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Front Matter

 

The Only True God

A Study of Biblical Monotheism

 

2017 Minor Revision

This 2017 edition of The Only True God is a minor revision of the original 2009 edition.

It makes zero changes to the text of the original edition; not one word or sentence has been added or deleted. The number of footnotes remains the same at 54.

This edition corrects a few typing mistakes and incorrect verse numbers, and includes a new copyright page, a new Scripture index, a refined cover design, and minor punctuation touchups.

This edition contains some typographical refinements. Whereas the first edition uses two different ways of numbering Bible verses—as seen in John 3.16 versus John 3:16—this edition unifies all Bible references to the latter convention.

The main English translation used in this work is the English Standard Version (ESV). Where the Bible version is not stated for a Bible quotation, in most cases it will be the ESV.

As usual, you can write us at biblicalmonotheism@gmail.com

Copyright

The Only True God: A Study of Biblical Monotheism

Eric H.H. Chang

Copyright © 2009, 2017, Eric H.H. Chang, Helen Chang, Bentley C.F. Chan

The print edition (ISBN 978-1532898204) and the Kindle edition (ASIN B074VXY7LF) are available from Amazon.com and other online stores.

Cover design: Chris Chan

Logo design: Bentley C.F. Chan

Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copy­right © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, © copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, 1995. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked HCSB are from the Holman Christian Stand­ard Bible. Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Pub­lishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB, and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers. Scripture quotations marked NIV are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Interna­tional Bible Society. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

DEDICATION

To the eternal King,

immortal, invisible,

the only God,

be honor and glory

forever and ever.

(1Timothy 1.17)

Acknowledgements

I wish to acknowledge with deep appreciation and gratitude the abun­dance of encouragement I have received, directly or indirectly, from the few hundred coworkers in our churches worldwide. Though they were initially sur­prised and even aston­ished when I first began to expound the Scriptures in the light of Biblical monotheism, they remained open-minded and supportive as well as being firmly deter­mined to get to the truth as revealed in the Scriptures. Such open-minded­ness and what might be described as “open-heartedness” is most certainly not something to be taken for granted, especially in the case of those who were nurtured from the be­ginning in trinit­arianism (as I was). What I mean by “open-heartedness” is that I saw in them not only open-mindedness in the sense of being mentally or intellectually open but, beyond that, a deeper spiritual openness to God’s word and, above all, to the living God Himself. There seems to me to be no adequate explanat­ion for this exceptional attitude other than that the grace of the one true God abounds towards them and fills them with a supernal love for Himself and His truth.

My heartfelt thanks are due also to Pastor Bentley Chan. He is a notable example of those to whom I refer above. He, moreover, already gave himself unsparingly to all the labor involved in the publication of my earlier book Becoming a New Person. Now, beyond all this, I once again have the privilege of his skilled and competent participation in get­ting this book to the publish­ers. He graciously accepted the arduous work of, among other things, proof­reading, formatting, making helpful suggestions, and compil­ing the Scripture Index. Who can fully reward him but the Lord Himself?

At my request, two of my coworkers, Agnes S.L. Lim and Lee Sen Siou, graciously undertook the arduous task of examining every occur­rence of “Memra” (“Word”) in the Aramaic Targums of the Pentateuch (“the five books of Moses” as they are often called). Aramaic was the language spoken in the Holy Land in the time of Jesus and the early church. It is, therefore, important to know how the people at that time understood “the Word,” so as better to understand “the Word” in John 1:1,14, verses so crucial to our present study. But because Agnes and Lee Sen’s work is too large to include in its entirety in this book, only Genesis and Exodus could be included; even then the original Aramaic texts had to be left out. Their work appears in Appendix 12 of this book, and for their labors I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation. Pastor Bentley contributed the lucid and informative intro­duction to this Appendix.

It would also be remiss of me to fail to record my thanks and appre­ciation for my wife’s steadfast prayer support day in and day out. I suppose that only in eternity will it be possible to know how much I owe to her unceasing intercession. Her support was, of course, also given unstint­ingly on the level of daily household life, such as that of preparing the meals. When called to the dining table, I often only managed to get there when the food had gone cold because of trying to finish some work on a section of the manuscript; yet on no occasion did she express any annoyance at having to reheat the food. I give thanks for His grace manifested in her life to His glory.

Finally, the whole process of writing this book has been, from begin­ning to end, a remarkable experience of the living God. Day after day, after hav­ing been granted a sound sleep, immediately upon awakening (sometimes it began when I was not yet fully awake), I would be given what I might describe as “a stream of thoughts” about what I was to write about that day; I would then spend much of the rest of the day putting it into writing. This did not happen every day, but I think it is true to say that it happened 50% or more of the time during the approximately one year of writing. Besides this, I was on several occasions led to discover, to my great joy, material of import­ance for the work that I had not been aware existed. Though I have been granted the privilege of experiencing God in many ways and at many times in my life, the writing of this book, though often mentally and physically exhaust­ing (I also had to attend to administrative responsibilities during this time), has been above all a truly unique experience of the living God. To Him, the Lord my God, I wish here to record my wholehearted praise and adoration.

Preliminary Notes

This book is written for the general reader. For this reason, tech­nical theological terms are avoided as far as possible. The aim of this work is to study the monotheism of the Bible with specific attention to those verses or texts which are used to underpin trinitarian doctrine, to see what these texts actually say when ideas are not read into them or doctrines forced up­on them. To do this properly it is usually necessary to study the Script­ures in the original languages in which they were written and not merely in the various translations, because trans­lations are rarely able to bring out fully the meaning and nuances of the original text.

When discussing the original Hebrew and Greek, every effort will be made to help the reader who is unacquainted with these languages to under­stand the drift of the discussion. Hebrew and Greek words will be translit­erated (unless these words are in the text of reference works which are quoted in the present work) so as to help the reader to have some idea how these words are pro­nounced. But, as far as possible, exegesis of a technical char­acter will be avoided where these may be difficult for the general reader to follow; however, these cannot always be avoided because scholars, and others with fuller knowledge of the Script­ures, also need the relevant mat­erial to enable them to see the validity of the exegesis given. Some of this material may be too technical for the average reader, who may wish simply to pass over these sections and go on to the next point. Footnotes will be kept to a minimum.

For those who have some degree of familiarity with the landscape of Bibli­cal studies, it may be of some help if I mention that I can in general identify with the work of Professor James D.G. Dunn of Durham, England. His com­mitment to exegetical accuracy and refusal to allow dogma to govern exegesis is something to which I, too, am committed. It will not be surprising, therefore, that my conclus­ions are often similar to his. While I have not read all of his prolific writings, what is relevant to this present work is found mainly in his Christology in the Making and The Theology of Paul the Apostle. This statement, however, has to do solely with methodology; it is in no way meant to imply complete agree­ment in substance. He has not seen this manu­script prior to its public­ation.

Where the statistical frequency of certain key words is given, these statistics are always based on the Hebrew or Greek of the original texts and not on the English translations.

Finally, it will be noticed that capitals are used in the words “Biblical” and “Scriptural,” contrary to general literary convention. This is done to emphasize the fact that the present writer regards this study as a study of the Bible as the Word of God, not merely as a study of the ideas and opinions of ancient relig­ious authors. The conviction is thereby expressed that God speaks to mankind through people He has chosen to faithfully deliver His message, His truth. This ultimately rests on the conviction (rooted in per­sonal experience) that God is real, and that He is personally involved in His creation and powerfully active in it. God’s personal involvement and activity came to its fullest and unique express­ion in Jesus Christ, both in word and in deed.

 

 

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