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CAJETAN was accused of impiety in denying, that the conjunction of the plural noun onse with the singular verb x70, denoted the mystery of the Trinity; but, if this is a crime, it is certainly not peculiar to CAJETAN, but common to other learned and more ancient men, as Tostat, who wrote a hundred years before him. This discrepancy between dibe, of the plural number, and 492, of the singular, does not contain any mystery, but is an idiom of the Hebrew language, in which there are many discrepancies of the same kind. Besides, if Moses, by this mode of speech, had wished to indicate the mystery of the Trinity, he certainly wrote with great impropriety; for, if the divine persons could be called gods, it might be said that there are many or three Gods; a doctrine which is condemned both in Sacred Scripture and in the Athanasian Creed. — Abridged from PEREIRA.

It is much more probable, that no mystery is implied in this word; for, according to the usage of the Hebrew language, the plural number is here used for the singular. As Aben Ezra says in his commentary on the first chapter of Genesis, it is usual with inferiors to employ the plural, as a mark of honour, in conversing with their superiors, or in discoursing of them. Thus, in speaking of an individual, they say, dibya, owners, and 09178, lords or masters; as in Gen. xxiv. 9; xxxix. 2; xl. I. et al. sæpe. - PETAVIUS: Theol. Dog. tom. ii. P.

139; De Trinitate, lib. i. cap. 7, $ 3.

Instead of God created, it is, according to the original, literally les Dieux créa, “ the Gods created;" whence some have derived an argument for the Trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence; but these proofs do not appear very solid. Such anomalous expressions are found in the Hebrew, as in all other languages, and in passages where there does not seem to be any mystery. Some plural nouns, without changing the sense, are construed sometimes with a plural, sometimes with a singular verb; as, D'78, lords; D'ID, faces. See Isa. xix. 4. Gen. ix. 23, &c. CALMET.

It is truly strange, that such a notion [as that Diabe denotes a plurality of persons] should ever have been entertained; and indeed it is only a modern notion, of the same age with scholastic theology. The Christian fathers of the church, who were eager enough to discover in the Old Testament proofs of a Trinity, never dreamed of seeking one in diabs. The plural number is no proof of a Trinity of persons; and this is, indeed, allowed by the best commentators. Its meaning was generally restricted to one God, by putting the concording verb or adjective in the singular number. Every language hath some such peculiarities. The Greeks, even the polite Athenians, could say and write, Zwa tpexel, “ The animals runs;" Ai' opexins Ta owpara pasova pauverai, “ Bodies appears greater through a cloud.” The correct and elegant Plato could say, Eotiv oitives, “ There is some;" just as the French scruple not to say, Il est des hommes Il est des cas and C'est vous qui, &c.; nor we, “ It was the French who were the aggressors;" although, strictly speaking, all these phrases are real solecisms. And so is the word means with a singular verb or adjective; which, however, is still, in spite of Lowth's remonstrance, used even by polite speakers, who never think of the impropriety. -- Abridged from DR. GEDDES: Critical Remarks, p. 8.


Moses uses d'obs, a noun of the plural number, from which it is usual to infer that there are three persons in the Godhead. This proof, however, of so important a doctrine appears to me by no means solid; and therefore I will not insist on the word, but rather warn my readers against violent interpretations of this kind. To me it is sufficient that the plural number signifies the powers of Deity, which he exerted in creating the world. — CALVIN.

From the words, creavit Elohim, our commentators in general deduce the mystery of the most Holy Trinity: the noun, as they conceive, denoting a Trinity of persons; and the verb, Unity of essence Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. The reason assigned for this inference is, that the expression in the original signifies, not crearunt Dii, but creavit Dii. The Hebrews, however, attribute this phraseology to an idiom of their language; for the plural words dirbs and disya are used of men and lords, in relation to individuals; as, qwp D'78, domini durus, Isa. xix. 4, and elsewhere. I am loath, indeed, to countenance the Jews, unless when they have truth manifestly on their side. But from other passages of Scripture the doctrine of the Trinity can be more clearly and expressly established; and we must contend against our adversaries with stronger weapons than this, if we would not, by ignorance of their language, expose ourselves to their ridicule.

