The Testament of Levi

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rgprice
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:57 pm

The Testament of Levi

Post by rgprice »

This is from the Greek, but a portion of this was found at Qumran as well, though it is very fragmentary.
And when I was feeding the flocks in Abel-Maul, the spirit of understanding of the Lord came upon me, and I saw all men corrupting their way, and that unrighteousness had built for itself walls, and lawlessness sat upon towers. And I was grieving for the race of the sons of men, and I prayed to the Lord that I might be saved. Then there fell upon me a sleep, and I beheld a high mountain, and I was upon it. And behold the heavens were opened and an angel of God said to me, Levi enter And I entered from the first heaven, and I saw there a great sea hanging. And further I saw a second heaven far brighter and more brilliant, for there was a boundless light also therein. And I said to the angel, Why Is this so? And the angel said to me, Marvel not at this, for thou shalt see another heaven more brilliant and incomparable. And when thou hast ascended thither, Thou shalt stand near the Lord, And shalt be His minister, And shalt declare His mysteries to men, And shall proclaim concerning Him that shall redeem Israel. And by thee and Judah shall the Lord appear among men Saving every race of men. And from the Lord's portion shall be thy life, And He shall be thy field and vineyard, And fruits, gold, and silver.

Hear, therefore, regarding the heavens which have been shown to thee. The lowest is for this cause gloomy unto thee, in that it beholds all the unrighteous deeds of men. And it has fire, snow, and ice made ready for the day of judgement, in the righteous judgement of God; for in it are all the spirits of the retributions for vengeance on men. And in the second are the hosts of the armies which are ordained for the day of judgement, to work vengeance on the spirits of deceit and of Beliar. And above them are the holy ones. And in the highest of all dwelleth the Great Glory, far above all holiness. In [the heaven next to] it are the archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord for all the sins of ignorance of the righteous; Offering to the Lord a sweet- smelling savor, a reasonable and a bloodless offering. And [in the heaven below this] are the angels who bear answers to the angels of the presence of the Lord. And in the heaven next to this are thrones and dominions, in which always they offer praise to God. When, therefore, the Lord looketh upon us, all of us are shaken; yea, the heavens, and the earth, and the abysses are shaken at the presence of His majesty. But the sons of men, having no perception of these things sin and provoke the Most High. (T12P Levi 2.3-3.10)
Is this writer distinguishing between God and the Lord, or conflating the two?

A key seems to be the line about the heaven next to the highest heaven: "archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord."

Is this saying that the Lord is actually present in this level of heaven and the archangels are actually ministering directly to him? In this case, it would be saying that God -- the Great Glory, resides in the highest heaven, while the Lord is in the heaven below him. Below that are the "angels of the presence of the Lord."

Thoughts?
andrewcriddle
Posts: 1946
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:36 am

Re: The Testament of Levi

Post by andrewcriddle »

rgprice wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:55 am This is from the Greek, but a portion of this was found at Qumran as well, though it is very fragmentary.
And when I was feeding the flocks in Abel-Maul, the spirit of understanding of the Lord came upon me, and I saw all men corrupting their way, and that unrighteousness had built for itself walls, and lawlessness sat upon towers. And I was grieving for the race of the sons of men, and I prayed to the Lord that I might be saved. Then there fell upon me a sleep, and I beheld a high mountain, and I was upon it. And behold the heavens were opened and an angel of God said to me, Levi enter And I entered from the first heaven, and I saw there a great sea hanging. And further I saw a second heaven far brighter and more brilliant, for there was a boundless light also therein. And I said to the angel, Why Is this so? And the angel said to me, Marvel not at this, for thou shalt see another heaven more brilliant and incomparable. And when thou hast ascended thither, Thou shalt stand near the Lord, And shalt be His minister, And shalt declare His mysteries to men, And shall proclaim concerning Him that shall redeem Israel. And by thee and Judah shall the Lord appear among men Saving every race of men. And from the Lord's portion shall be thy life, And He shall be thy field and vineyard, And fruits, gold, and silver.

Hear, therefore, regarding the heavens which have been shown to thee. The lowest is for this cause gloomy unto thee, in that it beholds all the unrighteous deeds of men. And it has fire, snow, and ice made ready for the day of judgement, in the righteous judgement of God; for in it are all the spirits of the retributions for vengeance on men. And in the second are the hosts of the armies which are ordained for the day of judgement, to work vengeance on the spirits of deceit and of Beliar. And above them are the holy ones. And in the highest of all dwelleth the Great Glory, far above all holiness. In [the heaven next to] it are the archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord for all the sins of ignorance of the righteous; Offering to the Lord a sweet- smelling savor, a reasonable and a bloodless offering. And [in the heaven below this] are the angels who bear answers to the angels of the presence of the Lord. And in the heaven next to this are thrones and dominions, in which always they offer praise to God. When, therefore, the Lord looketh upon us, all of us are shaken; yea, the heavens, and the earth, and the abysses are shaken at the presence of His majesty. But the sons of men, having no perception of these things sin and provoke the Most High. (T12P Levi 2.3-3.10)
Is this writer distinguishing between God and the Lord, or conflating the two?

A key seems to be the line about the heaven next to the highest heaven: "archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord."

Is this saying that the Lord is actually present in this level of heaven and the archangels are actually ministering directly to him? In this case, it would be saying that God -- the Great Glory, resides in the highest heaven, while the Lord is in the heaven below him. Below that are the "angels of the presence of the Lord."

Thoughts?
The Greek Testament of Levi is a Christian rewrite of the Aramaic Testament found at Qumran. IMHO the original version did not have multiple heavens.

Andrew Criddle
rgprice
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:57 pm

Re: The Testament of Levi

Post by rgprice »

andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Mar 13, 2021 6:19 am The Greek Testament of Levi is a Christian rewrite of the Aramaic Testament found at Qumran. IMHO the original version did not have multiple heavens.

Andrew Criddle
Perhaps. Parts of the Testament of Levi have been found at Qumran (4Q213, 4Q214, 4Q540-541 and 1Q21).

This seems to be the beginning of the section about the heavens.
Then I went on […] to my father Jacob, and whe[n …] from Abel-Main. Then [… where] I lay down. And I remained o[n …] Then I was shown visions […] in the appearance of a vision, and I saw heav[en … and a mountain] under me so high it reached heave[n … and they opened] for me the gates of heaven and an angel […] (4Q213a)
Unfortunately, we don't have more.

But either way, Christian or Jewish, is God in the highest heaven with the Lord on the level below him, with the angel of the presence of the Lord below that? That's what it seems to be saying.
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