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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

YHWH Divine Identity in Isaiah - Examining the Evidence for Richard Bauckam's proposal Isaiah

God alone created all things; all other things, including beings worshipped as gods by Gentiles, are created by him
Richard Bauckam[1]
To establish the feasibility of a theological proposal it is necessary to examine the evidence offered in the citations from primary sources. In this post I will look at citations from Isaiah used by R. Bauckam[1] to illusrate one key element in YHWH's divine identity, "God alone created all things" with a special emphasis on the word "alone".  

Is. 40:26 ἀναβλέψατε εἰς ὕψος τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν καὶ ἴδετε τίς κατέδειξεν πάντα ταῦτα ὁ ἐκφέρων κατὰ ἀριθμὸν τὸν κόσμον αὐτοῦ πάντας ἐπ᾿ ὀνόματι καλέσει ἀπὸ πολλῆς δόξης καὶ ἐν κράτει ἰσχύος οὐδέν σε ἔλαθεν
Look up on high with your eyes, and see:
     Who has exhibited all these?
He who brings out his ornamentation by
    he will call them all by name;
because of abundant glory
    and by might of strength,
    nothing has escaped you. NETS [2]

Is. 40:28 καὶ νῦν οὐκ ἔγνως εἰ μὴ ἤκουσας θεὸς αἰώνιος ὁ θεὸς ὁ κατασκευάσας τὰ ἄκρα τῆς γῆς οὐ πεινάσει οὐδὲ κοπιάσει οὐδὲ ἔστιν ἐξεύρεσις τῆς φρονήσεως αὐτοῦ
And now, have you not known? Have you
       not heard?
God everlasting,
   God who prepared the ends of the earth,
will not hunger or grow weary—
   nor is there searching of his
        understanding—  NETS [2]
Is. 42:5 οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ πήξας αὐτόν ὁ στερεώσας τὴν γῆν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ διδοὺς πνοὴν τῷ λαῷ τῷ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῆς καὶ πνεῦμα τοῖς πατοῦσιν αὐτήν
Thus says the Lord God,
  who created heaven and established it,
  who bolstered the earth and the things
          that are in it
and who gave breath to the people upon it
     and spirit to those who tread on it: NETS [2]
Is. 44:24 οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ λυτρούμενός σε καὶ ὁ πλάσσων σε ἐκ κοιλίας ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ συντελῶν πάντα ἐξέτεινα τὸν οὐρανὸν μόνος καὶ ἐστερέωσα τὴν γῆν τίς ἕτερος 
Thus says the Lord, who redeems you,
   who forms you from the womb:
I am the Lord, who accomplishes all things;
   I alone stretched out heaven,
   and I bolstered the earth. NETS [2]
Is. 45:12 ἐγὼ ἐποίησα γῆν καὶ ἄνθρωπον ἐπ᾿ αὐτῆς ἐγὼ τῇ χειρί μου ἐστερέωσα τὸν οὐρανόν ἐγὼ πᾶσι τοῖς ἄστροις ἐνετειλάμην
I made the earth
     and humankind upon it;
I bolstered heaven with my hand;
     I commanded all the stars. NETS [2]
Is. 45:18 οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανόν οὗτος ὁ θεὸς ὁ καταδείξας τὴν γῆν καὶ ποιήσας αὐτήν αὐτὸς διώρισεν αὐτήν οὐκ εἰς κενὸν ἐποίησεν αὐτὴν ἀλλὰ κατοικεῖσθαι ἐγώ εἰμι καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι
Thus says the Lord,
    who made heaven—
this is the God who displayed the earth
             and made it;
    he himself marked its limits;
he did not make it to be empty
    but to be inhabited:
I am, and there is no other. NETS [2]
Is. 48:13 καὶ ἡ χείρ μου ἐθεμελίωσεν τὴν γῆν καὶ ἡ δεξιά μου ἐστερέωσεν τὸν οὐρανόν καλέσω αὐτούς καὶ στήσονται ἅμα 
And my hand laid the foundation of the
    and my right hand bolstered heaven;
I will call them,
    and they will stand together. NETS [2]
Is. 51:16 θήσω τοὺς λόγους μου εἰς τὸ στόμα σου καὶ ὑπὸ τὴν σκιὰν τῆς χειρός μου σκεπάσω σε ἐν ᾗ ἔστησα τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐθεμελίωσα τὴν γῆν καὶ ἐρεῖ Σιων λαός μου εἶ σύ
I will put my words in your mouth
    and shelter you under the shadow of my
by which I established heaven
    and laid the foundations of the earth.
And he will say to Sion,
    “You are my people.”
Bauckham's citations from Isaiah all make reference to YHWH as creator. However, the critical criteria in Bauckham's thesis is that YHWH acted alone in the creation. Language which might support that notion is found most explicitly in Is. 44:24 ἐξέτεινα τὸν οὐρανὸν μόνος "I alone stretched out heaven" M. Silva. In Is. 45:18 we see ... ἐγώ εἰμι καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι "... I am, and there is no other"  M. Silva. This statement probably applies to creative activity which precedes it. The repetition of the first person pronoun ἐγώ Is. 45:12  probably serves as rhetorical underling to emphasize  that YHWH acted alone. The possessive pronoun μου as in Is. 48:13 καὶ ἡ χείρ μου ἐθεμελίωσεν τὴν γῆν "And my hand laid the foundation of the earth"  M. Silva, is another means of calling attention to the same idea.  

[1] Richard Bauckam, Jesus and the God of Israel, p. 183 n1. This citation is from  Chapter 6 - Paul's Christology of Divine Identity  which is also found as a separate article here.

[2] NETS, A New English Translation of the Septuagint, Esaias tr. Moisés Silva.


Blogger The Apologetic Front said...

This clear example makes me wonder why critics of Bauckham don't find is "divine identity" model as clearly articulated. Is YHWH unique or isn't He? Perhaps there are some debatable and possibly trivial aspects to YHWH's identity. But Creatorship is not one of them.

2:42 PM  
Blogger C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Hi Mike,

Well the critics have their own texts, like Psalm 82, 11QMelch. Well talk about those eventually but I need to do a lot more reading.

7:05 PM  

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