MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

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MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by rakovsky » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:03 pm

The Apostolic Constitutions and an Armenian Bible listed the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah (heretofore "Ascension of Isaiah") as apocryphal, and the existence of manuscripts in numerous translations suggest that it once had widespread use.

The text for the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah can be found here:
https://onthewaytoithaca.wordpress.com/ ... -isaiah-en
And here: https://archive.org/details/cu31924014590529/page/n3

See also the helpful graph in the "Table of contents of the surviving manuscripts": https://onthewaytoithaca.wordpress.com/ ... of-isaiah/

Wikipedia notes:
The earliest section, regarding chapters 3:13-4:22, was composed at about the end of the first century A.D. or perhaps early second century and is believed to be a text of Jewish origins which was later on redacted by Christian scribes.[3] The date of the Vision of Isaiah is rather more difficult to determine, but it is no more recent than the third century, since Saint Jerome (c. 347-420 AD) cites a fragment of the work in some of his writings, but from internal evidence it seems that the text is to be placed before the end of the second century AD.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascension_of_Isaiah
Justin Martyr's and Origen's respect for Ascension of Isaiah is interesting, as they seem to think it reflected either an account censured from the Tanakh or else a writing the Jews were embarrassed about (because it narrates iIaiah's killing) and secretly preserved. William Deane writes:
there are early references to the book itself under different names. Justin Martyr, indeed, who, in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (chap. cxx.)... refers unmistakably to the tradition therein embodied. He is showing from the Old Testament the mission and character of Christ, and he tells his antagonist that, had the Jews understood the full import of such passages, they would have removed them from the text, as they have removed "those relating to the death of Isaiah, whom," he says, "ye sawed in pieces with a wooden saw." It is not clear what part of Scripture Justin supposes to have been thus violently handled, but his reference to the mode of the prophet's death recalls the wording of the "Ascensio."
...
In [Origen's] Epistle to Africanus (chap. ix.), after remarking that the Jews were accustomed to remove from popular cognisance all things supposed to be derogatory to elders and judges, while preserving many of such facts in secret books, he instances the story of Isaiah, which, he says, is confirmed by the testimony of the Epistle to the Hebrews, thus making the document that contains the legend of more ancient date than the Epistle. And he continues: "It is clear that tradition reports that Isaiah was sawn asunder; and so it is stated in a certain apocryphal writing (en tini apokrupho), which was perhaps purposely corrupted by the Jews who introduced incongruous readings in order to throw discredit on the whole narrative." ... His acquaintance with our book is still further expressed in one of his Homilies on Isaiah (tom. iii. p.108), where the resemblance to a passage quoted below is perfectly obvious. "They say that Isaiah was cut asunder by the people, as one who depraved the law and spoke beyond what Scripture authorised. For Scripture says, No one shall see my face and live; but he says, I saw the Lord of Hosts. Moses, they say, saw Him not, and thou didst see Him! And for this cause they cut him asunder and condemned him as impious."

http://biblehub.com/library/deane/pseud ... isaiah.htm
Origen's words retelling the martyrdom are quite close to what is found in Ascension of Isaiah. Deane explains that Jerome also noted a Biblical saying in the Book of Isaiah that was similar to one in Ascension of Isaiah, but Deane notes that the Ascension of Isaiah was also used by heretics and that the later Apostolic Constitutions ban the Apocryphon of Isaiah (Deane thinks it's the same work) as having false teaching.

(Question 1: Solved) What do you think about the claim that what is in the heavens is like what is on earth?
In the Ascension of Isaiah, Isaiah has a vision of the heaven/firmament, and writes: "there I saw Sammael [the Devil] and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein. ...as above so on the earth [below] also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth."
The only thing that comes to mind is the cryptic passage in Ode 34 of the Odes of Solomon:
4. The likeness of that which is below is that which is above.
5. For everything is from above, and from below there is nothing, but it is believed to be by those in whom there is no understanding.
(Question 2) Is the Ascension of Isaiah from a sect rejected by the mainstream, "orthodox" church of St. Ignatius?
E. Norelli suggests on the contrary that the whole text, even if written in different times, is the expression of a docetic Christian prophetic group related with the group attacked by Ignatius of Antioch in his letters to the Smyrnaeans and to the Trallians.[12] According with this scholar chapters 6-11 (the Vision) are older than chapters 1-5 (which represent a later pessimistic introduction to the original Vision), the date of composition is the end of the 1st century AD, and the narrative of Mary's pregnancy (AI 11:2-5) is independent from the Gospel of Matthew.

[16] Enrico Norelli (1994), L'Ascensione di Isaia. Studi su un apocrifo al crocevia dei cristianesimi.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascension_of_Isaiah
Chapter 3 of the Ascension of Isaiah talks about disciples rejecting the 12 apostles' teaching and the Ascension of Isaiah's visions in the lead up to the Second Coming:
21. And afterwards [ie. after Jesus' Resurrection and Great Commission], on the eve of His approach, His disciples will forsake the teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and their faith, and their love and their purity.
22. And there will be much contention on the eve of [His advent and] His approach.
...
29. And there will be great hatred in the shepherds and elders towards each other.
30. For there will be great jealousy in the last days;; for every one will say what is pleasing in his own eyes.
31. And they will make of none effect the prophecy of the prophets which were before me, and these my visions also will they make of none effect, in order to speak after the impulse of their own heart.
I wonder if the part about the disciples forsaking the 12 apostles' teaching and the visions of Isaiah is a reference to some of Jesus' disciples and Christian bishops rejecting the Ascension of Isaiah?

On the other hand, Robert G. Hall sees Ascension of Isaiah as trying to legitimize its visions for the mainstream Church:
Asc. Is. 3:13-20 summarizes the doctrine of the descent and ascent [of the Beloved, Jesus] and establishes it as the doctrine of the apostles. Asc Is 3:21-31 attacks those who reject this doctrine of the apostles... Those who reject the vision reject the heavenly robes promised in the vision...

The author idealizes apostolic Christianity to mirror ...his own prophetic school. The twelve apostles are prophets, they prophesy (Asc 3:21) the descent and ascent of the Beloved. Many of those who attain salvation by heeding the twelve also become prophets
http://www.jstor.org/stable/3267019?seq ... b_contents
Hall sees the vision of Isaiah as being an allegory for the kinds of visions that the author's Christian group experienced. Isaiah, in the work, went into the desert with other prophets and experienced visions like the ascent to heaven, and Hall proposes that the author belonged to a community doing the same kind of thing.

Hall notes that in the Ascension of Isaiah, Satan complains that Isaiah says he saw God (as noted in Isaiah 6), despite Moses' claim that No man can see God and live. Hall proposes that the author of the Ascension is using this debate as a way to defend claims of divine visions by the author's group.
It's a good question what the author's relationship is to the official mainstream Church of his time. Hall writes:
The author has little use for those who claim official status in communities (chp 3), but the proliferation of false prophet imagery cautions against assuming that the rivalry pits the prophetic school against officials as such.
...
The Vision of the Descent and Ascent of the Beloved falls at the end, out of all chronological sequence, because of its importance: the author's goal from the beginning is to win a hearing for this Vision from a reluctant audience. ... That the Ascension of Isaiah survived testifies that the author met the rhetorical problem [of how one could have divine visions of God] and in a large measure solved it.
...
The author writes the Ascension of isaiah as a member of this early Christian prophetic school seeking to persuade a recalcitrant church to accept the all important doctrine of the descent and ascent of the Beloved.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/3267019?seq ... b_contents
Hall makes I think a great point in the underlined statement above as to why the Ascension would be narrated out of order as many scholars have noted.
Hall thinks that the Ascension is related to a community of prophets like the author of John's Revelation. He notes another scholar who think that when John in Revelation talks about letters to angels in seven churches, it refers to prophets in those churches. But Hall sees the Ascension as in conflict with Johanine Christianity, as John's Gospel says, "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man" (John 3:13), and "Not that anyone has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father" (John 6:46). But maybe these verses are not in conflict with the Ascension of Isaiah, since Abraham saw God in the form of three angels and Paul knew a man who ascended to the third heaven. Maybe John's gospel could mean that no one else saw the Father in his ultimate divine substance. The Russian theologian explains that the original of John 3:13 ended "the Son of Man, who is in Heaven", based on the manuscripts. And Augustine explains that since Christ ascended into heaven, the verse implies that believers (like John in the Revelation and Paul's acquaintance) ascend with Christ, since they are considered His body: "After taking notice of this lack of knowledge in a person, who, on the strength of his magisterial station, set himself above others, and blaming the unbelief of such men, our Lord says, that if such as these do not believe, others will: No one has ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven. This may be rendered: The spiritual birth shall be of such sort, as that men from being earthly shall become heavenly: which will not be possible, except they are made members of Me; so that he who ascends, becomes one with Him who descended. Our Lord accounts His body, i.e. His Church, as Himself."(quoted in Aquinas' Golden Chain commentary on John 3:13).

He also sees resemblances to St. Ignatius' ideas about community as well as to the Odes of Solomon. It's interesting:
Ignatius claims prophetic inspiration for himself concerning issues important to the Ascension of Isaiah: he promises to reveal anything further about Christ as God reveals it to him (Ign Eph 20). He claims the ability to describe heavenly realities like one who has taken a heavenly trip (Ign Trall 5)... Confronted by the anomaly of bishops without the prophetic gift, Ignatius does not abandon the prophetic ideal, but interprets them as silent prophets.
It's quite interesting to see St Ignatius' emphasis on prophecy as continuing in the church, perhaps even in the early 2nc c. after the apostles had passed away.

