De Moor V:13: Old Testament Confirmation of the Doctrine of the Trinity, Part 1

We, seeking to Confirm the doctrine thus explained, dismiss Tradition, to which the Papists at this point sometimes incorrectly flee; who, seeking to assert the Imperfection of Scripture and the necessity of Traditions, among other heads not expressly enough related in Scripture, also number the Trinity: which tends to the confirmation of the Anti-Trinitarians in their error, whose error, nevertheless, they, joining with us, elsewhere silence from the Scriptures, even Bellarmine himself, tome I of Controversiarum, book II, de Christo, chapter VI, columns 384-389. In other respects, Tradition completely favors us at this point, but it is not able to be held as the foundation of Faith: consult, especially with respect to the first three Centuries after the Birth of Christ, those demonstrating this, POLANUS, Symphonia Catholica, chapter II, thesis VI, pages 118-122; HOORNBEECK, Socinianismo confutato, tome I, book II, chapter V, section I, pages 391-414; BECMANN, Exercitationibus Theologicis, I, pages 4-7; SPANHEIM, Decadum Theologicarum IV, opera, tome 3, columns 1216-1220; PETAVIUS, Dogmatibus theologicis, tome 2, Præfatione, pages 1-14.


Neither, as with other doctrines, do we fetch proof for this one from natural Reason: against which our AUTHOR labors, especially in § 28 of this Chapter.



But we appeal only to Sacred Scripture, both of the Old, and of the New, Testaments. The Old Testament reveals this mystery, less clearly indeed, but sufficiently for that economy: compare SPANHEIM, Decade Theologica quarta, § 3, number II, opera, tome 3, column 1209, which to bring forth into the light especially makes for the confutation of the Jews of our day, who in their denial of the Trinity defect from the faith of the Scriptures and of their own Ancestors: while PETRUS GALATINUS,[1]de Arcanis Catholicæ Veritatis, book II, chapter I, contends that the doctrine of the Trinity was known to the Jews before the birth of Christ, and proves it from their own writings; add TRIGLAND the Younger’s Dissertationum Syllogen, Dissertationem in Hebrew 1:3, § 13, 21, pages 272-274, 290, 291; JACOB ALTING’S[2]Heptades VII, Dissertation IV, page 214, opera, tome 5; DEYLING’S[3]Observationes Sacras, part II, observation II, § II, pages 18, 19. SPANHEIM warns that it is affirmed by the Anabaptists, yet not by all, that the Mystery of the Trinity is not revealed under the Old Testament, Elencho Controversiarum, opera, tome 3, column 780, § 7. In the Confession of the United Frisians and Germans, article I, page 45, you may read, that God in the Old Testament goes by the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, El Shaddai, etc.; but in the New Testament, by three distinct names, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, etc.


We set forth in the first rank those Passages of the Old Testament, wherein to the Single Divine Essence are attributed indefinitely Plural Persons, not to be multiplied according to our will, as the modern Anti-Trinitarians maintain, taking exception to the argument drawn hence, that hence also the πολυθεΐαν/polytheism of the Heathen is able to be elicited, or that hence the Trinity is elicited no more certainly than a multitude of Divine Persons. But we deny the consequence. While, α. the same Passages that teach that a Plurality obtains in God, namely, a Plurality of Persons, at the same time teach with sufficient clarity that God is One with respect to Essence. In Genesis 1:26, God speaks in the plural, נַעֲשֶׂה, let us make, etc.; but at the same time it is affirmed of Him in the singular, not only וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים, and God said, verse 26, but also in verse 27, וַיִּבְרָ֙א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ, and God created man in His own image, and what things there follow; hence πολυθεΐα/polytheism fails to be elicited hence. β. Also, that Plural number of Persons is manifestly restricted elsewhere to Three: whnce an undefined multitude of Divine Persons fails.


Now, there are Passages, 1. In which God speaks of Himself in the First Person Plural, Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; etc. Neither does He speak, α. to Angels, because the things affirmed in these Passages are not applicable to Angels:


Emo Vriemoet

For, a. with respect to Genesis 1:26, a. Whomever God addresses there, they were Associates in the work of Creation; Angels were not Associates of God in Creation: compare Chapter VIII, § 7. Therefore. b. Whomever God addresses there, man was created after their Image: Man was not created after the Image of Angels. Therefore. Compare JOHANN HEINRICH HOTTINGER’S Examen Historiæ Creationis, chapter VI, question 86, pages 240-256; ANTONIUS HULSIUS’[4]Nucleum Prophetiæ, on this passage, pages 15-19; VRIEMOET’S Adnotationes ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, tome I, chapter IV, pages 169, 170.


