The ‘wooden house’ of Sibylline Oracles 8:198 and the appearance of the messiah

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FJVermeiren
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The ‘wooden house’ of Sibylline Oracles 8:198 and the appearance of the messiah

Post by FJVermeiren » Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:33 pm

Sibylline Oracles 8:198 goes as follows: αἰφνίδιος δἑ βροτοὑς ξύλινος δόμος ἀμφικαλύψῃ.
In Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha vol. 1, J.J. Collins translates this verse as follows: Suddenly a wooden house will cover men round about. Collins does not comment this verse, nor does C. Alexandre in his 1856 edition. Milton S. Terry (1899) comments ‘Wooden house – A coffin’.
Below I will attempt to decode this enigmatic verse.

The basic meaning of the Greek noun δόμος is structure, erection, and understandably the preferred translation is house. However, I suggest to use the basic ‘structure’ meaning of δόμος in order not to exclude any kind of construction. I also prefer to translate the verb ἀμφικαλύπτω as ‘to enfold’ instead of ‘to cover’, which gives: Suddenly a wooden structure will enfold men.

Also the first word of this verse (αἰφνίδιος – suddenly) is clarifying as it emphasizes the swiftness of the construction process. There is a specific wooden structure from the era that has been erected remarkably quickly. Josephus describes how Titus and his generals organized the construction of the wooden siege wall around Jerusalem as a competition between their legions and companies (The Jewish War V:502-503). In verse 509 Josephus concludes as follows: The whole was built in three days, such rapidity, over a work that might well have occupied months, being well-nigh incredible. (J. St. J. Thackeray, Loeb Classical Library 210).

The ‘wooden house’ verse does not stand on its own. Although in a veiled way as well, the following verses also point in the direction of the war of the Jews against the Romans. Verse 203-204 mentions signs in sun and stars that accompanied the fall of Jerusalem. Verse 205 speaks of the devastation of ‘the land’, apparently the land of Israel, and of the survival of the moribund (cf. gospel of Matthew 27:51-53).
Slightly different translation choices, the suddenness of the construction process that parallels Josephus’s War V:509, and the following verses describing the final phase of the war, point in the direction of verse 198 mentioning the construction by the Romans of the wooden siege wall around Jerusalem in June 70 CE.

Just before these warlike sentences, verse 196 speaks of the messiah as ‘the sacred child, the destroyer of all’. The messiah seems to make his appearance during the war of the Jews against the Romans.
www.waroriginsofchristianity.com

The practical modes of concealment are limited only by the imaginative capacity of subordinates.
James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance p. 139

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The ‘wooden house’ of Sibylline Oracles 8:198 and the appearance of the messiah

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:20 am

FJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:33 pm
Sibylline Oracles 8:198 goes as follows: αἰφνίδιος δἑ βροτοὑς ξύλινος δόμος ἀμφικαλύψῃ.
In Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha vol. 1, J.J. Collins translates this verse as follows: Suddenly a wooden house will cover men round about. Collins does not comment this verse, nor does C. Alexandre in his 1856 edition. Milton S. Terry (1899) comments ‘Wooden house – A coffin’.
Below I will attempt to decode this enigmatic verse.

The basic meaning of the Greek noun δόμος is structure, erection, and understandably the preferred translation is house. However, I suggest to use the basic ‘structure’ meaning of δόμος in order not to exclude any kind of construction. I also prefer to translate the verb ἀμφικαλύπτω as ‘to enfold’ instead of ‘to cover’, which gives: Suddenly a wooden structure will enfold men.

Also the first word of this verse (αἰφνίδιος – suddenly) is clarifying as it emphasizes the swiftness of the construction process. There is a specific wooden structure from the era that has been erected remarkably quickly. Josephus describes how Titus and his generals organized the construction of the wooden siege wall around Jerusalem as a competition between their legions and companies (The Jewish War V:502-503). In verse 509 Josephus concludes as follows: The whole was built in three days, such rapidity, over a work that might well have occupied months, being well-nigh incredible. (J. St. J. Thackeray, Loeb Classical Library 210).

