Bible Notes: Spirit

Originally appeared on spirituality.com

Hebrew: Deut. 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:

This is the central pillar of Biblical theology, even according to Jesus. It might simply mean that Israel had one deity. In that age there were many gods by many names, so it was not exactly a statement that the LORD is the only god. Even the word “monotheism” was not coined until 1660 during the English Enlightenment when rational Christian thinkers began to debate whether God is purely a Spirit or is the totality of material things. Nathan MacDonald, Deuteronomy and the Meaning of ‘Monotheism,’ Tubingen, Mohr Seibeck, 2003, 62. The ancient Israelites were in some ways more simple and poetic. This is a strange sentence in Hebrew because it lacks a verb. KJV has added the verb “is” in italics to show that it was not in the original language.  Thinking ever more simply, more anciently, we should ask if the LORD himself is the verb. Does this greatest command simply say that the LORD our God is the one causal form of being? The one Person who is Principle? We are touching the profound inkling of an entity who is all activity without any corporeal basis, like a bush that burns—but is never consumed.

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