth that is True draft, so I’d recommend that for more.
I’m three years late to this discussion but I will put in my 5 cents anyhow.
Even on a basic theological level it should be clear to readers of the Bible that there shouldn’t be an iota of a doubt that we have a “Primary” Elohim who is God and that his creative possibilities cannot be seen as anything other than “Infinite”. Even this basic understanding became more creative; the revelation becoming more complex as the “One” was revealed to be “Three”. Since this is now common knowledge; it is logical to presume that it is within God’s power to create lower spiritual forms outside the three of himself that still retain his essence of spirit but do not assume his Kingship, Lordship or power. Seems likely? Oh, yes.
As the Trinity of God was slowly revealed through scripture, so are these other “spiritual” beings.
Dr.Heiser’s work is complex in it’s investigation; yet he reveals a fundamental philosophical element. I’ll explain what I see here.
Even those who prescribe to White’s view of Psalm 82 must admit on a basic theological level that the “Texts” which form the Bible are littered with spiritual beings, and these dominate what was described to the best of their understanding at the time as “powers of the air”. These “Elohim” in essence would not be God, but would be servants of God; they also would “exist” in the spiritual realm where we can assume God exist. Doesn’t sound too far fetched, in fact it makes perfect sense. It becomes clear that pending on context, Elohim can be used as a “residential” terminology. This is common in other languages besides English, that a word pending on context can meaning slightly different things. Context can change a word into a noun, adjective, etc.
I would ask those who adhere to Psalm 82 as referring to mortal men; Have I filtered in any manner the way I read the bible through a modern theological lens? Have a considered the revelation of the Trinity and the possibility that there might be other “revelations” as well. White has done good work in the field of apologetics, but has he gave the proper amount of attention to the “spiritual” realm of God?
I whole-heartely support Dr.Heiser’s work in the “Divine Counsel”. To me it is cohesive to the spiritual realm alluded to by the Biblical writers.
Thanks for your work Dr. Heiser.
you’re welcome – White and his cohorts just can’t seem to accept things that aren’t spelled out in a creed somewhere. They’re affirmation of the supernatural is selective — they embrace the parts they need to or forfeit theism and Christianity. Who gives a rip about the text in context when we have creeds? 🙂
Quick question on Jesus’ use of Psalm 82 in John 10. (I’m reviewing your 2011 SBL Regional paper). I was in a conversation with someone who accepted the mortal view of Psalm 82, and I said something that I’m not sure is in the text. I thought it was in your paper, but it wasn’t.
I suggested the “word of God” referred to in verse 6 (“to whom the word of God came”) was Jesus… Jesus, as the Word of God, coming to the Divine Council to judge it, and Jesus’ quotes it to clearly link himself to the Word.
If the Two Powers in Heaven view of Yahweh was well known to John’s audience – or at least to whom Jesus was speaking- (with some of the physical appearances of Yahweh including the Word of Yahweh) and since John 1 has already linked the Word of God to Jesus, is this a coherent reading of verse 6?
correct – that isn’t part of my view. I take this “word” as the utterance in Psalm 82 (God to the council). I don’t see a personified word anywhere in Psa 82.
My last question was incoherent… Where I put verse 6, I meant John 10:35-36… can you read “to whom the word of God came – and since scripture cannot be broken – do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world…” Is Jesus linking the Word of God (as the “visible Yahweh”) to himself… and to God coming to the divine council in Psalm 82? Hope that makes sense.
Hello Dr. Heiser,
I don’t understand why,in light of Jesus’ statement in John 10:31-38, it should matter if the “elohim” of Psalm 82 are divine beings or human beings. Either way this does not answer the objection the pharisee’s are making that Yeshua is claiming to be God. Divine beings are not God, they are CREATED beings. So even if the case is that the “elohim” of Psalm 82 are divine counsel members (which may well be) this does not do much to support Yeshua’s ontological EQUALITY with God.
It seems to me the comparison that Jesus is making here is NOT between himself
and “the gods” of Psalm 82, but rather between himself and GOD’S WORD in Psalm
82:6. Yeshua’s statement in John 10:35 alludes to the claim that HE is the
LOGOS whose word/declaration is made TO the “gods” (Ps 82:6). His (God’s) Word cannot be revoked (John 10:35). He then uses this as a clue to indicate that HE is the one who is “the Word/Logos of God”, who been “sent into the world” by the Father (John 10:36). In other words, Yeshua is comparing/equating himself here
with God/the Word/Logos of God (and not with the “elohim” of Psalm 82).
1 God presides in the
great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods”:
2 “How long will you
defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the weak and
the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and
the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 “The ‘gods’ know
nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations
of the earth are shaken.
6 “I said [i.e. the Devar/Logos said], ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’
7 But you will die like
mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.”
8 Rise up, O God, judge
the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.
John 10: 31- 38
31 Again his Jewish
opponents picked up stones to stone him,
32 but Jesus said to
them, “I have shown you many good works
from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning
you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere
man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus answered
them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I
have said you are “gods” [i.e. in Pslam 82:6]’?
35 If he [i.e. ME, The Word of God] called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word/logos of God came—and
Scripture cannot be set aside—
36 what about
the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why
then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?
If they are humans it makes no sense that Jesus would defend his deity (the statements that made the Jewish authorities angry enough to want to stone him) by appealing to a passage where the elohim sons of the Most High are just humans. Jesus would be saying they could use the same language of themselves that he did — so why be mad. That undermines the statements in 10:30 and 10:37-38, not to mention a lot of other things in John.
But why would Jesus appeal to the likeness of ANY created being to defend his deity? Does he want the Pharisees to think he is merely an exalted angelic being? This interpretation seems to give an Arian view of Jesus in that he is “divine” but only as a CREATED spiritual being/imager. In otherwords it UNDERMINES the doctrine of the Trinity, For Jesus to be DEITY he must be UNCREATED. Correct?
He doesn’t – his point is (a) that there are other non-human sons of God – Psa 82 [a specific denial of what so many say the passage points to — elohim as humans]; and (b) he is one with the Father — lord of the council. Both points are made in the passage. The first is the quotation of Psa 82 in 10:34; the others are in 10:30 and 10:37-38. They work together, not against each other, as the human view forces them to do.
Thank you for clarifying. Really then the PRIMARY point that Jesus is making in John 10:30-38 is that he is ONE with the LORD of the council.The fact that the council members happen to be spiritual rulers/beings (as opposed to human beings) is secondary. And as ANE studies show, this secondary fact was already understood in the 1st Century Jewish community.