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how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

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Lord is certainly not by itself the highest title above even “God.” From a purely monotheistic/monolatrous perspective, God’s agent had God’s Name or authority to act in His stead. In Second-Temple Judaism angelic emissaries were addressed by the divine Name, judges were titled “elohim” and in particular the pseudepigrapha addresses such as Yahoel and “second Yahweh” are designations for highly exalted individuals who where not numerically identical to Yahweh. It was the cultural understanding of the day without any hint of ontological equalization/identification with the Most High.

Functional or operational identity was the norm in ancient Judaism, which is also a more comprehensible position today. The Yahweh- passages applied to Jesus in the NT can therefore be perfectly understood this way. Jesus can bear Yahweh’s Name precisely since he is subordinate to Yahweh. The purposive clause in Php 2:11 shows that bearing that Name leads to the honoring of Someone else other than Jesus, and even in his exalted state as Lord, Jesus still has Someone else as Sovereign over him (1 Cor. 11:3; 2 Cor. 1:3).

The casual assumption that ontological identity with Yahweh can be the only conclusion renders your (and others’, of course) embarassingly circular.