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Re: [XTalk] once more, Jesus and angels

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    ... Umm .. strictly speaking I said nothing about the **rarity** of Jesus reference to angels. I said that what he is reported as saying **about the
    Message 1 of 10 , Jun 6, 2007
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      E Bruce Brooks wrote:

      > To: XTalk
      > In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson and others
      > On: Angels
      > From: Bruce
      >
      > In his most recent note on this subject, Jeffrey remarked, a propos the
      > rarity of angels in Gospel sayings attributed to Jesus, as against matter
      > seemingly derived from the Gospel writers themselves, "Why do the
      > evangelists not have Jesus buttress what they believe?"
      >

      Umm .. strictly speaking I said nothing about the **rarity** of Jesus' reference
      to angels. I said that what he is reported as saying **about the functions of
      angels*** only occasionally overlaps with what the evangelists say in this regard
      in their narratives about angels.

      >
      > To me, this is one of the basic questions. In general, movement founders are
      > pretty plastic in the hands of the later traditions of those movements. But
      > there also seem to be limits in particular cases. And when there are limits,
      > they are often historically suggestive. In the Buddhist case, though Buddha
      > is invariably portrayed as personally answering some question arising from
      > monastic practice, he usually does so from offstage, as it were, and not as
      > himself the head of a resident monastic institution. This, to me at least,
      > reflects a reticence in the later sutra writers about portraying Buddha in a
      > role which he could not historically have held. The Confucians too, for at
      > least a century after Confucius's death, still retain the image of a
      > Confucius who was poor and disadvantaged in his youth (though later on, this
      > does change). As for the Christian texts, I have always admired the way gJn
      > carefully distinguishes between the disciples, who *did* baptize, and Jesus,
      > who "did not."
      >
      >
      > A lot is going on in the second-tier Gospels (Mt/Lk), including some mere
      > retention of earlier tradition from Mk, which somewhat confuses the picture,
      > but one of the new things that seems to be going on, at any rate in the Mt
      > half of things, is a movement back to Judaism, from which, especially in
      > matters of law, the Jesus movement seems at first to have strongly distanced
      > itself, whence nearly all of the "conflict stories." Might not angels fit
      > into this category also? Angels seem to be highly developed in Judaism, but
      > it is, again, only in the second tier of the Christian writings that they
      > make much of an effect.
      >

      I think you can make this claim only if you neglect the "angel talk" that appears
      in Paul, of which there is a decent amount, yes?

      Yours,

      Jeffrey
      --
      Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
      1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
      Chicago, Illinois
      e-mail jgibson000@...
    • Bob Schacht
      ... Now wait a minute. When you write evangelists here, do you mean only the authors of the Gospels? Interesting presentation. For those of us who don t
      Message 2 of 10 , Jun 6, 2007
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        At 02:33 PM 6/6/2007, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:


        >Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:
        >
        > > Jeffrey, could it be that the early Christians downplayed the role of
        > angels in the light of high Christology and thus ignored statements by
        > Jesus that might have reflected the other functions of angels?
        > >
        > > On the other hand, angels are elsewhere shown in the New Testament in
        > other roles, so perhaps the early Christians would have had no problem
        > with the various angelic functions. This might be an argument for your
        > main point.
        >
        >Yes, as Oesterly noted some time ago, there is quite a difference between
        >what the evangelists themselves have to say about angels and what they
        >report Jesus as saying. Whether or not this is an argument for my main
        >point, it
        >certainly is a curiosity. Why do the evangelists not have Jesus buttress
        >what they believe?

        Now wait a minute. When you write "evangelists" here, do you mean only the
        authors of the Gospels? Interesting presentation.

        For those of us who don't have Oesterly handy, what are some examples of
        "what the evangelists themselves have to say about angels" that are
        different from "what they report Jesus as saying"? You don't cover that in
        your post, and I should think it would be an important subject. After all,
        you contrast what Jesus was reported to say with what [other] Jewish
        sources attest their roles and activities to be.

