Finding the Trinity in the OT

When studying the Trinity, it makes sense to start with the New Testament and the words of Jesus in passages like Matthew 28:19 and John 15:26. But what about the Old Testament? Was the idea of a Trinity or Godhead ever mentioned? Was it heretical, as it is in Judaism today?

These questions get more interesting when you consider Judaism’s monotheistic beliefs. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4; JPS Tanakh) is the first line of the Shema, a prayer recited by Jews every day. This brings up another question. How could Jews in the early church believe Jesus was God if they grew up with monotheism—being taught there was only one God in heaven?

In this video segment, Hebrew Bible and Semitic language scholar Dr. Michael Heiser explains that before Jesus came, Jews did believe in the idea of a Godhead.

Dr. Heiser continues this lesson in the rest of his Mobile Ed course OT291 The Jewish Trinity: How the Old Testament Reveals the Christian Godhead. It’s the ideal course for those teaching or studying the doctrine of the Trinity and provides excellent content for conversations with Jewish friends.

Watch additional clips and learn more at Logos.com.

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3 comments
  • Great information. . . I do have a question, assuming it can be answered in this platform.
    In saying that the Jews once believed in two powers, does this mean that they did not have a concept of a tri-unity of God as we Christians do?
    In other words, in you saying that there are two powers, do you disqualify the Person of Holy Spirit as God? Only the Father and the Son are the two powers?
    I really enjoy Michael Heiser’s lectures. I have some of his books and have heard him speak in the Logos lessons on Hebrew. I really think this author will be one of my best authors in my library.
    Thanks Mike for such an illuminated scholarship.
    I highly recommend reading Michael Heiser’s writings. He demonstrates a solid knowledge of divinities, in my humble opinion.

    Be blessed.

    Al Sosa

    • Thanks for the question and the compliments! The short answer is no, it would be wrong to conclude the OT has no evidence for triune Godhead thinking. The course goes into one or two passages where the features of the “two Yahwehs” (“binitarian” thinking) are attributed to the Spirit. It also includes discussion of how the NT authors re-purposed the two Yahwehs idea to articulate a triune Godhead.

  • Dr. Heiser,

    Thank you so much for your work in this field. I have read much of the information regarding this subject matter that is available on your website. One question that I have regarding the subject, and it relates to the current Jewish view of the dichotomy (if that can even rightly be attributed), is what your response would be to the idea that the supposed “second YHWH” is merely a creature who is sent as an emissary or representative of the only YHWH, and in that capacity–as merely a messenger–acts as one who can be addressed as YHWH, but he himself is not YHWH?

    The analogy the Jewish people I have discussed with usually offer regarding the visible YHWH is that it is merely an angel (the angel of the LORD), essentially an attendant of the throne who is sent in the name of the LORD, i.e. in his authority, much as an ambassador is said to act in the authority of a king without actually being the king himself. In that capacity, the emissary may accept gifts on behalf of the king while not accepting those gifts for himself.

    This view obviously casts the second power as a created being (cf. Proverbs 8), rather than being YHWH’s own substance. I am interested in your response to this explanation. Thank you for your time

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