The following is a response to the first part of Jason’s Trinitarian Digest paper.
I’ll begin my response with just a few relevant quotes:
“There is in the Old Testament no indication of distinctions in the Godhead; it is an
anachronism to find either the doctrine of the Incarnation or that of the Trinity in its
pages” (“God,” Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 6, p. 254).
“Theologians today are in agreement that the Hebrew Bible does not contain a doctrine of
the Trinity” (The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade, Macmillan Publishing
Company, 1987, Vol. 15, p. 54).
“The doctrine of the Trinity is not taught in the Old Testament” (New Catholic
Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. XIV, p. 306).
“The Old Testament tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a Triune
God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit… There is no evidence that any sacred writer
even suspected the existence of a [Trinity] within the Godhead… Even to see in the Old
Testament suggestions or foreshadowings or ‘veiled signs’ of the Trinity of persons, is to
go beyond the words and intent of the sacred writers” (Edmund J. Fortman, The Triune
God, Baker Book House, 1972, pp. xv, 8, 9).
Actually, echad can (and very often does) mean “absolute mathematical oneness,” exactly like our English word “one” and the number “1,” with nothing further implied. When a Jew counts to three he says “echad, sh’nayim, shalosh” (“one, two, three”). The fact that the Hebrew and English word for “one” can modify a collective noun does not mean “one” can ever mean “compound unity” or in any way mean more than one. Even in English when we speak of collective nouns like “team,” “group” or “herd” and modify such nouns with “one,” the word “one” still means “one.” To speak of “one something,” regardless of what the “something” is, still means we’re talking about one single of whatever is in view. “One” means the exact same thing whether we’re talking about “one grape,” or “one cluster of grapes” (Num 13:23): i.e., “absolute mathematical oneness.” To list every verse reference in the OT in which echad means “one” in the sense of mathematical oneness would be overkill (the word appears in the OT between 940 and 970 times), so here are just ten (9 + 1!) examples: Gen 2:21; 42:11; Ex 9:7; Lev 16:5; Num 10:4; 2Sam 17:22; Eccl 4:9; Isa 4:1; Jer 52:20; Mal 2:10.
Yachid, on the other hand, is only used about 12 times in the entire Bible and then only in a narrow, specific sense. The Old Testament language authority, Gesenius, tells us that yachid is used in three very specialized ways: "(1) “only” but primarily in the sense of “only begotten” - Gen. 22:2, 12, 16; Jer. 6:26; and Zech. 12:10. (2) “solitary” but with the connotation of “forsaken” or “wretched” - Ps. 25:16; 68:6. (3) As yachidah (feminine form) meaning “only one” as something most dear and used “poet[ically] for ‘life’ - Ps. 22:20; 35:17.” Ironically, among the Hebrew words that can mean something like “united oneness” (such as achadim and kechad) are the various forms of yachad. The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance (1981, p. 1529) tells us that #3161 yachad means “to be united” and #3162 yachad means “unitedness.” And Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament (1980, pp. 430, 431) also describes the various forms of yachad: “Yachad appears about 46 times and in all periods of Biblical Hebrew. Used as an adverb, the word emphasizes a plurality in unity.” Used as a verb “yachad means ‘to be united, meet.’” And although the noun yachad occurs only once, it is still used “to mean ‘unitedness.’”
Now, if (as will later be argued based on verses such as Genesis 19:24, Is 48:12-17 and Hos 1:2-7) there is one Elohim but more than one Yahweh, Deut 6:4 would have been the perfect place to say this. Though no less contradictory and counter-intuitive, the idea of a trinity of persons (i.e., three centers of consciousness) within one God could have been expressed by a declaration such as: “Hear O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim, Yahweh is three (shalosh).” If half of all Hebrew manuscripts said “one” here and the other half said “three,” I’m pretty certain which ones the Trinitarians would be arguing are superior and more reliable! But of course, that’s not the case; Yahweh is never said to be “three.” Yahweh is “one.” That the Shema Israel means just what it seems to say (i.e., that Yahweh God is a unity, not a trinity) becomes even more evident when we take into account the thousands of singular personal pronouns used in reference to God throughout the OT.