[Edited November 27th, 2009]
As I came home from work this morning, I noticed Mr. McClellan left a comment letting me know he typed out a response to my article regarding Psalm 82 and the Divine Council. A sudden thrill of excitement reawakened my fatigued body as I was very glad Mr. McClellan made a rebuttal to my arguments. I hoped for something intriguing, intelligent, thought-provoking, something that would truly challenge my assertions pertaining to Psalm 82 and the Gods. I had seen far too many times the superficial, insulting, "responses" drawn up by BYU professors on a number of different issues, not responding to my little blog of course, but to other professionals defending Christendom from the Mormon attacks. I had thought, hoped, that Mr. McClellan would not follow suit.
Sadly, I am very mistaken.
The post Mr. McClellan has presented as a rebuttal to my article self-testifies to my fears. I now ask the reader to examine with me McClellan's rebuttal, and please be aware of the things I actually said in my first article as opposed to what is presented in the following response.
Mr. McClellan begins,
Carmenn Massa has responded to this thread on his blog (here). I didn't have room to post my entire response on his blog, so it's going here.
Carmenn, thanks for taking the time to respond. I hope it comes as no surprise that I disagree entirely, and I’m happy to set forth why. My first point, however, has to do with your criticism of “Jerry Shirts.” Not only is this a petty “criticism,” but it’s misplaced. My spell check did not recognize the name “Kerry” and changed it to Jerry. I know Kerry personally and have never thought his name was Jerry. Hopefully that puts that to rest. Just to show you, however, that being petty about spelling is never a smart thing to do, I’m including all your spelling errors in my response. Your primary error in that regard is misspelling my name. It’s not McCllelan, as you have it throughout your post; it’s McClellan, as it appears in the title of your post. Oops. In addition, my “awkwardly long sentence” is actually two sentences of perfectly normal length. There’s a period after “Psalm 82.”
I think it'd be wise to remind the reader what I actually said regarding this alleged "misplaced criticism",
Jerry Shirts is actually Kerry Shirts, a lay Mormon apologist who goes by the nick 'The Backyard Professor', though he holds no credentials in theology, early patristics, Hebrew, Greek, Scriptural exegesis, or in any other matters which are neccessary for expounding the sacred mysteries of the Gospel.
Now, considering what I had truly said, I hardly think any rational human being would call this a "petty", "misplaced criticism." Mr. McClellan very clearly insinuates that I use this mistake as some sort of reason, or - Heaven forbid that he think this - an argument against him. All I corrected was Kerry's name, then moved on to his lack of credentials (another point we'll get to in just a moment). No where did I imply, state, or argue that Mr. McClellan is an ignoramus simply because of the misspelling of Shirts' name. However, McClellan accuses me of being "petty" about spelling mistake: I would ask that Mr. McClellan document that assertion (small and irrelevant to the subject as it is) from my first article. The reader will note that no where, not once, do I supposedly jump on McClellan for making typos. We're [fallible] human beings - mistakes happen. But concerning Mr. Shirts, I think it's important that the reader know his true name. They would certainly be confused from seeing "Kerry" in the title, then "Jerry" in the post. Which is it? they would most certainly be wondering. I had hoped my noting that error would be painfully obvious, but seemingly it's an open door to attack and accusation.
But where Mr. McClellan is entirely correct is my misspelling of his own name! Mea culpa. My apologies, Daniel.
Thirdly, when I in my first article called Mr. McClellan's sentence long and awkward, I referred specifically and only to the very first sentence. Admittedly, it looks at first as though I claim the two are one sentence, but were Mr. McClellan to read again more carefully, he would have seen my words here,
Mr. McCllelan in the next sentence says regarding me,
Massa has been active on some Facebook message boards, and while he has a decent working knowledge of the catechisms and his own dogmas, he's woefully unprepared to engage LDS scholarship directly.
But we move on...though sadly we've not yet reached the actual rebuttal. McClellan next says,
You also criticize Kerry for not having any credentials, which is something you say is “neccessary [sic] for expounding the sacred mysteries of the Gospel.” If I recall correctly, you likewise have no credentials of which to speak. (Neither does James White.) Between the three of us, in fact, my credentials are the only legitimate ones. If you mean to insist that credentials = better understanding, I’ll claim the win right now. Since that certainly can’t be your contention, however, let’s recognize the fallacious nature of that appeal and move on.
What I actually say is that he
holds no credentials in theology, early patristics, Hebrew, Greek, Scriptural exegesis, or in any other matters which are neccessary for expounding the sacred mysteries of the Gospel.
Consider Mr. Shirts' "About Me" page from his website, and decide whether or not valid, accredited credentials are necessary for the following,
I teach the Elder's Quorum. (They haven't kicked me out yet for translating out the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, so so far, I am in the good - GRIN!)
Perhaps I rest upon higher, more traditional standards, but aren't credentials needed for a project as complex and laboring as translating dead languages into modern English correctly? The Scriptures do indeed expound the mysteries of the Gospel, so I wouldn't feel comfortable having just anyone teach by using his own unique translations of the original autographs. Checking his credentials is essential. Mr. Shirts simply has none which make me feel secure in knowing he has full knowledge what he's talking about.
Mr. McClellan, of course, not realizing the importance of that assertion, turns it back on me by saying,
If I recall correctly, you likewise have no credentials of which to speak.
Quite correct. I have none. In fact, the home-schooling courses I was enrolled in are unaccredited [thank God for GEDs and SATs]. But I do not teach from my own Hebrew and Greek translations, I don't translate at all, nor do I preach homilies, teach on ancient languages, teach theology, philosophy, in fact I do none of those things which consist of expounding the Gospel. Whenever I use Greek or Hebrew, I cite world-renown scholars on the subject who themselves teach in great and precise detail what I am briefly laying out. Again, dear reader, I hoped this would be very clear and obvious.
But Mr. McClellan doesn't stop with me. No, he goes down a very predictable road by immediately stating regarding valid credentials,
(Neither does James White.)
What may come as a terrific shock to the reader, is that this visible Roman Catholic blogger strongly disagrees. Yes, yes, I know Sippo, Sungenis, Ray, Armstrong, Keating, Albrecht, and all the other popular Roman apologists love to throw this one in nearly all their writings relating to White, but the truth is simply the opposite, and White proves it. You know, dear reader, that I and Dr. White are of completely opposite religious minds: though we may hold to the Triune God, the Incarnation, we don't stand on the same shores of the Tiber. I don't find any reason to question White's doctorate, just as I don't find any reason to question Hamblin's doctorate. I am not defending White because "he's an anti-Mormon just like Carmenn Massa!", a myth which I do hope will never surface from the murky waters of bloggers and discussion forums. I defend White - and Walter Martin I might add - because they don't deserve the abuse executed by Mormon and Roman Catholic apologists alike. One is dead, the other is fully alive and so fully able to defend himself directly to the one accusing him of bearing invalid credentials. I would suggest Mr. McClellan read White's defense on his own blog at A&O Min.
Despite all this [please be patient, dear reader, we're coming to the rebuttal, I promise...hang in there] Mr. McClellan boastfully declares,
Between the three of us, in fact, my credentials are the only legitimate ones.
That should be, "Between the two of us", meaning White and yourself. Since you are so confident that you are intellectually superior to White, and even further confident his credentials are bogus, I would love to see you contact him on the DL and challenge him to debate you on Psalm 82. You may ask, "Why don't you challenge White to debate something like the Papacy?" Answer: I'm not a scholar. I wouldn't debate White yet, just as I wouldn't debate say Victor J. Stenger, yet [if ever that would be a possibility in either case]. Turretinfan I would love, just love, to engage with in debate. Perhaps that'll happen one day, but I can't go against White's intellect yet. But Daniel has declared himself a smarter man than White, so I shouldn't see why he would give any reason to not challenge White. To be fair, I would pose the same words to Steve Ray, Art Sippo, William Albrecht, and the others who execute this low blow.
In realizing this, we pass over McClellan's next few sentences with little seriousness,
If you mean to insist that credentials = better understanding, I’ll claim the win right now. Since that certainly can’t be your contention, however, let’s recognize the fallacious nature of that appeal and move on.
After these childish attacks the reader may wonder if Daniel actually gets to the point of his response. No, not yet. But we draw nearer. McClellan says,
Regarding the person with whom you had this exchange: I did not read what you had to say, since my post was not about you. My post was about James White, and I went by what he said, which is why I said “apparently.” That means “as it appears.” Since White’s post does make it appear the way I stated, there’s no error whatsoever. The substance of my post is criticism of his rather inept exposition of Psalm 82.