I do think Asc. of Isaiah is raising an interesting debate when it has:
8. And Isaiah himself has said: ‘I see more than Moses the prophet’.
9. But Moses said: ‘No man can see God and live’; and Isaiah has said: ‘I have seen God and behold I live’.
10. Know therefore, king, that he is lying.
Lopuhin comments on the verse in Exodus:
As one not having the ability to see the Lord, Moses sees only the shining of the divine glory: "you see Me from behind".
If one checks the verse in Exodus, it actually says that Moses, being a man, could not see God's "face". It doesn't specify that Moses couldn't see God at all. In fact, Exodus 24:10 talks about the elders visiting and seeing God: "and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself."

In Isaiah's case, maybe the same distinction worked? Isaiah was only seeing God like the elders did, but not His face in particular?
It seems that rhetoric about no one seeing God needs to have exceptions, since John 1 said no one but Jesus saw God, but then says later in 1 John 4:12: "No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us."

So maybe Ascension of Isaiah is not really alluding to the Christian bishops rejecting the author's visions like one scholar proposed above, but rather to Jewish officials rejecting Christian claims about Jesus seeing God?

(Question 3) Is the Ascension of Isaiah docetic?
M.A. Knibb suggests that it was written toward the end of the first century, because a
passage of the Ascension (3:17) provides a description of the emergence of the Beloved (Jesus) from the tomb which is similar to the description given in the Gospel of Peter 39f., a work which dates from the middle of the second century. ...

The date of the Vision of Isaiah is rather more difficult to determine. The fact that Jerome refers to 11:34, and that Epiphanius gives a quotation of 9:35f., suggests that this part of the Ascension was in existence, at the latest, by the end of the third century A.D. But it is probably much older than the third century. The Acts of Peter 24, which dates from the second half of the second century, appears to quote 11:14, while the narrative of the miraculous birth of the Lord in 11:2-16 shows some similarities with the Protevangelium of James, a work attributed to about A.D. 150.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ascension.html
The resemblance between the Ascension of Isaiah and G.Peter could help explain the claim of Docetism, since some scholars suggest that the Gospel of Peter is Docetic. John Knight believes the Ascension of Isaiah isn't Docetic, but rather Polymorphic in that Jesus takes on different forms, as he wrote in his essay, The Christology of the Ascension of Isaiah:
https://books.google.com/books?id=Dw90B ... ht&f=false

In The Mystery of God: Early Jewish Mysticism and the New Testament, C. C. Rowland and Christopher R. A. Morray-Jones see the work as docetic:
"there is every indication that this event[the nativity] is interpreted in a docetic mannter. In 9:13 the angel ...speaks thus of the descent of the Beloved: ...'...he had descended and become like you in appearance and they[the lower heavenly beings] will think that he is flesh and a man.' ... Mary was pregnant for only two months before the birth takes place. There are no labour pains... Thus he sucked the breast merely so that 'he would not be recognized' (11:17)... By disguising himself as a human being the Beloved thereby escaped the attention of the heavenly powers (11:16)
I suppose that even if one denies that Asc. Isaiah is docetic, one would think that the phrase he uses is still easily misleading - "become like you in form, and they will think he is flesh and a man" - as if they are only thinking that he is flesh, whereas actually he is not flesh.

In contrast, "In The Ascension of Isaiah and Docetic Christology", Darrell D. Hannah proposes that Asc. Isaiah is not Docetic. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/1584546?se ... b_contents)
If parallels are sought for this ['he sucked the breast like an infant .... that he might not be recognized' ~ Asc. Isaiah] there are much closer ones than .... angelic docetism.
He points to Clement Alexandrine saying that Christ ate food to keep people away from the false teaching of Docetism:
in the case of the saviour it were ludicrous .... that the body as a body demanded the necessary aids in order to its duration. For He ate, not for the sake of the body, which was kept together by a holy enegery, but in order that it might not enter into the minds of those who were with Him to entertain a different opinion of Him; in like manner as certainly some afterwards supposed that He appeared in a phantasmal shape
Clement Alexandrine, Stromata
That's curious. Jesus didn't need food because of his divinity, but just did it to show his humanity?
Hannah adds: "Current scholarhip is agreed that Clement was no docetist", noting how in the passage above Clement A. opposes Docetism directly.
Hannah notes how in the Ascension of Isaiah, in each of the lower heavens, Christ appears only as an angel and the demons don't recognize him, and so in that sense at times Christ was able to assume an appearance different from his divine reality. Hannah sees a relationship to the 2nd c. AD "Epistula Apostolorum", an anti-docetic work where Jesus says: "as I was about to come down from the Father of all.... I was in the heavens, and I passed by the angels and archangels in their form, as if I were one of them among the dominions and powers".
Hannah translates the blue words, which Rowland finds Docetic, as: "he has descended and become like you in form, and they will think he is flesh and a man". Hannah comments:
In 3:13 we find reference to the Beloved's transformation as well as the statement "and the form into which he must be transformed, the form of a man.
He notes that taking on something's form could mean linguistically that it really is such a being. Further, Hannah argues that since the suffering and death of Jesus was seen as real by the author of the Ascension of Isaiah, then the birth was seen as real too.
Hannah says that since Beliar/Satan is said in Asc. Isaiah to take on the Antichrist Nero's form, it suggests that in such a case, Satan became the person of a man by possession, rather than by mere appearance. Since Beliar was an anti-Christ and became a real person, then the Christ for whom he is a foil would be a real person too.

(Question 4: Solved) Does the Ascension of Isaiah mistakenly equate the angel Gabriel with the Holy Spirit?
Evan T writes that the Ascension's treatment of:
The Holy Spirit is rather problematic because it does not appear as a person of the Trinity, but as an angel that brings divine wisdom to people. The text makes mention to the “angel of the Spirit” and the “angel of the Holy Spirit” which is identical to Gabriel (this is apparent in 11;4 and crystal clear in 3;16). Origen had a similar opinion on the matter and believed that the two seraphim that appeared to Isaiah in the Bible (Isaiah ch.6) were the Son and the Holy Spirit. Unlike the Son, the “angel of Spirit” is not referred to as “God”.
https://onthewaytoithaca.wordpress.com/ ... of-isaiah/
In R.H. Charles' Introduction, he writes:
The Holy Spirit is often designated, either as the Angel of the Spirit (vi.21, ix, 39-40,x:4,xi:4, or the Angel of the Holy Spirit, iii.16, vii.23,ix.36,xi.33. In two of these passages, iii.16 and xi.4, He is identified with Gabriel, the angel of the Annunciation.
Ascension of Isaiah 3:16 says that Isaiah's vision showed that:
14. And the twelve who were with Him[ie. Christ] should be offended because of Him: and the watch of those who watched the sepulchre:

15. And the descent of the angel of the Christian Church, which is in the heavens, whom He will summon in the last days.

16. And that (Gabriel) the angel of the Holy Spirit, and Michael, the chief of the holy angels, on the third day will open the sepulchre:

17. And the Beloved sitting on their shoulders will come forth and send out His twelve disciples;
The Early Christian Writings text above has Gabriel in parentheses. Charles' footnote for Asc.Isa.3:16 is: "Here and in xi.4 this angel appears to be Gabriel, but elsewhere in the book to be the Holy Spirit." Charles' footnote also points out how the "Shepherd of Hermas" (Mandate 11) talks about being filled with the "angel of the prophetic Spirit":
When then the man who hath the divine Spirit cometh into an assembly of righteous men, who have faith in a divine Spirit, and intercession is made to God by the gathering of those men, then the angel of the prophetic spirit, who is attached to him, filleth the man, and the man, being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaketh to the multitude, according as the Lord willeth.
If "Gabriel" is called "the angel of the Holy Spirit" in the Ascension of Isaiah, I suppose it could mean grammatically that Gabriel is the angel who is "of" or especially "belongs to" the Holy Spirit. By comparison, when the passage says that the angel "of" the Church descends in the last days and refers to "Michael, chief of the holy angels", it doesn't mean grammatically that the angel is the Church or that Michael, the chief, "is" the holy angels.
In the gospels' story of the Annunication, Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear as a virgin by the Holy Spirit. So one could perceive in the Annunciation a special relationship between the Holy Spirit and Gabriel.
On the other hand, in the story of God meeting Abraham in Genesis, it seems that God met Abraham as three angels. So to refer to a person of the Trinity, like the Holy Spirit, might be conceivable as well.
In Ascension of Isaiah 4:21, Isaiah says that the things that he predicts are written "in the rest of the Psalms also which the angel of the Spirit inspired." Here it sounds like the "angel of the Spirit" refers to the Holy Spirit, since Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit "spoke by the Prophets".
The Angel of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit come up again in Isaiah's heavenly visions in 9:39-40 & 10:4-5,6:
39. And my Lord drew nigh to me and the angel of the Spirit and He said: "See how it is given to thee to see God, and on thy account power is given to the angel who is with thee."
40. And I saw how my Lord and the angel of the Spirit worshipped, and they both together praised God.

3. And I myself was hearing and beholding the praise (which was given) to Him.
4. And the Lord and the angel of the Spirit were beholding all and hearing all.
6. And I heard the angel who conducted me and he said: "This is the Most High of the high ones, dwelling in the holy world, and resting in His holy ones, who will be called by the Holy Spirit through the lips of the righteous the Father of the Lord."
Then in 11:3-4, Isaiah foresees the story of God telling Joseph to stay with Mary:
3. And when she was espoused, she was found with child, and Joseph the carpenter was desirous to put her away.

4. But the angel of the Spirit appeared in this world[C], and after that Joseph did not put her away, but kept Mary and did not reveal this matter to any one.

