HANDS Across the Godhead?

I was interested to read a review at the blog Broadcast Depth of a book entitled Putting Jesus in His Place written by Robert M. Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski. The topic is the deity of Christ, and it apparently takes an approach outlined with the acronym “HANDS”:
Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ
Honors: Jesus shares the honors due to God.
Attributes: Jesus shares the attributes of God.

Names: Jesus shares the names of God.
Deeds: Jesus shares in the deeds that God does.
Seat: Jesus shares the seat of God’s throne. [p. 23]

What caught my interest is that I discuss precisely these themes in my book The Only True God, but draw rather different conclusions in a number of important respects.

Daniel Kirk just recently discussed the subject of sitting on the divine throne and receiving worship, and so I’ll defer to him. The main thing I will highlight is that what we find is Jesus doing various things God is said to do, receiving honor and titles that are God’s, yet at the same time also depicted as sent by God and doing God’s will. Is there any better way of making sense of the data than the concept of agency, which affirms (to quote the famous Rabbinic maxim) that “the one sent is like the one who sent him”? Simply speaking about “divinity” or “identity” as though such terminology is unambiguous doesn’t clarify things. But pointing out that we have Jesus treated as what we might call an extension of the divine identity, and yet also treated as a separate, subordinate person, seems to fit better within an agency model than in others.

The book itself seems to clearly be a work of apologetics rather than scholarship. From Matt’s description, the authors make claims such as that the name Jesus, meaning “Jehovah saves,” identifies Jesus as Jehovah. Clearly if that sort of principle is applied most of the characters in the Bible are divine, since their names have theophoric elements.

For those interested in Christology, Jimmy Dunn’s book on the question of whether the first Christians worshipped Jesus is presented on the SPCK web site, and is listed as due out this month in the UK, although it looks like it still won’t be out for a couple of months yet in the US.

Of course, whether in terms of the Spirit’s activity in the life of Jesus as depicted in all the canonical Gospels, or the “becoming flesh” of the Word in John, there is language used that extends the “essence” of God into the sphere of Jesus’ human life. For me, the interesting question is why such statements are unlikely to be considered adequate by most conservative Christians. Most if not indeed all of the New Testament evidence fits best within the framework of ancient Jewish concepts of agency, and texts like John which develop these ideas in distinctive ways also leave a great many questions unanswered. Among the most interesting, I think, is what the relationship is between the pre-existent Logos and the pre-existent Messianic Son of Man in that author’s thinking. This makes it challenging to figure out whether and to what extent by the end of the New Testament period, the human agent had been identified with or as a divine agent, and in what sense. It is precisely those loose ends that would drive the church’s Christological thought and debates in the centuries that followed – and indeed until today.

On a not unrelated topic, Luke Johns has an amusing post on how to distinguish between metaphorical and literal statements in the Bible.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    I'm excited about Dunn's new book. Did you see my recently completed blog series on this subject? It owes a lot to you as I point out from time to time. I argue that pre-existence language (which was pervasive in second temple lit. and later) was almost in all cases clearly metaphorical. Personified Wisdom is obviously a metaphorical way of speaking about God's wise intentions for his creation. And the pre-existent Logos in John shares at least 12 strong points of parallel with the wisdom tradition (as Talbert shows). Even for Philo, although he clearly talks about the Logos in language that makes us think the Logos has real existence, it is ideal existence, and at other times it is clear that for Philo the logos is just a certain activity of God, or a virtue or characteristic. I try to make the case that with all the strong parallels in John 1 to the personified Wisdom tradition, and especially to Ben Sira 24 and Baruch 3-4, it seems most likely that hearers of the prologue who were familiar with the wisdom tradition would have read such language as potent metaphor. Just as Ben Sira and Baruch didn't literally believe there was a pre-existent being named Wisdom who descended from heaven and literally took on the form of a book (or scrolls) and "dwelt among men," John likely did not literally believe the Logos was a pre-existent being who literally became flesh in Jesus. In both cases, the claim is that God's creative wisdom is being made manifest uniquely here (Torah) and there (Jesus), and for the same sorts of reasons. The Logos is the creative word that God spoke, and it was a word infused with deep wisdom, hidden throughout the ages. To say that Jesus is the Logos manifested in the flesh is a powerful way of expressing that God is through Jesus creating again and revealing that deep wisdom for which the world was originally designed. In other words, given the context and literary background to John, I don't think a literal reading is the most likely, and I don't think it would have been the initial impression of anybody who belonged to a Septuagintal community. My one criticism of your work, which is only slightly related, is your reading of Philo on the Logos when he says that it is "neither uncreated as God, nor created as you." When you talk about it, you shorten it to "neither uncreated nor created," and then you talk of the ambiguity. Without denying your point that creation ex nihilo certainly hadn't been established yet, I think it's possible to read Philo as saying that the Logos is not created like humans are created—in other words, the Logos is not corporeal. I suggest this because in numerous other places Philo speaks of the Logos as a created thing without any of the ambiguity you find in this passage. What do you think?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Oh, and yes, the Bowman and Komoszewski book is shameless apologetics. A great foil for a polemic, but not much more.

  • Antonio Jerez

    Bowman and Komoszewski remind me of one of my teachers at a religions course here in Goteborg many years ago. I told him that none of the authors of the synoptic gospels saw Jesus as God. My teacher answered that Matthew must have done so since he says Jesus is Emmanuel (= God with us).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    An oldie but a goodie.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    My suggestion is that certain agency-models presupposes that intermediary figure is considered as part of the divine. For instance when Philo describes God's kingly power or Logos as the Lord of the OT it's difficult to see how this would be possible without some kind of divinization of those God's attributes.At least in some places New Testament christology goes beyond agency model. Great example is The Letter to the Hebrews. In the first chapter the writer presents Jesus in the role of the Godhead:Hebrew 1:8: "But of the Son he says… And, 'Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning,and the heavens are the work of thy hands'"Hebrew 1:4: "He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power."Jesus is described as the creator of the heavens and the founder of the earth (Hebrew 1:8). It's important to note that Jesus is not described as the agent of the creator but as the creator himself. Likewise, Jesus is the Lord himself not the agent of the Lord. Similarly Hebrews 1:4 presents Jesus in the role of the Godhead who is upholding the universe by the power of his word. In this role Jesus is clearly transcending the roles of Wisdom and Word.It's certainly not accidental that these descriptions are presented in the same context: 1:8 places Jesus in the role of the creator and 1:4 shows that accordingly Jesus possesses powerfull creative word which is exclusively God's feature in Judaism (at least to my knowledge). It's true that Hebrews still presents Jesus as God's agent (as wisdom language in 1:4) but the writer clearly wants to say that Jesus is more than God's agent.

  • http://thomstark.net Thom

    Hebrews 1 isn't as unambiguous as you suppose, Valde. See L.D. Hurst's treatment in the volume edited by Hurst and Wright, _The Glory of Christ in the NT_. The quotation from Psalm 102 takes place in a series of quotes that are presented as God speaking to a messianic or royal figure, and there are some translation difficulties between the MT and LXX in Psalm 102 that indicate a messianic reading of that text may have been in view. Also, the quotation of Psalm 45 just prior in which Jesus is called "God" is yet another example of royal terminology applied to Jesus. The ideal king is called "God" in Psalm 45. Hurst makes a persuasive case that the whole thrust of Heb 1 after the intro is to present Jesus as the representative human who leads the rest of humankind back to a position of superiority over angels in chapter 2.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Thom, thank you for the interaction! I didn't get the impression that that was the meaning of the Philo passage, but I'll take another look at it sometime soon!Antonio, sorry you didn't have better teachers! :(

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11690014198164115719 Rob Bowman

