I recently was asked a question from a Unitarian about 1 Cor. 8:6 and Shema. It was in the context of an argument from an article in response to another Unitarian.
Here is how the conversation(with editing) went:
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Sorry for interrupting and bringing back old news but I see that you are discussing 1 cor 8:6. I am a Arian and wanted to put in my two cents. The idea that this verse is a reshaping of the shema she’s kind of a novel idea. From my study of that verse the first person to ever purpose such a thing is James Dunn. He is in the new perspectivist camp and I find it funny that if this is truly a reshaping of the shema surely someone would have found out about it before the 20th-21st century.
You should note that even in the verse prior there is a distinction made between Lord and God in [1 cor 8:5] and there theos is distinguished from kyrios. This should let us understand what Paul is trying to say. Also, understand that this isn’t a unique sentence and there are many verses in the OT that match it further. One clear one would be [Jeremiah 30:9] now, compare this with the shema which simply says “here of Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is one”. You would of course not say that Lord and God here are distinct persons? Rather, what Paul is trying to do is say that there is one deity i.e God, and that there is one ruler of the creation of that one God who is our one Lord who we are to serve.
“He is in the new perspectivist camp and I find it funny that if this is truly a reshaping of the shema surely someone would have found out about it before the 20th-21st century.”
This is a non-exegetical historical argument that really holds no weight with me. Far and few between Church fathers has a background in the OT or ANE. Secondly, many ideas I take weren’t explicated to depths till later. Justification was a doctrine tied to the gospel, but it wasn’t explicated and fully understood till later times. That isn’t to say Paul’s audience didn’t understand, but it hardly follows from that future individuals would be so lucky.
” One clear one would be [Jeremiah 30:9] now, compare this with the shema which simply says “here of Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is one”. ”
This hardly is a fitting parallels, unless you assume a Unitarian background to merely confirm the assumed thesis after the fact. Jer. 30 doesn’t fit with 1 Cor. 8 as some might wish. It isn’t in reference to monotheism but rather restoration. Deut. 6 fits better with what is actually being discussed and similar Pauline language is already used elsewhere(as a common Jewish tradition) to refer to shema elsewhere(Gal. 3:20, Rom. 3:30, 1 Tim. 2:5, Eph. 4:6) and in other NT writers (James 2:19, . The argument from the fact that “lord” may or probably refers to human lords(which I will have to look at it before I concede that point) may be a Pauline play on words rather than imply the same univocal usage. Furthermore, it seems that we are to “serve” and “worship” this being that heavens and earth was made through. Which hardly makes sense on a Arian scheme. He would merely be a man and hardly able to fulfill what is being applied to him.
Jer. 30:9 in the LXX:
καὶ ἐργῶνται τῷ κυρίῳ θεῷ αὐτῶν καὶ τὸν Δαυιδ βασιλέα αὐτῶν ἀναστήσω αὐτοῗς
1 Cor. 8:6
ἀλλʼ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατὴρ
ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν,
καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς
διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς διʼ αὐτοῦ.
So, nothing apparently exists between these two verses seems to exists. They are two different context and no connection seems to be able to be invoked. At a further look, it hardly is the case that I should concede that “lords” refer to human kings. The context would seem to hint that these lords are divine. That they are a inconsistent with monotheism. Even if it were the case that it was to refer to say blasphemous human lords, it still doesn’t aid the Unitarian. For the Son is parallel to this idea. He would be the true divine king. That is problematic given the fact Unitarians maintain no divine human kings exist. So, even the Unitarian would need to posit two different meanings for the phrase. The problem is that “gods” and “lords” are just referring to pagan deities in this context. The statement forms an anacoluthon. This leads to the latter contrast of the pagan views in Corinth with Christian Monotheism. The idea that no blasphemous kings exists are hardly believable. The context is about idols,false gods that people are sacrificing meat to. This isn’t about blasphemous kings. As some comentators have pointed out:
‘Lord’ was a common way of referring to deity in the cults of the time (which makes Paul’s frequent application of the term to Jesus Christ significant). Paul is simply making it clear that the heathen world worshipped a multitude of deities, none of which was real.
Morris, L. (1985). 1 Corinthians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 125). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
I don’t think it’s fair to say I assume Unitarianism since I am simply reading the text. We know that Paul isn’t saying God is Yahweh since in [acts 2:36] it states that God has made Jesus Lord. But this isn’t the only parallel. There is also [Ezekiel 34:23-24] and [Ezekiel 37:23-24] and [Hosea 3:4-5] So we see that the sentence structure of “we have one … and one …” isn’t unique to the shema and there are other verses that are far more similar. and in fact Ezekiel 37:23-24 is within the context of false idols.
Regarding your last point. the reason why it took a long time to create a coherent soteriological view was due to there not being many competing theories of justification so there was no pressure from the church to define it. Whereas Christology is something that has been heavily debated and any verse that could be used was used.
This once again does deal with the case that I have provided and it hardly seems anything other than flipping through OT passages hoping to find one where God and King David are in some similar parallelism. Hardly any of these verses have any significantly similar parallelism between God and some humans. We see this theology derives from the testimony found in Deuteronomy theology.
Rehearsing this basic confession is intended to call to mind the command “You shall have no other gods before me” (Deut. 5:7). It fits the basic Jewish assertion that “the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords” (Deut. 10:17; Ps. 82:1; 97:7; 136:3; 138:1).
Garland, David E.. 1 Corinthians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (Kindle Locations 8447-8457). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The passages you refer to are not very relevant to this discussion. If the passage used One God or Shepherd/One Servant language Eze. 34:23-24 may be more relevant, but it wouldn’t be anything more than inserting unnecessary parallels. The one God/ one Lord language permeated the references I think are made. It is true that idols are discussed in Eze. 37, but once again the language still differs from 1 Cor. 8 with no noticeable parallels between these passages.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say I assume Unitarianism since I am simply reading the text.”
I just don’t think you are. I think this is all jumps to avoid what the text simply states.
“Regarding your last point. the reason why it took a long time to create a coherent soteriological view was due to there not being many competing theories of justification so there was no pressure from the church to define it. Whereas Christology is something that has been heavily debated and any verse that could be used was used.”
This undermine your argument from antiquity. I find this more a concession that contradicting what I said. You’re correct that it wasn’t at the heart of debate, but the conversation of justification left a couple views floating throughout time. Plus, other factors that have occurred: