Two Powers in Heaven

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by MrMacSon »

MrMacSon wrote: Wed Mar 13, 2024 8:38 pm
2. Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity
by Peter Schäfer (translated by Allison Brown)

"Two Gods in Heaven reveals the long and little-known history of a second, junior god in Judaism, showing how this idea was embraced by rabbis and Jewish mystics in the early centuries of the common era and casting Judaism's relationship with Christianity in an entirely different light. Drawing on an in-depth analysis of ancient sources that have received little attention until now, Peter Schafer demonstrates how the Jews of the pre-Christian Second Temple period had various names for a second heavenly power-such as Son of Man, Son of the Most High, and Firstborn before All Creation. He traces the development of the concept from the Son of Man vision in the biblical book of Daniel to the Qumran literature, the Ethiopic book of Enoch, and the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria." ... 1322&psc=1

From Schäfer's Introduction to Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity:

"... Just as Christianity emerged through recourse to and controversy with Judaism, so too the Judaism of the period following the destruction of the Second Temple was not a Judaism identical to that of its early precursors but instead developed in dialogue and controversy with Christianity.

"Therefore, I prefer to define the relationship between Judaism and Christianity not as linear from the mother to the daughter religion but rather as a dynamic, lively exchange between two sister religions—a process in which the delimitation tendencies steadily grew, leading ultimately to the separation of the two religions. The second part of this book is devoted to this dialectic process of exchange and delimitation.

"The title of this examination, Two Gods in Heaven, is pointedly based on the rabbinic phrase “two powers in heaven” (shetei rashuyyot), which clearly implies two divine authorities side by side. This does not refer to two gods who fight each other in a dualistic sense (“good god” versus “evil god”), as we are familiar with primarily from 'Gnosticism,' but rather two gods who rule side by side and together—in different degrees of agreement and correlation. Scholarship has developed the term “binitarian” to describe this juxtaposition of two powers or gods, analogous to the term “trinitarian” associated with Christian dogma.

"The theme of two divine authorities in the Jewish heaven is not new. Almost all pertinent studies follow the key rabbinic concept of “two powers,” concentrating on the period of classical rabbinic Judaism. After the pioneering work of R. Travers Herford, the revised dissertation of Alan Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, is considered a milestone in more recent research.10 Despite their indisputable merits, however, both works set out from the premise that the rabbis, in their polemics against “two powers,” were referring to clearly identifiable “heretic sects” that were beginning to break off from “orthodox” Judaism. For Herford, it was overwhelmingly Christianity that incurred the wrath of the rabbis, whereas Segal attempted to address an entire spectrum of pagans, Christians, Jewish Christians, and Gnostics. But ultimately, even Segal’s Two Powers in Heaven remains caught in the methodological straitjacket of dogmatically established “religions” that defended themselves against “sects” and “heresies.”

"Since then, the binitarian traditions of ancient Judaism have increasingly moved into the spotlight of research, though with different premises for early and rabbinic Judaism. Research in the field of Jewish studies continues to concentrate primarily on emerging rabbinic Judaism and its confrontation with nascent Christianity. The programmatic works of Daniel Boyarin have pride of place here. With his book Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity and an impressive series of articles, Boyarin attempted to break down the rigid fronts of “Christianity” versus “Judaism” and “orthodoxy” versus “heresy” in favor of a more differentiated picture, according to which the rabbis were not (yet) fighting against external enemies, but were arguing primarily with opponents within their own rabbinic movement.

"I joined the discussion with my books Die Geburt des Judentums aus dem Geist des Christentums ('The Birth of Judaism out of the Spirit of Christianity) and The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other; and in recent years, this conversation has been carried on predominantly between Boyarin and myself.

"In 2012 and 2013, Menahem Kister added two articles to the debate that are as significant as they are comprehensive, but that unfortunately exist up to now only in Hebrew.14 Kister again invokes the old static model of “Judaism” and “Christianity” as two religions that were permanently separated early on, claiming, that in contrast to the Christians, who were driven by theological questions, the rabbis were concerned “only” with solving exegetical problems that arose from contradictory Bible verses. Accordingly, binitarian ideas in Judaism are a construct of modern research and thus never considered by the rabbis.

