Priest as an Angel in Malachi

Ahanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,029
Reaction score
500
Points
108
@Thomas
No doubt Thomas read the text in context – the prophet is speaking out against false priests (Malachi 2:1), and the true priest:
"The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me (The Lord) in peace, and in equity, and turned many away from iniquity. For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they (the people) shall seek the law at his mouth: because he is the angel of the Lord of hosts."
Angel is the sense that he fulfils the angelic function of messenger, as do prophets, as ministers of God, and mouthpieces for, in this instance, to the Angel of the Law.

In my opinion this position that the "angel is the sense that he [the priest] fulfills the angelic function of the messenger" is an inadequate explanation for the following reasons:

-The Hebrew text can be read to mean the priest is an angel of the Lord
-Jubilees 31 takes it in such a sense
-A separation between being and action appears to be absent from Jewish thought during that time
-Entering the inner sanctuary and being closer to God implies an ontological difference
-In relation to this idea of angelic priests, Philo and others read Lev. 16.17 to mean the priest is angelic

And, as always, I am happy to share my source. See Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis' All the Glory of Adam.
"One of the most important biblical texts which gave canonical authority to the belief in an angelomorphic priesthood is Malachi 2:5-7 which says of Levi:

My covenant with him was a covenant of life and peace, which I gave him; this called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in integrity and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek from his mouth, for he is an angel of the LORD of hosts.

Although English translations usually give the last expression of verse 7 a purely functional translation (the messenger of the LORD) the Hebrew can be taken to mean that the priest is an angel of the LORD of hosts. This reading is consistent with the emphasis in the preceding verses on the true priest's own character, personal integrity and physical proximity to God which implies more than simply his functional role as God's messenger. This text was widely interpreted in priestly circles to mean that the priest has an ontological identity akin to that of a (suprahuman) angel [see Jubilees 31, the DSS, and Lev. Rab. 21:12]. The designation of the priest as מַלְאַךְ is attested in the near contemporary Ecclesiastes 5:5 (LXX 5:6), where the different versions attest the fluidity of interpretation such language allows . . .

The importance of Malachi 2 for the development of a belief in an angelomorphic priesthood can be clearly seen in Jubilees 31:

And he [Isaac] turned to Levi first and began to bless him first, and he said to him: 'May the Lord of all, i.e. the Lord of all ages, bless you and your sons in all ages.
May the Lord give you and your seed very great g/Glory. May he make you and your seed near to him from all flesh to serve in his sanctuary as the angels of the presence and the holy ones. May your sons' seed be like them with respect to g/Glory and greatness and sanctification. May he make them great in every age.
And they will become judges and rules and leaders of all of the seed of the sons of Jacob.
The word of the Lord they will speak righteously,
and all his judgements they will execute righteously.
And they will tell my ways to Jacob,
and my paths to Israel.
The blessing of the Lord shall be in their mouth,
so that they might bless all of the seed of the beloved.
(As for) you, your mother has named you 'Levi',
and truly she has named you.
You will be joined to the Lord
and be the companion of all the sons of Jacob.
His table will belong to you,
and you and your sons will eat (from) it,
and in all generations your table will be full,
and your food will not be lacking in any age.
And all who hate you will fall before you,
and all your enemies will be uprooted and perish,
and whoever blesses you will be blessed,
and any nation which curses you will be cursed.


This is the first half of a two part blessing upon Levi and Judah (31:11-17 and 18-20) in which the former is obviously superior to the latter. Isaac's blessing of his two grandsons is deliberately modelled on the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh in Genesis 48 as James VanderKam has shown. Just as Ephraim was made pre-eminent over Manasseh so here, in Jubilees 31, Levi is superior to Judah.

The patriarchal blessing is also one of four episodes collected in chapters 30-32 of Jubilees which explain and justify how Levi was appointed to the priesthood. This particular passage is therefore reflective of the author's attempt to give greater authority to the Levitical priesthood than scripture, which focuses on Aaron, allows. Biblically, the closest parallel to this elevation of Levi is Malachi 2, which claims a 'covenant' with Levi. It is not, therefore, surprising that Malachi 2:5-7 should have exerted some influence on the Jubilees text . . .

