12884Re: [XTalk] Re: "Angels" in Mark 13:27
- Mar 1, 2003Frank, sorry to be so long in replying. You wrote:
> Dear Crispin Fletcher-Louis:Jewish angelology is complex and certainly some Jews were happy to think of
> 1. ISTM, that there not only was no strict divide
> between humans and angels but no strict divide between
> both and gods as well.
> For example, see 4Q403 I, i. 30-46, "Praise the most
> high God, O you high among all the gods of knowledge.
> Let the holy ones of the 'gods' sanctify the King of
> Glory, who sanctifies by his holiness all his holy
> ones.", and 4Q405 20 ii, 21-2, "The spirits of the
> living 'gods' move perpetually with the glory of the
> marvellous chariot(s)....The sound of joyful praise is
> silenced and there is a whispered blessing of the
> 'gods' in all the camps of God. (translations by Geza
> Again, let us look at The Clementine Homilies (Homily
> II, Chap. XXVII): where Simon Magus (see Acts 8:9-24)
> is pictured as stating, "For thus it is written, that,
> when when the first man received a commandment from
> God to eat of every tree that was in the garden, but
> not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and
> evil, the serpent having persuaded them by means of
> the woman, though the promise that they would become
> gods, made them look up; and when they had thus looked
> up, God said, 'Behold, Adam is become as one of us.'
> When, then, the serpent said, 'Ye shall be as gods,'
> he plainly speaks in the belief that gods exist; all
> the more so as God also added His testimony, saying,
> 'Behold, Adam is become as one of us.'"
> Judging by this last example, some even interpteted
> the "fall" of Adam and Even to actually have been
> their elevation from the status of human to the status
> of angel/god.
> In any event, ISTM, in those Jewish and early
> Christiian circles where there was a belief in angels,
> especially when they were spoken of as "gods", there
> was a certain compromising of monotheism: with, in
> some cases, a de facto polytheism and, in a few
> cases, even an explicit acknowledgement of being
angels as gods (lower case). But the (almost?) always distinguished between
these gods and God (upper case) by, for example, insisting that only God
could receive worship. But, yes, I think you are right that the boundaries
are much more fuzzy than is sometimes assumed across all the categories -
>I think it is rather unlikely that 1 Peter knew 4Q511 (Songs of the Sage)
> 2. Possibly, the idea that a human being can become an
> angel was accepted by the author of I Peter on the
> basis of Qumran thought as found in a passage from one
> of their texts and on the basis of Philonic thought.
> It is said in Qumran text 4Q510-11, Fr.35, "God shall
> sancti[fy] (some) of the holy as an everlasting
> sanctuary for himself and purity shall endure among
> the cleansed. They shall be priests, his righteous
> people, his host, servants, *the angels of his glory*
> (my emphasis). They shall praise him with marvellous
> prodigies." (translation by Geza Vermes).
> I suspect that the author of I Peter was aware of this
> passage from a Qumran text. See I Peter 2:5, "Also
> yourselves, as living stones, are being buit up a
> spiritual house, for (to be) a holy prieshood to offer
> up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through
> Jesus Christ.", and 2:9a, "But you (are) a chosen
> race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for
> Note that, in both the Qumran text and I Peter, the
> people who are chosen are holy. So, in the Qumran
> text, they are "(some) of the holy". Again, in I
> Peter, they are "a holy priesthood" and "a holy
> Too, in both, the people will constitute a spiritual
> temple. So, in the Qumran text, they will be "an
> everlasting sanctuary for himself." Again, in I
> Peter, they are becoming "a spiritual house".
> Again, in both, the people will have a special
> relationship to God in that they will be both a
> priesthood and God's special people. So, in the
> Qumran text, they are "priests, his righteous people,
> his hosts, servants". Again, in I Peter, they are "a
> holy priesthood" and "a chosen race, a royal
> priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession."
> Also, it is possible that, in both, the chosen people
> address God. This is definitely the case with the
> Qumran text ("They shall praise him with marvelous
> prodigies."). This likely is the case in I Peter 2:5,
> which declares that they will "offer up spiritual
> sacrifices acceptable to God". These spiritual
> sacrifices probably include addresses to God, e.g.,
> see1QS (IX, 4-5), "They shall atone for guilty
> rebellion and for sins of unfaithfulness, that they
> may obtain loving-kindness for the Land without the
> flesh of holocausts and the fat of sacrifice. And
> prayer rightly offered shall be as an acceptable
> fragrance of righteousness,..".
> These parallels are so striking that, ISTM, the author
> of I Peter knew of this passage from a Qumran document
> where the holy are said to be angels.
> If so, then there should be a reference, in I Peter
> 2:5 and/or 2:9 to the holy people as being angels.
> Indeed, there might be such a reference in the
> declaration, found in 2:5, that they are "living
> stones (lithoi zwntes)" .
> In terms of Philonic thought, "living stones" would be
> understood to be immortal angels.. Particularly
> important is Som i. At one place (i.e., 127-128),
> regarding LXX Gen 28:10 (which speaks of how Jacob
> took a stone (lithwn) of that place (topou) and put it
> at his head), Philo states, "It is of importance to
> know that the divine place (topos) is full of
> incorporeal words (logwn) and these words (logoi) are
> immortal (athanatoi) souls (psychai). Of these words
> he takes one, choosing as the best the topmost
> one,..". Then, not much later (148) he identifies
> these divine words (logoi theioi) as being the angels
> (aggeloi). Thus, according to Philo, there are
> spiritual stones and these are the immortal souls who
> are the angels.
> So, I suggest, that the holy people are "living
> stones" in I Peter 2:5 means that their souls have
> been upgraded from that of human souls to that of
> immortal angels.
since this is a sectarian text almost certainly confined to Qumran/Essenism
in usage. It is more likely that 4Q511 and 1 Peter share a common tradition
of cultic/temple language and its use for a metaphorical temple structure.
I'm afraid I find it hard to see how you seen Christians as angels in 1
Peter. Though you should have a look at the way the Songs of the Sabbath
Sacrifice makes the physical structures of the cosmic temple into angelic
beings (esp. The epithet "living elohim" - discussed in my ALL THE GLORY OF
ADAM chs. 8-11.
The Philonic material you cite is fascinating, but I need to be shown its
basis in mainstream/Palestinian Jewish thought, not Philo's imagination,
before I could take its relevance for 1 Peter seriously.
Department of Theology
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD
Tel: +44 (0)115 84 67209
Fax: +44 (0)115 951 5887
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