    James,It might be advisable to read a book before pronouncing sentence on it. I'm sure you would want others to do the same with regard to your books (Matt. 7:12). For example, we explicitly make the point that theophoric names do not identify their bearers as divine. Antonio's comment is equally superficial, with regards to the argument presented in the book.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Rob,I've read your book from cover to cover and it is full of egregious claims that betray little to no awareness of the state of affairs in second temple literature. Each one of your five pillars is fundamentally flawed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Moreover, your one statement that a theophoric does not imply divinity is overshadowed by an entire chapter devoted to Jesus' name, a chapter in which you write: "The name Jesus means 'Jehovah saves,' and the angel's comment assumes an awareness of this meaning. Since the angel said that 'he,' meaning in context Jesus, would save his people, the implication is that Jesus somehow is Jehovah."This is ridiculous. The implication is no such thing. Yahweh has frequently delivered and saved through an agent, an agent who is described as a savior, or as one who has saved. To say that the implication here is that Jesus is Jehovah, when you know full well that it is a statement that Yahweh is saving through Jesus, is completely disingenuous. Antonio was fully justified in bringing up the Immanuel foolishness, because your argument follows precisely the same logic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Thank you for commenting, Rob. I did explicitly attribute that to Matt's description. I just now searched the preview version on Amazon, and I do see that in a footnote you address the issue and seek to clarify your meaning. Your point nevertheless seems to involve an incredible subtlety, namely that the reader was supposed to pick up from the pronouns used that this Joshua was identified with Yahweh while other Joshuas were not. That would have been a remarkable claim for someone to make, and to suggest that Matthew made it so subtly that it could easily be missed or misunderstood seems implausible. What's more, it seems that the name can naturally be understood within an agency framework, i.e. God will save the people through Jesus, Jesus will be the direct means of accomplishing what is ultimately God's own plan of salvation. At any rate, this was the first review I had come across of your book, and it seemed on the one hand to contain interesting ideas, but on the other to ignore the background of ideas in ancient Jewish concepts of agency that might have made better sense of early Christology in its historical context. And so I thought it worth drawing attention to, but not uncritically. I don't think I "pronounced sentence" on it – but neither does it seem clear that my initial impression was incorrect.Be that as it may, I'd be happy to discuss the topic more, as it is clearly one of mutual interest!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom:"See L.D. Hurst's treatment in the volume edited by Hurst and Wright, _The Glory of Christ in the NT_. The quotation from Psalm 102 takes place in a series of quotes that are presented as God speaking to a messianic or royal figure, and there are some translation difficulties between the MT and LXX in Psalm 102 that indicate a messianic reading of that text may have been in view." Hurst has difficult task to account Jesus' creative role. First of all the shift from heavenly wisdom to the royal king is extremely awkward: there is no descriptions in Judaism where the royal king would be instrument of God's creation. Furthermore, I proposed that Hebrew 1:10 applies to Jesus such pattern of "creator-language" that is used only in connection with Godhead in second temple Judaism. The concepts applied to Jesus in Hebrew 1:4 and 1:10 are never used to describe even Word or Wisdom in Jewish literature (to the best of my knowledge). Unfortunately Hurst doesn't even consider Hebr 1:4.Frankly speaking, to reinterpret Jesus' pre-existence away from Hebrews is desperate. The Son who is upholding the world by his word of power has even higher status in divine hierarchy than pre-existent Word or Wisdom.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Actually, Valde, that's not accurate."First of all the shift from heavenly wisdom to the royal king is extremely awkward."The two are connected frequently throughout the wisdom tradition, particularly and strongly in Wisdom of Solomon. "There is no descriptions in Judaism where the royal king would be instrument of God's creation."But there are statements that connect creative wisdom uniquely with the royal king, within whom indwells the spirit of Wisdom that descends from heaven. "Furthermore, I proposed that Hebrews 1:10 applies to Jesus such pattern of 'creator-language' that is used only in connection with Godhead in second temple Judaism. The concepts applied to Jesus in Hebrew 1:4 and 1:10 are never used to describe even Word or Wisdom in Jewish literature (to the best of my knowledge)."This is absolutely not the case. The second temple wisdom tradition is replete with statements to the effect that Wisdom created and sustains all things. Read Ben Sira, Baruch and Wisdom of Solomon for numerous examples."Unfortunately Hurst doesn't even consider Hebr 1:4."Yes he does, and he rightly characterizes it as wisdom language, and rightly sections it off in the introduction, before the representative man/ideal king argument begins. "Frankly speaking, to reinterpret Jesus' pre-existence away from Hebrews is desperate." No one has done this. But pre-existence does not equal Deity. No desperation necessary. "The Son who is upholding the world by his word of power has even higher status in divine hierarchy than pre-existent Word or Wisdom."Incorrect, since Wisdom is explicitly described in second temple literature to sustain all things.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11690014198164115719 Rob Bowman

    Thom, your comments ignore the cumulative nature of the argument that we present in the book. The final chapter in particular explains the reasoning in some detail.The two sentences you quote regarding Matthew 1:21 have a lengthy endnote that makes it clear that the argument is not nearly as superficial as you charge. Your claim that I know full well that the text means merely that Yahweh saves through Jesus is incorrect; I don't know that to be Matthew's meaning. I think otherwise, as a matter of fact, your over-the-top criticism that my conclusion is "ridiculous" notwithstanding.James, I don't think the point is all that subtle. In any case, I don't treat this point as a stand-alone, knock-down proof. Indeed, my approach to the subject avoids a simplistic proof-texting method. I invite you to give the book a fair reading and make up your own mind, and would welcome constructive criticism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    I'd be happy to read the book and blog about it at some point. I searched the book preview on Amazon and didn't find any discussion of a possible background in Jewish concepts of agency, which seem like they would explain perfectly well why Jesus is depicted as doing what God does and honored as God is honored, and yet at the same time sent by and obedient to God. Such concepts (as applied also to the angel Yahoel in Apocalypse of Abraham, not to mention in a later time Moses in Samaritan literature) seems to provide an explanation of how a figure can bear the divine name and yet be sent by God. If there is no discussion of this subject, then I suspect I'd find the book disappointing! Is there discussion of this important topic, just using different terminology?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Rob,I did not ignore the "cumulative" nature of your argument. As I pointed out, I've read your book, and it fails at every point. You simply don't engage the relevant second temple materials in any sufficient fashion. If you did, as I've done in my cumulative argument to the contrary of your position, you would have had a much more difficult time making the case you made. As for my characterization of your claim that "Jehovah Saves" means Jesus is "Jehovah" because the text says that Jesus saves, I don't think it's over the top at all. I think it's beyond obvious that God frequently is depicted as saving through a human agent, identified as a savior, and you know full well that such statements do not claim divinity for said agents. Now, a cumulative case stands if each piece of the case makes the point you want to make. You can't expect the rest of your cumulative case to make up for the weak link that doesn't prove the point you want it to prove. As it happens, I think, and have argued extensively, that each of the pillars of your cumulative case fails to prove what it attempts to prove. Your book makes a host of assumptions about what such christological language must mean, without engaging the numerous parallel language in second temple literature that does not constitute anything like a claim to deity. I understand where you're coming from. I used to agree with you, until I started studying the relevant literature, then it became quickly apparent that your HANDS aren't holding each other.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom:I said: "There is no descriptions in Judaism where the royal king would be instrument of God's creation."Your reply: "But there are statements that connect creative wisdom uniquely with the royal king, within whom indwells the spirit of Wisdom that descends from heaven.Yes, but connection is not idenfication. According to NT writers Spirit of Wisdom indwells even believers. There is still quite a step from this to claim that "God created the world through Paul the apostle" or "Moses was hovering over the face of the waters". "This is absolutely not the case. The second temple wisdom tradition is replete with statements to the effect that Wisdom created and sustains all things. Read Ben Sira, Baruch and Wisdom of Solomon for numerous examples.You are probably referring to the staments like Wisdom is "the fashioner of all things". I am not disputing these statements at all. Certainly Wisdom partakes creation. However, when the scripures used the standard creational phrases like "you laid foundation of the world" or "heavens are the work of your hands" readers were obviously thinking about Godhead – especially if those expressions are attributed to "the Lord" or to "God". Instead the phrase "your hands" would have been identifiable with Wisdom or Word. In my view Philo and the writer of the Book of Wisdom avoids certain scriptural phrases about Godhead's creative work if they are describing Logos or Wisdom: Philo never says for instance that "Logos created the world" or "Logos laid foundation on earth and heavens are the work of his hands". It's true that Philo can say something very similar about Logos but at the same time there is avoidance of exact biblical phrases concerning creative role of Godhead. Quite the contrary, in Hebrews, the writer is quoting standard phrases describing the Godhead's creative action. However, I am not entirely sure if Philo could have associated God's creative power with the biblical standard statements of God's creation. In Philo's extreme thought-world the biblical description of Godhead could have been reinterpreted in terms of God's extension. Incorrect, since Wisdom is explicitly described in second temple literature to sustain all things. Yes I agree but in Wisdom literature it's never said that Wisdom sustains things by his own instrument or emanation. To say that Jesus created by his own word of power goes beyond agency model. I try to illustrate my point: Standard pattern of divine providence is that "God upholds/created things through his Wisdom/Word". The model is "Godhead -> Word" or "Godhead -> whatever instrument". In Hebrews 1:4 the model is "Jesus -> Word". I guess that this transition doesn't happen in Wisdom literature and it seems to be exception even in the NT. In my view this is very striking parallel with Hebrew 1:10-12 where OT passage about Godhead's creative action is transferred to Jesus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Few thoughts:My look on Hurst's article was quite hasty so I obviously misunderstood it little and my english skills are not helping too much. However I got impression that Hurst distinguished between pre-existent Wisdom that was indwelling Jesus and Jesus as a person.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Valde,Thanks. I see what you're saying much more clearly now. With regard to the association of wisdom and royalty, it is still the case that wisdom is granted to royalty in a unique way. Moreover, in the Similitudes, the spirit of wisdom is said to be invested in the Messiah in such a unique and complete way that in his actions all the secrets that have been hidden throughout the ages are revealed. This is talk of God's creative purposes being restored and revealed in the Messiah. Now, as far as I know, you're correct that some specific creation language isn't elsewhere than in Hebrews applied to someone other than God, but I am not convinced that means Hebrews represents a radical break from the tradition of associating creation with agency. Notice that in Hebrews 1:2, the language of agency is crystal clear. I do not think the statement that he "sustains all things by the power of his declaration" need mean anything more than that his word is God's word. Yes, it is striking, but it is still not clear that this is a break from agency, as his role is explicitly defined in verse 2. As for 10-11, there is some pesher stuff going on there, and it is still the case that it occurs within a string of statements BY God, to the Messiah. So it would be God who is calling Jesus Lord in this context. I readily admit that it is not without difficulties hermeneutically, but that is the nature of pesher exegesis.Moreover, the NT is not the only second temple tradition to take texts about Yahweh and apply them to the Messiah. The Similitudes and 4 Ezra do so as well, admittedly not with respect to creation language. But Yahweh texts nonetheless are applied to the Messiah, and the point in each case is that Yahweh IS performing these things through the agent. So it could be said of both, but the understanding, even when this wasn't explicit, that it is true of the agent because Yahweh is acting through the agent. In short, I hear you, but I still think there is enough variety of precedents that what we see in Hebrews doesn't constitute such a radical break from the norm. I am not convinced that we are to understand it as such a break, especially since the import of the whole argument of Hebrews 1-2 (and much of the rest of the book) is that Christ as representative human has been exalted above the angels precisely in order to restore the rest of redeemed of humanity to their rightful position of supremacy over all creation, including the angels. The thrust of the overall argument here makes a binitarian or proto-binitarian reading unlikely in my view.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    In response to your most recent comment, yes, there is a lot of evidence that that was a common idea in this period: the spirit of God merges with the prophet so that the human identity is almost completely repressed. There are clear statements to this effect in Ben Sira and Philo. Whether it applies to Jesus in Hebrews is more debatable, and I'm not inclined to lean in that direction myself. But that is not the crux of Hurst's argument.

