(Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, J. H. Moulton and G. Milligan, 3686 onoma).
As for uses like "of my property standing in your name",
we say similar things in English: 'When Grandma entered the nursing home, her house was put in her
children's name.' We also talk about somebody transacting business 'in the name of' another
party. This does not mean they go around chanting the 'personal' name of that other party,
but rather that they act under authority of that party.
The idiom, 'in the name of...', is alive and kicking in
contemporary English. Let's stop by to see how it's doing. We can find an abundant examples of
the phrase 'in the name of...' in any searchable database. Let's see what results the
'Oneness' exegesis of 'in the name...' yields with these examples, which I got off the Christian
Science Monitor's on-line archive, http://www.csmonitor.com/:
October 02, 1997
Religious Persecution In the Global Balance
Pat M. Holt
"Indeed, it was the abuse of human rights by governments in Brazil and Chile in
the 1960s in the name of anti-communism that led Congress to create
an assistant secretary of state for human rights."
What is the 'personal, singular' name of "anti-communism"? 'Zbigniew', or 'J. Edgar'?
August 10, 1994
Latin American leaders shift toward going along with US...
"On one hand, Latin American leaders have lost patience with the Haitian junta,
whose subversion of democracy sets a bad precedent in the hemisphere. On the other hand, few Latin
governments wish to see a precedent for later US intervention, even in the name of preserving
democracy and human rights."
A two-fer! Note that 'name' remains singular, even with a plural referent. This is actually correct
grammar, though it seems counter-intuitive.
February 08, 1994
Army's `Harmless' Tests
Page: EDITORIAL, Page 18"But the United States Army's biological warfare
experiments with unsuspecting civilian populations are even more repugnant
and indefensible. Clearly, the hubris that disregarded human rights in the name of
national security or scientific knowledge in the radiation
experiments was not an aberration."
June 09, 1993
Don't Relax Basic Rights
Page: EDITORIAL, page 18
"As a result, the United States and other leading democracies face a tough
diplomatic fight in reaffirming basic principles. Certainly there are times when Western countries do
not live up to their own human rights standards. Yet universal rights must not be compromised --
in the name of culture, or Realpolitik, or because 'everyone else does.'"
November 12, 1993
Is Tunisia Reversing Fabled Human Rights Record?
"Ben Ali's proclaimed commitment to human rights, however, has foundered
on the government's hostility to all manifestations of political Islam. In the name of saving the
country from Islamist rule, the Tunisian government has violated its own legal limits on
pre-trial detention to hold thousands of prisoners without charge or trial on suspicion of
sympathizing with the government's opponents."
What is the personal, singular "name of saving the country
from Islamist rule..."? Hussein? Abdul? Omar? In none of these examples does the 'Oneness' exegesis
of the phrase 'in the name of...' yield any coherent or usable results. Nor do the
'Oneness' Pentecostals even apply their grammatical principles consistently. They
chide mainstream Christians for not taking references in Acts to baptize 'in the name of...'
as baptismal formulae. Yet they themselves do not take the words after 'in the name' in Matthew
28:19 as a quote of a baptismal formula. A little consistency, please? More:
December 11, 1992
Uzbek Leaders Pick Stability Over Reform
Justin Burke, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
"President Karimov's opponents say the government, in the name of
stability, is running roughshod over the population's human rights. The president's only
desire, they add, is to retain total control."
The 'name of stability' must be something unexciting like 'Norman' or 'Elmer'.
July 13, 1992
Amnesty International Criticizes Amnesty Laws
Peter Grier, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
"A significant factor behind this continued repression, says the just-released
report, is that those who commit the deeds have little fear of reprisal. The problem isn't just
that government leaders don't care to take action or let investigations drag on for years. When
reformers take power, they often pass amnesty laws in the name of healing or unity, preventing
prosecutions for past human rights crimes."
June 01, 1990
Residents Band Together to Ban Annoying Airport Noise
Lucia Mouat, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
"She bought her home in 1978, something she says she wouldn't have done if
she had known what was coming. In her view, the FAA action is the moral equivalent of someone dumping
toxic waste in her backyard at midnight in the name of progress."
February 09, 1990
Yugoslav President Calls for Talks
Klas Bergman, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
"The speech was given in the name of the collective eight-man state
presidency, representing each of the country's six republics and two semiautonomous
Gasp, rank polytheism! Each of these eight guys must surely have had his own 'singular, personal' name.
