This important work, written for scholars and lay people alike, makes an earnest plea for a decisive return to Biblical monotheism. It begins by showing that the faith of the Bible is unyieldingly monotheistic. God’s message to humankind is, above all, a call to faith in Yahweh, the one and only God of Israel. In the Shema, God reveals that He is a singular God: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One”. He proclaims through the prophet Isaiah, “I am the LORD, and there is no other. Besides me there is no God.”
Monotheism took root in the Law and the Prophets, and flourished in the life of God’s people. Jesus upholds his uncompromising monotheism when he says, “The most important commandment is: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.’” Jesus knows only one God—his Father in heaven—and he expresses this truth in all his deeds and utterances, and even in his high priestly prayer: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Paul, too, is comprehensively monotheistic. He speaks of “the only God” and “one God and Father of all”. To Paul “there is but one God, the Father...and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ.” Furthermore, “there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men: the man Christ Jesus.”
But by the second century, the commitment to monotheism was disappearing in the church all except in name. The church was becoming predominantly Gentile and increasingly open to Gentile polytheistic thinking. This development eventually culminated in the trinitarian formulations of Nicaea and Chalcedon.
This book is a detailed study of Biblical monotheism and of trinitarianism’s claims to monotheism. It pays particular attention to those texts, principally the Johannine Prologue of John 1:1-18, which are often used to underpin trinitarian doctrine. Other passages considered in detail are Exodus 3, Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 2, Mark 12, John 17, and Philippians 2.
As it turns out, the key to understanding John’s Prologue is not to be found in the Greek philosophical systems or in Philo’s fusion of Greek and Jewish ideas, but in something right before our eyes, in the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures that were widely available to John’s original Jewish readers.
The book ends on a joyful note when it brings out the glorious blessings for God’s people in the truth that the Word became flesh in Jesus Christ and dwelled among us. Unlike some unitarian depictions of Jesus as ordinary man, or the trinitarian fabrication of a second person in the Godhead, the Scriptures tell us that none other than very God came down to dwell in very man Jesus Christ, the perfect and living temple of God.
[Verses quoted: Deut.6:4; Isa.45:5; Mk.12:29; Jn.17:3; 1Tim.1:17; Eph.4:6; 1Cor.8:6; 1Tim.2:5; Jn.1:14.]