You are on page 1of 47

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 548

SOME EARLY JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN EXEGETICAL PROBLEMS AND THE DYNAMICS OF MONOTHEISM*
by MENAHEM KISTER
(The Hebrew University) In memory of Prof. E. E. Urbach Summary The thesis of this article is that a Jewish theological formula or an interpretation of biblical passages which, in one period, successfully served one side of a polemic, became, in a later period and in another context, a springboard for an adversarys attack, or an insidious internal theological problem. The author attempts to illuminate the inner dynamics of Judaism as a monotheistic religion, and to observe the potential of inherent theological tensions in Judaism of the Second Temple period and rabbinic Judaism for the emergence of Christian and Gnostic theological concepts and interpretations which were in conict with the Jewish ones.

Much has been written regarding the polemical element in the sermons and exegesis of the rabbis. An interesting feature of the ChristianJewish polemic, namely the usage of key biblical proof-texts of the opponent for contradictory and polemical interpretations, has also not passed unnoticed. However, in this paper a far more complex and less well-observed phenomenon will be investigated, namely a formula or interpretation which, in one period, successfully served one side of a

* This is a slightly revised form of the major part of an article in Hebrew published in Issues in Talmudic Research ([ed. Y. Sussmann]; Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 2001), 28-65, an elaboration of a lecture delivered on 2.12.96 at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Memory of Prof. E. E. Urbach. The essential English form of this article was presented in a lecture at Cambridge Faculty of Divinity on 16.2.04, at a joint meeting of the Patristic Seminar and the Seminar in Hebrew, Jewish and Early Christian Studies. Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2006 Also available online www.brill.nl Journal for the Study of Judaism, XXXVII, 4

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 549

dynamics of monotheism

549

polemic, but became, in another period and in another context, dangerous from a theological point of view, when the struggle was against dierent adversaries. What was once a good defence and an overwhelming argument in one context became, in a dierent context, a springboard for an adversarys attack, or an insidious internal theological problem. As we shall see below, an idea which was created in response to a theological attack from one direction often contained the potential of an attack from a dierent quarter. Often the problem was not originally apparent at the rst stages of the new idea, but when the idea was further developed, the theological diculties it contained became overt: He [i.e., the heretic] thinks he is extolling [God], but in reality he is denigrating [Him] ( y. Hag. 2:1 [77c]). In such cases interpretations and theological solutions alternate between opposing poles. The polemical arguments with which I shall deal in this article were not static, and I shall attempt to uncover the dynamics of their development, reecting, in fact, the dynamics of Jewish monotheism (and its complex relationship to Christianity and Gnosticism).1 The most complex manifestation of this is scrutinized in Part Three of this article, concerning the use of the plural form in the verse Let us make man (Gen 1:26). Prior to that discussion, I shall present two other brief examples of the phenomenon. Part One will deal with the transguration of a polemical verse from the Bible and its function in inter-faith polemics; in Part Two we shall see the transition of a legal formula in the Bible and in rabbinic literature in conicting theological contexts. I I form light and create darkness . . . In Second Isaiah we read the prophets announcement to Cyrus:
I am the Lord and there is none else; besides Me, there is no god. I engird you, though you have not known me. So that they may know, from east to west, that there is none but Me. I am the Lord and there
1 I am well aware of the recent dispute concerning the question, Was Judaism [in the late Second Temple period] monotheistic? (see conclusion at the end of the present article). I hope to shed some light on this complicated question by a careful analysis of theological formulae and passages of biblical interpretation in Judaism in relation to Christianity and Gnosticism. I will try to demonstrate that inherent tensions within Jewish monotheism are the cause for the emergence of some traits of Judaism and Christianity.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 550

550

menahem kister
is none else. I form light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil [[r arwbw wl hw[]I the Lord do all these things (Isa 45:5-7).

Some commentators believe that this statement was made against the ideas of those who believe in two gods, one benign and one evil,2 i.e., against the Zoroastrian faith of Cyrus, who did not recognize the Lord (vv. 4-5). Others interpret the verse in a dierent manner and see it against the backdrop of Israelite faith.3 At any rate, it seems clear that the prophet excluded in this verse any thought of dualism. The contrast between I make peace and I create evil is striking. Some scholars conclude that the evil referred to is not moral evil, but rather the woe which befalls men, i.e., the opposite of wl (which can also mean well-being).4 On the other hand, one should take notice of the important Zoroastrian term peace, which also has the meaning of harmony and goodness.5 Be that as it may, later generations read a verse in which it had been explicitly stated that God had created evil, while the creation of, or making of, good by God was not spelled out. The reading in the Isaiah Scroll from Qumran (1QIsaa), [r hrwbw bwf hw[ (I make [the] good and I create [the] evil)6 tries to tackle precisely this diculty. The exegetical-theological problem, the reaction to which is manifested in the emendation of the biblical text, was probably particularly severe for a sect in whose thinking there was such an extreme contrast, a dualism within a monotheistic system, between light and darkness and between good and evil.7 In stark contrast to these interpretations, Marcion used the verse (as we are informed by Tertullian)8 to prove from the Old Testament that
David Kimhi (ReDaK) in his commentary to the verse, citing Rav Saadya Gaon. See M. Weinfeld, God the Creator in Gen. 1 and in the Prophecy of Second Isaiah, Tarbiz 37 (1968): 123 [Hebrew], and, drawing dierent conclusions, M. Haag, Ich mache Heil und erschae Unheil ( Jes 45, 7), Wort, Lied und Gottesspruch: Festschrift fr Joseph Ziegler (FB 1-2; ed. J. Schreiner; Wrzburg: Echter Verlag, 1972), 179-85. 4 See Haag, Ich mache; B. J. Schwartz, Peace in Jewish Sources, Presidents Seminar for Bible and Jewish Sources 11 (1997): 11-12 [Hebrew]. See also Kutscher, The Language and Linguistic Background of the Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa a ) (STDJ 6; Leiden: Brill, 1974), 240, 308. 5 I am grateful to Prof. Shaul Shaked for providing me with the information concerning Zoroastrian terminology. 6 D. W. Parry and E. Qimron, The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa a): A New Edition (STDJ 32; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 77. 7 Contrast E. Y. Kutscher, The Language, 240, 308. Kutscher does not recognise the theological motive behind this reading. See also Haag, Ich mache. 8 Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem 1.2 (ed. A. Kroymann [CCSL 1], Turnholt: Typographi Brepols editores ponticii, 1954, 443).
2 3

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 551

dynamics of monotheism

551

it is the God of the Law who creates evil. This was an important principle in Marcions dualistic system, according to which the evil world had been created by this god, as distinct from the supreme, benign, unknown god.9 Thus the biblical verse which had formulated an anti-dualistic principle and which could have served as an eective argument against Zoroastrian dualism,10 became extremely dangerous for monotheism in combating another kind of dualism, that of Marcion and perhaps also of some Gnostic sects. It is plausible that the heretics use of the verse as proof of the nature of the God of Israel was one of the factors that prompted the change of the text as it appears in the Yozer benediction in the liturgy: Blessed are you the Lord who forms light and makes darkness, who makes peace and creates all. The words creates evil, which are theologically very dangerous, were emended to creates all. It should be noted that the new version of the verse, Who creates light and makes darkness, who makes peace and creates all, led to new interpretations which presumably never entered the minds of those who formulated the altered text. The new liturgical formulation was treated in the Sifra (Behuqotai, ch. 1; ed. Weiss, 111a) as if it were the biblical text of Isaiah;11 it is interpreted there as stating that the value of peace is equal to everything. The verseeither in its original biblical wording or in the liturgical versionalso occurs in inter-faith polemics in two accounts of a dispute with a pagan philosopher: (1) According to Avot de-Rabbi Nathan Version B (ch. 24, ed. Schechter, 49) the philosopher Oenomus of Gadara asked Rabban Gamaliel, Who is the rst-born of the world?,12 a cosmogonical question. Rabban

9 See recently W. Lhr, Did Marcion Distinguish between a Just God and a Good God?, Marcion und seine kirchengeschichtliche Wirkung / Marcion and His Impact on Church History (eds. G. May and K. Greschat; TUGAL 150; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2002), 131-46. Similar theories were common in Gnostic systems, and some Gnostics may have used the verse as a proof-text for dualistic systems according to which the demiurge, the God of Israel, declares that He is the source of evil. 10 Part of the prophets intention could well have been to argue against a dualistic system. But even if not, the verse certainly functioned as an anti-Zoroastrian polemic in later generations (see above, n. 2). 11 In Sifre Num. 42 (ed. Horovitz, 47) there is a similar exposition which is based not on the conclusion of the verse, but rather on its beginning: Who creates light and makes darkness, who makes peace (thus also in MS Vatican 32 of Sifre). However, in the Sifra all the text witnesses have the same reading as we have presented. This is conrmed by the wording of the exegesis in the Sifra. 12 This is the reading of MS Parma; Schechters edition has the secondary reading wdwbk (His honor) in place of wrwkb (His rst-born).

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 552

552

menahem kister

Gamaliel answered, The rst-born of the world is peace, and brought support from our verse, Who makes peace and creates everything, which indicates that only after He had created peace did God create all the rest. An account of dialogues between this Oenomus and the Sages in matters of cosmogony is given in Exodus Rabbah (13:1, ed. Shinan, 254). In the account of Avot de-Rabbi Nathan Version B the answer given was apparently in the realm of human morality, rather than in that of speculative cosmogony. However, the answer may also be understood as cosmogonical, for according to Platos Timaeus the beginning of the act of creation is the imposition of order on chaos and the bringing of the elements into harmony.13 Thus, the secondary version of the biblical verse (a version which may have come into existence partly because of polemics) is utilized in this account as a rebuttal to a pagan philosopher, perhaps on common Platonic ground. (2) Another use of our versethis time in its biblical formoccurs in Genesis Rabbah (1:9, ed. Theodor-Albeck, 8)14 to answer the claims of a philosopher that God did not create the universe ex nihilo, but was aided by the elements.15

13 When He took over all that was visible, of discordant and disorderly notion (Plato, Tim. 30a), For these reasons and out of these materials, such in kind and four in number, the body of the Cosmos was harmonized (molghsan) by proportion and brought into existence. These conditions secured for it Amity (fila) (Tim. 32c; translation of both passages according to R. G. Bury, Plato in an English Translation [Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1942; LCL], 9.55, 61). Cf. also Ovids description of the opposites struggling one against the other (pugnabant) before the creation of the world, Creation being the end of their struggle and bound them fast in harmonious peace (concordi pace ligavit; Ovid, Metam. 1.18-31). Several midrashim expound (in various manners) our verse as well as another verse in which God is described as making peace in His heights ( Job 25:2) as referring to the imposition of harmony among the elements ( y. Ber. 8:7, 12c; y. Rosh haSh. 2:5, 58a; Gen. Rab. 3:6 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 23]; Lev. Rab. 9:9 [ed. Margulies, 193]; Pesiq. Rab Kah., Kallot Moshe [ed. Mandelbaum, 5-6]; Tanhuma VaYiggash 6; Deut. Rab. 5:12; Deut. Rab. Shofetim [ed. Lieberman, 100]; Cant. Zuta 1:1, and more). All these are reminiscent of the idea expressed in Timaeus. Luzs analysis of this dispute between the pagan philosopher Oenomus of Gadara and the sages does not seem to me to be well-founded. (M. Luz, Oenomus and Talmudic Anecdote, JSJ 23 [1922]: 66-74). 14 In his edition of Avot de-Rabbi Nathan (49 n. 9), Schechter remarks on the similarity of the tradition recorded there and that of Genesis Rabbah: Perhaps there is some confusion and conation here [i.e., in Avot de-Rabbi Natan]. The preceding analysis of the source in Avot de-Rabbi Nathan and an analysis of the aggadah in Genesis Rabbah (see n. 15) makes such confusion improbable. 15 For a discussion of this source, see M. Kister, Ancient Jewish Traditions concerning Creatio ex Nihilo (forthcoming).

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 553

dynamics of monotheism II He has authority over His world to do in it whatever He wishes

553

The verse discussed above, in Part One, is not the only instance of expressions which, after being employed in the polemic against nonmonotheistic concepts, became problematic in dierent religious contexts. Here the use of one formula, referring to Gods sovereignty over the world, will be discussed. Legal categories are used in several biblical passages in order to express Gods relationship with His creatures. Some verses in the Book of Job refer to a quasi-legal argument between Job and God. At the core of this book is the problem of Gods justice, and justice, when referring to human beings, is the aim of jurisprudence. Elihu represents common theology when he says, See, God is beyond reach in His power; who is a sovereign like Him?16 Who (ever) reproached him for His conduct? Who (ever) said, You have done wrong? ( Job 36:22-23). Gods sovereignty is clearly related to His being uncondemnable. Job, on the other hand, argues that Gods absolute power over His creatures and the lack of symmetry between God and himself render any hypothetical fair trial with God impossible. Job says: I have followed in His tracks, kept His way without swerving . . . He is one; who can dissuade Him? Whatever He wishes, He does ( Job 23:11-13). Elsewhere, Job says that there is no one who can judge between God and a human being:
Indeed I know that it is so: Man cannot win a suit against God. If he insists on a trial with Him, He would not answer one charge in a thousand . . . Who ever challenged Him and came out whole?Him who moves mountains without their knowing it . . . who shakes the earth from its place . . . He snatches away (tjy)who can stop Him? Who can say to Him, What are you doing? . . . He is not a man, like me, . . . that we can go to law together. No arbiter is between us to lay His hand on us both ( Job 9:2-33).

Gods absolute sovereignty means that He may act as an arbitrary ruler, doing whatever He wishes, even if this is unjust. According to this argument, Gods omnipotence and His absolute will mean that He cannot be legally justied. Jobs conclusion is not Who can say to Him You have done wrong? (because God never does wrong), but
16 Hebrew: hrwm whmk ymw. The last word was correctly interpreted by the Septuagint as derived from arm in Aramaic, meaning owner, sovereign.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 554

554

menahem kister

rather who can say to Him What are you doing?, even in cases of unjust acts of God. Since sovereignty and justice are both legal concepts, the adaptation of jurisprudence for theological purposes is less surprising than it may seem at rst. We shall presently see how a legal formula concerning the absolute authority of an owner over his property is applied to the problem of the relationship between Gods absolute power and the justice of His acts. In the Book of Daniel the sovereignty of God is expressed as follows:
Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion and whose kingdom endures throughout the generations. All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account. He does as He wishes with the host of heaven, and with the inhabitants of the earth. There is none to object and say to Him, What have you done? (tdb[ hm hl rmayw hydyb ajmy yd ytya alw; Dan 4:31-32).

