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Re: [XTalk] Re: "Angels" in Mark 13:27

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  • Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis
    ... Jewish angelology is complex and certainly some Jews were happy to think of angels as gods (lower case). But the (almost?) always distinguished between
    Message 1 of 104 , Mar 1, 2003
      Frank, sorry to be so long in replying. You wrote:

      > Dear Crispin Fletcher-Louis:
      > 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
      > Vermes)
      > 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
      > polytheistic.

      Jewish angelology is complex and certainly some Jews were happy to think of
      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 -
      > 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
      > possession."
      > 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
      > nation".
      > 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.

      I think it is rather unlikely that 1 Peter knew 4Q511 (Songs of the Sage)
      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.


      Crispin Fletcher-Louis
      Department of Theology
      University of Nottingham
      University Park
      Nottingham NG7 2RD

      Tel: +44 (0)115 84 67209
      Fax: +44 (0)115 951 5887
      Email: crispin.fletcher-Louis@...
    • Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis
      Don t know what to do with Lev 11 on Locusts - certainly interesting. Manna in the wilderness certainly must be related somehow to the honey JB eats. And, yes,
      Message 104 of 104 , Mar 11, 2003
        Don't know what to do with Lev 11 on Locusts - certainly interesting.

        Manna in the wilderness certainly must be related somehow to the honey JB
        eats. And, yes, this is not incompatible with the angelomorphic interp. of
        the honey given that the Israelites ate the "bread of angels" in the
        wilderness (Ps 78:25, and cf. the use of Ezek 16 for Passover in rabbinic
        On all this there are helpful references in: D. Goodman, "Do Angels Eat?,"
        JJS 37 (1986) 160-70.


        On 11/3/03 1:07 pm, "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges@...> wrote:

        > Mike inquired about the locusts and wild honey that
        > John the Baptist is reported to have eaten.
        > Wouldn't the initial significance of this be that it
        > recalls the covenant time of the desert wanderings of
        > the Israelites? John the Baptist, after all, calls for
        > covenant renewal, doesn't he?
        > As I recall, the locust was acceptable as a kosher
        > food, unlike other creeping things. Leviticus 11:10
        > (or 10:11?) describes this. (I'm not near a Bible at
        > the moment and cannot check.) Is this exception a
        > significant point?
        > At any rate, a reference to the time of the covenant
        > doesn't exclude angelomorphic aspects, of course.
        > Jeffery Hodges
        > =====
        > Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges (Inv.) [Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley]
        > Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
        > 447-791 Kyunggido, Osan-City
        > Yangsandong 411
        > South Korea
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