Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & the epistles.

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Ben C. Smith
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Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & the epistles.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:51 pm

Margaret Barker spends the last five chapters or so of her book, The Great Angel, arguing that the ancient Israelite belief that Yahweh was one of the sons of El Elyon (= Most High God) survived well into New Testament times and beyond. She argues, among other things, the following about early Christians:
  • They regarded Jesus as equivalent to Yahweh himself.
  • They thought of Jesus as the Son of God precisely because Yahweh was the Son of El Elyon.
  • They worshiped Jesus as a god because Yahweh, though the son of a god, was also himself a god.
  • They ceaselessly applied to Jesus various passages which in the Hebrew scriptures had applied to Yahweh.
  • They described the Parousia in the exact terms ascribed to Yahweh coming in judgment in various scriptures.
  • They regularly used the same Greek title for Jesus as the circumlocution that the Septuagint most commonly used of Yahweh: κύριος (Lord).
  • They ascribed powers to Jesus (such as walking upon water) which are ascribed to Yahweh.
I would also like to call attention to another thread of mine, in which it is observed that Psalm 110.1 (109.1 LXX), while used very often in the New Testament, is seldom quoted directly and accurately, with Jesus sitting at the right hand of "the Lord" (as the LXX has it); rather, most of the time Jesus is sitting at the right hand of "God". Could this change have something to do with Jesus being regularly identified with the Lord, Yahweh, and thus unlikely to be sitting at his own right hand? Could the change from Lord to God be a way of preserving the ancient distinction between El Elyon (the High God) and Yahweh (his divine Son)?

But my main question for this thread is this: are there any direct, verifiable counterexamples to Barker's thesis extant in any of the NT epistles (Paul, Peter, James, Jude, John; not to mention the epistle to the Hebrews)? For example, are there any passages which seem to call Jesus the son of Yahweh (rather than the son of God, which can be easily read as the son of El Elyon)?

Ben.
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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & the epistles.

Post by outhouse » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:59 pm

Pauline communities placed so much value on the text of Judaism they plagiarized, not knowing the old text was redacted to monotheism that left many traces of polytheism. This is what we see. This is what I think you see.

The prose Pauline communities wrote in were overselling their authority and going over the top to get their point across about this new theology, yet they do not try and sell grandpa El as Yahwehs father anywhere at any time.

Now I cant say that later scribes redacted out any signs of Pauline henotheism, but its highly doubtful. Monotheism to one god was what these people were all about, and we see them juggling this very topic and how they handled it with Jesus relationship to Yahweh in a 300 year debate. El, Elohim, Adonai, Yhwh, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, Shaddai, and Ẓeba'ot are the typical 7 names of god yet there are man attributes that can be traced in context to these. Yet only YHWH had a death penalty for blasphemy.

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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & the epistles.

Post by Charles Wilson » Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:06 pm

https://books.google.com/books?id=WW31E ... to&f=false

For some reason, it was easier a few years ago to find " 'mmr-Yah " but check this out.
If we can find Panther-of-Yah and Panther-of-Ha'ad it should be a short step to Lamb-of-Yah.

It would be too much to ask that "Behold, the Lamb-of-Yah" in GJohn would refer to the Son of the Lamb-of-Yah but it would fit...

Anyway, Lamb-of-Yah would show its Semitic Roots all over the NT and No One, especially the Greekies, would have a clue about what's going on.

Best,

CW

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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & the epistles.

Post by Charles Wilson » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:03 am

So much for that idea. One reference to "Lamb" in 1 Corinthians 5 and one other. The interesting thing in 1 Cor 5 is that it refers to the "Paschal Lamb" which runs through GJohn.
Hmmm...

CW

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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & the epistles.

Post by Blood » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:48 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:Margaret Barker spends the last five chapters or so of her book, The Great Angel, arguing that the ancient Israelite belief that Yahweh was one of the sons of El Elyon (= Most High God) survived well into New Testament times and beyond. She argues, among other things, the following about early Christians:
  • They regarded Jesus as equivalent to Yahweh himself.
  • They thought of Jesus as the Son of God precisely because Yahweh was the Son of El Elyon.
  • They worshiped Jesus as a god because Yahweh, though the son of a god, was also himself a god.
  • They ceaselessly applied to Jesus various passages which in the Hebrew scriptures had applied to Yahweh.
  • They described the Parousia in the exact terms ascribed to Yahweh coming in judgment in various scriptures.
  • They regularly used the same Greek title for Jesus as the circumlocution that the Septuagint most commonly used of Yahweh: κύριος (Lord).
  • They ascribed powers to Jesus (such as walking upon water) which are ascribed to Yahweh.
I would also like to call attention to another thread of mine, in which it is observed that Psalm 110.1 (109.1 LXX), while used very often in the New Testament, is seldom quoted directly and accurately, with Jesus sitting at the right hand of "the Lord" (as the LXX has it); rather, most of the time Jesus is sitting at the right hand of "God". Could this change have something to do with Jesus being regularly identified with the Lord, Yahweh, and thus unlikely to be sitting at his own right hand? Could the change from Lord to God be a way of preserving the ancient distinction between El Elyon (the High God) and Yahweh (his divine Son)?

But my main question for this thread is this: are there any direct, verifiable counterexamples to Barker's thesis extant in any of the NT epistles (Paul, Peter, James, Jude, John; not to mention the epistle to the Hebrews)? For example, are there any passages which seem to call Jesus the son of Yahweh (rather than the son of God, which can be easily read as the son of El Elyon)?