FOOTNOTE
[C] Manuscript B says: "appeared in this world to him"
(Question 5: Solved) What do you make of the differences between the Ascension of Isaiah and the gospels' Nativity story: No Annunciation, surprise at the child's divinity, no persecution or wise men?
Evan T summarizes them:
Mary gets pregnant without being asked, as in the classic narration. The pregnancy proves to be a surprise both to Mary and Joseph... When they see the infant they are both awestruck, since they realize that the child is divine...
The couple also appears to be residents of Bethlehem, mainly because the other citizens know that Mary is a virgin and that she and Joseph are newly-weds. Because rumours start circulating about Mary’s odd pregnancy, the couple moves to Nazareth. ...
Finally, the author minces no words when he tells us that Jesus’ birth went completely unnoticed by all men and princes and celestial beings. This version of the nativity has no room for Wise Men bearing gifts, nor for Herod’s rampage.
https://onthewaytoithaca.wordpress.com/ ... -of-isaiah
Maybe the author is just making oversimplifications, like the birth being unnoticed by "all men", and glossing over some places, like the Annunciation?

Or maybe the differences are the result of the document being put together disorderly and like patchwork over time? Ascension of Isaiah went through different redactions and there are different versions of it with different information (eg. the Ethiopic vs. Latin and Slavic ones). Evan writes:
"Compared to Charles’ reconstructed text, the best-preserved greek text is a good deal shorter, spanning only 3 chapters and 76 verses... Reading this text makes the fact that the “Ascension” is a composite text even more apparent.
(Question 6: SOLVED) How can one reconcile the praise from the heavens that rise to God in Chapters 7 and 10 with the denial by the princes, gods, and angels of the world (ie. apparently of the heavens) of God in Chapter 10?
Chapter 7 says that the angels in the first heaven were worshiping the one in the seventh heaven, who I think is God:
13. And afterwards he [ie. the angel leading the narrator] caused me to ascend (to that which is) above the firmament; which is the (first) heaven.
14. And there I saw a throne in the midst, and on his right and on his left were angels.
15. And (the angels on the left were) not like unto the angels who stood on the right, but those who stood on the right had the greater glory, and they all praised with one voice, and there was a throne in the midst, and those who were on the left gave praise after them; but their voice was not such as the voice of those on the right, nor their praise like the praise of those.
16. And I asked the angel who conducted me, and I said unto him: “To whom is this praise sent?”
17. And he said unto me: “(It is sent) to the praise of (Him who sits in) the seventh heaven: to Him who rests in the holy world, and to His Beloved, whence I have been sent to you. [Thither is it sent]”.
Then in the end of Chapter 9 and beginning of Chapter 10, the narrator hears the praises of the six heavens that go up to the Most High who is in the Holy World:
IX. ...And all the angels drew near and worshiped.

X. And thereupon I heard the voices and the giving of praise, which I had heard in each of the six heavens, ascending and being heard there: And all were being sent up to that Glorious One whose glory I could not behold. And I myself was hearing and beholding the praise (which was given) to Him.

And the Lord and the angel of the Spirit were beholding all and hearing all. And all the praises which are sent up from the six heavens are not only heard but see. And I heard the angel who conducted me and he said: This is the Most High of the high ones, dwelling in the holy world, and resting in His holy ones, who will be called by the Holy Spirit through the lips of the righteous the Father of the Lord.
I wonder if these passages from Chapter 7 and 10 above go against the statement in Chapter 10, where in v. 13 certain angels claim to be alone in the cosmos. There, God the Father says to Christ:
9. And you will become like unto the likeness of all who are in the five heavens.
10. And you will be careful to become like the form of the angels of the firmament and the angels also who are in Sheol.
11. And none of the angels of that world shall know that You are Lord with Me of the seven heavens and of their angels.
12. And they shall not know that You are with Me, till with a loud voice I have called (to) the heavens, and their angels and their lights, (even) unto the sixth heaven, in order that you mayst judge and destroy the princes and angels and gods of that world, and the world that is dominated by them:
13. For they have denied Me and said: ‘We alone are and there is none beside us’.

Charles' footnotes:
v. 12 The angels of that world (ie. the earth) will not learn that Christ is with God till the final judgment.
"Mayest judge... the princes... of that world." Cf. John xvi II, the prince of this world is judged.
"Gods of that world" 2 Cor.iv.4 'God of this world.'
Charles views "the world" as referring to the earth. However, the "holy world" earlier in Chapter 10 referred to the dwelling of the Most High, which is in the seventh heaven, so I don't think that the word "world" must mean a planet.
So it isn't clear to me what is the "world" in vv. 11-12. I can't tell if it's the "firmament and Sheol"(v. 10) or "The heavens, including the sixth heaven"(v.12). I guess that it's the latter (the heavens), and this puts the princes', angels', and gods' denial of God in chapter 10 in apparent conflict with the angels of those heavens' praises to the Most High God in Chapter 7 and in the beginning of Chapter 10.
Maybe one way to resolve this conflict is by saying that the angels in Chapter 7 and Chapter 10 who praise God are different than the ones in Chapter 10 who don't? The "princes, angels, and gods of the world" don't mean necessarily all those who are located in the world, but rather those who belong to and are only loyal to (A) those lower heavens and to (B) their rulers, and not to the Most High God?

Charles compares this passage to John 16:11, where Jesus says that when the Comforter (Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world "of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."
Charles compares the term "gods of that world" with 2 Cor 4, which says: "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age (αἰῶνος, The Greek word"aeon") has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them."

(Question 7) Do you think that the Ascension of Isaiah included the gnostic teaching that Christ was on earth 18 months/545 days following the resurrection?

Chapter 9:16 says:
And when He hath plundered the angel of death, He will ascend on the third day, [and he will remain in that world five hundred and forty-five days].
CHARLES' FOOTNOTE: This clause is wanting in Slavonic and Latin manuscripts. [But it's in Ethiopic]. It is of course no creation of Ethiopic scribes. The Ethiopic translator found it already in his Greek text. The idea is a Gnostic one. It was held by the Valentinians and the Ophites (See Irenaeus adv. Haer i.3)... It was nevertheless an intrusion in the Greek text; for the many righteous mentioned in verse 17 are none other than the souls delivered from Hades, and the ascent mentioned in that verse is the ascent from Hades. This is clear from Slavonic and Latin manuscripts, which bring the resurrection of Christ and the deliverance of the souls from Hades together. "And then many of the righteous will ascend with Him, ie. from Hades, as I have shown in the preceding note. Yet the present form of the Ethiopic implies that the ascension here designed is not from Hades, but from earth to heaven after the resurrection.
Evan T's Footnote: Probably an addition to the text, since the belief remained on Earth for 545 days is a known doctrine of the Ophites and Valentinians.
Chapter 11 says:
20. In Jerusalem indeed I saw Him being crucified on a tree:
21. And likewise after the third day rise again and remain [fourty] days. [17]
22. And the angel who conducted me said: “Understand, Isaiah” and I saw when He sent out the Twelve Apostles and ascended.

Charles' footnote: Manuscripts ab have simply 'days', c has 'forty days.' Dillmann is of opinion that originally the number 545 stood here, as in ix.16 (see note). The phraseology at all events is the same.

EVAN T's footnote: Some manuscripts here have simply “days”, one has “40 days” and some believe that initially this part read “545 days”
Here are Irenaeus' words from Against Heresies that Charles' footnote in Chapter 9:16 refers to:
2. The production, again, of the Duodecad of the Æons, is indicated by the fact that the Lord was twelve Luke 2:42 years of age when He disputed with the teachers of the law, and by the election of the apostles, for of these there were twelve. Luke 6:13 The other eighteen Æons are made manifest in this way: that the Lord, [according to them,] conversed with His disciples for eighteen months after His resurrection from the dead. They also affirm that these eighteen Æons are strikingly indicated by the first two letters of His name [᾿Ιησοῦς], namely Iota and Eta.
The Apocryphon of James, a Nag Hammadi text, possibly by Cerinthus, has a similar period for the time in which Jesus stayed on earth after the Resurrection.

(Question 8) What do you make of Chapter 11 of the Ascension of Isaiah making it sound as if Joseph saw the infant Jesus with his eyes "opened" and in a "vision"?:
10. And when her husband Joseph said unto her: “What has astonied you?” his eyes were opened and he saw the infant and praised God, because into his portion God had come.
11. And a voice came to them: “Tell this vision to no one”.
12. And the story regarding the infant was noised abroad in Bethlehem.
13. Some said: “The Virgin Mary has borne a child, before she was married two months”.
14. And many said: “She has not borne a child, nor has a midwife gone up (to her), nor have we heard the cries of (labour) pains”. And they were all blinded respecting Him and they all knew regarding Him, though they knew not whence He was.
15. And they took Him, and went to Nazareth in Galilee.
Charles' footnote:
Verse 11. This verse is undoubtedly related to Protev. Iacobi, XX.4
The Protoev. Iacobi xx talks about Salome putting her finger into the Virgin Mary, and Salome's hand starts to drop off burning:
And the midwife went in, and said to Mary: Show yourself; for no small controversy has arisen about you. And Salome put in her finger, and cried out, and said: Woe is me for mine iniquity and mine unbelief, because I have tempted the living God; and, behold, my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire.
It's like seeing Jesus was only something that was done in a vision, and required one to have one's eyes opened. It's strange. It reminds me of the time that Jesus had to "open the eyes" of the apostles walking to Emmaus in order for them to recognize him after the resurrection (Luke 24).

Doesn't this go back to the whole Docetism debate about Ascension of Isaiah and whether Jesus only "seemed" to have a real human, material existence?
By the logic of Docetism, the Romans killed him, but it was only the human "appearance" or visual "form" that they killed?