I agree with them in referring the usage under notice to a Hebrew idiom, but conceive that the plural noun is ascribed to God, chiefly in order to express the fulness of his excellencies, by which he diffuses himself throughout the universe, and exerts his majesty and power, which are immense and inexhaustible. MERCER.


The argument taken from the plural noun d'abx, joined to the singular verb 872, is exceedingly poor (jejunum et exile); since, by the usage of their language, the Hebrews, in designating honourable persons, are elsewhere wont to employ the plural number for the singular; not surely for the sake of denoting some divine mystery, but merely on account of dignity and aggrandisement. - LAMBERT DANEAU: Opusc. Theol. p.

2027. The word d'obs is plural in form, but singular in signification. DAVID PAREUS.

In creavit Elohim it is thought that a mystery is concealed, and that a plurality of persons is implied. For what reason? Because a plural noun is construed with a singular verb. This is partly true, and partly false; - true as to the termination, but false as to the

For when binba is spoken of one, its signification is singular; being used of the one God everywhere, and of an individual angel, calf, idol, and man. And our opinion is demonstrated by other arguments. Both JEROM and PROCOPIUS call it a noun of the common number, because it is used of one God, and of a plurality. But if this be true, - and of it there cannot be any doubt, the argument drawn from the number falls to the ground; for, when employed of an individual, what child would say that this noun has ever a plural sense? Who would affirm that there are various cities of the names of Athence, Thebæ, Salonæ, because these are severally spoken of in the plural number? Who would deny that there is one supreme heaven, - which the apostle terms the third, and David the heaven of heavens, - because in Hebrew it is called pipw, in the dual, or, as preferred by JEROM, in the plural ? ...... Who would infer that there are many darknesses, because in Latin the corresponding word is not employed in the singular number? .... There is equally a mystery - but which, indeed, no one recognises -- in the plural dibya; this word being sometimes used of one lord, and having a singular sense; as well as in d'978, when said of the one God. ..... Because I have written that the noun orbe does not from its termination signify the Trinity, I am traduced as an Arian, when my adversaries rather should be called Sabellians, since they make the Holy Spirit the Spirit of himself, and say that Christ was selfbegotten; and, what is very absurd, constitute a plurality in individual persons. For, though they do not say so expressly, yet all this necessarily results from their opinion. So true it is, that, “ when fools fly from one fault, they run into the contrary;" and, when unlearned men avoid errors, they fall into opposite ones. — DRUSIUS.

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The weakness of the argument constructed by Peter of Lombardy has been acutely observed, and clearly set forth, by Tostat, CAJETAN, BELLARMINE, SIXTUS SENENSIS, CALVIN, MERCER, PAREUS, DRUSIUS, and De Muys, who, in an appendix to Bellarmino's Grammar, adduces many arguments to prove that nothing solid can be concluded from this expression. Abridged from SixtINUS AMAMA: Anti-barb. Bib. lib. ii. pp. 174–5.

When the word orbe is used with verbs in the singular number, the construction is elliptical, representing ombe Abs, God of gods; as ninna is put for ninna nana, fera ferarum, or the most distinguished of wild beasts; and nipan for nipan noon, the most excellent of instructions. GROTIUS: Explan. of Exod. xx. 1, annexed to his Annot, on the Gospels.

The difference between diabx, of the plural number, and 7a, of the singular, does not contain a mystery, but is an idiom of the Hebrew language as in Num. xxxii. 25, za vsa 708", Et dixit, i.e. dixerunt filii Gad. .... If Moses had joined a plural noun with a singular verb to denote plurality of persons and unity of essence, then when, in Gen. xx. 13, he speaks of God, and connects the noun diabe with a plural verb, he would signify, not only a plurality of divine persons, but also a diversity of nature.- Rivet: Op. vol. i. p. 6.