But notice 'name' is still singular.
February 29, 1988
S. Korea critics push for more action on human rights
Daniel Sneider, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
"In his inaugural address Thursday, Mr. Roh declared that 'the day when
freedoms and human rights could be slighted in the name of economic growth and national
security has ended.'"
So our old newspaper clippings don't substantiate the way
'Oneness' Pentecostals claim the idiom 'in the name of...' works. This phrase does not appear to
be, in many cases, a marker for a personal name at all, nor a proposal to recite that
name. 'By authority of' or 'for the sake of' are rough synonyms.
A few more:
"The next speaker was Cardinal Rugambwa, speaking in the name 'of
all the bishops of all Africa, Madagascar, and other islands.'" (Michael Novak, The Open
Church, p. 225)
"It was a surprise, then, when on October 23, for the first
time in either session of the Council, Archbishop Lawrence Shehan, of Baltimore, arose to speak
in the name of all the bishops of the United States." (Michael Novak, The Open
Church, p. 160).
FORT WORTH, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 6, 2000--21st
Century Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets:TEXN), formerly (OTCBB:TEXN), today announced that its
wholly owned subsidiary Trident Technologies Inc. has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent
Office...Leading the technology innovations at Trident are Douglas Spring, its president, and
Buren Palmer, its chief technology officer. The patent application is in the name of the inventors
Spring and Palmer, who in turn have assigned the patent to Trident, including any future design
"CAIRO, July 6 (Reuters) - ...A group of human rights
activists, intellectuals and professionals expressed concern late on Wednesday over the
closure of Ibn Khaldoun Centre for Social and Development Studies and the arrest of its director
Saadeddin Ibrahim...On Thursday the Cairo Appeals Court allowed the prosecutors' office to check bank
accounts held in the name of Ibrahim and the centre, court sources said.
Ibrahim was accused of receiving about $220,000..."
"BOSTON, June 30 /PRNewswire/ --...The indictment charges
that from May 5, 1997 through at least the end of December 1998, DORSAINVIL abused his position as an
NEMC administrative assistant by submitting without authorization fraudulent expense and travel
vouchers in the name of unsuspecting payees."
"Friday June 9 8:33 PM ET Pensioner Dies Trying to Prove He Is Alive
"BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian bureaucracy proved
fatal for an 87-year-old man who died of a heart attack as he waited in line to collect a government
certificate to prove he was still alive...Local authorities in central Cundinamarca province, which
includes Bogota, introduced the certificate in a move to crack down on cheats who were receiving
pensions issued in the name of dead people."
Declaration of Independence
It would be a mistake to conclude, from the circumstance that the Declaration of Independence was promulgated "in the name...of the good people of these colonies," that the colonialists of
that day all shared a singular, personal name:
"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of
Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from
all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection
between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally
dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do." (Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1776).
The grammar, it would seem, simply doesn't work that way.
Zeus and Company
Trinitarian theologians draw a lesson from Matthew 28:19, of the One God who eternally subsists in three persons:
"Indeed, there is no doubt that Christ willed by this solemn pronouncement to
testify that the perfect light of faith was manifested when he said, 'Baptize them into the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ' [Matt. 28:19]. For this means
precisely to be baptized into the name of the one God who has shown himself with complete clarity in
the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Hence it is quite clear that in God's essence reside three
persons in whom one God is known." (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I,
Chapter XIII, 'Oneness' 16).
But there seems to be an element of over-interpretation here. Surprisingly,
even if, God forbid, the Mormons were right and Father, Son and Holy Spirit
were three separate beings, "the name [singular]" would still
be grammatically correct. Some examples:
"In the name of Zeus and all the gods, men of Athens, ask
yourselves how a man could more clearly show his goodwill towards you,or how he could be less
deserving of an ill return than if, being first an eye-witness of that national disaster..."
(Demosthenes Against Leptines 20.43).
"Oh! cruel fate! My friends! in the name of the gods, what possess you?
Your dancing will wreck the success of a fine undertaking."
(Aristophanes, Peace 320)
"But if you have no cause for wishing this unhappy man to
be afflicted with such a grievous calamity; if he has given up to you every-thing but his life, and
has reserved to himself nothing of his paternal property, not even as a memorial of his
father--then, in the name of the gods, what is the meaning of
this cruelty, of this savage and inhuman disposition?"
