Oneness of God
- "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD"

one There is no more a fundamental, foundational, basic, and uncompromising truth as ONE God. Even the rebellious demons confess it, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19.)

The Jews confess the Shema at least twice a day; the first and foremost passage is Deuteronomy 6:4. This verse is so important that Jesus quoted it in Mark 12:29. This was in response to a scribe's question, "Which is the first commandment of all?" (Mark 12:28b.)

Also fundamental to oneness 101 is how the ancient Israelites understood their one God. Did they conceive of Him as eternally existing in three persons or did they believe God to be single, whole, and indivisible without co-existing in three persons?

Let me introduce you to a person who can better articulate the Jewish understanding of God than I could ever dream of doing. His name is Shimon Apisdorf and he writes and teaches from an orthodox Jewish perspective. He has "...gained a world-wide reputation for his ability to extract the essence of classical Jewish wisdom and show how it can be relevant to issues facing the mind, heart and soul in today's world" (Apisdorf, S. It All Begins With God.)

Mr. Apisdorf describes God's oneness as:

"If all of Judaism could be distilled into one statement it would be, 'Listen, O' Israel, God our Lord; God is One.' This is often understood as the proclamation of the Jewish belief in monotheism, one God. In fact, it is much more than that. It is a statement about the unity—the oneness—of God's absolute being. It's true that Judaism gave the world the single most revolutionary idea that has ever been articulated, namely, that there is only one God and not a myriad of conflicting and competing gods, forces, and powers. However, the oneness of God means even more than that. The oneness of God means that all that exists, all forces and all powers, are an expression of a greater, transcendent Unity that is the source of their existence as well as the source of any power or influence they seem to exert within existence" (Apisdorf, S. It All Begins With God.)

Jewish author Tracey R. Rich, creator of the Judaism 101 website, encapsulates the oneness of God by stating:

"G-d is a unity. He is a single, whole, complete indivisible entity. He cannot be divided into parts or described by attributes. Any attempt to ascribe attributes to G-d is merely man's imperfect attempt to understand the infinite" (Source: Judaism 101.)

Understanding the ancient Israelites' conception of one God has to be OUR understanding of one God. Remember, the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses. His God is the SAME God in the New testament.

The ancient Israelites DID NOT have or rely on terms such as 'persons' (in regards to God), 'co-equal', 'co-existing', 'co-substantial', 'trinity', 'three-in-one', or 'persons in the Godhead.' These unbiblical terms came much later.

They are the product of a few so-called church fathers who attempted to explain God through the intellect. But, perhaps unwittingly, concepts from paganism which lay in their subconcious minds were allowed to creep in too.

A trinity or a God who subsists in three persons or one who is '3-in-1' is completely foreign to the Jewish mind today, and was just as foreign to Moses' and the Israelite's mind thousands of years ago.

Oneness 101 is easy to grasp by just eliminating unbiblical terminology. NO ONE has to be able to explain God, or to even understand Him. Just like the demons, you must only BELIEVE that THERE IS ONE GOD. Faith is the key and it doesn't depend on using MAN INVENTED terms (which by the way, God didn't see fit to use).

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1.)

Although 'God' is translated from the plural Hebrew noun 'elohim', it DOESN'T indicate co-existing persons (trinity) [Read about elohim for an explanation.]

My Interview With a Reformed Jewish Rabbi

I had the opportunity to interview a Jewish Rabbi in preparation for my second oneness book, The Doctrine of Oneness: A Study of Biblical Monotheism. His name is Peter Kasdan of Temple Emanu-El located in Livingston, New Jersey. (This interview took place in 1988.)

Rabbi Kasdan is a reformed Jew. The major difference between the reformed and orthodox Jew concerns the origin of the Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament.) The orthodox Jew believes the Torah was given by God to Moses; the reformed Jew does not believe the Torah came from God.

However, both reformed and orthodox Jews believe in one, indivisible God. Following are my questions and Rabbi Kasdan's answers.

What is your response to the trinitarian concept of God subsisting in distinct persons.
"I can't view God as an individual personality. I can't even call God a personality. God does not have personhood. "

What is your response to the trinitarian belief in "God the Father", "God the Son", and "God the Holy Spirit"? (The Jewish mind has no understanding of the Christian trinity.)
"There are no multiple gods no matter what other people believe in; that's their understanding of what's going on. Polytheism would therefore be viewed as a human understanding of the diety - it's a human frailty."

What does 'echad' signify concerning God?
"'Echad' is literally talking about the fact that there is one God in this entire universe. 'Echad' would certainly not be a composite, but a unity - a oneness ."

Tell me about Yahweh.
"Yahweh is the truest identity of God. Everything else is (Elohim, El Shaddai, ect.) is a designation of an attribute, if you will, of a lesser level."

A Scholar's understanding of Genesis 1:26

Ephraim Speiser (1902 - 1965) begs to differ with trinitarian scholars who see plural pronouns in such passages as Genesis 1:26 providing justification for distinct personages in God. He was the chairman of the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Here is his understanding that the plural pronouns should be understood to refer to an absolute, indivisible God:

" other divine being has been mentioned; and the very next verse uses the singular throughout. The point at issue, therefore, is one of grammar alone, without a direct bearing on the meaning. It also happens that the common Heb. term for 'God,' namely, Elohim is plural in form and is so construed at times... Here God refers to himself, which may account for the more formal construction in the plural" (Speiser, E.A. The Anchor Bible- Genesis, pg. 4.)

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