PART 1: INTRODUCING THE PROBLEM
The notion of a triune deity
In trinitarian Christian belief there are three conscious personalities existing in one divine being or substance: the union in one God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three infinite, coequal and coeternal persons; one God in three persons.
Many Christian scholars acknowledge that the concept of the Trinity cannot be substantiated from the Jewish Scriptures. Nevertheless, there are misunderstandings of the Jewish Scriptures by some trinitarian Christian commentators attempting to prove otherwise. This is especially true when on occasion angels speak as if they were God Himself, and even use His personal name, Y-H-V-H. A few examples of such occurrences involve Manoah and his wife (Judges 2:1; 13:21, 22), Jacob wrestling (Genesis 32:24-30; Hosea 12:3-5), Moses (Exodus 3:2ff.) and Gideon (Judges 6:12-14). What trinitarian commentators sometimes attribute to Jesus or to “the Holy Spirit”1 in the Jewish Scriptures is better explained as God manifesting Himself by means of an angelic messenger who speaks for Him in the first person (“I the Lord,” etc.) and manifests His glory.
Inability to substantiate the Trinity doctrine from the Jewish Scriptures has led some commentators to say the concept must be derived from the New Testament. However, the allegation of a triune deity cannot be established even from the New Testament (despite some trinitarian interpolations). Careful examination of the evidence presented to prove the existence of a triune deity based on Jewish or Christian Scriptures is found to be without substance.
Compounding the exegetical problem for Christian laypersons reading the New Testament is the fact that the definite article is often added by translators to the term holy spirit. This leads readers to think that “the Holy Spirit” is referring to a separate person, a third person of “the Holy Trinity” as taught by trinitarian theologians. There is a failure to understand “holy spirit” in the New Testament as a claim to either a manifestation of God’s presence and power or of an angelic manifestation speaking on behalf of God.
1 Greek Septuagint and New Testament manuscripts are written in two kinds of script: in large capitals (uncial) or small cursive (minuscule). The uncial manuscripts date generally from the fourth to the tenth century C.E., and the cursives mainly from the ninth to the sixteenth. Some New Testament fragments are from the second century and some Septuagint fragments are from still earlier centuries. Since there is no mixture of capital and lower case letters in the manuscripts no accurate distinction can be made by a reference to the Greek biblical manuscripts or to New Testament manuscripts to decide if the upper case “Holy Spirit,” a proper noun referring to God or a lower case “holy spirit,” referring to an impersonal force, is meant.