The ‘wooden house’ verse does not stand on its own. Although in a veiled way as well, the following verses also point in the direction of the war of the Jews against the Romans. Verse 203-204 mentions signs in sun and stars that accompanied the fall of Jerusalem. Verse 205 speaks of the devastation of ‘the land’, apparently the land of Israel, and of the survival of the moribund (cf. gospel of Matthew 27:51-53).
Slightly different translation choices, the suddenness of the construction process that parallels Josephus’s War V:509, and the following verses describing the final phase of the war, point in the direction of verse 198 mentioning the construction by the Romans of the wooden siege wall around Jerusalem in June 70 CE.

Just before these warlike sentences, verse 196 speaks of the messiah as ‘the sacred child, the destroyer of all’. The messiah seems to make his appearance during the war of the Jews against the Romans.
I kind of like the "wooden house" being a siege wall, but when did the child destroy "all" (line 196), and what was the "resurrection of the dead" (line 205)? Or are you saying that these lines were penned before 70 as predictions of what was going to happen?
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

Charles Wilson
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Re: The ‘wooden house’ of Sibylline Oracles 8:198 and the appearance of the messiah

Post by Charles Wilson » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:07 am

Josephus, Ant..., 13, 13, 5:

"As to Alexander, his own people were seditious against him. For at a festival which was then celebrated, when he stood upon the altar, and was going to sacrifice, the nation rose upon him, and pelted him with citrons. [Which they then had in their hands, because] the law of the Jews required, that at the feast of tabernacles every one should have branches of the palm tree and citron tree: which thing we have elsewhere related. They also reviled him, as derived from a captive, and so unworthy of his dignity, and of sacrificing. At this he was in a rage, and slew of them about six thousand. He also built a partition wall of wood round the altar; and the temple; as far as that partition; within which it was only lawful for the priests to enter. And by this means he obstructed the multitude from coming at him."

Don't know if this is the "correct" parallel but it might be.

CW

FransJVermeiren
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Re: The ‘wooden house’ of Sibylline Oracles 8:198 and the appearance of the messiah

Post by FransJVermeiren » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:01 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:20 am

I kind of like the "wooden house" being a siege wall, but when did the child destroy "all" (line 196), and what was the "resurrection of the dead" (line 205)? Or are you saying that these lines were penned before 70 as predictions of what was going to happen?
Ad line 196
The author of this text complains that he does not want to live (anymore) ‘when the abominable woman reigns’, which means under current Roman rule, personified by Rome’s patron goddess Roma. He hopes for a future era ‘when heavenly grace comes to rule, and whenever the sacred child, the destroyer of all, destroys the malignant abyss with bonds, opening it up.’ The ‘all’ to be destroyed are the Romans, and the malignant abyss is Rome. The destroying sacred child is reminiscent of Revelation 12:5, Revelation also being a reversal phantasy. This is not history but a dream.

Ad line 205
The 'resurrection of the dead' on the contrary, like the ‘wooden house’, refers to a historical event. At the end of the siege of Jerusalem starving survivors, looking like living corpses, rose from their hiding places throughout the city. The traditional translation ‘resurrection of the dead’ makes historical sense as ‘the rising (or survival) of the moribund’. This phrase parallels Matthew 27:51 which not only describes the survival of starving inhabitants of Jerusalem but also the destruction of the Temple (the curtain torn in to) and the heavy trembling caused by the battering ram during the siege or by the demolition of the walls after the capture of Jerusalem (the earth shaking and rocks splitting) – or both.
The events described have taken place in the near past, therefore these verses have nothing to do with prediction.
www.waroriginsofchristianity.com

The practical modes of concealment are limited only by the imaginative capacity of subordinates. James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance.

Charles Wilson
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Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:13 am

Re: The ‘wooden house’ of Sibylline Oracles 8:198 and the appearance of the messiah

Post by Charles Wilson » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:31 pm

FransJVermeiren wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:01 am
Ad line 196
The author of this text complains that he does not want to live (anymore) ‘when the abominable woman reigns’
Possible reference to Queen Salome. "Jannaeus -> Salome" found fierce supporters and fierce opponents. I have "the half hour of peace" in Revelation as a reference to Salome. Again, nothing certain with this identification, just a possibility.

Nice Analysis, FJV.

CW

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