A while back I began work on a Jehovah’s Witness apologetic pamphlet for my own personal use. As it came up in conversations with some friends I realized that many other people could benefit from it. I haven’t finished it yet, but I figured I would start trying to polish off some of the sections one at a time, from time to time, and post them, or excerpts from them, here. Below is a morsel to whet your appetite.
As you would expect, Christological and Trinitarian issues are inextricably linked. If Jesus is God, and if God the Father is God, yet there is only one God, then there must be a plurality of persons within God. One of the earliest allusions to the Trinitarian nature of God is found in Genesis. In verses 5–7 of chapter 11, the name that the Jehovah’s Witnesses officially recognize as “the” Divine Name, is used with a first person plural cohortative verb.
“What does that mean?” you ask?
In the Watchtower’s own New World Translation, the passage is rendered thusly:
And Jehovah proceeded to go down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men had built. After that Jehovah said: “Look! They are one people and there is one language for them all, and this is what they start to do. Why, now there is nothing that they may have in mind to do that will be unattainable for them. Come now! Let us go down and there confuse their language that they may not listen to one another’s language.”
The word used in verse 7 is “נֵרְדָה”, which is a conjugation of a verb that can mean “to go” or “to descend”. It is “cohortative”, meaning that it expresses intent, and it is in the first person, so the speaker is referring to Himself. The speaker is identified as “יהוה” (what the NWT renders “Jehovah”) according to verse 5.
But it is plural.
First person singular cohortative verbs were in use at the time, as evidenced by Genesis 12:3, so the author’s use of the plural must have been deliberate.
A plural verb implies a plurality of agents. But it is in first person, and the only speaker listed is Jehovah. So there must be a plurality of agents within Jehovah.
This case is more poignant than Genesis 1’s “let us create man in our image”, as “יהוה” is not used as the subject, so a unitarian could easily say that Jehovah, after creating Jesus, asked him to participate in the creative process. The way to counter that, of course, is to point out that in Genesis 2, “יהוה” is used in a way that denotes a single creator. But Genesis 11 is more direct.