The terminology of this adoration of God expresses his absolute dominion, in much the same way as the royal sovereignty of the great king, Nebuchadnessar, is described in the same book: He put to death whom he wished and whom he wished he let live; he raised high whom he wished and whom he wished he brought low (5:19). The kings authority is described rather similarly by Qoheleth: he can do anything he pleases inasmuch as a kings command is authoritative, and no one can say to him, What are you doing (Eccl 8:3-4 wl rmay ymw h[t hm, precisely the same formula as Job 9:12). It has already been demonstrated that these expressions are based on legal formulae.17 A bill of sale from Nahal Seelim (rst c. C.E.?) reads: [hd]why flw (?) yr hbxt yd lk hb db[[m]lw hn[b]zmlw hnqml d hn[bzb yt]ryw anbz, You, Judah, the buyer, and your heirs have authority over this property to possess it and to sell it and to do in it whatever you wish.18 A Syriac bill of sale of the year 243 C.E. from Dura Europos reads:
17 See J. J. Rabinowitz, Jewish Law ( New York: Bloch, 1956), 17-23, 124-29; J. C. Greeneld, The Legal Terminology of the Nabatean Funerary Inscriptions, Henokh Yalon Memorial Volume (eds. E. Y. Kutscher, S. Lieberman and M. Kaddari; Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1974), 67-70 [Hebrew]; idem, The Genesis Apocryphon: Observations on Some Words and Phrases, Studies in Hebrew and Semitic Languages in Memory of E. Y. Kutscher (eds. P. Artzi et al.; Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, 1980), xxxii-xxxiv; A. Hurvitz, The History of a Legal Formula, VT 32 (1982): 257-67. 18 Nahal Seelim 9, 8-7; 23, 3; see A. Yardeni, The Nahal Seelim Documents ( Judean Desert Studies; Jerusalem: Ben Gurion University Press and Israel Exploration Society, 1995), 10, 16, 28, 53 [Hebrew]. Regarding the rst document Yardeni comments, According to the script, this document may be from the end of the Herodian period (13).

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 555

dynamics of monotheism

555

abxtd lk hb db[mlw . . . l tnbzd adh htmab fyl . . . tna You . . .


shall have authority over this maidservant I have sold you . . . and to do with her whatever you wish.19 A similar formula is documented as early as the Elephantine archives: tnml tybx yz mlw . . . fyl . . . tna You . . . shall have authority . . . and to whomever you wish, you may give it).20 It has also been demonstrated that the theological formulae in the Book of Daniel are legal expressions transferred to the theological sphere. It may be added that the same formula of the Syriac bill of sale is documented in the midrash: l br (Deut 3:26) you have a master (br), and the master has authority to do with his student whatever he wishes (hxwr awh hm dymltb tw[l fyl brhw Midrash ha-Gadol to Deut 3:21, ed. Fisch, 66). Clearly, we have here an exact parallel to the legal formula in the Syriac document, and it may well be that the original reading was and the master has authority to do with his slave whatever he wishes.21 The application of the concept of legal absolute authority to the realm of theology, as found in the Book of Daniel and elsewhere, means that every action of God in His world is justied ab initio because of His absolute ownership of the world. One may compare the midrash when a blind man came to you . . . you used to comfort him saying, had you built a house and you would not wish to open windows, who would object to you? (hnwb tyyh a dyb hjmm hyh ym, ynwlj jwtpl hxwr tyyh alw tyb; Tanh. Buber, Wayyishlah 8). This religious formulation was in use for many generations to express the adoration of the King of Kings as opposed to temporal sovereigns. The legal expression of the authority of the owner to do whatever he wishes cannot be distinguished from another expression, stressing Gods absolute will and omnipotence in contradistinction to the impotence of idols: For I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. Whatever the Lord wishes He does (Ps 135:5-6; cf.: whatever the Lord wishes He does, Job 23:13). In a fragment of the Testament of Qahat, preserved at Qumran, we read:

whb db[ml alwkb fylw aydb[m lwk armw hyml[ hla awh yd hnw[dntw
19 J. A. Goldstein, The Syriac Bill of Sale from Dura Europos, JNES 25 (1966): 2, lines 11-12. 20 A document from Elephantine (Kraeling 3.10-12; B. Porten and A. Yardeni, Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt [ Jerusalem: Akademon, 1989], 64 [text B3.4]). For the relationship between the two formulae, see above, n. 17. 21 The Hebrew word rav means both master of a slave and a teacher of a disciple (see most recently M. Kister, Words and Formulae in the Gospels in the Light of Hebrew and Aramaic Sources, in H.-J. Becker and S. Ruzer [eds.], The Sermon on the Mount and its Jewish Setting (CahRB 60; Paris: Gabalda, 2005), 123-27.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 556

556

menahem kister

htw[rk, and know Him, for He is the eternal God and the Lord of
every creature, and He has authority over everything to do with them whatever He wishes.22 A similar expression occurs in another Aramaic fragment from Qumran: lwk]b fyl wh yjl[p]w yljd wtna yd ayl[ byrq abxy yd lwk a[[ra, The Most High God, whom you adore and worship, has authority over [the whole ea]rth, and whomever He wishes He draws near (to Him).23 The formula occurs also in the Genesis Apocryphon, where God is addressed in the following words: hrm htna yd whlwkb db[ml fyl htna a[ra yklm lwkbw alwk l[ fylw You are Lord (literally: owner) and master of all, and you have authority over all the kings of the earth to punish all of them (20:13).24 A similar formula in a similar context (the contrast between God and the kings of the earth) underlies the martyrological story of 2Maccabees. According to this story, one of the martyrs says to the wicked king who tortures him: holding authority (jousa) among men, you do what you wish, being mortal . . . Go on and you shall nd how His sovereign power will torture you and your seed (2 Macc 7:16-17). A mortal king has sovereignty, absolute authority, to do whatever he wishes with his subjects, but God has the authority to punish him, who is Gods subject. The Samaritan liturgical poet, Amram Dara (fourth c. C.E.) articulated the idea very similarly:25

22 . Puech, Le Testament de Qahat en aramen de la grotte 4 (4QTQah) RQ 15 (1991): 33; . Puech, 4Q257, in . Puech (ed.), Qumrn grotte 4.XXII: Textes Aramens, Premire Partie, DJD XXXI (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 268. 23 J. T. Milik, Les modles aramens du livre dEsther dans la grotte 4 de Qumran, RQ 15 (1992): 351; K. Beyer, Die aramischen Texte vom toten Meer, Ergnzungsband (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993), 116. The translation suggested in the article (on the basis of its similarity to other formulae, see below) diers considerably from the renderings of Milik and Beyer. The sentence is put in the mouth of a gentile, who (nally?) comes to believe in the God of Israel. 24 N. Avigad and Y. Yadin, A Genesis Apocryphon ( Jerusalem: Magnes, 1956). Greeneld has discussed the legal background to the formula in the Genesis Apocryphon (The Genesis Apocryphon, xxxii-xxxiv). 25 Z. Ben-Hayyim, The Literary and Oral Tradition of Hebrew and Aramaic Amongst the Samaritans ( Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language, 1967), 3/2.62-64 [Hebrew]. For the date of the poet, see Ben-Hayyim, ibid., 12-13. A similar sentence occurs in the prologue to the rst section (apparently the original) of Tibat Marqe (ed. Z. Ben-Hayyim, Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1988, 40): wgl hlkw rbl yrwj tylw yhlah awh h .hl y[my lky fl alw lm alw y[b wd hm dwb[ whw . . . hnfl hnm Everything is in His dominion . . . and He does as He wishes and neither king nor ruler can object. YHWH is God and there is none other. This section belongs to the earliest strata of Tibat Marqe.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 557

dynamics of monotheism

557

The King who is above all and who rules heavens and earth, and in whose rule are all the kings, has authority to judge them and destroy them as He wishes.26 He does as He wishes and none can object.

The poem was written as a polemic against those who did not trust God and believed in a deity other than the true, monotheistic God (idol worshippers? Christians?). The Samaritan poet forcefully negates the idea that such a god exists. The terminology follows that of Daniel, although an ancient Samaritan poet can hardly be directly inuenced by the Book of Daniel. In Amrams poem the formula clearly serves as an argument against non-monotheistic beliefs, as is apparent from the context of the whole poem. However, according to the Mekhilta Pappias expounded the verse, He is one; who can dissuade Him. Whatever He wishes, He does ( Job 23:13) in the following words: He judges alone all the inhabitants of the world and none can contradict His decision, and Rabbi Akiva retorted: That is enough, PappiasThere is no possible argument against the words of Him who spoke and the world came into being, for every [decision] is in accordance with truth and with justice (Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael Va-Yehi, Section 6, ed. Horovitz-Rabin, 112). Both Rabbi Akivas sharp reaction to Pappias interpretation of the verse and the juxtaposition of this conversation with other bold sayings of Pappias in the Mekhilta reect the suspicion of the sages concerning a heretical point (or at least heretical potential) in Pappias statement.27 The omnipotence of the Deity according to the monotheistic system can be considered arbitrary. As we have just seen, God is exalted and reproached by the same formula; contrast the exaltation there is none to object and say to Him, what have you done? (Dan 4:32) with Jobs reproach of God, who can say to Him, what are you doing? ( Job 9:12). Protests against Gods acting in an arbitrary fashion were raised by non-Jews in relation to Jewish monotheism, according to some
26 The Aramaic text reads: hyklm lkw . . . hkmbw hmwrb hnflw hlkm l[ld hklm y[my rw[ alw y[b wd hm dwb[ . . . y[b wd h wl dbamw wl yad fyl hnflb. Ben-Hayyims

translation is slightly dierent; it reads: The ruler judges them and destroys them as he wishes. However, in view of the legal provenance of such formulae, as discussed above, it seems more correct to translate: He has the authority to judge. Indeed, the formulation in the Genesis Apocryphon (cited above n. 24) is very similar. 27 Kahana has suggested a Gnostic background to Pappias views in this passage (M. Kahana, The Critical Edition of Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael in the Light of the Genizah Fragments, Tarbiz 55 [1986]: 512, n. 119; 514, n. 123 [Hebrew]). It is doubtful, however, whether such views may be labelled Gnostic, since the emphasis in the midrash is on the arbitrary omnipotence of one god, unlike Gnostic dualistic systems.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 558

558

menahem kister

rabbinic sources. Avot de-Rabbi Nathan Version B (Ch. 1, ed. Schechter, 3-4) contains the following passage:
All the inhabitants of the world would have said to Moses,28 Because He has authority29 over His world, He kills whomever He wishes and leaves (untouched) whomever He wishes. What did the people of the generation of the Flood do to Him that He [washed them away and] oated them like water skins? What did the people of the generation of the Tower of Babel do to Him that He scattered them over the earth? What did the people of Sodom do to Him that He destroyed30 them with re and brimstone? And what did His people do to Him that He exiled them from His land?!31

This argument is very similar to one expressed in Genesis Rabbah: Thus if one says, Whomever He wishes to enrich, He enriches; whomever He wishes to impoverish, He impoverishes; whomever He desires He makes a king. When He so wished (arbitrarily), He made Abraham
28 On the reading and the syntactical pattern of this sentence see M. Kister, Studies in Avot de-Rabbi Nathan: Text, Redaction and Interpretation ( Jerusalem: Ben Zvi Institute and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1998), 104-5 [Hebrew]. The meaning of this sentence is: (If Moses had not predicted Israels exile as a punishment for their sins), all the inhabitants of the world would have said to Moses etc. 29 This is the reading of MS Munich 222 and of the partial quotation of this passage in MS Munich 210 (see Kister, Studies in Avot de-Rabbi Nathan, 104-5, 234). In MS Parma and in the citation of the passage in the commentary of R. Yom Tov Zahalon the reading is: flw. However, the text clearly reects the general legal formula which includes the term fyl. 30 For the reading, see Kister, Studies in Avot de-Rabbi Nathan, 104-105. 31 See also Sifre Deut. 307 (ed. Finkelstein, 345): [The Rockthe Powerful One] whose work (or: reward; poolo) is perfectHis reward ( peullato) is perfect regarding all the inhabitants of the world and none may criticize His deeds in even the slightest way and none may observe [history] and say, Did the people in the generation of the Flood deserve (ma rau) being washed away in water? Did the people of the Tower of Babel deserve being scattered to all ends of the earth? Did the people of Sodom deserve being destroyed by re and brimstone? Did Aaron deserve taking the priesthood? Did David deserve taking the monarchy? Did Korah and his company deserve being swallowed up by the earth?The verse says, All His ways are justHe judges each one of them and gives each one what he deserves (ma she-rauy lo). For the phrase wtlw[p lw[ yab lb [ hml, which I rendered by His reward is perfect cf. the parallel in Avot de-Rabbi Nathan Version A (Ch. 1, ed. Schechter, 3): wlb wytwyrb lk rk ayxwh Who dispenses perfectly (be-shalom) the reward of every creature (see Kister, Studies in Avot de-Rabbi Nathan, 47). Peullato [literally: His action] here means His reward or recompense, as in Sifre Deut. 307 (ed. Finkelstein, 345). Marmorstein interprets Section 311 in Sifre Deut. as an anti-Marcionite polemic (A. Marmorstein, The Background of the Haggadah, HUCA 6 [1926]: 149-50). It seems to me, however, that the precise identication of the opponents as Marcionites has not been proved. Cf. also a similar wording (in a dicult context) attributed to the nations of the world in Mekhilta deRabbi Shimon ben Yohai, ed. Epstein and Melamed, 2.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 559

dynamics of monotheism

559

wealthy, and when He so wished He made him a king (Gen. Rab. 55:1, ed. Theodor-Albeck, 585; compare to Dan 5:19). Similarly a Matron asked Rabbi Jose, Your God draws near whomever He wishes (Midr. Sam. 8:2, ed. Buber 70; cf. the wording in the Testament of Qohat cited above: whomever He wishes He draws near [to Him], and cf. Jobs criticism of Gods behaviour: whatever He wishes He does [ Job 23:13]). In a relatively late midrashic source we read:
The Holy One, blessed be He, said: had I killed them [i.e., the wicked] when they were young, I would have given the inhabitants of the world the excuse to argue against Me, saying What He wishes to do He does and none can object, as it is written He does as He wishes with the host of heaven, and with the inhabitants of the earth. There is none to object and say to Him, What have you done? (Dan 4:32). The Holy One, blessed be He, said: . . . I knew Haman[s wickedness] and I could kill him when he was young, but I delayed [his death] and made him great in the [whole] world in order to manifest to all the inhabitants of the world how wicked he was (Panim Aherim to Esth 3:1, Version B, ch. 6, ed. Buber, 80).