(Cicero For Sextus Roscius of Ameria 146).
"But, in the name of the immortal gods! for while 1 look
upon you, O Dolabella, who are most dear to me, it is impossible for me to keep silence respecting the
error into which you are both falling..."
(Cicero Philippics phil. 1.29).
"What then, are we to do? In the name of the immortal
gods, can you interpret these facts, and see what is their purport?
(Cicero Philippics phil. 1.38).
"Now then that this opportunity is afforded to you, O
conscript fathers, I entreat you in the name of the immortal gods, seize upon it; and
recollect at last that you are the chief men of the most honorable council on the whole face of the earth."
(Cicero Philippics phil. 3, chap14).
"What is the difference in the name of the immortal
gods, whether he attacks this city itself or whether he attacks an outpost of
this city a colony of the Roman people established for the sake of its being a bulwark and protection
(Cicero Philippics phil. 5.27).
"For what, in the name of the immortal
gods! what good can our embassy do to the republic? What good, do I say? What will
you say if it will even do us harm? Will do us harm?"
(Cicero Philippics phil. 12, chap 3).
These English translators find the singular 'name' works
just fine. Surprising as it may seem, this is actually correct grammar.
(Texts at Perseus Project, Tufts University: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/)
Is this sentence correct as written?: 'The mis-hit golf ball sailed wildly into the area cordoned off for
spectators, striking the head of Mike, of Joe, of Charles, and of Bill.' Yes! '[H]eads' might imply
that these named worthies had multiple heads. It's the same with the sentence,
'The children were told to bring an umbrella to the class outing, in case of rain.'
'Oneness' grammarians insist this means all the children were expected to huddle beneath one solitary umbrella. Do they
understand also all the disciples share one face?: "And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were
sore afraid." (Matthew 17:6 KJV).
'The registrar called out the name of each and every member of the class.'
Is each and every member of the class named 'John Smith'? Rather, 'the
name of each and every member of the class' means, 'the name of the first
member of the class (Joe), the name of the second member of the class (Sally),
and so on.' This usage, which I'm calling 'distributed plural,' is how
Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses understand 'the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,' versus the trinitarian understanding:
three names versus one name. Grammar cannot decide this question, because
'name' (singular) is correct in either case.
The Bible is grammar-compliant in this respect: "And in all
that I have said to you, be circumspect and make no
mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from
your mouth." (Exodus 23:13).
"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I
have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other
gods, that prophet shall die." (Deuteronomy 18:20).
"You shall not make mention of the name of their
gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to
them, but you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day." (Joshua 23:7-8).
"'Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the
name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.' So all the people answered and said,
'It is well spoken.'" (1 Kings 18:24).
In these examples, 'name' is singular, even though the 'gods' under discussion do not all
share the same name, Baal or Thor or Athena. This is no
esoteric point of polytheistic theology, it's just proper grammar.
Mahlon and Chilion
"And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi,
and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites
of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and
continued there." (Ruth 1:2 KJV). Notice that "name"
is singular, even though Mahlon and Chilion are two.
a.) 'The nations tremble at the name of Genghis Khan.'
b.) 'Tell me, if you would, the name of that man over there.'
Both a.) and b.) reference a name; in a.) the name is just as stated, 'Genghis
Khan.' In b.), the name referenced is not 'that man over there,' rather
'that man over there' identifies the party whose name is sought. A.) is
self-referential, in b.) 'name' serves as a marker. The Bible provides
examples of both usages:
"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the
LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." (Exodus
The 'name of Jehovah' is just that, 'Jehovah,' whereas the name of the man is not 'the man' but 'Nabal': "Now the name
of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail..." (1 Samuel 25:3).
'Jehovah' is surely a name, but is 'God?': "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with
thanksgiving." (Psalm 69:30); "Daniel answered and said: 'Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and
might are His.'" (Daniel 2:20). In these two cases 'name of God' could conceivably serve as a marker for
'Jehovah.' But not likely here: "For 'the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,' as it is
written." (Romans 2:24), given that the Gentiles did not know this name. Observant Jews like Josephus refused to disclose
the Divine Name: "Whereupon God declared to him [Moses] his holy name, which had never been discovered to men before; concerning
which it is not lawful for me to say any more." (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, Chapter XII, 4.)
