Christian Churches of God
(Edition 2.0 19970907-20190514)
Isaiah 9:6 is often used in support of Trinitarian or Binitarian/Ditheist theology. This paper examines its use and understanding in the various translations both ancient and modern.
Christian Churches of God
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(Copyright © 1997, 2019 Wade Cox)
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Isaiah 9:6 is used by Trinitarians to justify their theology. Argument is advanced that, by the name given in Isaiah 9:6, the attributes and, thereby, co-equality and co-eternality were conferred in the son as being the same God in the case of Trinitarians and Binitarians; or an independent co-eternal God who had co-equality conferred upon him when he agreed to become the son of the other, in the case of the Ditheists. However, it was not understood in that light by ancient Israel.
The Septuagint (LXX) renders Isaiah 9:6 as reading the Angel of Great Counsel. Brenton’s translation is:
For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him.
Verse 7 continues:
His government shall be great, and of his peace there is no end: it shall be upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to establish it and support it with judgment and with righteousness from henceforth and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this.
We can see there is no trace of this later theology or assertion in the LXX. Here, he is the Aggelos, the Angel or Messenger of Great Counsel.
The term mighty god in Isaiah 9:6 is derived from the words mighty el and this can apply to any mighty one, even a human.
The same views emerge when we examine the concepts from the New Testament. The term everlasting father refers to the fatherhood of Messiah of which Paul says there are many in heaven and on earth and the reason why we bow to the Father for whom they are named.
Ephesians 3:14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (KJV)
Ephesians 3:14-15 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, (RSV)
The actual text is of whom every fatherhood (patria) in [the] heavens and on earth is named (cf. Marshall’s Interlinear text).
The Peshitta (Lamsa’s translation) has:
For whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named.
Thus, the concept of Isaiah 9:6 is the allocation by delegation of the rulership function expressed in terms of fatherhood.
Everlasting father is held by Green to be a combination of Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary 1 and 5702. SHD 1 is father as AB but when we examine the text here we see the word is ABY (SHD 21) meaning fatherly. SHD 5702 is 'AGN 'agan meaning to stay from the concept of debar (as from marriage). However, the consonants are 'AD (SHD 5704 'ad) meaning to stay for a long time. Thus, the term here denotes the continuation of fatherly responsibility and not the fatherhood of procreation which is reserved to God the Father as we see from Christ's own comments in the New Testament regarding us not calling any man father as we have only one Father and He is in heaven.
The Soncino text renders Isaiah 9:5 as:
For a child is born unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; And his name is called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom.
This is more or less consistent with the above. The words are a name which denotes the relationship of the person given the name with the being associated with it. The Soncino holds the words to mean:
Wonderful in counsel is God the mighty, the Everlasting Father, the Ruler of Peace. The child will bear these significant names in order to recall to the people the message which they embody (Arbarbanel) (Soncino Isaiah fn. to 9:5).
Even here, where the name is read in reference to another entity, it is not inferred, and cannot be inferred, that the child is possessed of these attributes. Rather he, Messiah as the child, is understood to act for the being who does possess these attributes.
The Peshitta carries the same name concept that we see from the Soncino.
The LXX uses the concepts in like manner but renders the Greek text as a follow on of the power given to the child by the Lord of Hosts (Kuriou Sabbaoth).
Similar in concept to the LXX, The Concordant Version of the Old Testament, by the Concordant Publishing Concern, also translates Isaiah 9:6-7 as:
"6) For a Boy, He is born to us; A Son, He is given to us, And the chieftainship shall come to be on His shoulder, And one shall call His name Marvelous; Counsel to the master shall He bring, Unto the chief, well-being.
7) To the increase of the chieftainship And to the well-being there will be no end; On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to brace it with right judgment and with justice, Henceforth and in the future eon, The zeal of Yahweh of hosts, it shall achieve this."
In view of the ancient texts, Isaiah 9:6 cannot be used to construe any equality with the Father as Trinitarians and Binitarians/Ditheists seek to assert. It was never understood that way in ancient Israel or Judah nor by the Church of God of past centuries nor by modern Judaism.