jesus and the god of israel
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JESUS AND THE GOD OF ISRAEL
God Crucified and Other Studieson the New Testaments Christology
of Divine Identity
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.
2008 Richard BauckhamAll rights reserved
Published 2008in the United Kingdom by Paternoster,
an imprint of Authentic Mediawww.authenticmedia.co.uk
Published 2009 in the United States of America byWm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
2140 Oak Industrial Drive N.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49505 /P.O. Box 163, Cambridge CB3 9PU U.K.
Printed in the United States of America
15 14 13 12 11 10 09 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEWINTERNATIONAL VERSION, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible So-ciety. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Limited. All rights reserved. NIV is aregistered trademark of the International Bible Society UK trademark number 1448790.
To co-workers in early Christology
vi Jesus and the God of Israel
2. Biblical Theology and the Problems of Monotheism 60
6. Pauls Christology of Divine Identity 182
7. The Divinity of Jesus in the Letter to the Hebrews 233
Gospel of Mark 254
The nature of Jewish monotheism in the late Second Temple period has been much discussed and debated in recent decades.2 Such discussion
study of the ways Jewish writers of the period talk about God. There is a huge amount of evidence, but little study of it. It would be extremely useful, for example, to have complete listings of the use of various divine names and titles in early Jewish literature, because only then can we observe which were popular, which were not, in which types or categories of literature. Then we shall be able to write the kind of
provides for the Hebrew Bible. The present chapter is a step in that direction. The table at the end of the chapter lists all the occurrences, so far as I have tracked them, of the title the Most High in early Jewish literature. The chapter attempts to account for this titles relatively high
light on the nature of early Jewish monotheism.In order to situate the discussion, it will be helpful to begin with
some comments on the distinction between exclusive and inclusive
Nature of Early Jewish Monotheism1
Troy A. Miller ed.,
University Press, 2007), 3953. 2
ed., ( JSNTSup 263; London: T&T Clark [Continuum], 2004).
108 Jesus and the God of Israel
of Jewish and Christian Monotheism in the Herodian Age.3 He states the argument of his paper thus:
It is argued overall that the interpretation of Judaism as a rigorous monotheism, exclusive in the sense that the existence of other divine beings is denied, does less than justice to the importance of mystical and messianic tendencies in the Herodian age for these were often bound up with an inclusive monotheism, whereby the supreme deity was envisaged above but in association with other spirits and powers.4
The problem here is the meaning of other divine beings, a term that Horbury apparently equates with other spirits and powers. If it supposed that rigorous or exclusive monotheism must deny the existence of any supernatural or heavenly beings besides God, then it is clear that such monotheism never existed until the modern period. Traditional monotheism in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions has always accepted the existence of vast numbers of supernatural beings: angels who serve and worship God, demons who oppose God within an overall sovereignty of God over all. But such beings have been considered creatures, created by and subject to God, no more a
usefully speak of rigorous or exclusive monotheism.Misunderstanding of this point has recurrently muddied the waters
of recent discussion of early Jewish monotheism.5 The key question is how the uniqueness of the one God is understood. In inclusive monotheism, the one God is the highest member of a class of beings to which he6 belongs. He is unique only in the sense of superlative: he is the most powerful of the gods (and can therefore subject them to his will), the wisest, has his residence higher in the cosmos than all others, and so forth. He is unique in the sense of supreme. Something like this view of God and the gods developed in antiquity out of an older polytheism in which the gods acted independently and competitively.
ed. Stuckenbruck and North, 1644; cf. also idem, Messianism among Jews and Christians (London/New York: T&T Clark, 2003), 1219, where he takes issue with my arguments in
. 4 Horbury, Jewish, 17. 5
the Hellenistic Period, in ed. Carey C. Newman,
James R. Davila and Gladys S. Lewis ( JSJSup 63; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 2142. 6 In the ancient world, such a god is always grammatically he.