(Question 9) Chapter 11 says that when Jesus ascended to heaven, Satan and the angels worshiped him because they recognized him. What do you make of that?
Here in Chapter 11, Jesus sends out the twelve apostles (The Great Commission) and then ascends and when he does, the "Satans" and angels of the firmament recognize Him and worship Him:
22. And the angel who conducted me said: “Understand, Isaiah” and I saw when He sent out the Twelve Apostles and ascended.
23. And I saw Him, and He was in the firmament, but He had not changed Himself into their form, and all the angels of the firmament and the Satans saw Him and they worshipped.
24. And there was much sorrow there, while they said: “How did our Lord descend in our midst, and we perceived not the glory [which has been upon Him], which we see has been upon Him from the sixth heaven?”
Next as he ascends through the layers of the heavens and reaches the seventh one, at each layer, the angels recognize and worship Him.

In An Introduction to the New Testament, Raymond E. Brown writes, "Among the 2d-century apocrypha the Ascension of Isaiah 9:16,10:14,11:23 has Christ despoil the angel of death before rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, after which the angels and Satan worshiped him."
In "The Salvation of Satan", C. A. Patrides (Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 28, No. 4) writes,
The long and complicated history of a belief, advanced from time to time, in Satan's possible restoration to grace - apocatastasis - begins properly with St Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c/215). From the outset one element clearly emerges: the conviction that God's love is all-inclusive and irresistible. ..."I think it is demonstrated," he wrote, "that the God being good, and the Lord powerful, they save with a righteousness and equality which extend to all that turn to him, whether here or elsewhere..." Yet Origen's was the name destined to be associated with apocatastasis.
Paul A. Anthony writes in "To Heaven with the Devil: The Importance of Satan’s Salvation for God’s Goodness in the Works of Gregory of Nyssa", "Scholars generally agree on two points regarding Gregory ofNyssa’s eschatology: That he believed in universal reconciliation, and that he believed the salvation of all rational beings eventually will include Satan himself." (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ba6d/0 ... 7b4a6e.pdf)

The story also reminds me of how the demon possessed man, or his demons, in Mark 5 recognized Jesus as Son of God and vowed to him and begged him not to send the demons out of the country:
6. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. 7. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore[c] You by God that You do not torment me.”

8. For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” 9. Then He asked him, “What is your name?”

And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10. Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.

11. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. 12. So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.”
It also reminds me of Luke 4, where demons announced Jesus' identity:
devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.

In the Gospels, both Jesus and the apostles had the power to cast out demons, and the apostles reported to Jesus that the demons submitted to them.

Further, the demons' praise at seeing Him ascend in Asc. Isa goes along with the theme that He descended incognito because otherwise they wouldn't have opposed.
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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:50 pm

The Ascension of Isaiah is a mess because it was originally a fully Jewish text which got interpolated later by Gnostic Christians.
My own detailed study is here: http://historical-jesus.info/100.html (Thanks to the study of R.H. Charles, this hypothesis can be postulated: the 'Vision of Isaiah' started as a Jewish Greek text which got interpolated (first slightly, then heavily) by docetist Christians.)
My conclusion:
"It seems the original text was entirely Jewish and then slightly interpolated (at 9:13-14 & 16) by Docetic Christian(s). Then two interpolators (Docetic Christians themselves), separately, from their own copy, added more DIFFERENT additions/insertions, some of them overtly Christian in nature. These two resulting copies (witnessed by E & L1 and S & L2) were furthermore interpolated when new ones were made from them.

The original text, even after the first Christian-like interpolations, still did not have "Son", "first-begotten", "Jesus" or "Christ" in it (that will come later from different interpolators). ...

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by rakovsky » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:55 pm

Thanks, Bernard. One theory that I read was that the Martyrdom was the original, Jewish part, whereas the Ascension was added later. But I read another theory that sounds true to me that proposes that the Vision at the end was part of the original document, and the Martyrdom served to build up credibility for it.

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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by GakuseiDon » Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:15 am

rakovsky wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:03 pm
(Question 1) What do you think about the claim that what is in the heavens is like what is on earth?
It's actually what is in the firmament is the same as what is on earth. The firmament is the abode of Satan. To me, the likeness refers to the fighting going on in the firmament as well as on earth, as I outline below.
rakovsky wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:03 pm
In the Ascension of Isaiah, Isaiah has a vision of the heaven/firmament, and writes: "there I saw Sammael [the Devil] and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein. ...as above so on the earth [below] also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth."
The only thing that comes to mind is the cryptic passage in Ode 34 of the Odes of Solomon:
4. The likeness of that which is below is that which is above.
5. For everything is from above, and from below there is nothing, but it is believed to be by those in whom there is no understanding.
My own guess is that it parallels what is in Ch 3:

22. And there will be much contention on the eve of [His advent and] His approach.
23. And in those days many will love office, though devoid of wisdom.
24. And there will be many lawless elders, and shepherds dealing wrongly by their own sheep, and they will ravage (them) owing to their not having holy shepherds.
...
29. And there will be great hatred in the shepherds and elders towards each other.
30. For there will be great jealousy in the last days
; for every one will say what is pleasing in his own eyes.

Compare with Ch 7:

9. And we ascended to the firmament, I and he, and there I saw Sammael and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein and the angels of Satan were envying one another.
10. And as above so on the earth also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth.
11. And I said unto the angel (who was with me): "(What is this war and) what is this envying?"
12. And he said unto me: "So has it been since this world was made until now, and this war (will continue) till He, whom thou shalt see will come and destroy him."

In both cases, groups are envying each other and fighting; and in both cases, the envying/jealousy continues until the Beloved comes to put a stop to it. I think it is comparing wicked people exploiting the church to demons.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by rakovsky » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:34 am

Good input.

The Gnostic "Hypostasis of the Archons", tentatively dated to the early 3rd century in Wikipedia, has the idea of things coming into being "after the pattern of all the things above":
Now when Yaldabaoth saw him (Sabaoth) in this great splendor and at this height, he envied him; and the envy became an androgynous product, and this was the origin of envy. And envy engendered death; and death engendered his offspring and gave each of them charge of its heaven; and all the heavens of chaos became full of their multitudes. But it was by the will of the father of the entirety that they all came into being – after the pattern of all the things above – so that the sum of chaos might be attained.
(http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/archons.html)

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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by rakovsky » Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:10 pm

For Question 5(What do you make of the differences between the Ascension of Isaiah and the gospels' Nativity story: No Annunciation, surprise at the child's divinity, no persecution or wise men?), just because the text doesn't mention some parts of the Nativity story doesn't necessarily mean that the author rejected those parts. The main purpose of the text is to tell the story of Isaiah's "ascension", rather than to tell the story of the Nativity.

I should make a correction:
Evan says that both of the holy couple are surprised because they see that she is pregnant, and after the birth that the child is divine. However, it's important to note that the Asc. Isaiah suggests that the angel told Joseph that Mary would have a holy child, because it says:
But the angel of the Spirit appeared in this world[C], and after that Joseph did not put her away,
Further, in the story, Mary and Joseph are astonished when they see the babe, but the story doesn't specify why. They could have been surprised because she didn't have birth pangs and the birth was less than three months of gestation, not necessarily because they were surprised that the child was divine. It doesn't say that Mary was surprised that she was pregnant.

But otherwise I agree with Evan T that the lack of the Annunciation, Herodian persecution, and wise men is conspicuously in agreement with the Asc. Isa.'s message that Jesus' arrival from heaven was unnoticed by the supernatural powers of the world and the firmament. Those missing elements would have contradicted that message. For instance, wise men following a portentous star could have alerted those powers to Christ's birth. Further, the author uses the Matthean story of Joseph changing his mind about Mary after the angel's appearance to him. So the author would probably be away of the story of the Annunciation, the Herodian persecution and wise men. His silence about them is conspicuous in light of his detailed telling of other aspects of the Nativity story.

Chapters 10-11 narrate Christ's descent to make His first coming, but they do not narrate His conception, not being instead:
11:3 And he came into his lot. And when she was espoused, she was found with child, and Joseph the carpenter was desirous to put her away.
11:16. And I saw, O Hezekiah and Josab my son, and I declare to the other prophets also who are standing by, that (this) has escaped all the heavens and all the princes and all the gods of this world.
11:17. And I saw: In Nazareth He sucked the breast as a babe and as is customary in order that He might not be recognized.
For Isaiah to narrate the angel's Annuciation to Mary, the wise men following the star, and their prophecy to Herod would go against the verses above about how Christ's birth eluded the princes and "gods of this world."

The silence isn't due to the patchwork nature of the manuscript tradition, because that patchwork refers to the main sections, rather than skipping through the Nativity account. The author went into enough detail to talk about the news that Jesus' birth caused among people in Jerusalem and the author writes about the family leaving for Bethlehem, but in relating this he skips over the part about the Holy Family leaving because of Herod, which is a big part of Matthew's Nativity narrative.
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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by rakovsky » Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:18 pm

For Question 4 (Does the Ascension of Isaiah mistakenly equate the angel Gabriel with the Holy Spirit?), my best answer is that it probably makes this mistake. The short explanation is that we have a 5th-6th century Greek manuscript that has a missing space, before "the angel of the Holy Spirit", where scholars like Charles put "Gabriel" because it fits the space and the context. And while this seems likely, it's not clear because the Ethiopic version doesn't have anything at all where "Gabriel" would go. Plus, text analysis shows that on occasion the Ethiopic version gives a better idea of what the Greek original said, as Charles explains.

Further, the phrase "angel of the Holy Spirit" is used repeatedly in the text to refer to the Holy Spirit Himself, ie. His angelic form. Yet it would violate classic Trinitarian theology to equate Gabriel with the Holy Spirit, because the Bible treats Gabriel as one of the rank of archangels alongside Michael.