"Early Judaism—that is, the period prior to rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament—has up to now been examined predominantly by Christian New Testament scholars. With his seminal contribution on the Son of God, Martin Hengel opened up an entire field of research that has since gained considerable influence especially in Anglo-Saxon research under the heading of “High Christology”.15

< .. some omitted .. >

"A few years ago, Boyarin attempted with his book The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ to supplement his works on rabbinic Judaism by including early Jewish literature from the Hebrew Bible up to New Testament Christianity. In my review of this book, I drew attention to the copious postexilic literature on our topic, which has not yet received sufficient attention, not even by Boyarin.21 With the present book, I would like to venture to bring together the two eras and for the first time focus on ancient Judaism in its entirety from the Hebrew Bible to the end of the rabbinic period—that is, the Second Temple period or early Judaism and rabbinic Judaism. In doing this, I expressly do not wish to get involved in the sophisticated New Testament discussion on the divinity of Jesus and its roots in early Judaism, but it will certainly not hurt if my considerations from a strictly Jewish studies perspective are heard in this to some degree very heated debate.22 My integration of early Jewish mysticism on equal terms with classical rabbinic Judaism gives this book a particular focus.

"Accordingly, this book is divided into two parts. The first part, on “Second Temple Judaism,” starts with the Son of Man in the Book of Daniel, which determines a great share of the subsequent discussion. He can likely be interpreted as the angel Michael, the divine representative of the people Israel, who anticipates in heaven the expected earthly victory of Israel over the pagan nations. With him, for the first time an angel enters the scene who is elevated to quasi godlike status, and in this capacity, represents in heaven the interests of God’s earthly people. This is followed by a chapter on the wisdom literature, as reflected in the canonical Proverbs and noncanonical books Jesus Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and Wisdom of Solomon (Sapientia Salomonis). Here two competing strands of tradition become visible—namely, first a strand that is traditionally biblical, according to which wisdom was created as a child (more precisely, a daughter) of God prior to the creation of the world, initially enthroned with God in heaven, and then sent as his envoy to humankind (more precisely, the people Israel) on earth. The second strand, which is largely influenced by Platonic philosophy, regards wisdom as the archetype of divine perfection that imparts divine strength to the earthly world in various stages of emanation. In Judaism, this became the Torah; in Christianity, it became the personified Logos.

"The next two chapters deal with two texts of the Qumran community, both of which further develop the theme of the divinization of an angel or human being, as laid out in Daniel. Whereas Daniel does not clarify the origin of the “Son of Man,” in the first text, the so-called self-glorification hymn, for the first time it is clearly a human being who appears and is elevated to heaven in a previously unheard-of manner, and is then enthroned there as a divine-messianic figure among and above the angels. The second text, the so-called Apocryphon of Daniel, is an interpretation of the biblical Book of Daniel. It raises the “Son of Man” of Daniel 7 to the “Son of God” and “Son of the Most High,” expecting from him the eschatological redemption of the people Israel.

"Two chapters follow on key themes of the so-called Pseudepigrapha of the Hebrew Bible. The first is dedicated to the Similitudes of the Ethiopian Book of Enoch, in which the Son of Man, who is seated on the throne of God’s glory as an eschatological judge, is none other than Enoch, the human being elevated into heaven. The second deals with the Fourth Book of Ezra’s Son of Man, who is equated with the Messiah, and thus will conquer the pagan nations at the end of time and reveal himself to be the “Son of God.” We can observe in these texts the two constantly overlapping lines from an angel who is elevated to a divine or semidivine figure, and who will appear at the end of time as the redeemer of Israel, and that of an immortal human being who ascends into heaven, and once there, transformed into an angel, takes his place as a virtually godlike figure of redemption.

"The two final chapters in the first part pursue the philosophically informed theme of the wisdom literature. In the Prayer of Joseph, the highest angel Israel, as the firstborn before all creation, is identical with the human Jacob, patriarch of Israel. The highest angel in heaven is hence in reality a human being, who as the sole creature was with God in heaven prior to all creation. The role of wisdom in the canonical and noncanonical books of the Bible is now assumed by a human being who, however, does not need to be transformed into an angel, but from the very beginning is equated with a human being: the angel is a human being, and the human being is an angel. The parallels to the godlike Jesus Christ, who as the firstborn before all creation was always with God, but who had to assume human form in order to complete the divine work of redemption, are obvious. For the Jewish philosopher Philo, it is the Logos, the creative power of God, who is not only characterized as the firstborn before all creation and highest among the angels but also as the archetypal human being created in the image of God. It is virtually impossible to get any closer to the idea of two gods in heaven, and it is hardly surprising that Philo’s later Christian followers elevated him to the status of the church fathers."

