God Crucified Part 1, a review

Posted: August 30, 2012 by J in Bible, Book review, Theology
Tags: , ,

PART 1  Jewish monotheism.

With the conceptual groundwork laid, Bauckham begins to make his case.


Jews of the time expressed their clear-cut monotheism over against the pluralism of their surroundings, by reciting the Shema and the decalogue daily. ‘YHWH is one.’ (Deut 6:4). The God they confessed was understood as a unique personal identity, not an abstract concept or collection of metaphysical attributes. The main question about God was not ‘What?’ but ‘Who?’. Divine identity, not divine nature or essence, was their preoccupation. God had a name.

God’s unique identity is that of sole Creator and most high Ruler of all things.

These two aspects ‘most readily distinguish God…from all other reality’ (p.9). In Hebrew scripture these emphases are especially found in Isaiah 40-55 (‘Deutero-Isaiah’), core texts for Jewish monotheism.


Jewish worship expressed God’s unique identity by worshipping him and no one else, over against the pluralist religious practises of the day.


What about these intermediaries? Arch-angels etc – didn’t they blur the concept of divinity? Bauckham identifies two sorts:

  • the created sort, including angels and patriarchs. These do not share God’s throne or act of creation: they are servants far below, God the ruler.
  • the divine sort, including God’s wisdom, his Spirit and his Word. These share God’s work of creation and rule. They are clearly included in the identity of God, as personifications of God himself.

Intermediaries, then, were either clearly part of God’s identity, or clearly not. They reinforce and do not blur Judaism’s ‘absolute distinction between God and all other reality.’ (p.18).

Tomorrow: Christ as divine in the NT

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