Easton's Bible Dictionary
(A.S. and Dutch God; Danish Gud; German Gott), the name
of the Divine Being. It is the rendering (1) of the Hebrew 'El , from a word meaning
to be strong; (2) of 'Eloah_, plural _'Elohim . The singular form, Eloah, is used
only in poetry. The plural form is more commonly used in all parts of the Bible,
The Hebrew word Jehovah (q.v.), the only other word generally employed to denote
the Supreme Being, is uniformly rendered in the Authorized Version by "LORD,"
printed in small capitals. The existence of God is taken for granted in the Bible.
There is nowhere any argument to prove it. He who disbelieves this truth is spoken
of as one devoid of understanding ( Psalms
The arguments generally adduced by theologians in proof of the being of God are:
|(1) The a priori argument, which is the testimony afforded
(2) The a posteriori argument, by which we proceed logically from the facts of
experience to causes. These arguments are,
|(a) The cosmological, by which it is proved that there must
be a First Cause of all things, for every effect must have a cause.
(b) The teleological, or the argument from design. We see everywhere the operations
of an intelligent Cause in nature.
(c) The moral argument, called also the anthropological argument, based on the
moral consciousness and the history of mankind, which exhibits a moral order and
purpose which can only be explained on the supposition of the existence of God.
Conscience and human history testify that "verily there is a God that judgeth
in the earth."
The attributes of God are set forth in order by Moses in Exodus
34:6 , 34:7
. (see also Deuteronomy
6:4 ; 10:17
16:22 ; Exodus
15:11 ; 33:19
44:6 ; Habakkuk
3:6 ; Psalms
102:26 ; Job
34:12 .) They are also systematically classified in Revelation
5:12 and 7:12
God's attributes are spoken of by some as absolute, i.e., such as belong to his
essence as Jehovah, Jah, etc.; and relative, i.e., such as are ascribed to him
with relation to his creatures. Others distinguish them into communicable, i.e.,
those which can be imparted in degree to his creatures: goodness, holiness, wisdom,
etc.; and incommunicable, which cannot be so imparted: independence, immutability,
immensity, and eternity. They are by some also divided into natural attributes,
eternity, immensity, etc.; and moral, holiness, goodness, etc.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures two chief names are used for the one true divine
Being--ELOHIM, commonly translated God in our version, and JEHOVAH,
translated Lord .
(1) Elohim is the plural of Eloah (in Arabic Allah ); it is often used in the
short form EL (a word signifying strength, as in EL-SHADDAI, God Almighty, the
name by which God was specially known to the patriarchs. ( Genesis 17:1 ; 28:3
; Exodus 6:3 ) The etymology is uncertain, but it is generally agreed that the
primary idea is that of strength, power of effect, and that it properly describes
God in that character in which he is exhibited to all men in his works, as the
creator, sustainer and supreme governor of the world. The plural form of Elohim
has given rise to much discussion. The fanciful idea that it referred to the trinity
of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is either
what grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine
strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God.
(2) Jehovah denotes specifically the one true God, whose people the Jews were,
and who made them the guardians of his truth. The name is never applied to a false
god, nor to any other being except one, the ANGEL-JEHOVAH who is thereby marked
as one with God, and who appears again in the New Covenant as "God manifested
in the flesh." Thus much is clear; but all else is beset with difficulties. At
a time too early to be traced, the Jews abstained from pronouncing the name, for
fear of its irreverent use. The custom is said to have been founded on a strained
interpretation of ( Leviticus 24:16 ) and the phrase there used, "THE NAME" (Shema
), is substituted by the rabbis for the unutterable word. In reading the Scriptures
they substituted for it the word ADONAI (Lord ), from the translation of which
by Kurios in the LXX., followed by the Vulgate, which uses Dominus , we have the
LORD of our version. The substitution of the word Lord is most unhappy, for it
in no way represents the meaning of the sacred name. The key to the meaning of
the name is unquestionably given in Gods revelation of himself to Moses by the
phrase "I AM THAT I AM," ( Exodus 3:14 ; 6:3 ) We must connect the name Jehovah
with the Hebrew substantive verb to be , with the inference that it expresses
the essential, eternal, unchangeable being of Jehovah. But more, it is not the
expression only, or chiefly, of an absolute truth: it is a practical revelation
of God, in his essential, unchangeable relation to this chosen people, the basis
of his covenant.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
god ('Elohim, 'El, ['Elyon], Shadday, Yahweh; Theos):
I. INTRODUCTION TO THE GENERAL IDEA
1. The Idea in Experience and in Thought
Religion gives the idea of God, theology construes and organizes its content,
and philosophy establishes its relation to the whole of man's experience. The
logical order of treating it might appear to be, first, to establish its truth
by philosophical proofs; secondly, to develop its content into theological propositions;
and finally, to observe its development and action in religion. Such has been
the more usual order of treatment. But the actual history of the idea has been
quite the reverse. Men had the idea of God, and it had proved a creative factor
in history, long before reflection upon it issued in its systematic expression
as a doctrine. Moreover, men had enunciated the doctrine before they attempted
or even felt any need to define its relation to reality. And the logic of history
is the truer philosophy. To arrive at the truth of any idea, man must begin with
some portion of experience, define its content, relate it to the whole of experience,
and so determine its degree of reality.
Religion is as universal as man, and every religion involves some idea of God.
Of the various philosophical ideas of God, each has its counterpart and antecedent
in some actual religion. Pantheism is the philosophy of the religious consciousness
of India. Deism had prevailed for centuries as an actual attitude of men to God,
in China, in Judaism and in Islam, before it found expression as a rational theory
in the philosophy of the 18th century Theism is but the attempt to define in general
terms the Christian conception of God, and of His relation to the world. If pluralism
claims a place among the systems of philosophy, it can appeal to the religious
consciousness of that large portion of mankind that has hitherto adhered to polytheism.
But all religions do not issue in speculative reconstructions of their content.
It is true in a sense that all religion is an unconscious philosophy, because
it is the reaction of the whole mind, including the intellect, upon the world
of its experience, and, therefore, every idea of God involves some kind of an
explanation of the world. But conscious reflection upon their own content emerges
only in a few of the more highly developed religions. Brahmanism, Buddhism, Judaism,
Islam and Christianity are the only religions that have produced great systems
of thought, exhibiting their content in a speculative and rational form. The religions
of Greece and Rome were unable to survive the reflective period. They produced
no theology which could ally itself to a philosophy, and Greek philosophy was
from the beginning to a great extent the denial and supersession of Greek religion.
Biblical literature nearly all represents the spontaneous experience of religion,
and contains comparatively little reflection upon that experience. In the Old
Testament it is only in Second Isaiah, in the Wisdom literature and in a few Psalms
that the human mind may be seen turning back upon itself to ask the meaning of
its practical feelings and beliefs. Even here nothing appears of the nature of
a philosophy of Theism or of religion, no theology, no organic definition and
no ideal reconstruction of the idea of God. It never occurred to any Old Testament
writer to offer a proof of the existence of God, or that anyone should need it.
Their concern was to bring men to a right relation with God, and they propounded
right views of God only in so far as it was necessary for their practical purpose.
Even the fool who "hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalms 14:1; 53:1),
and the wicked nations "that forget God" (Psalms 9:17) are no theoretical atheists,
but wicked and corrupt men, who, in conduct and life, neglect or reject the presence
The New Testament contains more theology, more reflection upon the inward content
of the idea of God, and upon its cosmic significance; but here also, no system
appears, no coherent and rounded-off doctrine, still less any philosophical construction
of the idea on the basis of experience as a whole. The task of exhibiting the
Biblical idea of God is, therefore, not that of setting together a number of texts,
or of writing the history of a theology, but rather of interpreting the central
factor in the life of the Hebrew and Christian communities.
2. Definition of the Idea
Logically and historically the Biblical idea stands related to a number of other
ideas. Attempts have been made to find a definition of so general a nature as
to comprehend them all. The older theologians assumed the Christian standpoint,
and put into their definitions the conclusions of Christian doctrine and philosophy.
Thus, Melanchthon: "God is a spiritual essence, intelligent, eternal, true, good,
pure, just, merciful, most free and of infinite power and wisdom." Thomasius more
briefly defines God as "the absolute personality." These definitions take no account
of the existence of lower religions and ideas of God, nor do they convey much
of the concreteness and nearness of God revealed in Christ. A similar recent definition,
put forward, however, avowedly of the Christian conception, is that of Professor
W. N. Clarke: "God is the personal Spirit, perfectly good, who in holy love creates,
sustains and orders all" (Outline of Christian Theology, 66). The rise of comparative
religion has shown that "while all religions involve a conscious relation to a
being called God, the Divine Being is in different religions conceived in the
most different ways; as one and as many, as natural and as spiritual, as like
to and manifested in almost every object in the heavens above or earth beneath,
in mountains and trees, in animals and men; or, on the contrary, as being incapable
of being represented by any finite image whatsoever; and, again, as the God of
a family, of a nation, or of humanity" (E. Caird, Evolution of Religion, I, 62).
Attempts have therefore been made to find a new kind of definition, such as would
include under one category all the ideas of God possessed by the human race. A
typical instance of this kind of definition is that of Professor W. Adams Brown:
"A god in the religious sense is an unseen being, real or supposed, to whom an
individual or a social group is united by voluntary ties of reverence and service"
(Christian Theology in Outline, 30). Many similar definitions are given: "A supersensible
being or beings" (Lotze, Asia Minor Fairbairn); "a higher power" (Allan Menzies);
"spiritual beings" (E.B. Tylor); "a power not ourselves making for righteousness"
(Matthew Arnold). This class of definition suffers from a twofold defect. It says
too much to include the ideas of the lower religions, and too little to suggest
those of the higher. It is not all gods that are "unseen" or "supersensible,"
or "making for righteousness," but all these qualities may be shared by other
beings than gods, and they do not connote that which is essential in the higher
ideas of God. Dr. E. Caird, looking for a definition in a germinative principle
of the genesis of religion, defines God "as the unity which is presupposed in
the difference of the self and not-self, and within which they act and re-act
on each other" (op. cit., I, 40, 64). This principle admittedly finds its full
realization only in the highest religion, and it may be doubted whether it does
justice to the transcendent personality and the love of God as revealed in Jesus
Christ. In the lower religions it appears only in fragmentary forms, and it can
only be detected in them at all after it has been revealed in the absolute religion.
Although this definition may be neither adequate nor true, its method recognizes
that there can be only one true idea and definition of God, and yet that all other
ideas are more or less true elements of it and approximations to it. The Biblical
idea does not stand alone like an island in mid-ocean, but is rather the center
of light which radiates out in other religions with varying degrees of purity.
It is not the purpose of this article to deal with the problem of the philosophy
of religion, but to give an account of the idea of God at certain stages of its
development, and within a limited area of thought. The absence of a final definition
will present no practical difficulty, because the denotation of the term God is
clear enough; it includes everything that is or has been an object of worship;
it is its connotation that remains a problem for speculation.
3. The Knowledge of God
A third class of definition demands some attention, because it raises a new question,
that of the knowledge or truth of any idea whatsoever. Herbert Spencer's definition
may be taken as representative: God is the unknown and unknowable cause of the
universe, "an inscrutable power manifested to us through all phenomena" (First
Principles, V, 31). This means that there can be no definition of the idea of
God, because we can have no idea of Him, no knowledge "in the strict sense of
knowing." For the present purpose it might suffice for an answer that ideas of
God actually exist; that they can be defined and are more definable, because fuller
and more complex, the higher they rise in the scale of religions; that they can
be gathered from the folklore and traditions of the lower races, and from the
sacred books and creeds of the higher religions. But Spencer's view means that,
in so far as the ideas are definable, they are not true. The more we define, the
more fictitious becomes our subject-matter. While nothing is more certain than
that God exists, His being is to human thought utterly mysterious and inscrutable.
The variety of ideas might seem to support this view. But variety of ideas has
been held of every subject that is known, as witness the progress of science.
The variety proves nothing.
