Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The following verses do not say that there is only one God, they say there is only one God "for us".

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 (NIV)
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

Can this passage therefore be interpreted in favor henotheism?

share|improve this question
    
The NIV isn't exactly the most rigourous translation with which to examine this sort of issue but even the puntuation (which you left out of your quote and I have fixed) leave a pretty strong clue about the intention of the author. You could do well to review other translations to see how they have rendered Paul's words—his intent becomes pretty clear when you see how he comes across to various translators. –  Caleb Dec 24 '13 at 9:53
add comment

1 Answer

Paul, in context, leaves no doubt about his monotheism.

1 Cor 8 deals with food offered to idols. As such, we expect the text to deal with "so-called gods". Moreover, I find it interesting that you chose not to include v4 in your quote:

4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge...

After having emphatically stated that their is only one God, Paul goes on to talking about "so-called gods" (calling them "nothing" in v4), saying that these so-called gods comprise "many gods and many lords." Moreover, v7 refers to "our" understanding of God as "knowledge" - Paul and his companions know that "there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things." To others it might seem that there are many gods and many lords, but Paul and his companions know otherwise.

If we take v5-6, out of context, we might conclude that they teach henotheism. Alternatively, we could simply take the clause "there are many gods" in v5 out of context and say that the Bible teaches polytheism. But in order to understand what the author meant, we must leave his words in the original context.

share|improve this answer
    
I missed verse 4 through honest mistake. Sorry. That being said it's still strange. Is Jesus not God? Is God not Lord? What does vs 6 really mean? –  Jim Thio Nov 30 '13 at 16:22
    
@JimThio Are you asking whether Paul's omission of "God" to describe Jesus and "Lord" to describe God, means that Jesus is not God and God is not Lord? If omission of an identity/description is to be taken as proof of its non-existence, Mt 18:20-21 is really weird: First it says that Peter spoke to the Lord, and then says that it was Jesus (not the Lord) who answered him. –  Niobius Nov 30 '13 at 17:14
    
@Niobius Actually, this verse is much easier to explain if you believe Jesus is not God, like I do ;-) –  Jan Dvorak Dec 24 '13 at 9:47
1  
@JanDvorak Then answer the question and explain the verse in context (and per site guidelines show your work). –  Caleb Dec 24 '13 at 9:55
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.