[XTalk] Re: "Angels" in Mark 13:27
- --- "Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis"
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.
Dear Crispin Fletcher-Louis:
I am going to try to get a copy of your book--it
sounds like a "must read". I take it that chs. 8-11
include a discussion on 4Q403 I, i, 30-46, including
this excerpt (44), "[The spi]rits of the hol[y] of
holies, the living 'gods',..".
To review, the question is whether the author of I
Peter was familiar with this passage from 4Q511, "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.",
and alludes to it in I Peter 2:5, "Also yourselves, as
living stones, are being built 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."
There are these clear parallels between the passage
from 4Q511 and I Peter 2:5 & 9a: (1) in both cases,
the people are holy, (2) in both cases, the people are
both a priesthood and God's special people, and (3) in
both cases, the people are built up into a spiritual
house/temple. These suggest that, indeed, the author
of I Peter was aware of this passage from 4Q511.
Further, there is reason to believe that the author of
I Peter would have had taken this passage from 4Q511
to refer to Christians, i.e., its reference to "the
cleansed"--for, it appears, Christains are, according
to the author of I Peter, above all, people who have
been baptized. In The History and Theology of the New
Testament Writings (pp. 412-13), Peter Schnelle (as
translated by M. Eugene Boring) states, "The locus of
this revolutionary event is baptism (cf. I Pet. 1.3,
18, 23; 3.21), it is here that the central turning
point in the life of the Christian has taken place
(cf. also John 3.5; Titus 3.5). According to I Peter,
the Christian life is the life that proceeds from
baptism. Placed by baptism into the time between
Easter and the parousia, the baptized Christian is not
taken out of the world and its troubles, but is
enabled to overcome them."
It is true, as you point out, that 4Q511 appears to be
a Qumran/Essene sectarian text.
I fail to see, though, why this would prevent the
author of I Peter from knowing about it. There were
Essenes in many places in Palestine, so it seems most
likely that this text was circulating around Palestine
and wasn't confined to the one single library at
It also is true that these parallels might exist only
because "4Q511 and 1 Peter share a common tradition of
cultic/temple language and its use for a metaphorical
However, I think this unlikely to be the case.
First of all, if this postulated common tradition was
real, then it not only circulated in first century CE
Essene circles, but in other first century CE Jewish
circles as well. However, I'm not aware of any other
first century CE Jewish group espousing this
postulated common tradition. So, ISTM, this postulated
common tradition is probably not real: with it
probably being, rather, a purely Essenic tradition.
Second, there is the possibility that there is a
fourth remarkable parallel as well, i.e., that both
4Q511 and I Peter 2:5 picture the people as being, in
some significant sense, angels.
This is explicit in the passage from 4Q511.
This is also the case in I Peter 2:5 *if* the
reference to the people as "living stones" means that
they are, in soul, immortal angels. Further, this
would be the case if, as I point out in the previous
post, the author of I Peter was aware of Philo's idea,
which he outlines in Som i (217-49), that the words
(logoi are also the angels and are, as such, immortal
You question that the author of I Peter was aware of
this Philonic concept, stating, "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.
This is, ISTM, setting up a standard that does not
have to be met.
All that needs to be done, ISTM, since I Peter is an
early Christian text, is to demonstrate that the
Philonic concept of the words being angels and as
being, as such, immortal spiritual stones was
circulating in early Christian circles. If it was,
then the author of I Peter likely knew of it: which,
in turn, makes it likely that, in I Peter 2:5, the
people are identified as being, in soul, angels:
which, in turn, makes it likely that there is a fourth
remarkable parallel between the passage from 4Q511 and
I Peter 2:5 & 9a (i.e., in both, the people are, in
some significant sense, angelic beings): which, in
turn, makes it likely that the author of I Peter was
aware of this passage from 4Q511.
Indeed, it can be demonstrated that this Philonic idea
was, in fact, circulating in early Christian circles.
See, in particular, GTh 19b, "If you become my
disciples and listen to My words, these stones will
minister to you." This is a horrible pun, with the
underlying train of thought being this, "If you listen
to my words (= the angels), these (immortal spiritual)
stones will serve you."
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Tax Center - forms, calculators, tips, more
- 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
> Do you Yahoo!?
> Yahoo! Web Hosting - establish your business online
> The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
> To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: email@example.com
> To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
> List managers may be contacted directly at: email@example.com
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/