One issue is if Gabriel is the "angel of the Holy Spirit", then does this mean that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit? Or in other words, is the "angel of the Holy Spirit" the same thing as "the Holy Spirit" Himself?

The text in Ethiopic is here:
https://books.google.com/books?id=HesOAAAAQAAJ&q

Besides R.H. Charles' translation, there is an annotated translation in The Apocryphal Old Testament, Volume 1, edited by Hedley Sparks, which can be found here:
https://archive.org/details/cu319240145 ... ?q=Gabriel

Scholars consider the Ascension of Isaiah to actually be a composite work, with the section in Chapter III that may use the name Gabriel being part of the Testament of Hezekiah, itself a subsection of the Martyrdom of Isaiah, which in turn makes up the first part of the Ascension of Isaiah.

An article on angels in Wordiq says:
In the prophetic books angels appear as representatives of the prophetic spirit, and bring to the prophets God's word. Thus the prophet Haggai was called God's messenger (angel)...
http://angelgabriel.blogspot.com/2005/w ... _of_Angels
So the idea of an "angel of" something seems like a possible distinction.

Michel Barnes writes:
". . . traces of a primitive angel pneumatology can befound in Acts 8:26–40, where the language for who or what is whisking the deacon Phillip from place to place shifts back and forth between “angel” and “spirit”.
...
In the Ascension of Isaiah, Isaiah encounters the Son and the Holy Spirit, angels both of them. Arriving in the Seventh Heaven, Isaiah is brought before the Son,who in turn shows him the Holy Spirit:

And I saw the Lord and the second angel, and they were standing, and the second one whom I saw (was) on the left of my Lord. And I asked the angel who led me and I said to him, “Who is this one?” And he said to me, “Worship him,for this is the angel of the Holy Spirit who has spoken in you and in the other righteous."
-Michel Barnes, "The Beginning and End of Early Christian Pneumatology"
So conceivably the Holy Spirit could be called an angel, ie. a messenger of God, or come in the form of an angel, like in Abraham's meeting with the Trinity.

R.H. Charles comments in his book on the Asc. Isa. that
the Holy Spirit is spoken of as an angel,
the Angel of the Spirit, or the Angel of the Holy Spirit,
just as, in the De Principiis, i. 4, Origen writes that, according to his Hebrew teacher, the two
Seraphim seen by Isaiah in the vision (Is. vi.) were
the only begotten Son and the Holy Spirit...
Thus there is precedent for seeing the Holy Spirit in the form of an angel.

Sam Shamoun takes the view that Luke 1 distinguishes between the angel Gabriel and the Holy Spirit when it quotes what Gabriel says to Mary:
THE ANGEL ANSWERED, ‘THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL COME UPON YOU, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'
https://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/gabriel.htm
I tend to agree, although theoretically Gabriel could be referring to himself in the third person, like when Jesus refers to the Son of Man.

Shamoun writes:
What is said to be the Lord's angel in Matthew is said to be the Holy Spirit's angel in the Ascension of Isaiah. This implicitly demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is God.
But I don't agree that this is clearly so. One reason is that in Luke, Gabriel predicts to Mary that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit. Then in Matthew 1, an unnamed "angel of the Lord" tells Joseph that the child is from the Holy Spirit, whereas in the Ascension of Isaiah does not mention Gabriel predicting the child to Mary , but rather says that after Mary was found with child, Joseph wanted to put Mary away but that the angel of the spirit appeared in the world and then Joseph changed his mind. Nowhere does Matthew name the "angel of the Lord" that appeared to Joseph as Gabriel. Nor does Luke identify the angel Gabriel as that angel that appeared to Joseph in Matthew, since Luke does not tell the story of the Angel's appearance to Joseph. Nor does the Ascension of Isaiah name that angel except to say that it is the Angel of the spirit. Nor does the story in Matthew specify that the angel who appeared to Joseph was the Holy Spirit, and nor does Ascension of Isaiah specifically identify that spirit as either Gabriel or the Holy Spirit, only calling it The Angel of the Spirit, which could theoretically mean either one, I suppose.

All we really have is Matthew 1 saying that an "angel of the Lord" appeared to Joseph and announced that Mary's pregnancy was from the Holy Spirit, plus the Asc. of Is. says that the "angel of the Spirit" appeared and Joseph changed his mind about rejecting Mary. Nowhere do these particular chapters equate that angel with Gabriel.

The only place that Gabriel might be directly mentioned is in Chp. 3:16, but I am inclined to think that his name is just meant as Charles' own speculation in parentheses, not something in the Ethiopic original. Charles' translation for Chp. 13 says that lists the following things that Isaiah learned among God's revelations to Isaiah:
14. And the twelve who were with Him should be offended because of Him: and the watch of those who watched the sepulchre :
15. And the descent of the angel of the Christian Church, which is in the heavens, whom He will summon in the last days.
16. And that (Gabriel) the angel of the Holy Spirit, and Michael, the chief of the holy angels, on the third day will open the sepulchre:
17. And the Beloved sitting on their shoulders will come forth and send out His twelve disciples:

Charles' footnote:
16. And that (Gabriel) the angel of the Holy Spirit.
I have with the Greek connected these words with those that follow rather than with those that precede, as earlier editions, and accordingly have placed them in verse 16 . This angel is, as Grenfell and Hunt assume, Gabriel. This name fills the lacuna in the G2 (see also next note). He and Michael, according to the Greek, open the Sepulchre. This agrees with the Gospel of Pet. 9, which tells that two angels descended and stood on the tomb. In Matt. xxviii. 2 only one angel is mentioned as descending, but in Luke xxiv. 4, John xx. 12 two angels appeared after the Resurrection. In E [the Ethiopic text] the verb 'will open’ is in the singular, but the Greek is decisive, and its evidence is supported by verse 17.

Angel of the Holy Spirit.
Cf. iv . 2 1 , v11. 2 3 (viii . ix. 36 , 39, 40 , x. 4, xi . 4, 33 Herm. Mand. xi. 9 o‘ aggelos ton profitikon pneumatas. Here and in xi. 4 this angel appears to be Gabriel, but elsewhere in the book to be the Holy Spirit.
You can find Charles' edition here:
https://www.forgottenbooks.com/en/downl ... 243612.pdf

R. H. Charles made this graph of the different recensions:
Image

G1 and G2 refer to two different Greek recensions of the original Greek text. In his footnotes above, Charles notes that G2 has a lacunae or textual gap of missing text where he has put Gabriel in parentheses. Later in his book he puts the Ethiopic language text next to G2 to show that G2 has the lacunae here in v. 16.

The chart on the "On the Way to Ithaca" blog of the available manuscripts show that the Ethiopic and G2 are the only two that gave Chapter 3 v. 16, where Gabriel might be named:
https://onthewaytoithaca.wordpress.com/ ... of-isaiah/

I can't read the Ethiopic, but since Charles writes that Grenfell and Hunt assume that the angel is Gabriel, my guess is that the Ethiopic doesn't name him as such. In that case, since G2 has a Lacunae here and the manuscripts don't say "Gabriel", then Charles is basically just asserting his own theory of what fit in the lacunae, based on the context that gives the name of Michael for chief of the angels and based on the angel of the Spirit appearing to Joseph.

Hedley Spark's addition says that there is lacuna in the Greek here in v. 16 and that the suggestion that it said Gabriel comes from Greenfell and Hunt. The implication is that we don't have a manuscript with the missing text.

Grenfell wrote that Gabriel would fit because "Gabriel is associated with Michael in early Christian representations of our Lord," and "Michael and Gabriel come for the soul of the Virgin Mary in Transitus Mariae, B. 8." (https://archive.org/stream/cu3192402269 ... 4_djvu.txt)

Charles is saying that v. 17's reference to Christ sitting on "their" shoulders implies that the Angel of the Spirit and Michael will open (as a plural verb) the tomb as the Greek says.

It's not clear whether the angel of the Christian Church whom Christ summons is the same as the Christian Church. The angel there is probably not the same as the Churchvthough, because the Church is Christ's body and because the text distinguishes Christ from that angel. And it would not seem to make much sense to describe the Church as an angel who is different from Christ.

So just as the angel of the Church is not the Church, and just as Michael, chief of the angels, is not the angels, it makes sense that Gabriel, called the angel of the Spirit here, is not the same as the Spirit, even if the Spirit is elsewhere described as an angel.

In Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence, Gieschen notes that Jean Danielou demonstrates that "the second angel" (the Angel of the Holy Spirit) took characteristics of the angel Gabriel. First, the Angel of the Holy Spirit is given distinction as being on the left of the Great Glory(11:32), which relates to the place of Gabriel in 2 Enoch 24:1, which says: "The Lord called me [Enoch] and placed me at His left hand, next to Gabriel, and I adored the Lord."

Second, the Angel of the Holy Spirit guides individuals on their ascent to heaven in the afterlife (7:23), whereas Gabriel does this in 2 Enoch 21:3: "The Lord sent one of His Glorious Ones, Gabriel, who said to me: Take courage, Enoch, be not afraid, arise and come with me and stand before the face of the Lord for ever."

Gieschen theorizes that Gabriel's annunciation of Mary's pregnancy by the Spirit to her serves as a basis for early Christians to consider Gabriel to be the Holy Spirit. And he sees the Angel of the Spirit appearing to Joseph as further evidence.

