I wonder just how shocked folks were when Peter and John taught in the temple. They were arrested for teaching “in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). We know that “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess 4:16), so it sounds to me like they were teaching the rapture, not the Great White Throne.
But, they also may have mispronounced the word, “hear,” so let’s talk about that instead.
One of the fundamental truths of the Bible is expressed in Deut 6:4.
Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH is one.
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד
Sh’ma Yisra’el, YHWH ‘eloheinu, YHWH ‘eḥad.
This is a firmly Trinitarian passage. The word, “our God” (Heb. אֱלֹהֵינוּ ‘eloheinu), is grammatically plural yet is called, “one.” It isn’t just that there is one God (which is true), but that God Himself is one – He is a unity. Some translate it as something like, “the Lord is our God, the Lord alone,” which you think would be a good way around the doctrine of the Trinity, but even the Jewish JPS translation does “IS ONE.” How they dance around the natural understanding of that is a topic for another day.
Deuteronomy 6:4 is often called, “The Shema” or “The Sh’ma” or “Shema Yisrael” or something of the sort. The first two words of Deut 6:4 are “Shema Yisrael.” The word, “Shema” (שְׁמַע) means “Hear!” and “Yisrael” (יִשְׂרָאֵל) means “Israel,” so “Shema Yisrael” means, “Hear, O Israel!” When the Shema is in print, the last letter of the first word, Shema (שְׁמַע), and the last letter of the first word, ‘eḥad (אֶחָֽד), are typically bigger than the other letters. You can see it in the third line of this picture:
One reason for this is to make sure that nobody goofed when they read it. The last letter of shema is ʿayin (ע) which sounds similar to the letter, ‘Ālef (א), but if you mistakenly mix them up, then instead of saying “Hear, O Israel!” you would say, “Maybe, Israel?” That’s not a good way to start the sentence. The word for “one” is ‘eḥad, but if you mistakenly read the last letter, daleth (ד) as a resh (ר), then instead of saying “YHWH is one,” you would say, “YHWH is other,” which is polytheism.
The typesetting is new
The first letter of the Bible (ב) is usually written bigger as well. This is a later convention; it isn’t something that Moses did when he first wrote the words down. This is evident in the oldest copy of Genesis 1 that we have. It is from the Late Hasmonean Period (100-1 b.c.) and does not have an enlarged first letter: