Aramaic scholar, Andrew Gabriel Roth, responds:
Short answer: Yes and no. Was Y'shua fully human? Yes. Did he pour out his nefesh (living soul) on the execution stake? Yes. Did Y'shua as a human actually suffer, bleed and die? Yes. Did Y'shua need his Father YHWH to resurrect him? Yes. Is Mashiyach a HUMAN title/office for the sake of YHWH and His people? Yes. Did Y'shua even directly say his nefesh was troubled to the point of death, meaning it was mortal? Yes. Was Y'shua talking to himself when he prayed to YHWH? NO. Doesn't Y'shua say there are TWO WILLS, his human one and YHWH's? Yes.
Are Y'shua and his Father one and the same? YES. Was Y'shua with his Father from the beginning of time? YES. Is Y'shua accurate when he says, "Before Abraham was, I was" (or am)? Yes.
Isn't it true that there cannot be more than one separated divine personality or it's idolatry? Yes.
So, Y'shua has both human and divine attributes, but is NOT a "God-man" like, say, Hercules. What's the difference you may ask? Hercules, or any other such "God man" is a hybridized human-deity DNA construct. In other words, the human and divine have become a single entity - no way to separate the god from the human. In pagan thought, no problem. In Hebraic thought, BIG problem because as the Three Dog Night song says, "One is the loneliest number." YHWH, in His NATURE must be ONE and ONE ONLY.
Next four steps from Tanakh into this really complex reality are Isaiah 11:1-2 and 63:1-11, Psalm 51:1-11 and Zechariah 12:10. Please read these in Hebrew and in English and compare it with my analysis. Then we will get to the NT.
Step 1: Isaiah 11:1-2, tells us:
- That YHWH can have several "spirits" (really, attributes) but retain a single nature.
- That these "spirits" (counsel, might, wisdom, understanding, etc.) are really THE ONE SPIRIT or RUACH of YHWH. Best analogy I have is how a prism takes white light and breaks it up into 7 colors, but it is still one light, which itself is both a particle and wave at the same time.
- That the Spirit of YHWH - in ALL His attributes as places like Colossians 1 and 2, Philippians 2:6-11 and Hebrews 1:1-5 say - rests IN MESSIAH. It says that clearly.
Step 2: Psalm 51:1-11 and Step 3 Isaiah 63:1-11:
BOTH TELL US THAT THE SPIRIT OF YHWH AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE ONE AND THE SAME. ONE IS A TITLE FOR THE OTHER, JUST LIKE ELOHIM, EL-SHADDAI, ETC.
Step 4: Zechariah 12:10, tells us:
- YHWH is speaking from the opening of Chapter 12 onwards.
- YHWH says ET ASHER DAKARU, the et (Alap-Taw, hint, hint) which only can read with the direct object pointer as "towards ME have pierced they."
- KEY POINT: SINCE YHWH LITERALLY CANNOT BE PIERCED OR INJURED, THE FACT THAT HIS SON IS MEANS, METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING, THAT THE RUACH OF YHWH IS ENCASED IN THE FLESH OF THE SON AND IT IS THAT FLESH THAT IS PIERCED.
- "...And they shall mourn for HIM (the Son) as a YACHID begotten." The word YACHID, like ECHAD, means ONE. But, unlike ECHAD, YACHID never has a compound singular meaning, like one synagogue with many members. YACHID really translates better as "utterly unique" and "absolutely without precedent and never to repeated again for all eternity."
- What this means is this: MESSIAH, WHILE FULLY HUMAN, HAS SPECIAL EXTRA ATTRIBUTES THAT NO OTHER HUMAN EVER HAS OR EVER WILL AGAIN HAVE. HE IS THE ONLY ONE THAT HAS THE RUACH OF YHWH DWELLING SEPARATELY BUT SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH HIS HUMANITY FROM CONCEPTION, BUT HIS HUMANITY REMAINS MORTAL. PRIOR TO HIS EARTHLY BIRTH HE WAS THE WORD DOING CREATION (PSALM 33:6) UNDER YHWH'S COMMAND. PRIOR TO THAT TIME, HE WAS THE THOUGHT OF YHWH WAITING TO BECOME WORD/SPIRIT/BREATH/UTTERANCE, or MILTHA in Aramaic (John 1:1).