What Mr. McClellan stated is thus,
Massa apparently criticizes White and his colleagues concerning some other exchange about Jerry Shirts's use of Michael Heiser's scholarship regarding Psalm 82.
Note, he says I criticized White and his colleagues concerning Kerry Shirts' use of Michael Heiser. I answered specifically and clearly in my last post,
Had he taken the time to read what I actually said, he would have found that I wrote responding to Mr. Rich Pierce, the President of Alpha and Omega Ministries. So, truthfully, the person I criticized was Pierce, not White, nor any of his other colleagues, as McCllelan asserts. Further, my article had nothing to do with Kerry Shirts, nor Dr. White for that matter, except that both were mentioned indirectly as the reader may clearly see. My article focused on responding to Mr. Pierce's assertion that Heiser's work promotes henotheism, and so has nothing to do with Mr. Shirts at this point. If McCllelan would have continued looking further, he would have also noted my response to Dr. White's post. In my response, I apologize for the errors I made, which open letter to James White and Rich Pierce may still be read.
See the difference context makes? Now, is my assertion more in line with what James White's blog article actually says...or is Daniel really giving the correct account of things?
I was directed to a blog article that took a shot at A&O based not upon what I have published in my books on Catholicism or Mormonism (the writer is a young Roman Catholic), not upon what I have written on our website, not upon what I have said in formal debates against Catholics or Mormons (more than forty such debates are widely available), not even upon what I have written in a blog article or taught in a Sunday School class or Sunday sermon. No, Mr. Massa, though he has all of that material available to him upon which to draw for foundation for criticizing me and this ministry, chose instead to go after some short e-mails written by my partner in ministry, Rich Pierce. - Carmenn Massa and Dodging the Real Arguments
Indeed, as irrelevant to the subject as this is, Mr. McClellan's false assertions must nevertheless be answered since he has chosen to misrepresent the facts, and consequently, my character. Even though McClellan's post was not about me, he should have checked with me first to be clear on the facts pertaining to my "attacking" or "criticizing White and his colleagues." But it seems facts are not essential to Daniel's writings.
That aside, Mr. McClellan adds another critique before finally addressing the issue,
“Him calling me . . .” is incorrect grammar, by the way. You can say “his calling me” (since the action belongs to him) but “him” is a personal pronoun meant for direct and indirect objects. It’s not appropriate in the nominative. Next, I’m not an Oxford graduate. I’m an Oxford graduate student. I’m still at Oxford.
Yes, quite correct with the grammar. Thank you, Daniel. And thank you for demonstrating yet again your childish behavior which lies behind your grammatical corrections.
You say you are not an Oxford graduate. How strange, since I was simply going by what you yourself have told me. The Internet has quite a long memory, Mr. McClellan, so I do wish you'd remain consistent with the details. I direct you, and the reader, to our conversation in August, wherein I said,
Unfortunately, once again, you fail to provide the readers with any sort of rebuttal. I now see that you are indeed an Oxford professor (I'm flattered that someone went out of their way to contact you, sir, simply to respond to a nobody like me).
To which you replied,
I'm a graduate student, not a professor.
Clearly, it appears as though you admitted yourself to be an Oxford graduate, correcting my mistake in calling you an Oxford professor. Mistakes happen, Mr. McClellan, so I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. As I said earlier, human beings are fallible.
[Edited portion: November 29, 2009]
From the CARM boards in response to a Mormon who jumped on the issue (but disregarded everything else, not surprisingly):
In the context of our discussion Mr. McClellan made it appear as though he were an Oxford graduate. I'm not saying he did it on purpose, in fact in my article (which I'm very happy you took the time to read, yet seemingly can only find this little bit to address says quite enough) I say humans are fallible, so it was a simple mistake. You however seem to think I accuse Mr. McClellan of lying, when the opposite is stated in my article. Of course, you have a valid point when you say "graduate student" is not the same thing "graduate", since it essentiallys means a "student who continues studies after graduation". Naturally, I assumed Mr. McClellan was carrying on in his studies after graduating from Oxford. I think if you actually see the context of our discussion you will see my thinking.
But Mr. McClellan has likewise jumped on this issue as yet another means of attack. Specifically he says,
You seem to have a very difficult time admitting when you're wrong. I never gave you any false impression or mistakenly identified myself at any time. "Oxford graduate student" means a graduate student studying at Oxford. It does not mean anything else. There's no ambiguity at all, and I made no mistake. You misunderstood because you don't understand the vernacular very well (again, see above). The sooner you quit objecting to having your errors pointed out the sooner they will stop being pointed out. Calling them ad hominem doesn't make you any less mistaken.
Despite my correcting my very own errors numerous times, Mr. McClellan seemingly finds merit in accusing me of having "a very difficult time admitting when [I'm] wrong." I will not bore the reader with explicit examples of the exact opposite, but Mr. McClellan...you may want to refer back to that open formal letter to Dr. White and Mr. Pierce for just such an example. By the word "assumed" I hinted that I may have made a mistake. Allow me to be more explicit: Sorry, but that's how it looked. I simply assumed Mr. McClellan graduated from Oxford and continued his studying elsewhere. The reader will recall from the August Discussion I first asked Mr. McClellan if he was a BYU professor, to which he simply responded, "No." From my limited knowledge of where Mr. McClellan studied, I naturally assumed he graduated from Oxford but continued his studies elsewhere. I think anyone else would agree this is a natural assumption. But since Mr. McClellan and his fellows have jumped, utterly jumped, on this error as some sort of "proof" that my posts can't be trusted, my defense is called for. Again, since I've found saying things once doesn't quite get through: Sorry for the mistake; it sure seemed like you were saying something else. Correcting an honest is one thing; using it as an attack against me is quite another. Let the reader judge.
Ever-closer to the true issue, McClellan continues,
Next you criticize my reading as intending to support “the polytheistic Mormon doctrine as taught by Smith and his successors.” First, I’m not supporting anything but an honest and intelligent view of scripture. My conclusions are hardly Mormon doctrine. Second, our doctrine is not polytheistic, it’s monolatrous. Yours is as well. Technically speaking, strict monotheism is precluded by the presence of angels and demons and the other celestial creatures which fill your Bible. You’re a henotheist, if we are to speak accurately. If you want to assert that your self-identification is what matters, that’s fine with me, but you have to afford me the same courtesy. If you want the sole right to define terms then find someone else to bicker with.
Later on in the Mormon Apologetics Forum, McClellan added,
I am not trying to prop up Mormonism in any way, shape, or form. I am correcting atrocious exegesis and absolutely nothing more.
Yet in another thread on the CARM forums McClellan wrote the following,
The Biblical Gods
I tried this thread out on another board and not a single person was able to respond to the evidence. I'm curious to see how people here respond.
The thread is designed to provide some evidence concerning the nature of ancient Israelite belief in God, just so everyone is aware that their criticisms of Mormon henotheism are greatly misplaced. If you have questions or concerns, I am happy to answer them, but please refrain from drive-bys. I am not appealing to the theological authority of the Bible. I am appealing to the Bible as an historical record that can reveal early Israelite belief, and I will show that accusations that Mormon henotheism (recognizing that God and Yahweh are two separate beings, and that many divine beings inhabit the heavens) is unbiblical or is incompatible with the belief of the ancients is unfounded.
Mr. McClellan, for the sake of your readers, please be consistent. First you say you attempt to prove Mormon polytheism [we will tackle the henotheism vs. polytheism issue very shortly] from the Bible, and now you tell me directly that no such thing was on your mind, but that you were simply - in not so many words - allowing Scripture to speak for itself. In light of your own words compared to Mormon dogma, your conclusions are very much Mormon doctrine.
You assert your doctrine is not polytheistic, but I strongly disagree. Not only do you maintain, as a Mormon, to worship Heavenly Father, but you also say you worship Jesus Christ. But Christ is a God entirely distinct from Elohim, for indeed there are three Gods in Mormonism which make up the Triad God [to be distinguished from the Christian Triune God]. This is polytheism. Unless you admit that you fail to give Our Lord complete and total adoration, the same which you give to Heavenly Father, we have no choice but to conclude and declare based on the words of your own apostles, prophets, elders, missionaries, and laity that Mormonism is polytheistic.
Christianity is not monolatrous by any means, nor is it henotheistic. You say,
Technically speaking, strict monotheism is precluded by the presence of angels and demons and the other celestial creatures which fill your Bible. You’re a henotheist, if we are to speak accurately.