        So, ISTM, your article should attest three points of view, and how they are
        similar, and how they are different:
        1. Jesus, as reported by the evangelists
        2. The evangelists
        3. Other Jewish sources-- and maybe for good measure,
        4. Contemporary Gentile Middle Platonists.

        ISTM that would be more interesting.

        By way of explanations, here's what I would look for:
        I would start out from the assumption that the evangelists (#2) were
        steeped in the cosmology of (#3) and (#4). When confronted with what they
        thought Jesus was saying (#1) , they would try to reconcile it with who
        they understood Jesus to be. The easiest thing to do would be to think of
        Jesus in terms of an angelic figure of some kind.

        But they could not merely say that Jesus was like an angel, or was a
        certain category of angel, because then they would be confronted with other
        candidates for the same type of angelic role. They had to make his role
        unique, in order to avoid dealing with imposters. We don't see this in the
        NT until GJohn, because that is the only book in the NT that insists that
        Jesus was God's ONLY son (Chapter 1).

        YMMV,
        Bob Schacht




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      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: XTalk In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson On: Angels From: Bruce I had suggested, based on the Markan evidence as against the rest of the Synoptic evidence,
        Message 3 of 10 , Jun 6, 2007
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          To: XTalk
          In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson
          On: Angels
          From: Bruce

          I had suggested, based on the Markan evidence as against the rest of the
          Synoptic evidence, that angels were not a strong part of Jesus' worldview,
          and amounted to no more than decorative enhancement in visions of God. I had
          further suggested that the stronger and more numerous angels in the later
          Synoptics might represent a reversion of early Christianity to a Jewish view
          of things, just as the practice of baptism and fasting in the early Church
          seems to represent a reversion to the Baptist movement of which it had at
          first been a part. The last line of a paragraph of mine quoted by Jeffrey
          went: "Might not angels fit into this category also? Angels seem to be
          highly developed in Judaism, but it is, again, only in the second tier of
          the Christian writings that they make much of an effect."

          JEFFREY: I think you can make this claim only if you neglect the "angel
          talk" that appears in Paul, of which there is a decent amount, yes?

          BRUCE: Well, a certain amount. But Paul is perhaps a different story. One
          point of difference among the various Gospels is how far they are
          assimilated to the Christianity of Paul. In Mark, those points of
          assimilation are few and textually suspect; that is, they may be intrusions
          into, or adjustments in, what at an earlier stage would have reflected a
          pre-Pauline Christianity. In Luke/Acts, the assimilation is total: Paul's
          mission defines the direction that Luke/Acts sees Christianity as moving in;
          he is the hero of the story. If Paul's genuine Epistles show some angel
          talk, and if Mt/Lk also show some angel talk, there would seem to be little
          ground for surprise. But all of this would still seem to postdate Mark, and
          to attest a later stage, or several parallel later stages, of doctrinal
          evolution beyond the point of which, whenever it was written down, the
          Gospel of Mark is aware.

          I take Mark, whenever it was written down, as our best witness for Jesus.
          One thing you can say about Paul, he sure didn't leave Christianity the way
          he found it. Mark (and a few other documents; I would include the earlier
          layer of James) gives us a much better chance to see what Christianity was
          like before Paul found it. While, in fact, he was still persecuting it, and
          had not yet, in his masterful way, taken up the chore of managing it.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
          http://www.umass.edu/wsp
        • Antonio Lombatti
          There are some online free papers (with full .PDF text), that can be read or downloaded from here: BIBLICA, vol. 88 (2007), fasc. 1 http://www.bsw.org/?l=7188
          Message 4 of 10 , Jun 7, 2007
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            There are some online free papers (with full .PDF text), that can be
            read or downloaded from here:

            BIBLICA, vol. 88 (2007), fasc. 1

            http://www.bsw.org/?l=7188

            Among others

            H. van de Sandt, «James 4,1-4 in the Light of the Jewish Two Ways
            Tradition 3,1-6» , p. 38-63
            R. Schwindt, «Mehr Wurzel als Stamm und Krone. Zur Bildrede vom
            Ölbaum in Röm 11,16-24», p. 64-91
            A. Hock, «Christ is the Parade: A Comparative Study of the Triumphal
            Procession in 2 Cor 2,14 and Col 2,15», p. 110-119

            By the way: What about my previous message about the Tomb of James?
            Anyone? It seems strange to me that this question was not raised
            during the world wide debate about the hoax of James's ossuary.

