Examination of Mark 12:29-34

by Ibn Anwar

  There are quite a number of verses and passages throughout the New Testament that teach and propagate the absolute Oneness of God the Creator and Jesus' subservience to Him as a servant and worshipper. We will not be scrutinising all those verses here. What we will do is focus on just one passage which to my understanding as I will prove in due course succinctly refutes the Trinity and shows Jesus' admission to absolute numerical monotheism. Before we proceed it is noteworthy that Muslim apologists in general like to quote Mark 12:29 in particular whenever arguing for Jesus' monotheistic belief, but, they almost never discuss the immediate verses that follow that would indeed strengthen their case further as we shall see. Let us begin by reading the text.

Mark 12:28-34(NAB)


One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?"


Jesus replied, "The first is this: ?Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!


You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'


The second is this: ?You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."


The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ?He is One and there is no other than he.'


And ?to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."


And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

A scribe(a learned Jewish man) approached Jesus and asked him what is the first commandment of all to which Jesus replied with the famous Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4 without a change of a dot. Thus, the number one i.e. the most important commandent of all is that God is One and as the scribe further detailed,"there is no other than he". So, after Jesus' response the scribe affirmed Jesus' quotation of Deuteronomy 6:4 and emphatically established that God is absolutely one.

Now comes the million dollar question. When the scribe affirmed Jesus' testimony concerning God being One(heis) what concept or notion did he have in his mind? Was he thinking about some sort of a triune Godhead wherein Jesus is also God? The answer to that question should be a definite no. The reason is quite simple. If the scribe thought that Jesus was God, he would not have attested what Jesus said in the third person. He should have instead said, "You are right in saying,"You are One and there is no other than You." But, he did not say that, did he? Nope. He said, God, HE is One. Secondly, if he had believed Jesus was God, he should have worshipped him as God right there and then. At no place in time did any scribe among the Jews in the Gospels ever worshipped Jesus as God. Thirdly, we know for a fact that the Trinity is something that took over three hundred years of development. There was no established Trinity prior to that[1]. How then can anyone claim that the scribe believed in the Trinity? The only reasonable position to take is that the scribe believed as any other Orthodox Jew would believe concerning God namely, that God is absolutely and numerically one having no partners or associates in His divinity, not even in the least bit. At times that God is addressed as the Father in a metaphorical sense. Thus, it is safe to conclude that when the scribe confirmed what Jesus said what he had in his mind(the concept) was absolute strict  monotheism and that the Father and only He is God.

Now that we have answered the million dollar question let us ask another. Was Jesus appraised or aware of the Jewish concept of God which the scribe had in his mind? The answer to this question ought to be yes. This is because according to Christian authorities and the texts themselves Jesus was himself a Rabbi learned in the Jewish traditions and teachings. In verse 32 we find the scribe addresses Jesus as didaskalos in Greek or teacher, master in English which is equivalent to Rabbi in Hebrew. As a teacher who was grounded in Jewish tradition it's only natural that he was thoroughly appraised of the concept of God that they held. In case there is still any lingering doubt, let us consider Jesus' own words,

"Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ?He is our God? " (John 8:54)

The above is clear proof that Jesus was very much aware of the fact that they regarded God as One and that He is called the Father(and no other persons). So far we have established that the scribe was thinking about the Father and only Him when attesting Jesus' quotation of Deuteronomy 6:4 and also Jesus' thorough awareness of that concept which the scribe had in mind. Here comes the third question. Did Jesus correct his concept? The answer to that is an obvious no. According to the Christian Trinitarian theology the only concept of God that is accepted and true which is necessary for salvation is the Trinity which includes Jesus as deity or God. If that is so then the concept which the scribe had along with his attestation of Jesus' testimony was absolutely wrong! If that is the case Jesus being a teacher of truth, nay the embodiment of truth should have corrected him on the spot and said something like,"Yes, good scribe God is One, but what you are thinking is wrong. God is One in the sense that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one." Do we find anything like that offered as correction for the scribe's "erronuous" belief? NO! Christians usually argue that because Jesus did not correct the disciples for worshipping him that must mean he accepted it and that makes him God. They're talking about what is called tacit(silent) approval or qui tacit consentit in Latin. If we went by this premise then in Mark 12:29-32 Jesus is clearly attesting the scribe's belief since he is silent about any correction! As a matter of fact he was not silent at all. He actually affirmed the scribe's statement and position as we read explicitly stated in verse 34,

"And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions."

The verse mentions that the scribe answered with understanding. What was the understanding? The understanding was concering Jesus' statements with regards to whatever comprehension that the scribe had regarding them. We have established that what the scribe comprehended from the Shema was that the Father and only He is God. That is indeed the understanding which Jesus AFFIRMS! We read the following attestations from Bible commentaries on Jesus' validation of the scribe's words and beliefs(understanding),

".Jesus commends the scribe(34).'he is near the kingdom in the sense that he recognises the sovereignty and has the right moral and spiritual disposition." [2] (emphasis added)

"34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discretely - rather, ?intelligently' , or "sensibly"; not only in a good spirit but with a promising measure of insight into spiritual things." (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown) [3]

"1. He owned that he understood well, as far as he went, so far, so good. He answered as one that had a mind; as one that had his wits about him." [4]

The final quotation is quite clear in saying that the scribe was not simply regurgitating mechanical responses, but that he uttered them as a person who had a mind(i.e. with understanding). How can someone be close to the Kingdom of God if he does not recognise the deity of Jesus according to Christian Trinitarian theology? He will be in hell which is hardly "close" to God's Kingdom(eternal bliss).

In conclusion, a scribe asked Jesus about the first commandment, Jesus answered and gave the Shema, the scribe attested it with the thinking that God is the Father and only Him and Jesus knew this concept well and recognised it without discrimination nor correction. To bring it home let us put together what we have gathered so far with John 17:3,

"This is eternal life, that they may know You(the Father), the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

Finally, to really put the record straight once and for all let us add  the following into our equation:

"Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." (John 4:21-23)

  • Take serious note of what Jesus says," we worship what we know". He uses we which obviously includes himself! Worship what? GOD the Father! And the true worshippers are those who worship HIM(no one else) in spirit and truth.

Mark 12:29-34 + John 8:54 + John 4:21-23 = Destruction of the Trinity

The Trinity is a lie upon God and should be rejected as the instigation of falsehood.



[1] The New Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume XIV. p. 295

[2] R. Mcl. Wilson. Peake's Commentary on the Bible(1987). Routledge. p. 812-813.

[3] The Bethany Parallel Commentary on the New Testament. Menneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers. p. 317

[4] Ibid.