And the complete abstraction of thought from existence cannot be maintained. Spencer
himself does not succeed in doing it. He says a great many things about the "unknowable"
which implies an extensive knowledge of Him. The traditional proofs of the "existence"
of God have misled the Agnostics. But existence is meaningless except for thought,
and a noumenon or first cause that lies hidden in impenetrable mystery behind
phenomena cannot be conceived even as a fiction. Spencer's idea of the Infinite
and Absolute are contradictory and unthinkable. An Infinite that stood outside
all that is known would not be infinite, and an Absolute out of all relation could
not even be imagined. If there is any truth at all in the idea of the Absolute,
it must be true to human experience and thought; and the true Infinite must include
within itself every possible and actual perfection. In truth, every idea of God
that has lived in religion refutes Agnosticism, because they all qualify and interpret
experience, and the only question is as to the degree of their adequacy and truth.
A brief enumeration of the leading ideas of God that have lived in religion will
serve to place the Biblical idea in its true perspective.
4. Ethnic Ideas of God
Animism is the name of a theory which explains the lowest (and perhaps the earliest)
forms of religion, and also the principle of all religion, as the belief in the
universal presence of spiritual beings which "are held to affect or control the
events of the material world, and man's life here and hereafter; and, it being
considered that they hold intercourse with men, and receive pleasure or displeasure
from human actions, the belief in their existence leads naturally, and, it might
almost be said, inevitably, sooner or later, to active reverence and propitiation"
(E.B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, I, 426-27). According to this view, the world
is full of disembodied spirits, regarded as similar to man's soul, and any or
all of these may be treated as gods.
Fetishism is sometimes used in a general sense for "the view that the fruits of
the earth and things in general are divine, or animated by powerful spirits" (J.G.
Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 234); or it may be used in a more particular sense
of the belief that spirits "take up their abode, either temporarily or permanently,
in some object, ..... and this object, as endowed with higher power, is then worshipped"
(Tiele, Outlines of the History of Religion, 9).
Idolatry is a term of still more definite significance. It means that the object
is at least selected, as being the permanent habitation or symbol of the deity;
and, generally, it is marked by some degree of human workmanship, designed to
enable it the more adequately to represent the deity. It is not to be supposed
that men ever worship mere "stocks and stones," but they address their worship
to objects, whether fetishes or idols, as being the abodes or images of their
god. It is a natural and common idea that the spirit has a form similar to the
visible object in which it dwells. Paul reflected the heathen idea accurately
when he said, "We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver,
or stone, graven by art and device of man" (Acts 17:29).
The belief in many gods, and the worship of them, is an attitude of soul compatible
with Animism, Fetishism, and Idolatry, or it may be independent of them all. The
term Polytheism is more usually employed to designate the worship of a limited
number of well-defined deities, whether regarded as pure disembodied spirits,
or as residing in the greater objects of Nature, such as planets or mountains,
or as symbolized by images "graven by art and device of man." In ancient Greece
or modern India the great gods are well defined, named and numerable, and it is
clearly understood that, though they may be symbolized by images, they dwell apart
in a spiritual realm above the rest of the world.
There is, however, a tendency, both in individuals and in communities, even where
many gods are believed to exist, to set one god above the others, and consequently
to confine worship to that god alone. "The monotheistic tendency exists among
all peoples, after they have reached a certain level of culture. There is a difference
in the degree in which this tendency is emphasized, but whether we turn to Babylonia,
Egypt, India, China, or Greece, there are distinct traces of a trend toward concentrating
the varied manifestations of Divine powers in a single source" (Jastrow, The Study
of Religion, 76). This attitude of mind has been called Henotheism or Monolatry--the
worship of one God combined with the belief in the existence of many. This tendency
may be governed by metaphysical, or by ethical and personal motives, either by
the monistic demands of reason, or by personal attachment to one political or
Where the former principle predominates, Polytheism merges into Pantheism, as
is the case in India, where Brahma is not only the supreme, but the sole, being,
and all other gods are but forms of his manifestation. But, in India, the vanquished
gods have had a very complete revenge upon their vanquisher, for Brahma has become
so abstract and remote that worship is mainly given to the other gods, who are
forms of his manifestation. Monolatry has been reversed, and modern Hinduism were
better described as the belief in one God accompanied by the worship of many.
The monistic tendency, by a less thorough application of it, may take the opposite
turn toward Deism, and yet produce similar religious conditions. The Supreme Being,
who is the ultimate reality and power of the universe, may be conceived in so
vague and abstract a manner, may be so remote from the world, that it becomes
a practical necessity to interpose between Him and men a number of subordinate
and nearer beings as objects of worship. In ancient Greece, Necessity, in China,
Tien or Heaven, were the Supreme Beings; but a multiplicity of lower gods were
the actual objects of worship. The angels of Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Islam
and the saints of Romanism illustrate the same tendency. Pantheism and Deism,
though they have had considerable vogue as philosophical theories, have proved
unstable and impossible as religions, for they have invariably reverted to some
kind of polytheism and idolatry, which seems to indicate that they are false processes
of the monistic tendency.
(8) Semitic Monolatry
The monistic tendency of reason may enlist in its aid many minor causes, such
as tribal isolation or national aggrandizement. It is held that many Sere tribes
were monolatrists for either or both of these reasons; but the exigencies of intertribal
relations in war and commerce soon neutralized their effects, and merged the tribal
gods into a territorial pantheon.
Monotheism, ethical and personal: One further principle may combine with Monism
so as to bring about a stable Monotheism, that is the conception of God as standing
in moral relations with man. Whenever man reflects upon conduct as moral, he recognizes
that there can be only one moral standard and authority, and when God is identified
with that moral authority, He inevitably comes to be recognized as supreme and
unique. The belief in the existence of other beings called gods may survive for
a while; but they are divested of all the attributes of deity when they are seen
to be inferior or opposed to the God who rules in conscience. Not only are they
not worshipped, but their worship by others comes to be regarded as immoral and
wicked. The ethical factor in the monistic conception of God safeguards it from
diverging into Pantheism or Deism and thus reverting into Polytheism. For the
ethical idea of God necessarily involves His personality, His transcendence as
distinct from the world and above it, and also His intimate and permanent relation
with man. If He rules in conscience, He can neither be merged in dead nature or
abstract being, nor be removed beyond the heavens and the angel host. A thoroughly
moralized conception of God emerges first in the Old Testament where it is the
prevailing type of thought.
II. THE IDEA OF GOD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. The Course of Its Development
Any attempt to write the whole history of the idea of God in the Old Testament
would require a preliminary study of the literary and historical character of
the documents, which lies beyond the scope of this article and the province of
the writer. Yet the Old Testament contains no systematic statement of the doctrine
of God, or even a series of statements that need only to be collected into a consistent
conception. The Old Testament is the record of a rich and varied life, extending
over more than a thousand years, and the ideas that ruled and inspired that life
must be largely inferred from the deeds and institutions in which it was realized;
nor was it stationary or all at one level. Nothing is more obvious than that revelation
in the Old Testament has been progressive, and that the idea of God it conveys
has undergone a development. Certain well-marked stages of the development can
be easily recognized, without entering upon any detailed criticism. There can
be no serious question that the age of the Exodus, as centering around the personality
of Moses, witnessed an important new departure in Hebrew religion. The most ancient
traditions declare (perhaps not unanimously) that God was then first known to
Israel under the personal name Yahweh (Yahweh (YHWH) is the correct form of the
word, Yahweh being a composite of the consonants of Yahweh and the vowels of 'adhonay,
or lord. Yahweh is retained here as the more familiar form). The Hebrew people
came to regard Him as their Deliverer from Egypt, as their war god who assured
them the conquest of Canaan, and He, therefore, became their king, who ruled over
their destinies in their new heritage. But the settlement of Yahweh in Canaan,
like that of His people, was challenged by the native gods and their peoples.
In the 9th century we see the war against Yahweh carried into His own camp, and
Baal-worship attempting to set itself up within Israel. His prophets therefore
assert the sole right of Yahweh to the worship of His people, and the great prophets
of the 8th century base that right upon His moral transcendence. Thus they at
once reveal new depths of His moral nature, and set His uniqueness and supremacy
on higher grounds. During the exile and afterward, Israel's outlook broadens by
contact with the greater world, and it draws out the logical implications of ethical
monotheism into a theology at once more universalistic and abstract. Three fairly
well-defined periods thus emerge, corresponding to three stages in the development
of the Old Testament idea of God: the pre-prophetic period governed by the Mosaic
conception, the prophetic period during which ethical monotheism is firmly established,
and the post-exilic period with the rise of abstract monotheism. But even in taking
these large and obvious divisions, it is necessary to bear in mind the philosopher's
maxim, that "things are not cut off with a hatchet." The most characteristic ideas
of each period may be described within their period; but it should not be assumed
that they are altogether absent from other periods; and, in particular, it should
not be supposed that ideas, and the life they represent, did not exist before
they emerged in the clear witness of history. Mosaism had undoubtedly its antecedents
in the life of Israel; but any attempt to define them leads straight into a very
morass of conjectures and hypotheses, archaeological, critical and philosophical;
and any results that are thus obtained are contributions to comparative religion
rather than to theology.
2. Forms of Its Manifestation
Religious experience must always have had an inward and subjective aspect, but
it is a long and difficult process to translate the objective language of ordinary
life for the uses of subjective experience. "Men look outward before they look
inward." Hence, we find that men express their consciousness of God in the earliest
periods in language borrowed from the visible and objective world. It does not
follow that they thought of God in a sensuous way, because they speak of Him in
the language of the senses, which alone was available for them. On the other hand,
thought is never entirely independent of language, and the degree in which men
using sensuous language may think of spiritual facts varies with different persons.
(1) The Face or Countenance of God
The face or countenance (panim) of God is a natural expression for His presence.
The place where God is seen is called Peniel, the face of God (Genesis 32:30).
The face of Yahweh is His people's blessing (Numbers 6:25). With His face (the
Revised Version (British and American) "presence") He brought Israel out of Egypt,
and His face (the Revised Version (British and American) "presence") goes with
them to Canaan (Exodus 33:14). To be alienated from God is to be hid from His
face (Genesis 4:14), or God hides His face (Deuteronomy 31:17 , 18 ; 32:20). In
contrast with this idea it is said elsewhere that man cannot see the face of God
and live (Exodus 33:20; compare Deuteronomy 5:24 ; Judges 6:22 ; 13:22). In these
later passages, "face" stands for the entire being of God, as distinguished from
what man may know of Him. This phrase and its cognates enshrine also that fear
of God, which shrinks from His majesty even while approaching Him, which enters
into all worship.
(2) The Voice and Word of God
The voice (qol) and word (dabhar) of God are forms under which His communion with
man is conceived from the earliest days to the latest. The idea ranges from that
of inarticulate utterance (1 Kings 19:12) to the declaration of the entire law
of conduct (Deuteronomy 5:22-24), to the message of the prophet (Isaiah 2:1 ;
Jeremiah 1:2), and the personification of the whole counsel and action of God
(Psalms 105:19 ; 147:18 , 19 ; Hosea 6:5 ; Isaiah 40:8).
(3) The Glory of God
The glory (kabhodh) of God is both a peculiar physical phenomenon and the manifestation
of God in His works and providence. In certain passages in Exodus, ascribed to
the Priestly Code, the glory is a bright light, "like devouring fire" (Exodus
24:17); it fills and consecrates the tabernacle (Exodus 29:43 ; 40:34 , 35); and
it is reflected as beams of light in the face of Moses (Exodus 34:29). In Ezekiel,
it is a frequent term for the prophet's vision, a brightness like the appearance
of a rainbow (Ezekiel 1:28 ; 10:4 ; 43:2). In another place, it is identified
with all the manifested goodness of God and is accompanied with the proclamation
of His name (Exodus 33:17-23). Two passages in Isaiah seem to combine under this
term the idea of a physical manifestation with that of God's effectual presence
in the world (Isaiah 3:8 ; 6:3). God's presence in creation and history is often
expressed in the Psalms as His glory (Psalms 19:1 ; 57:5 , 11 ; 63:2 ; 97:6).
Many scholars hold that the idea is found in Isa in its earliest form, and that
the physical meaning is quite late. It would, however, be contrary to all analogy,
if such phenomena as rainbow and lightning had not first impressed-the primitive
mind as manifestations of God.