            Antonio Lombatti

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          • Jeffrey B. Gibson
            ... Yes. Who else qualifies for that title? ... Thanks! ... My post contained only the second half of the article. I sent a draft of the first half -- in
            Message 5 of 10 , Jun 7, 2007
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              Bob Schacht wrote:

              > At 02:33 PM 6/6/2007, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
              >
              > >Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:
              > >
              > > > Jeffrey, could it be that the early Christians downplayed the role of
              > > angels in the light of high Christology and thus ignored statements by
              > > Jesus that might have reflected the other functions of angels?
              > > >
              > > > On the other hand, angels are elsewhere shown in the New Testament in
              > > other roles, so perhaps the early Christians would have had no problem
              > > with the various angelic functions. This might be an argument for your
              > > main point.
              > >
              > >Yes, as Oesterly noted some time ago, there is quite a difference between
              > >what the evangelists themselves have to say about angels and what they
              > >report Jesus as saying. Whether or not this is an argument for my main
              > >point, it
              > >certainly is a curiosity. Why do the evangelists not have Jesus buttress
              > >what they believe?
              >
              > Now wait a minute. When you write "evangelists" here, do you mean only the
              > authors of the Gospels?

              Yes. Who else qualifies for that title?

              > Interesting presentation.

              Thanks!

              >
              >
              > For those of us who don't have Oesterly handy, what are some examples of
              > "what the evangelists themselves have to say about angels" that are
              > different from "what they report Jesus as saying"? You don't cover that in
              > your post, and I should think it would be an important subject.

              My post contained only the second half of the article. I sent a draft of the
              first half -- in which I discuss what the evangelists and other NT and Jewish
              sources tell us about angels -- to XTalk some time ago..

              I've posted the whole thing below.

              > After all,
              > you contrast what Jesus was reported to say with what [other] Jewish
              > sources attest their roles and activities to be.
              >
              > So, ISTM, your article should attest three points of view, and how they are
              > similar, and how they are different:
              > 1. Jesus, as reported by the evangelists
              > 2. The evangelists
              > 3. Other Jewish sources-- and maybe for good measure,
              > 4. Contemporary Gentile Middle Platonists.
              >
              > ISTM that would be more interesting.

              Well, except for the fact that I'm not sure if there is a Gentile middle Platonist
              set of beliefs about angels, I have tried to do what you ask.

              >
              >
              > By way of explanations, here's what I would look for:
              > I would start out from the assumption that the evangelists (#2) were
              > steeped in the cosmology of (#3) and (#4). When confronted with what they
              > thought Jesus was saying (#1) , they would try to reconcile it with who
              > they understood Jesus to be. The easiest thing to do would be to think of
              > Jesus in terms of an angelic figure of some kind.
              >
              > But they could not merely say that Jesus was like an angel, or was a
              > certain category of angel, because then they would be confronted with other
              > candidates for the same type of angelic role. They had to make his role
              > unique, in order to avoid dealing with imposters. We don't see this in the
              > NT until GJohn, because that is the only book in the NT that insists that
              > Jesus was God's ONLY son (Chapter 1).
              >

              These are all interesting and intriguing suggestions. But my mandate from the
              editors of the Routledge Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus was to first set
              out the idea of angels in Judaism and then move to an analysis of Jesus', and not
              the disciples' or the evangelists', attitude toward angels -- and to do this in
              1000 words or so.

              So your suggestion of how to go about this is something I could not do.

