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Elohim and the plurality of Gods


robuchan

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I'm no Hebrew expert, so I'm perfectly willing to admit I'm wrong. But I've come across this lately and wondered what people thought.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elohim#Hebrew_grammar

This is my understanding based on this article (and yeah I know wikipedia is not the best source).

Elohim is a complicated word and difficult to translate sometimes. It's the plural word for God but it's used a few different ways.

1) used as a singular word referring to The God, in these cases a singular verb is used with the plural Elohim, example Moses speaking to Elohim at the burning bush and Elohim creating the Earth in Genesis 1:1. This is how Elohim is generally used in the Old Testament and it is always understood the to mean The One monotheistic God of the Hebrews.

2) used as a plural referring to other false gods, as in "have no other gods before me"

3) special case in Psalms "know yet not ye are gods" which according to some experts can be properly translated as angels, kings, or judges

So how about this for a theory:

Joseph wants to retranslate the Bible. He starts in Genesis 1:1. He's using his Hebrew English dictionary and basic grammar textbook and he reads the word Elohim and sees that it's a plural word. Aha! Gods not God! He misses the fact that the Hebrew is using the singular verb and also that the whole entire Old Testament repeats the pattern plural Elohim with singular verb referring to One God. The verse appears to have had a very strong impact on Joseph. Joseph refers to this verse over and over in various sermons and each time he repeats the error. He always refers to the verse as the building block of the plurality of Gods theology.

So could the whole LDS theology of plural Gods be based on one mistake Joseph made when he was starting out learning Hebrew?

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So could the whole LDS theology of plural Gods be based on one mistake Joseph made when he was starting out learning Hebrew?

Nope, there is plenty of evidence out side of the hebrew meaning of words of othe Gods/gods.

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I'm no Hebrew expert, so I'm perfectly willing to admit I'm wrong. But I've come across this lately and wondered what people thought.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elohim#Hebrew_grammar

This is my understanding based on this article (and yeah I know wikipedia is not the best source).

Elohim is a complicated word and difficult to translate sometimes. It's the plural word for God but it's used a few different ways.

1) used as a singular word referring to The God, in these cases a singular verb is used with the plural Elohim, example Moses speaking to Elohim at the burning bush and Elohim creating the Earth in Genesis 1:1. This is how Elohim is generally used in the Old Testament and it is always understood the to mean The One monotheistic God of the Hebrews.

2) used as a plural referring to other false gods, as in "have no other gods before me"

3) special case in Psalms "know yet not ye are gods" which according to some experts can be properly translated as angels, kings, or judges

So how about this for a theory:

Joseph wants to retranslate the Bible. He starts in Genesis 1:1. He's using his Hebrew English dictionary and basic grammar textbook and he reads the word Elohim and sees that it's a plural word. Aha! Gods not God! He misses the fact that the Hebrew is using the singular verb and also that the whole entire Old Testament repeats the pattern plural Elohim with singular verb referring to One God. The verse appears to have had a very strong impact on Joseph. Joseph refers to this verse over and over in various sermons and each time he repeats the error. He always refers to the verse as the building block of the plurality of Gods theology.

So could the whole LDS theology of plural Gods be based on one mistake Joseph made when he was starting out learning Hebrew?

No, not at all. First the idea of plurality of Gods is not solely based on Joseph's interpretation of the Bible. He was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, not a "scholar" or a "researcher" he received his doctrine by revelation. He did use the Bible to explain some of his doctrines he had received because he was dealing with many who were converts from the Protestant mentality that if it is not in the Bible it can't be true. This stiff necked narrow mindedness continues to this day and sometimes clouds the minds of some LDS. Now I am not a Hebrew scholar either, but I do take the word of a man I esteem as a prophet of God rather than some "scholar's" opinion on what the Hebrew word Elohim meant to the ancient Israelites. The haze of history is a little muddy from our perspective and I say somewhat tainted with centuries of apostate teachings that makes metaphorical almost everything that should be considered literal in the Bible. The "One monotheistic God" idea comes from Greek Philosophy and Jewish tradition, not from revelation, that is one of the evidences that the entire world plunged into darkness and apostasy when it no longer had apostles and prophets at the foundation of the Church. The Church rejected the greater light and the authority of God and that is when the "falling away" occurred along with the corruption of the Bible by the great and abominable church. So I would say Joseph's explanation is just as valid as anyone else's perhaps more if you consider him to be what he claimed to be a Prophet of God.

However, the point the Prophet was teaching was not that God the Father (whom we associate with the name title of Elohim) was plural in nature, but that there was a "Council of Gods" who made these decisions about the creation and that there are "gods many and lords many" but to us there is ONE God, meaning the Father, and ONE Lord who is Jesus Christ and that the Holy Ghost is the witness or testator of both the Father and the Son. In addition we can as we follow the Son with full purpose of heart, become ONE with them as Christ and the Father are ONE.

Joseph saw Elohim and Jehovah, (the Father and the Son) in the sacred grove. He was not referring to a pantheon of gods, he was trying to explain how God, men and angels are all of the same species and thus that is how there is a plurality of gods! Not that we worship a bunch of gods as our Anti-Mormon enemies would have the world and the uninformed believe.

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Are you suggesting it is the LDS position that the term Elohim refers to multiple Gods and not just one?

How did you get that idea from what I wrote?

I am merely stating that the idea that there are other gods is all over the bible and not just in what "Elohim" means to a hebrew.

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How does that change the fact that a plural pronouns were used in "Let us make man in our image"? The word Elohim only appears once in Gen 1:26 and that is in the preface "And God said". If it were simply a title wouldn't the pronouns be singular?

?? ????????? ????????, ???????? ????? ???????????? ?????????????; ?????????? ??????? ?????? ???????? ???????????, ???????????? ???????-???????, ???????-????????, ???????? ???-???????.

Oops - should've read the link - they mention the same verse that came to mind...

While not the same grammatical phenomoneon as the plural morphology of Elohim, the God of Israel does appear to be referred to as plural in the use of first-person plural pronouns elsewhere in the text, "Let us create man in our own image, after our own likeness" (Gen 1:26). This is sometimes used as separate evidence that the plural morphological form of Elohim does indicate some kind of plural meaning.

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How did you get that idea from what I wrote?

I am merely stating that the idea that there are other gods is all over the bible and not just in what "Elohim" means to a hebrew.

I guess I am just wondering, is it LDS theology that one God created the world or several Gods created the world?

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So could the whole LDS theology of plural Gods be based on one mistake Joseph made when he was starting out learning Hebrew?

Certainly not from an LDS paradigm. For us, Joseph's theology was primarily based on revelation from God, not from biblical exegesis. Joseph may or may have not understood Gen 1:1 correctly, but it wasn't the basis for his theology.

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I guess I am just wondering, is it LDS theology that one God created the world or several Gods created the world?

It is frustrating, I know, but the answer depends entirely on what one means by the word "god".

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I'm no Hebrew expert, so I'm perfectly willing to admit I'm wrong. But I've come across this lately and wondered what people thought.

SNIP

So could the whole LDS theology of plural Gods be based on one mistake Joseph made when he was starting out learning Hebrew?

Take two essays by Kevin Barney and call us in the morning:

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Please elaborate.

The question was:

I guess I am just wondering, is it LDS theology that one God created the world or several Gods created the world?

As I said, this depends on what we mean by the word "god". Here are some options:

"God" may refer to any member of a class of beings who are of the same "kind" or "species", this class of beings including God the Father, and all of his spirit children as understood by LDS theology. These individuals need not be worthy of worship, and indeed may possess significant weaknesses. In this sense, yes, the Earth was created by more than one "god".