b. With respect to Genesis 3:22, a. Whomever God addresses there, they are equal to Him, for He says: the man is become as one of us. But Angels are not equal to God. Therefore. b. Whomever God addresses, man aspired to the similitude of them from the promise of the Serpent: He did not aspire to similitude with Angels. Therefore.


c. Neither in Genesis 11:7 is it able to be thought concerning Angels, of whom there is no mention in the whole context: but God addresses those whose work is the confusion of the Tongues: but this is attributed to Jehovah alone; Jehovah descended, visited the city and tower, confused there the Language of all the earth, and from there dispersed men over the whole earth, Genesis 11:5, 8, 9: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationem I, § 11, 19, Part VI, Exercitationibus Textualibus; BUDDEUS’ Historiam ecclesiasticam Veteris Testamenti, period I, section II, § 5, tome I, pages 154, 155.


Not, β. after the modern manner of Princes, which did not thus obtain among Easterners.


a. From the observation, both of others, and of Ibn Ezra[5] on Genesis 29, the Hebrew language does indeed allow that another person, whether the second or the third, might be honorifically addred in the plural number; but that the first person might thus speak of himself, this is altogether alien to the genius of this language and the ancient manner of the Easterners; while, on the other hand, in Sacred Scripture many examples occur of Kings, even the greatest and most ambitious, who, speaking of themselves alone, speak in the singular: for example, King Abimelech in Gerar, Genesis 20:15, 16; Pharaoh, Genesis 41:15, etc.; Cyrus, 2 Chronicles 36:23; Darius, Ezra 6:8, 11; Artaxerxes, Ezra 7:13; Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 2:3.


b. Therefore, if any Passages are alleged to the contrary, there respect is had rather to Multiple Persons: thus Absalom, 2 Samuel 16:20, addressing Ahithophel, requests counsel, not from him only, but also from the other advisers, so that he might know what is to be done by him, together with his advisers, so that the courtiers and the whole people might adhere to him; so that then, after Ahithophel was heard, Absalom expressly asks the opinion of Hushai also, 2 Samuel 17:5. In Job 18:2, 3, Bildad is able to address Job in the second person plural for the sake of honor: while the first person plural has regard to Bildad and his associates. In Daniel 2:36, Daniel speaks not only of himself, as he did a little earlier, yet making use of the singular, verse 30; but he joins himself with his three companions, who, together with him, had also been sought for execution, and with Daniel had asked mercy from God for a revelation of this mystery, verses 13, 17, 18. And so we Hebrews will tell to thee, O King, the interpretation of the dream, which all the Chaldeans and Astrologers were not able to furnish. In Song of Solomon 1:4, the Church as bride speaks for herself and her maidens or individual believers. When the Lord says in John 3:11, ὃ οἴδαμεν λαλοῦμεν, we speak what we do know, while He had just said, λέγω σοι, I say unto thee, He is able to have regard either to Himself and John the Baptist, as the DUTCH Annotators have it; or to Himself and the Holy Spirit, concerning whom He had spoken immediately beforehand, as the Most Illustrious LAMPE thinks, Commentario on this passage, and Dissertationum philologico-theologicarum, volume II, Disputation VII, chapter VIII, § 5, page 243.


c. If for the sake of Majesty God was speaking in this way concerning Himself, why does He not do so everywhere and always? why in innumerable Passages does He speak of Himself in the singular? above all God would have been obliged thus to make use of the plural number in His most magnificent Law-giving; but there also He speaks in the singular.


d. In Genesis 3:22, multiple Persons are manifestly posited.


Johannes Hoornbeeck

And so, no probable reason is able to be assigned for the use of the plural number by God, speaking in the passages cited, except that in the Unity of Essence He would indicate to us a Plurality of Persons. Unless this be so, exceedingly dangerous would be an enallage of this sort, because thus anyone might be easily induced to believe a Plurality of Persons, which nevertheless is not granted in the hypothesis of our Adversaries: compare JUSTIN Martyr’sDialogue with Trypho, page 285; EPIPHANIUS, against Heresies, Heresy LXV, § 8, opera, tome 1, page 615, and in Ancorato, § 15, 28, 29, opera, tome 2, pages 21, 33, 34; BECMANN’S Exercitationes Theologicas, III, pages 35-53; HOORNBEECK’S Socinianismum confutatum, tome 1, book II, chapter V, section II, pages 426-430; our AUTHOR’S Historiam Paradisi illustratam, book II, chapter II, § 7; and JOHANN ANDREAS DANZ’S[6]Dissertationem ad Genesis 1:26 in Hase and Iken’s Thesauro novo Dissertationum ad Veterem Testamentum, pages 123 and following.