              Anyway, here's full text of the entry.

              Jeffrey

              ******
              Angels

              Celestial, numinous, semi-corporeal (2 Enoch 1:5 [A]; but cf. Jubilees 15:27
              which describes angels as circumcised), powerful beings, anthropomorphic in
              form in earthly manifestation and often visually glorious (cf., e.g., 2 Enoch 5;
              Luke 2:9; 9:26; Acts 12:7; 2 Pet 2:10; Jude 8; cf. Acts 6:15), who were regarded
              by all parties within 1st century Judaism (the Sadducees, despite the apparent
              testimony of Acts 23:8, being no exception; cf D. Daube [1990]; B.T. Viviano and
              J. Taylor [1992]) as having been created by the God of Israel before or shortly
              after his establishment of the world (cf. Job 38:7; Jub. 2:2; Bereshith Rabba
              3), and who, under the explicit direction or the permissive will of their
              creator, carry out a variety of functions, depending on their status as
              "heavenly" and "holy" or as "rebellious" and fallen".

              The primary function of "heavenly" angels is to serve as divine "messengers" –
              envoys who speak in the name, and with the authority, of God himself. In this
              capacity they take on such tasks as announcing the births of important figures
              within the divine plan (cf. Gen 16:11–12; Gen 18:9–15; Judg 13:3–5; Matt.
              1:18-23; Lk 1:8-21; 26-38; 28-12), communicating "the word of the Lord" to
              prophets (Elijah, 2 Kgs 1:3, 15; 1 Kgs 13:18; 1 Kgs 22:19–22; Isaiah 6; Jer
              23:18, 23), delivering the Torah (Acts 7:53, Gal. 3:19), and relaying (and
              interpreting) divine injunctions and promises or revealing the future to those to
              whom they are sent (Zech. 1:9; 4:5-6; Dan. 8:16; 4QSerekh Shirot ‘Olat ha-Shabbat,
              Matt. 1:20-21; Lk. 1:35; Rev. 1:1)

              But they also are commissioned as agents whose role is to give assurances to those
              in fear, to render service to those under trial, to protect those who travel
              (Dan. 10:13, 20; 11: 1; 12: 1; 2 Macc. I I 3 Macc. 6:18; Sus. 45; Bel 34-39; Enoch
              20:5; J 35:17; lQH 5.21-22; IQS 9,15; lQM 9.16; . T. Jud. 3:10), to bring the
              prayers and the petitions of the faithful before God (Tob. 12:15; 2 Bar. 11 G; 1
              QH 6.13), and to intervene at crucial moments of a person's life to change or
              guide that person's actions (Hagar, Gen 16:9; Abraham, Gen 22:11–12; Balaam, Num
              22:31–35; the people of Israel, Judg 2:1–5; Joseph, betrothed of Mary, Matt.
              1:18-23; 2:19-23).

              Notable, too, is that they are given the task of requiting disobedience to God in
              both the present (2 Kngs. 19:35; 1 Macc. 7:41; 2Macc. 15:22-23; Sir. 48:2,
              Josephus, War 5:388 Sus. 55; LXX Job 33:23; Acts. 12:23) and, especially, at the
              end of the age, when they will be witness to and an instrument of divine
              judgement and justice against apostates and all enemies of God's people (Dan 7:10;
              1QM 17:5; 1QS 4:11-14; CD 5-7; 1 Enoch 10:13; 90:24-26; 2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 3:5;
              14:14-20; 15:1; 16:1; 21:9).

              They were envisaged as an army (2 Baruch 5:11; 70; Test. Levi 3:3; Matt. 26:53;
              Lk. 2:13-14) which is drawn up in hierarchical orders and distinct ranks, headed
              by commanders called archangels ( the number of these commanders varies.
              According to Tob. 12:1 G; Enoch 81:5; 90:21-22; 2 Esdr. 5:20, there are seven;
              according to Enoch 40; 87:2-3; 88:1, four; according to Enoch 90:31, three), and
              were expected to participate in a final war against the wicked ((Zech. 14:13; lQH
              3.35-36; 10.34-35; 1 15.14).