He notes that in the 2nd Century Epistle of the Apostles 14, Christ takes on the form of Gabriel to announce Mary' pregnancy by the Holy Spirit to her. In the Epistle of the Apostles, Christ tells the apostles:
On that day whereon I took the form of the angel Gabriel, I appeared unto Mary and spake with her. Her heart accepted me, and she believed (She believed and laughed, Eth.), and I formed myself and entered into her body. I became flesh, for I alone was a minister unto myself in that which concerned Mary (I was mine own messenger, Eth.) in the appearance of the shape of an angel.
Geischen also sees the Sibylline Oracles having this idea where they say:
A new light rose, and going forth from heaven
Put on a mortal form. First then did Gabriel show
His strong pure form; and bearing his own news
He next addressed the maiden with his voice:
"O virgin, in thy bosom undefiled
615 Receive thou God."
Gieschen thinks that the angelus interpretus, Isaiah's guiding angel in the Asc. Isa, is probably not the Angel of the Holy Spirit, since he sees the Angel of the Holy Spirit while the guiding angel is by his side still. Plus, the guiding angel refuses worship, whereas Isaiah is encouraged to worship the Angel of the Holy Spirit in Asc. Isa. 9:37.

But he sees alot of other evidence associating the guiding angel with the Holy Spirit, like them saying similar things, being from the 7th heaven, having great glory different from other angels', and refusing to give Isaiah his name. Plus, he doesn't mention the Holy Spirit when in the beginning of the story he says that Isaiah will see Christ and the Father. Further, the Angel of the Holy Spirit facilitated Christ's post-resurrection leaving of the tomb in the story as well as the ascent of the righteous in the afterlife in the story, so the guiding angel who helps Isaiah on his ascent has an analogous role.

Geischen sees the guiding angel as having a role in the story analogous to what Gabriel had in helping the prophet Daniel.

Muslims commonly equate the Holy Spirit with Gabriel, but this doesn't prove whether the Asc. Isa did, as the Quran was written about 5 centuries later.

However, it would be a mistake in terms of classical Trinitarian Christianity to equate Gabriel with the Holy Spirit. One reason is that Gabriel is an archangel, belonging to a rank of Angel's lower than God. Wikipedia's article on the Seven Archangels notes:
in the Greek New Testament the term archangel only occurs in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and the Epistle of Jude 1:9, where it is used of Michael, who in Daniel 10:13 is called 'one of the chief princes,' and 'the great prince'. In the Septuagint this is rendered "the great angel."[1]

Tobit
The idea of seven archangels is most explicitly stated in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit when Raphael reveals himself, declaring: "I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve him." (Tobit 12:15) The other two archangels mentioned by name in the Bible are Michael and Gabriel. The four names of the other archangels come from tradition.
The names of angels commonly end in "el", and this is particularly true of all seven archangels, including Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael. The Bible associates Gabriel with Michael, as in Daniel 10:13, where Gabriel says to Daniel: "The Angel of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me . . . and, behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me . . . and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince." The sense is that they are colleagues in fighting the Persians' angel.

Other than the textual evidence of the name Gabriel from G2, a sign that the "angel of the Holy Spirit" refers to Gabriel is that Michael and the angel in question both carry out Jesus on their shoulders. The image of Jesus riding on the two angels' shoulders suggests that the two angels are of a comparable rank that is under that of Jesus. Of course, conceivably Michael and God the Spirit could both lift Christ out of the tomb.
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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by rakovsky » Sun Aug 09, 2020 8:11 pm

For Question 6 (How can one reconcile the praise from the heavens that rise to God in Chapters 7 and 10 with the denial by the princes, gods, and angels of the world (ie. apparently of the heavens) of God in Chapter 10?), the simple answer is that the author distinguishes between the seven heavens, which praise God, and the firmament and the world, which deny God.

In Chp. 7, it says that Satan is fighting in the firmament that is below the "first heaven", since after seeing the fighting it says that next he went above the firmament to the first heaven:
Ethiopian Version, Chapter 7: R. H. Charles' translation:
9. And we ascended to the firmament, I and he, and there I saw Sammael and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein and the angels of Satan were envying one another.
10. And as above so on the earth also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth.
11. And I said unto the angel (who was with me): “(What is this war and) what is this envying?”
12. And he said unto me: “So has it been since this world was made until now, and this war (will continue) till He, whom you shalt see will come and destroy him”.
13. And afterwards he caused me to ascend (to that which is) above the firmament; which is the (first) heaven.
14. And there I saw a throne in the midst, and on his right and on his left were angels.

Greek Version, Chapter 3: R.H. Charles' Translation
9. And he lifted me up and raised me to the firmament of the heaven and there I saw Satan sitting on the firmament of the heaven and there was a lot of noise and commotion around him. And people wanted to steal from each other and do injustice and the one sitting was really pleased with all these evil deeds.
10. And I said to the divine angel who was with me: “Lord, who is this who is pleased by this envy and injustice and the relentless war?”
11. And he told me: “I am no Lord, but a servant like yourself. And he is the one that holds the world; who will be thrown off the firmament and into the depths of perdition by the one that will descend from the heavens and mingle with men in our likeness; the Son of God”.
12. And again he lifted me up to the first heaven and there I saw in the middle of the heaven a throne and divine angels on the left and on the right, singing hymns with a silenceless voice.
In the subsequent verses when it comes to describing the angels that he sees next in the first heaven in Chapter 7, there is no mention of them as being bad or demons.
I think that I misread the passage above in Chapter 7 as if they were describing Satan fighting in the heavens. Initially when I read the part where it talks about Satan fighting in the firmament, I took it to mean that this applied to the heavens above the firmament, ie. including the "heavens" there that he narrates. Instead, on closer inspection, the ancient author distinguished between what was happening on the firmament (Satan's fighting) and what was happening in the heavens, ie. Heavens #1-7. In the ancient understanding, the earth's atmosphere was covered on top by a "firm layer" or "firmament", and in the Ascension of Isaiah, the Seven Heavens are portrayed as laying separate to and on top of that firmament.

This shows up again in a closer look at Chapter 10 (Ethiopian Version):
27. And again I saw when He descended into the first heaven, and there also He gave the password to those who kept the gate, and He made Himself like unto the form of the angels who were on the left of that throne, and they neither praised nor lauded Him for His form was like unto their form.
28. But as for me no one asked me on account of the angel who conducted me.
29. And again He descended into the firmament where dwells the ruler of this world, and He gave the password to those on the left, and His form was like theirs, and they did not praise Him there ; but they were envying one another and fighting; for here there is a power of evil and envying about trifles.
That is, when Christ descended into the first heaven there were angels who didn't praise Him, and then He descended into the firmament where the "ruler of this world" dwells and the those there didn't praise Him either. The "ruler of this world" in Chapter 10 refers to Satan, like when Paul refers to the "god of this world" in 2 Cor. 4:4 (KJV):
In whom the god of this world (αἰῶνος) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Thayer's Greek Lexicon gives "world" as one of the meanings of the Greek "aeonos" used in 2 Cor. 4:4, although age is a more common meaning and 2 Cor. 4:4 is sometimes translated as such. Thayer's says:
by metonymy of the container for the contained, οἱ αἰῶνες denotes the worlds, the universe, i. e. the aggregate of things contained in time (on the plural
https://biblehub.com/greek/165.htm

When in Chapter 10 the author refers to the world and the ruler of the world, he is not talking about the heavens but the world underneath them. This is in part because he opens Chapter 1 (below) by saying that Isaiah was relaying his prophecy about this world, its destruction, and the ruler of this world:
3. And of the eternal judgements and the torments of Gehenna, and of the prince of this world, and of his angels, and his authorities and his powers,
4. And the words of the faith of the Beloved which he himself had seen in the fifteenth year of his reign during his illness.
5. And he delivered unto him the written words which Samnas the scribe [2] had written, and also those which Isaiah, the son of Amoz, had given to him, and also to the prophets, that they might write and store up with him what he himself had seen in the king’s house regarding the judgement of the angels, and the destruction of this world, and regarding the
garments of the saints and his going forth, and regarding his [3] transformation and the persecution and ascension of the Beloved.
Then in Chapter 10, God the Father tells Christ:
8. “Go forth and descend through all the heavens, and you will descend to the firmament and that world: to the angel in Sheol you will descend, but to Haguel [15] you will not go.
9 And you will become like unto the likeness of all who are in the five heavens.
10 And you will be careful to become like the form of the angels of the firmament [and the angels also who are in Sheol].
11 And none of the angels of that world shall know that You are Lord with Me of the seven heavens and of their angels.
12 And they shall not know that You are with Me, till with a loud voice I have called (to) the heavens, and their angels and their lights, (even) unto the sixth heaven, in order that you mayst judge and destroy the princes and angels and gods of that world, and the world that is dominated by them:
13 For they have denied Me and said: ‘We alone are and there is none beside us’.
The firmament is the firm layer underneath the heavens and "that world" refers to the world underneath it. The Father says that the angels of that world won't know that Christ is with the Father until He calls to the seven heavens and their angels unto the sixth heaven in order to destroy the princes and angels of that world (ie. the world under those heavens), since those powers of the world denied Him.

This interpretation is in line with Charles' Footnotes:
Charles' footnotes:
v. 12 The angels of that world (ie. the earth) will not learn that Christ is with God till the final judgment.
"Mayest judge... the princes... of that world." Cf. John xvi II, the prince of this world is judged.
"Gods of that world" 2 Cor.iv.4 'God of this world.'
I wrote: "However, the 'holy world' earlier in Chapter 10 referred to the dwelling of the Most High, which is in the seventh heaven, so I don't think that the word "world" must mean a planet." It's true that "world" need not refer to the earth due to the term "holy world". But regardless, in the text, the phrase "that world" always refers to the earth, and it's distinguished from the firmament, like when the Father tells Christ in Chapter 10: "you will descend to the firmament and that world".