So this is what Tanakh really teaches. Tanakh shows Messiah to have a fully separated human nefesh but also to have the Ruach of YHWH residing in him too. Hence, "Not my will, but Your will be done". In the Gospel of John, Y'shua directly denies the charge that he has elevated his HUMANITY to YHWH. In fact, the Aramaic always differentiates between RUACH and NEFESH, and not once does Y'shua ever say his NEFESH was YHWH. He says, in fact, the OPPOSITE, that it can die. That he will die. With me so far?
If so, again, we have Messiah Y'shua with a HUMAN and MORTAL NEFESH, and this makes sense because:
- YHWH cannot die.
- YHWH cannot offer Himself for humanity's sin.
- Even if YHWH could do this, how does that address our fallen state if it is just Him? Isn't it more logical that a perfect Torah-keeping man pay the price for us? Doesn't it make more sense that YHWH can look at our joining to His Son and see His Son's righteousness instead of our frailty? This is why "he who hath the Son, hath the Father" as KJV says. This is why "No one comes to the Father but by me."
But here is the missing piece. It is a word exclusive to Aramaic. Neither Greek nor Hebrew has an equivalent. As a result, for the 99 percent of believers that don't know Aramaic, this will confuse them before they know the term. Ready? The word is QNOMA.
QNOMA means, "an OCCURRENCE of a nature, BUT IDENTICAL to that nature." Another definition, "an INDIVIDUATED INSTANCE of a nature". Now, this is rarified language to be sure, so let me break this down:
Q: How many human beings (occurrences/qnomeh) are there on the Earth?
A: About 6.3 billon, one for each of us.
Q: How many human NATURES are there on the Earth?
Q: What is the difference between the QNOMEH and the NATURE?
A: NOTHING, except in number, that in you have yours (say #38) and I have mine (say #39) QNOMEH from the one HUMAN nature.
See, you can have ONE NATURE, and BILLIONS of QNOMEH from that nature. The NATURE (kyanna in Aramaic BTW) is not divided because it has more than one instance. And the NATURE of a human or indeed of YHWH is IDENTICAL to its qnomeh. Read the Epistle of Ya'akov and 1 Corinthians 15 - each species has just ONE NATURE each.
Now, in YHWH's case there is only ONE OF HIM, but there can be multiple QNOMEH of Him too. One of these was the Burning Bush. Another the special malakh in Shemot 23:20-22. Still another the "son of man" in Daniel. And of course the cloud, the Shekinah, etc.
At the end of the day though, depending on how you count, there are only 3 or 4 and the rest are variations from those types. Whether there are 3 or 4 depends on if you combine the qnomeh of Son and Word together or separate them out. Either interpretation is valid from the pshat (plain meaning) of the Scripture.
QNOMA is an extremely difficult concept to grasp. It is NOT, for example, a synonym for ruach, nefesh or neshama. The QNOMA is kind of like the ATOMS or building blocks of SPIRITUAL MATTER and the ruach, nefesh or neshama are END PRODUCTS of those spiritual atoms.
Y'shua himself tried to explain this in multiple ways. Often appearing in English as "self", you can see QNOMA mentioned in places like John 5:25-26. It is the difference between regular and living water in John 4, and the bread from heaven and regular bread in John 5. It is the core being of a person mentioned by Rav Shaul in Romans 1:26, Ephesians 2:14-16 and Hebrews 1:1-5, this last being one of the best definitions in Scripture - the EXACT REPRESENTATION OF YHWH'S NATURE UPHOLDING ALL BY HIS WORD. Both qnoma and a synonym TZALMA (image) appear in this critical text.
More on "Qnoma" - from the Aramaic English New Testament
Qnoma is a very important term that has been greatly diluted and misunderstood over the centuries. Through an exceedingly complex linguistic chain of events this word, meaning "an occurrence of a nature" got morphed and perverted into "person" in Greek. As a result, the One Elohim (YHWH) is represented in a pagan manner in the Greek New Testament as a "person" distinct and equal with "Elohim the Son" and "Elohim the Ruach haKodesh." Instead, it is the oneness of YHWH that manifests in Mashiyach, not that Mashiyach’s divinity is separate from his Father’s. However, in this case we are talking about humanity and not YHWH, and both of them have "natures" that cannot be seen, and yet are a root part of their being.