Dr. Michael Heiser disagrees,
"Monotheism" as a term was coined in the 17th century not as an antonym to "polytheism," but to "atheism." A monotheist, then, was a person who believed there was a God, not someone who believed there was only one spiritual entity that could or should be named by the letters G-O-D. This understanding of the term has been lost in contemporary discourse, and so it would be pointless to call for its re-introduction. - Heiser; Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism?, p. 22 [emphasis mine]
As Christians, we believe even angels may be called "gods", just as Satan is called a "god" [a biblical fact you explicitly denied, but we'll examine that once we reach your quote], and at the same time assert that these gods are not ontologically one with the Almighty. We also assert that Christians are themselves gods, by theosis, not the Mormon apotheosis. But you also make this strange claim,
You’re a henotheist, if we are to speak accurately.
Speaking accurately, Mr. McClellan, would consist of you admitting that my religion is monotheistic. Allow me to quote Heiser again,
Historically, henotheism assumes all gods are species equals and the elevation of one god is due to socio-political factors--not theological nuancing. Quoting Max Müller's seminal work on the subject, M. Yusa writes that henotheism was a technical term coined "to designate a peculiar form of polytheism...[where] each god is, 'at the time of a real divinity, supreme and absolute' not limited by the powers of any other gods." - Ibid, p. 22
More substantive is the fact that those who don’t want to take the text for what it says in such verses fear that they might be affirming polytheism as part of the belief system of the biblical writers. This is a concern only in that we use the word “monotheism” in a particular way that means “the belief that no other gods exist,” as opposed to “the belief that there is one unique God.”11 Polytheistic religions typically have a group of gods who fight and scheme against one another for power, and sometimes leadership of the lead god in charge can (and does) change in such religions. These systems also universally assume that the gods can be identified with parts of the creation, and that at least subset of the pantheon is basically equal in power and ability (or they have powers and abilities that offset the powers and abilities of the other “top tier” gods). Other terms relevant to this question are also flawed, such as henotheism (the belief in one superior god among other gods) and monolatry (the belief that you should worship only one god though others exist). These terms are deficient in that they do not sufficiently describe what the biblical writers believed. Henotheistic systems can have the lead god toppled and replaced by another god who then becomes “superior” (one wonders on what grounds, since just prior to that the god was inferior). Monolatry fails to articulate why one God is superior and what criteria make him superior—it comments only on worship. - Heiser; Introduction to the Divine Council [emphasis mine]
What the biblical readers believed, so believes the Catholic Church. Christianity's monotheism flows from ancient Israelite monotheism. To quote Heiser yet again,
"Many scholars have concluded that the presence of a divine council in the Hebrew Bible means that Israel’s religion was at one time polytheistic (there are many gods) or henotheistic (there are many gods, but one is preferred) and only later evolved to monotheism. Polytheism and monolatrous henotheism both presume “species sameness” among the gods. Henotheism in particular assumes the possibility of a power struggle for supremacy in the council, where the supreme authority could be displaced if another god defeats or outwits him. This does not reflect orthodox Israelite religious belief. The biblical data indicate that orthodox Israelite religion never considered Yahweh as one among equals or near equals. The biblical writers refer exclusively to Yahweh as “the God” (ha elohim; I Kings 18:39) when that term occurs with respect to a singular entity. Yahweh is the “true God” (elohim emet; Jer 10:10). The assertion points to the belief that, while Yahweh was an elohim, he was qualitatively unique among the elohim. The primary distinguishing characteristic of Yahweh from any other elohim was his pre-existence and creation of all things (Is 45:18), including the “host of heaven” (Ps 33:6; 148:1-5; cf. Neh 9:6), language that at times clearly refers to the other divine beings…Yahweh’s utter uniqueness to all other elohim is monotheism on ancient Semitic terms, and orthodox Israelite religion reflects this at all stages.” - Heiser; The Divine Council, pp. 5-6
In Heiser's words, "monotheism on ancient Semitic terms" is the monotheism of Christianity, Israel post-Messiah. This is quite different from Mormon polytheism, as I've already demonstrated.
[Edited portion, dated November 27th, 2009]
Here I would like to interpolate a few words from Dr. Norman Geisler, whose work I cited in July in my article refuting Kerry Shirts. Dr. Geisler's credentials are as follows: B.A, M.A., Th.B., and Ph.D in religion. In his work, Primitive Monotheism, he says,
“What is more, Romans 1 affirms that monotheism preceded animism and polytheism, affirming that "what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator -- who is for ever praised" (Rom. 1:19-25)…”
He goes on to say,
“Contrary to popular belief, the primitive religions of Africa unanimously reveal an explicit monotheism. The noted authority on African religions, John S. Mbiti wrote of the 300 traditional religions, "In all these societies, without a single exception, people have a notion of God as the Supreme Being."6 This is true of other primitive religions as well, many of which have a High God or Sky God which reflects a basic monotheism.” (Ibid)
“Outside the Bible, the oldest records come from Ebla in Syria. And they reveal a clear monotheism declaring: "Lord of heaven and earth: the earth was not, you created it, the light of day was not, you created it, the morning light you had not [yet] made exist." This lucid statement of monotheism from such early tablets is an evident sign of early monotheism. It alone should lay to rest the idea of an evolved and late monotheism.” (Ibid)
The Ebla Tablets are a driving force in solid archaeological proof that monotheism was the earliest form of religion. Mr. McClellan will have to prove otherwise if he wishes to assert there has always been a plurality of Gods as found in the Old Testament. I assert the gods - if you must insist are heavenly - still must be seen as creations, not ontological with Yahweh El Elyon. They have a beginning and clearly they will have an end (cf. Psalm 82:7). Our God, however, is everlasting to everlasting, having no beginning and no end. He judges all and is judged by no one. His unity is complex, beyond anything we may comprehend, while these gods are strictly one in their beings, while God is Three.
Next, Mr. McClellan gets closer to the issue,
Regarding Psalm 45: don’t waste my time with your pedantic use of LXX and the Hebrew. I’m well aware you don’t know either well enough to draw anything helpful out of the original languages.
Here we see yet another attack Mr. McClellan must hurl because, quite frankly, there is no serious answer to the proof I cited in my first article. To remind the reader, I will post my exact words:
I wish more LDS missionaries would admit what Mr. McCllelan has surprisingly admitted regarding Moses acting as God towards Pharaoh. In any case, the error here is when McCllelan says of elohim, "It cannot refer to humans." But the Psalms themselves refute this quite easily.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions - Psalm 45:6-7
As Shamoun correctly notes, this Psalm is addressed directly to the human King of Israel. And this human King is explicitly called "God."
In Hebrew the passage reads,
כִּסְאֲךָ אֱלֹהִים עוֹלָם וָעֶד שֵׁבֶט מִישֹׁר שֵׁבֶט מַלְכוּתֶךָ
אָהַבְתָּ צֶּדֶק וַתִּשְׂנָא-רֶשַׁע
עַל-כֵּן מְשָׁחֲךָ אֱלֹהִים אֱלֹהֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן שָׂשׂוֹן מֵחֲבֵרֶךָ
In the LXX,
ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεός εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος ῥάβδος εὐθύτητος ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας σου ἠγάπησας δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἐμίσησας ἀνομίαν διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεός σου ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους σου
This should not be passed over lightly. For the writer of Hebrews, probably St. Paul or at least a Christian Jew with the same OT knowledge as found in Paul, uses this very passage to demonstrate the explicit Deity of Jesus Christ.
But of the Son He says, YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER,AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS;THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS. - Heb. 1:8-9
In Greek, the passage reads,
προς δε τον υιον ο θρονος σου ο θεος εις τον αιωνα του αιωνος ραβδος ευθυτητος η ραβδος της βασιλειας σου ηγαπησας δικαιοσυνην και εμισησας ανομιαν δια τουτο εχρισεν σε ο θεος ο θεος σου ελαιον αγαλλιασεως παρα τους μετοχους σου (Byzantine/Majority Text )
This from the Tischendorf 8th Ed.,
προς δε τον υιον ο θρονος σου ο θεος εις τον αιωνα του αιωνος και η ραβδος της ευθυτητος ραβδος της βασιλειας σου ηγαπησας δικαιοσυνην και εμισησας αδικιαν δια τουτο εχρισεν σε ο θεος ο θεος σου ελαιον αγαλλιασεως παρα τους μετοχους σου
Now let's compare the LXX passage with the NT application and see its usage word for word,
ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεός εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος ῥάβδος εὐθύτητος ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας σου ἠγάπησας δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἐμίσησας ἀνομίαν διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεός σου ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους σου
προς δε τον υιον ο θρονος σου ο θεος εις τον αιωνα του αιωνος ραβδος ευθυτητος η ραβδος της βασιλειας σου ηγαπησας δικαιοσυνην και εμισησας ανομιαν δια τουτο εχρισεν σε ο θεος ο θεος σου ελαιον αγαλλιασεως παρα τους μετοχους σου
Thus, contrary to Mr. McCllelan's claim, the Hebrew elohim clearly can and is used of human beings depending on the context.