In this passage the positive verse, Dan 4:32, turns into a possible argument against Gods actions. The formula of Dan 4:32 is perceived as summarizing an attack on God because of His arbitrary conduct. Thus, the emphasis on the unlimited power of Godwhich came, inter alia, as a reaction to non-monotheistic systems of thoughtopened the door for the argument that the one God behaved arbitrarily and acted in an uncontrolled manner. Such a view had to be moderated by the writers of the Second Temple period and by the Sages.32 A sage could answer the claim of the heathen that the Land of Israel was stolen property in the hands of the Jews by pure legal reasoning: The whole world belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He.
32 Emphasis is occasionally put on Gods unlimited capacity to forgive and abrogate previously decided just punishments, as in Rabbi Akivas statements: [You whose powerful deeds] no god in heaven or on earth can equal (Deut 3:24)Gods behaviour is not like that of humans. In the human system of things the more important person can abrogate the decisions of the less important; but who can object to what You do? Therefore Scripture says: He is one; who can dissuade Him ( Job 23:13) (Sifre Num. 134 [ed. Horovitz, 180]); and: A [human] prefect who rules over his province fears that his co-prefect may revoke his decision, but You, who has no co-prefect, why do you not forgive me? When a human ruler judges he is afraid that the other judges will argue against him, but You, who has no other judges with You, why do you not forgive me? (Sifre Deut. 27). It is interesting to note that the proof verse cited in this

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 560

560

menahem kister

When He so wished, He gave [the land] to you and when He so wished He took it away from you and gave it to us (Rabbi Joshua of Sikhnin in the name of Rabbi Levi, Gen. Rab. 1:2, ed. TheodorAlbeck, 4-5).33 However, the author of The Wisdom of Solomon felt a need to qualify this answer by stressing in addition divine justice:
For who shall say to you, What have you done? or who shall take issue with your decision? Who shall bring a charge against you for having
midrash is Job 23:13 rather than Gods exaltation in Dan 4:32. See also M. Kahana (A Critical Edition, 489-524). 33 From the premise that the whole world belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He it follows that legal ownership formulae may be applied to God. In this case the legal formula according to which the owner may do whatever he wishes with his property, buy and sell it to whom he wishes is applied to God (see above; see also Greeneld, Nabataean Legal Grave Inscriptions, 67 n. 21). This formula is rather current in the Quran. See especially: Say: O Allah! Owner of sovereignty! You give sovereignty unto whom You wish, and seize sovereignty from whom You wish, You exalt whom You wish and abase whom You wish. In Your hand is the good; You are able (qadir; cf. Greeneld, Nabataean, 72-73) to do all things . . . You bring forth the living from the dead, and You bring forth the dead from the living and You give sustenance to whomever You wish, without reckoning (Quran 3:26). This verse should be compared to Dan 5:19 (referring to Nebuchadnezzars sovereignty): You bring forth the living from the dead, and You bring forth the dead from the living (cf. 6:95, 10:31, 30:19) is an elaboration of the words in Daniel: He put to death whom he wished and whom he wished he let live. The originally legal formula discussed here is used in the Quran also in the context of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish polemic. (1) Anti-Christian polemic: according to Muhammad the Messiah cannot be God because God can do whatever He wishes with His creatures, including the Messiah (5:17); (2) anti-Jewish polemic: the Jews are esh and blood and as such they do not have a permanent Grace from God, because God forgives whom He wishes and chastises whom He wishes, Allahs is the sovereignty of heaven and earth and all that is between them (5:18), and He can forgive the Muslims and chastise the Jews. Note that the legal formula is expressed here in religious terms (forgive). Elsewhere, the Quran deals with the decrees against Israel in Egypt. Moses says to the Children of Israel: And Moses said unto his people, Seek help in Allah and be patient. The earth is Allahs. He gives it for an inheritance to whom He wishes among His servants . . . It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors in the land . . . and We caused the folk who were abased to inherit the east and the west of the land We have blessed, and perfectly was fullled the fair word of your Lord for the Children of Israel for what they have endured patiently (7:127-28, 137). This is a metamorphosis of the saying in Genesis Rabbah, The whole world belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He. When He so wished, He gave [the land] to you and when He so wished He took it away from you and gave it to us. The Egyptians punishment is linked here with the conquering of Canaan. Similar formulae are quite current in the Quran: God leads astray whomever He wishes, and guides whomever He wishes (e.g., 14:4; 16:93; 35:8; 39:32), but these formulae seem to be derived from the legal formula with which we are dealing. The relation of Quranic formulae to this Aramaic legal formula has been noted, from a dierent angle, by Greeneld ( J. C. Greeneld, The Verb sallata in the Quran in the Light of Aramaic Usage, JSAI 9 [1987]: 36-41).

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 561

dynamics of monotheism

561

destroyed nations of your own making? Who shall come as an avenger of the unrighteous to plead their cause before you? For neither is there any God beside you who cares for all to induce you to demonstrate that your verdict was not unjust . . . But being just you manage all things justly . . . (Wis 12:12-18).34

According to Rabbi Levi, Gods authority over the world is sucient to justify the uprooting of the Canaanites, for the owner can do whatever he wishes with his property, and there is no need of any other ethical and theological justications. The author of the Wisdom of Solomon, on the other hand, begins by using the formula who shall say to you, what have you done?, but feels the need to emphasize that God is by His essence just, and that there can be no doubt that He would not apply His innite strength arbitrarily.35 These two elements, divine authority on the one hand and divine justice on the other hand, are combined in the benediction to be recited in a house of mourning: God of truth, true judge, judges in righteousness, takes away justly and has authority over His world to do in it as He wishes. (b. Ber. 46b). The formulation, God of truth, a truthful judge, who judges in righteousness and takes away justly was put before the second formulation, has authority over His world, to do in it as He wishes, in order to prevent any thought that the death being mourned was an arbitrary act on the part of God. It is against the background of the protests of opponents and sensitivities of believers regarding God judging alone that one can understand the motivation for a saying of Rabbi Judah ben Pazi and Rabbi Johanan recorded in the Palestinian Talmud:
Rabbi Judah ben Pazi said: Even the Holy One, blessed be He, does not judge alone, as it is written [I call upon you to hear the word of the Lord! I saw the Lord seated on his throne] with all the host of heaven standing in attendance (1 Kgs 22:19), . . . Rabbi Johanan said, The Holy One, blessed be He, does nothing in His world until He consults with the heavenly court. Why is this? and the legal act (?)36 was truthful37
34 Translation according to D. Winston, The Wisdom of Solomon (New York: Doubleday, 1979; AB), 237-38. 35 Winston, Wisdom of Solomon, 242, has already pointed to the parallel in Genesis Rabbah, but did not discuss the conceptual connection between the two sources. 36 The word davar denotes word, thing, but it also has the meaning of legal act. 37 Similarly, later in that source: What is the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He? Rabbi Bibbi said in the name of Rabbi Reuben: Truth. We may note that an ancient Jewish seal (probably of Babylonian provenance) bears the word Truth, apparently

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 562

562

menahem kister
and38 a great host (Dan 10:1)when is the seal of the Holy One truth? At the time He consults with the heavenly court ( y. Sanh. 1:1, 18a).

Aggadic midrashim that were redacted later than the Palestinian Talmud connect the saying of R. Judah ben Pazi with the dispute between Pappias and Rabbi Akiva which was discussed above. A classical midrash, Cant. Rab., already contains a combination of the expositions. In this source Rabbi Akiva answers Pappias:
Enough, Pappias. No one can argue against Him who spoke and the world came into being, because everything [He does] is true and all is just, as it is written, I saw the Lord seated upon His throne with all the host of heaven standing in attendance to His right and His left (1 Kgs 22:19), . . . some ruling to acquit and some ruling to convict. Rabbi Johanan in the name of Rabbi Aha brought proof from this verse: and the legal act (?) was truthful and a great host (Dan 10:1) . . . (Cant. Rab. 1:9).

An integral combination of the two sayings occurs in the Tanhuma to Exodus (Shemot, 18 = Shemot, ed. Buber, 14):
R. Pappias expounded: Because He is single in His world and none can object to his (actions), He does whatever He wishes to do, as it is written: [He is one; who can dissuade Him,] Whatever He wishes, He does ( Job 23:13). R. Akiva retorted: Enough, Pappias! One should not so expound. What is the meaning of [the verse] He is one; who can dissuade Him? Just like one asks (law) below [on earth], He asks above [in heaven] . . . The Holy One, blessed be He, conducts a debate on the case and asks, How should the verdict on so-and-so be decided? And they [the angels] answer, Thus should it be decided! and the Holy One, blessed be He, agrees.39

This section began with a very clear-cut monotheistic formulation and it is concluded with formulations according to which angels are active
under the inuence of parallel Sassanian seals (S. Shaked, Jewish and Christian Seals of the Sassanian Period, in Studies in Memory of G. Viet [ed. M. Rosen-Ayalon; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1977], 26). It seems to me worthwhile drawing attention to this seal as a possible background to R. Reuvens midrash, notwithstanding the distance between Babylonia and Palestine. 38 The waw may be interpreted as meaning when (i.e., when [there is] a great host), or as an alternative for beth (waw and beth are interchangeable in Mishnaic Hebrew (i.e., [decided] by a great host). 39 The translations of Berman and Townsend are erroneous; see S. A. Berman, Midrash TanhumaYelamdenu ( Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1996), 1.336-37; J. T. Townsend, Midrash Tanhuma (S. Buber Recension) (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav 1997), 13.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 563

dynamics of monotheism

563

partners in Gods management of the world and in the divine dispensation of justice. The external objections to monotheism and the internal need to prove that Gods innite power does not cause Him to decide arbitrarily in His judgments or actions brought about the need to nd a counter-balance to Gods judging alone within the framework of monotheism, even if the process involved a sharp paradox. The general theological issue is exceedingly complicated, and its numerous aspects (e.g., God as king, the nature of the divine justice, the ideal conduct of a king) can hardly be exhausted. Instead of trying to do so, we traced a specic religio-legal formula in its various contexts, observing the dynamics of the interrelationship between sets of ideas. It has enabled us to observe the dialectic development of an idea in the religious world of the rabbis. III Let us make man in our image Gen 1:26-27 reads:
And God said, Let us make man in our image and our likeness (h[n wntwmdk wnmlxb da), and they shall rule the sh of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle . . . And God created man in His image, in the image of God (yhla lxb wmlxb) He created him; male and female He created them.

For readers of Genesis, there are two major theological problems in this passage: (a) the plural form in Gods statement, which seems to suggest some sort of plurality in the divine: vestiges, perhaps, of ancient myths, as also seems to be the case in another verse, namely And the Lord God said, Now that man has become like one of us . . . (Gen 3:22);40 and (b) the signicance of image and likeness when these words refer to God. Several versions treat only the second problem,41
40 Although, according to biblical source criticism, this verse belongs to another source, the verses reect the same phenomenon, and therefore can still be discussed in conjunction. See also Weinfeld, God the Creator, 115-16. 41 (a) The Septuagint translates wntwmdk (Gen 1:26) kay movsin, and see below in the body of the paper; yhla twmdb (Gen 5:1) is translated kat ekna yeo (= the translation of lx in Gen 1:26), and wtwmdb dlwyw wmlxk (Gen 5:3) kat tn dan ato ka kat tn ekna ato; yhla lxb (Gen 9:6): n ekni yeo (note the dierence of preposition; n in the last verse is closer to the Hebrew). (b) Onkelos leaves the Hebrew words and does not translate them into Aramaic (see A. Geiger, Ha-Miqra veTargumav, Hebrew appendices to Geigers Urschrift [ Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1972],

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 564

564

menahem kister

trying to avoid a literal translation of the phrases in our image, in the image of God and after our likeness, while all the known ancient versions retain the plural form (us) at the beginning of the
332-34 [Hebrew]). (c) The Palestinian Targumiun (MS Neoti and the Fragment Targum) translate Gen 1:27: In an image from before the Lord, the words from before being added (as many other additions of the same character) out of respectful piety. nyrvpon n ekni diafor (d) Symmachus translates Gen 1:27: ka ktisen yew ton ryion yew ktisen atn (= And God created man in a special form, upright did God create him). This translation is extraordinary in its interpretive changes when compared to Symmachus literal translation of v. 26. For a wide discussion of this translation, see: A. Salvesen, Symmachus in the Pentateuch ( JSSM 15; Manchester: University of Manchester, 1991), 6-7. Regarding the connection of upright walking with the image of God, the closest parallel is in Ovids Metamorphoses, where the creation of man is described thus; . . . and moulded into the form (in egiem) of the all-controlling gods. And, though all other animals are prone, and x their gaze upon the earth, he gave to man an uplifted face and bade him stand erect (erectos) and turn his eyes to heaven. (Ovid, Metam. 1.83-86 [tr. F. J. Miller; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977; LCL]). The general similarity between Ovids description and that of the Bible has been realized for quite some time (for parallels to these lines from the classical world, see the commentary to Metamorphoses, F. Bmer, Metamorphosen [Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1969], 1.42-46); it appears that Symmachos incorporated a Hellenistic idea into his interpretation of the biblical verse. On the other hand, Symmachus understood the word God to be in the nominative and not in the genitive, i.e., he believes that the phrase yhla lxb is not a construct phrase. (e) Pseudo-Jonathan follows Symmachus on this last point as do, apparently, some manuscripts of Targum Onkelos; Geigers note (Ha-Miqra, 332-34) is instructive. See also A. Aptowitzer, La cration de lhomme daprs les anciens interprtes, REJ 75 (1922): 1-4. (f ) The Samaritan Targum manuscripts translate lxb yhla (in the image of God) in various ways: In Gen 1:26-27 both MS J and MS A oer a translation close to the plain meaning (although the former copies the Hebrew words wnmlxb wntwmdk without translating them), but in Gen 5:1 MS A has hyklm tybtb, i.e., in the form of angels). The ancient tri-lingual Samaritan dictionary Ha-Melis testies to the existence of a similar translation for Gen 1:26 (tybt ykalf; Z. Ben-Hayyim, The Literary and Oral Tradition of Hebrew and Aramaic Amongst the Samaritans [ Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language, 1957], 2.444 [Hebrew]. See also Ben Hayyims note to his edition of Tibat Marqe, 116, n. 4 to fol. 62b). Ha-melis also testies to the existence of free, interpretive translations of the word lx: ability, knowledge (Ben-Hayyim, Hebrew, 2.569). In v. 26 MS D reads nflb and in v. 27 the words yhla lxb wmlxb are translated yhlad atr[wxb hnflb. (in His sovereignty, in the image of God). All the textual data regarding the Samaritan Pentateuch translations are derived from the edition of A. Tal, The Samaritan Targum of the Pentateuch ( Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1980), 1.4. See also Tibat Marqe, 2:1 (ed. Ben-Hayyim, 110, n. 1 to fol. 57a). However, according to Ben-Hayyim, this section, as well as Tibat Marqe 3:51 (ed. Ben-Hayyim, 200-201), are of the younger strata of this composition. To sum up: there are indeed only very few translations which did not address themselves to the problem of the image of God. Dealing with Samaritan translations to this verse, it is worth noting that the interpretation that image refers to the image of the angels (see: A. Tal, Un fragment inedit du Targum Samaritain, Salvacin en la palabra: Targum, derash, berith, en memoria del profesor A. Dez Macho [ed. D. Muoz Leon; Madrid: Cristiandad, 1986], 537; H.-M. Schenke, Der Gott Mensch in der Gnosis [Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962], 120-43, especially 132. The latter work contains also a survey of Jewish, Christian