(4) The Angel of God
The angel (mal'akh) of God or of Yahweh is a frequent mode of God's manifestation
of Himself in human form, and for occasional purposes. It is a primitive conception,
and its exact relation to God, or its likeness to man, is nowhere fixed. In many
passages, it is assumed that God and His angel are the same being, and the names
are used synonymously (as in Genesis 16:7 ; 22:15 , 16 ; Exodus 3:2 , 4; Judges
2:4 , 5); in other passages the idea blurs into varying degrees of differentiation
(Genesis 18 ; 24:40 ; Exodus 23:21 ; 33:2 , 3 ; Judges 13:8 , 9). But everywhere,
it fully represents God as speaking or acting for the time being; and it is to
be distinguished from the subordinate and intermediate beings of later angelology.
Its identification with the Messiah and the Logos is only true in the sense that
these later terms are more definite expressions of the idea of revelation, which
the angel represented for primitive thought.
(5) The Spirit of God
The spirit (ruach) of God in the earlier period is a form of His activity, as
it moves warrior and prophet to act and to speak (Judges 6:34 ; 13:25; 1 Samuel
10:10), and it is in the prophetic period that it becomes the organ of the communication
of God's thoughts to men.
See HOLY SPIRIT.
(6) The Name of God
The name (shem) of God is the most comprehensive and frequent expression in the
Old Testament for His self-manifestation, for His person as it may be known to
men. The name is something visible or audible which represents God to men, and
which, therefore, may be said to do His deeds, and to stand in His place, in relation
to men. God reveals Himself by making known or proclaiming His name (Exodus 6:3
; 33:19 ; 34:5 , 6). His servants derive their authority from His name (Exodus
3:13,15 ; 1 Samuel 17:45). To worship God is to call upon His name (Genesis 12:8
; 13:4 ; 21:33 ; 26:25 ; 1 Kings 18:24-26), to fear it (Deuteronomy 28:58), to
praise it (2 Samuel 22:50 ; Psalms 7:17 ; 54:6), to glorify it (Psalms 86:9).
It is wickedness to take God's name in vain (Exodus 20:7), or to profane and blaspheme
it (Leviticus 8:21 ; 24:16). God's dwelling-place is the place where He chooses
"to cause his name to dwell" (2 Samuel 7:13 ; 1 Kings 3:2 ; 5:3 , 1 ; 8:16-19
; 18:32 ; Deuteronomy 12:11 , 21). God's name defends His people (Psalms 20:1
; Isaiah 30:27). For His name's sake He will not forsake them (1 Samuel 12:22),
and if they perish, His name cannot remain (Joshua 7:9). God is known by different
names, as expressing various forms of His self-manifestation (Genesis 16:13 ;
17:1 ; Exodus 3:6 ; 34:6). The name even confers its revelation-value upon the
angel (Exodus 23:20 - 23). All God's names are, therefore, significant for the
revelation of His being.
(7) Occasional Forms
In addition to these more or less fixed forms, God also appears in a variety of
exceptional or occasional forms. In Numbers 12:6 - 8, it is said that Moses, unlike
others, used to see the form (temunah) of Yahweh. Fire smoke and cloud are frequent
forms or symbols of God's presence (e.g. Genesis 15:17 ; Exodus 3:2-4 ; 19:18
; 24:17),and notably "the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night"
(Exodus 13:21). According to later ideas, the cloud rested upon the tabernacle
(Exodus 40:34), and in it God appeared upon the ark (Leviticus 16:2). Extraordinary
occurrences or miracles are, in the early period, frequent signs of the power
of God (Exodus 7; 1 Kings 17).
The questions of the objectivity of any or all of these forms, and of their relation
to the whole Divine essence raise large problems. Old Testament thought had advanced
beyond the naive identification of God with natural phenomena, but we should not
read into its figurative language the metaphysical distinctions of a Greek-Christian
3. The Names of God
All the names of God were originally significant of His character, but the derivations,
and therefore the original meanings, of several have been lost, and new meanings
have been sought for them.
One of the oldest and most widely distributed terms for Deity known to the human
race is 'El, with its derivations 'Elim, 'Elohim, and 'Eloah. Like theos, Dens
and God, it is a generic term, including every member of the class deity. It may
even denote a position of honor and authority among men. Moses was 'Elohim to
Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1) and to Aaron (Exodus 4:16 ; compare Judges 5:8 ; 1 Samuel
2:25 ; Exodus 21:5 , 6 ; 22:7 ; Psalms 58:11 ; 82:1). It is, therefore, a general
term expressing majesty and authority, and it only came to be used as a proper
name for Israel's God in the later period of abstract monotheism when the old
proper name Yahweh was held to be too sacred to be uttered. The meaning of the
root 'El, and the exact relation to it, and to one another, of 'Elohim and 'Eloah,
lie in complete obscurity. By far the most frequent form used by Old Testament
writers is the plural 'Elohiym, but they use it regularly with singular verbs
and adjectives to denote a singular idea. Several explanations have been offered
of this usage of a plural term to denote a singular idea--that it expresses the
fullness and manifoldness of the Divine nature, or that it is a plural of majesty
used in the manner of royal persons, or even that it is an early intimation of
the Trinity; other cognate expressions are found in Genesis 1:26 ; 3:22 ; 1 Kings
22:19 ; Isaiah 6:8. These theories are, perhaps, too ingenious to have occurred
to the early Hebrew mind, and a more likely explanation is, that they are survivals
in language of a polytheistic stage of thought. In the Old Testament they signify
only the general notion of Deity.
To distinguish the God of Israel as supreme from others of the class 'Elohim,
certain qualifying appellations are often added. 'El 'Elyon designates the God
of Israel as the highest, the most high, among the 'Elohim (Genesis 14:18 - 20);
so do Yahweh 'Elyon (Psalms 7:17) and 'Elyon alone, often in Psalms and in Isaiah
'El Shadday, or Shadday alone, is a similar term which on the strength of some
tradition is translated "God Almighty"; but its derivation and meaning are quite
unknown. According to Exodus 6:3 it was the usual name for God in patriarchal
times, but other traditions in the Pentateuch seem to have no knowledge of this.
Another way of designating God was by His relation to His worshippers, as God
of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 24:12; Exodus 3:6), of Shem (Genesis 9:26),
of the Hebrews (Exodus 3:18), and of Israel (Genesis 33:20).
Other names used to express the power and majesty of God are tsur, "Rock" (Deuteronomy
32:18 ; Isaiah 30:29), '?bhir (construct from 'abhir), "the Strong One" (Genesis
49:24 ; Isaiah 1:24 ; Psalms 132:2); melekh, "King"; 'adhon, "lord," and 'adhonay,
"my lord" (Exodus 23:17 ; Isaiah 10:16 , 33 ; Genesis 18:27 ; Isaiah 6:1). Also
ba'al, "proprietor" or "master," may be inferred as a designation once in use,
from its appearance in such Hebrew proper names as Jerubbaal and Ishbaal. The
last three names describe God as a Master to whom man stands in the relation of
a servant, and they tended to fall into disuse as the necessity arose to differentiate
the worship of Yahweh from that of the gods of surrounding nations.
A term of uncertain meaning is Yahweh or 'Elohim tsebha'oth, "Yahweh" or "God
of hosts." In Hebrew usage "host" might mean an army of men, or the stars and
the angels--which, apart or in conjunction, made up the host of heaven. God of
Hosts in early times meant the war god who led the armies of Israel (1 Samuel
4:4 ; 2 Samuel 7:8). In 1 Samuel 17:45 this title stands in parallelism with "the
God of the armies of Israel." So all Israel is called the host of Yahweh (Exodus
12:41). In the Prophets, where the term has become a regular appellation, it stands
in relation to every form of the power and majesty, physical and moral, of God
(e.g. Isaiah 2:12 ; 6:3 , 1 ; 10:23 , 13). It stands in parallelism with Isaiah's
peculiar title, the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 5:16 , 24). It has, therefore,
been thought that it refers to the host of heaven. In the Prophets it is practically
a proper name. Its original meaning may well have been forgotten or dropped, but
it does not follow that a new special significance was attached to the word "hosts."
The general meaning of the whole term is well expressed by the Septuagint translation,
kurios pantokrator, "Lord Omnipotent."
This is the personal proper name paragraph excellence of Israel's God, even as
Chemosh was that of the god of Moab, and Dagon that of the god of the Philistines.
The original meaning and derivation of the word are unknown. The variety of modern
theories shows that, etymologically, several derivations are possible, but that
the meanings attached to any one of them have to be imported and imposed upon
the word. They add nothing to our knowledge. The Hebrews themselves connected
the word with hayah, "to be." In Exodus 3:14 Yahweh is explained as
equivalent to 'ehyeh, which is a short form of 'ehyeh 'asher 'ehyeh, translated
in the Revised Version (British and American) "I am that I am." This
has been supposed to mean "self-existence," and to represent God as
the Absolute. Such an idea, however, would be a metaphysical abstraction, not
only impossible to the time at which the name originated, but alien to the Hebrew
mind at any time. And the imperfect 'ehyeh is more accurately translated "I
will be what I will be," a Semitic idiom meaning, "I will be all that
is necessary as the occasion will arise," a familiar Old Testament idea (compare
Isaiah 7:4 , 9 ; Psalms 23).
This name was in use from the earliest historical times till after the exile.
It is found in the most ancient literature. According to Exodus 3:13, and especially
6:2,3, it was first introduced by Moses, and was the medium of a new revelation
of the God of their fathers to the children of Israel. But in parts of Genesis
it is represented as being in use from the earliest times. Theories that derive
it from Egypt or Assyria, or that would connect it etymologically with Jove or
Zeus, are supported by no evidence. We have to be content either to say that Yahweh
was the tribal God of Israel from time immemorial, or to accept a theory that
is practically identical with that of Exodus--that it was adopted through Moses
from the Midianite tribe into which he married. The Kenites, the tribe of Midianites
related to Moses, dwelt in the neighborhood of Sinai, and attached themselves
to Israel (Judges 1:16 ; 4:11). A few passages suggest that Sinai was the original
home of Yahweh (Judges 5:4 , 5 ; Deuteronomy 33:2). But there is no direct evidence
bearing upon the origin of the worship of Yahweh: to us He is known only as the
God of Israel.
4. Pre-prophetic Conceptions of God
(1) Yahweh Alone Is the God of Israel
Hebrew theology consists essentially of the doctrine of Yahweh and its implications.
The teachers and leaders of the people at all times worship and enjoin the worship
of Yahweh alone. "It stands out as a prominent and incontrovertible fact, that
down to the reign of Ahab .... no prominent man in Israel, with the doubtful exception
of Solomon, known by name and held up for condemnation, worshipped any other god
but Yahweh. In every national and tribal crisis, in all times of danger and of
war, it is Yahweh and Yahweh alone who is invoked to give victory and deliverance"
(Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures (3), 21). This is more evident in what is, without
doubt, very early literature, even than in later writings (e.g. Judges 5 ; Deuteronomy
33 ; 1 Samuel 4-6). The isolation of the desert was more favorable to the integrity
of Yahweh's sole worship than the neighborhood of powerful peoples who worshipped
many other gods. Yet that early religion of Yahweh can be called monotheistic
only in the light of the end it realized, for in the course of its development
it had to overcome many limitations.
|(a) His Early Worship
The early worship of Yahweh did not exclude belief in the existence of other gods.
As other nations believed in the existence of Yahweh (1 Samuel 4:8 ; 2 Kings 17:27),
so Israel did not doubt the reality of other gods (Judges 11:24 ; Numbers 21:29
; Micah 4:5). This limitation involved two others: Yahweh is the God of Israel
only; with them alone He makes a COVENANT
(which see) (Genesis 15:18 ; Exodus 6:4 , 5 ; 2 Kings 17:34 , 35), and their worship
only He seeks (Deuteronomy 4:32-37 ; 32:9 ; Amos 3:2). Therefore, He works, and
can be worshipped only within a certain geographical area. He may have been associated
with His original home in Sinai long after the settlement in Canaan (Judges 5:4
; Deuteronomy 33:2 ; 1 Kings 19:8 , 9), but gradually His home and that of His
people became identical (1 Samuel 26:19 ; Hosea 9:3 ; Isaiah 14:2 , 25). Even
after the deportation of the ten tribes, Canaan remains Yahweh's land (2 Kings
17:24-28). Early Israelites are, therefore, more properly described as Monolatrists
or Henotheists than as Monotheists. It is characteristic of the religion of Israel
(in contrast with, e.g. Greek thought) that it arrived at absolute Monotheism
along the line of moral and religious experience, rather than that of rational
inference. Even while they shared the common Semitic belief in the reality of
other gods, Yahweh alone had for them "the value of God."