There are those who have been unwilling to see here anything more than a parallelism of action between the human priesthood and the angels. In the previous chapter, one of the angels of the presence says 'the seed of Levi was chosen for the priesthood and Levitical (orders) to minister before the Lord just as we do' (31:18). So clearly the priests' action in their ministry is central to their comparison with angels. However, other considerations suggest that the author of Jubilees was not really aware of any distinction between being and action. Levi and his seed are separated 'from all flesh' to serve God in his sanctuary. This should probably not be taken as purely idiomatic. Judging by the use of this phrase in Sirach 45:4 and several other Dead Sea Scrolls (see below) it means a real ontological transfer from one realm of being to the other. The new realm of being characterized, in particular, by 'glory' ('and greatness of sanctification') as it was for Moses (Sirach 45:2a, 3bd). The nature of this glory, whether narrowly anthropological (honour, fame) or overtly theological (Glory), is not stated. Near contemporary texts, such as Sirach 50, which we shall discuss later, suggest that since God is the giver of the glory it is his own and that this is one example of the belief that the priesthood somehow embodies God's own Glory.

Within the Jewish temple graded space marks out qualitatively different spheres of reality. The inner sanctuary utterly transcends the reality of the outer courts. That Levi is brought near to God thus means a spatial relocation which, in turn, implies an ontological one.

The extent of the influence of such ideas upon the theology of priesthood was widespread. Philo and the rabbis share a tradition in which Leviticus 16:17 ('no man shall be in the tent of meeting from the time he (the high priest) enters . . .') is taken to mean that the high priest is not a man, but is angelic . . . Although, as we shall see, the belief in an angelic priesthood is particularly dear to mystical and apocalyptic circles exemplified by the Qumran community, the theology was shared far beyond such communities. So, for example, it is clearly presumed in the Letter of Aristeas, a propagandist work which shows little interest in matters apocolyptic, but for whom the high priest is a thoroughly otherworldly figure. In the letter's account of the Jewish temple and its service the sight of the high priest 'makes one awestruck and dumbfounded' and gives the impression that 'one had come into the presence of a man who belonged to a different world (99)."
 
Last edited:
Will continue sharing notes . . .

Maybe it will help to note a Catholic named Dr. John Bergsma, who wrote Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, says the following about the scholar mentioned above in his book: "The notion of members of the covenant community being lifted up to worship with the angels is prevalent in Qumran. The British scholar Crispin Fletcher-Louis has established his scholarly reputation by studying this theme . . ." He "argues that the Qumranites believed they were transformed spiritually, through their worship, into angelic priests in God's heavenly Temple." Dr. John Bergsma concludes that "something at least close to that must have been the case."

From Margaret Barker's Temple Mysticism I learned more about Qumran priests as angels:

"The Qumran Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice give the best glimpse of the holy of holies as people imagined it in the time of Jesus. As in Ezekiel's vision, the fire around the chariot throne was alive, but the Songs name the living fire as the 'elohim, or the 'elim, both meaning gods:

'From between his glorious wheels, there is as it were a fiery vision of most holy spirits. About them the appearance of rivulets of fire in the likeness of gleaming brass . . . many-coloured glory, marvellous pigments, clearly mingled, spirits of the living 'elohim moving to and fro . . .'

'At their marvellous stations are spirits, many-coloured like the work of a weaver, splendid engraved figures. In the midst of a glorious appearance of scarlet, colours of the most holy spiritual light . . . These are . . . the princes of the kingdom, the kingdom of the holy ones of the king of holiness'


The fiery spirits of the Sabbath Songs served as priests in the heavenly temple, but nobody knows if these songs are an imaginary picture of heaven, or a description of the actual temple service in Jerusalem, where the priests 'were' the angels, as the prophet Malachi had reminded them . . . The spirits were described as gods of knowledge and righteousness: 'all the gods, 'elim, of knowledge celebrate his glory, and all the spirits of righteousness celebrate his truth', 'the gods', 'elim, of knowledge enter by the door of glory . . .'