              And as T.H. Gaster has noted, the "holy ones" were also portrayed as the
              controlling spirits of such natural phenomena as celestial bodies and winds (Enoch
              19:1; 40:4-5; 60: 12, 16-21; 61:10; 72:1; Jub. 2:2-3; lQH 1.10-11~ 47.7-13) and of
              the seasons as well as of such abstractions as peace (Enoch 40:8; 52:5; Test. Dan
              6:5; Test. Asher 6:6; Test. Benj. 6:1; cf. Isa. 33:7), healing (Tob. 33: 17;
              Enoch 10:7; 40:9), and death (II Bar. 21:23; cf. Prov. 16:14).

              "Fallen angels"
              The primary function of "fallen angels," who, like their "heavenly" counterparts,
              are envisaged as ranked under the leadership of a prince (s8ar) -- identified
              variously as Mastema (Jub. 10:8), Beelzebul, Satan (Matt. 25:41; 2 Cor. 12:7. 1
              Pet. 3:19 f.) the enemy; the evil one, the ruler of this world, the adversary,
              the devil, Beliar and other names -- is to separate Israel from God by ensnaring
              them in evil, inciting them to apostasy, and leading the elect astray. But they
              also, in conjunction with their primary function, and in conformity with their
              rebellious nature, serve to arouse and direct the "Nations", over whom they were
              originally set as guardians (cf. Dan. 10:13, 20, 21; 12:1, Jub. 15:31-32; 1 Enoch
              89.59 among other texts), to dominate, if not to destroy, God's people in an
              attempt to frustrate or make impossible the implementation of God's purposes in
              and for the world.


              Jesus and Angels

              The evangelists record Jesus as speaking of both "heavenly" and "fallen" angels
              on a number of occasions. Accepting the authenticity of these dominical sayings,
              several things follow with respect to the question of Jesus' view of , and
              attitude towards, these creatures.

              In concert with his co-religionists, Jesus

              1. had no doubts of their existence. He accepted without question , and
              proclaimed as an ontological given, both their reality and their division into
              categories of "heavenly" and "fallen" (Matt .25:41);

              2. believed that angels were numerous, that they were arrayed in ranks and in
              hierarchies (Mt 26:53), and that "fallen" angels were led by, and were minions of,
              a "prince of demons"(Mk. 3:23-26).

              3. thought that in the present age angels were superior to human beings (though,
              like men, they were limited in knowledge of God's ultimate secrets [Mk.
              13:32//Matt. 24:36]); but in the world to come the righteous shall stand as their
              equals (Lk 20:36)

              4. believed that the rebelliousness of the "fallen" angels and their work was
              doomed to defeat.


              But if we allow an argument from silence and take as significant what is absent
              from Jesus's statements about angels vis a vis what Jewish sources attest their
              roles and activities to be, it appears that Jesus seems not to have shared all
              of his co- religionists (or even the evangelists') beliefs about angelic
              functions. While he accepts the ideas that "heavenly" angels act as advocates of
              the pious (Matt. 18:10; 26:53; cf. Lk. 16:22) and that "fallen" angels, and
              especially their leader, strive to separate the faithful from God (Matt. 6:13; Mk.
              8:33//Matt. 16:23; Lk. 22:31-32), we find no (recorded) emphasis placed by Jesus
              on their known roles as "messengers", "protectors", and intermediaries between
              God and men. Indeed, in contrast with the views of his co religionists, it is only
              the "fallen" angels that he envisages as active among men. For Jesus, the work of
              "heavenly angels" is, rather, carried out in the realms above and at the dawning
              of the world to come.