(b) Popular Religion
It is necessary to distinguish between the teaching of the religious leaders and
the belief and practice of the people generally. The presence of a higher religion
never wholly excludes superstitious practices. The use of Teraphim (Genesis 31:30
; 1 Samuel 19:13 , 16 ; Hosea 3:4), Ephod (Judges 18:17-20 ; 1 Samuel 23:6 , 9
; 30:7), Urim and Thummim (1 Samuel 28:6 ; 14:40, Septuagint), for the purposes
of magic and divination, to obtain oracles from Yahweh, was quite common in Israel.
Necromancy was practiced early and late (1 Samuel 28:7 ; Isaiah 8:19 ; Deuteronomy
18:10). Sorcery and witchcraft were not unknown, but were condemned by the religious
leaders (1 Samuel 28:3). The burial places of ancestors were held in great veneration
(Genesis 35:20 ; 50:13 ; Joshua 24:30). But these facts do not prove that Hebrew
religion was animistic and polytheistic, any more than similar phenomena in Christian
lands would justify such an inference about Christianity.
(c) Polytheistic Tendencies
Yet the worship of Yahweh maintained and developed its monotheistic principle
only by overcoming several hostile tendencies. The Baal-worship of the Canaanites
and the cults of other neighboring tribes proved a strong attraction to the mass
of Israelites (Judges 2:13 ; 3:7 ; 8:33 ; 10:10 ; 1 Samuel 8:8 ; 12:10 ; 1 Kings
11:5 , 33 ; Hosea 2:5 , 17 ; Ezekiel 20 ; Exodus 20:5 ; 22:20 ; 34:16 , 17). Under
the conditions of life in Canaan, the sole worship of Yahweh was in danger of
modification by three tendencies, coordination, assimilation, and disintegration.
When the people had settled down in peaceful relations with their neighbors, and
began to have commercial and diplomatic transactions with them, it was inevitable
that they should render their neighbor's gods some degree of reverence and worship.
Courtesy and friendship demanded as much (compare 2 Kings 5:18). When Solomon
had contracted many foreign alliances by marriage, he was also bound to admit
foreign worship into Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:5). But Ahab was the first king who
tried to set up the worship of Baal, side by side with that of Yahweh, as the
national religion (1 Kings 18:19). Elijah's stand and Jehu's revolution gave its
death blow to Baal-worship and vindicated the sole right of Yahweh to Israel's
allegiance. The prophet was defending the old religion and Ahab was the innovator;
but the conflict and its issue brought the monotheistic principle to a new and
higher level. The supreme temptation and the choice transformed what had been
a natural monolatry into a conscious and moral adherence to Yahweh alone (1 Kings
But to repudiate the name of Baal was not necessarily to be rid of the influence
of Baal-worship. The ideas of the heathen religions survived in a more subtle
way in the worship of Yahweh Himself. The change from the nomad life of the desert
to the agricultural conditions of Canaan involved some change in religion. Yahweh,
the God of flocks and wars, had to be recognized as the God of the vintage and
the harvest. That this development occurred is manifest in the character of the
great religious festivals. "Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the
year. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep .... and the feast of harvest,
the first-fruits of thy labors, which thou sowest in the field: and the feast
of ingathering, at the end of the year, when thou gatherest in thy labors out
of the field" (Exodus 23:14-16). The second and the third obviously, and the first
probably, were agricultural feasts, which could have no meaning in the desert.
Israel and Yahweh together took possession of Canaan. To doubt that would be to
admit the claims of the Baal-worship; but to assert it also involved some danger,
because it was to assert certain similarities between Yahweh and the Baalim. When
those similarities were embodied in the national festivals, they loomed very large
in the eyes and minds of the mass of the people (W.R. Smith, Prophets of Israel,
49-57). The danger was that Israel should regard Yahweh, like the Baals of the
country, as a Nature-god, and, by local necessity, a national god, who gave His
people the produce of the land and, protected them from their enemies, and in
return received frown them such gifts and sacrifices as corresponded to His nature.
From the appearance in Israel, and among Yahweh worshippers, of such names as
Jerub-baal, Esh-baal (son of Saul) and Beeliada (son of David, 1 Chronicles 14:7),
it has been inferred that Yahweh was called Baal, and there is ample evidence
that His worship was assimilated to that of the Canaanite Baalim. The bulls raised
by Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:26) were symbols of Yahweh, and in Judah the Canaanite
worship was imitated down to the time of Asa (1 Kings 14:22-24; 15:12,13). Against
this tendency above all, the great prophets of the 8th century contended. Israel
worshipped Yahweh as if He were one of the Baalim, and Hosea calls it Baal-worship
(Hosea 2:8,12,13; compare Amos 2:8; Isaiah 1:10-15).
And where Yahweh was conceived as one of the Baalim or Masters of the land, He
became, like them, subject to disintegration into a number of local deities. This
was probably the gravamen of Jeroboam's sin in the eyes of the "Deuteronomic"
historian. In setting up separate sanctuaries, he divided the worship, and, in
effect, the godhead of Yahweh. The localization and naturalization of Yahweh,
as well as His assimilation to the Baals, all went together, so that we read that
even in Judah the number of gods was according to its cities (Jeremiah 2:28; 11:13).
The vindication of Yahweh's moral supremacy and spiritual unity demanded, among
other things, the unification of His worship in Jerusalem (2 Kings 23).
(d) No Hebrew Goddesses
In one respect the religion of Yahweh successfully resisted the influence of the
heathen cults. At no time was Yahweh associated with a goddess. Although the corrupt
sensual practices that formed a large part of heathen worship also entered into
Israel's worship (see ASHERAH), it never penetrated so far as to modify in this
respect the idea of Yahweh.
(e) Human Sacrifices
It is a difficult question how far human sacrifices at any time found place in
the worship of Yahweh. The outstanding instance is that of Jephthah's daughter,
which, though not condemned, is certainly regarded as exceptional (Judges 11:30-40).
Perhaps it is rightly regarded as a unique survival. Then the story of the sacrifice
of Isaac, while reminiscent of an older practice, represents a more advanced view.
Human sacrifice though not demanded, is not abhorrent to Yahweh (Genesis 22).
A further stage is represented where Ahaz' sacrifice of his son is condemned as
an "abomination of the nations" (2 Kings 16:3). The sacrifice of children is emphatically
condemned by the prophets as a late and foreign innovation which Yahweh had not
commanded (Jeremiah 7:31; Ezekiel 16:20). Other cases, such as the execution of
the chiefs of Shittim (Numbers 25:4), and of Saul's sons "before Yahweh" (2 Samuel
21:9), and the cherem or ban, by which whole communities were devoted to destruction
(Judges 21:10; 1 Samuel 15), while they show a very inadequate idea of the sacredness
of human life, are not sacrifices, nor were they demanded by Yahweh's worship.
They were survivals of savage customs connected with tribal unity, which the higher
morality of Yahweh's religion had not yet abolished.
(2) Nature and Character of Yahweh
The nature and character of Yahweh are manifested in His activities. The Old Testament
makes no statements about the essence of God; we are left to infer it from His
action in Nature and history and from His dealing with man.
|(a) A God of War
In this period, His activity is predominantly martial. As Israel's Deliverer from
Egypt, "Yahweh is a man of war" (Exodus 15:3). An ancient account of Israel's
journey to Canaan is called "the book of the Wars of Yahweh" (Numbers 21:14).
By conquest in war He gave His people their land (Judges 5; 2 Samuel 5:24; Deuteronomy
33:27). He is, therefore, more concerned with men and nations, with the moral,
than with the physical world.
(b) His Relation to Nature
Even His activity in Nature is first connected with His martial character. Earth,
stars and rivers come to His battle (Judges 5:4,20,21). The forces of Nature do
the bidding of Israel's Deliverer from Egypt (Exodus 8-10; 14:21). He causes sun
and moon to stand while He delivers up the Amorites (Joshua 10:12). Later, He
employs the forces of Nature to chastise His people for infidelity and sin (2
Samuel 24:15; 1 Kings 17:1). Amos declares that His moral rule extends to other
nations and that it determines their destinies. In harmony with this idea, great
catastrophes like the Deluge (Genesis 7) and the overthrow of the Cities of the
Plain (Genesis 19) are ascribed to His moral will. In the same pragmatic manner
the oldest creation narrative describes Him creating man, and as much of the world
as He needed (Genesis 2), but as yet the idea of a universal cause had not emerged,
because the idea of a universe had not been formed. He acts as one of great, but
limited, power and knowledge (Genesis 11:5-8; 18:20). The more universal conception
of Genesis 1 belongs to the same stratum of thought as Second Isa. At every stage
of the Old Testament the metaphysical perfections of Yahweh follow as an inference
from His ethical preeminence.
(3) Most Distinctive Characteristics of Yahweh
The most distinctive characteristic of Yahweh, which finally rendered Him and
His religion absolutely unique, was the moral factor. In saying that Yahweh was
a moral God, it is meant that He acted by free choice, in conformity with ends
which He set to Himself, and which He also imposed upon His worshippers as their
law of conduct.
The most essential condition of a moral nature is found in His vivid personality,
which at every stage of His self-revelation shines forth with an intensity that
might be called aggressive. Divine personality and spirituality are never expressly
asserted or defined in the Old Testament; but nowhere in the history of religion
are they more clearly asserted. The modes of their expression are, however, qualified
by anthropomorphisms, by limitations, moral and physical. Yahweh's jealousy (Exodus
20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9; 6:15), His wrath and anger (Exodus 32:10-12; Deuteronomy
7:4) and His inviolable holiness (Exodus 19:21,22; 1 Samuel 6:19; 2 Samuel 6:7)
appear sometimes to be irrational and immoral; but they are the assertion of His
individual nature, of His self-consciousness as He distinguishes Himself from
all else, in the moral language of the time, and are the conditions of His having
any moral nature whatsoever. Likewise, He dwells in a place and moves from it
(Judges 5:5); men may see Him in visible form (Exodus 24:10; Numbers 12:8); He
is always represented as having organs like those of the human body, arms, hands,
feet, mouth, eyes and ears. By such sensuous and figurative language alone was
it possible for a personal God to make Himself known to men.
(b) Law and Judgment
The content of Yahweh's moral nature as revealed in the Old Testament developed
with the growth of moral ideas. Though His activity is most prominently martial,
it is most permanently judicial, and is exercised through judges, priests and
prophets. Torah and mishpaT, "law" and "judgment," from the time of Moses onward,
stand, the one for a body of customs that should determine men's relations to
one another, and the other for the decision of individual cases in accordance
with those customs, and both were regarded as issuing from Yahweh. The people
came to Moses "to inquire of God" when they had a matter in dispute, and he "judged
between a man and his neighbor, and made them know the statutes of God, and his
laws" (Exodus 18:15,16). The judges appear mostly as leaders in war; but it is
clear, as their name indicates, that they also gave judgments as between the people
(Judges 3:10; 4:4; 10:2,3; 1 Samuel 7:16). The earliest literary prophets assume
the existence of a law which priest and prophet had neglected to administer rightly
(Hosea 4:6; 8:1,12; Amos 2:4). This implied that Yahweh was thought of as actuated
and acting by a consistent moral principle, which He also imposed on His people.
Their morality may have varied much at different periods, but there is no reason
to doubt that the Decalogue, and the moral teaching it involved, emanated substantially
from Moses. "He taught them that Yahveh, if a stern, and often wrathful, Deity,
was also a God of justice and purity. Linking the moral life to the religious
idea, he may have taught them too that murder and theft, adultery and false witness,
were abhorred and forbidden by their God" (Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures3, 49).
The moral teaching of the Old Testament effected the transition from the national
and collective to the individual and personal relation with Yahweh. The most fundamental
defect of Hebrew morality was that its application was confined within Israel
itself and did little to determine the relation of the Israelites to people of
other nations; and this limitation was bound up with Henotheism, the idea that
Yahweh was God of Israel alone. "The consequence of this national conception of
Yahweh was that there was no religious and moral bond regulating the conduct of
the Hebrews with men of other nations. Conduct which between fellow-Hebrews was
offensive in Yahweh's eyes was inoffensive when practiced by a Hebrew toward one
who was not a Hebrew (Deuteronomy 23:19) ..... In the latter case they were governed
purely by considerations of expediency. This ethical limitation is the real explanation
of the 'spoiling of the Egyptians' " (Exodus 11:2,3) (G. Buchanan Gray, The Divine
Discipline of Israel, 46, 48).
