I’m working through Heiser’s The Jewish Trinity (other posts) Logos Mobile Ed course. So far Heiser argued that the Old Testament teaches the existence of multiple elohim (“gods”) and that this is not incompatible with monotheism. Recognizing divine plurality in the OT is one step closer to recognizing plurality within God Himself, which sets a foundation for the NT doctrine of the Trinity.
However, a objection should have arisen by this point: the Bible denies the existence of other gods. This is the subject of Unit 3, which is made up of 7 segments (5 lectures and 2 trainings).
“No other god” beside YHWH
Deut 32:39 seems clear that all other elohim in the Bible are nonexistent; that is, there is no other god besides YHWH. At face value, this destroys Heiser’s thesis so far. However, should we read this verse at face value? According to Heiser, this phrase teaches incomparability, not exclusivity. “None like me” is a rhetorical overstatement that has the same effect as saying “no one even comes close”. Two points are used in his favour:
- Since the Bible elsewhere holds to the existence of multiple elohim – and even in Deuteronomy 32:17, the same chapter! – we must look for a deeper answer.
- Babylon was not the only city in the world, and yet it claimed that “I am, and there is no one besides me” (Isa 47:8, 10). This is the same for Nineveh (Zeph 2:15). These cities are boasting about their greatness, not making claims about the existence of other cities.
Therefore, this “none like me” phrase is about incomparability and not existence. Other elohim can exist but there is no other elohim like YHWH.
Check back soon for the next part of my walk through Heiser’s The Jewish Trinity Mobile Ed course. Read other parts in this review series.
Many thanks to Faithlife for providing a copy of The Jewish Trinity in exchange for review. Their generosity has not affected my opinion of the material.