It has been a little while since this was a hot issue, but since I promised in the comments section of an earlier post that I would write a more formal defense of the Bible's teaching on the divine identity of the Malak Yahweh, a significant part of the Old Testament's witness to the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of the coming Messiah, I wanted to inform those who are interested that part I has been released on the Answering Islam website.
Here is how the article begins:
A diverse body of writings attests the belief among pre-Christian Jews that the Malak Yahweh, who features so prominently in the Old Testament, was a divine figure, properly denominated Yahweh, but nonetheless distinct from another called Yahweh.[i] The earliest Christians,[ii] as well as many other Christian worthies throughout the centuries,[iii] have also viewed the Malak Yahweh as a distinct divine person within the Godhead, further explicating it as a Christophany, that is, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Logos or Word of God – the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptural basis for this view, beginning with the Old Testament and concluding with the New, is the subject of the following articles.
[i] Aside from the fact that the Targums, such as the Targum of Pseudo Johnathan, Onkelos, and Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum, mention the Angel of Yahweh, and even identify Him as the Word (Hebrew, dabar; Aramaic, memra; Gr. logos) of Yahweh, and that the Septuagint, although to a much lesser degree, provides some interesting evidence of His divinity and distinct identity as well, as in its rendition of passages like Isaiah 9:6, mention can be made here of the testimonies that abound in 1 Enoch. After the coming of Christ, when apostate Israel rejected Jesus as “the Messenger (Heb. Malak; מַלְאָך) of the Covenant” (Malachi 3:1), all talk of the Memra or Word of the LORD, the predominant way the targumim referred to the Angel of Yahweh, and which was the way the apostle John spoke of Jesus in his Gospel, providing thereby a most potent link between Jesus and passages about the Angel of the LORD in the Hebrew text, was expunged from certain rabbinic teachings. For example, the Memra/Word of the Targums is nowhere to be found in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud (though the Talmud, in the nature of a hostile witness, does provide some relevant indirect evidence in its discussions of “heresies” pertaining to Metatron), which often reflect, among other things, the polemical interests of post-Christian and anti-Messianic Jews. For more on this issue as it pertains to the Talmud (and other early Jewish writings), consult the now standard work by Alan F. Segal, Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism (Leiden: E. J. Brill., 1977), 313 pp.
[ii] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 58, 59, 60, 61, 76, 86, 116, 126, 127, 128; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.6.1-5, Fragments, 53; Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 16, De Carne, 14, Against Marcion 2.27, 3.9; Novatian, On the Trinity, 18, 19, 31; Apostolic Constitutions, 5.3.20; Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 1.7; Eusebius, The Proof of the Gospel, 1.5, 4.10, 5.10, Church History, 1.2.7-8, Preparation for the Gospel, VII. 5, 14-15; Origen, Contra Celsus, 5.53, 8.27; Methodious, Symposium, 3.4; Melito, New Fragments, 15; Ambrose, Exposition of the Christian Faith, 1.13.83; Athanasius, Against the Arians, 3.25.12-14; Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 11.3. (For an excellent discussion of the views of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Theophilus and Tertullian, see the following: Günther Juncker, “Christ as Angel: the Reclamation of a Primitive Title”, which originally appeared in the Trinity Journal 15:2 (Fall 1994), p. 221-250)
[iii] Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Gill, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, Adam Clarke, Hengstenberg, Dr. John Pye Smith, A. H. Strong, John Wesley, Keil, Delitzsch, and F. F. Bruce, are only a small number of well-known individuals from the Reformation to more modern times who taught this view.
To read the rest of the article, go here: The Malak Yahweh: Jesus, the Divine Messenger of the Old Testament.
(There are many other articles on the update. As always, they are all very good and worth the time of all who are interested in showing the truth of Christianity and the falsity of Islam.)