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 565

dynamics of monotheism

565

verse.42 On the other hand, in the aggadic rabbinic material the exegetical and conceptual focus was on interpreting the plural form in Gen 1:26 (at times in the course of open confrontation with heretics,43 but more frequently in covert polemics against them), whereas the expression image of God was not seen as presenting a major theological problem which required explanation. The Church Fathers were particularly concerned with the image of God problem, continuing Jewish traditions, both Hellenistic (Philo, Paul) and Palestinian.44

and Gnostic interpretations of Gen 1:26; J. E. Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism [WUNT 36; Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1985], 94 n. 45, 204 n. 38). A similar interpretation can be found in the medieval commentary of Rav Saadya Gaonsee M. Zucker, Rav Saadya Gaons Commentary to Genesis (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1984), 51-53 [Arabic]; 253-54, 256 [Hebrew translation and notes; the translation should be used cautiously]. See also: Aptowitzer, La cration, 4 n. 1. However, ancient paytanic works demonstrate that this interpretation was common in ancient times: You carved him out in wisdom in the image (lxb) of the sons of God (i.e., the angels) and made him a little less than the image (twmdm) of his Maker (Az be-Ein Kol ed. J. Yahalom [ Jerusalem: Magnes, 1997], 84-85, lines 197-98); You commanded Let us make man in the image (twmdb) of those whose faces are the face of man. (an unpublished piyyut of Yanai cited by Yahalom in his notes). The creation of man in the image of the angels seems to be alluded to in a Qumran fragment ( J. J. Collins, In the Likeness of the Holy Ones: The Creation of Humankind in a Wisdom Text from Qumran, The Provo International Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls [STDJ 30; eds. D. W. Parry and E. Ulrich; Leiden: Brill, 1999], 609-18. The fragment still needs a detailed interpretation). Indeed, if we assume that God was addressing the angels, it is logical to say that the plural form (our image, after our likeness) refers to both God and the angels, assuming that they share some common image. (It is easy to understand that the phrase according to our image was interpreted as referring solely to the angels in order to avoid such a problematic assumption; see also Rav Saadya Gaon, in his commentary to Gen 1:26 cited above). For the translation hykalm tybtk cf. MS A of the Samaritan translation to Gen 5:24 And Enoch walked with God; and was no more, for the angels (Hebrew yhla) took him. The tradition that the Hebrew yhla in this verse means angels is very ancient and can be traced back to the Second Temple period (as should be discussed at length elsewhere). Another Samaritan interpretation (ny[dmb), in our wisdom, is to be found in Rav Saadya Gaons commentary, and the Church Fathers interpretations of the verse are replete with it. (See also in a fragment of Divre ha-Meorot from Qumran ]- - - You created [Adam] in the image of [Your] glory- - -[- - -] You breathed into his nostril, and understanding and wisdom [You lled him] [4Q504 8 4-5; M. Baillet, Qumrn grotte 4.III (4Q482-4Q520) (DJD VII; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), 162]; it is unclear, however, to what extent these lines are related to Gen 1:26-27.) For an interesting interpretation of other aspects of the image of God problem see Y. Lorberbaum, Tselem Elohim: Halakha ve-Aggada ( Tel-Aviv: Schocken 2004; Hebrew). 42 Only Pseudo-Jonathan explains the plural form; see below. 43 See, for example, Gen. Rab. 8:8 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 61); 8:9 (63). 44 The source of the interpretation that the image of God has something to do with rulership is ancient. In Jewish literature it is rst explicitly suggested by Rav Saadya

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 566

566

menahem kister

The Septuagint shrank from translating the word wntwmdk (in our likeness) literally and instead gave kay movsin, i.e., according to likeness without the possessive pronoun, perhaps because it felt that it was too daring to state that man was created not only in the image of God but was also actually like Him.45 (Likeness of human beings to God can bear an extremely daring interpretation, cf. the Neophiti translation: b qpn dk [like us].46) The various talmudic traditions concerning deviations from the biblical (Masoretic) text by the translators

Gaon in his commentary to Gen 1:26 (ed. Zucker, 257; see also MS D of the Samaritan translation [above, n. 41, sect. f ]). However, the interpretation can also be found in the writings of several Church Fathers (see Aptowitzer, La cration, 4-6), and, indeed, is hinted at as early as Ben Sira (17:3). The Hebrew text of the passage has not survived (Zucker has noted the similar interpretation of the image of God in Ben Sira and Saadya [Zucker, ibid., 257, n. 286*]). The Hebrew Vorlage of the Greek version of Ben Sira can be reconstructed as following: *Like Him* He clothed them with strength and in His image He created them. It seems that the Greek translation is to be preferred over the Syriac (where the end of the verse is entirely dierent), and that the verse should be considered as evidence of the biblical interpretation of Ben Sira, the Palestinian sage. But even if this is not the case, the Greek version of Ben Sira is certainly evidence of such interpretation in the verse. The same notion also appears in ancient Piyyutim (liturgical poems). An ancient piyyut reads: To weave the unformed (lwg) in the image of His fear, to make him a little less than God (yhla) (Az be-Daat Hakar in: A. Mirsky, The Piyyutim of Jose ben Jose [2d ed.; Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1991], 225). It is also possible that the piyyut of Jose ben Jose, Atta Konanta Olam be-Rov Hesed, should be interpreted in this manner: To be like God, an ocer and a ruler (ibid., 181, line 23; the idiom ocer and ruler is taken from Prov 6:7). In Gen. Rab. 8:12, too, the term lx is associated with authority, but, it seems, from a dierent aspect. As an adjunct to this discussion I would mention the suggestion of S. E. Loewenstamm (Beloved is Man that He was Created in the Image, in idem, Comparative Studies in Biblical and Ancient Oriental Literatures [AOAT 204; Neukirchen Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1980], 48-50), that the image of God was a metaphor for kingdom in the ancient East, which is indeed the direction of the interpretation we have discussed above. It should be noted, however, that Gen 5:3 can only bear a literal interpretation (but this passage may be considered a later layer of P). See also Weinfeld, God the Creator, 113-16. It appears that the ancient meaning of twmdw lx image and likeness was icon; see J. C. Greeneld and A. Shaer, Notes on the Curse Formulae of the Tell Fekherye Inscription, RB 92 (1985): 49. 45 The Greek word movsiw, like the Hebrew twmd, can be understood as likeness or form (synonym to image) Septuagint rendering of twmd in Gen 5:1 (note also the dierent translation of Gen 5:3) may be another indication that the rendering of this word in Gen 1:26 was inuenced by theological considerations in omitting the possessive pronoun. See also: G. Veltri, Eine Tora fr den Knig Talmai: Untersuchungen zum bersetzungsverstndnis in der jdisch-hellenistischen und rabbinischen Literatur ( TSAJ 41; Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1994), 35-36. 46 Cf. other aggadic passages in which God says: Behold, I am like you or Behold, You are like Me; see S. Lieberman, Shekiin (2d ed.; Jerusalem: Wahrmann Books, 1970), 14, 99 [Hebrew]. (S. Eli. Rab., ch. [13] 14 [ed. Friedmann, 68] should be added to the list of sources cited by Lieberman.)

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 567

dynamics of monotheism

567

of the Septuagint47 report that Gen 1:26 was rendered in the Septuagint Let Me make man in image and likeness. This involved two changes: (a) the plural form, Let us make was changed to the singular (which is not the case in the Septuagint text as far as it is known to us);48 and (b) the removal of the possessive pronoun from both our image and our likeness.49 It seems that the removal of the pronouns stemmed from a feeling of uneasiness at the extreme anthropomorphism in the verse, uneasiness shared by many other ancient Bible translations.50 The phenomenon of not translating possessive pronouns relating to God is attested elsewhere in the Septuagint;51 moreover, the Septuagint as we know it did not retain the possessive pronoun in rendering the word wntwmdk (in our image), although the pronoun of wnmlxb (in our likeness) was retained. One may raise the question whether a version of the Greek Bible which read in image and likeness (or according to image and according to likeness) ever existed.52 A clue to the answer can be found in the Gnostic myths relating to the verse in question, as narrated by some Church Fathers. Epiphanius tells of the system of Satornilus according to which the seven angels who rebelled against the supreme God created the world and made man in the form of the lustrous

47 Mek. R. Yish. Pisha 14 (to Ex. 12:40; ed. Horovitz-Rabin, 50); y. Meg. 1:11, 71d; b. Meg. 9a. 48 The alteration of the plural sux of the verb in Gen 11:7 to the singular, according to the rabbinic list of alleged alterations in the Septuagint (cf. above, n. 47), suggests that the alteration from plural to singular in Gen 1:26, according to the same list, reects the same theological sensitivity. 49 It is interesting to note that these words were not altered, according to these traditions, into my image and likeness in the singular. 50 See above, n. 41. 51 E. Tov, Rabbinic Tradition Regarding the Changes which were made in the Septuagint of the Torah and the Question of the Original Version of this Translation, Isac Leo Seeligmann Volume: Essays in the Bible and the Ancient World, Hebrew Section I (eds. A. Rof and Y. Zakovitch; Jerusalem: Rubinstein, 1983), 389 [Hebrew]. Tovs suggestion that the omissionaccording to rabbinic sourcesof the personal pronoun in the Septuagint to this verse was based on an ancient Hebrew Vorlage does not seem reasonable to me. (On this point Tov follows, tacitly, Geiger, Ha-Miqra, 332-34). Tovs general view (ibid., 371-93) to the eect that the rabbinic tradition reects an earlier stage of the Septuagint does not seem to me to be well-founded, since the rabbinic list contains mainly alterations which are of theological and contextual signicance, or were so regarded by the rabbis, and such changes may well reect a reworked version of the Septuagint rather than its otherwise unattested original version. 52 This question can be posed particularly because the second possessive pronoun was not rendered in the Septuagint. It could therefore be argued that the rabbinic tradition reects this in a somewhat inaccurate manner.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 568

568

menahem kister

image (ekn, rendering selem), which looked down from above, the nature of which they did not fully understand. As Epiphanius puts it:
The charlatan [Satornilus] dramatically represents the angels as saying, Let us make man in an image and after a likeness. To give his imposture plausibility he [Satornilus] falsied the word our, spoken in Genesis by the holy God, <but> retained in an imageas though other persons were making an image, if you please, and <were showing> that it was someone elses image <by> saying, Let us make man in an image and after a likeness.53

This passage54 allows us to hypothesize that it is a Gnostic interpretation of a reading in a Greek translation, in an image after likeness, without possessive pronouns, a reading similar to the alleged reading of the Septuagint in rabbinic sources.55 Such a reading could originally have emerged within the Jewish community in order to avoid anthropomorphism. In the course of time it was utilized by heretics as the basis for an alternative creation story, according to which the angelsand not the supreme and true Godcreated the world. *
53 Epiphanius, Panarion, 23.4-7, ed. K. Holl, (GCS 25; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1915), 1:248-49 (E.T.: F. Williams, The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis [NHS 35; Leiden: Brill, 1987], 1.64). Holl points to the omission of the pronoun in the citation of the verse from Genesis also in Irenaeus and Hippolytus. I chose to cite Epiphanius because of his explicit mention of the problem of the pronouns in the verse. Later (23.5) Epiphanius returns to this argument and emphasizes that in our verse God spoke to his Logos, and that nothing resulted from His consultation with the angels (ode kat tn tn gglvn sumboula ti ggonen). 54 Indeed, in the Gnostic work titled On the Origin of the World this verse is quoted and interpreted according to the extant wording of the Septuagint. According to this work, the archons said to each other, Let us make man from the earth according to the image of our bodies and according to the likeness of that one [i.e., of the Man of the Light, their enemy] (On the Origin of the World 112-113, ed. J. M. Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library [Leiden: Brill, 1977], 170). Here in our image is put in opposition to likeness, not our likeness. This is a heretical interpretation of the Septuagint text as we have it. It can be argued that the version cited by Epiphanius (and others) reects a heretical interpretation of another version of the Septuagint to Gen 1:26. Compare to this analysis O. Wintermute, A Study of Gnostic Exegesis of the Old Testament, The Use of the Old Testament in the New and other Essays: Studies in Honor of W.F. Stinespring (ed. J. M. Erd; Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1972), 263-64. For additional parallels to this myth see: Williams, The Panarion of Epiphanius of Cyprus, 1.64 n. 6. 55 It should be noted, however, that the plural in the words let us make at the beginning of the verse was retained in Satornilus account, unlike the rabbinic list of Septuagint translations allegedly deviating from MT.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 569

dynamics of monotheism

569

As mentioned above, the translators of the Septuagint (according to talmudic sources) allegedly altered the plural form naase (let us) to the singular, eese (let me). This alteration, as well as similar ones,56 reveals sensitivity to pagan arguments.57 From Philos remark, only God knows the truest reason for this (Opic. 72),58 it is clear that the diculty as to why only in the case of the human being he attributed his coming into existence not to a single creator . . . but as if to plurality (ibid.) engaged his attention. Bearing in mind also Gnostic interpretations drawing support from our verse, according to which divine forces played a special role in the creation of man and the world, as well as the Christian interpretation, for which the verse is evidence for the cooperation of the Father and the Son, the attention given to the plural form in ancient Jewish interpretation is easily understandable.59 As early as Justin Martyrs Dialogue with Trypho two interpretations by the Jewish sages (o didskaloi mn) of the plural form are recorded, and, of course, rejected (Ch. 62): (1) God said Let us make to Himself; and (2) God said it to the elements (stoixea), i.e., to the earth and the other elements from which man was created. Justin also mentions another opinion (3) which is considered by you to be heretical ( par mn legomnh aresiw), that God said Let us make man to the angels, and created the physical body of man. Such an opinion is, according to Justin Martyr, considered heretical by the Jews. Justin himself claims that the phrase Let us make man was stated by God the Father to the Son, who is identied with the wisdom with which God created the world, as is written in the Book of Proverbs: The Lord created me at the beginning of His course as the rst of His works of old . . . I was with Him as a condant . . . (8:22-35). Ancient Christian commentators after Justin follow this interpretation. A comparison of the interpretations mentioned above with opinions in the Midrash is interesting. In Gen. Rab. 8:3-8 (ed. Theodor-Albeck,

56 Note especially the alleged alteration of plural to singular in Gen 11:7 (above, n. 48). 57 Indeed, in the course of time Julian the Apostate did give a pagan interpretation to Genesis 11:7 and, apparently, also to our verse; see Contra Galilaeos 146B (The Works of the Emperor Julian, ed. W. C. Wright, [LCL; London: W. Heinemann, 1923], 3:356359); cf. also 58A-D (Wright, 334-37). 58 D. T. Runia, Philo of Alexandria: On the Creation of the Cosmos according to Moses: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 65, 239. 59 On the midrash of this verse, see J. L. Kugel, Traditions of the Bible (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), 51-52.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 570

570

menahem kister

58-62) the question Let us make manwith whom did He take counsel? is asked. Many answers are given, among them: (1) He consulted with the works of heaven and earth, which is parallel to the opinion that God said let us make to the elements; (2) He consulted with the angels. This view, prevalent in midrashic literature, is parallel to what Justin called the heretical opinion; (3) He consulted with His heart, on which I shall elaborate below. It should be emphasized that even those answers which are parallel to the interpretations given by Justin are not identical to them. Attention should be paid to the fact that the question in the midrash is With whom did God take counsel (as Urbach has emphasized),60 and not To whom did God say Let us make man (as Justin formulated it, a wording implying a partnership, however minimal). It has already been demonstrated61 that the expositions regarding Gods consultation with the angels are, in fact, eorts at rening a tradition according to which the angels had an active role in the creation of man, i.e., in the creation of the human body. This view is indeed prevalent in Gnostic literature. Both Philo and the Gnostics divide the creation of man between two forces: the angels and God.62 The description of the creation of living beings in Platos Timaeus (41b-d), where the act of

60 E. E. Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (E.T., Jerusalem: Magnes, 1979) 205. Later, we shall see that the term consultation served for this matter from ancient times. See also below, 579 and nn. 93-96. 61 J. Fossum, Gen. 1,26 and 2,7 in Judaism, Samaritanism, and Gnosticism, JSJ 16 (1985): 202-39. A considerable part of Fossums discussion relates to later sources, both Samaritan and Jewish. However, even if we ignore the later sources, his main thesis is sound. Urbach (The Sages, 207) considers the rabbinic interpretation concerning the consultation with the angels as a reaction to Christian interpretation, whereas Fossum (The Name of God, 201-20) considers it as a remnant of an ancient exegesis censured because of Gnostic speculations (220). I shall try to suggest a more complex model of development. 62 Notwithstanding the enormous dierence between them, the Gnostic system and Philos system are based on a common concept: a dierentiation between the creation by the Supreme God and that by the inferior powers (and apparently also the dichotomy between body and soul, shared by some Hellenistic schools, by some Jewish groups in Palestine of the Second Temple period, and by Gnostics [cf. D. Flusser, The Dualism FleshSpirit in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the New Testament, Tarbiz 27 [1958]: 158-65 [Hebrew]). The essential dierence between Philo and the Gnostics is that in Philos system the Supreme God is the God of Israel whereas according to the Gnostics the latter is one of the inferior powers (see Wintermute, Gnostic Exegesis, 259-60; compare Fossum, The Name of God, 217-18 [his argument that the God of the Jews in gnostic sources is Michael rather than YHWH does not convince me]). The dissimilarity between the two systems should not hinder us from noting the common elements shared by both (compare Runia, On the Creation, 238).