Schäfer goes on to say, "Striking differences become apparent between rabbinic Judaism in Palestine, on the one hand, and Babylonian rabbinic Judaism and Jewish mysticism, on the other." He does not see "any evidence in the sources of Palestinian Judaism for the Son of God as a second deity next to the biblical God of creation," but says binitarian ideas survived in Babylonian Judaism, noting the Babylonian Talmud identifies the Messiah-King David as a divinised Son of Man of Daniel, sitting on a throne next to God, but only together with polemics against it; and notes in the David Apocalypse in the Hekhalot literature that David as the Messiah-King was elevated into heaven and enthroned next to God.

With respect to the traditions surrounding Enoch—the only antediluvian patriarch who did not die a natural death but instead was received alive in heaven—Schäfer says "the Hekhalot literature again reveals the ambivalence of adoption and rejection" whereas the only Palestinian midrash that discusses Enoch’s fate rejects his ascension to heaven in a polemic which, in marked contrast to the Second Temple period, considered Enoch evil: the Palestinians felt not only that Enoch had died a natural death but also that he deserved it.

"Early Jewish mysticism responded in a very different way. In the Third Book of Enoch, the latest of the Hekhalot literature, the human Enoch is transformed into the highest angel Metatron and given the honorific title “Younger” or “Lesser God” (YHWH ha-qatan). This represents the pinnacle of binitarian traditions in late antique Judaism. How dangerous these thoughts could be viewed is demonstrated in the midrash on the ascent of Elisha ben Avuyah to the seventh heaven, where he sees Metatron sitting on a divine throne and concludes from this that there must be “two powers” in heaven, God and Metatron—an insight that is interpreted as heresy, bringing with it the immediate punishment of both the rabbi and Metatron. Here too the tone in the Hekhalot literature is much more reserved than in the parallel account in the Babylonian Talmud.

"The same applies to the complex of traditions surrounding Akatriel, an angel who is identical with Metatron. Whereas in the Hekhalot literature it is not the rabbi but rather God himself who becomes the protagonist of a second divine being at his side, it is once again the Babylonian Talmud that adjusts the standards in a parallel version, reestablishing the “pure doctrine” of the one and only God. This pattern is repeated in the final source on Rav Idith and Metatron. In a midrash that appears only in the Babylonian Talmud, the rabbi and an unknown heretic argue over Metatron; the rabbi imprudently admits that Metatron has the same name as God, thereby inadvertently representing the notion of a second God—which the horrified rabbi then awkwardly denies.

"Thus the Talmud again attempts to use polemics to defuse the binitarian idea. Here too, texts from the Hekhalot literature that have been largely neglected up to now offer evidence that within the circles of Jewish mystics, the idea of two Gods in heaven had become established, which is why it was so harshly opposed by the rabbis of the Babylonian Talmud."

10. R. Travers Hereford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, (1903; exp. ed., Jersey City, NJ: Ktav, 2006); Alan F. Segal, Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism (Leiden: Brill, 1977).

14. Menahem Kister, “The Manifestations of God in the Midrashic Literature in Light of Christian Texts,” Tarbiz 81 (2012–13): 103–42 (Hebr.); idem, “Metatron, God, and the ‘Two Powers’: The Dynamics of Tradition, Exegesis, and Polemic,” Tarbiz 82 (2013–14): 43–88 (Hebr.).

15. Originally his 1973 inaugural lecture at the University of Tübingen, this has been published in numerous versions in German and English, most recently as “Der Sohn Gottes,” in Martin Hengel, Studien zur Christologie. Kleine Schriften IV (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), 74–145. See also Martin Hengel, The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish Hellenistic Religion, trans. John Bowden (1976; repr., Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2007). Although closely focused on the Messiah, nevertheless helpful for our topic is John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature (New York: Doubleday, 1995). The second edition appeared with a new subtitle and a completely new chapter 6 on the heavenly throne; see John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: Messianism in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010).
Last edited by MrMacSon on Sun Mar 17, 2024 3:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by MrMacSon »

Schäfer says "authors who recognize authentic early Judaism in the idea of two Gods side by side" are "represented with particular vigor by Margaret Barker. See especially Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God (London: SPCK, 1992); eadem, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T & T Clark, 2003). [But] For a Judaism scholar focused on religious history, these books are particularly hard to digest. They contain numerous surprising as well as brilliant insights, but, all in all, create a new syncretistic religion that avoids any and all chronological, geographic, and literary differentiations."
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by ewhandler »

Does any of it relate to the view there was a 'Two Powers in Heaven' theology in the first century ad/ce?