Those who entered the light were transformed by it and reflected the light into the world. This was the role of an angel of the presence. The Qumran priests were blessed, as we have seen, with the words 'May you be as an angel of the presecence' but the blessing then reveals what an angel of the presence has to do: 'May He make you holy among his people, and an [eternal] light [to illuminate] the world with knowledge and to enlighten the face of the congregation [with wisdom].' The role of the angels was to bring light and knowledge. An Enoch text which the Qumran community possessed said this knowledge would be restored at the end of the 'seventh week', that is, at the end of the second temple period: '[Then] the chosen ones will be given sevenfold wisdom and knowledge.'"
 
Philo and others read Lev. 16.17 to mean the priest is angelic
Here is what Philo wrote in Who is Heir to Divine Things. This translation says:

XVI. (81) And the statement, "He led him Out"{33}{#ge 15:5.} (exeĩgagen auton exoĩ), has a bearing also on moral considerations, though some persons, through their want of instruction in moral philosophy, are accustomed to ridicule it, saying, "For is any one ever led out in (exoĩ eisagetai), or led in out (eiserchetai exoĩ)?" "Certainly," I would reply, "you ridiculous and very foolish man; for you have never learnt how to trace the dispositions of the soul; but by this language of yours you only seek to understand those motions of the bodies which are exerted in change of place. On which account it seems paradoxical to you to speak of any one coming out into (exerchetai eisoĩ), or going in out (exerchetai exoĩ); but to those acquainted with Moses none of these things seem inconsistent." (82) Would you not say that the perfect high priest when, being in the inmost shrine, he is performing his national sacrifices, is both within and without at the same time? within in respect of his visible body, but without in respect of his soul, which is roaming about and wandering? And again, on the other hand, would you not say that a man who was not of the family consecrated to the priesthood, but who was a lover of God and beloved by God, though standing without the holy shrine, was nevertheless in reality in its inmost parts? looking upon his whole life in the body as a sojourning in a foreign land; but while he is able to live only in the soul, then he thinks that he is abiding in his own country. (83) For every fool is outside of friendship, even though he may not depart for one moment from daily association with people. But every wise man is within friendship, even if he be dwelling at a distance, not merely in a different country, but in another climate and region of the world. But, according to Moses, a friend is so near to one as to differ in no respect from one's own soul, for he says, "the friend who is like thy Soul."{34}{deuteronomy 13:6.} (84) And again he says, "The priest shall not be a man by himself, when he goeth into the holy of holies, until he cometh Out;"{35}{#le 16:17.} speaking not with reference to the motions of the body, but to those of the soul; for the mind, while it is offering holy sacrifices to God in all purity, is not a human but a divine mind; but when it is serving any human object, it then descends from heaven and becomes changed, or rather it falls to the earth and goes out, even though the mind may still remain within. (85) Very correctly, therefore, it is said, he led him out (exeĩgagen exoĩ) of the prison according to the body, of the caves existing in the external senses, of the sophistries displayed in deceitful speech; and beyond all this, out of himself and out of the idea that by his own self-exerted, selfimplanted, and independent power he was able to conceive and comprehend.
 
In my opinion this position that the "angel is the sense that he [the priest] fulfills the angelic function of the messenger" is an inadequate explanation for the following reasons:

-The Hebrew text can be read to mean the priest is an angel of the Lord
-Jubilees 31 takes it in such a sense
OK, but Jubilees is a non-canonical text.

-A separation between being and action appears to be absent from Jewish thought during that time
The era around this time – say 200 years either side of Christ – was one of rich speculation. I'm not arguing against the speculation, I'm jst saying it's not as definitive as you want it to be.
 
Maybe it will help to note a Catholic named Dr. John Bergsma, who wrote Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, says the following about the scholar mentioned above in his book: "The notion of members of the covenant community being lifted up to worship with the angels is prevalent in Qumran. The British scholar Crispin Fletcher-Louis has established his scholarly reputation by studying this theme . . ." He "argues that the Qumranites believed they were transformed spiritually, through their worship, into angelic priests in God's heavenly Temple." Dr. John Bergsma concludes that "something at least close to that must have been the case."
From Margaret Barker's Temple Mysticism I learned more about Qumran priests as angels:

The Qumran community clearly believed in incorporeal angelic beings, as intelligible realities, who do indeed commune with humans and that corporeal (human) beings could be transformed into incorporeal beings – which is in effect the process going the other way – but the point is that the Qumran belief is somewhat heterodox with regard to 'orthodox' Judaism. It certainly is of interest, but of no bearing on Christian doctrine.