I wrote: "So it isn't clear to me what is the "world" in vv. 11-12. I can't tell if it's the "firmament and Sheol"(v. 10) or "The heavens, including the sixth heaven"(v.12)." The answer of course is "Neither", because the "world" there refers to the earth.

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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by rakovsky » Tue Aug 11, 2020 2:28 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:15 am
rakovsky wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:03 pm
(Question 1) What do you think about the claim that what is in the heavens is like what is on earth?
It's actually what is in the firmament is the same as what is on earth. The firmament is the abode of Satan. To me, the likeness refers to the fighting going on in the firmament as well as on earth, as I outline below.

My own guess is that it parallels what is in Ch 3:

22. And there will be much contention on the eve of [His advent and] His approach.
23. And in those days many will love office, though devoid of wisdom.
24. And there will be many lawless elders, and shepherds dealing wrongly by their own sheep, and they will ravage (them) owing to their not having holy shepherds.
...
29. And there will be great hatred in the shepherds and elders towards each other.
30. For there will be great jealousy in the last days
; for every one will say what is pleasing in his own eyes.

Compare with Ch 7:

9. And we ascended to the firmament, I and he, and there I saw Sammael and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein and the angels of Satan were envying one another.
10. And as above so on the earth also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth.
11. And I said unto the angel (who was with me): "(What is this war and) what is this envying?"
12. And he said unto me: "So has it been since this world was made until now, and this war (will continue) till He, whom thou shalt see will come and destroy him."

In both cases, groups are envying each other and fighting; and in both cases, the envying/jealousy continues until the Beloved comes to put a stop to it. I think it is comparing wicked people exploiting the church to demons.
Dear GakuseiDon,
I think that you are making a good point that it talks about earth's affairs mirroring the firmanent's affairs, not those of the heavens, because the author distinguishes between the firmament and the heavens. The distinction appears in Asc. Isa. 7:13 when Isaiah says that he ascended to the first heaven that is above the firmament.

What I was trying to get at is that it sounds that Isaiah is referring to some philosophical principle or metaphysical phenomenon when he talks about the affairs mirroring each other. He says that there was fighting in the firmament and Satan's Angel's envied each other "And as above so on the earth [below] also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth."
First, when he says as "above so on the earth below", it sounds like he is saying that he went up, saw the fighting in the firmanent, and as there was fighting on earth, so there was fighting on earth. But even if that is what it means, he does not describe any fighting that he saw on earth from that vantage point. If he had wanted to say that what he saw in the firmament was like what he witnessed on earth, then he would have put it differently: ie. "as was is below on earth, so it was above on the firmament." But instead he phrased it and as above, so it was below on earth, without narrating anything particular that he saw on earth. Plus, he does not say that as it was above, so he saw it below. So his phrasing suggests he is not mainly talking in this verse about something particular that he saw on earth from the heavens, but is mainly relaying a principle.

And further, "as above, so below" was a saying in the Emerald Tablet, an early medieval Hermetic work that claimed to come from the Greek god Hermes Trismegustus. The fact that he uses what happens elsewhere to be a philosophic maxim suggests that the Ascension of Isaiah was citing a principle. Dr. Paolo Maggi sees this Hermetic maxim as reflecting theories in Pythagoras and Plato, writing:
The micro-macrocosmic theory is an ancient and powerful theoretical construction unifying the laws governing human body and its psyche with those governing Earth, and these two with those governing the whole Universe. “As above, so below”: what happens everywhere, from the infinitely small to the infinitely big, is subjected to the same rules.

The first Greek philosophers have already considered universe as an immense unique body, composed by four essential elements: water, earth, fire and air. These four elements are the fundamental structure both of human body and of the whole universe and, consequently, everything is subjected to the same rules. Pythagoreans then, pushed themselves more and more in the small, and audaciously postulated the atomic theory for first; all universe is composed by fundamental units, atoms; and they are the elementary structure of both living bodies and inanimate matter. But maybe the first philosopher who organically spoke of the micro-macrocosmic theory is Plato. In Timaeus, the great thinker makes us notice that the structure of our body reminds that of Earth: water runs inside us, represented by body fluids; air is in our lungs; our skeleton can be reasonably compared to earth and stone; and if we look for something reminding us of fire, it is not difficult to find it in the energies issuing from our mind. Moreover, Plato was struck by the fact that the spherical shape of head is clearly different from other elongated shapes characterizing the rest of our body, almost to highlight a structural difference between body-matter and mind-divinity. In Timaeus itself, Plato describes the universe as a great living being, even gifted of a collective soul, the anima mundi.

https://paolomaggiuk.wordpress.com/as-a ... y-is-born/
My challenge here is finding where the Ascension of Isaiah could have gotten the maxim from, because the Emerald Tablet dates a few centuries later unless it really is a reworking of an ancient Greek text. I wasn't able for instance to find Plato or Pythagoras using this phrase.

Third, when Isaiah says "And as above so on the earth [below] also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth", the sense is that there was fighting on earth because of the principle, phenomenon, or observation that the kind of thing happening in the firmament happens on earth. And this raises the question of why that is the case. For instance is the spiritual world connected to the earthly plane and the realm of the sky connected to the realm of the land so that the kind of thing that happens in one tends to happen in the other due to this connection?

I tried to find information on the theory in the Odes of Solomon that "likeness of that which is below is that which is above." And I put what little I found on that in my thread on the Odes here:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4925

The "Commentary on the Vision of Isaiah" on the Vridar website says about this verse in Asc. Isa. Chp. 7:10:
vii. 10. The Latin of L2 is verbum verbi Platonically explicit: "Because just as (in the same way) is in the
earth so much (such size, extent) is in the firmament, forms (formae = figures, appearances, patterns)
surely of the firmament here (they) are in the earth."

vii. 10. “Quia sicut est in terra tanto est in firmamento, formae [nom. pl.] enim [= indeed, in fact, just as]
fermementi [gen. loc.] hic [adv. = here] sunt [are] in terra [abl. = on earth].”
(https://vridar.org/wp-content/uploads/2 ... rected.pdf)

In other words, the Latin L2 recension is explicitly Platonic in its rendering of the verse. R.H. Charles' book doesn't comment on this verse.

One major difference between the verse in the Odes and chapter 7 verse 10 in the Ascension of Isaiah is that the Odes compare the likeness of what is in heaven to what is on Earth, which is a bit like the idea of God creating man In His Image. In contrast, Ascension of Isaiah is comparing what is in the firmament under the Heavens to what is on Earth and saying that the fighting by the demons in the firmament is like what is happening on Earth. It seems like the principle in the Odes is a fundamental principle in a philosophic school because it deals with creation and the ideal Heavenly Realm and its likeness in the created world. In contrast, the idea in Ascension of Isaiah seems to be a version or derivation of this idea. That is, what is in the firmament is matching what is on Earth. in that case, an explanation would still be helpful about why this is the case. The firmament biblically, like the Earth, is a part of creation. The Angels and Demons are Spiritual Beings. The underlying reasoning of this Maxim seems to be that the created spirit world of the firmament matches the physical Earthly world where people walk and abide because angels and people are both created by God and because the firmament and the Earth are both created realms the same creation.

In "Responses to Critiques of the Mythicist Case," Earl Doherty quotes Richard Carrier as saying:
...in the firmament there is a parallel for everything on earth (Isaiah ascends from earth to the firmament and sees Satan and his demons fighting there, and Isaiah is told everything on earth has its parallel in the firmament and there are angels of the firmament, etc., and angels are by definition intermediary deities, etc.). To be precise, other texts show that holy things actually have their higher parallels in the levels of heaven (e.g. the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem have their parallels in the 3rd heaven, as attested in the Talmud and various Christian texts, while the Throne and Tabernacle of the Temple has its parallel in the 7th heaven—being the most holy thing on earth naturally its parallel has the highest and thus purest place in the cosmos).
...
Doherty's point about parallels between things on earth and in the heavens is explicitly stated here (and is pretty evident from Hebrews as well).
Carrier is associating the idea in Asc. Isa. that the firmament's affairs reflect those on earth with the idea in "other texts" "that holy things actually have their higher parallels in the levels of heaven".
Of course these are different sets of correlations, since in Asc. Isa. the firmament differs from the heavens.
http://www.jesuspuzzle.com/jesuspuzzle/ ... uller2.htm

In "The Cosmology of the Ascension of Isaiah: Analysis and Re-assessment of the Text's Cosmological Framework", L. R. Lanzilotta writes:
The first or temporal realm is the sublunary world, which consists of two regions, earth and firmament, inhabited respectively by rebellious angels and men who are disobedient in terms of the prophetic message. After departing from the earth with his angelus interpres, Isaiah ascends to the firmament (also called ‘air’ in 10.3022) and sees there Sammael and his hosts fighting with one another. There seems to be a correlation between the angelic belligerence above and the reluctance of the leaders, eunuchs and the people below to listen to Isaiah´s message (6.17). In fact, Isaiah affirms that what happens on earth is a reflection of what happens in the firmament (7.9-11).

