Two Powers in Heaven

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

Post by MrMacSon »

Books on this

1. Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism
by Alan F. Segal, Baylor University Press, 2012 (part of a Library of Early Christology series)a,b
  • I think this was originally published in 1977 by Brill
  1. https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0B9B2674J ... sb_pc_tpbk (13 books attributed to this series)
  2. https://www.goodreads.com/series/325825 ... hristology (18 books)
2. Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity
by Peter Schäfer (translated by Allison Brown), Princeton University Press, May 2020

3. The Glory of the Invisible God: Two Powers in Heaven Traditions and Early Christology
by Professor Andrei Orlov, T&T Clark, September 2021 (part of a Jewish and Christian Texts series)a,b
  1. https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08X1ZQX8K ... s_dp_sirpi
  2. https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/series/je ... ian-texts/
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

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1. Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism by Alan F. Segal

"Segal sheds light upon the development of and relationships among early Christianity, Gnosticism, and Merkabah mysticism and demonstrates that belief in the "two powers in heaven" was widespread by the first century" https://www.amazon.com/Two-Powers-Heave ... 1602585490


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." https://www.amazon.com/Two-Gods-Heaven- ... 1322&psc=1


3. The Glory of the Invisible God: Two Powers in Heaven Traditions and Early Christology by Professor Andrei Orlov

"Orlov begins by looking at imagery of the "two powers" in early Jewish literature, in particular the book of Daniel, and in pseudepigraphical writings. He then traces the concept through rabbinic literature and applies this directly to understanding of Christological debates. Orlov finally carries out a close examination of the "two powers" traditions in Christian literature, in particular accounts of the Transfiguration and the Baptism of Jesus. Including a comprehensive bibliography listing texts and translations, and secondary literature, this volume is a key resource in researching the development of Christology." https://www.amazon.com/Glory-Invisible- ... 209X&psc=1

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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

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And old man and a young man. The Father and the Son. Or so it seems.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

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In 2012, Daniel Boyarin released The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ, in which he argued that so-called “binitarianism” (the idea that there exist two equal/co-ruling powers in heaven) is present in Jewish thought before the New Testament and early Christianity, a fact that explains the emergence of this idea later in history. That same year, Schäfer responded to Boyarin’s thesis with a review titled “The Jew Who Would Be God,” in which he argued that the presence of binitarian ideas in ancient Judaism is seen not only in the texts surveyed by Boyarin (Dan 7, 1 Enoch, and 4 Ezra), but also in numerous other texts from the Second Temple period ...

... Schäfer’s recent publication, Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity [2020], traces the development of so-called binitarianism throughout both of these two eras, with Part I focusing on Second Temple Judaism. Here Schäfer not only examines Dan 7, 1 Enoch,and 4 Ezra, but he also highlights binitarian ideas in the Book of Proverbs, as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Ethiopic Book of Enoch, Philo, and other texts. In Part II (Chapters 9-11), Schäfer shifts his focus to late antiquity in order to argue that binitarianism only appears problematic* in the Babylonian Talmud and was even, in fact, an acceptable view among some Babylonian rabbis. To demonstrate this, he examines the reception of Dan 7 in both Palestinian and Babylonian rabbinic sources in light of a number of so-called mystical texts, such as 3 Enoch and the Hekhalot literature ...

Schäfer’s overall argument, that binitarian views were more widespread and ongoing in ancient and late antique Judaism than commonly assumed, is provocative, and a number of his examples are convincing. At the same time, his work also raises some questions regarding whether or not so-called binitarinism is a proper label for what is portrayed in some of these texts, as many seem to describe far more than just two powers in heaven. Consider, for instance, the divine beings throughout the Self Glorification Hymn. While Schäfer vacillates, rendering elim sometimes as “angels,” “divine beings” or “gods,” it seems clear that elim does, in fact, mean “gods” in this context. This seems all the more obvious considering the divinized individual’s application of Exod 15:11 to himself (“who is like me among the gods [elim]).” Clearly, this description consists of more than just two gods in heaven that preside over an infinite number of so-called angelic beings; rather, the text portrays a multiplicity of deities arranged in some sort of hierarchical order, akin to the divine councils of Ancient West Asia. This in turn raises more even more questions. Are there other texts, surveyed by Schäfer, that refer to deities where he (and others) see “angels” (whether “elevated” or “semi-divine”)? And if so, what does this say about so-called “binitarian,” “inclusive” or even “fluid” monotheism, as well as its relationship to the development of angelology throughout these periods?