Rich: Of course. I gave you the links, so you gave me some text.

This widely-viewed-as-an-interpolation passage portrays Melchizedek as a or even as the pastoral archetype

Rich: Yes. I share that view. I use the term pastoral archetype for Melchizedek. His appearance in Genesis is an interpolation.

(some see it as a precursor of the Eucharist).

Rich: I don't see it as a precursor so much as the act of self-sacrifice itself, as it has always been and as it will always be, from moment to moment.

Melchizedek and Jesus are priests forever in the same Order (discipline).
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by ewhandler »

The Torah rests on a Vedic template which informs its establishment structures and its pastoral and national theologies. The Vedic template is based on the Hymn of Man lines 6-12 which contains the Purusha's (or biblical Melchizedek's) self-sacrifice in a pastoral context and his dis-memberment into a warrior class and a priestly class in a national context as the Vedic people move to agriculture, role specialization and sedentary life.

In the process of pastoral Man’s dismemberment into national Man, a non-sedentary community settles down, adopts and intensifies agriculture, and eventually amasses an agricultural surplus. As agriculture becomes more efficient many more people are born but fewer of them are engaged in food production. The growing society stratifies. Priest and warrior classes necessarily emerge because large diverse populations must be taught the shared traditions and norms ordained by their elites and stored agricultural surplus and sedentary communities have to be guarded.
[end snip]
From The Fundamental Structure...

I looked briefly at Margaret Barker. Melchizedek is not associated with the temple, temple priesthood or written Law.
Melchizedek is a divine king who has his oral traditions written on his heart because, in the pastoral context of Genesis, there is NO temple, priesthood, or written Law. There is only the "memorization and internalization" of the biblical oral tradition of Genesis represented by the pastoral archetype Melchizedek (and the Vedic oral tradition of Purusha before him) embedded and preserved in the Vedic template that provides the Torah's structure.

Antonio de Nicolas in Meditations through the Rig Veda writes:
"The chant became flesh through the sacrifice."

The Gospel according to John reads:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."

Melchizedek's compound name indicates he is a priest and a king. In Genesis he represents the self-sacrifice by which a "seer" memorizes his oral traditions (combines his warrior with his priest) and acts them out in public performance.

Because he is the pastoral archetype Melchizedek necessarily appears in pastoral Genesis so that he can be dis-membered into the priest and warrior classes of national Man by Moses just as the Purusha, Melchizedek's counterpart in the Vedic hymn, is dis-membered into priest and warrior classes.

Melchizedek features in the wars of God in Hellenistic times because he is a king (war) and a priest (of God).

Jesus' ministry of argument with the Jewish sects in the countryside is his priestly ministry.
His ministry of self-sacrifice in Jerusalem is his kingly or warrior's ministry.

Jesus is thus of the order of Melchizedek.

There is a problem of human or divine agency between the binitarianism of Melchizedek (human) and the trinitarianism of Jesus (divine) that requires resolution.

There are not two gods. There are two methods for storing God's Word: the Law written on the heart in a pastoral context and the Law written first on tablets and later on portable Torah scrolls in a national context.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by MrMacSon »

Excerpts from Chapter 2 of Schäfer's Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity:

Chapter 2

The Personified Wisdom in the Wisdom Literature

The noncanonical book Jesus Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) is close to Proverbs both chronologically and in terms of content. Sirach was written around 190 BCE in Hebrew and translated into Greek by the grandson of the author around 132 BCE.

Here, too, Wisdom's origins are explained in a solemn first-person narrative:

.. (24:3) I came forth from the mouth of the Most High,
............. and covered the earth like a mist.
..... (4) I dwelt in the highest heavens,
............. and my throne was in a pillar of cloud.
..... (5) Alone I compassed the vault of heaven
............. and traversed the depths of the abyss.
..... (6) Over waves of the sea, over all the earth,
............. and over every people and nation I have held sway.