  • Antonio Jerez

    James,yeh, I am sorry too. But to be honest I went to the course mostly for fun and because through the course I got access to the theological faculty´s special library. And I can´t deny that I enjoyed making fun of some of my teachers claims from time to time in the classroom :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, saying, "Do not abandon your servants ; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us." (Joshua 10:6)Then Yahweh raised up judges who saved them from the hands of those who plundered them. (Judges 2:16)When Yahweh raised up judges for them, Yahweh was with the judge and saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for Yahweh was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. (Judges 2:18)When the sons of Israel cried to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a savior for the sons of Israel to save them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. (Judges 3:9)But when the sons of Israel cried to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a savior for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. (Judges 3:15)After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel. (Judges 3:31)Yahweh looked at him and said, "Go in this your strength and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?" He said to Him, "O Yahweh, how shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house." (Judges 6:14-15)Then Gideon said to God, "If You will save Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will save Israel through me, as You have spoken." (Judges 6:36-37)Now after Abimelech died, Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, arose to save Israel; and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. (Judges 10:1)For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to save Israel from the hands of the Philistines. (Judges 13:5)About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over My people Israel; and he will save My people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have regarded My people, because their cry has come to Me. (1 Samuel 9:16)Now then, do it! For Yahweh has spoken of David, saying, "By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies." (2 Samuel 3:18)Yahweh gave Israel a savior, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Arameans; and the sons of Israel lived in their tents as formerly. (2 Kings 13:5)Yahweh did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. (2 Kings 14:27)Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, but when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their oppressors. (Nehemiah 9:27)It will become a sign and a witness to Yahweh Sabaoth in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to Yahweh because of oppressors, and He will send them a savior and a champion, and he will save them. (Isaiah 19:20)She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Joshua, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

  • Antonio Jerez

    Did Bowman and Komoszewski really write this? : "They assert, by looking at Scripture, that Jesus was God in a human body, that he has always existed, that he was involved in creation, yet is uncreated, that he is immutable as God is immutable, that he is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, and that he is beyond our “limitations in knowledge". How anyone reading Mark´s gospel can claim that Jesus is "beyond limitations in knowledge" is beyond me. How does that square with Mark 13:32? Bowman and Komoszewskis book clearly belongs in the trashbin. It has nothing to do with serious scholarship.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom Stark:Thanks for your thoughtful responses."Notice that in Hebrews 1:2, the language of agency is crystal clear. I do not think the statement that he "sustains all things by the power of his declaration" need mean anything more than that his word is God's word. Yes, it is striking, but it is still not clear that this is a break from agency, as his role is explicitly defined in verse 2."I agree, in Hebrews 1:2 and 1:3 the writer depicts Jesus through the language of agency that is taken from Wisdom-tradition (I would say 'divine agency' because we could scarcely do absolute distinction between God and his wisdom). However it's difficult to conceive how Jesus could uphold the world by using God's word as his own Word without some kind of binitarian context of thought. There is actually same kind of issue arising from the idea that God's Spirit mediates Jesus' action and presence in the world. Mehrdad Fatehi has nailed this issue very well in his doctoral thesis (contra Dunn). Let's see what Hebrews 1:3 says more exactly: "He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being and he sustains all things by his powerful word.". Jesus is depicted as God's Wisdom and Word in the first part of the verse. But when the writer says that Jesus is sustaining the world through Word he is moving Jesus' role beyond the roles of Wisdom and Word. Jesus is more than Word if divine Word is instrument of Jesus in providential action. According to wisdom literature this role is the role of Godhead. The Similitudes and 4 Ezra do so as well, admittedly not with respect to creation language. But Yahweh texts nonetheless are applied to the Messiah, and the point in each case is that Yahweh IS performing these things through the agent. So it could be said of both, but the understanding, even when this wasn't explicit, that it is true of the agent because Yahweh is acting through the agent. At least those OT parallels are quite modest in comparison with Hebrew 1:10-12. The word "saving" is shared by God and his agent because God is saving through the agent. In my view there is no similar transference of God-language compared to Hebrews 1:10-12. An actual parallel could be at our hands if something like this would be said about Moses: "The Lord brought us away from Egypt through his powerful hand". However, I think in this context we should perhaps use only Wisdom and Word as parallel examples because Godhead's biblical role in creation has special significance in Jewish monotheism. I am doing my grade work on Romans 10:13 and in the process I have examined parallel-texts proposed by many scholars (Casey, Kreitzer and Davis) but so far I have not seen anything like Hebrews 1:10-12 from Jewish material. I still suspect it's not accident that the writer of hebrews is transferring traditional roles of Godhead to Jesus in the same context (1:3 and 1:10-12). In my view Hebrews 1:3 should be interpreted in the light of 1:10-12 and vice versa.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Thanks, Valde. I agree, in Hebrews 1:2 and 1:3 the writer depicts Jesus through the language of agency that is taken from Wisdom-tradition (I would say 'divine agency' because we could scarcely do absolute distinction between God and his wisdom). Clear distinction is made between God and his wisdom throughout the wisdom tradition, even while it is understood that personified Wisdom is a metaphor. In other words: there isn’t really a second person. However it's difficult to conceive how Jesus could uphold the world by using God's word as his own Word without some kind of binitarian context of thought.Capitalizing Word isn’t enough to make your case. The “Word” here isn’t Logos, by the way. It’s rhema. Moreover, let’s look at this closely. First it says that Jesus is the image of him (autou). Then it says that he is upholding all things by the declaration (rhema) of the power of him (autou). It seems to me like the two “of hims” refer to God, not Jesus. The first certainly does. So the second line, the one in question, would read this: Jesus upholds all things by the declaration of God’s power. It’s not the declaration of Jesus’ power, but Jesus’ declaration of God’s power, that power that sustains all things. So, grammatically speaking, your case is yet to be made. At least those OT parallels are quite modest in comparison with Hebrew 1:10-12. The word "saving" is shared by God and his agent because God is saving through the agent. In my view there is no similar transference of God-language compared to Hebrews 1:10-12. An actual parallel could be at our hands if something like this would be said about Moses: "The Lord brought us away from Egypt through his powerful hand".I think you’re reading a pesher text too pedantically. You don’t press the text for literal referents at every turn, when pesher is being done. The reading of 1:10-12 needs to be controlled by the other quotations around it, and the overall thrust of the argument. If Jesus is being presented as God, it undermines the argument the author is making, leading into chapter 2. I still suspect it's not accident that the writer of hebrews is transferring traditional roles of Godhead to Jesus in the same context (1:3 and 1:10-12). In my view Hebrews 1:3 should be interpreted in the light of 1:10-12 and vice versa.If vice versa, then that’s going to cause serious problems for your reading of 1:10-12.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11690014198164115719 Rob Bowman

    Antonio,All I have to say to you is found in Proverbs 18:13 and Matthew 7:12.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Astounding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11690014198164115719 Rob Bowman

    James,I discuss the question of "agency" interpretations of NT Christology in a few places in the book, but you would probably be most interested in the discussion at the end of chapter 20. It's probably not at substantial or full a treatment as you would like, but the book was somewhat longer than originally contracted already. See also Timo Eskola, Messiah and the Throne: Jewish Merkabah Mysticism and Early Christian Exaltation Discourse, WUNT 2/142 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11690014198164115719 Rob Bowman

    Thom,Although I have not found your posted comments here challenging to my position, I see from your website that you have given the subject of NT Christology a great deal of attention. I can't do it right now, but I will work through your website articles as soon as I have the time. That won't be for a while, because I will be away traveling to Uganda for much of the month and I have another conference out of town soon after I return.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    I have an article I'm trying to finish up on intertextuality and Christology in the New Testament, in which I address some of Eskola's points. If and when it is published, I'll let you know!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Rob and Ed deal cursorily with some second temple agent figures on pp. 250-54. The lengthiest treatment they give is to the Similitudes, and it is an incredibly tendentious treatment. They admit that the Son of Man in the parables sits on God's throne, but then they dismiss that by saying that he is not described as sitting at God's right hand. They fail to note that the Similitudes are obviously a commentary on Daniel 7, and they also fail to note the numerous occasions in which the Son of Man in Enoch is worshiped with the same language that the Lord of Spirits is worshiped. They also think it is significant that the Enochic Son of Man "does not rule in the present but will take the throne only when it is time to carry out the final judgment," whereas Jesus rules in the present (252). This is so tendentious. All this means is that they didn't anticipate two comings of the messiah: it says nothing about a qualitative difference between the kinds of rule of the two Sons of Man. They say "nothing in Enoch suggests that the Son of Man is actually divine" (252). Of course, by their own standards, this is false, since the Enochic Son of Man sits on the divine throne and is worshiped as the Lord of Spirits is worshiped. In Enoch, this is apparently not an indication that the Son of Man is divine, but in the New Testament it is. Interesting. They also don't deal with the fact that the Enochic Son of Man is pre-existent, existing before the stars (angels). They also ignore the fact that divine Wisdom indwells and is invested in the Enochic Son of Man in a unique way, such that he is the revealer of all the hidden secrets from the ages. Basically, anything relevant they ignore. They also don't treat 4 Ezra. They look at the Exagoge briefly, and give that a tendentious treatment. They mentioned Metatron but don't address anything relevant there. And they completely ignore Philo's relevant material on agents sharing titles and powers with God. They don't seem to be aware of Memar Marqah. They mention all the exalted angels, exalted Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek and Moses, as well as Yahoel and Metatron. But here's how they dismiss the relevance of these figures: "The very multiplicity of these different figures ought to give one pause in appealing to them too quickly or easily as examples of figures exalted in a way comparable to Jesus Christ" (250). Say what?! Because there are a lot of them, they're rendered irrelevant as background to exalted language about Jesus? This is about par for the course.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    It sounds like a lot of the same criticisms that can be and have been made of Bauckham's work on "divine identity" apply in this case as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Essentially, they spend the entire book reading the New Testament in a vacuum; then they devote five pages in the end to dismissing the material they should have been engaging extensively through the entire book. Rob, Good luck.