In the end, Schäfer’s chief contribution is a product that surveys the continuation of so-called binitarian ideas from the Hebrew Bible to late antiquity—a difficult task that he masterfully accomplishes in so few pages ... his understanding of b. Ḥag. 14a and b. Sanh. 38b as reflecting an internal debate regarding binitarian ideas found in early Jewish mystical texts adds to broader discussions about the relationship between Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and early Jewish mysticism, demonstrating, yet again, that these texts and traditions evolved and were shaped in conversation with one another. Their boundaries were porous and not so well defined as is often presumed. While readers might not agree with all of Schäfer’s interpretations, his overall thesis is provocative and will likely incite others toward further research to test the veracity of his claims.

https://www.academia.edu/77868265/Revie ... w=37789365


* as the rest of that sentence says, binitarianism was "an acceptable view among some Babylonian rabbis." It was the Palestinian rabbis who seem to have rejected it outright.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by dabber »

Yeah, that's my conclusion too. It started before christianity with messianic Judaism - book of Daniel, Enoch, DSS Melchizedek. The basics were there already in 1st BCE and pre 70 CE Judaism.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

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No not messianic Judaism. Judaism Judaism.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

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Apparently, Segal saw ".‘two powers in heaven’ as a very early category of heresy, earlier than Jesus, if Philo is a trustworthy witness"; as "one of the basic categories by which the rabbis perceived the new phenomenon of Christianity"; and as "one of the central issues over which the two religions separated."

Daniel Boyarin has noted,
The conceptual problem should be clear. Particularly insofar as the very category of heresy in Judaism did not exist in the first century or indeed before the rabbinic formation, a point that Segal himself makes elsewhere. “Two Powers in Heaven” could not have been an early category of heresy but could only have been one of the options for Jewish belief at the time ...

... an ancient Jewish doctrine was marked as a heresy ... I would thus rewrite Segal’s sentence in my own terms in the following way: There is significant evidence (uncovered in large part by Segal) that in the first century many—perhaps most— Jews held a binitarian doctrine of God. This Jewish doctrine was named minut by the Rabbis as an important part of the project of constructing Jewish orthodoxy as separate from Christianity.

... the arch-heresy for the Rabbis also involved, not surprisingly, a “flaw” in the doctrine of God: “Two Powers in Heaven”—“binitarianism”—of which one major manifestation was traditional Jewish Logos theology ...

Alejandro Díez Macho has observed that it is no mere coincidence that the more rabbinized of the Targums—Targums Onkelos and Pseudo-Jonathan— and rabbinic literature itself—suppress the use of the term Memra1,1 quite observably. Indeed, in rabbinic literature, it has disappeared entirely;
and, in the more rabbinized Targums, it [ie., the term Memra] appears much less frequently, suggesting a struggle between the forms of piety that were current in the Synagogues and those that were centered in the Houses of Study of the Rabbis. This strongly implies that Logos theology was a living current within non-Christian Judaic circles from before the Christian era until well into late antiquity, when the Palestinian Targums were produced. We must avoid the serious methodological error of regarding all non-rabbinic religious expression by Jews during the rabbinic period as somehow not quite legitimate ...

Extant rabbinic texts demonstrate that the Rabbis, too, knew of Logos theology, but that they constructed their own “orthodoxy” by excommunicating the Jewish Logos from within their midst ...

The Rabbis, I suggest, were engaged in a strenuous project of divesting “Judaism” of Logos theology ... I suggest that the construction of this ["Two Powers in Heaven"] “heresy” in rabbinic texts represents the border making and self-definition that ultimately produced orthodox rabbinism ...