...
The apparent supremacy of Satan among his hosts is brought into question by the latter in terms of carrying on ‘a great fight against him’ (7.9). This struggle, however, is not a rebellion of an organized group against its master. Rather it is the result of a disorganized revolt in which everyone strives for his own interest, since ‘the angels of Satan were envious of one another’ (ibid.). As we have already seen, a similar situation is to be expected on earth, ‘for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is also on the earth’ (7.10). Indeed, humans (leaders, eunuchs and people) are said not to heed his message and consequently to reject implicitly the prophet’s authority (6.17). To Isaiah’s question, ‘What is this struggle and what is this envy?’, the angel evasively answers:
‘So it has been since the world began until now, and this
struggle will continue until he who you will see shall come and destroy him’.28 This anarchic situation that rules the relationships between angels as well as humans is concomitant with their denying or ignoring everything that is above them.29

Footnotes
28. Asc Is 7.11-12. A reference to Wisdom 2.24? The deficiency of the lower realm is first manifest in the envy and struggle of all against all.
29 I accept both possibilities, since God explicitly states the former in 10.13 (‘For they have denied me and said “We are alone, and there is none beside us”’), but 11.23 seems to imply the latter, since as soon as they know him they accept him (‘… and the angels of the firmament and the Satan saw him, and they worshipped him’).
https://www.academia.edu/25734825/The_C ... _Framework

Lanzilotta is saying that both the firmament's angels and earth's humans who fight against themselves deny the higher realms. Also in his essay, he takes the view that Gnosticism did not significantly influence the Asc. Isa.'s Cosmology.

Turning to your other point, I see the common theme in Chapter 3's account of the intrachurch contention and envying in the last days and Chapter 7's account of the demons' envying in the firmament that Isaiah sees. However, these are really part of two different pairings of contentions that follow the author's "As above so on on earth" principle.

Chronologically: First, Isaiah sees contention on earth in his own time. In Chapter 1 he says that Hezekiah's son Manasseh will follow Beliar/Satan and kill Isaiah. In reaction to the prediction, Hezekiah wants to kill Manasseh, but Isaiah says that Christ will annul Hezekiah's desire because Isaiah has been called to martyrdom. In Chapter 3, Belchira the Samaritan accuses Isaiah for prophesying Babylon's conquest of Jerusalem, saying that Isaiah and his prophets
7. ...prophesy falsely against Israel and Judah.
8. And Isaiah himself has said: ‘I see more than Moses the prophet’.
9. But Moses said: ‘No man can see God and live’; and Isaiah has said: ‘I have seen God and behold I live’.
Chapter 6 describes the leaders and people disbelieving his vision:
17. But the leaders and the eunuchs and the people did not hear, but only Samna the scribe, and Ijoaqem, and Asaph the recorder; for these also were doers of righteousness, and the sweet smell of the Spirit was upon them. But the people had not heard; for Micaiah and Josab his son had caused them to go forth, when the wisdom of this world had been taken from him and he became as one dead.
Second, in Chapter 7, when Isaiah ascends to the firmament, he sees contention and envying there and observes that it corresponds to that on earth. And the guiding angel says that the strife in the firmament will continue until Christ comes and destroys them. (Chp. 7:9-13) In Chapter 10, the Father tells Christ that the angels won't recognize Christ until the Father calls to the heavens, that Christ may
12. ...judge and destroy the princes and angels and gods of that world, and the world that is dominated by them:
13. For they have denied Me and said: ‘We alone are and there is none beside us’.
That is, not only are those princes and angels fighting among themselves, but they deny God and the heavenly angels.

As I cited earlier, Lanzilotta notes:
After departing from the earth with his angelus interpres, Isaiah ascends to the firmament (also called ‘air’ in 10.3022) and sees there Sammael and his hosts fighting with one another. There seems to be a correlation between the angelic belligerence above and the reluctance of the leaders, eunuchs and the people below to listen to Isaiah´s message (6.17). In fact, Isaiah affirms that what happens on earth is a reflection of what happens in the firmament (7.9-11).
Third, Chapter 3 relates Isaiah's prediction of contention and covetousness on the eve of Christ's Second Coming. It narrates that Belchira opposed Isaiah because he had revealed the coming of Christ, basic Gospel events, and the disciples and elders of Christ's Church falling into covetousness, ravaging their sheep, contending with each other, and denying Isaiah's vision:
21. And afterwards, on the eve of His approach, His disciples will forsake the teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and their faith, and their love and their purity.
22. And there will be much contention on the eve of [His advent and] His approach.
23. And in those days many will love office, though devoid of wisdom.
24. And there will be many lawless elders, and shepherds dealing wrongly by their own sheep, and they will ravage (them) owing to their not having holy shepherds.
...
29 And there will be great hatred in the shepherds and elders towards each other.
30 For there will be great jealousy in the last days;; for every one will say what is pleasing in his own eyes.
31 And they will make of none effect the prophecy of the prophets which were before me, and these my visions also will they make of none effect, in order to speak after the impulse of their own heart.
One potential difference with the strife in Isaiah's time is that whereas it says that strife will last until Christ destroys the princes and demons, it also says that on the eve of His approach, there will be "much strife". So perhaps strife will increase much more than it had been previously. Otherwise, if the strife had remained constant, there would not be much point in announcing "much strife" as its own verse within further description in that verse.

Another potential difference is that whereas in Chapter 7 the strife that Isaiah saw on earth happened before and during his own Ascension, in part due to opposition to Isaiah's predictions, in Chapter 3 he was predicting contention happening before Christ's descent in his Second Coming.

On the other hand, in both cases the contention partly involved denial of Isaiah's vision. That is, a similarity between the events was that Isaiah's prediction of the contentious shepherds denying the vision of Isaiah resembles Belchira's denial of his vision in Isaiah's time.

Finally, Chapter 10 narrates Isaiah's vision that as Christ descended to Earth to make His First Coming, there was striving in the Firmament:
29. And again He descended into the firmament where dwells the ruler of this world, and He gave the password to those on the left, and His form was like theirs, and they did not praise Him there ; but they were envying one another and fighting; for here there is a power of evil and envying about trifles.
In Chapter 11, Isaiah relates Satan's envying and killing Christ after Christ's wonderworking in Jerusalem :
19. And after this the adversary envied Him and roused the children of Israel against Him, not knowing who He was, and they delivered Him to the king, and crucified Him, and He descended to the angel (of Sheol).
The adversary here refers to Satan, because Satan can mean "adversary" in Hebrew, and because the adversary in the text is unnamed. Plus, Isaiah said that Satan didn't know who Christ was when Christ descended incognito. And the adversary here is not the "king", Pilate. Further, it isn't Caiaphas, since Caiaphas was one of the children of Israel and the NT generally blames the chief priests, sadduccees and pharisees, rather than Caiaphas alone, for rousing the children of Israel.
The language about Satan's envying Christ's descent resembles that of Satan's predicted envying during Christ descent for His First Coming, as well as the envying that Isaiah saw was happening in the firmament during his own initial ascent.
Chapter 4 narrates Isaiah's predictive vision of the descent of Beliar in the form of the Antichrist, his command of the sun and moon, objects in or above the firmament, to do weird things, and his denial of the true God that resembles the denial of God that Chapter 10 says will be a cause for Christ to destroy the princes and angels of the world:
5. And at his word the sun will rise at night and he will make the moon to appear at the sixth hour.
6 And all that he has desired he will do in the world he will do and speak like the Beloved and he will say: “I am God and before me there has been none.”
Next it says that Christ will drag Beliar and his armies to Gehenna, which along with Beliar's activities like getting people to sacrifice to him, implies that Beliar and his armies were a more active force than previously. So the implication from the maxim in Chapter 7 about earth/firmament correlations is that in the leadup to the Second Coming there is increased striving and envy in the firmament like that of the Shepherds. But the Firmament's striving at that point is not narrated much as far as I can tell, except that the moon and sun shining at opposite times from their normal ones is in a sense those two objects having increased envy and striving with each other. But unless one associates angels with the sun and moon, their changing places seems like striving only in a metaphorical sense.
Last edited by rakovsky on Wed Aug 12, 2020 9:51 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Aug 11, 2020 8:13 pm

rakovsky wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 2:28 pm
Dear GakuseiDon,
I think that you are making a good point that it talks about earth's affairs mirroring the firmanent's affairs, not those of the heavens, because the author distinguishes between the firmament and the heavens.
To be clear: I don't think the author is saying that what happens on earth mirrors what happens in the firmament in any general sense. To me, just looking at the text, he is making a comparison between the fighting and jealousy occurring in the firmament and the fighting and jealousy on earth. There isn't a 'principle' as such at play. Perhaps such a principle was thought to have existed between the firmament and the earth, but I don't see the need to believe the author was doing anything more than making a point by using a comparison. That point was: Christians on earth were behaving as badly as the demons in the firmament, and that will come to an end when Jesus returns:

Ch 3

22. And there will be much contention on the eve of [His advent and] His approach.
23. And in those days many will love office, though devoid of wisdom.
24. And there will be many lawless elders, and shepherds dealing wrongly by their own sheep...
...
29. And there will be great hatred in the shepherds and elders towards each other.
30. For there will be great jealousy in the last days; for every one will say what is pleasing in his own eyes.
31. And they will make of none effect the prophecy of the prophets which were before me, and these my visions also will they make of none effect, in order to speak after the impulse of their own hearts.

Ch 7

9. And we ascended to the firmament, I and he, and there I saw Sammael and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein and the angels of Satan were envying one another.
10. And as above so on the earth also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth.
11. And I said unto the angel (who was with me): "(What is this war and) what is this envying?"
12. And he said unto me: "So has it been since this world was made until now, and this war (will continue) till He, whom thou shalt see will come and destroy him."

To me, it looks like the author is having a go at the Christian leaders of his time whom he believes are behaving badly. "Hey, Christian leaders! You're behaving like the angels of Satan, so you'll get yours when Jesus returns" is the message.
rakovsky wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 2:28 pm
Third, when Isaiah says "And as above so on the earth [below] also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth", the sense is that there was fighting on earth because of the principle, phenomenon, or observation that the kind of thing happening in the firmament happens on earth.
That may well be the case, if the author believed that the envy and jealousy on earth were inspired by demons. Even so, I wouldn't call it 'mirroring' in anything more than a metaphoric sense. That is, it isn't happening on earth because there existed a cosmic correspondance between the firmament and the earth.
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