Like the later Enoch materials, a matter of historical interest and an example of the types of mystical speculation.
 
but the point is that the Qumran belief is somewhat heterodox with regard to 'orthodox' Judaism.

So what was orthodox Judaism during Jesus' time in your mind? Scholars like Margaret Barker would simply say Qumran belief represented an earlier form of Judaism. You and she reside on opposite ends of the pole on this point. Would Christ be considered heterodox or orthodox in your mind in relationship to the colorful spectrum of Judaisms at the time? Let's say Christ is orthodox. Why in the world would he pull from Qumran tradition - a "somewhat heterodox" position - to refute what I guess you think were the "somewhat more orthodox" Pharisees? Jesus and the Essene movement believe they have the authority to challenge and correct the Law of Moses by restoring it to the original Law of creation, implying both groups held it above Mosaic Torah (and thus "one-up" the position of traditional Jews), a position that not only upset the apple cart of the everyday Sadducee who believed the Law was fixed, but it led to conflicts with Pharisaical oral Law too (Mark 10.5-6; Matt 5.32; Luke 16.18; Deut 24.1-4). This is not a minor ideological link. This is a major one. A minor ideological link for me would be the Essene-like rules about how to travel (Mark 6.6-9). Sorry, but I don't think the group is as marginal as you make it out to be in the development of early Christianity.
 
Last edited:
OK, but Jubilees is a non-canonical text.
So?

Jesus' own arguments mentioned above reflect the Qumran community's textual arguments based on canonical texts like Genesis. Is the Damascus Document a non-canonical text? Yes. Does Jesus show he is in the same atmosphere of interpretation by using identical principles of appealing to the original Law of creation to correct the Law of Moses? Yes.
 
Last edited:
OK, but Jubilees is a non-canonical text.
Also, non-canonical texts have teachings from the First Temple - which was destroyed in the seventh century BCE - scattered within them.

Like the later Enoch materials, a matter of historical interest and an example of the types of mystical speculation.

And Enoch preserves some of that for us. Enoch has his roots in the ancient high priests.
 
Last edited:
Will continue sharing notes . . .

Tabernacle as symbol of the universe and priests as angels . . .

"The idea of the Tabernacle as a symbol of the Universe is most clearly expressed in later Jewish literature. Thus Josephus declares that each of the objects of the Tabernacle 'is intended to recall and represent the Universe' (Antiq. Ill, 180, compare III, 123; B.J. V, 212f.). Philo elaborates the same idea (De Vita Mos. 1 1 , 80f.; De Spec. Leg. I, 66f.) and so does the Midrashic literature.

According to these sources not only do the different parts of the Temple and its objects represent the heavenly abode, but even the priests of the Temple represent the divine retinue, i.e. the angels. Thus we hear Philo stating that the Temple of God represents the whole Universe: the inner shrine represents heaven, the votive objects are the stars and the priests are the angels, the servants of his power {Spec. Leg. I, 66). The high priest, who in his view has been consecrated to the Father of the world, wears a vesture which represents the world (Vita Mos. II 133f.; cp. Wisd.Sol. 18:24) and when he enters before the Lord, the whole universe enters with him (ibid. compare Josephus, Antiq. Ill, 184f.)