  • Antonio Jerez

    Rob,I doubt that the problem is that I haven´t listened. I´ve listened and read so much apologetic trash coming from theologically driven pseudohistorians like Witherington, Wright and Bauckham that I think I am pretty good by now of sniffing out rotten fish. And I certainly know what you and your collegues book smells like. Conservatives and Evangelicals will sure as Amen in Church applaud you and call your book "brilliant" and "groundbreaking". Don´t expect us others who have higher standards for what counts as doing history to join in the praise.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    James,Oh yeah. They make a lot of the mistakes Bauckham makes, but at least Bauckham attempts to give the material a more serious engagement. My favorite Bauckham argument: He admits that the Enochic Son of Man sits on the divine throne and enjoys shared worship with God (something Hurtado won't even admit, and without offering reasons why). Then what does Bauckham say? He says that the Similitudes are the exception that proves the rule. Say what? First of all, it's not true that they are the exception. Second, even if they were, why then is the NT language not the exception that proves the rule, but a new rule? In the end it's just special pleading.

  • Antonio Jerez

    Thom wrote:"They say "nothing in Enoch suggests that the Son of Man is actually divine" (252). Of course, by their own standards, this is false, since the Enochic Son of Man sits on the divine throne and is worshiped as the Lord of Spirits is worshiped. In Enoch, this is apparently not an indication that the Son of Man is divine, but in the New Testament it is. Interesting."Thom,the more I hear your excerpts of the arguments from their book the more amazed I get. I is such a blatant example of the lenght theologically driven scholars are prepared to twist and turn evidence to make things say what they want it to say. If Rob and his companion would have followed their own logic one could just as well have argued that the SoM in the Similitudes is Jahwe since the SoM sits on God´s throne. And since Jesus only sits on a throne on God´s right hand he is less divine than the Enochic SoM.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    One of the fallacies they are prone to I will right now name the "all or nothing" fallacy. Essentially, unless they find a single text that says EVERYTHING about some other figure that the NT says about Jesus, then any one or more parallels are irrelevant. All or nothing. They use this with the Similitudes. He isn't called God or Lord there, in addition to sitting on God's throne and being worshiped, therefore, the claims about Jesus "go far beyond" the claims about the Enochic Son of Man (252), because they're not identical in every respect. They ALSO fail to mention that the Similitudes take an OT text about Yahweh and apply it to the Son of Man! (So does 4 Ezra.) Anyway, forget the fact that a wide range of different figures in both the OT and NT are identified as God and Lord without infringing on monotheism: because no one text does it all: they're irrelevant for understanding the claims made about Jesus. All or nothing. Obviously, what the NT is doing is taking as many metaphors as it can find and applying them all to Jesus: they're doing this because (unlike the other texts) they believe the messiah has come. The NT messianic language is retrospective, whereas its prospective in most other texts. The NT draws from a large stock of metaphors and mixes them. It's fairly obvious. But the thing is, no single metaphor means the agent is God. To go on and argue that greater claims are being made about Jesus because all the metaphors are used, therefore Jesus is MORE than the other figures, is ridiculous. 2+2 does not equal 5. Agent+Agent+Agent+Agent does not equal God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Also, I should add, the all or nothing reasoning will turn against them. If they treat the NT like ONE text, it works better (though it still doesn't work). But once you start looking at each book in the NT as a separate text, the all or nothing logic undermines their project. In that case, Matthew isn't saying the same thing as John, and John isn't saying the same thing as Paul, because each one doesn't use all the same language to describe Jesus. Therefore, they must all have different views.

  • Antonio Jerez

    Thom wrote:"To go on and argue that greater claims are being made about Jesus because all the metaphors are used, therefore Jesus is MORE than the other figures, is ridiculous. 2+2 does not equal 5. Agent+Agent+Agent+Agent does not equal God."Thom,if Bowman and Komoszewski had argued that the NT writers claimed that Jesus was MORE (greater) than Enoch, Moses and the others then I could go along with them. They are heaping so many titles and metaphors on Jesus because that is what they had to do to outshine other divinized figures like Enoch and Moses in second Temple Judaism. But despite all the outshining Paul and the others are doing they don´t equate Jesus with Jahwe nor do they say Jesus is Jahwe´s equal.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Absolutely, Antonio. That's an important clarification. I didn't mean to deny that the NT is claiming Jesus is greater than Moses, et al. But he is greater because of his role at the end of the drama. Not greater because they mixed metaphors: and mixed metaphors about agency do not claims to divinity make.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hello James,You are correct in noting that “Putting Jesus In His Place” is an example of apologetics. This is not surprising, as Bowman has been a thoroughgoing apologist for most if not all of his published life, and he's concentrated heavily on developing a “counter-cult” ministry of sorts. As I noted on another forum, my impression of Bowman's and Komoszewski's joint effort is that it is a sort of pro-trinity quick reference manual. The authors depend so heavily on building a “CUMULATIVE case” by including everything they could squeeze in that they end up offering a treatment of individual verses and issues that is under-developed at best, historically implausible, debatable, and/or just plain wrong at worst. An example that I've mentioned before to Mr. Bowman is John 8:58. Of all the alternative understandings of this verse that have been proposed by scholars, the only one that he interacts with at all is that of grammarian K. L. McKay, who indicated that the verse should be rendered, “I have been in existence since before Abraham was born.” (A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek: An Aspectual Approach), p. 42 To rephrase what I've said elsewhere, aside from their observation that most scholars believe that John 8:58 is implying more than K.L. McKay's preferred translation suggests to them (i.e. they appeal to authority) along with the reaction of the Jews in verse 59 (which they interpret selectively), the only other argument they offered was a perceived connection between Psalms 90:2 and John 8:58. Regarding the Jew's reaction, Bowman and Komoszewski offer this:“Claiming to be older than Abraham might have been judged crazy, but it would not have been judged as blasphemy. Speaking as if one were Abraham's eternal God, on the other hand, would be quickly deemed blasphemous by Jesus' critics, who of course did not recognize his divine claims as valid.” (ibid, p. 97)To Bowman and Komoszewski, Christ's words could only be construed as either (i) “crazy” or (ii) a claim to be “Abraham's eternal God”. However, clearly there is at least one other alternative, which is more plausible, historically and biblically: They judged that the claim to be older than Abraham would have to be a lie, and for an agent of God to utter such a lie in the context of his agency would make him an impostor. An agent who claims to speak for God but tells a lie in the context of his commission makes God a liar, which would be deemed blasphemous. As for interpreting Jn 8:58 in light of Ps 90:2, with the exception of a certain grammatical similarity, there doesn't appear to be any connection between the accounts. Jesus is neither quoting nor alluding to the Psalm, and if eternality is in view at Ps 90:2 then this emerges, not from the present tense verb alone, but from the modifying phrase “from everlasting to everlasting”. Moreover, while it's true that God is eternal, it is not certain that Ps 90:2 is speaking of His eternality in both directions. I have suggested that the Psalm could be rendered: “Before the mountains were born or ever you formed the earth and the world, even from age to age you have been God”. If this rendering were to be substantiated I wonder if they'd still maintain a connection? Some arguments are fleshed out a little better than what they offer in relation to John 8:58, but not much better, and the interaction with alternative views, the few that are even mentioned, is quite unsatisfactory. Perhaps if one understands the authors' true intent when one begins reading then one will be able to shrug off the books shortcomings as predictable for this genre of apologetic writing. But when I saw the title (“Putting Jesus In His Place”), I thought that the authors were trying to counter the writings of others who, in their opinion, had Jesus in the “wrong” place. Obviously I was mistaken.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Hi Alethinon. To me, the most natural context within which to make sense of the "I am" sayings in John 8 is that provided by the Gospel of John itself, which depicts Jesus speaking of the name which the Father had given to him. This in turn leads us naturally to the references to God sharing his name with a principal agent, such as the angel Yahoel or Metatron (referred to as the "little Yahweh"). And so there is no need to choose between "I am" being the divine name and an agency Christology. Bestowal of the divine name on a principal agent is paralleled in Judaism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    The idea of conferring God's name upon an agent didn't begin in the second temple period, either: I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him. (Exod 23:20-21)Also, Isa 45, which is alluded to in vv.10-11 of the Christ hymn in Phil 2, speaks of Cyrus, the Persian king, as the messiah, but it also said that God confers a name upon Cyrus, gives him a title, and the implication there is that God invested Cyrus with special authority. As a result, God promises to bring the nations to Cyrus' feet to worship him. When they do worship Cyrus, what they say is that Yahweh alone is God. And it concludes by saying that every knee bows to God. It is obvious that here the idea is that those who bow the knee to Cyrus are in fact bowing the knee to Yahweh through Cyrus. Here again is more precedent for God conferring a name upon an agent that means unique authority and power.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Some stuff in the Memar Marqah is also relevant. There it's said that Moses was given the name of Yahweh and that the name gave him power. Here, knowing the name Yahweh was not just a bit of information so that he could satisfy Pharaoh’s curiosity. It is understood here as an investment of divine authority and power into Moses. “ה is the Name with which Moses was vested” (Memar Marqah 4:1). Again:"All your enemies will fall before you. Do not fear them, for they are in your power. With the rod I gave you, you will be able to subdue them. Who will be able to stand before you, when My Great Name is with you? Verily, every foe will fall before you as suddenly as evening falls" (2:13).Compare this with John 18:5-6:"They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,' they stepped back and fell to the ground."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hi James,I remember reading that in your book, "John's Apologetic Christology", and I thought that it was an interesting perspective. I have a few problems with it though: (i) Based on my understanding of the Greek idiom sometimes described as a PPA, I take Jesus' statement to be a claim to have preexisted Abraham. (ii) A name doesn't fit the construction we find at John 8:58. For example, you wouldn't say, "Before Abraham was, Jehovah". (iii) It seems to me that "I Am" was never God's name. The Hebrew should probably be rendered something like, "I will be what I will be", which is supported by the translation of Aquila (followed by Theodocian) where we find esomai hos esomai (i.e. “I will be what/who I will be”) at Ex. 3:14.(iv) Even if the Jews of Jesus' day didn't know how the Hebrew phrase 'ehyeh 'asher 'ehyeh should be rendered, and even if they relied on the LXX for their understanding of this verse, the Greek of LXX reads, "Ego eimi ho on” (εγω ειμι ο ων), not "Ego eimi Ego Eimi". Therefore God does not refer to himself as "the I AM" but as "the being" according to the LXX. Jesus does not say "Before Abraham was, I am the being." If you have the time take a look at the debate between Robert M. Bowman, Jr. and Jason BeDuhn that I sent you via email. I am in agreement with professor BeDuhn regarding Jn 8:58. Again, though, I think that your interpretation is certainly thought provoking, and it seems to be gaining some acceptance. Craig L. Blomberg mentions it in his book "The Historical Reliability of the Gosepls, Second Edition" (p. 210), where he refers to Stephen Motyer who also believes that Christ was claiming to be God's agent (see "Your Father the Devil?, page 209).~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Alethinon,Isa 48:12: "Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called: I am He; I am the first, and I am the last.""I am He." In the Hebrew, aniy hu'. Aniy hu' is precisely how John 8:58 is translated in the Peshitta and in Hebrew New Testaments. Although, the standalone Aniy hu' is omitted in the LXX. It just says, "I am the first and the last." So it's debatable. I think the parallel I just showed above between Memmar Marqah 2:13 and John 18:6 is a good indication that John wants us to hear "Eigo eimi" in the sense of a divine name. But either way, whichever of the two readings we prefer, neither are a claim to ontological equality with Yahweh. Pre-existent beings and pre-existent messiahs are a dime a dozen in the second temple period. And agents are emissaries who come bearing the name and authority of the sender.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Sorry. *neither IS a claim*