              Judging by the content of the bulk of the preserved dominical statements about
              angels,. Jesus regarded their primary role to be that of divine agents who at the
              end of the age gather the elect and the wicked before the throne of God and act
              both as witnesses to the declarations of the Son of Man as he testifies at a great
              assize against those who in Jesus' own age had been "ashamed" of him and his
              words, and as the implementers of his judgments (Mk. 8:38; Matt; 16:27; 25:31,
              41; Lk. 9:26; 12:8 ; cf. Mk. 13:26; Matt 13:39, 41, 49; 24:31).

              Though it is beyond the scope of this article to account for why it is that Jesus
              apparently held this comparatively circumscribed view of angelic functions,
              especially with respect to those of "heavenly" angels", the answer may lie
              somewhere along the lines of W.O.E. Oesterley's suggestion that it is due to a
              conviction on Jesus' part that he, along with the Holy Spirit, are the ones who
              have been empowered with the roles of envoy, intermediary, and advocate that in
              Jewish tradition were thought to be angels' provenance.


              Bibliography and suggestions for Further Reading.

              Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, Fallen Angels (Philadelphia : Jewish Publication Society
              of America, 1952).

              Daube, David, "On Acts 23: Saducees and Angels", JBL 109 (1990) 493-497;

              Davidson, Maxwell John, "Angel", in The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
              (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006) Vol 1:148-155.

              Gaster, T.H. "Angel" in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed George A.
              Buttrick (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962), Vol. 1: 128-134.

              Grundmann, W., Von Rad, G, Kittel, G., "aggeloj, arxaggeloj, isaggeloj", TDNT,
              ed. G.W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) Vol. 1: 74-87.

              Meier, S.A, "Angel I" in Dictionary of Demons and Deities in the Bible, Second
              Edition, eds. Karel van der Toorn, Pieter Willem van der Horst, Bob Becking
              (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 45-50.

              Newson, Carol A., "Angels: Old Testament" in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed.
              David Noel Freedman (Doubleday, 1992) Vol. 1: 248-253.

              Oesterley, W.O. E., "Angels" in Dictionary of the Bible, ed. James Hastings.
              one-volume edition (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1924), 31-53.

              Page, Sidney H.T., Powers of Evil: A Biblical Study of Satan & Demons (Grand
              Rapids: Baker) 1995.

              Russel, D.H., The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (Philadelphia:
              Fortress,1964) 235-262.

              van Henten, J.W., "Angel II" in Dictionary of Demons and Deities in the Bible,
              Second Edition, eds. Karel van der Toorn, Pieter Willem van der Horst, Bob Becking
              (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 50-53.

              Viviano, B.T. and Taylor, Justin, "Sadducees, Angels, and Resurrection (Acts
              23:8-9)," JBL 111 (1992) 496-498.

              Watson, Duane F. "Angels: New Testament" in the Anchor Bible Dictionary , ed.
              David Noel Freedman (Doubleday, 1992) Vol. 1: 253-255.

              ******
              --
              Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
              1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
              Chicago, Illinois
              e-mail jgibson000@...
            • Antonio Lombatti
              Maybe you re interested in a paper published in an Italian weekly magazine about Raztinger s book on Jesus: Christ, too many errors (Cristo, quanti errori)
              Message 6 of 10 , Jun 9, 2007
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                Maybe you're interested in a paper published in an Italian weekly
                magazine about Raztinger's book on Jesus:

                Christ, too many errors (Cristo, quanti errori)
                http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/Cristo-quanti-errori/1635347

                The reviewer of the book underlines all the mistakes that have been
                done by the Pope: wrong quotation of Mount Oreb instead of Mount
                Moriah when he writes about Isaac's sacrifice. Multiple erroneous
                reference to Palm Sunday when that festivity didn't exist yet. He
                used the Hebrew "sukkot" (p. 362) as a masculine plural noun while it
                is a feminine one. He wrote that the nominative " 'epistàta" was
                used, while it is a vocative, and its nominative is " 'epistàtes"; he
                has a wrong translation of "doxa" and many other errors.

                Trust me: it's difficult to see such a hard review of the Pope's
                works here in Italy.


                Antonio Lombatti




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