[Here] Wisdom emerged prior to the creation of the world, before the universe had taken on its final form. And here too she is to be understood as a person and even enthroned on a cloud throne in heaven. But, in contrast to Proverbs, where it is not explained how she was created, here Wisdom comes forth from the mouth of God, and thus she is obviously God’s word—which is nevertheless interpreted as a person, since she lives in heaven, sits on a throne, compasses the heavenly and earthly vaults, and rules over the land, seas, and all peoples. In this quality she is absolutely singular, because at this time no one else exists besides her (and God). Her coming forth from the mouth of God is more reminiscent of the “spirit of God” in Genesis 1:2, which swept over the face of the primordial waters, than of the small child in Proverbs, and hence it suggests an equation of Wisdom with the Logos. [italics and underlining added here for emphasis]

The Wisdom of Solomon, also noncanonical, written in the first century BCE, continues precisely this tradition of the identification of Wisdom with the Logos. At the beginning of the book, wisdom and (holy) spirit are used virtually synonymously:

.. (1:4) Because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,
........... or dwell in a body enslaved to sin.
..... (5) For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit . . .
..... (6) For wisdom is a kindly spirit,
........... but will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words.

Here, Wisdom or the holy spirit are gifts from God to the righteous person. Solomon prays for her, and she is bestowed on him as the “spirit of wisdom” (Wisd. of Sol. 7:7). God is the “guide of wisdom” (7:15), and Wisdom is the “fashioner (technitis) of all things” (7:21–22). He created all things by his word and humankind by his wisdom (9:1–2). Wisdom and spirit are identical, so one can speak almost paradoxically of wisdom as spirit and, at the same time, possessing a spirit ...

... Wisdom is (in biblical terms) with God and is enthroned with him, yet at the same time she is identical to him as the platonic archetype, emanating as God’s working into the souls of humankind ...

... the so-called Fragment Targum, one of the oldest Palestinian targumim [of late antiquity] on the Torah, translates the verse Genesis 1:1 be-reshit bara Elohim not as “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” but instead as “through/by means of wisdom (be-hokhmah) God created and perfected the heaven and the earth.” “Wisdom” here, of course, means “Torah,” as explicitly explained in the midrash Genesis Rabbah ...

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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by MrMacSon »

Excerpts from Chapter 3 of Schäfer's Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity:

Chapter 3

The Divinized Human in the Self-Glorification Hymn from Qumran

... [T]he [fragmentary] so-called Self-Glorification Hymn from Qumran...written in the late Hasmonaean or early Herodian period (ie., the second half of the first century BCE) has an unidentified hero who boasts that he was elevated among and even above the angels in heaven:

(3) He established his truth of old, and the secrets of his devising (razei ‘ormato) throughout all [generations]
(4) [ ] and the council of the humble (‘asat evyonim) for an everlasting congregation.
(5) [for]ever a mighty throne (kisse ‘oz) in the congregation of the gods (elim). None of the ancient kings shall sit in it, & their nobles shall not
(6) [ ] shall not be like my glory (kevodi), and none shall be exalted save me, nor shall come against me. For I have taken my seat [in a/the throne] in the heavens (ki ani yashavti be . . . be-shamayyim) ...
(7) I shall be reckoned with the gods (ani ‘im elim ethashev), and my dwelling place is in the holy congregation (u-mekhoni be-‘adat qodesh). {I} do not de[sire] as would a man of flesh [ ] everything precious to me is in the glory of
(8) [the gods in the] holy dwelling place (bi-me‘on haqodesh).
< continues >

The speaker, definitely a human being, is sitting on a throne in heaven among the divine beings (elim, a term denoting the angels). His glory and exaltation are unique. The elevated status of the speaker is emphasized by the fact that neither “ancient kings” nor “nobles” can sit on this throne. The kings are likely the Israelite kings of the Hebrew Bible, or more precisely the kings of the Davidic dynasty. As the speaker also feels superior in particular to them, he is evidently asserting a claim to messianic qualities.

Two parallel fragments of the hymn take the superior, angel-like status of the author yet further. There the speaker asks explicitly, “Who is like me among the divine beings?” (mi kamoni ba-’elim); this is a rhetorical question, with which he evidently means, 'Who else is like me among the angels? Is there anyone else who is as elevated as I am among the angels or above them?' And the answer is of course, No!

The question, though, is by no means as innocent as it sounds, as it clearly alludes to Exodus 15:11, where the question refers to God: “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods/angels?” (mi kamokha ba-’elim YHWH). This definitely means, 'Is there anyone among the gods/angels, who is like you, God, who could be compared with you?' And again the answer is, 'No!'

