Some LDS like to quote Margret Barker as a source for their plausibility of their view of multiple gods. This was my response to one such LDS.
While Margaret Barker does have an intense interest in the OT she does not have an earned degree. That does not in and of itself disqualify her or her views. But it does mean that she may not have the depth of knowledge that others have who have earned degrees in this field of study.
Some, including scholars, have noted difficulties in Barker's work as:
"Barker writes in an apodictic manner, eschewing footnotes, and seldom, if ever, attempts to demonstrate the plausibility or sometimes even the exact meaning of her contentions. . . . There are no surprises here, then, for those already familiar with the work of this imaginative and idiosyncratic scholar. Others must be prepared for some startling obiter dicta. 'The ancient (Israelite) belief in God Most High and the second God with male and female aspects became the Christian Trinity' (p. 40). 'Those who wore the Name [of God on their headdress as priests] became the LORD' (p. 36). 'Wherever a Strong/Mighty Angel is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, it is the LORD' (p. 144)" (C. J. A. Hickling, review of Margaret Barker, The Revelation of Jesus Christ Which God Gave to Him to Show to his Servants What Must Soon Take Place (Revelation 1.1), Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 94 : 143).
"The main drawback of Barker's exposition of Revelation is the lack of grounding of her fundamental position in direct evidence. Although Barker draws numerous conclusions based on parallels some unclear or tenuous between various ancient texts and Revelation, she herself admits that there is insufficient evidence for her assertions" (Susan F. Mathews, review of Margaret Barker, The Revelation of Jesus Christ Which God Gave to Him to Show to his Servants What Must Soon Take Place (Revelation 1.1), Catholic Biblical Quarterly 64 : 368).
"Barker explores the idea of human beings in this case the Jewish priests as angels, and makes some bold claims. First, based almost solely on evidence from the book of Revelation, she states, 'we must conclude that from the first generation, bishops were regarded as angels' (p. 105), but she offers little other support for such a claim. Second, regarding evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, she asserts, 'the Qumran texts confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that priests were regarded as angels' (p. 144). In dealing with material from Qumran, however, one cannot synthesize all the material to make a case for what the Qumran group believed without first making a case for why we should assume that all these texts are from the same community at the same point in their history; and that case is not made here. I find Barker's claims about the angelic nature of the priesthood unconvincing. The work of scholars such as C. A. Rowland, J. E. Fossum, L. Hurtado, and especially C. A. Gieschen, who have done important research in this area of study, is not mentioned" (Kevin P. Sullivan, review of Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 66 : 314).
"In a more recent essay, Barker proposes that the worship of Jesus is to be explained by alleged traditions of the real apotheosis of divine kings and priests in ancient
So as I said before the fact that Barker lacks scholarly credentials does not in and of itself invalidate her claims, however it should be a major concern that she seldom backs up her assertions and that few if any scholars validate her view.
As for the Elohim- Jehovah issue it is best to remember that in the Bible there are three primary names for God - Elohim, Jehovah (Yahweh), and Adonai which everyone should have some understanding of to make their study of the Bible more meaningful. The translators of the King James Version employed a sort of code system which designates which divine name is used in a given passage.
If you look at the KJV text carefully, you will notice that Deity is variously referred to as "God", "GOD", "Lord", "LORD," or some combination of these terms. These different English words and spelling variations were used by the King James translators to designate the various Hebrew words and names for God in the Old Testament.
When one reads the OT and sees the word “God” Elohim was the word being translated.
When one reads the OT and sees the word “LORD" or "GOD” Jehovah (or Yahweh) was the word being translated.
When one reads the OT and sees the word “Lord” Adonai was the word being translated. (since you did not use this term in your post I see no reason to get into its usage)
How these names of God are used in the Old Testament poses huge problems for the Mormon Church's doctrine of God. One Mormon who was aware of the problem is Boyd Kirkland. He has written: "While Elohim and Jehovah appear very frequently in the Old Testament, these divine names do not designate two different gods with a Father-Son relationship as they do in Mormonism." See, "Elohim and Jehovah in Mormonism and the Bible," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 19:1 (Spring 1986), p. 79. Kirkland
So how are these Elohim and Jehovah used?