The first line of advance in the teaching of the prophets was to expand and deepen
the moral demands of Yahweh. So they removed at once the ethical and theological
limitations of the earlier view. But they were conscious that they were only developing
elements already latent in the character and law of Yahweh.
5. The Idea of God in the Prophetic Period
Two conditions called forth and determined the message of the 8th-century prophets--the
degradation of morality and religion at home and the growing danger to Israel
and Judah from the all-victorious Assyrian. With one voice the prophets declare
and condemn the moral and social iniquity of Israel and Judah (Hosea 4:1; Amos
4:1; Isaiah 1:21-23). The worship of Yahweh had been assimilated to the heathen
religions around (Amos 2:8; Hosea 3:1; Isaiah 30:22). A time of prosperity had
produced luxury, license and an easy security, depending upon the external bonds
and ceremonies of religion. In the threatening attitude of Assyria, the prophets
see the complement of Israel's unfaithfulness and sin, this the cause and that
the instruments of Yahweh's anger (Isaiah 10:5,6).
These circumstances forced into first prominence the righteousness of Yahweh.
It was an original attribute that had appeared even in His most martial acts (Judges
5:4; 1 Samuel 12:7). But the prophet's interpretation of Israel's history revealed
its content on a larger scale. Yahweh was not like the gods of the heathen, bound
to the purposes and fortunes of His people. Their relation was not a natural bond,
but a covenant of grace which He freely bestowed upon them, and He demanded as
its condition, loyalty to Himself and obedience to His law. Impending calamities
were not, as the naturalistic conception implied, due to the impotence of Yahweh
against the Assyrian gods (Isaiah 31:1), but the judgment of God, whereby He applied
impartially to the conduct of His people a standard of righteousness, which He
both had in Himself and declared in judgment upon them. The prophets did not at
first so much transform the idea of righteousness, as assert its application as
between the people and Yahweh. But in doing that they also rejected the external
views of its realization. It consists not in unlimited gifts or in the costliest
oblations. "What doth Yahweh require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). And it tends to become of universal
application. Yahweh will deal as a righteous judge with all nations, including
Israel, and Israel as the covenant people bears the greater responsibility (Amos
1-3). And a righteous judge that metes out even justice to all nations will deal
similarly with individuals. The ministry of the prophets produced a vivid consciousness
of the personal and individual relation of men to God. The prophets themselves
were not members of a class, no order or school or profession, but men impelled
by an inner and individual call of God, often against their inclination, to proclaim
an unpopular message (Amos 7:14,15; Isaiah 6; Jeremiah 1:6-9; Ezekiel 3:14). Jeremiah
and Ezekiel in terms denounced the old idea of collective responsibility (Jeremiah
31:29; Ezekiel 18). Thus in the prophets' application of the idea of righteousness
to their time, two of the limitations adhering to the idea of God, at least in
popular religion hitherto, were transcended. Yahweh's rule is no longer limited
to Israel, nor concerned only with the nation as a collective whole, but He deals
impartially with every individual and nation alike. Other limitations also disappear.
His anger and wrath, that once appeared irrational and unjust, now become the
intensity of His righteousness. Nor is it merely forensic and retributive righteousness.
It is rather a moral end, a chief good, which He may realize by loving-kindness
and mercy and forgiveness as much as by punishment. Hebrew thought knows no opposition
between God's righteousness and His goodness, between justice and mercy. The covenant
of righteousness is like the relation of husband to wife, of father to child,
one of loving-kindness and everlasting love (Hosea 3:1; 11:4; Isaiah 1:18; 30:18;
Micah 7:18; Isaiah 43:4; 54:8; Jeremiah 31:3,34; 9:24). The stirring events which
showed Yahweh's independence of Israel revealed the fullness of grace that was
always latent in His relation to His people (Genesis 33:11; 2 Samuel 24:14). It
was enshrined in the Decalogue (Exodus 20:6), and proclaimed with incomparable
grandeur in what may be the most ancient Mosaic tradition: "Yah, Yahweh, a God
merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth;
keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and
sin" (Exodus 34:6,7).
The holiness of Yahweh in the Prophets came to have a meaning closely akin to
His righteousness. As an idea more distinctly religious and more exclusively applied
to God, it was subject to greater changes of meaning with the development or degradation
of religion. It was applied to anything withdrawn from common use to the service
of religion--utensils, places, seasons, animals and men. Originally it was so
far from the moral meaning it now has that it was used of the "sacred" prostitutes
who ministered to the licentiousness of Canaanitish worship (Deuteronomy 23:18).
Whether or not the root-idea of the word was "separateness," there is no doubt
that it is applied to Yahweh in the Old Testament to express his separateness
from men and his sublimity above them. It was not always a moral quality in Yahweh;
for He might be unapproachable because of His mere power and terror (1 Samuel
6:20; Isaiah 8:13). But in the Prophets, and especially in Isa, it acquires a
distinctly moral meaning. In his vision Isaiah hears Yahweh proclaimed as "holy,
holy, holy," and he is filled with the sense of his own sin and of that of Israel
(Isaiah 6; compare Isaiah 1:4; Amos 2:7). But even here the term conveys more
than moral perfection. Yahweh is already "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth
eternity, whose name is Holy" (Isaiah 57:15). It expresses the full Divinity of
Yahweh in His uniqueness and self-existence (1 Samuel 2:2; Amos 4:2; Hosea 11:9).
It would therefore seem to stand in antithesis to righteousness, as expressing
those qualities of God, metaphysical and moral, by which He is distinguished and
separated from men, while righteousness involves those moral activities and relations
which man may share with God. But in the Prophets, God's entire being is moral
and His whole activity is righteous. The meanings of the terms, though not identical,
coincide; God's holiness is realized in righteousness. "God the Holy One is sanctified
in righteousness" (Isaiah 5:16). So Isaiah's peculiar phrase, "the Holy One of
Israel," brings God in His most exalted being into a relation of knowledge and
moral reciprocity with Israel.
The moralizing of righteousness and holiness universalized Deity.--From Amos downward
Yahweh's moral rule, and therefore His absolute power, were recognized as extending
over all the nations surrounding Israel, and the great world-power of Assyria
is but the rod of His anger and the instrument of His righteousness (Amos 1-2;
Isaiah 10:5; 13:5; 19:1). Idolatrous and polytheistic worship of all kinds are
condemned. The full inference of Monotheism was only a gradual process, even with
the prophets. It is not clear that the 8th-century prophets all denied the existence
of other gods, though Isaiah's term for them, 'elilim ("things of nought," "no-gods"),
points in that direction. At least the monotheistic process had set in. And Yahweh's
control over other nations was not exercised merely from Israel's point of view.
The issue of the judgment upon the two great powers of Egypt and Assyria was to
be their conversion to the religion of Yahweh (Isaiah 19:24,25; compare Isaiah
2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3). Yet Hebrew universalism never went beyond the idea that all
nations should find their share in Yahweh through Israel (Zechariah 8:23). The
nations from the ends of the earth shall come to Yahweh and declare that their
fathers' gods were "lies, even vanity and things wherein there is no profit" (Jeremiah
16:19). It is stated categorically that "Yahweh he is God in heaven above and
upon the earth beneath; there is none else" (Deuteronomy 4:39).
The unity of God was the leading idea of Josiah's reformation. Jerusalem was cleansed
of every accretion of Baal-worship and of other heathen religions that had established
themselves by the side of the worship of Yahweh (2 Kings 23:4-8,10-14). The semi-heathen
worship of Yahweh in many local shrines, which tended to disintegrate His unity,
was swept away (2 Kings 23:8,9). The reform was extended to the Northern Kingdom
(2 Kings 23:15-20), so that Jerusalem should be the sole habitation of Yahweh
on earth, and His worship there alone should be the symbol of unity to the whole
But the monotheistic doctrine is first fully and consciously stated in Second
Isa. There is no God but Yahweh: other gods are merely graven images, and their
worshippers commit the absurdity of worshipping the work of their own hands (Isaiah
42:8; 44:8-20). Yahweh manifests His deity in His absolute sovereignty of the
world, both of Nature and history. The prophet had seen the rise and fall of Assyria,
the coming of Cyrus, the deportation and return of Judah's exiles, as incidents
in the training of Israel for her world-mission to be "a light of the Gentiles"
and Yahweh's "salvation unto the end of the earth" (Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:1-6). Israel's
world-mission, and the ordering of historical movements to the grand final purpose
of universal salvation (Isaiah 45:23), is the philosophy of history complementary
to the doctrine of God's unity and universal sovereignty.
(5) Creator and Lord
A further inference is that He is Creator and Lord of the physical universe. Israel's
call and mission is from Yahweh who "created the heavens, and stretched them forth;
he that spread abroad the earth and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth
breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein" (Isaiah
42:5; compare Isaiah 40:12,26; 44:24; 45:18; Genesis 1). All the essential factors
of Monotheism are here at last exhibited, not in abstract metaphysical terms,
but as practical motives of religious life. His counsel and action are His own
(Isaiah 40:13) Nothing is hid from Him; and the future like the past is known
to Him (Isaiah 40:27; 42:9; 44:8; 48:6). Notwithstanding His special association
with the temple in Jerusalem, He is "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity";
the heaven is His throne, and no house or place can contain Him (Isaiah 57:15;
66:1). No force of history or Nature can withstand His purpose (Isaiah 41:17-20;
42:13; 43:13). He is "the First and the Last," an "Everlasting God" (Isaiah 40:28;
41:4; 48:12). Nothing can be likened to Him or compared with Him (Isaiah 46:5).
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so His thoughts and ways transcend those
of men (Isaiah 55:8,9). But anthropomorphic and anthropopathic expressions still
abound. Eyes, mouth, ears, nostrils, hands, arms and face are His; He is a man
of war (Isaiah 42:13; 63:1); He cries like a travailing woman (Isaiah 42:14),
and feeds His flock like a shepherd (Isaiah 40:11). Thus, alone could the prophet
express His full concrete Divinity.
(6) Compassion and Love
His compassion and love are expressed in a variety of ways that lead up directly
to the New Testament doctrine of Divine Fatherhood. He folds Israel in His arms
as a shepherd his lambs (Isaiah 40:11). Her scattered children are His sons and
daughters whom He redeems and restores (Isaiah 43:5-7). In wrath for a moment
He hides His face, but His mercy and kindness are everlasting (Isaiah 54:8). Greater
than a mother's tenderness is Yahweh's love for Israel (Isaiah 49:15; 66:13).
"It would be easy to find in the prophet proof-texts for everything which theology
asserts regarding God, with the exception perhaps that He is a spirit, by which
is meant that He is a particular kind of substance" (A.B. Davidson in Skinner,
Isa, II, xxix). But in truth the spirituality and personality of God are more
adequately expressed in the living human language of the prophet than in the dead
abstractions of metaphysics.
6. The Idea of God in Post-exilic Judaism
Monotheism appears in this period as established beyond question, and in the double
sense that Yahweh the God of Israel is one Being, and that beside Him there is
no other God. He alone is God of all the earth, and all other beings stand at
an infinite distance from Him (Psalms 18:31; 24:1; 115:3). The generic name God
is frequently applied to Him, and the tendency appears to avoid the particular
and proper name Yahweh (see especially Psalms 73-89; Job; Ecclesiastes).
(1) New Conditions
Nothing essentially new appears, but the teaching of the prophets is developed
under new influences. And what then was enforced by the few has now become the
creed of the many. The teaching of the prophets had been enforced by the experiences
of the exile. Israel had been punished for her sins of idolatry, and the faithful
among the exiles had learned that Yahweh's rule extended over many lands and nations.
The foreign influences had been more favorable to Monotheism. The gods of Canaan
and even of Assyria and Babylonia had been overthrown, and their peoples had given
place to the Persians, who, in the religion of Zarathushtra, had advanced nearer
to a pure Monotheism than any Gentilerace had done; for although they posited
two principles of being, the Good and the Evil, they worshipped only Ahura-Mazda,
the Good. When Persia gave way to Greece, the more cultured Greek, the Greek who
had ideas to disseminate, and who established schools at Antioch or Alexandria,
was a pure Monotheist.