2. In which Plural Persons are distinctly named; as in Genesis 19:24; etc. For, in these Passage a noun/name is not simply in the place of a pronoun in a reciprocal sense, which is sometimes able to obtain, when, for example, God Himself, speaking of Himself in the third person, says, thus saith Jehovah; that is, thus I speak: but in the Passages cited by our AUTHOR it is clear that God is personally distinguished from God. If in Genesis 19:24 Moses had only desired to note that this thing was done immediately by God, it would have sufficed to say that Jehovah rained; but it was not necessary to add, from Jehovah: and so a mystery lies under this expression: and Moses signifies that Jehovah the Son, who had revealed His counsel concerning the destruction of Sodom to Abraham, who had snatch Lot out of the common destruction, and was showing Himself present now in a visible form on earth, caused fire and brimstone to come down from heaven from God the Father: in this way showing that just as all Judgment, so also this against Sodom, was committed to Him by the Father, John 5:22: compare JUSTIN Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, pages 275-279, and our AUTHOR’S Exercitationem II, § 9, Part VI, Exercitationibus Textualibus. Thus, in Psalm 45:7, is distinguished the Anointing God from the Anointed God; in Psalm 110:1, the Lord commanding to sit from the Lord commanded to sit, in order to designate God the Father and God the Son: see JUSTIN Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, page 277. It is not fitting to think that in Psalm 45:7 the tile אֱלֹהִים/Elohim/God is attributed to God the Father alone, as if the Psalmist had said, God, who is thy God, hath anointed thee. But the speech in verses 2-9 is continually directed to King Messiah, concerning whom the Psalmists says that he is going to speak in his songs, verse 1, and whom he marks first with the title of most mighty Hero, verse 3, and then also with the title of אֱלֹהִים/Elohim/God, not only in verse 7, but also in verse 6: and from this title אֱלֹהִים/Elohim/God given to the Anointed Messiah in the places cited, Paul concludes His excellence about the Angels and His true Deity, Hebrews 1:8, 9: on which passage SURENHUSIUS[7] in his Βίβλῳ καταλλαγῆς, pages 597-599, most excellently demonstrates, that the speech in Psalm 45:6, 7, in no manner is directed to Solomon, but only to Messiah; and that it does not in any way respect follow from the Anointing of Messiah God by the Father God that the Anointed God is a lesser God than the Anointing God: compare our AUTHOR’S Exercitationem XIII, § 7, Part I, Exercitationibus Textualibus, and his Analysem Exegeticam of Psalm 45, § 9, 10, after his Commentarium in Canticum. Neither is it doubtful that both Lords mentioned in Psalm 110 are also Divine Persons; a. since David was not acknowledging a Lord superior to himself among men; b. since the Session at the right hand of God, and the several things that follow there, also manifestly evince that the speech concerns a Divine Person, Hebrews 1:13: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationem XVIII, § 2, Part II, Exercitationibus Textualibus; VRIEMOET’S Adnotationes ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, chapter IV, pages 171, 172. So also, in Hosea 1:7, our AUTHOR observes that Jehovah Predestinating salvation is distinguished from Jehovah Accomplishing salvation; which will be confirmed at length in Chapter XVIII, § 5.

[1] Petrus Galatinus, or Pietro Colonna Galatino (1460-1540), was an Italian Franciscan, theologian, and Orientalist. With Reuchlin, he was an advocate for the authority and authenticity of the Hebrew original. [2] Jacob Alting (1618-1679) was a Dutch Reformed Theologian and Hebraist. At Groningen he served as Professor of Hebrew (1643-1667), and then as Professor of Theology (1667-1677). [3] Salomon Deyling (1677-1755) was a Lutheran divine and Orientalist; he served as Professor of Theology at Leipzig (1721-1755). [4] Antonius Hulsius (1615-1685) was a Dutch Reformed philologist and theologian. [5] Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1089-1164) was a renowned Spanish Rabbi. At the heart of his work is his commentary on the Hebrew Bible. He commented on most of the books, and his exegesis manifests a commitment to the literal sense of the text, even at the expense of traditional interpretations. [6] Johann Andreas Danz (1654-1727) was a Lutheran Orientalist and theologian. He served at Jena as Professor of Oriental Languages (1685-1710), and Professor of Theology (1710-1727). [7] Willem Surenhuys (1666-1729) was a Dutch Reformed scholar and Hebraist. He was Professor of Oriental and Greek Languages at Amsterdam (1704-1729).

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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