Elohim is a general Hebrew term for Deity that designates God as our Creator and the object of all true worship. While Elohim is plural in form, when it refers to the true God, it designates only one Divine Being. We know this because it is consistently used with singular verbs, and with adjectives and pronouns in the singular, so that by the rules of Hebrew grammar it must be understood and translated as singular. (See Jack B. Scott, "elohim," in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 1:44)
Only if one has a superficial understanding of Hebrew would one argue that Elohim must be translated "Gods" on the basis of its plural form. Missing the elementary fact that elohom is consistently used with singular verbs, adjectives and pronouns when referring to the true God means that one has seriously misunderstood the implications of its usage.
Because Elohim is a general term for God, it is also used when describing false gods. For instance, Exodus 20:2-3 declares: "I am the LORD thy God [Elohim] which have brought thee out of the
In a handful of its 2,570 occurrences Elohim is used with plural pronouns. For instance, we read in Genesis 1:26: "And God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image (see also Genesis 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8). Thus, Elohim conveys both the unity of the one God, and yet allows for the plurality of Divine Persons as expressed in the historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The term Elohim is unique to monotheistic Israel and is not found in any of the closely related languages of any of her polytheistic Semitic neighbors. (Ibid, Scott 1:44)
Elohim is grammatically plural, but does not indicate a numerical plural (i.e., “gods”). Hebrew uses the plural form to indicate honor or intensity, sometimes called the “plural of majesty.” The consistent appearance of a singular adjective or verb used with Elohim shows that the one God is intended. Where the plural adjective or verb occurs, the context determines whether Elohim means the “gods” of the nations or whether the plural agreement is simply due to scribes being more grammatically precise (Gen 19:13; cp. 1:26–27). From the Israelite standpoint the oneness of the true Deity is never in question. In Dt 6:4“The Lord,” that is, Yahweh the God of Israel, is called “our Elohim,” and declared to be “One.
The interpretation of ‘elohim as a plural of majesty is by no means unanimously held by recent Old Testament scholarship, however. In 1953 G. A. F. Knight argued against it in a monograph entitled A Biblical Approach to the Doctrine of the Trinity. He maintained that to make ‘elohim a plural of majesty is to read into ancient Hebrew a modern way of thinking, since the kings of Israel and Judah are all addressed in the singular in our biblical records. (p. 20) While rejecting the plural of majesty, Knight pointed out that there is, nonetheless, a peculiarity in Hebrew that will help us understand the term in question. The words for water and heaven (among others) are both plural. Grammarians have termed this phenomenon the quantitative plural.
Water may be thought of in terms of individual raindrops or of a mass of water such as is found in the ocean. Knight asserted that this quantitative diversity in unity is a fitting way of understanding the plural ‘elohim. He also believed that this explains why the singular noun (‘adonai) is written as a plural.
Jehovah/Yahweh. When the name Jehovah (or Yahweh, as modern scholars believe it should be written) is used in the Hebrew text, it is written as "LORD" in our English Bibles. Jehovah is the personal name of God, and speaks of Him as the holy, self-existent God who hates sin but provides redemption. According to the standard Hebrew- English lexicon of the Old Testament, this name for God is used c. 6,823 times in the Old Testament. (see Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford, 1907, with corrections 1972), 217b; J. Barton Payne, gives the number 5,321, cf. "Yahweh," in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 1:210.
As I understand it The Mormon Church teaches that Elohim is a distinct and separate God from His literal Son, Jehovah. There was a time when Elohim the Father was not God. Elohim is also our literal Father in the pre-existent spirit world and, consistent with this, it can even be said that Man and God are of the same race, and that a man can become a god like his Father. Jehovah is our literal older brother, and we were all born to Father Elohim and a Mother God. There is also a third and separate God, the Holy Ghost. He is supposed to possess a body of spirit “matter” in the form of a man.
However, the Bible uses the names Elohim, Jehovah, (and Adonai) interchangeably for the one true God, along with a number of other less frequently occurring names. A good example of this interchangeable use is found in Psalm 136:1-3,26:
O give thanks unto the LORD [Jehovah]; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks unto the God [Elohim] of gods [elohim]; for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks unto the Lord [Adonai/construct plural] of Lords [adonai]: for his mercy endureth forever .... O give thanks unto the God [El] of heaven: for his mercy endureth forever.
One of the names of God in the Old Testament is Jehovah-Elohim. It is translated in the King James Bible as "The LORD God" and literally means "Jehovah is Elohim," or "The LORD is God." (Jehovah-Elohim is rendered "LORD God" 20 times in Genesis 2-3, and there are scores of other examples in the Old Testament). Since the Hebrew Elohim is both a name-title for the one true God that could also be used to designate the false gods of heathen idol worshipers, we have the proclamation in the biblical Scriptures that Jehovah is our Elohim. It is a proclamation that Jehovah is the true God.