But despite my providing the Hebrew and Greek Old Testament texts, despite my further advancing my assertion by demonstrating how the writer of Hebrews uses this exact text in reference to the [God]-man Jesus Christ, Mr. McClellan has chosen to totally ignore the evidence and instead decry my words as essentially ridiculous. Not a single syllable of mine is cited, not one letter. The reader is expected to simply take Mr. McClellan at his word, seemingly. I, on the other hand, provide the reader with Mr. McClellan's actual words and demonstrate by using documentation and various sources how McClellan's claims are faulty. He has not demonstrated at all how my position is incorrect out of those very same autographs.
In addition to his attack, McClellan says,
I disagree that Psalm 45 is clearly calling the king God. The king of Israel does not have an eternal throne, and the reading you advocate is based primarily on the early 20th century assumption that other texts from Exodus already use elohim to refer to humans, and so is justifiably read as a vocative in v. 7.
Had Mr. McClellan paid more attention to my article he would have noted that I fall upon Hebrews 1 as an infallible proof for my assertion. One again my own words,
This [Psalm 45:6-7] should not be passed over lightly. For the writer of Hebrews, probably St. Paul or at least a Christian Jew with the same OT knowledge as found in Paul, uses this very passage to demonstrate the explicit Deity of Jesus Christ.
But of the Son He says, YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER,AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS;THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS. - Heb. 1:8-9
It is not an alleged early 20th century idea I am advocating, but the very position of the Apostolic Church clearly seen in Hebrews 1:8-9. The Son, Jesus Christ, is blatantly called God by the very fact the Scripture cited is applied to Him. And if this Scripture is applied to Christ, then we must be consistent with what that Scripture means in its original context in Psalm 45. In Christ, this Scripture has a fuller, deeper meaning. But in its Old Testament source, it has a lesser meaning, yet a meaning which must be interpreted in its context. Recall that Hebrews 1 focuses on demonstrating the Deity and unique position of Jesus Christ. By citing Psalm 45, the writer is directing his Jewish-Christian readers to a particular OT text, which when examined in context clearly hails the king as God. Certainly the king was not thought to be divine by nature, but as an earthly representative holding the temporal power God Himself exercises in Heaven. But when the same text is applied to Jesus, the readers understand immediately that Psalm 45 has a much deeper meaning, since in context the writer is attempting to show his readers the Deity of Jesus Christ. In short, the writer of Hebrew could only apply this to Jesus if the Psalm explicitly calls the king God.
But Mr. McClellan seems to make a point when he says,
The king of Israel does not have an eternal throne...
The NET translates the passage thus,
Your throne, O God, is permanent. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of justice. You love justice and hate evil. For this reason God, your God has anointed you with the oil of joy, elevating you above your companions.
The footnote in the NET under vs. 6 says,
The king is clearly the addressee here, as in vv. 2-5 and 7-9. Rather than taking the statement at face value, many prefer to emend the text because the concept of deifying the earthly king is foreign to ancient Israelite thinking (cf. NEB “your throne is like God’s throne, eternal”). However, it is preferable to retain the text and take this statement as another instance of the royal hyperbole that permeates the royal psalms. Because the Davidic king is God’s vice-regent on earth, the psalmist addresses him as if he were God incarnate. God energizes the king for battle and accomplishes justice through him. A similar use of hyperbole appears in Isa 9:6, where the ideal Davidic king of the eschaton is given the title “Mighty God” (see the note on this phrase there). Ancient Near Eastern art and literature picture gods training kings for battle, bestowing special weapons, and intervening in battle. According to Egyptian propaganda, the Hittites described Rameses II as follows: “No man is he who is among us, It is Seth great-of-strength, Baal in person; Not deeds of man are these his doings, They are of one who is unique” (see Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 2:67). Ps 45:6 and Isa 9:6 probably envision a similar kind of response when friends and foes alike look at the Davidic king in full battle regalia. When the king’s enemies oppose him on the battlefield, they are, as it were, fighting against God himself.
The Jewish Study Bible notes on Psalm 45:7,
This may also be translated "Your throne, O God ("elohim"), is everlasting" (so LXX), where the king is referred to as God. If this is taken literally, this psalm would be unique in the entire Bible in explicitly depicting the king as divine (see v. 4 and v.18 n.), a notion that existed at times in other ancient Near Eastern cultures but is otherwise absent in biblical thought. Other modern scholars render the v. as "Your throne is like God's throne" (so already Ibn Ezra) or "Your throne is supreme." The Targum and Saadia add the words "will establish," reading "God will establish your throne," while Rashi understands "elohim" as judges (see Exod. 21.6, translators' note).
We can obviously see the true meaning of this particular verse once we realize that the king is the visible temporal representative of God on earth. In a far deeper sense, however, the king's throne is indeed everlasting, for Christ Himself shall sit on David's throne as the Holy Scriptures say,
The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy [David's] throne. If thy children will keep My covenant and My testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore -Psalm 132:11-12
Of the increase of His [Christ's] government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this - Isaiah 9:7
Yet again we see how Psalm 45:6-7 carries a fuller and deeper interpretation once applied to Jesus Christ. Mr. McClellan ought to note this before dismissing the facts entirely.
Even if you do want to argue it is a reference to the king, this is no different than Exod 7:1. The word should not be translated “king” or “judge.” It means “God,” and if you want to say it refers to the king you have to say it is a metaphorical expression.
This has already been covered, obviously.
This doesn’t support the reading of “judges” in Psalm 82 or in Exodus. The words should still be translated “gods” or “God,” and you still have to show that the context demands they be understood as references to humans. Since you can show no such thing, the endeavor fails.
I don't know any translation that translates Exodus 7:1 as "judge", since it's clear from the context that Moses is a spiritual representative of God, and therefore "a god", or "like God." Dr. White has already sufficiently demonstrated how Psalm 82 refers to human beings, points of which I will reiterate later. But since Mr. McClellan has no desire to take Christ's words as a trustworthy source of interpretation, it would not benefit him anything were we to present a thousand credible sources which utterly disprove his theory. Once one denies the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and still claim to believe in Him, as Mr. McClellan does since he is a good LDS faithful, no amount of substantial evidence will ever convict the hardened heart unless the grace of God break it.
We continue further. Mr. McClellan says,
You move on then to argue that my reading of the divine council is mistaken. You cite the NASB:
The NASB says, "God takes His stand in His own congregation."
The NASB is simply wrong. The Hebrew cannot be read that way. The translation committee just wanted to paraphrase in a way that protected their theology.
Mr. McClellan feel no guilt whatsoever in raising baseless accusation against folks [specifically the NASB translation committee who, we kindly remind Mr. McClellan, have far more credentials than he does] when they disagree with him theologically. Imagine the verbiage we would receive from McClellan had I said, "Daniel O. McClellan just wants to paraphrase and essentially mistranslate Psalm 82 to protect his own theology." Claiming that the NASB translators are dishonest, sneaky folks who are trying to hide the truth to protect their biases really doesn't solve the problem. Mr. McClellan cannot prove his cheap-shot accusation, and he knows it. Theologically the translators would have no problem reading the text the way the NET translates it:
God stands in the assembly of El; in the midst of the gods he renders judgment.
Interestingly enough the footnote says,
The phrase עֲדַת אֵל (’adat ’el, “assembly of El”) appears only here in the OT. (1) Some understand “El” to refer to God himself. In this case he is pictured presiding over his own heavenly assembly. (2) Others take אֵל as a superlative here (“God stands in the great assembly”), as in Pss 36:6 and 80:10. (3) The present translation assumes this is a reference to the Canaanite high god El, who presided over the Canaanite divine assembly. (See Isa 14:13, where El’s assembly is called “the stars of El.”) In the Ugaritic myths the phrase ’dt ’ilm refers to the “assembly of the gods,” who congregate in King Kirtu’s house, where Baal asks El to bless Kirtu’s house (see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 91). If the Canaanite divine assembly is referred to here in Ps 82:1, then the psalm must be understood as a bold polemic against Canaanite religion. Israel’s God invades El’s assembly, denounces its gods as failing to uphold justice, and announces their coming demise. For an interpretation of the psalm along these lines, see W. VanGemeren, “Psalms,” EBC 5:533-36.