Ben.
At no point in the NT is Jesus referred to as "the son of the Kurios." It is always "son of Theos."
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & κυριος.

Post by spin » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:37 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:They regularly used the same Greek title for Jesus as the circumlocution that the Septuagint most commonly used of Yahweh: κύριος (Lord).
You may remember that I have long argued that there are two fundamental uses for κυριος in earliest christian Greek literature, 1) the titular and base nominal use indicating a person's elevated social/political status and 2) the substitute reference to the god first manifest to the Jews. It is only after the writing of Mark that the second use of κυριος began to be used for Jesus, ie the divine substitute name of diaspora Jews began to be used for Jesus, as Hellenist cults used the term for their saviors. This use of κυριος—which would seem to be a conflict between the Jewish inherited use and the Hellenistic use that would have been familiar to early Jesus cult followers from in the Anatolian and Greek world—would have caused the confusion of nomenclature between Jesus and God, sufficient to cause the need to develop binitarian, then trinitarian, theologies.

So, I think a relative chronology would show that use #2 of κυριος was not initial. The apparent reason for the initial development of #2 is through the use of adonai in preference for the tetragrammaton and the former's direct translation into Greek as κυριος. There are only two places in Pauline literature that uses #2 for Jesus (1 Cor 6:14 and the last supper in 1 Cor 11), both of which are interpolations and this non-standard use of #2 for Jesus highlights the non-original nature of the material. The first "original" use of #2 κυριος for Jesus is in unique Lucan material.

I think Barker is mistaken as in the implication to be drawn for the use of κυριος in her argument.
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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & κυριος.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:54 am

spin wrote:
Ben C. Smith wrote:They regularly used the same Greek title for Jesus as the circumlocution that the Septuagint most commonly used of Yahweh: κύριος (Lord).
You may remember that I have long argued that there are two fundamental uses for κυριος in earliest christian Greek literature, 1) the titular and base nominal use indicating a person's elevated social/political status and 2) the substitute reference to the god first manifest to the Jews. It is only after the writing of Mark that the second use of κυριος began to be used for Jesus, ie the divine substitute name of diaspora Jews began to be used for Jesus, as Hellenist cults used the term for their saviors. This use of κυριος—which would seem to be a conflict between the Jewish inherited use and the Hellenistic use that would have been familiar to early Jesus cult followers from in the Anatolian and Greek world—would have caused the confusion of nomenclature between Jesus and God, sufficient to cause the need to develop binitarian, then trinitarian, theologies.

So, I think a relative chronology would show that use #2 of κυριος was not initial. The apparent reason for the initial development of #2 is through the use of adonai in preference for the tetragrammaton and the former's direct translation into Greek as κυριος. There are only two places in Pauline literature that uses #2 for Jesus (1 Cor 6:14 and the last supper in 1 Cor 11), both of which are interpolations and this non-standard use of #2 for Jesus highlights the non-original nature of the material. The first "original" use of #2 κυριος for Jesus is in unique Lucan material.

I think Barker is mistaken as in the implication to be drawn for the use of κυριος in her argument.
How do you distinguish between #1 and #2?
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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & κυριος.

Post by spin » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:59 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:How do you distinguish between #1 and #2?
Simple grammatical usage: The lord [~name] says to my lord [title]...

...the role distinction is clear to the Greek reader, a distinction which is easy to understand if you think of "the queen"—not further qualified, not "queen of...", not "may queen", not "queen Edna", not even vocative, just "the queen"—in England. See LXX Gen 24:27b.
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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & κυριος.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:23 pm

spin wrote:
Ben C. Smith wrote:How do you distinguish between #1 and #2?
Simple grammatical usage: The lord [~name] says to my lord [title]...

...the role distinction is clear to the Greek reader, a distinction which is easy to understand if you think of "the queen"—not further qualified, not "queen of...", not "may queen", not "queen Edna", not even vocative, just "the queen"—in England. See LXX Gen 24:27b.
Okay, then. But I believe that there are instances in Paul in which, contextually, "the Lord" virtually has to refer to Jesus, not to God the Father. And there are also instances in which passages from the Hebrew scriptures which apply to Yahweh are applied cleanly and without apology to Jesus. There are even some instances in which both of these contingencies apply at once. I will compile a list of what I am talking about soon. In the meantime, you would allow that most instances of "the Lord" in Paul would fit either your reconstruction or Barker's, correct? For example, his usage of "the Lord" in 2 Corinthians 11.17 ("I am not speaking as the Lord would") could hypothetically refer either to Jesus or to God the Father, correct? (Just to make sure I am not missing something.)
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Re: Yahweh, El Elyon, Margaret Barker, & κυριος.

Post by spin » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:21 pm

Let me just stick this here. It relates to the issue I deal with in the discussion of κυριος.

Start with the linguistic context. Paul for example was not writing in a literary vacuum, yet whenever he quotes HB he uses κυριος for YHWH. This is how one can see reference to YHWH in the diaspora. Paul also notes that there is one god (the father) and one lord (obviously not #2, Jesus), so he is certainly no binitarian. As a pastoral writer he does not intend to confuse his assemblies through opaque language. We have to waive later christian usage of the word and consider how the word is used in the literary/linguistic context. In doing so, I find no way that κυριος #2 can bear reference to anyone but god before Paul began writing and there is no general hint that he uses it so, except conveniently in two passages that are of questionable veracity, where κυριος has to be read as a reference to Jesus. You normally don't choose to use the same term for two distinct referents without distinguishing between the two referents through usage, though we know that later writers basically did just that due to ideology.

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