In the Qumran scrolls the high priest is described as the angel of the inner shrine in heaven, serving in the royal chamber and constituting the big luminary. A similar picture of the high priest emerges from Ben-Sira 50:6f., where the high priest is depicted as the morning star, and as the sun shining on the Temple."
-Moshe Weinfeld, Sabbath, Temple and the Enthronement of the Lord
 
The tradition of Alexander the Great and the high priest . . .
"To understand how Jews may have understood the High Priest's angelomorphic identity we should reflect on his cultic function and attire. On his breastplate he wears twelve precious stones, symbolising the 12 tribes of Israel. We have already seen that these stones are associated with the angelomorphism of the king. Commentators agree that the context in which Hecataeus' account of the High Priest is set is the Day of Atonement. On this occasion he not only wears the divine Name - the Tetragrammaton - on his turban, but he also utters the Divine Name as he comes out of the Holy of Holies. Segal and Fossum have highlighted the way that the Divine name became associated with transformational / angelomorphic ideas in second Temple and the later rabbinic Judaism . . . Angelomorphic portrayals of Moses in Artapanus, the Son of Man in the Similitudes, and Enoch/Metatron in rabbinic literature are all bound up with the possession of, or ability to speak the divine Name. This was evidently the reason why some Jews worshipped Metatron. It is thus significant that in the ceremony of the Day of Atonement the priests were remembered to fall on their faces before the High Priest when the Name is spoken.

There is one tradition, also associated with the late fourth century B.C., from which we know that there was some debate over the worship of the high priest and his bearing of the Name. There are three principal witnesses to a story in which Alexander the Great prostrates himself in worship before the High Priest - Josephus' Antiquitates Judaicae book eleven, a rabbinich scholion to the megillath ta'anith and the Judaising recension of the Alexander Romance. The new Schurer suggests each is derived from a lost pseudepigraphon, which it entitles A History of the Visit to Jersusalem of Alexader the Great.

Josephus' is the fullest account, set in the midst of events at the end of the fourth century B.C., between the Samaritan and Jerusalem based Jews on the one hand, and Alexander's conquering army on the other, (Ant 11:302-347). The acting High Priest in Jerusalem, troubled by the threat of the conquering force, is instructed in a dream to meet Alexander outside the city, clad in his regalia and surrounded by the other priests. When he does so Alexander prostrates himself 'before the Name' (Ant 11:331), which the High Priest wears.

In the rabbinic version, although there is no reference to the Name, Alexander's action is unequivocally understood as reverence towards the High Priest. However, Josephus is clearly embarrassed by this prostration. According to Josephus, one of Alexander's generals understands his leader's action as worship of the man, and upbraids him for it. Alexander answers, 'It was not before him that I prostrated myself but the God of whom he has the honour to be High Priest.' In Ps-Callisthenes the problem is avoided, with no account of actual worship, although Alexander is said to regard the High Priest as divine. It is tempting to argue for the originality of the rabbinic version. Even if Josephus' account is an attempt to avoid what was theologically problematic in his own day, Alexander's words in his version could still be construed as recognising that the High Priest, not as an individual but in his cultic office, was recognised in some way as a manifestation of the one Jewish God, similar to the principal, Name bearing angel of OT tradition. In any case this tradition supports the impression that the High Priest, in his regalia and by his association with the Name, was regarded by some as a heavenly being deserving of worship, even if this was a cause of contention in the second Temple period."
- Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Luke-Acts
 
Last edited:
I'm sorry, @Ahanu, but top me this dialogue has wandered far and lost track of the initial point.

If memory serves, I think the genesis of this thread was my disagreement that:
"Thus, as it is evident and established that intelligible realities do not enter or inhere, it follows that it is in no wise possible for the Holy Spirit to ascend, descend, enter, exit, commingle, or inhere..."

I think my original point was: "but then as I understand it, the Baha'i excludes the idea of shekinah, or of 'the indwelling spirit' ..."

We have now gone onto a long discourse on angelology, and while I accept the quotes above as interesting, I thinbk you're missing a salient point.

The he Essenes, and Enochian literature, accept the idea of angels as incorporeal beings – the primary purpose of which is messenger, although they fulfil other functions, indeed Enoch 2 and 3 discusses the angelic orders at some length.

The fact that angels can 'discourse' with humanity, and humans become angels, shows an a priori acceptance of the two – angels and humans – as distinct natures.

The angelic orders are believed by the three Abrahamic Traditions are higher entities than human, and in the Traditions the Immanence as well as the Transcendence of the Divine is a given. I don't see any of the texts cited above as arguing against that?
 
Whilst our understanding of Jewish mystical speculation has taken great strides in the post-war era, we need tread carefully in what we assert.

"The 'Prince of Light' or 'the Spirit of Truth' is appointed, according to the Essenes, as a helper to all children of light. The figure of the Paraclete or Advocate of John is derived from this complex of ideas."
-Frank Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran

It might well be the case that John was aware of Essene teachings, and utilised similar ideas, it would be erroneous to assume that John means the same thing as the Qumran community, or that he's dependent upon them.

This from the Centre of Online Jewish Studies:
In summary, the dominant picture of light and darkness in the Fourth Gospel results from a creative exegetical fusion of Jewish speculation about the primordial light of the first day of creation and messianic interpretation of the prophecies of eschatological light. This understanding of the sources of the light/darkness imagery in John accounts for its actual character and significance in a way that the hypothesis of influence from Qumran cannot do.

I have omitted the phrase “the Spirit of truth” from this discussion of light and darkness dualism in Qumran and John because, while it occurs in the context of the light and darkness imagery in 1QS (3-19; 4-21, 23; cf. 4QCatenaa [4Q177] 4-10), in the Johannine literature it does not. Its three occurrences as another term for the Paraclete in John 14–16 (14-17; 15-26; 16-13; cf. 1 John 4-6) relate rather to the courtroom language of witness and judgment (15-26–27; 16-8–11; cf. also 1 John 5-6–9), prominent in John but absent from 1QS 3–4. Nor is the context in John especially dualistic. The devil is mentioned (16-8), but in the political image of “the ruler of this world” — not as an evil counterpart of the Spirit of truth. Only in chapter 8 is he called “the father of lies” in whom there is “no truth” (8-44), but here the contrast is not with the Spirit of truth but with Jesus as the one who speaks truth (8-45–46).

There is therefore little except the term “Spirit of truth” itself to suggest a connection between its occurrences in 1QS and its occurrences in John. The coincidence of terminology is far less remarkable when we remember that genitival phrases connecting the term “spirit” with an abstract noun are common in the Old Testament, early Jewish literature, and the New Testament. Among the more common expressions are “spirit of power” (Isa 11-2; Sir 48-24; LAB 27-10; 1 Enoch 49-3; 71-11; 2 Tim 1-7) and “spirit of wisdom” (Deut 34-9; Isa 11-2; 1 Enoch 49-3; 61-11; Wis 7-7; Eph 1-17). But there are many others (cf. Num 5-14, 30; Isa 28-6; Zech 12-10; Sir 39-6; 1 Pet 4-14; Rom 8-2,15; 2 Cor 4-13; Heb 10-29, and the lists in Isa 11-2; 1QSb 5-25; 1 Enoch 49-2–3; 61-11; 1QS 4-3–4; 2 Tim 1-7). Such expressions can be used of a human disposition, especially as God-given, and in Qumran usage they can designate angels (1QM 13-11–12; 1QH 11-22; 4QShirShabbf [4Q404] 17-3), but they can also designate the Spirit of God with reference to a particular aspect or effect of the divine activity.

The phrase “spirit of truth” is therefore a natural formation within this general terminological phenomenon. In fact, it occurs twice in early Jewish literature outside the Qumran texts. In Jubilees 25-14, when Rebecca is about to give her blessing to Jacob, we are told that “a spirit of truth descended upon her mouth.” In Joseph and Aseneth 19-11 Joseph kisses Aseneth three times, imparting to her first “a spirit of life,” secondly “a spirit of wisdom,” and thirdly “a spirit of truth.” The meaning is probably that he conveys to her the divine Spirit in three of its effects (cf. John 20-22).

The explanation of the coincidence of terminology between 1QS and John is therefore that “truth” is a key concept and term in both, and “spirit of truth” a natural formation in a Jewish context. We need no elaborate explanations of the way the term borrowed from Qumran usage could come to be used in a different way in John. It is much easier to suppose that the term was formed independently in the two cases.