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hi Thom,I don't take 'ani hu to be a divine name anywhere in the OT. One can typically find an antecedent to the instances of 'ani hu expressed by God in Isaiah and to the instances of ego eimi expressed by Jesus in the NT. John 8:58 is different because it's offered in response to a question dealing with Jesus' age. There may be a double entendre at work here, but it seems to me that if Jesus' answer involves both his age and his identity, then the identity would more naturally be satisfied by "Messiah" than by "Eternal God". It was the Messiah's "day" that Abraham saw, and it was Jesus' claim to be the Messiah that was deemed to be blasphemous during his trial.That's my take anyway. As you pointed out, though, either way Jesus' reply wasn't meant to suggest that he was ontologically the eternal God, Jehovah. By the way, you can call me Kaz.~Kaz

  • http://ajcornelius.wordpress.com ajcornelius

    Rob,Don't be surprised Thom would deem something you say "ridiculous." He is quite sure of himself on just about everything he shares online and doesn't excel when it comes to demonstrating grace during a debate. Even when approximately half of all Bible scholars come to a particular conclusion, he nonetheless may find their position "wacky." Old habits die hard.This is a great blog, and the comments that ensued are likewise provoking and informative. Thanks, everyone.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hi Thom,I note that you've spent considerable time with second temple literature. Can you provide a recommended reading list, and perhaps a URL or two to online editions? My knowledge of this literature is sorely lacking, and based on your posts it seems that this is something I should remedy!~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Andrew Cornelius,The only person I've called wacky is you. Is this really the venue to try to rehash a personal issue with me? You don't know when to quit.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Rob,For the record, the position that "approximately half of all Bible scholars hold" to which Andrew is referring is the position that the Gospels misrepresent Jesus on point of his apocalyptic worldview. I disagree that the Gospels misrepresent Jesus there. And I never called that position nor half of all scholars "wacky." That is a fabrication.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Kaz,I've recently finished an extensive blog series on the deity of Jesus, here: http://thomstark.net/?p=1130If you skim through each post and look at the block quotes, that will give you a lot of relevant references. Particularly with Philo, the relevant references are in my posts: Logos, and Addendum to John 1. Philo's works can be found here: http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/philo.htmlAs for the Memar Marqah, that is hard to come by. You'll have to find it in a good library. It's edited and translated by John MacDonald. It is a Samaritan holy book of sorts. Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, Ben Sira (Sirach) and 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) are highly relevant. They are in the deutero-canon, and can be found here: http://www.surreyhills.unitingchurch.org.au/NRSV/AP.HTMSee my posts on Preexistence and Wisdom to get a sense for where to look in the wisdom tradition (Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, Sirach, Proverbs). The Similitudes of Enoch (i.e., chapters 37-71 of 1 Enoch) can be found here (along with the rest of 1 Enoch): http://wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/noncanon/ot/pseudo/enoch.htmThere is a bunch of relevant material here: http://wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/noncanon/pseudepigrapha.htm including The Live of Adam and Eve (particularly the Latin version), The Apocalypse of Abraham, Jubilees, Testament of Abraham, The Prayer of Joseph is important. I quote it in its entirety here: http://thomstark.net/?p=1054Let me know if I can be of further help. I'm happy to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Thanks for the references, Thom, I appreciate it. I'll also checkout your site. I started reading the writings of the "Fathers" years ago, but I found them to be tedious and haven't spent much time with them since. I came to realize that their relevance to biblical interpretation is questionable, because their Greek philosophical worldview is so different from that of the Jews, and because most of their writings are too late. If one wants to immerse oneself in the thought-world of Jesus' contemporaries then the second temple literature will probably get you closer.~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    I wouldn't disagree! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hi James,You said:"I have an article I'm trying to finish up on intertextuality and Christology in the New Testament, in which I address some of Eskola's points. If and when it is published, I'll let you know!"I hope the matter is more of "when" than "if", because I really appreciate your writings and I'm interested in what you'd have to say about Eskola's views. Have you considered starting a blog thread as a preliminary to your article?~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom:Capitalizing Word isn’t enough to make your case. The “Word” here isn’t Logos, by the way. It’s rhema.I don't see difference whether the writer was using Logos or Rhema. Hebrews 11:3 claims that Rhema was the instrument in God's creative action. So the second line, the one in question, would read this: Jesus upholds all things by the declaration of God’s power. It’s not the declaration of Jesus’ power, but Jesus’ declaration of God’s power, that power that sustains all things. I have not previously considered this possibility. There is probably no watertight grammatical rules to apply in this case. However I get different impression after reading the greek text. Do you know any commentaries that are favouring your understading? I said: In my view there is no similar transference of God-language compared to Hebrews 1:10-12. An actual parallel could be at our hands if something like this would be said about Moses: "The Lord brought us away from Egypt through his powerful hand".Your reply: I think you’re reading a pesher text too pedantically. You don’t press the text for literal referents at every turn, when pesher is being done. If there were no limitations for using God-texts about intermediaries we certainly should have many clear quotations of God-passages applied to intermediaries – including the divine name and otherwise monotheistically coloured content. Philo and pseudo-Solomon were unwilling to use clear OT "creator-language" to Logos or Wisdom and this is hardly for no reason. In Hebrews 1:10-12 we have highly monotheistical description of Godhead from the OT. I would also say that kurios is equivalent of the divine name as it's embedded to the OT quotation about God's creation action. I don't think that any Jewish group at any point of history reinterpreted similar biblical phraseology to refer someone other than God. Certainly there are some obscure or less monotheistic God-phrases or God-passages applied to intermediaries but they are hardly comparable with the content of Hebrews 1:10-12. The reading of 1:10-12 needs to be controlled by the other quotations around it, and the overall thrust of the argument. If Jesus is being presented as God, it undermines the argument the author is making, leading into chapter 2. The author is presenting Jesus as higher than the angels. Hebrews 1:10-12 certainly exhibits a status that high enough for writers purposes. I don't see that the writer is trying to prove Jesus superiority via his human status.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    "The author is presenting Jesus as higher than the angels. Hebrews 1:10-12 certainly exhibits a status that high enough for writers purposes. I don't see that the writer is trying to prove Jesus superiority via his human status."Then you should probably re-read Hurst. Chapter 2 makes it clear that human beings were intended to be higher than angels, but were subjected to angels "for a little while." Jesus, as representative human, restores humanity back to its original position above the angels, and at the end, the rest of humankind joins Jesus as his brothers and sisters. That is the whole thrust.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    James, I have got impression that you are at least questioning if Wisdom/Logos/Spirit should be seen as part of the divine identity in the writings of Pseudo-Solomon and Philo. If Wisdom is excluded from divinity it means that Pseudo-Solomon and Philo abandoned the belief of God's immanent presence what is so striking in the Old Testament. Isn't this little problematic? I understand that Philo wanted to highlight God's transcendence for philosophical reasons. But wasn't there at the same time necessity to preserve the idea of God's personal presence in the world?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom,Ok, I will be back after re-reading Hurst :-) The book is available to me only via google's book search so let's see what I find.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    I can't speak for Dr. McGrath, but exclusion of the Logos/Wisdom from unique divinity is not a denial of God's immanence. It's that God is immanent through agency. God's glory came to be seen as an angel who mediated God to humanity. For instance, the glory that enveloped Moses on the mountain came to be talked about as a mediator. Here are some of the relevant passages from Philo and the Wisdom tradition on the Logos and Wisdom—their distictiveness from God, and their agency: The Logos of God is over all the world, and is the most ancient, and the most universal of all things that are created. (Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, 3:175)And even if there be not as yet anyone who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labor earnestly to be adorned according to his firstborn Logos, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Logos, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel. (Philo, On the Confusion of Tongues, 146)And the Father who created the universe has given to his archangelic and most ancient Logos a pre-eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separated that which had been created from the Creator. And this same Logos is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the ambassador sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race. And the Logos rejoices in the gift, and, exulting in it, announces it and boasts of it, saying, “And I stood in the midst between the Lord and you; neither being uncreated as God, nor yet created as you, but being in the midst between these two extremities, like a hostage, as it were, to both parties.” (Philo, Who is the Heir of Divine Things, 205-206)no mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the second god, who is the Logos of the supreme Being; since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it the type of the divine Logos; since in his first Logos, God is superior to the most rational possible nature. And he [God] who is superior to the [second] Logos holds his rank in a better and most singular pre-eminence, and how could the creature possibly exhibit a likeness of him in himself? (Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis, 2:62)What is the man who was created? And how is that man distinguished who was made after the image of God? This man was created as perceptible to the senses, and in the similitude of a being [the Logos] appreciable only by the intellect; but he who in respect of his form is intellectual and incorporeal, is the similitude of the archetypal model as to appearance, and he is the form of the principal character; but this is the Logos of God, the first beginning of all things, the original species or the archetypal idea, the first measure of the universe. Moreover, that man who was to be created as a vessel is formed by a potter, was formed out of dust and clay as far as his body was concerned; but he received his soul by God breathing the breath of life into his face, so that the temperament of his nature was combined of what was corruptible and of what was incorruptible. But the other man [the Logos], he who is only so in form, is found to be unalloyed without any mixture proceeding from an invisible, simple, and transparent nature. (Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis 1:4)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    And some more: One of them [the Logos] being