The argument, sole and naked, drawn from the word Dinks, does not seem sufficiently valid to convince the obstinacy of the perverse Jews, and the determined enemies of the most Holy Trinity. L. CAPPEL: Crit. Sac.


690. [Yet he defends the opinion that the plural noun tacitly implies a plurality in God.]

According to the usage of the Hebrew tongue, Diabs is almost always put in the plural number, to indicate supreme majesty and glory. – BYTHNER: Lyra Proph. in Ps. iii. No. 137.

the Hebrew the word for God is Dins, of the plural number, which signifieth strong, potent, mighty; and for created the Hebrew word is s7a, of the singular number: whence some learned and pious expositors have deduced the doctrine of the Trinity of persons in the Unity of the divine essence. Others, among whom are divers, who are likewise learned and religious, conceive the words will not warrant any such deduction. The proof of the Trinity from this place is denied by them, because, first, The phrase of joining words of different numbers is an Hebraism. Secondly, The words, though indefinitely they may import a plurality, do not precisely and determinately note or design a Trinity. - Thirdly, The word d'obs, with a verb of the singular number, is ascribed to strange gods, Exod. xx. 3. .ברא אלהים

Fourthly, The word dinks is used sometimes of a particular person in the Trinity, as of the Holy Ghost, ver. 2 of this chapter; and Ps. xlv. 6, it is used of the Son; and yet there is but one Son, one Holy Ghost. Fifthly, Those ancient Fathers who were most skilful in the Hebrew tongue make no mysterious exposition of the words

For these reasons, this place is no good proof of the Trinity against the Antitrinitarians, especially if it be taken alone, or set in the forefront of any conflict with them. Notwithstanding, &c. — Abridged from LEY: Assembly's Annotations.

The word d'ass, though, in the declension of it, it be of the plural number, yet in the sense of it, it is a singular; sometimes used to signify the Godhead, sometimes applied to each of the persons singly; and so no argument can be fetched from it. Dr. GOODWIN: Works, vol. ii.; Of the Knowledge of God the Father, 8c. p. 5.

Some collect, that the former word [o'nbs] imports a plurality of persons, and the latter [872] an unity of essence.

But others deny, that any such peculiar meaning ought or can be gathered from that, which is indeed no more than an idiom and propriety of the Hebrew language; so that d'obs, applied to others besides God, is often joined with a singular number. DR. South: Sermons, vol. iv. p. 298. [See also South, as quoted in “ Concessions,” p. 43.]

The argument taken from the plural noun D'obs, joined either to a singular or a plural verb, does not very strongly aid the orthodox cause, but exposes it to the derision of infidels. — Abridged from F. SPANHEIM : Op. tom. iii. p.

1209. We do not believe that any argument can be deduced from the plural termination of the noun Dobs, for a plurality of persons in the essence of the Godhead; this doctrine requiring to be supported by clear passages, taken especially from the New Testament. It is an idiom of the Hebrew language, that nouns denoting dominion, even when the subject relates only to an individual, are put in the plural number, to signify excellence, or a plurality of distinguished qualities. Thus, in Gen, xxiv. 9, d'InN is employed respecting Abraham; in Exod. xxii. 11,* boa, in its plural form, is taken for one lord or owner; and, in Ps. xlv. 6, 7,* d'abs is used both of God the Father, and of Solomon as a type of Christ. This word is sometimes used also of one angel (Gen. xxxii. 28, 30. Hos. xii. 3.* Exod. iii. 4.

• For the sake of the mere English reader, the references are all printed in the “Concessions," so as to correspond, not with the Psalm or chapter and verse in the original, but with those in the Authorised Version. The Hebraist can have no difficulty.

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