"God" may refer to an individual who possess omnipotence, omniscience, and (practical) omnipresence. It is an individual who is found worthy of worship, and who stands above all others. The "most high". This is the sense assumed in classical theism. In this sense, only one "god" was involved in the creation of the Earth.

Get my drift?

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"God" may refer to any member of a class of beings who are of the same "kind" or "species", this class of beings including God the Father, and all of his spirit children as understood by LDS theology. These individuals need not be worthy of worship, and indeed may possess significant weaknesses. In this sense, yes, the Earth was created by more than one "god".

According to your definition the term God may rightfully be applied to any human being. Is this really what you meant to say?

"God" may refer to an individual who possess omnipotence, omniscience, and (practical) omnipresence. It is an individual who is found worthy of worship, and who stands above all others. The "most high". This is the sense assumed in classical theism. In this sense, only one "god" was involved in the creation of the Earth.

Get my drift?

What is practical omnipresence? I have never heard this term before.

BTW, I don't think there is consensus among LDS scholars and prophets that god is either omnipotence or omniscience.

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Why do you ask questions that you already know the answer to?

I have been told on this board time and time again that I do not understand Mormon theology and doctrine. You seem to be alone in your belief that that is not the case.

Anyway, I think Mormon teach has been contradictory on the point and I was curious as to the author's opinion.

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I guess I am just wondering, is it LDS theology that one God created the world or several Gods created the world?

Depends on what you mean by "god" and "create". One being oversaw and directed the creation (the Father), while multiple beings (Christ, Michael, and others) actually did the work. Depending on what you mean by God -- which is used in several different ways in Mormon theology -- you could simultaneously say that one God created the earth and that multiple gods created the earth, with no contradiction.

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Depends on what you mean by "god" and "create". One being oversaw and directed the creation (the Father), while multiple beings (Christ, Michael, and others) actually did the work. Depending on what you mean by God -- which is used in several different ways in Mormon theology -- you could simultaneously say that one God created the earth and that multiple gods created the earth, with no contradiction.

Adam was a God?

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According to your definition the term God may rightfully be applied to any human being. Is this really what you meant to say?

Yes, absolutely. But, more specifically, I refer to human beings in their pre-mortal state.

What is practical omnipresence? I have never heard this term before.

By this I refer to the fact that LDS believe that God is omnipresent, but not in the classical sense. He is capable of operating as if he was physically present in all places at all times, though he isn't.

BTW, I don't think there is consensus among LDS scholars and prophets that god is either omnipotence or omniscience.

It's just semantics.

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Are you suggesting it is the LDS position that the term Elohim refers to multiple Gods and not just one?

From looking the word up in the lexicon. It can mean multiple Gods but it can also mean "The one true God" so thusly becomes a proper name for the father.

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Read the Gen 1:1 KFD article by Barney. My first impression is that I feel sorry for good men like Barney and other LDS apologists. It's almost painful to see the logical twists they make to try to defend a position.

Anyway, it did sway me in one area. I can buy that Joseph was more knowledgeable in Hebrew than my OP implies, and I think I would reject the theory I threw out there in the OP. The more plausible theory would be that Joseph started with the plural god theology and then used his knowledge of Hebrew to manipulate a contrived but still somewhat defendable position on Gen 1:1.

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Read the Gen 1:1 KFD article by Barney. My first impression is that I feel sorry for good men like Barney and other LDS apologists. It's almost painful to see the logical twists they make to try to defend a position.

Anyway, it did sway me in one area. I can buy that Joseph was more knowledgeable in Hebrew than my OP implies, and I think I would reject the theory I threw out there in the OP. The more plausible theory would be that Joseph started with the plural god theology and then used his knowledge of Hebrew to manipulate a contrived but still somewhat defendable position on Gen 1:1.

Speaking of twisting, you've now twisted this situation twice, both to fit a single conclusion - there's absolutely no way that JS could have been a prophet. None. Zero. Nada. Zippo. Null.

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