the archetypal pattern and above us, and the other [Adam] being the copy of the former and abiding among us. And Moses [Genesis] calls the one which is above us the image of God, and the one which abides among us as the impression of that image, “For,” says he, “God made man,” not an image, but “after that image.” So that the mind which is in each of us, which is in reality and truth the man, is a third image proceeding from the Creator. But the intermediate one [the Logos] is a model of the one [Adam] and a copy of the other [God].” (Philo, Who Is the Heir of Divine Things, 230-31)I have also heard of one of the companions of Moses having uttered such a speech as this: “Behold, a man whose name is the East!” A very novel appellation indeed, if you consider it as spoken of a man who is compounded of body and soul; but if you look upon it as applied to that incorporeal being [the Logos] who in no respect differs from the divine image, you will then agree that the name of the east has been given to him with great felicity. For the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest son, whom, in another passage, he calls the firstborn; and he who is thus born, imitating the ways of his Father, has formed such and such species [humankind], looking to his archetypal patterns. (Philo, On the Confusion of Tongues, 62-63)But it is not right for the man who anchors on the hope of the alliance of God to crouch and tremble, to whom God says, “I am the God who was seen by thee in the place of God.” . . . And do not pass by what is here said, but examine it accurately, and see whether there are really two Gods. For it is said: “I am the God who was seen by thee;” not in my place, but in the place of God, as if he meant of some other God. What then ought we to say? There is one true God only; but they who are called Gods, by improper language, are numerous; on which account of the holy scripture on the present occasion indicates that it is the true God that is meant by the use of the article, the expression being, “I am the God (ho Theos);” but when the word is used incorrectly, it is put without the article, the expression being, “He who was seen by thee in the place,” not of the God (tou Theou), but simply “of God” (Theou); and what he here calls God is his most ancient Word. (Philo, On Dreams, 1:227-230)All wisdom is from the Lord,and with him it remains forever. . . .Wisdom was created before all other things. . . .There is but one who is wise, greatly to be feared,seated upon his throne—the Lord.It is he who created her;he saw her and took her measure. . . .To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;she is created with the faithful in the womb.(Sirach 1:1, 4, 8-9, 14)Wisdom praises herself,and tells of her glory in the midst of her people.In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth,and in the presence of his hosts she tells of her glory:“I came forth from the mouth of the Most High,and covered the earth like a mist.I dwelt in the highest heavens,and my throne was in a pillar of cloud.Alone I compassed the vault of heavenand traversed the depths of the abyss.Over waves of the sea, over all the earth,and over every people and nation I have held sway.Among all these I sought a resting place;in whose territory should I abide?Then the Creator of all things gave me a command,and my Creator chose the place for my tent.He said, ‘Make your dwelling in Jacob,and in Israel receive your inheritance.’Before the ages, in the beginning, he created me,and for all the ages I shall not cease to be.”(Sirach 24:1-9)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    And finally:Yahweh created me at the beginning of his work,the first of his acts of long ago.Ages ago I was set up,at the first, before the beginning of the earth.When there were no depths I was brought forth,when there were no springs abounding with water.Before the mountains had been shaped,before the hills, I was brought forth—when he had not yet made earth and fields,or the world’s first bits of soil.When he established the heavens, I was there,when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,when he made firm the skies above,when he established the fountains of the deep,when he assigned to the sea its limit,so that the waters might not transgress his command,when he marked out the foundations of the earth,then I was beside him, like a master worker;and I was daily his delight,rejoicing before him always,rejoicing in his inhabited worldand delighting in the human race.(Proverbs 8:22-31)She glorifies her noble birth by living with God,and the Lord of all loves her.For she is an initiate in the knowledge of God,and an associate in his works.If riches are a desirable possession in life,what is richer than wisdom, the active cause of all things?And if understanding is effective,who more than she is fashioner of what exists?(Wisdom of Solomon 8:3-6)Although she is but one, she can do all things,and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;in every generation she passes into holy soulsand makes them friends of God, and prophets;for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.(Wisdom of Solomon 7:27-28)Wisdom found no place where she might dwell;Then a dwelling-place was assigned her in the heavens.Wisdom went forth to make her dwelling among the children of men,And found no dwelling-place:Wisdom returned to her place,And took her seat among the angels.(1 Enoch 42:1-2)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Alethinon – perhaps, and I'll certainly try hard to do that if the article itself is likely to be a while in coming. Valde, it is not so much that I would either include or exclude Wisdom and company from the "divine identity" but rather than I think that the divine identity seems to have been somewhat blurry at the edges. Personified divine attributes seem to be "both/and" rather than "either/or" kinds of concepts, and precisely for that reason served as a way of asserting both divine transcendence and divine involvement in creation and history.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    "Personified divine attributes." That's precisely how I explain the both/andness of the Logos and Wisdom traditions. The personified forms of God's attributes are fictional characters, metaphors. I think it was generally understood that Wisdom wasn't really a person, but an attribute of God, who is One. It was understood that the personification was poetry. Now, the case may be slightly different for pseudo-Platonists like Philo, but it's still not that the Logos is a real being: he's an ideal being. His "existence" is in the mind of God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    I should be clearer: It is precisely when the language of personification is used that the distinction between God and the personified Widom/Logos is the clearest. Personified Wisdom is always created. For Philo, the Logos is an archangel. The same is true of Wisdom in the Similitudes. But when the distinction between wisdom and God becomes more ambiguous is precisely where the language of personification goes away and the language of attribution resumes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hello Valde,George Wesley Buchanan understands “God” to be the antecedent of “His” at the point in question at Hebrews 1:3:Quote“Bearing everything by the word of his power” does not picture the Son playing the part of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulder, nor in the sense that God is the “sustainer of the world” or “age”… Rather, as ambassador or apostle, the son has authority over everything as he is given legal authority and is supported in everything he does “by the word of [God's] power.” He speaks for the one who sent him.” (To the Hebrews: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, from The Anchor Bible series), p. 7 & 8End QuoteThe word “God's” found in brackets is original to the author. Obviously other commentators will see things differently, but you asked for a reference and this one came to mind.~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Also, Valde, notice that Wisdom of Solomon says of Wisdom, after setting her up as God's agent, that she is the cause of all things and the fashioner of what exists. In the same way, Jesus-Wisdom in Hebrews is established as God's agent in creation ("through whom") and then later described as the fashioner of creation. So you've yet to convince me that Hebrews 1 is doing something unique.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom: It seems that we are not getting agreement over this. Wisdom's "fashioning" function certainly overlaps with God's creative function. Our disagreement is about how we see the significance of biblical idioms describing Godhead's creative act. Considering Hebrews 1:10-12 the issue is not only that "some specific creation language" refers to Jesus as if there was many comparable creation languages from which only one would be randomly not used about divine agents; rather the writer is using the one and only top-ladder creation language (idiomatical biblical language) which is uniquely associated with Godhead in the history of Judaism. If so, Hurst is certainly taking quite some leap of imagination when paralleling Wisdom-language with standard expressions of Godhead's creative act. Second leap of imagination done by Hurst is about Wisdom and the King. The association between Wisdom and the royal figure doesn't mean that every action of Wisdom can be said to be about the King. To my knowledge there are no parallels that any human being associated with Wisdom would have been transferred to history as if it was the same as Wisdom. Hurst is assuming that the human king can be described as the Wisdom and the Wisdom can be described as Godhead despite the fact neither of these identifications are actually real. In my view this is incredible series of assumptions. It's also weird that Hurst says that Jesus is the "bearer of Wisdom" despite the fact that Jesus is depicted in the place of Wisdom when the author says that God created the worlds by the same Son who is also heir of all things. The idea that the first chapter of Hebrews as a whole is controlled by the idea of Jesus' role as the representative of human race must be read into the text. Chapter 1 uses different kind of exalted descriptions based on traditions about Messiah, Wisdom and God. There is no reason to homologize this material.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    I think you're reading the text very pedantically. I see you providing no evidence that the wisdom language ascribed to Jesus is "the one and only top-ladder creation language (idiomatical biblical language) which is uniquely associated with Godhead in the history of Judaism." I think you're making an artificial distinction and ignoring the obvious parallel trajectories here. I think you're expecting too much of other apocalyptic material that was writing about the significance of the messiah prospectively, whereas the NT is writing retrospectively—so obviously in the NT the language is going to be taken somewhat further: but it is still along the same trajectory. The rabbis would later identify the Spirit that hovered over the waters at creation (which in the Wisdom tradition is the Spirit of Wisdom) as the spirit of the Messiah. They don't say that that Spirit indwells the Messiah; they say that it IS the spirit of the Messiah. If this were in the NT, you'd be jumping all over it, I suspect. But the reality is that all such language is highly poetic, and the language in Hebrews is certainly no exception. It fits within the trajectory, and it is poetic. I think you're reading the text too pedantically, almost as if you're asking the text questions it isn't attempting to answer. If you can't see how chapter one leads directly into chapter two, I don't know what to tell you. I am so persuaded. Thanks for your engagement.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    The line of interpretation used by Dunn and Hurst can explain almost everything from their own perspective. You could put forth traditional christian claims like "Jesus is creator" or "Jesus is eternal" and it would be still possible to insist that all what is meant is that God's actions are transferred to Jesus in literary level because God is uniquely indwelling Jesus.I think you're making an artificial distinction and ignoring the obvious parallel trajectories here.The fact that clear biblical language alluding to Godhead's first creation act is never transferred away from God in Jewish tradition is far from artificial. There is important respect toward phrases like "God created" or "the Lord founded the earth".

