The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature


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An Analysis of Josephus and 4 Ezra

For example, in Exodus Psalm 82 portrays Yahweh as the chief God sitting in judgment amid a divine council of gods. Yahweh is called 'the God of gods' on more than one occasion, an idiom that simply means 'the greatest God'. What this shows is that the common modern definition of the word 'god' — with its connotations of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent supernatural entity — does not correspond very well to the ancient Near Eastern concept of a 'god' as we find that word-family used, at least in the Hebrew scriptures.

The issue to look for, however, is not whether the authors of the biblical books believed in the existence of other gods, but what qualities they ascribed to Yahweh in comparison with or distinction from other elohim. If we understand that broader usage of the word 'god' in the ancient Jewish culture, this can help us understand the meaning of the aforementioned passages in Deuteronomy.

Michael Heiser argues that both Yahweh and the divine figures we call 'angels' are 'gods' fit the ancient understanding of the word elohim. While 'there are indeed many gods', the various biblical authors believed Yahweh was utterly unique and sovereign, with all other gods, real or not, inherently inferior. Sign up to join this community.

The best answers are voted up and rise to the top. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered. Do Deuteronomy and 39 preclude henotheism? Ask Question. Asked 5 years, 10 months ago. Active 3 years ago. Viewed times. Psalm 8.

Why the Maccabees Aren’t in the Bible

I footnoted your citations from Paul as you did not 'show your work' as to why his letter s to the Corinthians are relevant to a question about the 'Jewish God' as revealed in the Hebrew Bible. Feel free to add them back into the main body of the answer, but please connect the dots as to why Paul's letters are relevant to the Hebrew Bible remember that we are not a religious site, so we shouldn't assume that texts are interrelated and continuous - however you could still make a good argument based on the fact that Paul was a Jew.

That was my line of thought that Paul was a Jew, and part of the broader culture that made use of Deuteronomy , but I think your edit was in the right. Thanks for cleaning up my response, if it keeps it in the guidelines. I made a few additional changes to clarify my thought. Sign up or log in Sign up using Google.

Sign up using Facebook. Brill, ; A. Gad, ; J. Gray, The Legacy of Canaan 2d ed. Brill, ; James S. Patrick D. Miller, et al. Eerdmans, Smith has brought scholarship on the divine council up to date. This dissertation challenges this consensus view of the development of monotheism in Israelite religion and Judaism by examining late canonical texts of the Hebrew Bible and non-canonical Second Temple period literature to discern whether or not the belief in a divine council that included other gods continued after the exile. The result encompasses a new orientation with respect to the texts and the issue of monotheism in Israel and the creation of new conceptual bridges connecting the religions of pre-exilic Canaan, Israel and Second Temple Judaism.

Hence, this study suggests new perspectives on certain issues involving these areas and proposes an alternative paradigm for understanding their connections. Due to the sweeping religious questions and voluminous scholarly literature dealing with ancient religions of Canaan, Israel, and first century Judaism, boundaries must be placed on such a study. Since the religions of Canaan and pre-exilic Israel are foundational to what follows, the Second Temple period more conveniently lends itself to limitations for the sake of this study.

For this reason the terminus ad quem of this study is Jewish literature prior to 70 C. This effectively excludes the New Testament, but the study lays the foundation for future inquiry into the presence and religious role of the divine council in the New Testament. The number of areas of New Testament study related to the divine council is extensive.

Brill, For example, several of the most eloquent witnesses to a divine assembly in the Hebrew Bible are found in exilic and post- 9 Angel Christology deals with the question of whether Jesus was an angel, while angelomorphic Christology is the idea that Jesus appeared as an angel. Brill, , See also Crispin H. Carey C. Newman, James R. Davila, and Gladys S. Lewis; Leiden: E. SJT 35 : Crispin H. Stanley E. Porter and Brook W.


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Todestag Adolf Schlatters ed. Eugene H. Lovering, Jr. Harland and C. Hayward; Leiden: E. Hamerton-Kelly and R. Scroggs; Leiden: E. Brill, , John J. James C. Job ; Ps No study to date has sought to explain indications of a pre-exilic worldview that affirmed a divine council in these late canonical texts without presupposing that such references cannot be taken at face value.


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  4. It is common for scholars to argue that indications of divine plurality were expunged from the text during and after the exile by zealous scribes enforcing the monotheistic innovation, yet this hardly explains the unambiguous references noted above which must have been overlooked by this alleged campaign. Other scholars have consequently suggested that these scribes deliberately used polytheistic ideas as an apologetic for monotheism. Still others have argued that, in Psalm 82 at least, Yahweh assumes a new role of sovereign god over the nations by sentencing the other gods to death.

