Christians worship a different God than Jesus Christ. Even though they make him part of their God. Since the third century, and more so since the fourth century, Christians have even been worshipping a completely different God than their antecessors, especially those who came from the original Jesus movement in first century Palestine, the followers of the Way, the adherents of which were individually called Nasoreans in the beginning.
The English phrase “the Way” translates into Hebrew as “ha-Darekh”, as in The Way (ha-Derekh), The Truth (ha-Emet), and The Life (ha-Chayim). In Chinese, the Way or ha-Derekh becomes Dao. The Dao is not the same as ha-Derekh, despite the identical nomenclature (in translation), which is but a coincidence.
The God of the Christians is Trinitarian, a triune Godhead of three Persons said to be separate and coequal. This Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is wholly an invention of Gentile Christians that any first century Israelite would view as anathema.
Israelite here is more appropriate than “Jew”. Although there were some so-called in the first century CE, the term referred strictly to those native to Judea and their descendants. For example, look at the way the composer of the Gospel of John, almost certainly a Palestinian Israelite himself, used the word “Jew” in his work, almost as if they were a foreign people (which they certainly considered themselves).
The Samaritans had a rough parity with Jews in terms of population both within Palestine and in the Diaspora. Galileans, descendants of undesirables from Judea exiled to the District (Galil) of the Gentiles (Goyim) plus their forcibly-converted Iturean Arab neighbors, were barely tolerated by their Judean cousins, even less so than the also forcibly-converted Idumeans.
The Unity of God, of Yahuweh, was the essential dogma of every variety of Israelite religion in the first century CE, whether Sadducee, Bet Shammai Pharisee, Bet Hillel Pharisee, Essene, Samaritan, Bene Tzedek (precursor to the Karaim), Hellenists, or one of the myriad others. Devout male Israelites in Palestine, and perhaps some in the Diaspora also, wore the ultimate creedal statement of belief in the Unity on their left hand and foreheads daily. This statement forms the foundation of the much-expanded modern Shema, which in the beginning was simply: “Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
And yes, you read correctly; Israelite males in first century Palestine wore the name of Yahuweh on their foreheads and left wrists (in what are called “tefillin”), just like the followers of the beast in the Revelation of John the Divine did with the “number of his name”, 666. In fact, it was that very thing which the author of Revelation intended to call to mind. Just as the fact that the Four Horsemen (Tyranny, War, Famine, and Plague) were intended to call to mind the Four Craftsmen (Elijah, Righteous Priest, Messiah ben Joseph, and Messiah ben David) of Rabbanite Jewish eschatology based on Zechariah 1:18-21.
Speaking of that awesome number that scares the crap out of so many superstitious fools, it represents wealth. Period. The reason it does in Jewish philosophy going back past the turn of the era is that it is the number of “talents” the mythical King Solomon (not the real Prohibition era bootlegger of the same name from Boston) received in tribute and taxes every year. Having “666” written on their foreheads and hands meant those people in Revelation worshipped wealth, and probably advocated libertarianism, neoliberalism, and trickle-down economics.
While it is true, as I have written elsewhere, that the Alexandrian philosopher Julius Philo Judaeus posited in his early writings what could have been a rudimentary precursor to the Holy Trinity of the Christians, the other two “persons” (the Logos, the Word or Reason, and Sophia, or Wisdom) were for him no more than emanations of the One True God. That was the beginning of his attempt to harmonize and synchronize Israelite religious philosophy with Platonism. One of Platonism’s central cosmological themes was that of the Logos as a medium between The One and Creation. Like Israelite religion in the first century, Platonic philosophy held Wisdom to be a quasi-persona, separate from the Logos.
But for most Pharisees, Essenes, Sadducees, proto-Karaites, Samaritans, Hellenists, Galileans, Idumeans, and other Israelites in first century Palestine, there was just God. In his subsequent writings, Philo equated Logos with Sophia (he wrote in Greek).
In first century Israelite mystical and philosophical thought, the Logos (Memra in Hebrew) and Sophia (Hokhma) equate not merely to each other but also to Understanding (Sapientia/Binah) and the Presence (Shekhinah). All of these were, and still are, considered emanations of God that are aspects of the Holy Spirit (Pneuma Hagion, Ruach ha-Kodesh), the means through which the transcendent Lord God Almighty is immanent in Creation.
Adherents of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, particularly evangelicals, point to two New Testament passages in particular to support the claim that followers of Jesus have always believed in the Trinity. First is the Great Commission in chapter 28 at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, whose verse 19 reads (in RSV): “ Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Second is the fifth chapter of the First Epistle of John, who seventh verse reads (in KJV): “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
The problem with these two verses is that both are interpolations, or redactions, inserted by scribes committing “pious fraud” in the name of synchronizing Scripture with later doctrine and dogma. In soaps and scifi series, this is called retcon, or retroactive continuity. A notable example of this is the duology of the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise to finally explain the differences in the physiology of Klingon foreheads in Star Trek: The Original Series vis-à-vis that after the franchise was rebooted in 1987.