There is reason to suspect that the speaker not only boldly compares himself with the angels but also with God, even almost taking the place of God: he is not merely a particularly high angel among the angels but rather like God unique among the angels. Yet this special status bordering on hubris is only implied. When he later refers to himself as a “friend of the King” and one of many “King’s sons,” then he modestly steps back behind the king (God) and once again takes his place among the angels.
< .. some omitted .. >

Whoever the hero of the Self-Glorification Hymn is, and whatever his function at the end of days, he is a human being who, in a unique manner, is exalted into heaven and enthroned there. We do not hear of anything comparable regarding any other human—with the exception of Enoch, who becomes the Son of Man in the Similitudes of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch.

Our hero is not just one angel among many angels, and it is not said that he will be transformed into an angel. Rather, he is and remains a human being who is elevated to the status of a god, and as such will return to earth. Certainly, “in no case does this ‘divinization’ impinge on the supremacy of the Most High, the God of Israel” and the distance between our hero and God remains intact. And yet the divinization of a human being can hardly be driven any further. Israel Knohl therefore sees our hero not simply as another Qumran Messiah but instead as a real, direct precursor to Jesus, who then influenced Jesus and the Christian notion of the Messiah.

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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by MrMacSon »

In chapter 4 of Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity, Schäfer discusses the so-called Daniel Apocryphon in a fragment of an Aramaic scroll found at Qumran & dated to the late Herodian period—ie., the last third of the first century BCE.

Schäfer discusses various details of the two columns of text that make up the Daniel Apocryphon, eg.,

... who is the “Son of God” and “Son of the Most High” in column II, line 1? In view of the statements in lines 4ff., it is tempting to identify him with the “one like a human being” or Son of Man in Daniel 7, or at least a royal Messiah figure or eschatological savior figure such as Melchizedek, Michael, and the Prince of Light in the Qumran scrolls.

In the Melchizedek fragment from Qumran (11Q13), [dated] between the late second century and the mid-first century BCE, Melchizedek is the leader of the Sons of Light, who, with his armies, ushers in the year of grace and rule of judgment over the nations led by Belial, the Prince of Darkness ... The Melchizedek fragment distinguishes between “Elohim,” who is identified with Melchizedek, and “El,” who is evidently equated with the Most High God. That “Elohim” stands for Melchizedek becomes clear at end of the fragment, where “Your God (elohaikh) is king” from Isaiah 52:7 also refers to Melchizedek, “Your God is [Melchizedek].”

... The fragment determines that God is and remains the true judge, and that Melchizedek, however, once he liberates the Sons of Light from the hand of Belial, carries out God’s judgment: “But, Melchizedek will carry out the vengeance of Go[d’s] (El) judgments.” Melchizedek is the second God (Elohim) beside the Most High God (El), who acts as an agent and executive power of the Most High God.

A similar picture is obtained from the War Scroll of Qumran (1QM). It is God himself who from the heavens leads the Sons of Light in war against the Sons of Darkness, yet at the same time he appointed the Prince of Light or the most high angel Michael to lead the Sons of Light in this final battle to the glorious victory:

He [God] sends everlasting aid to the lot of his [co]venant by the power of the majestic angel for the sway of Michael in everlasting lights, to illuminate with joy the covenant of Israel . . . , to exalt the dominance of Michael above all the gods (elim), and the dominance of Israel over all flesh.

In view of these parallels, it seems appropriate to interpret the son of God or son of the Most High in the Daniel Aprocryphon as an angelic, second divine figure next to the Most High God.16

16 García Martínez (“Two Messianic Figures in the Qumran Texts,” 30) speaks of “a messiah, an almost divinized messiah, similar to Melchizedek and the heavenly Son of Man.”

Schäfer sees a parallel in the annunciation pericope in Luke 1:26–38 in which

"the angel Gabriel is sent by God to Mary to tell her that she will bear a son whom she should name Jesus:17 “He will be great (megas), and will be called the Son of the Most High (hyios hypsistou)” (1:32). He will sit on David’s throne and there will be no end to his kingdom (1:32–33). In response to Mary’s question, how that should happen since she is not married, the angel answers, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High (dynamis hypsistou) will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy (hagion); he will be called Son of God (hyios theou)” (1:35).

noting that,
"This text sounds like a paraphrase of Daniel and the Apocryphon of Daniel. The same expressions are used as in the Daniel Apocryphon—“great” (col. I, line 9), “Son of the Most High” and “Son of God” (col. II, line 1)—and also the sonship of David and his everlasting kingdom (col. II, line 5) are mentioned."

"Some scholars therefore argue that Luke is directly dependent on the Daniel Apocryphon or at least that both sources are based on the same Jewish tradition."