(2) Divine Attributes
Although we do not yet find anything like a dogmatic account of God's attributes,
the larger outlook upon the universe and the deeper reflection upon man's individual
experience have produced more comprehensive and far-reaching ideas of God's being
and activity. (a) Faith rests upon His eternity and unchangeablehess (Psalms 90:1,2;
102:27). His omniscience and omnipresence are expressed with every possible fullness
(Psalms 139; Job 26:6). His almighty power is at once the confidence of piety,
and the rebuke of blasphemy or frowardness (Psalms 74:12-17; 104 et passim; Job
36; 37 et passim; Ecclesiasticus 16:17). (b) His most exalted and comprehensive
attribute is His holiness; by it He swears as by Himself (Psalms 89:35); it expresses
His majesty (Ps 99:3,19) and His supreme power (Psalms 60:6). (c) His righteousness
marks all His acts in relation to Israel and the nations around her (Psalms 119:137-144;
129:4). (d) That both holiness and righteousness were conceived as moral qualities
is reflected in the profound sense of sin which the pious knew (Psalms 51) and
revealed in the moral demands associated with them; truth, honesty and fidelity
are the qualities of those who shall dwell in God's holy hill (Psalms 15); purity,
diligence, kindliness, honesty, humility and wisdom are the marks of the righteous
man (Proverbs 10-11). (e) In Job and Proverbs wisdom stands forth as the preeminent
quality of the ideal man, combining in itself all moral and intellectual excellences,
and wisdom comes from God (Proverbs 2:6); it is a quality of His nature (Proverbs
8:22) and a mode of His activity (Proverbs 3:19; Psalms 104:24). In the Hellenistic
circles of Alexandria, wisdom was transformed into a philosophical conception,
which is at once the principle of God's sell-revelation and of His creative activity.
Philo identifies it with His master-conception, the Logos. "Both Logos and Wisdom
mean for Him the reason and mind of God, His image impressed upon the universe,
His agent of creation and providence, the mediator through which He communicates
Himself to man and the world, and His law imposed upon both the moral and physical
universe" (Mansfield Essays, 296). In the Book of Wisdom it is represented as
proceeding from God, "a breath of the power of God, and a clear effulgence of
the glory of the Almighty .... an unspotted mirror of the working of God, and
an image of his goodness" (7:25,26). In man, it is the author of knowledge, virtue
and piety, and in the world it has been the guide and arbiter of its destiny from
the beginning (chapters 10-12). (f) But in the more purely Hebrew literature of
this period, the moral attribute of God that comes into greatest prominence is
His beneficence. Goodness and mercy, faithfulness and loving-kindness, forgiveness
and redemption are His willing gifts to Israel. "Like as a father pitieth his
children, so Yahweh pitieth them that fear him" (Psalms 103:13; 145:8; 103:8;
Ecclesiasticus 2:11 ). To say that God is loving and like a father goes far on
the way to the doctrine that He is Love and Father, but not the whole way; for
as yet His mercy and grace are manifested only in individual acts, and they are
not the natural and necessary outflow of His nature. All these ideas of God meant
less for the Jewish than for the Christian mind, because they were yet held subject
to several limitations.
(3) Surviving Limitations
|(a) Disappearing Anthropomorphism
We have evidence of a changed attitude toward anthropomorphisms. God no longer
walks on earth, or works under human limitation. Where His eyes or ears or face
or hands are spoken of, they are clearly figurative expressions. His activities
are universal and invisible, and He dwells on high forevermore. Yet anthropomorphic
limitations are not wholly overcome. The idea that He sleeps, though not to be
taken literally, implies a defect of His power (Psalms 44:23).
In the metaphysical attributes, the chief limitation was the idea that God's dwelling-place
on earth was on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. He was no longer confined within Palestine;
His throne is in heaven (Psalms 11:4; 103:19), and His glory above the heavens
(Psalms 113:4); but
|"In Judah is God known:
His name is great in Israel.
In Salem also is his tabernacle,
And his dwelling-place in Zion"
(Psalms 76:1,2; 110:2; compare Ecclesiasticus 24:8).
That these are no figures of speech is manifested in the yearning of the pious
for the temple, and their despair in separation from it (Pss 42; 43; compare 122).
This involved a moral limitation, the sense of God's favoritism toward Israel,
which sometimes developed into an easy self-righteousness that had no moral basis.
God's action in the world was determined by His favor toward Israel, and His loving
acts were confined within the bounds of a narrow nationalism. Other nations are
wicked and sinners, adversaries and oppressors, upon whom God is called to execute
savage vengeance (Psalms 109; 137:7-9). Yet Israel did not wholly forget that
it was the servant of Yahweh to proclaim His name among the nations (Psalms 96:2,3).
Yahweh is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works (Psalms 145:9;
Ecclesiasticus 18:13; compare Psalms 104:14; Zechariah 14:16, and the Book of
Jonah, which is a rebuke to Jewish particularism).
(d) Ceremonial Legalism
God's holiness in the hands of the priests tended to become a material and formal
quality, which fulfilled itself in established ceremonial, and His righteousness
in the hands of the scribes tended to become an external law whose demands were
satisfied by a mechanical obedience of works. This external conception of righteousness
reacted upon the conception of God's government of the world. From the earliest
times the Hebrew mind had associated suffering with the punishment of sin, and
blessedness with the reward of virtue. In the post-exilic age the relation came
to be thought of as one of strict correspondence between righteousness and reward
and between sin and punishment. Righteousness, both in man and God, was not so
much a moral state as a measurable sum of acts, in the one case, of obedience,
and in the other, of reward or retribution. Conversely, every calamity and evil
that befell men came to be regarded as the direct and equivalent penalty of a
sin they had committed. The Book of Job is a somewhat inconclusive protest against
this prevalent view.
These were the tendencies that ultimately matured into the narrow externalism
of the scribes and Pharisees of our Lord's time, which had substituted for the
personal knowledge and service of God a system of mechanical acts of worship and
(4) Tendencies to Abstractness
Behind these defective ideas of God's attributes stood a more radical defect of
the whole religious conception. The purification of the religion of Israel from
Polytheism and idolatry, the affirmation of the unity of God and of His spirituality,
required His complete separation from the manifoldness of visible existence. It
was the only way, until the more adequate idea of a personal or spiritual unity,
that embraced the manifold in itself, was developed. But it was an unstable conception,
which tended on the one hand to empty the unity of all reality, and on the other
to replace it by a new multiplicity which was not a unity. Both tendencies appear
in post-exilic Judaism.
The first effect of distinguishing too sharply between God and all created being
was to set Him above and apart from all the world. This tendency had already appeared
in Ezekiel, whose visions were rather symbols of God's presence than actual experiences
of God. In Daniel even the visions appear only in dreams. The growth of the Canon
of sacred literature as the final record of the law of God, and the rise of the
scribes as its professional interpreters, signified that God need not, and would
not, speak face to face with man again; and the stricter organization of the priesthood
and its sacrificial acts in Jerusalem tended to shut men generally out from access
to God, and to reduce worship into a mechanical performance. A symptom of this
fact was the disuse of the personal name Yahweh and the substitution for it of
more general and abstract terms like God and Lord.
Not only an exaggerated awe, but also an element of skepticism, entered into the
disuse of the proper name, a sense of the inadequacy of any name. In the Wisdom
literature, God's incomprehensibility and remoteness appear for the first time
as a conscious search after Him and a difficulty to find Him (Job 16:18-21; 23:3,8,9;
Proverbs 30:2-4). Even the doctrine of immortality developed with the sense of
God's present remoteness and the hope of His future nearness (Psalms 17:15; Job
19:25). But Jewish theology was no cold Epicureanism or rationalistic Deism. Men's
religious experiences apprehended God more intimately than their theology professed.
By a "happy inconsistency" (Montefiore) they affirmed His immanence both in Nature
(Psalms 104; The Wisdom of Solomon 8:1; 12:1,2) and in man's inner experience
(Proverbs 15:3,11; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 29:17,18). Yet that transcendence was the
dominating thought is manifest, most of all, in the formulation of a number of
mediating conceptions, which, while they connected God and the world, also revealed
the gulf that separated them.
(5) Logos, Memra', and Angels
This process of abstraction had gone farthest in Alexandria, where Jewish thought
had so far assimilated Platonic philosophy, that Philo and Wisdom conceive God
as pure being who could not Himself come into any contact with the material and
created world. His action and revelation are therefore mediated by His Powers,
His Logos and His Wisdom, which, as personified or hypostatized attributes, become
His vicegerents on earth. But in Palestine, too many mediating agencies grew up
between God and man. The memra', or word of God, was not unlike Philo's Logos.
The deified law partly corresponded to Alexandrian Wisdom. The Messiah had already
appeared in the Prophets, and now in some circles He was expected as the mediator
of God's special favor to Israel. The most important and significant innovation
in this connection was the doctrine of angels. It was not entirely new, and Babylonian
and Persian influences may have contributed to its development; but its chief
cause lay in the general scheme of thought. Angels became intermediaries of revelation
(Zechariah 1:9,12,19; 3:1), the instruments of God's help (Daniel 3:28; 2 Maccabees
11:6), and of His punishment (Apoc Baruch 21:23). The ancient gods of the nations
became their patron angels (Daniel 10:13-20); but Israel's hatred of their Gentileenemies
often led to their transforming the latter's deities into demons. Incidentally
a temporary solution of the problem of evil was thus found, by shifting all responsibility
for evil from Yahweh to the demons. The unity and supremacy of God were maintained
by the doubtful method of delegating His manifold, and especially His contradictory,
activities to subordinate and partially to hostile spirits, which involved a new
Polytheism. The problem of the One and the Many in ultimate reality cannot be
solved by merely separating them. Hebrew Monotheism was unstable; it maintained
its own truth even partially by affirming contradictories, and it contained in
itself the demand for a further development. The few pluralistic phrases in the
Old Testament (as Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, and 'Elohim) are not adumbrations
of the Trinity, but only philological survivals. But the Messianic hope was an
open confession of the incompleteness of the Old Testament revelation of God.
III. THE IDEA OF GOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. Dependence on the Old Testament
The whole of the New Testament presupposes and rests upon the Old Testament. Jesus
Christ and His disciples inherited the idea of God revealed in the Old Testament,
as it survived in the purer strata of Jewish religion. So much was it to them
and their contemporaries a matter of course, that it never occurred to them to
proclaim or enforce the idea of God. Nor did they consciously feel the need of
amending or changing it. They sought to correct some fallacious deductions made
by later Judaism, and, unconsciously, they dropped the cruder anthropomorphisms
and limitations of the Old Testament idea. But their point of departure was always
the higher teaching of the prophets and Psalms, and their conscious endeavor in
presenting God to men was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17).
All the worthier ideas concerning God evolved in the Old Testament reappear in
the New Testament. He is One, supreme, living, personal and spiritual, holy, righteous
and merciful. His power and knowledge are all-sufficient, and He is not limited
in time or place. Nor can it be said that any distinctly new attributes are ascribed
to God in the New Testament. Yet there is a difference. The conception and all
its factors are placed in a new relation to man and the universe, whereby their
meaning is transformed, enhanced and enriched. The last trace of particularism,
with its tendency to Polytheism, disappears. God can no longer bear a proper name
to associate Him with Israel, or to distinguish Him from other gods, for He is
the God of all the earth, who is no respecter of persons or nations. Two new elements
entered men's religious thought and gradually lifted its whole content to a new
plane--Jesus Christ's experience and manifestation of the Divine Fatherhood, and
the growing conviction of the church that Christ Himself was God and the full
and final revelation of God.