A familiar trinitarian interpretation of Matthew 28:19 takes the 'name' as self-referential; the name of God referenced is just
as stated, 'Father, Son and Holy Ghost:'
"But why should I maintain the unity of the Name by
arguments, when there is the plain testimony of the Divine Voice
that the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one?
For it is written: “Go, baptize all nations in the Name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” He said, “in the
Name,” not “in the Names.” So, then, the Name of the Father is not
one, that of the Son another, and that of the Holy Spirit another,
for God is one; the Names are not more than one, for there are not
two Gods, or three Gods." (Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit, Book 1,
Chapter 13, Section 131).
'Oneness' Pentecostals insist the 'name' in Matthew 28:19 serves as a marker for a name not stated. But as we
shall see, the Bible knows nothing of the grammarians' distinction between 'names' and 'titles,' and the presence of 'and' is no obstacle
to a Bible-qualified 'name': "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD
OF LORDS." (Revelation 19:16). Grammar cannot decide this dispute.
We are instructed to do "all" in the name of Jesus:
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." (Colossians 3:17).
Does this mean one should recite, 'I wash this car in the name of Jesus,'
'I make this sandwich in the name of Jesus,' etc.? Are we to keep up a
low hum of 'Jesus-Jesus-Jesus' all day long, like Buddhist monks chanting?
Does this language mandate a verbal formula to be employed at each occasion,
or does it rather instruct us to do all for the sake of Jesus?
Person, place or thing
The Greek word 'onoma' was used much like the English word 'name'; it could be the name of a person, place or thing:
"[1.19] Furthermore, as a result of their possessions abroad and the tenure
of magistracies which take them abroad, both they and their associates have imperceptibly learned to
row; for of necessity a man who is often at sea takes up an oar, as does his slave, and they learn
naval terminology [kai onomata mathein ta en têi nautikêi]..."
Old Oligarch Constitution of the Athenians 1.19,
available at Perseus Project.
The translator efficiently renders the 'names' of naval things as "naval
terminology". The 'names' of naval things refer to words like 'port'
and 'starboard', not like 'Jacques-Yves' or 'Bluebeard'.
The Hebrew 'shem' is also so used: "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every
beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam
to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living
creature, that was the name thereof." (Genesis 2:19). The idea is
not for Adam to call the creatures 'Fluffy' and 'Rover,' but 'dog' and
'cat,' which are thus 'names.' It should not be necessary to stress this
point except that 'Oneness' grammarians sometimes insist 'name' in the
Bible can only be a personal name. This is not the case; a thing, a town,
even a 'day' can be 'named': "Son of man, write thee the name of the
day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem
this same day." (Ezekiel 24:2).
In fact many usages are similar to our use of the English 'name'. 'Name'
to mean 'reputation' was also in use: "And unto the angel of the church
in Sardis write; these things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God,
and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name [onoma] that thou livest, and art dead." (Revelation 3:1).
The Bible shows no special concern for the grammarians'
distinction between 'titles' versus 'names', employing the word 'onoma', 'name',
of 'Christ', which is undoubtedly a 'title', meaning the Anointed, the
Messiah: "If you are reproached for the name of
Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their
part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified." (1 Peter 4:14); "...Let everyone who
names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (2 Timothy 2:19).
Far from identifying 'Father' as a common 'title' formed by
analogy with human fathers, the Bible teaches that it's earthly families who are named after the
exemplar of the heavenly Father: "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named..." (Ephesians 3:14-15).
By the Bible's reckoning, "The Word of God" is a "name":
"He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called
The Word of God." (Revelation 19:13). "Jealous" and "Wonderful" are names.
The name 'Israel' is compounded with the Divine Name 'El':-- so 'El' is
a "name" of God, by the Bible's own reckoning: "Then all
peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD,
and they shall be afraid of you." (Deuteronomy 28:10); "When
I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour
the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called
by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn
from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive
their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).
'Oneness' Pentecostals are ever quoting Isaiah 9:6 without ever noticing
all the titles summed up under a
[SINGULAR!] name: "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government
will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince
of Peace." Wow, look at all those names -- pardon me, "name"
-- or are they 'titles'? The Bible holds this minute point of grammar
in slight regard, a point to be borne in mind in understanding a Bible 'name.'