and Roman worlds in antiquity.7 It takes a gradient view of reality that does not draw sharp ontological distinctions between the supreme God and other gods, or between gods and humans.8
By contrast, exclusive monotheism understands the uniqueness of the one God in terms of an absolute difference in kind from all other
class of beings to which God belongs and of which he can be the supreme instance. It takes a binary view of reality.9 In my view, early Jewish literature (with few, if any, exceptions) is strongly committed to such a view by the way it constantly understands the uniqueness of the God of Israel as that of the one Creator of all things and the one sovereign Ruler of all things.10
absolute difference of kind between God and all things, they override any older gradient features of the Israelite-Jewish worldview (such as survive in some of the vocabulary used) and create an essentially binary view of reality. This does not and need not deny the existence of many heavenly beings, but simply insists that they are created by God and subject to the sovereign will of God. In early Judaism, the binary distinction between God and all other reality was observed and inculcated in daily religious observance by monolatry. In a gradient worldview (such as the pagan, inclusive monotheism of antiquity), many beings are accorded honour, each to a degree appropriate to its
originally been a concomitant of henotheism) into a powerful symbol
high-ranking creatures (but not in contexts where it might be mistaken for divine worship, and so usually not to angels or to rulers who claimed divinity), worship was different because it was acknowledgement of the transcendent uniqueness of the God of Israel. Study of Jewish God-talk in the Second Temple period must be alert to these distinctions if it is
7 in ed. Polymnia Athanassiadi and Michael Frede (Oxford: Clarendon, 1999), 2140, here 219.
be found in pagan monotheism, especially that of the philosophers; cf. Michael Frede, Monotheism and Pagan Philosophy in Later Antiquity, in Athanassiadi and Frede,
4167. 9 I borrow the terminology gradient and binary from David H. Aaron,
(Leiden: Brill, 2001) without meaning to agree with all the uses to which he puts these terms.
10 ed. Newman, Davila and Lewis, 4369, here 458.
110 Jesus and the God of Israel
There are several reasons why investigation of the divine title or name the Most High should be important for the nature of early
In the Hebrew Bible, excluding Daniel,11 it occurs thirty-one times.12
According to my calculations, set out in the table, there are no fewer than 284 occurrences in literature we can, with certainty or reasonable probability, date to the period 250 bce to 150 ce.13
more impressive when we notice that the voluminous works of Philo and Josephus much the largest corpora of Jewish literature from this period account for only fourteen of these 284 occurrences. But, secondly, another comparison with the usage of the Hebrew Bible is illuminating. There, with the only partial exception of Genesis 14:1822,14 the title is found exclusively in poetic passages, mostly psalms (which account for twenty-one of the thirty-four instances). In the literature of early Judaism, on the other hand, this title occurs across all the main genres of literature that were used. Clearly the title came into much more general use in the later Second Temple period than had been the case previously. But, thirdly, this conclusion appears correct only with regard to Palestinian Jewish literature. Of the 284 occurrences, 250 are in Palestinian Jewish literature,15 only thirty-four in literature from the western Diaspora.16 This difference cries out for some explanation.
11 I exclude Daniel from this count and include it in early Jewish literature simply because it so clearly belongs chronologically with the latter.
12 Gen. 14:18, 19, 20, 21; Num. 24:10; Deut. 32:8; 2 Sam. 22:14; Ps. 7:18(17); 9:3(2); 21:8(7); 46:5(4); 47:3(2); 50:14; 57:3(2); 73:11; 77:11(10); 78:17, 35, 56; 82:6; 83:19(18); 87:5; 91:1, 9; 92:2(1); 97:9; 107:11; Isa. 14:14; Lam. 3:35, 38. For conjectural emendations that, if accepted, would supply
, , TDOT 11:12139, here 1223; Baruch A. Levine, (AB 4A; New York: Doubleday, 2000), 188, 1934 (Num. 24:3).
13 accounts for only seventeen of these occurrences. There is therefore no substance at all to Margaret Barkers claim that the use in is