We’re working our way through Michael Heiser’s Logos Mobile Ed Course The Jewish Trinity (other posts). One major step in Heiser’s argument is in explaining that the Old Testament teaches a council made up of Yahweh and other elohim, otherwise known as the divine council. It may be surprising to many that such an idea is found in the Scriptures, but for Heiser this neglected truth can assist in Jewish evangelism. Recognizing divine plurality in the OT helps clear the ground for plurality within YHWH Himself.
It’s surprising to many that such a concept is taught in Scripture, but these ideas can be found Psalm 82, Deut 32:8-9, Isaiah 6, and elsewhere.
The Sons of Whom? (Deuteronomy 32:8)
Heiser’s view of Deut 32:8-9 relies upon a particular manuscript issue. That is, there are divergences within the texts, and the question is whether we ought to follow the Masoretic Text (MT) or prefer another reading found in the Septuagint (LXX) and Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS).
The differences can be illustrated by comparing two Bible translations: the KNJV and ESV. The NKJV follows the MT, while the ESV follows the DSS and LXX. This results in a significant difference in the reading: did God give the nations to the sons of Israel or to the sons of God (i.e. other divine beings: Job 1:6)?
Heiser holds that we should prefer the reading reflected in the ESV. This reading defends the “divine council worldview”, which is a topic for another day (learn more here).
I won’t get bogged down in the theological implications for either view, but rather want to talk about how the corresponding training video helps one think through Heiser’s claims and see the issues for themselves.
Manuscript Differences & The NET Bible Notes
The NET Bible has helpful manuscript/translation notes that most Bible cannot due to space constraints.
Most translations can only give a footnote on Deut 32:8 that says something along the lines of, “there are different readings of this text”. The ESV below is a good example.
In contrast, the NET Bible gives a paragraph of information on this textual issue and the rationale why they have preferred “sons of God”, even referencing a journal article by Heiser himself, ironically.
PLease go to Lindsay’s My Digital Seminary to read the remainder of this review. There will be other review(s) to come as well, stay tuned!