Mysteries of the Kingdom

            in awe of scripture, viewing it through the lens of the kingship of Jesus





A Jewish Look at the Trinity

    I never knew a Jewish Philosopher presented Trinitarian style theology. Like most Protestants, I've spent my Christian years with no interest in early Christian writings where so many treasures are found. The first Church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, in his "Preparation of the Gospel" gave the following quotations of Philo of Alexandria. Philo lived in Egypt from 25BC to AD50. He spoke Greek and represented Egyptian Jews before the Roman emperor. Jewish historian Jocephus called Philo "a man eminent on all accounts." Here Eusebius quotes Philo regarding the divine nature of the promised Jewish Messiah:

    'Why as if speaking of another God does He say, "In the image of God I made man," and not in the image of Himself? With consummate beauty and wisdom is this oracle expressed. For nothing mortal could be made in the likeness of the Most High God and Father of the universe, but in the likeness of the second God, who is the Word of the former. For it was right that the rational character in the soul of man should be impressed on it by the divine Word; since the God who is prior to the Word is superior to every rational thing to be made like to Him who is set above the Word in the most excellent and unique nature.' (Philo, Questions and Answers)
   
    'All these things then God the Shepherd and King guides according to justice, having set over them as a law His own right Reason (Word) and First-born Son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred flock, as a lieutenant of a great king.' (Philo, On Agriculture)

    'If therefore any one wishes to escape the difficulties which present themselves in the questions thus raised, let him say freely that nothing material is so strong as to be able to support the weight of the world. But the eternal Word of the everlasting God is the most strong and firm support of the universe.
    'He it is who, being extended from the middle to the ends and from the extremeties to the middle, runs the full length of nature's invincible course, bringing all the parts together and binding them fast. For the Father who begat Him made Him an indissoluble bond of the universe.' (Philo, On Agriculture)

    I ascribe Philo's theology of the Son to the Jewish Messiah because only the famous Christ (Anointed) Psalm two spoke of God's Son as "begotten" by God. Elsewhere Philo called the Logos the "heavenly Adam," "heavenly man," and the "man, the word of the eternal God." The above quotes are two-fold, not three-fold as of the Trinity. Yet Philo who predated Christian scripture presented a theology of Father and Son very similar to the apostolic scriptures. There is only one God, yet the one true God begot a Son who created all things and holds the universe together. This Son is distinct from the Father without separation as Philo elsewhere explained that light proceeds from the sun.
    As in other posts, I offer the work of Eusebius in hopes of whetting one's appetite for early Christian writings. To start with the earliest writings, one will find just six authors, and only one of those has more than one writing still available to us. Most of these writings are relatively short epistles similar to those of the Apostle Paul, so any curious Christian could easily get a handle on the earliest Christian writings in a week or two.
    For an internet introduction, see the following link, and simply add "The Epistle of Barnabus" to the five writers given by wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_Fathers. Or for those who prefer a book in hand, I recommend "The Apostolic Fathers in English."
    If on the other hand, Eusebius strikes a greater interest for presenting Philo's writings, I heartily recommend Eusebius of Caesarea too - especially his fantastic "Ecclesiastical History," the first church history ever written. It dates to about AD400. Eusebius of Caesarea wrote significantly later than the apostolic fathers, but his works are packed full of great, early information.



                                                    
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"A Jewish Look at the Trinity" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on October 25th, 2014. All rights are reserved.