2. Gentile Influence
Greek thought may also have influenced New Testament thought, but in a comparatively
insignificant and subordinate way. Its content was not taken over bodily as was
that of Hebrew thought, and it did not influence the fountain head of New Testament
ideas. It did not color the mind and teaching of Jesus Christ. It affected the
form rather than matter of New Testament teaching. It appears in the clear-cut
distinction between flesh and spirit, mind and body, which emerges in Paul's Epistles,
and so it helped to define more accurately the spirituality of God. The idea of
the Logos in John, and the kindred idea of Christ as the image of God in Paul
and He, owe something to the influence of the Platonic and Stoic schools. As this
is the constructive concept employed in the New Testament to define the religious
significance of Christ and His essential relation to God, it modifies the idea
of God itself, by introducing a distinction within the unity into its innermost
3. Absence of Theistic Proofs
Philosophy never appears in the New Testament on its own account, but only as
subservient to Christian experience. In the New Testament as in the Old Testament,
the existence of God is taken for granted as the universal basis of all life and
thought. Only in three passages of Paul's, addressed to heathen audiences, do
we find anything approaching a natural theology, and these are concerned rather
with defining the nature of God, than with proving His existence. When the people
of Lystra would have worshipped Paul and Barnabas as heathen gods, the apostle
protests that God is not like men, and bases His majesty upon His creatorship
of all things (Acts 14:15). He urges the same argument at Athens, and appeals
for its confirmation to the evidences of man's need of God which he had found
in Athens itself (Acts 17:23-31). The same natural witness of the soul, face to
face with the universe, is again in Romans made the ground of universal responsibility
to God (Acts 1:18-21). No formal proof of God's existence is offered in the New
Testament. Nor are the metaphysical attributes of God, His infinity, omnipotence
and omniscience, as defined in systematic theology, at all set forth in the New
Testament. The ground for these deductions is provided in the religious experience
that finds God in Christ all-sufficient.
4. Fatherhood of God
The fundamental and central idea about God in New Testament teaching is His Fatherhood,
and it determines all that follows. In some sense the idea was not unknown to
heathen religions. Greeks and Romans acknowledged Father Zeus or Jupiter as the
creator and preserver of Nature, and as standing in some special relation to men.
In the Old Testament the idea appears frequently, and has a richer content. Not
only is God the creator and preserver of Israel, but He deals with her as a father
with his child. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so Yahweh pitieth them
that fear Him" (Psalms 103:13; compare Deuteronomy 1:31; Jeremiah 3:4,19; 31:20;
Isaiah 63:16; Hosea 11:1; Malachi 3:17). Even His chastisements are "as a man
chasteneth his son" (Deuteronomy 8:5; Isaiah 64:8). The same idea is expressed
under the figure of a mother's tender care (Isaiah 49:15; 66:13; Psalms 27:10),
and it is embedded in the covenant relation. But in the Old Testament the idea
does not occupy the central and determinative position it has in New Testament,
and it is always limited to Israel.
(1) In the Teaching of Jesus Christ
God is preeminently the Father. It is his customary term for the Supreme Being,
and it is noteworthy that Jesus' usage has never been quite naturalized. We still
say "God" where Jesus would have said "the Father." He meant that the essential
nature of God, and His relation to men, is best expressed by the attitude and
relation of a father to his children; but God is Father in an infinitely higher
and more perfect degree than any man. He is "good" and "perfect," the heavenly
Father, in contrast with men, who, even as fathers, are evil (Matthew 5:48; 7:11).
What in them is an ideal imperfectly and intermittently realized, is in Him completely
fulfilled. Christ thought not of the physical relation of origin and derivation,
but of the personal relation of love and care which a father bestows upon his
children. The former relation is indeed implied, for the Father is ever working
in the world (John 5:17), and all things lie in His power (Luke 22:42). By His
preserving power, the least as well as the greatest creature lives (Matthew 6:26;
10:29). But it is not the fact of God's creative, preserving and governing power,
so much as the manner of it, that Christ emphasizes. He is absolutely good in
all His actions and relations (Matthew 7:11; Mark 10:18). To Him men and beasts
turn for all they need, and in Him they find safety, rest and peace (Matthew 6:26,32;
7:11). His goodness goes forth spontaneously and alights upon all living things,
even upon the unjust and His enemies (Matthew 5:45). He rewards the obedient (Matthew
6:1; 7:21), forgives the disobedient (Matthew 6:14; compare Matthew 18:35) and
restores the prodigal (Luke 15:11). "Fatherhood is love, original and underived,
anticipating and undeserved, forgiving and educating, communicating and drawing
to his heart" (Beyschlag, New Testament Theology, I, 82). To the Father, therefore,
should men pray for all good things (Matthew 6:9), and He is the ideal of all
perfection, to which they should seek to attain (Matthew 5:48). Such is the general
character of God as expressed in His Fatherhood, but it is realized in different
ways by those who stand. to Him in different relations.
|(a) Its Relation to Himself
Jesus Christ knows the Father as no one else does, and is related to Him in a
unique manner. The idea is central in His teaching, because the fact is fundamental
in His experience. On His first personal appearance in history He declares that
He must be about His Father's business (Luke 2:49), and at the last He commends
His spirit into His Father's hands. Throughout His life, His filial consciousness
is perfect and unbroken. "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). As He knows
the Father, so the Father knows and acknowledges Him. At the opening of His ministry,
and again at its climax in the transfiguration, the Father bears witness to His
perfect sonship (Mark 1:11; 9:7). It was a relation of mutual love and confidence,
unalloyed and infinite. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things
into his hand" (John 3:35; 5:20). The Father sent the Son into the world, and
entrusted Him with his message and power (Matthew 11:27). He gave Him those who
believed in Him, to receive His word (John 6:37,44,45; 17:6,8). He does the works
and speaks the words of the Father who sent Him (John 5:36; 8:18,29; 14:24). His
dependence upon the Father, and His trust in Him are equally complete (John 11:41;
12:27; 17). In this perfect union of Christ. with God, unclouded by sin, unbroken
by infidelity, God first became for a human life on earth all that He could and
would become. Christ's filial consciousness was in fact and experience the full
and final revelation of God. "No one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither
doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to
reveal him" (Matthew 11:27). Not only can we see in Christ what perfect sonship
is, but in His filial consciousness the Father Himself is so completely reflected
that we may know the perfect Father also. "He that hath seen me hath seen the
Father" (John 14:9; compare John 8:19). Nay, it is more than a reflection: so
completely is the mind and will of Christ identified with that of the Father,
that they interpenetrate, and the words and works of the Father shine out through
Christ. "The words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father
abiding in me doeth his works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father
in me" (John 14:10,11). As the Father, so is the Son, for men to honor or to hate
(John 5:23; 15:23). In the last day, when He comes to execute the judgment which
the Father has entrusted to Him, He shall come in the glory of the Father (Matthew
16:27; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). In all this Jesus is aware that His relation to
the Father is unique. What in Him is original and realized, in others can only
be an ideal to be gradually realized by His communication. "I am the way, and
the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
He is, therefore, rightly called the "only begotten son" (John 3:16), and His
contemporaries believed that He made Himself equal to God (John 5:18).
(b) To Believers
Through Christ, His disciples and hearers, too, may know God as their Father.
He speaks of "your Father," "your heavenly Father." To them as individuals, it
means a personal relation; He is "thy Father" (Matthew 6:4,18). Their whole conduct
should be determined by the consciousness of the Father's intimate presence (Matthew
6:1,4). To do His will is the ideal of life (Matthew 7:21; 12:50). More explicitly,
it is to act as He does, to love and forgive as He loves and forgives (Matthew
5:45); and, finally, to be perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Thus do men
become sons of their Father who is in heaven. Their peace and safety lay in their
knowledge of His constant and all-sufficient care (Matthew 6:26,32). The ultimate
goal of men's relation to Christ is that through Him they should come to a relation
with the Father like His relation both to the Father and to them, wherein Father,
Son, and believers form a social unity (John 14:21; 17:23; compare John 17:21).
(c) To All Men
While God's fatherhood is thus realized and revealed, originally and fully in
Christ, derivatively and partially in believers, it also has significance for
all men. Every man is born a child of God and heir of His kingdom (Luke 18:16).
During childhood, aIl men are objects of His fatherly love and care (Matthew 18:10),
and it is not His will that one of them should perish (Matthew 18:14). Even if
they become His enemies, He still bestows His beneficence upon the evil and the
unjust (Matthew 5:44,45; Luke 6:35). The prodigal son may become unworthy to be
called a son, but the father always remains a father. Men may become so far unfaithful
that in them the fatherhood is no longer manifest and that their inner spirits
own not God, but the devil, as their father (John 8:42-44). So their filial relation
to God may be broken, but His nature and attitude are not changed. He is the Father
absolutely, and as Father is He perfect (Matthew 5:48). The essential and universal
Divine Fatherhood finds its eternal and continual object in the only begotten
Son who is in the bosom of the Father. As a relation with men, it is qualified
by their attitude to God; while some by faithlessness make it of no avail, others
by obedience become in the reality of their experience sons of their Father in
See CHILDREN OF GOD.
(2) In Apostolic Teaching
In the apostolic teaching , although the Fatherhood of God is not so prominently
or so abundantly exhibited as it was by Jesus Christ, it lies at the root of the
whole system of salvation there presented. Paul's central doctrine of justification
by faith is but the scholastic form of the parable of the Prodigal Son. John's
one idea, that God is love, is but an abstract statement of His fatherhood. In
complete accord with Christ's teaching, that only through Himself men know the
Father and come to Him, the whole apostolic system of grace is mediated through
Christ the Son of God, sent because "God so loved the world" (John 3:16), that
through His death men might be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10; 8:3). He speaks
to men through the Son who is the effulgence of His glory, and the very image
of His substance (Hebrews 1:2,3). The central position assigned to Christ involves
the central position of the Fatherhood.
As in the teaching of Jesus, so in that of the apostles, we distinguish three
different relationships in which the fatherhood is realized in varying degrees:
|(a) Father of Jesus Christ
Primarily He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians
1:3). As such He is the source of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Through Christ we have access unto the Father (Ephesians
(b) Our Father
He is, therefore, God our Father (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3). Believers are
sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). "For as many as are
led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). These receive
the spirit of adoption whereby they cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15; Galatians
4:6). The figure of adoption has sometimes been understood as implying the denial
of man's natural sonship and God's essential Fatherhood, but that would be pressing
the figure beyond Paul's purpose.
(c) Universal Father
The apostles' teaching, like Christ's, is that man in sin cannot possess the filial
consciousness or know God as Father; but God, in His attitude to man, is always
and essentially Father. In the sense of creaturehood and dependence, man in any
condition is a son of God (Acts 17:28). And to speak of any other natural sonship
which is not also morally realized is meaningless. From God's standpoint, man
even in his sin is a possible son, in the personal and moral sense; and the whole
process and power of his awakening to the realization of his sonship issues from
the fatherly love of God, who sent His Son and gave the Spirit (Romans 5:5,8).
He is "the Father" absolutely, "one God and Father of all, who is over all, and
through all, and in all. But unto each one of us was the grace given according
to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4:6,7).
5. God Is King
After the Divine Fatherhood, the kingdom of God (Mark and Luke) or of heaven (Matthew)
is the next ruling conception in the teaching of Jesus. As the doctrine of the
Fatherhood sets forth the individual relation of men to God, that of the kingdom
defines their collective and social condition, as determined by the rule of the
(1) The Kingdom of God
Christ adopted and transformed the Old Testament idea of Yahweh's rule into an
inner and spiritual principle of His gospel, without, however, quite detaching
it from the external and apocalyptic thought of His time. He adopts the Jewish
idea in so far as it involves the enforcing of God's rule; and in the immediate
future He anticipates such a reorganization of social conditions in the manifestation
of God's reign over men and Nature, as will ultimately amount to a regeneration
of all things in accordance with the will of God (Mark 9:1; 13:30; Matthew 16:28;
19:28). But He eliminated the particularism and favoritism toward the Jews, as
well as the non-moral, easy optimism as to their destiny in the kingdom, which
obtained in contemporary thought. The blessings of the kingdom are moral and spiritual
in their nature, and the conditions of entrance into it are moral too (Matthew
8:11; 21:31,43; 23:37,38; Luke 13:29). They are humility, hunger and thirst after
righteousness, and the love of mercy, purity and peace (Matthew 5:3-10; 18:1,3;
compare Matthew 20:26-28; 25:34; 7:21; John 3:3; Luke 17:20,21). The king of such
a kingdom is, therefore, righteous, loving and gracious toward all men; He governs
by the inner communion of spirit with spirit and by the loving coordination of
the will of His subjects with his own will.
(2) Its King
But who is the king?
Generally in Mark and Luke, and sometimes in Matthew, it is called the kingdom
of God. In several parables, the Father takes the place of king, and it is the
Father that gives the kingdom (Luke 12:32). God the Father is therefore the King,
and we are entitled to argue from Jesus' teaching concerning the kingdom to His
idea of God. The will of God is the law of the kingdom, and the ideal of the kingdom
is, therefore, the character of God.