The NET's footnote provides some interesting thoughts for anyone who wishes to say these gods are truly heavenly beings. I don't take this position myself, but as the reader knows I desire to assume this position is correct to show that it in no way justifies the polytheistic Mormon Gods.
But back to the actual verse,
God stands in the assembly of El; in the midst of the gods he renders judgment.
Who is El? I believe Him to be Almighty God. Then who is this character named "God" in the verse? Again, I believe Him to be Almighty God. The reader asks: "And you expect this to make sense how?" Quite easily.
Lest the issue be raised that "God" should be translated as "Gods", plural, because of the plural elohim, let's make perfectly clear that the singular is indeed the correct rendering. The word "stands" comes right after "God"; in Hebrew, it is נִצָּב [naw-tsab']. Not only does it indicate presidency (cf. 1 Kings 22:47, "There was no king in Edom at this time; a governor [נִצָּב] ruled.") but it is also a singular verb. The word varies slightly in, for example Exodus 5:20: "When they went out from Pharaoh, they encountered Moses and Aaron standing [נִצָּבִים] there to meet them." "Moses and Aaron" are a plural subject, thus needing a plural verb. Elohim may be used plurally or singularly, depending on the context and the verbs it takes. Describing God in the plural was the Jewish way of expressing majesty and greatness to Him, hence elohim. The Christian agrees with this and further sees it as a very implicit - but certainly not definite by any means - reference to the mysterious Trinity that God is. In Psalm 82:1, elohim takes the singular verb, thus indicating there is only one person being mentioned: God, singular. The translation in our Bibles is entirely correct. Of course, I am not a Hebrew scholar by any means and don't pretend to be, so I encourage, challenge, and insist that the reader compare my assertions here with the Hebraic scholars [which I add Mr. McClellan is not], Hebrew lexicons, Hebrew commentaries and sentence structure, various literal Bible translations, and you will discover that they will be in full agreement with what you have just read. The biblical texts alone will prove that "stand" in Hebrew can also means "presides", but Mr. McClellan ignores the texts. He says,
Your exposition of the word nitsab is also misplaced.
I believe this has been thoroughly disproven.
Not only does the deliberateness of the standing not change the reading in the least, but you utterly ignored the scholarship I cited.
Actually, Mr. McClellan "cited" no one, instead he just named a few scholars and their works. Interestingly enough, in August Mr. McClellan accused me of allegedly doing the exact same thing,
I really do wonder, sir, did you even take the time to watch my videos or read the material I presented relating to this subject? I find it very surprising that you have not once quoted anyone to base your claims on, while I have quoted not only Scripture but other noted scholars.
No, you haven't quoted other scholars to me. You've simply written their names. (August Discussion, post # 468)
Of course anyone reading that discussion may clearly see Mr. McClellan's claim was entirely wrong. And now he ends up doing the very thing he chided me for. Incredible.
But back to the issue. Who is El? And who is God? I say They are One and the same Being, but two entirely separate Persons. I believe the God character is Jesus Christ pre-Incarnate, and the El is Heavenly Father. The gods, we will assume, are divine or heavenly beings higher than the angels but lesser than God, mere creations given much power by their Divine Source. Let's take a look at the entire Psalm from the NET,
A psalm of Asaph.
82:1 God stands in the assembly of El;
in the midst of the gods he renders judgment.
82:2 He says, “How long will you make unjust legal decisions
and show favoritism to the wicked? (Selah)
82:3 Defend the cause of the poor and the fatherless!
Vindicate the oppressed and suffering!
82:4 Rescue the poor and needy!
Deliver them from the power of the wicked!
82:5 They neither know nor understand.
They stumble around in the dark,
while all the foundations of the earth crumble.
82:6 I thought [Heb. said], ‘You are gods;
all of you are sons of the Most High.’
82:7 Yet you will die like mortals;
you will fall like all the other rulers.”
82:8 Rise up, O God, and execute judgment on the earth!
For you own all the nations.
In Hebrew (WLC),
מִזְמֹור לְאָסָף אֱלֹהִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת־אֵל בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט
עַד־מָתַי תִּשְׁפְּטוּ־עָוֶל וּפְנֵי רְשָׁעִים תִּשְׂאוּ־סֶלָה
שִׁפְטוּ־דַל וְיָתֹום עָנִי וָרָשׁ הַצְדִּיקוּ
פַּלְּטוּ־דַל וְאֶבְיֹון מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים הַצִּילוּ
לֹא יָדְעוּ ׀ וְלֹא יָבִינוּ בַּחֲשֵׁכָה יִתְהַלָּכוּ יִמֹּוטוּ כָּל־מֹוסְדֵי אָרֶץ
אֲנִי־אָמַרְתִּי אֱלֹהִים אַתֶּם וּבְנֵי עֶלְיֹון כֻּלְּכֶם
אָכֵן כְּאָדָם תְּמוּתוּן וּכְאַחַד הַשָּׂרִים תִּפֹּלוּ
קוּמָה אֱלֹהִים שָׁפְטָה הָאָרֶץ כִּי־אַתָּה תִנְחַל בְּכָל־הַגֹּויִם
In the LXX,
82:1 ψαλμὸς τῷ ασαφ ὁ θεὸς ἔστη ἐν συναγωγῇ θεῶν ἐν μέσῳ δὲ θεοὺς διακρίνει 82:2 ἕως πότε κρίνετε ἀδικίαν καὶ πρόσωπα ἁμαρτωλῶν λαμβάνετε διάψαλμα
82:3 κρίνατε ὀρφανὸν καὶ πτωχόν ταπεινὸν καὶ πένητα δικαιώσατε
82:4 ἐξέλεσθε πένητα καὶ πτωχόν ἐκ χειρὸς ἁμαρτωλοῦ ῥύσασθε
82:5 οὐκ ἔγνωσαν οὐδὲ συνῆκαν ἐν σκότει διαπορεύονται σαλευθήσονται πάντα τὰ θεμέλια τῆς γῆς
82:6 ἐγὼ εἶπα θεοί ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ὑψίστου πάντες
82:7 ὑμεῖς δὲ ὡς ἄνθρωποι ἀποθνῄσκετε καὶ ὡς εἷς τῶν ἀρχόντων πίπτετε
82:8 ἀνάστα ὁ θεός κρῖνον τὴν γῆν ὅτι σὺ κατακληρονομήσεις ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν
We will examine each verse and show how Mr. McClellan's unsubstantial "arguments" have no place whatsoever in this sacred text. We will also reiterate my own personal conviction from the words of Christ that this Psalm refers to human judges. But for now, we continue in assuming the gods are heavenly, not human.
82:1 God stands in the assembly of El;
Again the question is asked, "If you believe both these characters are God, why do we see two of them? How do you expect to prove your assertion?"
The Hebrew seems to indicate there are two person in this verse, as Mr. McClellan fully advocates: El and God. However it must be noted that El in Hebrew is translated as "God" in numerous passages. For example, in Isaiah 9:6 the prophet says of Jesus Christ that He will be the El Gibbor, Mighty God. This same title is also used of Yahweh in Isaih 10:21. Recall that Mr. McClellan made the following assertion regarding God [elohim] in Psalm 82,
My point still stands uncontested, and Yahweh is still not supreme.
But if El is actually Yahweh, as the biblical texts strongly indicate, then Mr. McClellan has once again proven himself in gross error. The NASB then is fully correct in paraphrasing verse 1 as,
God takes His stand in His own congregation.
But the reader may wonder why the Hebrew text words the verse in such a way that indicates there are two persons present in this Council? El seems to be the Head of the Council, since it is named "the Council of El", but God also is presiding over it. For Israel, this is quite clearly an example of the Two Powers in Heaven seen at the same time, a doctrine which Rabbinical scholar Alan Segal notes was present in Judaism before the Second Temple period. Dr. Michael Heiser, building upon Segal's work, adds,
Segal argued that the two powers idea was no deemed heretical in Jewish theology until the second century A.D. He carefully traced the roots of the teaching back into the Second Temple era (ca. 200 B.C.), noting instances where Jewish writers like Philo referred to a "second God" or "lesser Yahweh" as part of their theology.