Or, to put it another way, a "nature" is like a body hidden behind a curtain. For those in the audience, nothing of that nature can be seen. Then, all of a sudden, a hand and part of an arm appears through the veil. While we know there is a body attached to that limb, the limb is all we see. Furthermore, that arm moves with full force, will and agreement of the mind that controls the body. For the viewers, the arm appearing out of the curtain is the qnoma (occurrence) and the hidden mind behind that limb’s movement is its kyanna (nature).
As the centuries moved along, the ancient meaning of qnoma as "occurrence of a nature" devolved by Aramaic assemblies who compromised with the Byzantine Empire. Gradually, "core substance" became the common definition; at first it closely paralleled its Greek counterpart, hypostasis. More time passed and Greek redactors changed the meaning of hypostasi, taking it further from the original definition of qnoma. Qnoma/hypostasis became equivalent to "person" to line up with Greek passages that used this meaning in the form of the word prospon.
In Greek, "person" implies a physical presence as opposed to Aramaic where body metaphors like "I will set my face towards" are very common. The revision began at the beginning of the Third Century when these same "westernized" Aramaic Christians began to proffer up readings in their "Peshitt-o" versions of Acts 20:28 and Hebrews 2:9 that were meant to align with the Byzantine majority Greek. However, the original eastern "Peshitt-a" escaped these revisions as it was in the rival Persian Empire. Aramaic, as in this verse, retains the original meaning of qnoma. It is NOT the external "person" that teaches someone about Elohim, but the Ruach working through their "inner being." The idea of "person" in Greek, unfortunately, does not address the neshama (spirit) of a person as the likeness or "image of Elohim."
In a related topic, divine and human NATURES (kyanna) are directly mentioned in Galatians 4:8 and we partake of the divine nature in 2 Peter 1:4 - same word in both.
And finally, the best Tanakh example - after all this explanation is Isaiah 53:1 discussed in Exodus 6:6. The "ARM of YHWH" is Y'shua the Son on the DIVINE side. The arm is not separate from the body but moves only with the intent of the brain or Will as the ancients would have called it. The arm is not greater than the leg or any other limb, but all limbs are needed for the whole of the organism. That is not a separate organism like another god, nor is it a hybridized DNA human-god fusing. Y'shua is both 100 percent SEPARATELY human AND 100 percent SEPARATELY divine. Put simply, any other math breaks Scripture in BOTH covenants. But there is no Trinity or Tri-unity. Those words are synonyms for idolatry.
Galatians 4: 6. But because you were sons, Elohim sent the Spirit of His Son to your hearts, that calls the Father "Our Father". 7. And because you were not servants but sons, and if sons, inheritors of Elohim by Y'shua the Mashiyach. 8. Then, for when you did not know Elohim, you served those things who, by their very nature, are not Elohim.
Footnote in AENT: Or "elohim" (as in deities). The point is that each false deity cannot live up to the true Elohim, or that none of them are the "real elohim" but rather statues with no life, since there is only One true Elohim, YHWH. The verse can easily read either way; however, it is fair to point out that the later vowel pointing systems that developed in both Eastern and Western Aramaic versions of this text have a plural marker over the word in question. Either way is acceptable, both are possible. The other issue is the use of the word kyanna, or "nature." This phrase proves Rav Shaul was not polytheistic as his critics often allege because, no matter which reading is preferred, he is still defending the very Jewish idea that there is only One divine nature, and that any more than one is idolatry.
2 Peter 1: 4. wherein he has given you very great and precious promises; that by them you might become partakers of the nature of Elohim while you flee from the corruptions of the lusts that are in the world.
1 Corinthians 8: 5. For although there are what are called deities, whether in heaven, or on earth, (as there are deities many, and masters many) 6. Yet to us, on our part, there is one Elohim, the Father from whom are all things, and we in him; and one Master YHWH, Y'shua the Mashiyach, by whom are all things, and we also by him.
Footnote in AENT: This is not to be construed that "one Elohim the Father" and "one YHWH, Y'shua the Mashiyach" are separate divine "persons." Instead, Aramaic references two divine occurrences from the singular divine nature, or qnomeh. This concept is directly stated 15 times, and alluded to at least as much in figurative language (e.g. living water in John 4, leading to a direct reference in John 5:26).