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    You would have said the same thing of "he fashioned the earth" except that such language IS ascribed to Wisdom as divine agent. You're not persuading me. I see the line you are drawing as artificial. I think we're at an impasse, Valde. Until either one of us has some new evidence to bring to the table, I don't see much point in restating what's already been said.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom:I agree with James that Philo's concept of Logos is ambiguous in some extent. However there are many lines of thoughts in Philo's theology where Logos shares God's identity. One of the most prominent phenomenon is the fact that Philo transfers God's biblical names (kurios and theos) to the powers that are subcategories of the Logos concept. And even if there be not as yet anyone who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labor earnestly to be adorned according to his firstborn Logos, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Logos, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel. (Philo, On the Confusion of Tongues, 146) In Jewish literature God himself can appear in angelomorphic form. For instance Josephus interprets the angel of the Lord as God. The same seems to be the case with Philo because in Som. 1. 232-233 he says that "to those souls which are still in the body he [God] must appear in the resemblance of the angels". In this passage Philo wants to say that God's angelic manifestation is different from God's transcendent essence but the angel is still God – in his downgraded form or copy. When Philo is saying that the Logos is created he is obviously handling with older traditions of Proverbs 8. However Philo feels need to underline that the Logos is not created in the same sense as human beings are created. So it means that the Logos is created thing only in some sense. My guess is following: In Philo's thinking the Logos denotes God's self-expression and manifestation that is present in the world. Because God's manifestation is not eternal it means that the Logos has point of origin in time. However this kind of creaturelines of the Logos is not contradicting the claim that the Logos is part of divine. Wisdom of Solomon is not as ambiguous as Philo. Pseudo-Solomon is quite clear that Wisdom is the same thing as the Spirit of God, i.e God's immanent presence. I disagree with James when he is thinking that Spirit is ambiguous concept. At least in Pauline theology the Spirit is clearly part of God. The same is probably true also with pseudo-Solomon. Thom said: "exclusion of the Logos/Wisdom from unique divinity is not a denial of God's immanence. It's that God is immanent through agency."Unambiguous exclusion of the Wisdom from the divinity would mean that God is not personally present in the world which is dangorous thought in Jewish context (David Runia). My english must be horrible but there are no choices at the moment :/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Your reading of Philo doesn't account for all the data. And the fact that the Logos shares the names of God sometimes is evidence of my position: that those names can at times be ascribed to something that is not God. Note the passage quoted above from On Dreams where Philo says that "God" is only applied to Logos by an abuse of language. Also, Wisdom of Solomon does INDEED clearly distinguish Wisdom from God, on the numerous occasions where it says that Wisdom is created. And in Wisdom of Solomon, "Wisdom" and "Holy Spirit" are synonymous.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom:"You would have said the same thing of "he fashioned the earth" except that such language IS ascribed to Wisdom as divine agent." Wisdom of Solomom says: "the fashioner of all things". You are modifying the statement to sound more biblical. You should also add the second phrase "the heavens are the works of thine hands". Also the title Lord would bring even more biblical sound. And exact quotation from OT about Godhead's creation would form a true parallel to Hebrews 1:10-12. But I see your point: we are at an impasse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    I wasn't "modifying the statement to sound more biblical." It was a quick paraphrase. And "all things" is just as biblical as "earth."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Note the passage quoted above from On Dreams where Philo says that "God" is only applied to Logos by an abuse of language. When theos is used to refer to anthropomorphic manifestation of God or when there seems to be two Gods in one passage Philo says that God without article is not trully God (transcendent God). However when Philo applies theos and kurios to the powers he is not doing any reservations with articles and he is not referring to specific examples but to normal occurences of theos and kurios with article. I have to check this issue with more time but that is my initial impression