The Jewish category of a "second power in heaven" caught the attention of scholarly specialists in New Testament origins and Second Temple Jewish monotheism since the exaltation of a second power in heaven became the hallmark of Christianity. New Testament scholars were stimulated by the work of Segal and others who followed in the search for an explanation for the exaltation of Jesus by a Jewish sect whose adherents were willing to suffer death rather than deny monotheism. A fundamental question still remained, though. If Christianity derived from Judaism, was the exaltation of a second power a departure from Israelite religion? Segal raised this question in his book as well. He was able to trace the idea through the discussions of the rabbis to passages like Dan 7:9-13, Exo 23:20-22, and Exo 15:3, but could only speculate that such an idea came from the divine warrior imagery in the Hebrew Bible. This answer did not satisfy him, nor has it satisfied his readers in the three decades since his book appeared. There needed to be a larger coherent religious framework into which a Binitarian interpretation of these passages would fit or derive from. Persian dualism was unacceptable as an explanation since neither of Judaism's two powers in heaven were evil. - Heiser; The Concept of a Godhead in Israelite Religion, p. 2
Even if we were to completely ignore the fuller context of Scripture with regards to the Trinity throughout the Old and New Testaments, Mr. McClellan must answer to the simple fact that monotheistic Israel had two divine Yahwehs, but one God. This is unlike any myth we see in paganism and other ancient religions. In the New Testament this mystery becomes even more explicitly revealed as the Trinity. McClellan obviously does not feel obligated to take Scripture in its context, but as a Mormon must demand that Christians take the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and all the words of the Apostles and Prophets into context when criticizing Mormonism's doctrines. With the Bible, however, McClellan somehow thinks the same standards do not apply, as we have already noted him saying earlier that he views the Bible as a theological mess.
Now that we have briefly covered the Israelite Two Powers in Heaven, let us proceed fully aware that we are not reading a late first century concept back into the Old Testament text, but instead that we are simply following in the consistent development of the Binitarian/Trinitarian doctrine becoming fully revealed in Christ.
...in the midst of the gods he renders judgment.
The "he" is obviously God [elohim] from the text who renders judgment. We recall how Mr. McClellan in his first rebuttal to White's exegesis said,
The next portion ("He judges among the gods") means the same thing. He is one of the divine judges. The gods are not being judged at this point in the text, they are judging alongside Yahweh.
We can easily see how Mr. McClellan makes this error by noting his misrepresentation of "standing" in the Council, particularly Psalm 82. But this portion has already been explained. So if God [elohim] is the President, why does the same verse say He judges "in the midst of" the gods? Does this not indicate that He is merely one of the gods who judge? Not at all.
Example after example is given in Scripture wherein God freely chooses to meet with His beloved creation, to be among them, to be in their midst, just as He met with Moses on the Holy Mountain and decreed His sacred Laws. Simply because Our God is seen "among" the gods, or "in their midst" cannot indicate that He is merely one of them, especially once the context is examined. If these gods in Psalm 82 are heavenly, and God [elohim] (whom we have already noted must be the pre-Incarnate Jesus Christ) freely judges from among them, as though He were one of them, does this not make us stop and wonder that this is part of His divine plan, a prototype, even a prophetic picture, of a greater design? For if He freely meets with His heavenly creations, and desires to be seen as though He were one of them, how much more so His desire to meet with Mankind and be seen as one of us, we who are created in His very image? If these gods are truly heavenly, they are representatives of the Almighty God, the Supreme Judge; and they are also prototypes of the earthly judges, who also represent the Almighty Judge, and who, if they follow His will, shall indeed become gods through theosis. Far from portraying a pagan legend, Psalm 82 demonstrates the supremacy of Our Lord in heavenly and earthly goings-on. It demonstrates His humility to be found in the midst of His own creation, and yet even in their midst He is the Sovereign Lord, the Supreme Judge, the President whose authority is never ceasing.
But simultaneously Psalm 82 declares that God [El] is the Head of the Council, the President, and far above all the gods who are gathered before Him. We are reminded of Heavenly Father being seated on His Throne presiding over the judgment of Man, and we remember Christ stands before the Father as Lion and Lamb, and even as He stands before Him Christ is also seated on the very same Throne. What a mystery! The Ten Sefirot are nothing compared to the complex unity which God is, and which Segal touches upon in his work. Ancient Israel was given this complex mystery, but it was for true Israel (the Church) to discover its hidden meaning, its place in Scripture, in theology, and in our Christian living.
In El's Court Elohim executes the Judgment. This brings to mind the parable Our Lord spoke in St. Luke's Gospel,
11As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.' 14But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' 15When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.' 17And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' 18And the second came, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made five minas.' 19And he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.' 20Then another came, saying, 'Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' 22He said to him, 'I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?' 24And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.' 25And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten minas!' 26'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'" - Lk. 19:11-27, ESV
Just as He demands the wicked enemies of the Kingdom be slain, so in Psalm 82 He demands the unjust gods to die like mortal princes. Their sin has betrayed their true intentions: they dealt unjustly with their decrees, they wasted their power and authority over the nations in corruption, and they produced nothing of good, nothing holy, to the glory of God. But to the glory of God He took away what these selfish gods already had, since they had made themselves His enemies, and so they were now like mortals doomed to eternal damnation.
He says, “How long will you make unjust legal decisions and show favoritism to the wicked? (Selah)
Again, the "He" refers to God [elohim] from verse 1. We are reminded of countless examples in the Old Testament where Israel's and Judah's kings favored paganism, decreed injustice; not only kings but the priests also, as in the case of Eli's two corrupt sons found in First Samuel.
Skipping to verse 5,
They neither know nor understand. They stumble around in the dark, while all the foundations of the earth crumble.
As Dr. White correctly notes,
Finally, Heiser expresses difficult in understanding how, if the judges here referred to are in fact human judges, "the corrupt decisions of a group of humans would shake the foundations of the earth." This ignores the obvious biblical teaching that Yahweh is a God of justice, for as the Psalmist put it, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne" (Psalm 97:2). The same term referring to the "foundations of the earth" is found in Psalm 18:8 where God's wrath makes them tremble and quake; Isaiah 24:18 likewise uses the term metaphorically in reference to God's wrath coming in judgment; they are called as witnesses by Yahweh against His people in Micah 6:2, again, a metaphoric use. The point of the Psalmist is actually rather easily seen: when justice is perverted, as it is by these judges, the proper order is perverted. Men walk about in darkness. The foundations of the earth are shaken (metaphorically, as in the other texts cited). The very foundation of society is its righteous judges, and much is said in Scripture about what happens when unrighteous judges sit amongst the people. - Carmenn Massa and Dodging the Real Arguments
I also note Hosea 4:3 declares,
1Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel,
For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land,
Because there is no faithfulness or kindness
Or knowledge of God in the land.
2There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery
They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3Therefore the land mourns,
And everyone who lives in it languishes
Along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky,
And also the fish of the sea disappear.
Again, the from the Old Testament alone the perspective that these gods are actually human is not entirely inconceivable.
I thought, ‘You are gods; all of you are sons of the Most High.’
The phrase "sons of the Most High" does not strictly mean biological sonship, but is used metaphorically as St. Paul metaphorically called St. Timothy his "son". One wonders what the LDS may say about the Pharisees where Jesus calls them children of their father the Devil. Somehow this is obviously figurative but when referring to the sons of the Most High it must be literal. The Christians are still waiting for some type of reasonable answer from LDS apologists on that particular issue.
Yet you will die like mortals; you will fall like all the other rulers.”
Figuring they were better than any other human being because of their great authority, these human judges are reminded by God that they are indeed mortal, and like mortals they will die, like princes they will fall. We note that the Bible contains very serious and dark accounts of earthly rulers falling from glory. Chaos and destruction almost always accompany their fall, if not in their empires, then in their own personal lives. If these are heavenly beings, then we recall how Lucifer, one of the sons of God, fell from grace and like a mortal man will be condemned to an everlasting grave.
Rise up, O God, and execute judgment on the earth! For you own all the nations.
