ABOUT THE ASSUMED POLYTHEISM OF GENESIS
It is sustained by certain theologians that in the beginning, the Jews were given the knowledge of a plurality of gods, or even, within the nature of the single GOD, the Bible speaks about (1).
However, these ideas were born from the Christian era onwards, by Christians who saw in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnation of the GOD of Israel, and it is assumed, these manifestations were ‘three’ in number, thus giving ground to the doctrine of the Trinity, as it is understood today.
THE REASONS FOR THIS CONCLUSION
In a few words, the reasons that these ideas can be reduced to, are three:
THE PLURAL ‘ELOHIM’
Genesis starts in chapter 1, declaring the Name of GOD, as ‘Elohim’, which is the plural Hebrew word for ‘GOD’, meaning literarily ‘gods’ (2).
The presence of an Angel, known as the ‘Angel of YHVH’ who is not YHVH, but takes worship and speaks ‘as’ YHVH (3)
The Holy Spirit manifested seemly as different from YHVH (4).
Hebrew is an ancient language, whose origins are closely related to all oriental languages, even Sanskrit, and Chinese. It is ‘logogrammatic’, until it developed to the last form as we know it today, without vowels.
This way, many ‘words’ have different meanings, that change according to the context, very much like the expression ‘tender’ in English, where the two sentences:
‘She speaks tenderly’ and ‘The meat was tender’, both use the same word ‘Tender’ meaning two different things, according to the context of the phrase.
The same in Hebrew. The word ELOHIM, is the plural form of the singular ‘El’ or ‘Eloah’, and it is said to have been used as the ‘royal plural’, when relating to the GOD of ISRAEL, which by tradition, it was conceived to be a strict single being, and that is why, the articles or verbs that follow this word, are always in singular.
Modern scholars however, attribute this expression to ancient Judaism, who is supposed to have been Monolatrist, instead of Monotheist.
For these scholars, the plural form in Genesis, reflects the pagan origin of Judaism, who was slowly developing to the strict monotheism of Moses. And that would be why it is only in Genesis 1, where this expression occurs as relating to GOD, and in Genesis 2, the word disappears forever, that giving basis to the theory of the ‘Two creation narratives’, as two separate documents in their original form (5).
Other meaning though, was also ‘Lords’ in plural, referring to Kings and powerful men who rule kingdoms and people, all strictly in human context.
Either way, in tradition, there was never a plural nature in the single GOD of ISRAEL, as it is expressed in the Tanakh all along (6).
ANGEL OF YHVH
The ‘Angel of YHVH’, whom Christians assume is Jesus in his pre-existence, it is clearly declared to be an ‘angel’, a created being, limited as any other angel, with the exception that this angel, even if in each case that he shows up, not necessarily has to be the same angelic being, but any angel elevated to the same position, it is declared to have been granted the right to represent YHVH GOD before ISRAEL, but he himself, it is not GOD (7).
THE SPIRIT OF GOD
Finally, the expression the ‘SPIRIT OF YHVH’ or Spirit of GOD, or Holy Spirit, is mentioned in the Tanakh as referring to the person of YHVH GOD HIMSELF, and no other (Genesis 1:1-2), and other times, as YHVH’s power, coming directly from HIM, and not other (Ezekiel 36:27).
The idea that the Hebrews held a polytheist doctrine, or a multiform manifestation of a single deity, is an assumption based on a poor understanding of the historical doctrine of Judaism as a religion, without taking into consideration the historical context of the middle east, and a poor understanding of ancient Hebrew grammar.
But even more determinant, is the total disregard of reason to distinguish between truth and fable in literacy of ancient books.
Judaism was the first religion in the history of humanity, that proclaimed faith in an absolute monotheism, and from there Christianity and Islam developed. And this is more impressive when we considered that due to the longevity of the mosaic religion, Judaism challenged the multiform manifestation of god, as all Vedic religions of ancient Mesopotamia held.
And this absolute monotheism, has been, and it is, the legacy of the Abrahamic faith forever, the absolute faith in ONLY ONE AND ABSOLUTE DEITY, YHVH, and thus, this doctrine passed to the whole world, making manifest the prophecy of GOD, that in Abraham, ‘All the nations of the world will be blessed’ (Genesis 22:18).
(2) Genesis 1:1
(3) Genesis 22:12,15-16.
(4) Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4.
(5) Doug Linder, 1. In the Beginning: Two Stories of Creation, (2004).
David Bokovoy, The Two Creations in Genesis, Society of Biblical Literature, (2023).
(6) Deuteronomy 6:4; Job 23:13; Zachariah 14:9.
(7) Exodus 23:20-22.