    However, the belief of Yahweh s kingship over the nations is a prominent feature in early Israelite poetry. Be lifted up, you everlasting doors, so the king of glory may come in! Cross notes, The kingship of the gods is a common theme in early ed. Smith, Origins, Patrick D. Likewise the sevenfold voice of Yahweh in the psalm calls attention to its antiquity. See N. Wyatt, Religious Texts 2d ed. The common scholarly position that the concept of Yahweh as reigning or king is a relatively late development in Israelite thought seems untenable. Such reasoning unfortunately assumes what it seeks to prove: the word Myl in texts composed after the exile, the point at which Israel s intolerant monotheism emerged, cannot actually express a belief in the pre-exilic divine council, because that would result in henotheism or polytheism.

    Rather, the word must mean "angels," because that would not be henotheism or polytheism. Grand Rapids: William. Eerdmans Publishing Co. See Chapter Seven of this study. See Chapters Two and Three for discussion of this question and its importance to this study.


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    8. Charlesworth, The Jewish Roots of Christology: The Discovery of the Hypostatic Voice, SJT 39 : The subject of a divine hypostasis and the controversy over hypostasis nomenclature is dealt with at length in several sources already cited in footnotes see especially Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology, Gieschen notes p. He also notes that resistance to the term by scholars has resulted in preference for terminology like personified divine attributes, but this language is inadequate to describe the independent identity of divine attributes which is present in many texts and also in later exegesis of those texts p.

      In ancient philosophical discourse the term originally meant individual reality but eventually came to mean individual person.

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      The term was placed into the scholarly discussion of Israelite religion by Helmer Ringgren, who accepted a qualified personhood meaning when he noted that, in many cases, what we are dealing with here is merely a stylistic device, a substitue for the divine name and God s activity This process is called hypostatization Helmer Ringgren, Israelite Religion [trans. Gieschen notes that the understanding of hypostasis as independent person has become a prominent part of the vocabulary of several scholars researching mediator figures in Israelite religion, Samaritanism, early Christianity, and Rabbinism.

      He specifically references the work of his adviser. Neither has any study considered this material and insisted that the criteria for monotheism that disqualify pre-exilic Israelite religion from that categorization be applied to Second Temple Judaism. This dissertation fills these voids. Against the backdrop of the lack of theological unanimity within Second Temple Judaism, 31 it can coherently be argued that the prevalence of a divine council in the Jewish literature of the period suggests that, for some strands of Judaism, the pre-exilic view of God and his heavenly host had changed very little by the first century C.

      All of these subjects merit more specific attention to adequately contextualize this study. The remainder of this chapter is devoted to preparing the reader for the major issues that justify not only the conclusion that belief in the divine council survived into the Common Era, but that the divine council provides explanatory power for some vexing questions related to Israelite religion and later Jewish theology.

      General Bibliography (Chronological Order)

      With respect to Ugarit, contrary to early studies, it is now widely agreed that the primacy of El was not compromised by the rise of Baal to kingship. The vast majority of Ugaritic scholars view Baal s kingship as operating under the authority of El as El s vizier or co-regent.

      Segal, Two Powers in Heaven. For the sake of this study, it is recognized with Gibson and Barr that hypostasis is a legitimate category for divine discussion that needs close attention to linguistic context, but also that relegating hypostasis to mere figurative, literary descriptions of God s immanent activity is often exegetically inadequate. This study uses hypostasis to refer to an aspect of deity that is depicted with independent personhood of varying degrees cf. Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology, Eerdmans, ; E. Aune, Orthodoxy in First Century Judaism.

      A Response to N. Grabbe, Orthodoxy in First Century Judaism. What Are the Issues? Chapter Two of the present study discusses the evidence for Baal s role as vice-regent. Baal can be called king mlk 33 and can declare, I alone it is who will rule over the gods ah[dy d ymlk l ilm , 34 yet Ugaritic religion also references El as king mlk. V: 32; 1. IV: Unless otherwise indicated, translations of Ugaritic texts come from Wyatt, Religious Texts. KTU 1. See Wyatt, Religious Texts, 48, n.

      Wyatt notes that KTU 1. Controversy over the text of this verse concerns the last phrase, according to the number of the sons of Israel, which reflects the reading of the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible hereafter, MT , l r oy ynb. See John William Wevers, ed. Wevers refers to this majority reading as "clearly a later attempt to avoid any notion of lesser deities in favor of God's messengers" Notes on the Greek Text of Deuteronomy, This latter Greek rendering presupposes a Hebrew text of either Myhl ynb or Myl ynb. The manuscript of Aquila is Codex First, 4QDt q has spaces for additional letters following the l of its [ ]l ynb.

      Second, 4QDt j clearly reads Myhwl ynb. See P. Eventually, according to most scholars of the subject, El and Yahweh were fused along with Baal , and the divine council disappeared as Israelite religion achieved the breakthrough to monotheism. An alleged editorial agenda driven by monotheistic priests and scribes during and after the exile enforced and assured this religious transition via their work on the final redaction of the Hebrew Bible as it stood by that time. On the one hand it might seem that the obvious alternative is polytheism, since the existence of other gods is assumed in the concept of the divine council and therefore embedded in early Israelite canonical literature.