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 571

dynamics of monotheism

571

creation is divided between God and the secondary gods He created, played some role in the formation of this view.63 The dierence in formulation between that of Justins Dialogue, according to which God said to the angels Let us make man (God creating the soul and the angels creating material man), and that of Genesis Rabbahs wording With whom did he consult? is precisely the dierence between the Jewish heresy mentioned by Justin (not necessarily Gnostic,64 as is apparent from Philo)65 and the aggadic expositions of the rabbis according to which the plural form of Let us make man refers to the angels. These views are not as similar as they seem at rst glance. The opinion which attributes the plural form to the involvement of the elements in the act of creation was also rened greatly in the midrash: In Justins formulation it is clear that God said to the elements that He and they would create man, i.e., the elements would create the human body whereas God would create the human soul (it is for this reason that God specically addressed the earth).66 This ancient Jewish interpretation of the plural form which Justin mentions is, within the Jewish framework, an attempt to play down the power of the plural form in Gen 1:26, an attempt of demythologization (the basic assumption being that the elements cannot compete with God). It is also an attempt to combine the narratives of Gen 1 and 2, by incorporating into the description given by the rst chapter of Genesis the dualism

63 For a detailed comparison between Plato and Philo see Runia, On the Creation, 237-38. 64 See D. T. Runia, Where, tell me, is the Jew: Basil, Philo and Isidore of Pelusium, VC 46 (1992): 179. I am grateful to Dr. David Satran for drawing my attention to this article. 65 Fossum has suggested (Gen 1, 26) that the dichotomy posited by the Gnostics and perhaps also by Philo (but cf. Runia, On the Creation, 237-38) between body and spirit and between good and evil reects the division of roles between God and the angels who aided Him in the creation of man according to a more ancient version of this tradition (note also Machs general observation: Philo is very careful not to introduce any angel into his text . . . Yet, he introduces the divine powers approximately 400 times into exploration! . . . The language may sound more philosophical, but the phenomenon looks rather the same; cf. M. Mach, Concepts of Jewish Monotheism in the Hellenistic Period, The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St. Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus (eds. C. C. Newman, J. R. Davila and G. S. Lewis; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 21-42, especially 41-42. For a description of the creation of mans body in Jewish and Christian art in the Middle Ages and its possible source in ancient Jewish art, see: M. Friedman, The Angelic Creation of Man, Cahiers archologiques 39 (1991): 79-94. 66 Thus, rightly, Aptowitzer, La cration, 6-10.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 572

572

menahem kister

(dust-soul [ruah]) of Gen 2:7 (which could be related to the Hellenistic dichotomy between body and soul).67 This Jewish interpretation, however, was recast and re-mythologized in a dualistic manner by others. According to a myth which Eznik of Kolb reports as part of Marcions dualistic system,68 two equal partners took part in the creation of man the creative God and matter (represented by earth); God said to the earth, Let us make man in our image.69 The wording of Genesis Rabbah, He consulted with the work of heaven and earth . . . He consulted with the action of each day, would not allow such dualistic views, and they constitute an additional and more decisive stage in solving the problem of the plural form in our verse by de-mythologizing it, a process already discernible in Justins account of one of the Jewish opinions.
67 See 4 Ezra 3:4-5: O sovereign Lord, did you not speak at the beginning when you formed the earthand that without helpand commanded the dust and it gave you Adam, a lifeless body? Yet he was the workmanship of your hands, and you breathed into him the breath of life and he was made alive in your presence. See M. Stone, Fourth Ezra ( Hermeneia; Mineapolis: Fortress, 1990), 67 (translation after Stone). There can be little doubt that this is an interpretation of Gen 2:7, but 4 Ezra 8:44 combines the creation of man by God (the source of which is Gen 2:7) and the creation of man in the image and likeness of God (the source of which is Gen 1:26) and treats them as one unied idea. It is therefore possible that the words of God to the earth reect a midrash on the plural form in Gen 1:26 (see also Kugel, Traditions of the Bible, 52). Moreover, even if that was not the intention of the author of 4 Ezra, it can certainly demonstrate the exegetical background of one of the Jewish interpretations cited by Justin to the plural form of Gen 1:26). No less important than its content is the tone of the passage in 4 Ezra: the sentence when you formed the earth, and that without help seems to bar any attribution of partnership in the creation of Adam to the earth, or any other element (see J. Licht, Sefer Hazon Ezra [Dorot; Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1968], 21-22 nn. 4, 5 [Hebrew]). 68 Cited by Fossum, Gen 1, 26, 218, n. 46. He connects it with a passage in the Zohar, but not with the Jewish opinion cited by Justin. According to Fossum (217), Ezniks account of the Marcionite creation myth is a remnant of the mythological conception that the earth was the spouse of the creative god, a conception which was widespread among various peoples. It seems to me, however, that the ancient Jewish tradition, at least as it is transmitted by Justin, has no mythological colouring whatsoever, and is probably an eort at de-mythologizing. ( This trend is quite clear in the rst interpretation of Justins Jewish sages.) It is not impossible that Basil was hinting at this Jewish interpretation when he described the craftsman as talking, according to the absurd interpretation of the Jews, while sitting before his tools (i.e., the elements?). See Hexameron, sermon 9; S. Giet (ed.), Basil de Cesaree, Homlies sur lhexameron (SC 26; Paris: Cerf, 1968), 514. 69 C. S. C. Williams, Ezniks Resum of Marcionite Doctrine, JTS 45 (1944); 65-73, especially 70-71; Eznik of Kolb, On God (tr. M. J. Blanchard and R. D. Young; Eastern Christian Texts in Translation 2; Leuven: Peeters, 1998), 181-82. It is unclear to which extent the doctrine cited by Eznik reects earlier Marcionite teachings, and to which extent it may have been inuenced by other schools of thought.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 573

dynamics of monotheism

573

Another solution to the plural form in Gen 1:26 recorded in Genesis Rabbah and mentioned above is that God consulted with His own heart. The signicance of this view may be illuminated by the following parable, illuminating it in Genesis Rabbah:70
It may be compared to a king who had a palace built by an architect, but when he saw it, it did not please him. With whom is he to be indignant? Surely the architect! Similarly, And He was grieved at His heart (wbl la bx[tyw;71 Gen 6:6). R. Yassi said: This may be compared to a king who did some business through an agent and suered loss: with whom is he to be indignant? Surely with the agent! Similarly, and He was grieved at His heart (Gen. Rab. 8:3, ed. Theodor-Albeck, 59).72

It seems that the expression He consulted with His own heart is not identical with the Jewish view recorded in Justins dialogue that God spoke to Himself. According to the latter solution oered by some of the Jewish sages, in Justins account, the problem of the plural form in Gen 1:26, was merely a question of semantics, of a way of speaking, whereas in the solution He consulted with His own heart in Genesis Rabbah the plural form is explained by some sort of distinction between God and His heart, comparable to the distinction between the king and his architect or agent.73 To be sure, Gods heart is an indivisible part of God himself.
70 Although it may well be that the parable was originally on Gen 6:6 (Cf. Gen. Rab. 27:4, [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 258 and variae lectionis there]) at least the compilers of Genesis Rabbah (if not earlier sages, see below) considered it as a solution to the plural form used in Gen 1:26. 71 The root bx[ has also the meaning to be angry at. The preposition la could be interpreted as synonymous to l[, He was angry with His heart. 72 I follow here mainly Epsteins translation (I. Epstein, Midrash Rabbah [London, 1959] 1.56-57). 73 Ginzberg was of the opinion that His heart in the midrash means Himself, but that this wording created the potential for Christian speculations (L. Ginzberg, Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvter, [Amsterdam: [s.n.], 1898], 1.20-21); Similarly Urbach, The Sages, 207: The Church Fathers . . . adopted the Jewish interpretations, namely that God addressed Himself, His heart, or in their terminology (bileshonam), His Sophia, Logos, or handsexpressions that they identied with the son or the holy ghost; thus also Fossum, Gen 1, 26, 210: his heart (i.e., himself ). Baer, however, takes a dierent track and claims that in Gen. Rab. 1:1 and Gen. Rab. 8:3 the architect is the demiurge, the result of an ancient mythical doctrine (I. Baer, Israel among the Nations: An Essay on the History of the Period of the Second Temple and the Mishnah and on the Foundations of the Halachah and Jewish Religion [ Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1969], 131, n. 3 [Hebrew]; but I have reservations concerning many of his arguments). Liebes is close to my ideas when he argues: The heart of God appears here to be a separate entity, which mediates between Him and the Creation ( J. Liebes, de Natura Dei: On the Jewish Myth and Its Metamorphoses, Masuot: Studies in Kabbalistic Literature and Jewish Philosophy in

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 574

574

menahem kister

If we wish to put this notion in more abstract terms, we may say that the heart [= wisdom] is similar to the Logos, an emanation or hypostasis of God74 with which He took counsel before He created the world and Adam. The notion that God said Let us make man to His wisdom, or to the Logos occurs already in writings of the Second Temple period (Wis 9:1-2; 2 En. 30:8).75 Wisdom dwells in the hearts of humans, according to Semitic concepts, and therefore Gods heart is His wisdom. This interpretation of the creation of man and of the world in general nds an echo in a piyyut of Jose ben Jose. He writes concerning the creation of Adam: He spoke in His heart: who shall
Memory of Prof. E. Gottlieb [eds. M. Oron and A. Goldreich; Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1994], 280 [Hebrew]). However, when Liebes continues and connects the issue to Gnostic religion . . . the main core of which is the distinction between the supreme God and the God of Creation, who is called the Demiurge and when he denes His heart as the spiritual inner self of God, I cannot agree. Nor can I agree with Liebes connection of this statement with Gen. Rab. 31:7, and with his interpretation of earth in this midrash as a divine power. 74 The term hypostasis is problematic. Many scholars have used [this term] as a divine attribute that is identied with God, and yet has some degree of independent identity (C. A. Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence [AGJU 42; Leiden: Brill, 1998], 36). An abstract term is needed for what is, in my judgement, more than a personication (see the lucid discussion of Gieschen, 36-45). However, the lack of an abstract term in rabbinic Judaism for Gods hypostaseis should be emphasized, and it is an important datum when the Jewish systems are compared to similar, contemporary Christian ones, and it should also be acknowledged that the term has non-Jewish overtones. The usage of the term hypostasis has been a matter of debate (see Gieschens survey). The term is sometimes used for an intermediary divine being between the transcendent God and Creation. This may be valid for Philos thought, but not for rabbinic Judaism (and Palestinian Judaism in general). See also below, n. 85. Often, the case is complex. Thus Gods word is sometimes a hypostasis (e.g., in the version of the Passover Haggadah that reads: not by means of angel, and not by means of the Word; see D. Goldschmidt, The Passsover Haggadah: Its Source and History [ Jerusalem: Schocken, 1960], 44-45 n. 60 [Hebrew]), but the usual usage of the term memra (word) in the targumim is motivated by translation techniques rather than by Logos-theology, although the very choice of the term is signicant. (Boyarin recently revived the argument that memra is akin to the Logos. He writes: We nd the Memra working as the Logos works in the following ways: Creating. . . . speaking to humans. . . . revealing himself . . . punishing the wicked . . . saving . . . redeeming . . . The Memra performs many, if not all, of the functions of the Logos of Christian Logos theology, and therefore is evidence for Jewish binitarianism [D. Boyarin, The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John, HTR 94 (2001): 243-84, esp. 256-57]. All these works, however, are simply the works of the biblical God; we can argue for memra theology in the targumim only if Memra were contrasted with a transcendent God in targumic literature; my feeling is that the evidence is to the contrary: YHWH and Memra freely interchange in the Palestinian targumim. This is not to exclude any hypostatization in Jewish thought, to which much of the present article is devoted, but it seems to me that the evidence from the targumim is meagre.) 75 See Kugel, Traditions of the Bible, 51.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 575

dynamics of monotheism

575

turn in here for the slaughtered beasts and the mixed wine (Azkir Gevurot, l. 35),76 following the Book of Proverbs: Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts, mixed her wine and also set her table . . . to call . . .: whoever is simple, let him turn in here (9:1-4). Now, these verses have been expounded as referring to the creation of the world through wisdom in rabbinic literature (t. Sanh. 8:9).77 Jose ben Joses wording, He spoke in His heart, is certainly a poetic rendering of He consulted with His heart, but it is also certainly connected to the midrash on Prov 9:1-4 positing the creation of the whole world (including, of course, the creation of man) through Gods wisdom (= heart). This is reminiscent of the juxtaposition of Prov 8:22-3678 and Gen 1:26 in Justins Christian argument, as we have seen above.79 Below, we shall see other ancient piyyutim that use similar phraseology in describing Gods consultation with His heart (i.e., His wisdom, or the Torah) when He created the world and Adam.80 Indeed, according to both ancient Jewish and Judeo-Christian sources, God consulted with His wisdom in the act of the creation of man.81 According to all these, the opinion that He consulted with His heart is precisely parallel to Justins Christian interpretation that God said Let us make man to His wisdom, identied in Christian exegetical tradition with the Son, or with the Son and the Holy Spirit. As Theophilus of Antioch, at the end of the second c. C.E., put it: but He did not say let us make (Gen 1:26) to any other but to his own

Mirsky, The Piyyutim of Jose ben Jose, 133. The centrality of Prov 9:1-4 in speculations concerning the creation of the world is clear from the very name Achamoth, in this particular form, occurring in various Gnostic myths, which certainly reects hokhmoth of the Hebrew text of Prov 9:1. 78 Prov 9:1-4 is the direct continuation of Prov 8:22-36. 79 At the exegetical level, the plural form in Gen 1:26 is interpreted here, as well as in other Jewish sources (see below, n. 115), as an indication that the entire Creation, and not just Adam, was created by God and His Wisdom. Other trends of thought consider the consultation of God and Wisdom in Gen 1:26 as exceptional; see Philo, Opic. 72 and, in a strikingly similar wording, in a version of the Tanhuma published by Urbach (E. E. Urbach, Tanhuma-Yelamdenu Fragments, Qovetz al Yad, NS 6/1 [1966]; 25 [Hebrew]). 80 A similar ideaGods consultation with the Torah regarding the creation of the worldappears only in a late Jewish source, Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer 11. See also Urbach, The Sages, 779, n. 4. However, as we have indicated, we now can demonstrate that this interpretation is much older. 81 See below, n. 83. See also H. Ringgren, Word and Wisdom: Studies in the Hypostatization of Divine Qualities and Functions in the Ancient Near East (Lund: HakanOhlsons Boktryckeri, 1947), 122-23; Fossum, Gen 1, 26, 210, n. 27; Kugel, Traditions of the Bible, 51-52. Wis 9:1-2 is of special signicance.
76 77

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 576

576

menahem kister

Logos and his own Sophia.82 Elsewhere Theophilus talks of Creation in general: . . . not as the poets and mythographers describe sons of gods begotten of sexual union, but as the truth describes the Logos, always innate in the heart of God. For before anything came into existence he had this as his Counsellor, his own Mind and Intelligence.83 Ginzberg has already remarked on the parallel briey, but he believed that the phrase consulted with His heart of the midrash only meant speaking to Himself.84 I suggest, however, that more complex theological conceptions are reected in the rabbinic sources, and that the parallel with early Christian texts (such as Theophilus) is signicant for the elucidation of the former.85 The parable of the king and the architect cited above (Gen. Rab. 8:3) is reminiscent of another parable which appears at the beginning of that work (1:1, ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2):86
And I was with Him as amon . . . (Prov 8:30) amona craftsman (umman). The Torah says: I was the craftsmans tool of the Holy One, blessed
For Theophilus interpretation of the verse and its possible Jewish background, see N. Zeegress-Vander, La cration de lhomme (Gn 1,26) chez Theophile dAntioche, VC 30 (1976): 258-67 (I am grateful to Prof. G. Stroumsa for drawing my attention to this article). However, there is no need to go as far as Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer for a Jewish parallel (see above, n. 80; below, n. 115). Zeegress-Vander stresses Theophilus negative statement, He did not say Let us make man to any other, as directed against Gnostic views. To this wording one may compare the statement in Urbach, Tanhuma Yelamdeinu Fragments, 25: The fools are mistaken, saying that He consulted with another, but in rabbinic literature such a formulation could also be aimed against Christian beliefs. 83 Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycum, 2.18, 2.22 (ed. R. M. Grant [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970], 56, 62; I use Grants translation to the latter passage). A JewishChristian text also interprets Gen 1:26 as describing God consulting with His wisdom, which is a part of Him, like His soul, but which is also His hand with which He created the world (Ps.-Clementines, Homiliae, 16:12 [ed. B. Rehm; GCS, 42; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1953, 223-24]). It seems that this text argues that the change from singular to plural in Gen 1:27 (And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them) was meant to indicate the correct interpretation of verse 26: unity of two persons, which is still a unity. 84 Ginzberg says: Eine weitere Erklrung des Midrasch lutet dahin, dass Gott mit sich selbst wegen Schpfung des Menschen zu Rathe ging, lmn wblb. The Christian view of God consulting with the Logos is erst eine Fortentwicklung der vom Midrasch gegebenen Erklrung lmn wblb (Ginzberg, Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvter, 1:20-21). 85 It is not my intention to argue simplisticly that whenever Gods heart is mentioned in a midrash or in an ancient exegesis it should be identied with the Logos. Midrashic literature is extremely varied and lacks any systematic theology. Furthermore, it is not certain that the authors of the various statements were completely aware of their speculative dimension some of the statements may be vestiges of much earlier concepts which became fossilized in the course of the generations. 86 My translation.
82

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 577

dynamics of monotheism

577

be He. Normally, when a king of esh and blood wants to build a palace, he does not build it by himself but by a craftsman, and the craftsman does not build it by himself, rather he has plans and manuals in order that he should know how to design the rooms and halls.87 So too, the Holy One, blessed be He, looked in the Torah and created the world.

Only the craftsman is important for the point of parable, but the parable itself clearly distinguishes between the king and the craftsman: when a king of esh and blood wants to build a palace, he does not build it by himself but by a craftsman. As in Gen. Rab. 8:3, the craftsman was with God, but is not entirely identical to Him. It has been pointed out that this parable is very similar to Philos parable (Opic. 17-24).88 It is, however, plausible that the source of both parables is another
87 For this translation see J. N. Epstein, Introduction to the Mishnaic Text ( Jerusalem, 2000), 4. 88 In Philos parable the king commands the architect to build a city and he later draws it in his heart and afterwards builds it, observing the model in his thoughts, rather than the more expected parable of the architect observing his plan (as in Gen. Rab. 1:1). In order to maintain his philosophical discussion, Philo was forced to state that the model was purely spiritual; see 20. Similarly, Philo does not develop the distinction between the king and the architect in the parable, for the creator, according to Philo in this passage, is God. Both of these deviations stem from Philos philosophical argument (see H. A. Wolfson, Philo [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1941], 1:242-47; Urbach, The Sages, 191-92; Runia, On the Creation, 133-43). Philos system, as he articulates it in this discussion, is that God created the material world according to models He could observe in his mind, i.e., His Logos: . . . the world discerned only by the intellect is nothing else than the Logos of God . . . (Opic. 24). That being so, there is no point for Philo in drawing a distinction between the king and the architect or between the architect and the models, even though these distinctions are clearly required by the parable. Elsewhere, Philo considers the Logos as Gods tool in creating the world, but not as the actual creator (see Wolfson, Philo, 247, 261-71. For the whole issue discussed here, cf. Philo, Mos. 2.74-76). It seems to me worthwhile to consider the possibility that the parable in Gen. Rab. 1:1 is not dependent on Philo (as is generally supposed; see Urbach, The Sages, 191-92, following W. Bacher, Historical Notices II, JQR OS 3 [1891]: 358-59, who believes that R. Hoshaaya used Philos parable which reached him by way of Origen; see also, e.g., D. T. Runia, Polis and Megalopolis, Mnemosyne 42 [1989]: 411; M. Hirschman, Reections on the Aggada of Caesarea, Caesarea Maritima: A Retrospective after Two Millenia [eds. A. Raban and K. G. Holum; DMOA 21; Leiden: Brill, 1996], 474). I suggest that the theological system that was originally illustrated by the parable made a far sharper distinction between the transcendent God and the Logos as a creator of the world, and apparently also sharply distinguished between the creator of the world and the models according to which He created (according to Philo, the models are in the soul of the architect). Those models were identied in the midrash (but was it so in the original parable?) with the Torah. It should be noted that Philo, too, emphasizes elsewhere that the laws of the Torah are the laws of nature, according to which the entire world is managed (Opic. 3; cf. Runia, On the Creation, 103, 106-7 [for a sort of Palestinian parallel of this idea, see M. Kister, Commentary to 4Q298, JQR 85 (1994): 241-42 and n. 14]), and

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 578

578

menahem kister

theological system, a system which is considerably obscure in the midrash, but also dierent from that of Philo who adapted the material to his own needs. While there can be no doubt that Gods wisdom is an indivisible part of Him, nevertheless He can consult with it; His communication with it can serve as an explanation of the plural form in the verse under discussion. That being the case, Justins christological opinion disagreeing with the teachers of the Jewsan opinion which became, in various formulations, the main view in Christian interpretation over the generationsis in fact a direct development of a Jewish concept. There is, to be sure, a great dierence89 on at least two substantive and principle points: rabbinic sources (as well as virtually all Jewish texts) do not consider the possibility of the Logos incarnation (in the Christian sense), and the dierentiation between God and His wisdom (or Logos) as a divine hypostasis was far more far-reaching in Christianity than in most Jewish sources. If our interpretation of the opinion He consulted with His heart is correct, it is highly doubtful that the interpretation mentioned by Justin (and, following him, by other Christian authors) that God spoke to Himself, i.e., that there is no plurality in the verse, but merely a gure of speech, can be found in rabbinic literature. The latter notion, which justies the use of the plural form without admitting to any actual plurality in the verse, nds expression in later interpretations of the plural forms in Gen 1:26 as pluralis maiestatis.90 The rst Jewish commentator known to me to suggest this interpretation to Gen 1:26,
this Philonic concept is not very far from the rabbinical one which sees the Torah as the spiritual plans and manuals in the parable in Gen. Rab. 1:1. It is perhaps worth pointing out that the Logos is described by a Church Father in the fourth c. as a wise architect (sapientem architectum, according to the Septuagint to Isa 3:3), see Pepin, Le conseiller de Dieu, Lectures anciennes de la Bible (Cahiers de Biblia Patristica, 1; Strasbourg, 1987), 53-74, especially 63. 89 The reaction of Trypho the Jew to Justins argument in Dialogue with Trypho, 63, is ample proof of this. 90 Urbach (The Sages, 206-7) interprets as pluralis maiestatis the saying in Gen. Rab. 8:8 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 62): There was no consultation here, but it may be compared to a king who was strolling in front of his palace and saw a boulder lying on the ground. Said he, For what shall we use it? Some (courtiers) said, for public baths; others said, for private baths. The king said: I will use it to build a statue. Who can hinder me? The royal decree in this parable is clearly couched in the singular. Therefore the point of the parable is not that that is the way kings speak (in pluralM.K.) (Urbach, The Sages, 207; Runia, Where, tell me, is the Jew, 179, 181). It seems to me that the parable should be interpreted in the following way: The king turns to the accompanying courtiers but not in order to consult with them but to demonstrate his

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 579

dynamics of monotheism

579

which has been current ever since, was Rav Saadya Gaon at the end of the ninth c. C.E.91 However, Theodoret, in the middle of the fth c. C.E., already argued against this Jewish interpretation of the verse,92 and from the manner in which he cited the view it is clear that the opinion was the continuation of an interpretative trend according to which God spoke to Himself. Rav Saadya Gaon apparently was following an ancient tradition of interpretation. It is dicult to know when this Jewish variation of the Jewish view cited by Justin came into being. * That God does not consult with the angels (not only with regard to the creation of Adam) is mentioned several times in ancient Jewish sources, and the very fact that the midrashic interpretations in Gen. Rab. 8:3 cited above (as well as ancient Christian sources)93 use the term consultation in relation to Gen 1:26 indicates that the language of these interpretationsWith whom did He consult?notwithstanding its conceptual renement, continues ancient stylistic modes of speech. In these sources, however, consult is used in the sense of taking advice, whereas that aspect of the notion is deliberately played down in Genesis Rabbah.94 The superiority of the wisdom of God to the angels95 is expressed in 2 Enoch so decisively and emphatically as to leave no doubt
own sovereignty. The author of the parable read the verse thus: And God said: Shall we make man? [Here come the reactions]in our image and likeness! (= statue). At any rate, the view expressed in the midrash, notwithstanding its emphatic opening, There was no consultation here, is clearly connected with the tradition that the verse reects some sort of consultation with the ministering angels. 91 Zucker, Rav Saadia Gaons Commentary, 50-51, 252. 92 Theodoret, Quaestiones in Genesim, PG 80, 101, noted by Ginzberg, Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvter, 1.20. 93 See, e.g., Theophilus of Antioch (above, n. 83); Hermas, Parables, 9.12.2 (K. Lake, The Apostolic Fathers, [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1946], 2.248); The Sib. Or., 8.264; Epiphanius (above, n. 53); and many more. See Pepin, Le conseiller de Dieu, 53-74. The passages of the Church Fathers surveyed and analyzed in Pepins paper should be viewed in a wider framework and against the background of the Jewish sources. 94 Compare also John Chrysostoms discussion of Gen 1:26: He said Let us make, so that, from the character of the consultation indicated by his words, he might reveal the equity of honor which belonged to him with whom he spoke [i.e., the Son] . . . The Scripture . . . wishes you to learn that the prophets call the Son his counsellor not because the Father needs the Sons counsel (On the Incomprehensible Nature of God, 11.13-15, tr. P. W. Harkins; FC 72; Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America, 275). 95 Sentences like: You who reign with great thoughts over the powers which stand before you (2 Bar. 21:6) may be less trivial than they seem at rst glance.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 580

580

menahem kister

as to its importance: by my supreme wisdom I have contrived it all . . . There is no counsellor96 and no successor,97 only myself, eternal, not made by hands. My unchanging thought is (my) counsellor, and my word is (my) deed. (33:3-4).98 Similarly 1 En. 14:21-22 reads: None of the angels was able to . . . see the face of the Excellent and Glorious One . . . tens of millions stood before him <and every word of His (lgow ato) is an act of creation>thus the Greek version, but in the Geez version the words within the angle brackets are replaced with: He needed no holy counsel, the last words referring probably to the advice of angels.99 The two sentences may be two halves of one verse.100 A similar idea is expressed in Sir 42:15-21, where we read:101
By the Lords statement is His creative act Gods holy ones have not the power The Lord has given strength to His host For the Most High knows knowledge No intelligence is unknown to Him and His word enacts His will . . . to relate all His wonders to endure in the presence of His glory . . . and can see things to come forever . . . and no matter escapes Him102

96 Cf. Philo, Opic. 23: With no one to assist Himindeed who else was there?, but relying solely on his own resources, God recognized. . . . Such statements should be added to similar ones, according to which God had no helper in creation (see Fossum, The Name of God, 192-97). 97 For a similar connection between advisor and successor cf. You, who has no advisor . . . You, who has no successor (Sifre Deut. 27 [ed. Finkelstein, 44]). 98 F. I. Andersen, in: OTP (ed. J. H. Charlesworth; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983), 1.156-57. The text exists in the two versions of 2 Enoch. 99 M. A. Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 1:55; 2:99; M. Black, The Book of Enoch (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 50. 100 R. H. Charles, The Book of Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893) 184; Knibb, The Book of Enoch, 2:99; G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36, 81-108 (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), 258. 101 The text is according to the Masada Scroll (Y. Yadin, The Ben-Sira Scroll from Masada [ Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1965], 27). The added text is mainly from MS B of Ben Sira from the Genizah. 102 Cf. 1 En. 84:3: No matter whatsoever is too hard for You, and no wisdom whatsoever escapes You, and it does not turn away from Your throne, nor from Your presence. The close parallel between this verse and Sir 42:20 has been overlooked. The striking parallel is helpful for establishing the text of both works and for interpreting the two passages: (1) The correct reading in the Geez of 1 Enoch is itahalefka, the exact meaning of avaro in Sirach, Charles emendation and translation, Wisdom does not depart from the place of your throne, nor turn away from your presence (Charles, The Book of Enoch, 184) cannot be accepted, and even less plausible is Isaacs translation,

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 581

dynamics of monotheism
The power of His wisdom He established (?)103 Nothing has been added (to Him) and nothing has been taken away (from Him) from eternity He is one

581

And He needs no one to teach (Him)