I. "TWO POWERS IN HEAVEN" AS JEWISH THEOLOGY

The notion of a second and independent divine agent can be found already in the Bible itself, as has been emphasized by earlier scholars. Darrell Hannah makes the point that the Exodus angel...
  • becomes to some extent an expression of the divine absence in that he is a substitute for Yahweh (Ex. 33:1–3). As a replacement for the divine presence, it would appear that the angel of the Exodus is beginning to have a quasi-individual existence. Significantly, unlike [...] [the angel of the LORD] in the patriarchal narratives, the Exodus angel is spoken of by God in the third person (23:20–21, 32:34 and 33:2–3).So the Exodus angel seems to betray a certain development in the [...] [angel of the LORD] concept, away from an extension or manifestation of the divine presence and toward an individual existence.
Hannah makes the significant double observation that in the earlier strata of biblical writing, the patriarchal narratives and the Exodus, there is frequent confusion, if not conflation, between the Angel of H’ and H’ himself, and that this particular hypostasization seems to disappear during the period of the monarchy, to be replaced by a host of angels who are fully separate beings and clearly subordinate to God.

This ambiguity in the early biblical narratives, particularly when they are read together—as one phenomenon—with the later texts and ideas, was to fuel much interpretative controversy and angst..., for many of these very passages served as the origin and prooftext for Logos theology, as manifested in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue on nearly every page. What is important in this context, however, is not so much the implication of the biblical passages themselves, but the strenuous energy...mobilized in order to deny these implications, an expenditure of energy that indicates the attractiveness of the deuteros theos idea among Jews ...

Ancient Jews and Christian writers like Justin would certainly have seen in this combination of verses evidence for their various versions of Logos theology, and it is these findings that the Rabbis dispute here vigorously.36

36 Judah Goldin, 'Not by Means of an Angel and not by Means of a Messenger,' in Religions in Antiquity: Essays in Memory of Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough (ed. J. Neusner; Leiden: Brill, 1968), 412–24.



II. THE APOSTASY OF RABBI AKIVA

One of the most evocative and revealing of [some rabbinic texts that are otherwise mysterious] involves the heresy of Rabbi Aqiva in a discussion about the “Son of Man” passage from Daniel:

One verse reads: “His throne is sparks of "fire" (Dan 7:9) and another [part of the] verse reads, “until thrones were set up and the Ancient of Days sat” (7:9). This is no difficulty: One was for him and one was for David. As we learn in a baraita: One for him and one for David; these are the words of Rabbi Aqiva. Rabbi Yose the Galilean said to him: Aqiva! Until when will you make the Shekhina profane?! Rather. One was for judging and one was for mercy. Did he accept it from him, or did he not? Come and hear! One for judging and one for mercy, these are the words of Rabbi Aqiva. (b. Hag. 14a)

As we see from this passage, the second-century Rabbi Aqiva is portrayed as interpreting these verses in a way that certainly would seem consistent with “Two Powers in Heaven.” The crux is his identification of David, the Messiah, as the “Son of Man” who sits at God’s righthand, thus suggesting not only a divine figure but one who is incarnate in a human being as well.

Rabbi Aqiva is seemingly also projecting a divine-human, Son of Man, who will be the Messiah. His contemporary R. Yose the Galilean strenuously objects to Rabbi Aqiva’s “dangerous” interpretation and gives the verse a “Modalist” interpretation. Of course, the Talmud itself must record that Rabbi Aqiva changed his mind in order for him to remain “orthodox.”

It is not too much to suggest, I think, that the pressure against “Rabbi Aqiva’s” position was generated by the hardening of Logos theology and its variants into Christology as was beginning to take place in the second century.

https://www.academia.edu/36254344/Danie ... w=37789365



  1. https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10618-memra

    In part:
    MEMRA (= "Ma'amar" or "Dibbur" ['Davar'(?)], "Logos"):

    "The Word," in the sense of the creative or directive word or speech of God manifesting His power in the world of matter or mind; a term used especially in the Targum as a substitute for "the Lord" when an anthropomorphic expression is to be avoided.

    .
  2. Memra philosophy
    Memra philosophy is an intertestamental rabbinical elaboration of what is already present in the Hebrew Bible, namely the treatment of God's Word (Davar)a as a person that represents God and shares many of the attributes we would ascribe to Christ. https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/ ... the-targum
    a https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/definition/word.htm
    The Hebrew noun דבר (davar, Strong's #1697) is translated as "word." It is derived from the parent root דר (DR), which means "order." The verb form of דבר (davar) is דבר (D.B.R, Strong's #1696) and is commonly found in the Biblical text meaning to "speak," as in the phrase vayidaber YHWH el moshe l'mor (and YHWH spoke to Moses saying). The ancient Hebrew understanding of "speaking," or a "speech," is an ordered arrangement of words.