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    That is interesting discussion but it's now time to go sleep in Finland!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Philo elsewhere calls the Logos the "second god" and makes clear remarks about the inferiority of the Logos to God. It seems to me like you're trying to fit Philo into your own paradigm. But that may be just my own impression.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    And the question about Philo calling the Logos "God" is sort of irrelevant, because he also says that Moses was the "god and king of the whole nation," and says that any righteous person who becomes filled with God has earned the title "God."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hello Thom and Valde,One of the problems with biblical interpretation is that where ambiguities exist people will tend to see what they want to see, especially if they have strong theological convictions. Because of this, when I read an account I ask myself “What is the author's primary point?” As I read Hebrews 1:10-12 it strikes me that the author is not suggesting that Christ is the creator; he's saying that the Son is now immortal, he “will remain continually” and his “years will never run out”. Why did the author apply a passage to Christ that originally applied to God as creator? In this case it was because prior to Christ's defeat of death, no one was immortal except God himself. Since the Son is the embodiment of God's Wisdom, and since Wisdom was used as the agent of God's creation, this was not inappropriate. Also, interpretative problems could have emerged if the author had excluded the words we find at verse 10. Noticed how the account would read without this verse:“'…You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.' …'They themselves will perish, but you yourself are to remain continually, and just like an outer garment they will all grow old, 12 and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as an outer garment; and they will be changed, but you are the same, and your years will never run out.'” Do you see the problem? The account is a point by point exposition about how the Son is greater than the angels. So, if you exclude verse 10 the words “They themselves will parish” would naturally be taken as a reference to the angels. However, the angels in question are not the demons, but the good angels, the Son's “partners”, whom God uses for righteous purposes. The author would not want to give the impression that God's good angels will “parish” someday, so he had to carry over the words we find in verse 10. Again, this was not inappropriate because as God's Wisdom he the Son was instrumental as a “master-worker” (Prov. 8:30) in bringing forth the heavens and the earth. The Bible makes it clear that the creator is God himself, and that his Wisdom/LOGOS/Son was the agent or “master-worker” he used. I am therefore in harmony with Emil Brunner, who noted that:“…there are works of God which as such are precisely not works of the Son. This non-identity of God and the Son is based upon the fact that God alone is Creator, but that the Son is called simply and solely the mediator of the Creation. In the New Testament the Son, or Jesus Christ, is never called the Creator. This title is given to the Father alone. It is He who has ‘granted unto the Son to have life in Himself’.” (The Christian Doctrine of God), p. 232 ~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Thom: And the question about Philo calling the Logos "God" is sort of irrelevant, because he also says that Moses was the "god and king of the whole nation," and says that any righteous person who becomes filled with God has earned the title "God."I am certainly not arguing that simple use of theos is sign of divinity. However it's different thing when Philo says that the Lord or God – described in the normal OT passages – are referring to God's powers (see QE. 2.68; Plant. 20, 85-68; Her. 166; De Abr. 124; Deus. 110; Mut 15; QG. 2. 51). The view that Philo considers Logos as part of God is really not novelty. It's actually notable that leading scholars working in philonic studies or with Wisdom of Solomon have that view. According to Runia Logos is at least in some contexts understood as part of divinity. Winston also considers Wisdom (in the Book of Wisdom) as immanent aspect of God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Kaz:Do you see the problem? The account is a point by point exposition about how the Son is greater than the angels. So, if you exclude verse 10 the words “They themselves will parish” would naturally be taken as a reference to the angels. So why didn't the author then excluded verse 10 from his quotation? I am not complitely sure if I am seeing your point. In my view the string of names attached to Jesus through quotations is very important for the writer. In writers eyes the Son/God/Lord must be greater than the angels. It's certainly not accidental that the writer attaches two biblical titles of God to Jesus in consecutive quotations. One of the problems with biblical interpretation is that where ambiguities exist people will tend to see what they want to see, especially if they have strong theological convictions. I tend to see that everyone immersed to this kind of discussion is somehow emotionally fired up about the topic. There might be theological as well as antitheological attitudes playing part. Maybe Hebrews 1:10-12 seems ambiguous if there is resistance to see the option possibility that the writer could be slipping slightly beyond agency model. In my view this kind of slipping is not huge step because I consider Wisdom as part of God in any case. In later parts of the NT there is tendency to place Jesus higher up in divine hierarchy. Hebrews 1:10-12 is one example. "I Am" sayings are also good example of this or formal doxologies directed to Jesus. I want to comment shortly James' interpretastion of "I Am" sayings. In my view "I Am" sayings are one striking example where Jesus assumes the role that is beyond agency-model. According to James "I Am" sayings can be explained through Logos or Name theology. However I disagree with this. In Philo's theology "I Am" language was applied only to the Existent one who is above the Logos. Philo actually seems to use the "I am" language to identify transcendent God from lower divine hierachies or expressions. For Philo Ego Eimi is the highest identification of God. I don't see why we should assume that the case is different in other Jewish circles. Again, it's not accident that intermediaries are not identified with this phrase. By applying Ego Eimi to Jesus johannine writer is almost certainly identifying Jesus as God. There is hardly any other rationale for this phenomenon.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    My model for the developement of christology is following starting from Paul: – Paul mostly identify Jesus as God's immanent presence (with the Wisdom or Spirit). Maybe Jesus' role as the source of the Spirit goes beyond divine agency thinking (see Fatehi). – In later parts of the NT Jesus assumes more the roles of Godhead. Hebrews 1:10-12; Ego Eimi sayings; doxologies applied to Jesus directly; Jesus being the "Lord my God" (John 20:28 is idiomatical expression about God which is not comparable to elohims of Qumran for instance). – Ignatius of Antioch. Here Jesus' role as Godhead is indisputable and consistent.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hello Valde,I had said:“Do you see the problem? The account is a point by point exposition about how the Son is greater than the angels. So, if you exclude verse 10 the words “They themselves will parish” would naturally be taken as a reference to the angels.”You replied:“So why didn't the author then excluded verse 10 from his quotation? I am not complitely sure if I am seeing your point.”As I said, the author of Hebrews couldn't omit verse 10 because then the verse would read this way:“'You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.' ……….'They themselves will perish, but you yourself are to remain continually, and just like an outer garment they will all grow old, 12 and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as an outer garment; and they will be changed, but you are the same, and your years will never run out.'” Notice that where you see periods ……….is where verse 10 appears. If you omit the words found in verse 10 then “partners” becomes the most natural antecedent of “They themselves will parish”. This would suggest that God's good angels will parish, and the author wanted to avoid that. Yet he also wanted to make the point that Jesus is immortal, and he wanted to do so while following the literary device of applying OT texts to the Son. Since only God was immortal before the Son's resurrection, the author used a verse that originally applied to God to make his point. You said:“In my view the string of names attached to Jesus through quotations is very important for the writer. In writers eyes the Son/God/Lord must be greater than the angels. It's certainly not accidental that the writer attaches two biblical titles of God to Jesus in consecutive quotations.”It seems to me that it is also not accidental that the manner in which those titles are applied to Jesus clearly indicates that he is not “Godhead”. As professor McGrath demonstrates in his book, “John's Apologetic Christology”, sonship did not imply equality, it implied obedience, which ties nicely into the phrase “that is why God, your God has anointed you.” It also had messianic implications, which harmonizes with the royal application in verse 8. The title “God” cannot have the same connotation that it has when used of the Almighty because the one designated as “God” in verse 8 is said to have one who is God to him! As for the title Lord, it seems that it too is qualified in a way that makes it impossible that it applies to the Son in the same way that it applies to God. Notice that Rom. 15:6, 2 Cor. 1:3, 2 Cor. 11:31, Eph. 1:3, Eph. 1:17, and 1 Pet. 1:3 all say, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus”. The manner in which the Almighty is “Lord” does not permit that anyone is His God, yet the Son has someone who is God to him, even as Lord! As for the “I am” sayings, when Jesus utters these words there is typically an antecedent that can be found in context, and that antecedent is never “eternal God” or "Godhead". Jan-A Buhner examined the “I am” sayings closely, and concluded:“Accordingly there are good grounds both in cultural history and in the Fourth Gospel for asserting that what we have in the 'I am' sayings is not a revealer or divine being disclosing himself directly in a kind of epiphany, but rather the one sent by God, the only one, the mediator, who stands obediently at God's service and thus receives high legitimation–as the 'Son'" (Translated from the German by John Ashton and found in the book "The Interpretation of John", p. 218. The original German appeared in Der Gesandte und sein Weg im 4. Evangelium, by Jan-A Buhner)Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Alethinon:"It seems to me that it is also not accidental that the manner in which those titles are applied to Jesus clearly indicates that he is not “Godhead”. As professor McGrath demonstrates in his book, “John's Apologetic Christology”, sonship did not imply equality, it implied obedience, which ties nicely into the phrase “that is why God, your God has anointed you.” It also had messianic implications, which harmonizes with the royal application in verse 8. The title “God” cannot have the same connotation that it has when used of the Almighty because the one designated as “God” in verse 8 is said to have one who is God to him!" I am fully conscious that the nomenclature "Son" can mean almost everything from righteous human being to the divine Wisdom. However I have not decided any particular meaning for it in this discussion. I have not also said that the use of theos for Jesus in verse 8 would necessarily implicate divinity if considered in isolation. My point was following: the string of titles (Son/God/Lord) is purposeful for the writer and it shouldn't be said that the content of verse 10 is placed into the quotation only because it would have been awkward to start with the content of verse 11. The title Lord – when supplied to the OT quotation about creation of Godhead – has obviously different range of possible meanings than what Lord normally has. The fact that the writer gathers God's major names (Lord and God) together with reference to Jesus is certainly very significant. The writer obviously wants to say that the highest titles of OT are applicable to Jesus; Jesus is worthy to carry God's major names in the context of OT quotations. As you noted verse 8 distinguishes between "O God" (Jesus) and "God" (father). This is understandable if there was some kind of binitarianism at play: the writer can find both distinctive parts of the Godhead (or of divinity) from one quotation. As such verse 8 could be understood without any divine implications but within string of quotations wherein Jesus is also identified as creator Lord it seems that it's the divine or biblical nature of theos and kurios nomenclatures that is at play. There are great parallels in Philo's theology: the combination of biblical names of Lord and God refers to God's immanent aspects ("Lord" is God's creative/kingly power and "God" means God's merciful action). Also when Philo sees two theos in one OT verse he distributes those titles between Godhead and the divine Logos.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Hello Valde,I think I demonstrated that the titles "God" and "Lord" clearly cannot apply to the Son in the same way that they apply to the Almighty, because the Son is designated as "God" and "Lord" in contexts that show that the Almighty is his God. Almighty God does not have someone who is God to him; that's why he's _Almighty_ God. You've chosen to ignore this data and simply restate your position, which is fine, but it leaves me with no meaningful reply to offer, so I'll just give you the last word and leave it at that.James, I'd like to thank you for allowing this discussion to go on as long as it has. ~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    What, you mean it's over?! :)I have no objection to conversations going on as long as its participants want it to. So please do feel free to continue!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07499810705687060086 Valde

    Alethinon, If your starting point exludes the possibility that there could be distinct personal element within divinity it means that we can't even discuss on this issue. I am not saying that Hebrews has trinitarian view about God but you can't exclude binitarian concept of God from presuppositional basis. If the writer was envisioning second personal element within divinity who truly assumed human role it's certainly plausible to allude this idea with the quotation of Psalm 45:7-8. There couldn't have been any better proof-text for the binitarian view. My thesis is that the double application of biblical names of God (theos and kurios) to Jesus demands that Jesus is something similar like divine powers in Philo's thinking who are inferior to transcendent God. This is not yet to say that Jesus is fully involved within transcendent Godhead. Jesus could be only the immanent part of God that is inferior to heavenly Godhead. Yet the specific elements in Hebrews 1:10-12 (Jesus being creator Lord) seems to push Jesus even within transcendent Godhead. If Hebrews is written in 80 (as dated by critical orthodoxy) there is only few decades to Ignatius of Antioch who undisputably included Jesus within Godhead. We shouldn't exclude the possibility that Hebrews was slipping toward this view.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18436448315505182664 Thom Stark

    Our "presuppositions," Valde? Is that really where you're taking this?All we're doing is reading Hebrews in light of the relevant second temple data. We've made arguments for our reading/s of the text. To accuse us after all this of having controlling presuppositions that prevent us from seeing the text your way is disingenuous. To me, with your consistent language of "Godhead" and immanent manifestation, and your inability to allow the rest of the argument in Hebrews 1 and 2 to inform your readings of two verses in chapter 1, it seems like you're the one with controlling presuppositions. But I'm not making that accusation. Just pointing out that we can make it too if we like, so it's useless to do so (in either direction). Ignatius' view IS debatable, but I'm not interested in debating it. Ignatius takes some of the christological language of the NT and recycles it. There's no way you can prove how he understood that language. He doesn't formulate a new binitarian description of the Godhead. There's no way you can tell whether Ignatius was using the language as agency or otherwise. So to appeal to him as a rock solid mile marker is dubious. Moreover, other church leaders from his time period and even later certainly did not hold a binitarian view of God. More-moreover, what evidence do you have to connect the tradition in Hebrews with Ignatius of Antioch? I venture to say you have none. In sum, we've advanced not an inch.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Thanks, James! I certainly didn't mean to suggest that the conversation *should* end, but I want to be mindful that it's your blog.~Kaz


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