The reason given in the ST:ENT episodes was a genetic alteration to stop a bioweapon targeting Klingon DNA, one which would reverse itself in later generations. The real reason was that Gene Roddenberry didn’t have the funding for ST:TOS to create Klingons as he envisioned them.
Regarding the first of these proof verses, the majority of scholars believe the entire Great Commission is a redaction, but even if it is not, passages in the writings of Eusebius of Casesarea in the fourth century CE prove that the Trinitarian citation is clearly more recent (perhaps a redaction of an interpolation?), for where that is in later examples, Eusebius cites the disciples being told to baptize people “in the name of Jesus”.
As for the second, more modern and more accurate translations consulting the earliest manuscripts leave out the entire clause and reorder the verses of the chapter. For instance, its foreign nature is so apparent that the RSV (NT first published in 1942) leaves it out entirely, which the NRSV does also but offers it in a footnote.
Some authorities claim that the final verse of 2 Corinthians, 13:14, is an interpolation, but this is probably not the case. However, the verse, which reads (RSV), “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all,” does contain an interpolation since all early manuscripts do not contain the modifier “Holy”. Which, it must be said, would contrast every other reference to “the Spirit” in Paul’s legitimate writings.
Some claim this verse is an affirmation of the Trinity, others point out, correctly, that the “Lord Jesus Christ” is separate and contrasted to “God”, and comes at the beginning rather than the middle of the list.
So, you may be asking, or at least thinking, “Whence the Trinity?”. My reply, “Wholly and completely from Gentile religious motifs”.
Throughout the ancient world the Great Queen or Great Mother was often depicted as a Triple Goddess in the forms of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The Greek goddess Hecate figure in three of these: Hebe-Hera-Hera-Hecate, Kore-Demeter-Hecate, and Artemis-Selene-Hecate. The Egyptians had Hathor-Nephthys-Isis. The Canaanite version was Qadesh (Asherah)-Astarte-Anath. Mesopotamians had Inanna-Ishtar-Astarte.
The original Mystery Cult involved the Trinity of Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Its Hellenistic counterpart involved the Trinity of Serapis, Isis, and Harpocrates. Other Egyptian triads included Amun-Mut-Khonsu, Ptah-Sekmet-Nefertem, and Khnum-Satet-Anuket.
The Greeks had several trinities, including Zeus-Poseidon-Hades, Helios-Apollo-Dionysus, and Persephone-Demeter-Triptolemus.
At the top of the pyramid in ancient Rome was the Capitoline triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, whose temples graced the top of what is now Al-Aqsa Mount from around 135 CE to the fourth century, when their temples (now Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque) became churches, along with the former temples of Venus (Holy Sepulchre) and Mercury (Upper Room).
Hinduism’s supreme god above all others, Brahman, is usually described as a Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The female counterpart is the trinity of Parvati, Durga, and Kali.
The ancient Irish had multiple trinities. One most often cited is the trinity of the war goddesses Morrigan (from Mor Righean, or “Great Queen”), Badb, and Macha. Other accounts name Anann (the Mor Righean with her personal name) as the chief warrior goddess who is first among equals, the others being Badb, Macha, Nemain, and Fea. The other most often mentioned triune deity is Brigit.
Other Irish trinities were Brian-Iuchar-Iucharba , Glon-Gaim-Coscar, Creidne-Luchtaine-Giobhniu, Ethur Mac Cuill-Tether Mac Cecht-Cether Mac Greinne, and the sovereignty goddesses Eriu-Banba-Fodhla.
So, this whole “mystery” that the Church has been pushing since Athanasius in the fourth century CE and the Ecumenical Councils that began that same century, the “mystery” of the Holy Trinity which no one can really explain these days was not that much of a mystery to Gentiles in the early Common Era. Because their pagan religions were its source.
Athanasius promoted his doctrine of the Trinity so strongly because his theory of atonement, that it came about with the incarnation, required that Christ (referring to the mythical figure now) be fully divine and fully human at the same time.
Interestingly, although standard Israelite religion in ancient times centered on the unity of God, which led them early on into a rather sophisticated religious philosophical doctrine called “dialectical monism”, Qabbalah mysticism did eventually create a doctrine of Four Persons taking up positions on four of its eleven sefirot on the Tree of Life. Hokhmah represents the Father, Binah represents the Mother, Tif’eret represents the Son, and Malkhut represents the Daughter.
I guess that would be called a Holy Quadrinity? The argument could easily be made that traditional Christianity both East and West has its own Holy Quadrinity, adding to the more orthodox and approved trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the Theotokos or Mother of God, the Virgin Mary.
Back to my original point: this is not the God whom the Galilean prophet Isho the Nasorean worshipped when he was actually around. Christians morphed that God into something unrecognizable, recreating the God of Isho, the God of Jesus, in their own image.
Footnote: The Gloria Patri, also known as the Lesser Doxology, which begins “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit” once began “Glory be to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit”, and that did not change until after the Ecumenical Councils (Nicaea, 325, and Constantinopolis, 381) in the fourth century. The original is not invalid, but the newer is preferred as it is more supportive of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, another example of Christian retcon.