BEN: Another good text, which as you say is a crux, is worth some discussion— Gal. 3.19. You suggest that Gal. 3.19, suggests that the intermediary is God in human form. This explanation doesn’t work. An intermediary, whoever he is, is a go between between two parties, in this case between God and his people. The very contrast in the sentence ‘now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one’ makes clear Paul is ruling out God as the intermediary, all the more so if, as you argue, the angel of the Lord is Yahweh. That would rule him out too from being the intermediary in light of the phrase “put in place by angels through an intermediary’. The intermediary is also distinguished from the angels! This leaves Moses, surely…. See 2 Cor. 3. 7ff. which very clearly portrays Moses as the intermediary who came down from the mountain with glory on his face…..
MIKE: This is representative of the Angel “being and not being” God (the Father). The “canceling” language you refer to I’d take as a denial of a role for the Father (invisible Yahweh), but not the embodied visible Yahweh. I’d say it does work when parsing it that way (and I get to do that in my book!) ☺
BEN; Certainly one of your most interesting and impressive arguments in the book is about the herem, where you maintain that the reason for it was to eliminate the presence of the Nephilim or their gigantic descendants in the land. You argue that the reason for the annihilation of many Canaanites is that they were Nephilim or their descendents, the product of the cross boundary cohabitation of divine beings with humans a violation of the creation order. The idea would be that rival gods of other nations cohabited with human women which led to the Nephilim. Cf. Gen. 6.4 to Num. 13.33, Josh. 11.21-22, 14.12ff. Note that the Numbers passage gives a rationale for why the Hebrews did not enter the land immediately after the spies returned— namely there be giants in the land and we will get squashed….we being like grasshoppers…. The Canaanites were Amorites who in turn were descendants of the Nephilim which in turn were the product of hostile divine beings ruling non-Israelite lands which needed to be expelled from Israel, or eliminated. Israel is at war with beings that descend from hostile deities…. They were to be devoted to destruction as a sacrifice to Yahweh. Unpack this idea for us and why it is so important a key to not only understanding the herem but also the discussion of Gen. 6.1-4 in the NT in Jude, 2 Peter, and even 1 Pet. 3.
MIKE: I think the best way to address the conquest item is this follow-up post on my blog:
You can use whatever detail in there that you like. Basically, the conquest starts and ends with the giant clans (Rephaim in Transjordan through Joshua’s assessment of completion in Josh 11:22 – “there were no more Anakim in the land…”). One could even say that the destructive element of the conquest wasn’t complete until the time of David and the deaths of Goliath and his brothers.
On Gen 6:1-4 and Jude, 2 Peter, and 1 Peter, it’s very evident that Peter and Jude didn’t read Gen 6:1-4 and think the sons of God were just people. There is no other text Peter could be appealing to when he mentions “the angels that sinned” (at the time of Noah no less). There is no OT story of any other “angelic” transgression (angels = more than one, so he’s not thinking of Gen 3 or linking Eden to Noah!) The witness of 2nd Temple Judaism is not only squarely behind a divine view of Gen 6:1-4 (and so in support of Peter and Jude), but it’s completely consistent with the apkallu story. [Not for inclusion on your blog – I have attached a chapter of the book manuscript I just turned in on the apkallu, the Watchers’ transgression, and Gen 6:1-4. The chapter covers more specifics than Unseen Realm did. The book is for the “Middle Earth” audience – not sure if you’ve heard my little theory on Christian Middle Earth or not. Maybe at SBL this November!) For me, what this means is that I need to side with Peter and Jude about Gen 6:1-4 being supernatural in orientation, or concluding they were wrong. Since what they say involves the dispensing of spiritual truth (see above on where I talk about science and truth claims), I think we need to embrace it. I don’t think our own intelligence or experience (or the tools of science) allow us to say what an elohim can or cannot do.