Here Elohim rises up and prepares to judge the earth. The נָחַל (nakhal) is sometimes translated in other versions as a future verb, "will possess [or 'own'] all the nations." Yet again this indicates to us that God [elohim] here is Jesus Christ, who will inherit all which His Father will give to Him,
1God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
2in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
3And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
4having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. - He. 1:1-4
I believe now that we have examined all of this, Mr. McClellan's rather short citation here really doesn't prove anything against the Christian perspective,
“Ps. lxxxii speaks of a monarchic status of El, superior to that of the other gods and among them Yahweh. This psalm clearly presents Yahweh in the congregation of El, i.e. in the council of gods led by El.”
- Otto Eissfeldt, “El and Yahweh,” Journal of Semitic Studies 1.1 (January 1956): 29–30
Once again, we have seen how El is the Head of the Council, but God [elohim] also presides. Since the Father is greater than Christ, it make perfect logical sense that the Father would be seen as leading it while Christ presides and passes judgment.
Of course, Mr. McClellan doesn't dwell long on actually addressing the issue. Right after citing the above he slips right back into snobbery and insult, a pattern that has become all too familiar in his correspondence with opponents,
Feel free to go read that article. I expect you to be familiar with the entirety of it by the time you respond. If not, I won’t read a word. You’re not respecting the academic process here, and I have zero respect or time for that kind of dilettantism. If you want me to treat you like a scholar then you act like a scholar.
Despite the fact I've told him numerous times I don't think of myself as a scholar, Mr. McClellan insists on misrepresenting my every syllable and once again accuses me of doing the exact same thing he has done. I don't recall ever insinuating I was a graduate from Oxford. But Mr. McClellan has. It's documented.
Deuteronomy 1 is later than Psalm 82 and Deut 32:8–9, and the text you quote has nothing to do with the divine council motif.
Besides from completely missing the point of citing that text, Mr. McClellan again expects the reader to take him at his word. No proof is given for his assertion. Once again, my own words,
Next, McCllelan says,
God is also not standing in the congregation of Israel. That terminology is never, ever used this way. In fact, to stand in a council means you do not conduct or preside over it. The next portion ("He judges among the gods") means the same thing. He is one of the divine judges. The gods are not being judged at this point in the text, they are judging alongside Yahweh.
Once again, contrary to Daniel's assertions, the text says something quite the opposite. The NASB says, "God takes His stand in His own congregation." The Hebrew word translated into English as "stands" is nitzabh, which "denotes a deliberate and formal act, connected with a definite purpose. I Sam. 19:20.” J. J. Stewart Perowne, The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, l972), II, p.105. In the LXX, the word for "stands" is esth [Strong's 2476], and is used in Psalm 82:1.
In 1 Sam. 19:20 we read,
Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing [Strong's Heb. 5975; Strong's Grk. 2476 from LXX] and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. - NASB
I also will note, to further show the reader the errors in McCllelan's statement,
That terminology is never, ever used this way. In fact, to stand in a council means you do not conduct or preside over it.
the following passage:
The LORD has taken his place to contend; he stands [Heb. 5324; Grk. 2476] to judge peoples. - Is. 3:13
Both 1 Samuel and Isaiah clearly show that Mr. McCllelan's argument is in error. In light of this, we know that God judges in the midst of the gods, presiding over this Council. He is not simply one of them, but He is the Supreme Judge, the President. If the gods are judging alongside Yahweh, it is only because He alone has allowed them to do so.
At that time I said to you, ‘I am not able to bear you by myself. The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven. May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you! How can I bear by myself the weight and burden of you and your strife? Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.’ And you answered me, ‘The thing that you have spoken is good for us to do.’ So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and set them as heads over you, commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, commanders of tens, and officers, throughout your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, ‘Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him. You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’ And I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do. - Deuteronomy 1:9-17
If the above passage refers to human judges, made in the image of God, how much more so would it apply to divine beings in Heaven who are their prototype? The formula is the same be they human or divine.
I reiterate my own words for the reader's benefit.
You go on to cite the texts I earlier referred to, but you misunderstand their application. The divine council did not necessarily have to include judgment (which is actually a later adaptation of the motif). The presence or absence of judgment alone is insufficient for the thesis you’re trying to push, and scholarship universally recognizes Psalm 82 and 1 Kings 22 as textbook examples of the divine council motif (see the Kee article already cited; Robinson, “The Council of Yahweh,” Journal of Theological Studies 45 : 153–55; Cross, “The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 12.4 : 275; Tsevat, “God and the Gods in Assembly: An Interpretation of Psalm 82,” Hebrew Union College Annual 40/41 [1969/1970]: 126; and Morgenstern, who says the following about Psalm 82: "this is precisely the same assembly as that referred to in 1 Ki. 22.19-23." See "The Mythological Background of Psalm 82," Hebrew Union College Annual 14 : 40). You also misspelled “scenarios” (you spelled it “senerios”).
In First Kings 22:19-23 we see Yahweh Himself presiding and sitting in the Council. McClellan errs yet again in assuming I am saying the Council needs a judgment. Had he actually read my words carefully he would not have made this mistake. My own words,
Of the other passages McCllelan mentions, viz. 1 Kgs 22:19; Isa 6:1; Dan 7:9-10; Job 1:6; Zech 3:1, 3, 4, in which he claims "you will see the subordinates always stand before the presiding authority, who is seated", I only answer that 1 Samuel and Isaiah disprove that theory. But we wil[l] cite those passages just the same in their context, which when taken into said context further prove Mr. McCllelan's theory erroneous.
Regarding the passages McClellan cited, I said,
Once again there is no council or judgment here as seen in Psalm 82, no condemnation of men or divine beings so-called. Simply because God is sitting down really proves nothing unless the same senerio we are examining may be also be found here as well...Verse 10 brings to mind Revelation 20:11-15, wherein the books are opened while God is seated on His Throne as He judges mankind. Unlike the first t[w]o references provided by Mr. McCllelan, this one actually shows God in judgment. And He indeed is seated. But remember, folks, Mr. McCllelan has made the following assertion,
In the following scriptures you will see the subordinates always stand before the presiding authority, who is seated...
But if we compare the above passage from Daniel with the passages from 1 Samuel and Isaiah, we see too that the President of the Council may also stand, not neccessarily always sit. This particular passage from Daniel does not substantiate Mr. McCllelan's claims.
After examining Psalm 82, in comparison with these other passages, it remains quite clear Mr. McClellan has ignored the context, therefore arriving at the strange conclusions he has thus far made.
None of the other texts you cite at all support your assertion. You go on to make a rookie mistake in trying to undermine the idea that Yahweh was subordinate to El. You cite Gen 14:22 as equating Yahweh and Elyon, but the word “Yahweh” there is a late interpolation. It’s not in the Septuagint, the Genesis Apocryphon, or the Syriac. It’s in later texts that the two are equated, like Psalm 92:1. Had you bothered to take the time to look critically at these texts you’d have discovered this. The fact that you haven’t shows how superficial your readings are.
The empty rhetoric and insult in Mr. McClellan's writing gets tiring. I find it odd McClellan does not cite any scholars or sources to support his assertion: I haven't heard this from the Old Testament scholars who in fact have valid credentials. I suppose Psalm 21:7, or 7:17 are corruptions as well. Considering Mr. McClellan has trouble documenting many of his assertions, I'd seriously re-think who is being superficial in this dialogue.
Moving on to the final error and attack made by McClellan,
You finally conclude, basically repeating the assertions you made in the body of your argument with insufficient supporting evidence. You also state: “In Job, the sons of God approach Him, and Satan - which Scripture clearly calls a "god" - is in their midst. It simply does not make sense that Satan would enter with the gods into Heaven's Court, but is more probable that he would enter with his brethren by nature: the angels.”
The Bible does not call Satan a “god.” It simply says he came among the “Sons of God.” This, in effect, equates him with the sons of God. If you want to read about Satan’s demotion to the realm of angels, see here. Asserting the “sons of God” were angels simply falls prey to late Second Temple Period propaganda, which shows how uncritically you’re evaluating the Bible.
Regarding the "sons of God" I said,
Simpl[y] because the gods are called bene elohim, "sons of God", does not mean they are truly divine sons, but can be used as a metaphor to describe the close relationship between these beings and God. St. Timothy is described as St. Paul's son, yet we all know very well that Paul was not Timothy's biological father.
