Discovering the Mystery of the Unity of God: A Theological Study of the Plurality and Tri-Unity of God in the Hebrew Scriptures. By John B. Metzger. San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2010. 905 pp. Hardcover, $49.95.
I was introduced to this book by the author. I spoke at Grace Bible Church in Charlotte, NC and John Metzger was present. He graciously sent me a copy of this book to review.
This is a major work. It is somewhat like The Reign of the Servant Kings, except this work is directed to unbelieving Jews. The main points of the work are two: 1) God is presented in the Hebrew Scriptures as one Being, but three Persons, and 2) Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah and is a divine Person, variously called Yahweh, the Angel of the Lord, the Branch, the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, and so on.
There are many strengths of this work. There are 1926 footnotes. In these notes are an amazing amount of excellent sources. The work contains many outstanding quotes from these sources. The work is very thorough. The language is very friendly to unbelieving Jews (e.g., the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures, B.C.E., C.E., G-d, Hebrew words printed in Hebrew, etc.).
The discussion of the angel of the Lord is outstanding. Metzger makes a great case that this is the pre-incarnate Messiah, Yeshua (pp. 105-106, 212, 247). He points out something I’d not thought of before, that the Angel of the Lord no longer is found in Scripture once the Incarnation occurs. (An angel of the Lord does appear after the incarnation. But never again The angel of the Lord.) This material is contained within four chapters dealing with theophanies in the Hebrew Scriptures.
He makes a good case for two Yahwehs in the Hebrew Scriptures, one, God the Father and the other, God the Son.
His presentation side by side of the genealogies of Joseph and Mary (Miriam) is excellent (pp. 597-98).
The last sentence in the Conclusion (called Summary) is beautiful: “Stan Telchin, a Jewish believer in Messiah, has said that the greatest act of anti-Semitism that the Church could commit is to withhold the Gospel of Messiah from the Jewish people” (p. 668).
There are also a few minor weaknesses. Since the book is written to Jewish unbelievers, the words are a bit foreign to Christian ears. The book is very slow to develop because of the intended audience. Metzger could make the same points to a Christian audience in a third of the pages and it would be an easier read. The great size of the book is a bit daunting. Finally, the $49.95 price, though actually cheap for a thousand page hardcover book, may be a bit high for some.
In Appendix 1, Metzger evangelizes his unbelieving Jewish readers. While the discussion is overall quite friendly to the Free Grace position, the author is a bit fuzzy at the end. He writes, “Go to the Father and confess that you’re a sinner, separated from Him, and acknowledge that Jesus is your Saviour [sic] from sin, your Redeemer. Ask Him to come into your heart and life as your Messiah and Lord” (p. 686, italics added). That is certainly not as clear at it might have been. Fortunately, however, it is followed immediately by quotes of John 1:12; 3:16-17, 36.
I recommend this book for pastors and evangelists and church leaders. It is a super resource for Jewish evangelism.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society