      He changed his position in the second edition. According to my research, a small minority of scholars disagree with this dichotomy. See Chapters Two and Three of the present study. Smith, The Early History of God,. Henotheism, defined succinctly, is the belief in many gods alongside the belief in one god, presiding over the other, no longer supreme gods. As Mark S. Smith states: Monotheistic exclusivity is not simply a matter of cultic observance, as in the First Commandment s prohibition against no other gods before me in Exod and Deut It extends further to an understanding of deities in the cosmos no other gods, period Statements of incomparability are not included; such hyperbole is known also in Mesopotamian texts.

      It is also an acknowledgement that statements of incomparability do not constitute monotheism, as he correctly points out that polytheistic religions contain such language. But by this very definition and its qualifications, should postexilic Judaism be categorized as monotheistic? As noted above, the vast majority of scholars, in agreement with Smith, posit that monotheism in Israel was initially hinted at in Deuteronomy, dated to the time of Josiah ca B. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the beginning of the exile of Israel in Babylon B.

      According to the dominant view of the monotheistic emergence, the exile provoked a crisis in Israelite Yahwistic religion that led to its reformulation. Deutero-Isaiah, composed on the cusp of the release from exile B. Bob Becking and Marjo C. Korpel; OtSt 42; Leiden: E. Brill, , 4. The biblical books of Joshua through 2 Kings, also composed in the days preceding and during the exile, were wedded to Deuteronomy to form the Deuteronomistic History.

      Taken collectively, it is in this literature that scholars detect what are considered denials of the existence of other gods statements that there is no other god besides Yahweh and so a development toward exclusivistic monotheism appears intelligible. There are a number of problems with this reconstruction and its assumptions. Since scholarship on the divine council began, all scholars who have discussed the subject at length have noted that the most explicit references to a divine assembly in the Hebrew Bible are found in late canonical texts such as Psalm 82, Job 1 and 2, and Zech These texts, dating to the exile or afterward, are also regarded as the most transparent parallels to the Ugaritic council.

      Given the assumed emergence of monotheism and the editorial campaign conducted by those in power to ensure the sacred literature would reflect monotheism, these descriptions of a council of gods are quite out of place. Second, scholars have frequently noted that in both the Dtr and Deuteronomy there are no categorical denials of the existence of all other deities, the issue in both literary works being the centralization of the cult in Jerusalem as a link to the promise to David.

      Brill, , Labuschagne comments on the Shema: We may conclude that the exclusiveness of the confession, dx hwhy, is not the result of monotheistic thought, but the. Taken together they describe the allotment of the host of heaven to the other nations as their gods and the placement of the nations under those gods It is absolutely clear that gods beside YHWH are meant by this heavenly host, consisting of the stars; cf. When Israel, therefore, confesses in the Shema that Yahweh, 'our God', is the Single One, she expresses at the same time that she owes undivided loyalty to Him alone, for He is the only One for her.

      The qualification of Yahweh as 'our God' in the confession is indispensable, for it witnesses the very personal relation between Israel and Yahweh" emphasis is the author s. An understanding of the Shema in terms of Yahweh s incomparability among the gods rather than as a rejection of the other gods existence is consistent with Deuteronomy s other statements that affirm a worldview that contains other gods ; , Cynthia L.

      Miller s discussion of the verbless clause of Deut briefly describes five possible translations of the Shema, none of which produces a denial of the existence of other gods.

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      See Cynthia L. Miller and M. In the most recent and exhaustive study of this question, P. Sanders concludes In the rest of the song nothing appears to contradict a pre-exilic dating Sanders spends two hundred pages analyzing the song s colography, accentual patterns, and its micro- and macro-structures. One of his resulting arguments is that if the verses for which a pre-exilic date has been denied by scholars are removed from the song, the structure of the sub-cantos becomes quite irregular.

      For the purposes of this study, if the song is preexilic, then scholars should have no trouble affirming that it describes a monolatrous worldview. If only part of it is pre-exilic with subsequent additions, those who reworked the text to incorporate these additions had every opportunity to either remove the references to other gods or utilize such references for some rhetorical purpose to prop up an intolerant monotheism. Neither option can be demonstrated from the final form of the text. Smith and Simon B.

      Parker, see P. Sanders, The Provenance of Deuteronomy 32, ,.

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      ISBN X. ISBN William Morrow Queen. Most of these are highly specific about the gender of participants and, especially,. Course Description This course follows a sequential exegetical assessment of the. Introduction The subject of the use of the Old Testament in the New continues to generate publications from a wide variety of perspectives. Garroway paul s gentile-jews Copyright Joshua D. Garroway, Softcover reprint. SBL Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, Kitchen, Martin.

      The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature
      The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature
      The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature
      The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature
      The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature The divine council in late canonical and non-canonical second temple Jewish literature

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