1 Enoch, 2 Enoch and Ben Sira demonstrate a cluster of interconnected conceptions in very similar formulations: they diminish the importance of the angels (who are unable to draw near to God); God has no need of advisors; instead, Gods own wisdom plays a major role and is personied as His advisor, and His agent is said to be His word rather than the angels.104 Elsewhere105 I have pointed out the chiastic nature of the verses
Your throne has not retreated from her station nor from before your presence (E. Isaac, OTP 1.62). (2) The word emgasska (translated here as from Your presence) is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew mippanekha. It is thus signicant for establishing the reading mippanaw in Ben Sira (the Masada manuscript and the Syriac read mippanaw, as against the reading mimmennu in MS B of the Genizah and the Greek version). (3) The words no matter whatsoever is too hard for You demonstrate that the Hebrew word davar in Sirach should be interpreted logos but rather matter, anything (as against a previous interpretation of mine; Kister, A Contribution to the Interpretation of Ben Sira, Tarbiz 59 [1990]: 355). 103 The Hebrew word kt may be interpreted as measured (this is the sense in the literature found at Qumran) or established (based on Ps 75:4). 104 The relation of the angels to Gods word is complex. Thus, a rabbi says that the angels are created by Gods words (b. Hag. 14a). According to another Jewish system, recorded by Justin Martyr, the angels as well as the Logos are parts, or rather aspects, of Divinity. According to this system (rejected by Justin), the father makes, when He will, His power to spring forward, and, when He will, He draws it back again into Himself. They teach that in this way He also made the angels, for the power that was from the Father of the universe and appeared to Abraham and Jacob was called Angel, and this power can never be cut o or separated from the Father, in the same way that . . . the light of the sun on earth cannot be cut o or separated, though the sun is in heaven ( Justin, Dial. 128). For an analysis of this passage, see S. Pines, God, the Divine Glory and the Angels according to a 2nd Century Theology, The Beginning of Jewish Mysticism in Medieval Europe: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on the History of Jewish Mysticism (ed. J. Dan; Jerusalem: Hebrew University, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 6/3-4 [1987]), 1-14 [Hebrew]. These are examples of divergent Jewish attempts to deal with the problem of angels in a monotheistic system not by diminishing their importance, but rather by considering them inseparable parts of the one God. The Jewish system recorded by Justin has ancient roots, as may be demonstrated by Sir. 42:16, where Gods glory is compared to the sun (see Kister, A Contribution to the Interpretation of Ben Sira, 354 n. 183), and Sir 39:17-18 when compared to Sir 43:26, where Gods will, Gods word and his angel are interrelated (see ibid., 364; M. Kister, Genizah Manuscripts of Ben Sira, The Cambridge Genizah Collections: Their Contents and Signicance [ed. S. C. Reif; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002], 43-44). 105 See Kister, A Contribution to the Interpretation of Ben Sira, 355-57 (with

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 582

582

menahem kister cited above from Ben Sira: (a) The power of His wisdom He established,106 (b) from eternity He is one. (b) Nothing has been added (to Him) and nothing has been taken away (from Him), (a) and He needs no one to teach (Him). I have suggested that the formulation of Ben Sira was, in fact, an implicit reaction to the possibility that a concept of separate divine wisdom would diminish the concept of Gods unity,107 and that this is the reason for Ben Siras emphatic statement that God knows His wisdom, that He established it (or: measured it), that He is one and unique, unchanging and eternally wise.108

The Psalms Scroll from Qumran also emphasizes Gods wisdom at the expense of the angels in relation to Gods creation:
Separating light from darkness Then all His angels saw and sang aloud, He separated the dawn in the knowledge of His heart For He had shown them that which they had not known109

regards to the reading, the language and the content). See also Kister, Genizah Manuscripts of Ben Sira, 45. As for the possibility of competition between God and His wisdom, when the latter is conceived as a separate independent entity, see below, pp. 586-87. For the wording and its theological context, cf. the wording of a late Christian work justifying the unity of the Trinity and arguing that the Father and the Son were always one: We cannot think that there is something greater [than God] that may help Him, and He is neither liable to deciency, for He is [by denition] whole, nor to addition, for He is perfect (Ps.-Zacharias Rhetor, Historia Ecclesiastica, ed. E. W. Brooks [CSCO 83, Sc.Syr. 38; Louvain: Peeters, 1953], 73 [on Gen 1:26]). Needless to say, by comparing Ben Sira and this Christian text I do not suggest that both of them share similar subtleties, but that the latter may teach us to read the former with greater sensitivity. 106 Stichoi a and a are based on an interpretative reading of Isa 40:12. 107 Contrast this distinct monotheistic motive for the development of divine hypostasis with Ringgrens conclusions in his famous comparative book Word and Wisdom, 19093. 108 In 4 Ezra 6:4-6 it is stressed that before anything came into beingeven the angelsGod thought (Latin: cogitavi; Syriac: tbjta) of all these things and they came into existence through me and not through another. According to this work, redemption will be by God alone. In the Latin version of 4 Ezra 6:6 there is an explicit comparison between creation and redemption; in other versions such a comparison can be deduced from the context; See Stone, Fourth Ezra, 143 n. e; 158. It might therefore be apposite to cite Resh Laqishs remark: For a day of vengeance is in My heart (Isa 63:4)I have revealed it to My heart, but I have not revealed it to the ministering angels (b. San. 99a); the eschaton, like the creation, is manifest to the heart of God, but not to the angels. 109 11QPsa 26:11-13; cf. J. A. Sanders, The Psalms Scroll of Qumran Cave 11, DJD IV (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), 47, 89-90. The continuation of the psalm is:

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 583

dynamics of monotheism

583

The contrast of the knowledge of the heart of the Creator and the angels is clearly emphasized in this text, as it is in later texts,110 up to the Quran.111 This line of thinking is also emphasized in the ancient piyyut:112
Then, with mind He investigated, with understanding He consulted, With cunning He planned, with intelligence He observed. Besides Him there is nothing. With whom could He consult, When no other was with Him that may annul His commandment?113

The contrast between Gods wisdom and the angels is even more emphasized in an anonymous piyyut, Az Be-ein Kol:114
The mighty of the world [= angels] are Your condants, yet You did not consult them when You thought in Your heart (bl anb) to cr[eat]e the world . . .115

Blessed be He who makes the world with His strength // Who prepares the universe by His wisdom. The verses which we have cited in the text are related to the Book of Jubilees, as demonstrated by P. W. Skehan, Jubilees and the Qumran Psalter, CBQ 37 (1975): 343-47. It seems to me that the verse in the psalm is a poetic version of Jub. 2:2-3. 110 Cf. Narsai, Homilies on the Creation of the World, 2.250 (P. Gignoux, Homlies de Narsai sur la cration [PO 34/3(4; Paris, 1968], 570): the angels, which were created on the rst day, before the creation of light, did not know from what they were created; therefore God said: Let there be light and thus taught them that which they did not know (allef enon . . . de-la yadin (h)waw). The resemblance to the psalm in the Psalms Scroll is striking. 111 According to the Quran (2:30-32), God answers the angels objection to the creation of Adam by stating I know that which you do not know, and the angels acknowledge: Praise be to You. We have no knowledge other than what You have taught us, for it is You who are the Knower and the Wise. Again we see that Gods knowledge and wisdom (which He has in part given to humans) constitutes His substantive superiority over the angels. The words I know what you do not know convey that Gods superior knowledge manifests itself in His creative power. 112 Mirsky, The Piyyutim of Jose ben Jose, 222 (the section of doubtful attributions). 113 The formulation in a later source, Midrash Konen, is very instructive, specically because of its unsophisticated character: God looked aroundand there was no angel in heavenand desired to create the world . . . as it is written, He is one; who can dissuade Him ( Job 23:13) and he consulted with the Torah, which is wisdom, to create the world (ed. A. Jellinek in his Bet ha-Midrash, [Leipzig: Winter, 1853], 2:23). 114 Y. Yahalom, Az Be-en Kol, 65-67, lines 17-34. For interesting parallels, see Yahaloms commentary, 65, note to line 17 [Hebrew]. 115 See also this exact expression in connection with the creation later in this piyyut, 107, lines 374-375: In His heart He was saddened, because it had led Him to create man in the world. As Yahalom points out in his commentary (ibid.) this is a poetic rendering of Gen. Rab. 8:3 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 59), discussed above (p. 573). See also: [He] who [lives fo]rever consulted with His heart to make (a creature) in His image to have dominion over all these (Az Be-hen Kol, 82-83, line 187). Cf. also another piyyut

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 584

584

menahem kister
for no servant can tell his master No god coerced You You relied on Your knowledge; It was hidden in Your heart117 In Your hand You [. . .] it what have you done . . .116 No companion advised You . . . You trusted your discernment . . . And brought forth from Your mouth As [in the hand of a craftman]118

According to this piyyut, God did not consult with the angels, but rather with His wisdom, which is the Torah. In a piyyut by Elazr birbi Qalir (Palestine, seventh c. C.E.?), we read explicitly that God consulted the Torah both in creating the world and in creating Adam.119 The identication of Torah with wisdom is well attested already in Ben Sira, but in the piyyut Az Be-ein Kol it is Gods wisdom, the wisdom of the Deity. If the theological thinking in this work would have been systematic, it could be argued that the Torah became a hypostasis of God, a part of the Godhead, not unlike the Muslim dogma that the Quran is uncreated, being a part of God. I doubt, however, whether these theological consequences were realized by the author. In this context it is interesting to note the wording of the Qalir. In a piyyut written by him, the Torah speaks in rst person and says (inter alia):

published by Yahalom in the same book: This did He raise in His heart and He said, What have I gained? I have created and done but who shall exalt Me? He then planned to make man in His likeness . . . (165-166, lines 127-129). However, earlier in this same piyyut: [With] it (i.e., with the Torah) He consulted regarding the creation of a great multitude, with that which had been created two thousand years earlier (155, lines 25-26; and see Yahaloms notes ad loc.). Here too the connection between the consultation regarding the creation of man and that regarding the creation of the world is clear (see also Gen. Rab. 8:7 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 161]) and heart (i.e., wisdom) cannot mean anything other than Torah. Cf. also below, n. 119. 116 On this formula of sovereignty see above, pp. 553-55. Cf. Chrysostoms comment on our verse: And this is why, in the text from Genesis [1:26] the Father did not say Make this . . . but rather Let us make, for to say, Make this is to use words proper to a command given to a servant. (On the Incomprehensible Nature of God, 11.17, tr. Harkins 276 [see above, n. 95]). See also, probably in the same theological context, Ephraem, Hymni de Fide, VI.8.1-4 (Des Heiligen Ephraems des Syrers Hymnen de Fide, ed. E. Beck; CSCO 154, Sc. Syr. 73; Louvain: Imprimerie Orientalistic L. Durbeck, 27). 117 Cf. Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycum, 2.22 (62-63): The Logos, always innate in the heart of God tn lgon tn nta di pntow ndiyeton kard& yeo. 118 From this source it would appear that the Torah is also the hand of God which designs the world. For a similar concept of the divine wisdom in the Pseudo-Clementines, see above, n. 83. 119 Aaddera arommema, Sh. Elizur (ed.), Rabbi Elazar birbi Kiliri Hymni Pentecostales ( Jerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim, 2000), 216, 217 (lines 122, 138).

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 585

dynamics of monotheism

585

When the deeps broke forth by His knowledge (Prov 3:20), they broke forth also in my knowledge . . . When He assigned to the sea His limit (Prov 8:29), He assigned (the water) my limit, And the waters that do not transgress the commandment of His mouth (Prov 8:29), do not transgress the commandment of my mouth, And the creation of the world was accomplished by the saying of my mouth, that I was in His mouth.120

Such statements, especially the last one, could be interpreted as expressing Johannine-like Logos-theology. From the entire piyyut it is clear, however, that according to this poet the Torah is created, albeit before any other creature, and that the Torah is not quite identical with the Creator. The two piyyutim demonstrate the potential of regarding the Torah as hypostasis, but the reluctance to do so is also quite well discernible. The contrast of angels with Gods wisdom occurs already in sources of the second c. B.C.E.; it would appear, therefore, that it is impossible to explain it as a polemic against Gnostic theories. It was motivated by the desire to expunge any godlike attributes from the angels, as well as by new developments in the conception of the Deity in the Second Temple period. The role of the angels, Gods advisors, a remnant of the ancient conception of the council of gods,121 was conceived as constituting a threat to Monotheism, particularly when creation was involved.122 For this reason, rabbinic aggadic sources delayed Gods creation of the angels (that took place, according to the ancient tradition, in the rst day of creation) until the second or fth day of the process of creation, so that none should say that the angel Michael was pulling from the southern end of the heavens and the angel Gabriel was in the north and God was organizing things in the middle . . . Who was partner with Me in the creation of the world?! (Gen. Rab. 3:8, ed. Theodor-Albeck, 24).123 This is a radical solution for the uneasiness

120 yqwj hyl[ wqwj yl wmwb . . . yt[db w[qbn wt[db w[qbn t[bw .ytllwj twmwht yab wypb ytyyh yp rmamb lw[ llktnw yp wrb[y al k wyp wrb[y al ymw Eres mata we-raasha,

a piyyut to Shavuot (Sh. Elizur [ed.], Hymni Pentecostales, 101, 106, lines 139, 214-217). 121 Regarding the divine council in the Bible and its function in the management of the world, see 1 Kgs 22:20; Job 1:6-12. 122 Cf. also Narsai, Homilies on Creation, Hom. 5:161(228 (P. Gignoux [ed.], Homlies, 648-52), according to whom Scripture did not reveal explicitly the creation of the angels, so as not to leave any opportunity for heretics to argue that they are equal to God, creators of All and guardians of All. 123 Urbach, The Sages, 204.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 586

586

menahem kister

concerning the angels role in creation,124 discernible already in the apocryphal psalm in the so-called Qumran Psalms Scroll cited above. In order to avoid the danger inherent in the image of angels, they were replaced (as early as the Second Temple period) by Gods wisdom as the advisor sitting besides Him (Wis 9:4), residing with the angels (1 En. 42:1-2), but clearly their superior. God does not consult with the angels at allonly with His own wisdom. Thus Gods wisdom is personied and is considered as some distinct power within the Deity, with whom God can take counsel as with another person.125 Exegetically, this development owes much to the personied presentation of wisdom in Prov 8:22-31. We have seen above the peculiar expressions of this ancient idea in two piyyutim composed in Late Antiquity. Indeed, if not in the time of Ben Sira, at the latest in Philos day, the (partial) separation of the Logos from God Himself was realized. The notion of divine wisdom was probably conceived as endangering Jewish monotheism no less than the angels. After all, the angels were superior entities, but nevertheless Gods servants, whereas divine wisdom, while balancing the power of the angels, was likely to become transformed, as it was in Christianity, into a special (although not separate) entity within the Godhead, into a second god, as Philo (Quaest. in Gen. 1.62) and Justin put it, and as such to challenge Jewish monotheism from a dierent direction, no less serious (see also Philo, Opic. 23, 24). On the other hand, once Gods wisdom had become a somewhat separate entity, what wisdom could there be in God Himself? It was this problem which led Gnostics to say that the Demiurge was not wise; only Sophia was wise.126 This extreme and sharp conclusion
124 This was also the reason for the translation of Tg. Ps.-J. Gen. 1:26: And God said to the angels who minister before Him, who had been created on the second day of the creation of the world, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. The day on which the angels were created was mentioned in order to emphasize that they were not partners in creation. 125 This point is important; note Justins insistence on the dierence in number between the Father and his powers in his argument against the apparently Jewish theological system (Dialogue with Trypho), ch. 129; see above, n. 104. 126 Hippolytus, Elenchos, 6.35-36 [ed. P. Wendland, Hippolytus Werke; GCS 26; Leipzig: Hinrichssche Buchhandlung, 1916 3:164-165] (In ANF 5 [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986] the chapter numbering is dierent, and these chapters are numbered 30-31) on the heresy of Valentinus. Cf. also Theophilus emphasis that He (i.e. God) did not deprive Himself of the Logos (o kenvyewatw to lgou), but generated the Logos and constantly converses with His Logos ( Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycum, 2.22 [ed. Grant, 62-63]). Various Gnostics treatises oer a similar reversal of the relationship