    The noun דבר (davar) is a masculine noun. The feminine form of this word is דברה (devorah) and is the name Deborah, but also means "bee." A bee hive is a colony of insects that live in a perfectly ordered society.

    Another common word derived from the noun דבר (davar) is מדבר (midvar, Strong's #4057) meaning a "wilderness". In the ancient Hebrew mind the wilderness, in contrast to the cities, is a place of order ...

    The verb דבר (D.B.R) may better be translated as "order" as in the phrase "And YHWH gave orders to Moses saying" ...

    The phrase "Ten Commandments" does not actually appear in the Hebrew Bible; instead it is aseret hadevariym and is literally translated as "the ten orders". The "Ten Commandments" are our orders from God (the general). They are an ordered arrangement of ideas that, if followed, will bring about peace and harmony.

    The Hebrew word דבר (davar, Strong’s #1697) demonstrates an interesting aspect of Hebrew thought. This Hebrew word is also frequently translated as “thing,” such as we can see in Numbers 18:7 where it says, “all the things of the altar.” In the Hebrew mind, “words” are “things,” they have just as much substance as any other “thing.” This helps us with understanding a few things in the Bible ...

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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by ewhandler »

Hello!

Melchizedek represents the pastoral archetype who has "the law written on his heart" e.g. he is priest (wisdom) AND king (courage). He is an interpolation in Genesis necessary to complete the structure and theology of the Pentateuch whose template consists of lines 6-12 of the Vedic Hymn of Man which describe the development of social classes that occurs when pastoralists settle down and adopt agriculture, a process that features the Purusha (the Vedic Melchizedek) who like his biblical counterpart is dis-membered into priest and warrior classes.

Melchizedek is the archetype of the oral tradition in pastoral Genesis. He is in Genesis because of its pastoral (or diaspora) context e.g. there is no temple, priesthood or written law in pastoral Genesis only the ancient oral tradition which Melchizedek represents.

The temple, priesthood and written law are wrested from Judah when it is conquered by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. The people are dispersed. Jeremiah prescribes the law written on the heart (the oral tradition) because of its utility in the absence of the temple, priesthood and written law.
Jesus will champion the discipline of "writing the law on your heart" as he prophecies the destruction of the temple in the Jerusalem of his time.

We find a pattern in the sequence Genesis, Jeremiah, and Jesus: In a pastoral context, write the law on your heart. In a national context, maintain a national toolkit of temple, priesthood and written law.
Just as there are two establishment structures in the Torah, the diaspora and the nation, there are two theologies: the oral tradition for diaspora and the temple, priesthood and written law for the nation.


THE BIBLICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF MELCHIZEDEK
https://www.academia.edu/41175003/The_B ... elchizedek

Notes:
Emmanouela Grypeou of Stockholm University on Daniel Boyarin and the Jewish-Christian schism
Stephen M. Donnelly of Hebrew U. on Melchizedek and his deprecation in the Talmud.

THE TORAH LOOP AND THE TORAH'S PASTORAL AND NATIONAL THEOLOGIES
https://www.academia.edu/4738424/The_To ... Theologies

Re: the Biblical Utility of Melchizedek

THE FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE AND SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY OF THE TORAH
https://www.academia.edu/3316631/The_Fu ... _the_Torah

The Torah's Vedic template is described, then build the Torah structure yourself by dis-membering pastoral Melchizedek, the divine king into national Melchi-Zedek, the classes of warriors and priests appointed by Moses (Joshua and Aaron).
The Torah is a LOOP.
Non-sedentary diaspora life is established by entering Egypt from Canaan.
Sedentary national life is established by entering Canaan from Egypt.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by ewhandler »

The following quote is from a review of Daniel Boyarin's 'Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity.' The review was written by Emmanouela Grypeou of Stockholm University.

[snip from the review]
The development of rabbinic Judaism and orthodox Christianity as two distinct systems was founded in great part on what Boyarin calls – following Isaac Heinemann – the “Shattering of the Logos.” In rabbinic literature, the Oral Torah acquired a normative authority, while dissensus became the norm. The textual representation of rabbinic theology was based on the principle that “any verse can have multiple meanings.” Accordingly, the postulated monovocality of Christian orthodoxy in Late Antiquity was opposed to the multivalence of rabbinic dialectics as a “representation of the polynoia of the divine Word and the divine mind...”
[end snip]
Quoted in The Biblical Significance of Melchizedek

Now, read Thanksgiving Hymn #12 of the DSS for the greater context in which "seers" of the new covenant with THE LAW ENGRAVED ON THEIR HEARTS are bemoaning their fate at Qumran.

[snip]
And they, teachers of lies and SEERS of falsehood
Have schemed against me a devilish scheme
to exchange THE LAW ENGRAVED ON MY HEART by Thee
For the smooth things which they teach to Thy people.
And they withhold from the thirsty the drink of Knowledge
And assuage their thirst with vinegar...
[end snip]

The Law (or tradition) engraved on the heart, the ancient skill of the Vedic seers, personified by Melchizedek in pastoral Genesis, has been rendered obsolete by emerging rabbinical Judaism who will use portable Torah scrolls instead of seers and prophets secularizing Judaism going forward.
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Re: Two Powers in Heaven

Post by MrMacSon »

ewhandler wrote: Fri Mar 15, 2024 7:09 pm
Hello!
Melchizedek represents the pastoral archetype who has "the law written on his heart" e.g. he is priest (wisdom) AND king (courage). He is an interpolation in Genesis necessary to complete the structure and theology of the Pentateuch whose template consists of lines 6-12 of the Vedic Hymn of Man which describe the development of social classes that occurs when pastoralists settle down and adopt agriculture, a process that features the Purusha (the Vedic Melchizedek) who like his biblical counterpart is dis-membered into priest and warrior classes.

Melchizedek is the archetype of the oral tradition in pastoral Genesis. He is in Genesis because of its pastoral (or diaspora) context e.g. there is no temple, priesthood or written law in pastoral Genesis only the ancient oral tradition which Melchizedek represents.
< .. paragraph omitted .. >
We find a pattern in the sequence Genesis, Jeremiah, and Jesus: In a pastoral context, write the law on your heart. In a national context, maintain a national toolkit of temple, priesthood and written law.

Just as there are two establishment structures in the Torah, the diaspora and the nation, there are two theologies: the oral tradition for diaspora and the temple, priesthood and written law for the nation.


THE BIBLICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF MELCHIZEDEK
https://www.academia.edu/41175003/The_B ... elchizedek

Notes:
Emmanouela Grypeou of Stockholm University on Daniel Boyarin and the Jewish-Christian schism
Stephen M. Donnelly of Hebrew U. on Melchizedek and his deprecation in the Talmud.

THE TORAH LOOP AND THE TORAH'S PASTORAL AND NATIONAL THEOLOGIES
https://www.academia.edu/4738424/The_To ... Theologies

Re: the Biblical Utility of Melchizedek

THE FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE AND SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY OF THE TORAH
https://www.academia.edu/3316631/The_Fu ... _the_Torah

The Torah's Vedic template is described, then build the Torah structure yourself by dis-membering pastoral Melchizedek, the divine king into national Melchi-Zedek, the classes of warriors and priests appointed by Moses (Joshua and Aaron).

The Torah is a LOOP.
Non-sedentary diaspora life is established by entering Egypt from Canaan.
Sedentary national life is established by entering Canaan from Egypt.

Hello!
Some of that is interesting in itself, but some of it is confusing.

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

I note


“The fundamental Torah structure is crafted into a loop, with nonsedentary diaspora life established by entering Egypt from Canaan and sedentary national life established by entering Canaan from Egypt.“

The quote is from The Fundamental Structure and Systematic Theology of the Torah which advanced the following propositions:

The first five books of the Bible describe two establishment structures.
  • The diaspora established in Genesis.
  • The nation established in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Associated with each establishment structure is a distinct theology.
  • The theology of self sacrifice is practiced in a diaspora setting.
  • The theology of temple sacrifice is practiced in a national setting.
https://www.academia.edu/4738424/The_To ... Theologies


Then,


The ancestors of the House of Israel and the House of Judah left Egypt to establish the nation of Israel but in the “Gospel before the Gospels” [what the New American Bible calls Jerimiah's New Covenant] the Lord specifically says that the new covenant will not be like the one that was made as they left Egypt ... the “new covenant” of nonsedentary diaspora life.

“I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.”