There are over 700 verses in the Old Testament that show Jehovah [LORD] and Elohim [God] are the same God. Many of these verses also state that Jehovah is the only Elohim. Following are a few examples.
Isaiah 43:10,11. Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD [Jehovah] and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God [Elohim] formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD [Jehovah]; and beside me there is no savior.
Note from these verses that there are several things which God wants us to know, believe, and understand:
1) There is only one true God (Elohim) and Jehovah is that one true God.
2) There were no Elohims formed before Jehovah. This means that Jehovah does not have a Father. That is, no God [Elohim] preceded him, by whom He was procreated. This refutes the teaching of Joseph Smith and the LDS Church that Jehovah is the spirit son of Elohim, our Heavenly Father, and that our Heavenly Father is an exalted man who progressed to become a God, and who himself has a Father, as Joseph Smith taught in his well-known King Follet Discourse.
3) There will be no Elohims formed after Jehovah. Some say that Isaiah 43:10,11 is talking about idols. But that cannot be true for there certainly have been idols and false gods made and worshiped since this passage was written. Therefore, when God said no Gods would be formed after him, it must refer to real, true Gods. Again, this refutes the teaching of the LDS Church that human beings can become Gods.
Isaiah 44:6,8. Thus saith the LORD [Jehovah] the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God [Elohim] ... Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God [Elohim] beside me? yea, there is no God [Elohim] I know not any.
The compound name "LORD of hosts" (Jehovah-Sabaoth) is yet another name for God and means, Lord over all the hosts of heaven and earth. The emphatic "Thus saith Jehovah" in the above verse commands our attention, so we would do well to listen. The following points are made under authoritative declaration:
(1) Jehovah is the first Elohim and the last Elohim. There can be only one first and only one last. This again rules out the possibility of any other Gods existing throughout all of eternity past and throughout all of eternity future. It also again shows that Jehovah and Elohim are not different Gods.
2) Jehovah is the only God [Elohim] that exists. This again rules out the possibility of other sovereigns existing.
3) No reasonable person would challenge the intellect of God. When He says that He does not know of something, this certainly does not imply some limitation in the scope or capacity of His knowledge. On the contrary, when He says He does not know of something, we may be assured this means that thing does not exist. Therefore, it is plain that when God says He does not know of any other Gods it is because they do not exist. Thus, these verses affirm unequivocally that no other Gods exist, nor will exist, throughout all of time and space.
Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: the LORD [Jehovah] our God [Elohim] is one LORD [Jehovah].
This is known as the "Shema" (from the first word in the Hebrew text, shema, meaning, "hear," or "observe"). This proclamation that there is only one God is the foundation stone of Judaism. Following the interpretive principle of allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, we would do well to take note of how Jesus and the Jews of his day understood this passage, as revealed in Mark 12:28-34. There Jesus is asked by a scribe, "Which is the first commandment of all?" (by which we may understand, first in order of importance). Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4.
The scribe in turn gives his understanding of this Scriptural passage: "Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he."
Jesus clearly accepted this as a correct interpretation, for verse 34 records: "And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou are not far from the kingdom of God."
We may thus conclude that Deuteronomy 6:4 teaches that "there is one God, and there is none other than He," and that Jehovah is the personal name of the one and only Elohim. Other biblical passages that teach there is only one true God include, 1 Kings 8:60; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6,8; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 3:20; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19
As we have seen from the Old Testament Scriptures examined in this paper, the teaching of the Mormon Church that Elohim and Jehovah are separate Gods is surely wrong and has no basis in the Bible.
The Bible states emphatically and repeatedly that there is only one God (see Deut. 4:35,39; 32:39; 2 Sam. 7:22; 1 Kings 8:60; 2 Kings 5:15; 19:15; Neh.9:6; Psalms 18:31; 86:10; Isaiah 37:16,20; 43:10,11; 44:6,8; 45:21; Hosea 13:4; Joel 2:27; Zech.14:9; Mark 12:29-34; John 5:44; 17:3; Rom. 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim.1:17; 2:5; Jas. 2:19), and the words Elohim and Jehovah are used interchangeably in the Scriptures. I think this is the key misunderstanding in the LDS view.
The New Testament continues to teach that there is only one God (Mark 12:28-34; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; James 2:19), but it also presents that Father as God, the Son as God and the Holy Ghost as God.