But in some passages Christ reveals the consciousness of his own Kingship. He
approves Peter's confession of his Messiahship, which involves Kingship (Matthew
16:16). He speaks of a time in the immediate future when men shall see "the Son
of man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28). As judge of all men, He designates
Himself king (Matthew 25:34; Luke 19:38). He accepts the title king from Pilate
(Matthew 27:11,12; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3; John 18:37), and claims a kingdom which
is not of this world (John 18:36). His disciples look to Him for the restoration
of the kingdom (Acts 1:6). His kingdom, like that of God, is inner, moral and
(c) Their Relation
But there can be only one moral kingdom, and only one supreme authority in the
spiritual realm. The coordination of the two kingships must be found in their
relation to the Fatherhood. The two ideas are not antithetical or even independent.
They may have been separate and even opposed as Christ found them, but He used
them as two points of apperception in the minds of His hearers, by which He communicated
to them His one idea of God, as the Father who ruled a spiritual kingdom by love
and righteousness, and ordered Nature and history to fulfill His purpose of grace.
Men's prayer should be that the Father's kingdom may come (Matthew 6:9,10). They
enter the kingdom by doing the Father's will (Matthew 7:21). It is their Father's
good pleasure to give them the kingdom (Luke 12:32). The Fatherhood is primary,
but it carries with it authority, government, law and order, care and provision,
to set up and organize a kingdom reflecting a Father's love and expressing His
And as Christ is the revealer and mediator of the Fatherhood, He also is the messenger
and bearer of the kingdom. In his person, preaching and works, the kingdom is
present to men (Matthew 4:17,23; 12:28), and as its king He claims men's allegiance
and obedience (Matthew 11:28,29). His sonship constitutes His relation to the
kingdom. As son He obeys the Father, depends upon Him, represents Him to men,
and is one with Him. And in virtue of this relation, He is the messenger of the
kingdom and its principle, and at the same time He shares with the Father its
authority and Kingship.
(3) Apostolic Teaching
In the apostolic writings, the emphasis upon the elements of kingship, authority,
law and righteousness is greater than in the gospels. The kingdom is related to
God (Colossians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5), and to Christ
(Colossians 1:13; 2 Timothy 4:1,18; 2 Peter 1:11), and to both together (Ephesians
5:5; compare 1 Corinthians 15:24). The phrase "the kingdom of the Son of his love"
sums up the idea of the joint kingship, based upon the relation of Father and
6. Moral Attributes
The nature and character of God are summed up in the twofold relation of Father
and King in which He stands to men, and any abstract statements that may be made
about Him, any attributes that may be ascribed to Him, are deductions from His
That a father and king is a person needs not to be argued, and it is almost tautology
to say that a person is a spirit. Christ relates directly the spirituality of
God to His Fatherhood. "The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit
and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers. God is Spirit"
(John 4:23,14 margin). Figurative expressions denoting the same truth are the
Johannine phrases, 'God is life' (1John 5:20), and "God is light" (1John 1:5).
Love is the most characteristic attribute of Fatherhood. It is the abstract term
that most fully expresses the concrete character of God as Father. In John's theology,
it is used to sum up all God's perfections in one general formula. God is love,
and where no love is, there can be no knowledge of God and no realization of Him
(1John 4:8,16). With one exception (Luke 11:42), the phrase "the love of God"
appears in the teaching of Jesus only as it is represented in the Fourth Gospel.
There it expresses the bond of union and communion, issuing from God, that holds
together the whole spiritual society, God, Christ and believers (John 10; 14:21).
Christ's mission was that of revelation, rather than of interpretation, and what
in person and act He represents before men as the living Father, the apostles
describe as almighty and universal love. They saw and realized this love first
in the Son, and especially in His sacrificial death. It is "the love of God, which
is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). "God commendeth his own love toward
us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8; compare
Ephesians 2:4). Love was fully made known in Christ's death (1John 3:16). The
whole process of the incarnation and death of Christ was also a sacrifice of God's
and the one supreme manifestation of His nature as love (1John 4:9,10; compare
John 3:16). The love of God is His fatherly relation to Christ extended to men
through Christ. By the Father's love bestowed upon us, we are called children
of God (1John 3:1). Love is not only an emotion of tenderness and beneficence
which bestows on men the greatest gifts, but a relation to God which constitutes
their entire law of life. It imposes upon men the highest moral demands, and communicates
to them the moral energy by which alone they can be met. It is law and grace combined.
The love of God is perfected only in those who keep the word of Jesus Christ the
Righteous (1John 2:5). "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments"
(1John 5:3). It is manifested especially in brotherly love (1John 4:12,20). It
cannot dwell with worldliness (1John 2:15) or callous selfishness (1John 3:17).
Man derives it from God as he is made the son of God, begotten of Him (1John 4:7).
(3) Righteousness and Holiness
Righteousness and holiness were familiar ideas to Jesus and His disciples, as
elements in the Divine character. They were current in the thought of their time,
and they stood foremost in the Old Testament conception. They were therefore adopted
in their entirety in the New Testament, but they stand in a different context.
They are coordinated with and even subordinated to, the idea of love. As kingship
stands to fatherhood, so righteousness and holiness stand to love.
|(a) Once we find the phrase "Holy Father" spoken by Jesus
(John 17:11; compare 1 Peter 1:15,16). But generally the idea of holiness is associated
with God in His activity through the Holy Spirit, which renews, enlightens, purifies
and cleanses the lives of men. Every vestige of artificial, ceremonial, non-moral
meaning disappears from the idea of holiness in the New Testament. The sense of
separation remains only as separation from sin. So Christ as high priest is "holy,
guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26). Where it dwells,
no uncleanness must be (1 Corinthians 6:19). Holiness is not a legal or abstract
morality, but a life made pure and noble by the love of God shed abroad in men's
hearts (Romans 5:5). "The kingdom of God is .... righteousness and peace and joy
in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).
(b) Righteousness as a quality of character is practically identical with holiness
in the New Testament. It is opposed to sin (Romans 6:13,10) and iniquity (2 Corinthians
6:14). It is coupled with goodness and truth as the fruit of the light (Ephesians
5:9; compare 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). It implies a rule or standard of
conduct, which in effect is one with the life of love and holiness. It is brought
home to men by the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). In its origin it
is the righteousness of God (Matthew 6:33; compare John 17:25). In Paul's theology,
"the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe"
(Romans 3:22) is the act of God, out of free grace, declaring and treating the
sinner as righteous, that he thereby may become righteous, even as "we love, because
he first loved us" (1John 4:19). The whole character of God, then, whether we
call it love, holiness or righteousness, is revealed in His work of salvation,
wherein He goes forth to men in love and mercy, that they may be made citizens
of His kingdom, heirs of His righteousness, and participators in His love.
7. Metaphysical Attributes
The abstract being of God and His metaphysical attributes are implied, but not
defined, in the New Testament. His infinity, omnipotence and omniscience are not
enunciated in terms, but they are postulated in the whole scheme of salvation
which He is carrying to completion. He is Lord of heaven and earth (Matthew 11:25).
The forces of Nature are at His command (Matthew 5:45; 6:30). He can answer every
prayer and satisfy every need (Matthew 7:7-12). All things are possible to Him
(Mark 10:27; 14:36). He created all things (Ephesians 3:9). All earthly powers
are derived from Him (Romans 13:1). By His power, He raised Christ from the dead
and subjected to Him "all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion" in heaven
and on earth (Ephesians 1:20,21; compare Matthew 28:18). Every power and condition
of existence are subordinated to the might of His love unto His saints (Romans
8:38,39). Neither time nor place can limit Him: He is the eternal God (Romans
16:26). His knowledge is as infinite as His power; He knows what the Son and the
angels know not (Mark 13:32). He knows the hearts of men (Luke 16:15) and all
their needs (Matthew 6:8,32). His knowledge is especially manifested in His wisdom
by which He works out His purpose of salvation, "the manifold wisdom of God, according
to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians
3:10,11). The teaching of the New Testament implies that all perfections of power,
condition and being cohere in God, and are revealed in His love. They are not
developed or established on metaphysical grounds, but they flow out of His perfect
fatherhood. Earthly fathers do what good they can for their children, but the
Heavenly Father does all things for the best for His children--"to them that love
God all things work together for good"--because He is restricted by no limits
of power, will or wisdom (Matthew 7:11; Romans 8:28).
8. The Unity of God
It is both assumed through the New Testament and stated categorically that God
is one (Mark 12:29; Romans 3:30; Ephesians 4:6). No truth had sunk more deeply
into the Hebrew mind by this time than the unity of God.
(1) The Divinity of Christ
Yet it is obvious from what has been written, that Jesus Christ claimed a power,
authority and position so unique that they can only be adequately described by
calling Him God; and the apostolic church both in worship and in doctrine accorded
Him that honor. All that they knew of God as now fully and finally revealed was
summed up in His person, "for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead
bodily" (Colossians 2:9). If they did not call Him God, they recognized and named
Him everything that God meant for them.
(2) The Holy Spirit
Moreover, the Holy Spirit is a third term that represents a Divine person in the
experience, thought and language of Christ and His disciples. In the Johannine
account of Christ's teaching, it is probable that the Holy Spirit is identified
with the risen Lord Himself (John 14:16,17; compare John 14:18), and Paul seems
also to identify them in at least one passage: "the Lord is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians
3:17). But in other places the three names are ranged side by side as representing
three distinct persons (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6).
(3) The Church's Problem
But how does the unity of God cohere with the Divine status of the Son and the
distinct subsistence of the Holy Spirit? Jesus Christ affirmed a unity between
Himself and the Father (John 10:30), a unity, too, which might be realized in
a wider sphere, where the Father, the Son and believers should form one society
(John 17:21,23), but He reveals no category which would construe the unity of
the Godhead in a manifoldness of manifestation. The experience of the first Christians
as a rule found Christ so entirely sufficient to all their religious needs, so
filled with all the fullness of God, that the tremendous problem which had arisen
for thought did not trouble them. Paul expresses his conception of the relation
of Christ to God under the figure of the image. Christ "is the image of the invisible
God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Another
writer employs a similar metaphor. Christ is "the effulgence of (God's) glory,
and the very image of his substance" (Hebrews 1:3). But these figures do not carry
us beyond the fact, abundantly evident elsewhere, that Christ in all things represented
God because He participated in His being. In the prologue to the Fourth Gospel,
the doctrine of the Word is developed for the same purpose. The eternal Reason
of God who was ever with Him, and of Him, issues forth as revealed thought, or
spoken word, in the person of Jesus Christ, who therefore is the eternal Word
of God incarnate. So far and no farther the New Testament goes. Jesus Christ is
God revealed; we know nothing of God, but that which is manifest in Him. His love,
holiness, righteousness and purpose of grace, ordering and guiding all things
to realize the ends of His fatherly love, all this we know in and through Jesus
Christ. The Holy Spirit takes of Christ's and declares it to men (John 16:14).
The problems of the coordination of the One with the Three, of personality with
the plurality of consciousness, of the Infinite with the finite, and of the Eternal
God with the Word made flesh, were left over for the church to solve. The Holy
Spirit was given to teach it all things and guide it into all the truth (John
16:13). "And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew
CHRIST; HOLY SPIRIT; TRINITY.
Harris The Philosophical Basis of Theism; God the Creator and Lord of All; Flint,
Theism; Orr, The Christian View of God and the World; E. Caird, The Evolution
of Religion; James Ward, The Realm of Ends; Fairbairn, The Philosophy of the Christian
Religion; W.N. Clarke, The Christian Doctrine of God; Adeney, The Christian Conception
of God; Rocholl, Der Christliche Gottesbegriff ; O. Holtzmann, Der Christliche
Gottesglaube, seine Vorgeschichte und Urgeschichte; G. Wobbernim, Der Christliche
Gottesglaube in seinem Verhaltnis zur heutigen Philosophie und Naturwissenschaft;
Kostlin, article "Gott" in See Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische
Theologie und Kirche; R. S. Candlish, Crawford and Scott-Lidgett, books on The
Fatherhood of God: Old Testament Theologies by Oehler, Schultz and Davidson; New
Testament Theologies by Schmid, B. Weiss, Beyschlag, Holtzmann and Stevens; Wendt,
The Teaching of Jesus; sections in systems of Christian Doctrine by Schleiermacher,
Darner, Nitzsch, Martensen, Thomasius, Hodge, etc.
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, el, elohim, God, Jehovah, LORD. Yahweh