“Writing the law on one’s heart” is the process of memorizing and actualizing the oral tradition (making learned behaviors intuitive).

The authorof Jeremiah, cognizant of the loss of the nation and its temple religion, offers the population forced into diaspora the embodied oral tradition of pastoralism in place of the now defunct written law.

“No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the Lord.”

The roles of priest and warrior are combined in a man who memorizes and actualizes the oral tradition. Genesis’s pastoral archetype Melchizedek is both priest and king (wisdom empowered by courage). With the Law written on a man’s heart,
he does not need a priest to teach him how to know the Lord or a warrior to protect him. The Lord, through Jeremiah, offers the population this new covenant consisting of Melchizedek’s self-sacrificial discipline of embodied oral tradition. The temple no longer stands in Jerusalem. In diaspora, the temple and the Law must be in their hearts.

Screenshot 2024-03-17 122534.png
Screenshot 2024-03-17 122534.png (85.01 KiB) Viewed 240 times


The 'first' mention of Melchizedek in the 'modern' version of the Hebrew bible is Genesis 14.18-20:


17 After [Abram's] return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (ie. the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine (He was priest of God Most High). 19 And he blessed him and said,

....“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
......Possessor of heaven and earth;
.20 and blessed be God Most High [El Elyon],
......who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.


This widely-viewed-as-an-interpolation passage portrays Melchizedek as a or even as the pastoral archetype (some see it as a precursor of the Eucharist).

The only other mention of Melchizedek in the Hebrew Bible is Psalm 110.2-4:


The scepter of your power, the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
....“Rule in the midst of your enemies.
...... Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor,
......before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”

The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent:
....“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”



[vv.5-6 parallel vv.2-3 in Yahweh's relationship with the Davidic king, and, with v.7, portray Yahweh as a protagonist Divine Warrior who helps the king defeat his enemies on individual, corporate, and cosmic levels (“among the nations,” “over the wide earth,” and so on).]


Melchizedek is an old Canaanite name meaning “My King Is [the god] Sedek” or “My King Is Righteousness” (the meaning of the similar Hebrew cognate). The god whom Melchizedek serves as priest, “El ʿElyon,” is also a name of Canaanite origin, probably designating the high god of their pantheon. Salem, of which he is said to be king, is often viewed as Jerusalem (Psalm 76:2 refers to Salem in a way that implies that it is synonymous with Jerusalem). [Also, Salem - “shalom” - means cosmic, harmonious peace].

For Abraham to recognize the authority and authenticity of a Canaanite priest-king is startling and has no parallel in biblical literature.

"Psalm 110, in referring to a future messiah of the Davidic line [perhaps Solomon], alludes to the priest-king Melchizedek as a prototype of this messiah. This allusion is thought to have led the author of the NT Letter to the Hebrews to translate the name Melchizedek as “king of righteousness” and Salem as “peace” so that Melchizedek is made to foreshadow Christ, stated to be the true king of righteousness and peace (Hebrews 7:2)." https://www.britannica.com/biography/Melchizedek

The author of the NT Letter to the Hebrews raises Melchizedeks profile to that of a pre-incarnate Christ-like-figure: Melchizedek is eternal, having no “father or mother”, and “resembling the Son of God he continues as a priest forever” (Heb. 7:3). Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek is said to confirm his greatness (Heb. 7:4).

Following Melchizedek, Jesus is portrayed as the true king of righteousness (“Melchizedek”) who lived the perfect life no human being could, and also as the true king of peace (Salem) who came to earth to bring peace through his sacrificial death and resurrection. Jesus is “a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:17); and not through Levitical lineage (Heb. 7:14), making his priesthood superior (Heb. 7:11).

As a result, “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22). Because “he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever” (Heb. 7:24), “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

Thus, Jesus is the perfect King who rules with infinite power and justice. Believers are also to be comforted knowing Jesus is the perfect Priest who ministers with infinite mercy and sympathizes with his followers in their weaknesses (Heb. 4:15).

According to the analogy in Hebrews, just as Abraham, the ancestor of the Levites, paid a tithe to Melchizedek and was therefore his inferior, so the Melchizedek-like priesthood of Christ is superior to that of the Levites. Furthermore, just as the Old Testament assigns no birth or death date to Melchizedek, so the priesthood of Christ is eternal."
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