"Other scholars are less impressed by these parallels, and even doubt the positive interpretation of the titles “Son of God” and “Son of the Most High” as a messianic or eschatological savior figure. In this respect, they refer to the context of the apocryphon and choose to interpret the Son of God / Son of the Most High in light of the indisputably negative tone of column I as one of the Hellenist kings, who were known for their divine ambitions. Supported by Daniel 7 and Psalm 82:6, Michael Segal suggests that our hero should definitely have a negative connotation, though not as a historical Hellenist king but instead as the heavenly representative of one of the four Hellenist kingdoms in Daniel ..."


the Son of God / Son of the Most High in the Daniel Apocryphon is the representative of the people of God on earth ... clearly to be understood as a positive figure similar to the Son of Man, but with epithets extending far beyond the model familiar from Daniel. This figure, no longer the most high angel, but expressly a Son of God, thus gains an unprecedented proximity to God—and yet here too the distance to God is preserved, as it is ultimately the “great God” who comes to his aid and makes the final victory of his son and his people possible.

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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by MrMacSon »


The Son of Man–Enoch in the Similitudes
of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch

The next prominent focal point of the Son of Man concept that originates from Daniel is in the so-called Similitudes...part of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch and are dated by most scholars at around the turn of the first century BCE to the first century CE. One of its main features is the interest in a messianic redeemer figure, which here is called the “Son of Man,” referring back to Daniel 7, or “the chosen one.” The connection to Daniel is again unmistakable:

(1 Enoch 46:1-3)

The “Head of Days” is the “Ancient of Days” or the “Ancient One” from Daniel, and the “one with the appearance of a man” is the “one like a human being” or “Son of Man” in Daniel.

Enoch’s question as to the identity and origin of this son of man is not directly answered; the answer comes somewhat later:

(1 Enoch 48:2-6 [cited])

This text makes two key, almost-unheard-of statements. First, the name of the Son of Man was “named” before God prior to the creation of the world. In plain terms this means that the Son of Man was created before God created the world. This directly brings to mind the wisdom in Proverbs and Jesus Sirach: before any earthly creation, the Son of Man was with God in heaven, virtually god-like. Second, even more dramatically, all human beings fall down before him (v. 5), which apparently means that they worship him ...

It also cannot be ruled out, however, that the boundaries are deliberately unclear and the text intentionally keeps the worshipping of the Son of Man vague, only revealing it in a somewhat concealed manner.

Not at all vague, but completely transparent and unambiguous is the statement in the third parable [1 Enoch 62:2-9]. There, the Last Judgment of the Son of Man, judging over all creatures, including the powerful of the earth, is described:

(1 Enoch 62:2-9 [cited])

Here the Son of Man is enthroned as the eschatological judge on the “throne of his glory.” Both the enthronement on the throne of glory and carrying out of the judgment are attributes that are otherwise reserved for God alone ...

... The conclusion of the third parable once again describes this appearance of the enthroned eschatological judge appearing on the throne of his glory:

1 Enoch 69:29:
And from then on there will be nothing that is corruptible;
For that Son of Man has appeared.
And he has sat down on the throne of his glory,
and all evil will vanish from his presence.
And the word of that Son of Man will go forth
and will prevail in the presence of the Lord of Spirits.

Schäfer says he thinks the author equates this Son of Man with God; and

Up to now, the Similitudes depict Enoch clearly as an earthly seer who receives visions in which he sees the heavenly Son of Man created before the creation of the world.

Though, so far,
Enoch and the Son of Man have nothing to do with each other—one is a divine figure and the other is a human being.


In chapters 70–71, however, they are suddenly combined. In order to tone down this bold statement, many scholars assume that the two chapters are a later addition to the Similitudes.

The chapters begin with Enoch’s name being taken from the people on earth during his lifetime and lifted up to God. This is obviously an interpretation of the enigmatic passage in Genesis 5:21–24, where it is said of the antediluvian patriarch Enoch that he did not die a natural death but instead was taken away by God (ki laqah oto elohim) at the tender age of 365 years; all other antediluvian patriarchs lived much longer. Almost all interpreters of this verse understand this to mean that he was elevated into heaven ...

eg., 1 Enoch 71:13-14 [Schäfer cites more than this]:
(13) 'And that Head of Days came with Michael and Raphael and Gabriel and Phanuel, and thousands and tens of thousands of angels without number. (14) 'And he [the angel Michael] came to me and greeted me with his voice and said to me, “You [Enoch] are that Son of Man who was born for righteousness, and righteousness dwells on you ..."'

