Debunking the Trinitarian Baptism Formula

The Case for Matthew 28:19

The Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew omits the majority of Matthew 28:19, including the popular Trinitarian baptism formula, and changes the ending of Matthew’s account of the Good News to: “Go and teach them to carry out all the things which I have commanded you forever.”

Unfortunately, virtually all Aramaic and Greek manuscripts of Matthew, in addition to the Du Tillet and Munster versions of Hebrew Matthew, contain the Trinitarian baptism formula. The Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew stands alone in its omission of the phrase “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. I believe the Shem Tob reading is actually indicative of the accurate (and original) ending to Matthew’s account of the Good News, for the following reasons.

 

Evidence #1: Baptism in Yeshua’s Name

First off, consistently throughout the Book of Acts (2:28, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, etc.) the Apostles are seen baptizing not in the name of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”, but rather in the name of Yeshua alone.

 

Evidence #2: Singular Sentence Structure

Secondly, notice Yeshua’s wording very carefully when He says, “Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” This word for “name” is consistently in all manuscripts used in the singular tense, indicating one name, rather than three. And, as already mentioned, this is exactly the pattern that is seen recorded in Acts.

 

Evidence #3: Familiarity of Church Fathers

Supporting the Shem Tob reading are a handful of quotations from Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea in the early 4th century CE. He had quoted Matthew 28:19 a good number of times from a manuscript in his possession which agreed quite closely with the Shem Tob. While his quotations are not exact duplicates of one another, it should be noted that none of them contain the Trinitarian baptism formula, and all of them are in general agreement. One such quotation is as follows, “Go, and make disciples of all the nations in My Name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Eusebius, Proof of the Gospel III, 7.132)

 

Evidence #4: Familiarity of Good News according to the Hebrews

Also supporting the Shem Tob reading is an attestation by Cyril of Jerusalem, a 4th century CE archbishop of Jerusalem, that the Good News according to the Hebrews reads, “Go forth into all the world, and teach all the nations in My Name in every place.” (Cyril, Discourse on Mary Theotokos 12a)

 

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