Since the New Testament descibes Satan as an angel, and coming as an angel of light, I do believe that is quite enough evidence for anyone who claims to believe the historicity of Scripture. Speaking of uncritical evaluation of the Bible, Mr. McClellan asserts the Bible never calls Satan a god, yet St. Paul says quite the opposite,
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. - 2 Cor. 4:4, ESV
If this god isn't Satan, I'd love for Mr. McClellan to demonstrate exactly why he disagrees with literally hundreds of biblical scholars and exegetes who have had credentials ever since he was born, who all conclude that this passage refers to Satan. In fact, it'd be great if he answered at least one of the many objections I present here and in my previous post. All I've seen are childish remarks, incredible behavior not fit for any type of discussion, insult, false undocumented accusation, complete misrepresentation, and empty rhetoric. The thinking reader no doubt will agree.
Your final sentence is also a weasely cop-out. You basically say that even if your entire argument is wrong, it still doesn’t matter because it doesn’t match Mormon doctrine.
No, Mr. McClellan, what I actually said was quite the contrary. I see you did not quote me here, and I think the reason is obvious. So allow me to quote myself yet again to clear up what you have confused,
And again, even if one insists these "gods" in Psalm 82 are truly heavenly beings, so be it, as this does not in any way support the plurality of Gods or the very doctrine of Elohim and Yahweh according to Mormonism.
I never said I was wrong, I didn't even hint such a thing. Instead, all I said was that even if someone insisted the gods are heavenly beings, despite the evidence to the contrary, it in no way supports the Mormon polytheism. You conveniently ignored my words here,
With Christ's usage of Psalm 82 we see more clearly that these gods simply must be human beings.
Your attempt to twist my words into something else entirely does not do your credibility any good at all, sir. The reader may safely expect you to execute the same low-blows to others who may disagree with your conclusions and eisegesis.
You try to sound like you know the languages, but you still cite Strong’s and you still show yourself unwilling and unable to think critically about the texts you’re using, as was pointed out concerning Genesis 14.
I cited Strong simply so the reader could read the basic definition of the Greek word himself. I assure you sir I have Bauer's sitting safely in my library, along with Thayer's, Louw & Nida, Vine's, and a Brown-Driver-Briggs PDF file on my desktop. As always your charity is most kind.
If you wish to respond to this post and have me read it I’ll ask you to actually read the scholarship I’ve cited. I can show you where to get access to it if you can’t find it. If you can’t familiarize yourself with the scholarship being addressed by your opponents, then you’re not debating, you’re just saying “Nu-uh!” I’m not going to waste another second on someone who refuses to take me seriously, especially if they make the kinds of mistakes you make on such a regular basis.
Rest assured, sir, that serious-minded readers know exactly who has been dodging the objections and presentations. Many people find it hard to respect anyone who responds with insult and very little substance to their "argument". I take the Mormon misinterpretation of Psalm 82 very seriously. Sadly, I cannot say the same for you. Your own words are more than enough documentation that brings me to this conclusion.
Conclusion: What did Jesus say Again?
In closing, I think it'd be wise to review once again the words of Our Lord with regards to Psalm 82.
John 10:1-21 (NET)
10:1 “I tell you the solemn truth, 1 the one who does not enter the sheepfold 2 by the door, 3 but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. 10:2 The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 10:3 The doorkeeper 4 opens the door 5 for him, 6 and the sheep hear his voice. He 7 calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 8 10:4 When he has brought all his own sheep 9 out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize 10 his voice. 10:5 They will never follow a stranger, 11 but will run away from him, because they do not recognize 12 the stranger’s voice.” 13 10:6 Jesus told them this parable, 14 but they 15 did not understand 16 what he was saying to them.
10:7 So Jesus said to them again, “I tell you the solemn truth, 17 I am the door for the sheep. 18 10:8 All who came before me were 19 thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 20 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, 21 and find pasture. 22 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill 23 and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. 24
10:11 “I am the good 25 shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life 26 for the sheep. 10:12 The hired hand, 27 who is not a shepherd and does not own sheep, sees the wolf coming and abandons 28 the sheep and runs away. 29 So the wolf attacks 30 the sheep and scatters them. 10:13 Because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep, 31 he runs away. 32
10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I 33 know my own 34 and my own know me – 10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life 35 for 36 the sheep. 10:16 I have 37 other sheep that do not come from 38 this sheepfold. 39 I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, 40 so that 41 there will be one flock and 42 one shepherd. 10:17 This is why the Father loves me 43 – because I lay down my life, 44 so that I may take it back again. 10:18 No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down 45 of my own free will. 46 I have the authority 47 to lay it down, and I have the authority 48 to take it back again. This commandment 49 I received from my Father.”
10:19 Another sharp division took place among the Jewish people 50 because of these words. 10:20 Many of them were saying, “He is possessed by a demon and has lost his mind! 51 Why do you listen to him?” 10:21 Others said, “These are not the words 52 of someone possessed by a demon. A demon cannot cause the blind to see, 53 can it?” 54
Briefly put, Christ is declaring to the Jews that there are false shepherds who rule unjustly, who corrupt the Law of God, who corrupt the very Word of God, and those who follow these perverse shepherds will perish with them. Christ alone is the Good Shepherd, the only Shepherd whom we have to do, the Shepherd whom our local shepherds (the bishops and priests) must follow in example and teaching. The priests and bishops are the Living Icons of Christ, just as Christ is the Icon of the Father. And just as the bishops shepherd the Churches of God, so Christ shepherds the bishops and their flock. He alone is our Teacher, the Infallible Potentate, the only true Pontiff of the Church. In the above passages Christ condemns these false shepherds by affirming that He alone is the true Shepherd, the true Door to everlasting life.
10:22 Then came the feast of the Dedication 55 in Jerusalem. 56 10:23 It was winter, 57 and Jesus was walking in the temple area 58 in Solomon’s Portico. 59 10:24 The Jewish leaders 60 surrounded him and asked, 61 “How long will you keep us in suspense? 62 If you are the Christ, 63 tell us plainly.” 64 10:25 Jesus replied, 65 “I told you and you do not believe. The deeds 66 I do in my Father’s name testify about me. 10:26 But you refuse to believe because you are not my sheep. 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 10:28 I give 67 them eternal life, and they will never perish; 68 no one will snatch 69 them from my hand. 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, 70 and no one can snatch 71 them from my Father’s hand. 10:30 The Father and I 72 are one.” 73
10:31 The Jewish leaders 74 picked up rocks again to stone him to death. 10:32 Jesus said to them, 75 “I have shown you many good deeds 76 from the Father. For which one of them are you going to stone me?” 10:33 The Jewish leaders 77 replied, 78 “We are not going to stone you for a good deed 79 but for blasphemy, 80 because 81 you, a man, are claiming to be God.” 82
10:34 Jesus answered, 83 “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 84 10:35 If those people to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ (and the scripture cannot be broken), 85 10:36 do you say about the one whom the Father set apart 86 and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 10:37 If I do not perform 87 the deeds 88 of my Father, do not believe me. 10:38 But if I do them, even if you do not believe me, believe the deeds, 89 so that you may come to know 90 and understand that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” 10:39 Then 91 they attempted 92 again to seize him, but he escaped their clutches. 93
10:40 Jesus 94 went back across the Jordan River 95 again to the place where John 96 had been baptizing at an earlier time, 97 and he stayed there. 10:41 Many 98 came to him and began to say, “John 99 performed 100 no miraculous sign, but everything John said about this man 101 was true!” 10:42 And many believed in Jesus 102 there.
Now He claims Deity. For this the Jews are about to stone Him, and when He inquries as to why, they answer Him plainly: "Because you, a mere human being, claim to be Almighty God." It is here Christ quotes Psalm 82:6, "I said, 'You are gods.'" Notice what He says, "If those people to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ (and the scripture cannot be broken)..." - People to whom the word of God came, these were called "gods." Jesus calls them "people", human beings whom God had revealed His word. He does not reveal His word to angels, nor to so-called gods in the heavens, but to Mankind for whom Christ died.
The NASB translates verse 35 as,
If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)
The Greek word for "he" is ἐκείνους, which the NET translates as "people" since it is in the plural. It is human beings Christ has in mind when He cites Psalm 82:6 to the Jews. The context fits quite well. First, He's decried the false shepherds as liars, even frauds, who have erred in the Truth and perverted God's Law. Secondly, He declares Himself to be God in human flesh. Thirdly, when accused of blasphemy, He quotes Psalm 82:6 in His defense (and demonstrates His superior understanding of the Scriptures at the same time). As God He once again declares of the false shepherds, those corrupt spiritual rulers, "How long will you judge unjustly and favor wickedness?" He also, in effect, says, "If the Scriptures call these mere human beings gods, what sin have I committed by declaring Myself to be the Son of God?"
I think that says it all.