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 587

dynamics of monotheism

587

brought the Jewish theological process to its paradoxical end. Thus we are standing at an important junction, from which can be seen, on the one hand, the complex of basic Christian theological elements, and, on the other, basic Gnostic theological elements, developing out of an internal Jewish theological conception. The Jewish idea was basically motivated by very dierent attitudes, but concepts and ideas have their own dynamics of development. Let us return to the plural form Let us make man. From the above discussion the conceptual essence of the dierence of opinion in the midrash, as to whether God consulted with the angels or His Logos, becomes clear. Both the Gnostics who emphasized the role of the angels in the creation of man,127 and the later followers of Marcion, who
between God and wisdom. According to them it was Sophia (wisdom) who imposed the rule of Saboath (= the Lord of Hosts) on the seventh heaven, and She instructs Him, or, in another system, She places her daughter Zo (= life) at the right hand of Saboath in order to teach Him (The Hypostasis of the Archons, 95, [Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library, 185]; On the Origin of the World, 104, 106 [Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library, 166]. The reversal of roles here between wisdom and God is very clear and extreme. Wisdom (or her daughter) sits at the right hand of God (originally a Jewish representation, cf. Wis 9:4), and God is instructed by her! (Winston [The Wisdom of Solomon, 202] has pointed out, en passant, the second Gnostic treatise referred to above as a parallel to the language of Wisdom). Fallon has attempted to uncover the Jewish foundation of these statements (F. T. Fallon, The Enthronement of Sabaoth [NHS 10; Leiden: Brill, 1978], 60-61, 110-11; it seems to me, however, that several central features of the Jewish conceptions are more signicant than those treated in this book). On the subject generally, see G. W. MacRae, The Jewish Background of the Gnostic Sophia Myth, NT 12 [1970]: 86-101). 127 It is indeed possible that some aggadot concerning Adam emerged either under the inuence of Gnostic legends and myths or as a reaction to them (L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, (Philadelphia: JPS, 1925), 5:69, n. 12; Urbach, The Sages, 206-8; for an opposite view, A. Altmann, The Gnostic Background of the Rabbinic Adam Legends, JQR 35 [1944/45]: 371-91). The opinion that Adam should not have been created because of the wicked who are among his descendents, which in some legends is attributed to the angels and in others constitutes a part of Gods own considerations before Adams creation (see, e.g., Gen. Rab. 8:4-5 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 59-60]), is rst of all an answer to theological objections of heretics who, with regard to the creation of man, asked: Did God not know that those whom He created (and their descendents) would sin, and, if He knew, why did He not refrain from creating human beings for this reason? A Christian-Jewish work (Ps.-Clementines, Recognitiones, 4.24) puts it this way: But if you will meet me by saying . . . was the Creator ignorant that those whom He created would fall away into evil? (tr. M. B. Riddle, ANF, 8 [Edinburgh: T & T Clark: 1989], 140). The answer there is that it would not have been tting for God to refrain from creating man for this reason, i.e., because of Gods benevolence (cf. the attribute of mercy in Gen. Rab., 8:4). As can be deduced from the Christian source, a main purpose of the aggadot was to solve a serious theological problem, which had become an argument used by heretics. In aggadic literature, the argument is attributed to the angels (inter alia as a literary

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 588

588

menahem kister

emphasized the role of matter (the earth) together with God, as well as the Church Fathers who saw our verse as a proof for the Father and Son (or the Trinity) theory, are all actually extending Jewish interpretation, even when the struggle between them was bitter and uncompromising. All of these interpretations of the verse are rooted, so it seems, in a Jewish theological context, which was intended to emphasize the uniqueness of God, but which, when developed, could lead to quite dierent conclusions,128 demonstrating the dynamics of the struggle between concepts of plurality and unity in the divine.129 Indeed, reaction to the Christian interpretation of the verse inuenced consequent Jewish interpretation, or at least changed its emphases.130 Christianity teaches a kind of monotheism which was unacceptable to rabbinic Judaism. One of the disputations which Rabbi Simlai conducted with heretics was the following:
The heretics asked Rabbi Simlai: How many gods created the world? . . . They then asked him: What is the meaning of And God said, Let us make man . . .? He said to them: Read the continuation! It does not say <the gods> created [warbyw, in the plural] man; it says <God> created [arbyw, in the singular]! When they [the heretics] departed, his disciples said to him: You rebutted them with imsy arguments, but what answer can you give us? He answered them: In the past Adam was

device, as rather frequently in the midrashic literature). The struggle against the Gnostic views concerning the function of angels in the creation of man, regarded by Urbach (The Sages, 206-8) as the background of these aggadot is only a secondary motive for their emergence. 128 However, the interpretive element is not always the most important factor. The exegesis of Gen 1:26the central battle ground for inter-faith polemicswas inuenced by the theological systems of Judaism, Christianity and Gnosticism more than it inuenced them. On the other hand, it is dicult to imagine Jewish or Christian religious thinking without Prov 8-9, which introduced the image of wisdom into the creation of the world. However, the main importance of those two chapters lies in the fact that they exist at all; their detailed exegesis was not as developed as that on the Pentateuch, and specic exegetical problems and solutions had a lesser inuence on the development of the conceptions. Indeed, consideration of this matter raises reections on the relationship between the theological, textual and interpretive factors in ancient Jewish literature (Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and rabbinic literature). 129 Contrast Urbachs statement: None of the exegetical and polemic requirements changed in the least the basic concept of the Sages obtaining at all periods . . . (The Sages, 208). 130 For the inuence of the struggle against Christianity on the emphasis placed on the idea of the consultation with the angels, cf. Urbach, The Sages, 208. See also Basils formulation: To reject one person, they [i.e., the Jews] admit many (Homlies sur lhexameron, ed. S. Giet, SC 26bis, 516 = NPF 8, 106).

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 589

dynamics of monotheism

589

created from earth and Eve was created from Adam, but from then on they are in our image and in our form, no man (will beget) without woman, nor woman without man, and not both of them together without the divine presence. ( y. Ber. 9:1, 12d-13a)

Several other disputations of Rabbi Simlai with the heretics, found in the same tradition, are based on the same pattern: the heretics argue from the use of plural form in various biblical passages, and explain it as demonstrating the plurality of deities, while Rabbi Simlai explained it away by referring to the verbs in those verses, having a singular form. According to Rabbi Simlai, the victorious rebuttal of the heretics is to be found in the syntax: since Gen 1:27 is couched in the singular, there can be no doubt that the plural form used in the earlier verse cannot be evidence for a plurality of gods. Basils opinion was dierent:131
And God created man, It is not They made. Here Scripture avoids the plurality of the Persons. After having enlightened the Jew, it dissipates the error of the Gentiles in putting itself under the shelter of unity, to make you understand that the Son is with the Father, and guarding you from the danger of polytheism. He created him in the image of GodGod still shows us the Person of His co-operator, because He does not say, in His image, but in the image of God.

In other words, Basil believes that it is specically the interchange between plural and singular which is a proof for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which accepts the unity of God but also divine plurality. This statement was made in the context of Christian-Jewish polemic. At least some of Rabbi Simlais disputes on the subject, which are listed in the Palestinian Talmud, are related to Christians. The three names of God are cited as a proof for plurality, and it is almost certain that the intention was to provide a basis for the Trinity. If indeed Rabbi Simlais statements were directed against Christians,132 it is an example of the lack of any real common language in early Jewish-Christian dialogues133

131 Basil, Homlies sur lhexameron, (ed. Giet), 521. Translation according to B. Jackson, NPF 8 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 106-107. 132 And not against the Gnostics; cf. the statement attributed to Simon Magus in PsClementines, Recognitiones 2:39 (ed. B. Rehm [GCS 51; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1965], 74-75). 133 See Runia, who writes: Basil very briey points out that the wording of Gen 1:26 also refutes any tendency towards Hellenizing polytheism, for the plural poisvmen is immediately followed by the singular pohsen . . . this is exactly the same argument used by Rabbi Simlai against the heretics (Runia, Where, tell me is the Jew, 180).

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 590

590

menahem kister

(of which the accounts of Jewish-Christian disputations in Christian sources give clear evidence): as far as Rabbi Simlai and the Jews in the Christian accounts were concerned, the Christians were venerating more than one god. The Christians were conceived by the Jews as arguing that several gods created the world and man, and, in Jewish eyes, their doctrine left no place for the uniqueness and unity of God. The Christian subtleties and ne distinctions within the Trinity were, for them, incomprehensible.134 Rabbi Simlais answer to his own disciples should also be considered. It is possible that the source of the answer is to be found elsewhere,135 but in our context the plural form used in the verse is interpreted as indicating human partnership in the ongoing process of creation over the generations. This automatically annuls the Christian interpretation which is based on some sort of plurality in God Himself. Furthermore, as an adjunct to the Jewish-Christian polemic, Rabbi Simlais remark, but from then on they are in our image according to our form, not man without woman, nor woman without man, and not both of them together without the divine presence, is endowed with extra signicance.136 It rejects the Christian dogma of virgin birth137 that

I do not think that this is exactly the same argument but rather that the text of Genesis was utilized in conicting polemical ways by Basil on the one hand and by R. Simlai on the other. 134 Should it be argued that this seems to contradict what was said earlier, i.e., that a concept similar to that of the Logos is expressed in the midrash, we have already emphasized that even the radical Jewish formulations did not distinguish between God and His wisdom (or heart) to the same extent as did Christianity. While it is true that from an internal Christian point of view Christianity was careful not to overstep the boundaries of monotheism, from an external point of view, as far as Jews were concerned, this was not the case. Indeed, Basil and other spokesmen of Christianity in the fourth c. articulated Christianity as standing between Jewish monotheism and polytheism (see Runia, Where, tell me is the Jew, 180, 187 [especially n. 23], 183). 135 The source may be Gen. Rab. 22:2 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 206), a midrash on the verse Now Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying I have gained a male child with the help of the Lord (Gen 4:1), where all three elements male, female and the divine presenceare explicitly expressed. However, the relation between the midrashic parallels and their original source needs further study. 136 It is unlikely that this statement emerged out of the anti-Christian polemic. It seems that it was created in another context (see n. 135), and that the anti-Christian context only added to it a special avour. 137 Marmorstein, briey (without documentation) and en passant already suggested as much (A. Marmorstein, The Unity of God in Rabbinic Literature, HUCA 1 [1924]: 497-98). I nd the suggestion that R. Simlais statement was a reaction to 1 Cor 11:1112 (B. L. Visotsky, Fathers of the World [WUNT 80; Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995], 61-74) much less appealing.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 591

dynamics of monotheism

591

Christian authors have connected with Adams creation. Thus we read in a poem by Ephraem Syrus:138
To Eve our mother a man gave birth, How much more should Eves daughter (= Mary) The virgin earth bare The Virgin bare today who himself had no birth. be believed to have borne a Child without a man! that Adam that was head over the earth! the (second) Adam (= Jesus) that was Head over the Heavens.

Just as Adam was created from the virgin earth and Eve was created from Adam, so too was Jesus created from a virgin woman without a man. A similar argument is put against the Jews, as a proof to Marys virginity, in Silvesters debate with the Jews.139 In the light of this Christian argument, Rabbi Simlais exposition (In the past Adam was created from earth and Eve was created from Adam, but from then on . . . no man [will beget] without woman, nor woman without man, and not both of them together without the divine presence) takes on special signicance. Indeed, it seems that other interpretations which Rabbi Simlai gave to his disciplesand not to the heretics themselves in this series of polemics were given in rebuttal of the arguments of the heretics. Thus, in another polemic Rabbi Simlai explained Ps 50:1 to his disciples: God, the Lord God spoke and summoned the world from east to westAll three (i.e., God, Lord, God) are the name of One, like one says craftsmen, builders, architects (ynfqfykra yynb ynmwa) (Ber. 9:1, 13a); in all likelihood, this is a refutation of the argument that one of the forces mentioned in this verse, which describes the creation of the world, was the Demiurge, architect in Greek terminology, i.e., one of the parts of the Trinity. All the names of God given in the verse, Rabbi Simlai argued, are attributes of the Creator, the one God.

138 Ephraem, Hymns of Nativity 1:15-16 (Des Heiligen Ephraems des Syrers Hymnen de Nativitate [Epiphania], ed. E. Beck [CSCO 186, Sc.Syr. 82; Louvain: Louvain: Imprimerie Orientalistic, 1959], 3). 139 In the Syriac version of the debate between Silvester and the Jews, Ps.-Zacharias, Historia Ecclesiastica (ed. E. W. Brooks, CSCO 83 [1919]), 77.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 592

592 Conclusion

menahem kister

Much has been written in the last decades concerning Jewish monotheism and especially its relationship to Christianity.140 Much of the debate concerns the question, Was Judaism monotheistic?141 This substantial issue is, of course, far beyond the scope of this article. I have not tried to give a denite answer to the question concerning the extent to which Second Temple Judaism, when observed synchronically, deserves the label monotheistic. Instead, I have tried to scrutinize the interpretation of some biblical verses in dierent circles and the functions of some theological formulae, and through this scrutiny to explain, by diachronic analysis, the manner in which heavenly powers are presented in the literature of the Second Temple period and in rabbinic literature. I have attempted to detect the inner dynamics of a monotheistic religion that has as part of its inheritance the notion of divine beings (angels) in an era in which abstract speculations concerning Gods substance came to the fore, yielding the notion of divine powers,142 some of which are more than just personied divine attributes but still are conceived of as part of a monotheistic system, notwithstanding the tension among its dierent elements. We have observed the potential in this tension for the emergence of the distinction between the Persons in the Godhead (in Christianity) and for rupturing the whole Jewish monotheistic system (in Gnostic circles). Even when these theological systems are in bitter polemic with Judaism, they owe much to the inherent tension in Judaism itself as a monotheistic religion. On the

140 See, e.g., J. D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making (2d ed., London: SCM, 1989); P. Hayman, MonotheismA Misused Word in Jewish Studies, JJS 42 (1991): 1-15; J. Collins, Jewish Monotheism and Christian Theology, Aspects of Monotheism: How God is One: Symposium in the Smithonian Institution October 19, 1996 (eds. H. Shanks and J. Meinhardt; Washington: Biblical Archeology Society, 1997), 81-105; L. W. Hurtado, One God, One Lord (2d ed. Edinburgh, T & T Clark, 1998); The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St. Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus (eds C. C. Newman, J. R. Davila and G. S. Lewis; Leiden: Brill, 1999); Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism (eds. L. T. Stuckenbruck and W. E. S. North; JSNTS 263; London: T & T Clark, 2004), see especially Stuckenbruck and North, Introduction, 1-9 and J. F. McGrath and J. Truex, Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism: A Select Bibliography, 235-242). 141 Hayman; Hurtado; Collins; M. Mach, Concepts of Jewish Monotheism in the Hellenistic Period in The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism, 21-42; W. Horbury, Jewish and Christian Monotheism in the Herodian Age in Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism, 16-44. 142 See above, n. 104.

JSJ 37,4_340_548-593

10/12/06

8:26 PM

Page 593

dynamics of monotheism

593

other hand, the emergence of Christianity and Gnosticism cast a new light on some Jewish ideas and demanded theological solutions, some of which were new while others, already existent in the stock tradition of Judaism, were brought into the fore through combat with the new opponents.