... Michael proclaims to him that he is the Son of Man, who will exercise righteousness, and with whose righteous dominion eternal peace will dawn for the people of Israel ...

Daniel Boyarin...sees in chapters 70–71, “the independent strand of very ancient tradition, in which the two originally separate ideas of God becoming man and a man becoming God are fused.” ... In the last two chapters of the Similitudes, he sees not only the first fusion of [the 'theophanic and apotheotic strands of tradition'] but also a direct predecessor of the New Testament message “of a God who became man, came down to earth, and returned home,” and “of a man who became God and then ascended on high.” I can agree wholeheartedly with the second part of this interpretation ...

[The editor's] message was: the highest being alongside God is not one of his well-known angels and archangels but rather an angel who had previously been a man, and this man—as the Messiah—will bring justice and eternal peace to humanity. There is also no doubt that this Son of Man–Enoch of the Similitudes is part of the Jewish repertoire that the New Testament drew on.

But this still does not mean that the chapters 70–71 echo a “very ancient tradition”—we know absolutely nothing about the age of these chapters as compared with the main part of the Similitudes—or that it was the declared intention of the redactor to fuse the theophany of the Son of Man with the apotheosis of Enoch ...

... the Son of Man–Enoch in chapters 70–71 is indeed a human being who becomes God, or rather godlike, but the Son of Man in the main part of the Similitudes is certainly not a God who became human, came down to earth, and then returned to heaven ... the incarnation of missing in the Similitudes. With the elevation of the man Enoch to the godlike Son of Man, the Similitudes go far—in fact very far—and they surely also help us understand the early Christology of the New Testament ...

but the claim that...“all of the elements of Christology are essentially in place then in the Similitudes” is not justified by a sober analysis of the text. The father of that thought was...Boyarin’s exaggerated wish to anchor as many core messages of the New Testament as possible in early Judaism.

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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by ewhandler »

Thank you for posting that information. Appreciated.

When we consider Noah, Abraham, and Job, we find a formula in the biblical text that indicates a man who has made the self-sacrifice can be identified because he is described with an absolute(s) accompanied by a phrase indicating he is in God’s presence.

I was aware of 3 examples: Noah, Abraham and Job. I've been aware of an "Enochian" Jesus for years (since ANE-2) but never thought to look for the formula in Genesis' genealogies until I felt prompted by this discussion. Enoch is now my fourth entry to the list of men who have made the self-sacrifice per this formula.

Genesis 5:24
Enoch faithfully (absolute) walked with God (in God's presence); then he was no more, because God took him away. Genesis 5:24

Here are the three other examples:

Genesis 6:9
Noah was a righteous man (absolute), blameless (absolute) in his generation. Noah walked with God (in God’s presence).

Genesis 17:1
[God to Abram] “I am God Almighty. Live always (absolute) in my presence (in God’s presence) and be perfect (absolute).”

Job 1.1
There lived in the land of Uz a man of blameless and upright life (absolutes) named Job, who feared God and set his face against wrongdoing (absolute).

There are three absolutes in Job 1.1, the very beginning of the book of Job, but there is nothing to suggest Job is in God’s presence until the moment of his self-sacrifice.

Job 42:5-6
...Now I see thee with my own eyes (in God’s presence). Therefore, I melt away (my “self” is sacrificed – an absolute). I repent (absolute) in dust and ashes.

Men who have made the self-sacrifice are wholly spirit and enter the presence of God.

Everything has to fold back up into unity. Melchizedek is the pastoral archetype whose compound name indicates he has combined his wisdom with his courage, (his warrior with his priest) by memorizing the oral traditions of pastoral Genesis. Jesus has also combined his wisdom with his courage, (his warrior with his priest) by memorizing the written Law. The self-sacrifice does not turn a man into an angel.

The self-sacrifice makes a Man wholly spirit exalted and fit to enter the presence of God.

Here, in the wake of his priestly ministry in the countryside arguing with the Jewish sects, Jesus begins his warrior's ministry by making his deliberate self-sacrifice:

“Again, the high priest questioned him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘Need we call further witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What is your opinion?’ Their judgment was unanimous: that he was guilty and should be put to death.”
Mark 14:62-64

Daniel Boyarin is onto something.

The self-sacrifice is very old.

The chant became flesh through the sacrifice. Meditations through the Rig Veda Antonio de Nicolas
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Gospel According to John
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by ewhandler »

You write: "Some of it is confusing."

If you share with me what confuses you, I may be able to help you.
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