In conclusion, there is a curious irony to be observed. It was the publication of Qumran texts which effected a shift in Johannine scholarship towards recognizing the thoroughly Jewish character of Johannine theology. In retrospect this appears to have been a case of drawing the correct conclusion from the wrong evidence. There is no need to appeal to the Qumran texts in order to demonstrate the Jewishness of the Fourth Gospel’s light/darkness imagery. This can be done more convincingly by comparison with other Jewish sources already available long before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
(underlining mine).
 
I'm sorry, @Ahanu, but top me this dialogue has wandered far and lost track of the initial point.

Oh, that tends to happen, doesn't it?

but of no bearing on Christian doctrine.

How is it that Qumran belief "has no bearing on Christian doctrine" though? Even Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Jesus of Nazareth about how Qumran beliefs shaped Christianity's early beginnings to some extent:

". . . it appears that not only John the Baptist, but possibly Jesus and his family as well, were close to the Qumran community. At any rate, there are numerous points of contact with the Christian message in the Qumran writings. It is a reasonable hypothesis that John the Baptist lived for some time in this community and received part of his religious formation from it."
-Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration

If what he says is indeed the case, then, yes, Qumran belief has some degree of "bearing on Christian doctrine" in my opinion. How could it be otherwise? 🤔

If memory serves, I think the genesis of this thread was my disagreement that:
"Thus, as it is evident and established that intelligible realities do not enter or inhere, it follows that it is in no wise possible for the Holy Spirit to ascend, descend, enter, exit, commingle, or inhere..."

I think my original point was: "but then as I understand it, the Baha'i excludes the idea of shekinah, or of 'the indwelling spirit' ..."

No, we have already exchanged views about that. The origin of this thread in my mind are the following comments:

"No doubt Thomas read the text in context – the prophet is speaking out against false priests (Malachi 2:1), and the true priest:
"The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me (The Lord) in peace, and in equity, and turned many away from iniquity. For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they (the people) shall seek the law at his mouth: because he is the angel of the Lord of hosts."
Angel is the sense that he fulfils the angelic function of messenger, as do prophets, as ministers of God, and mouthpieces for, in this instance, to the Angel of the Law."

Recall you also said:

"Might well have been unaware, as the Qumran texts were long lost by then ... but he would have understood the context, and not read them purely literally as disposing of a whole tradition of Hebrew literature.

If you Google 'angels' and 'Qumran', you'll realise just how wrong you are concerning this topic."

That was in response to what I wrote earlier:

"Qumran priests were angels on earth, so one can say "the priest . . . is the angel of the Lord of Hosts." Was St. Thomas unaware of Qumran tradition - a tradition Jesus was clearly aware of?"

The question wasn't serious. It was more playful, because if that is Thomas Aquinas' conclusion, then the "Angelic Doctor" is missing a lot of stuff. As the excerpt from Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis showed above (with my emphasis in bold), the priests are angels: "Although English translations usually give the last expression of verse 7 a purely functional translation (the messenger of the LORD) the Hebrew can be taken to mean that the priest is an angel of the LORD of hosts. This reading is consistent with the emphasis in the preceding verses on the true priest's own character, personal integrity and physical proximity to God which implies more than simply his functional role as God's messenger. This text was widely interpreted in priestly circles to mean that the priest has an ontological identity akin to that of a (suprahuman) angel [see Jubilees 31, the DSS, and Lev. Rab. 21:12]."
 
Last edited:
I think my original point was: "but then as I understand it, the Baha'i excludes the idea of shekinah, or of 'the indwelling spirit' ..."

The spirit has a non-local connection with the body in my humble understanding of Baha'i teachings.

The fact that angels can 'discourse' with humanity, and humans become angels, shows an a priori acceptance of the two – angels and humans – as distinct natures.

Had you been there with Qumran priests, what would the experience of that discourse have been like? Can you describe it for me? Assuming it is historical, had you been there for the episode in which the "angels came and attended him [Jesus]" (Matt. 4.11), what would you have witnessed with your eyes and ears?
 
Last edited:
How is it that Qumran belief "has no bearing on Christian doctrine" though? Even Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Jesus of Nazareth about how Qumran beliefs shaped Christianity's early beginnings to some extent:
Ah ... that's a bit of an overstatement. Benedict says 'possibly' and offers no evidence in support of that possibility – so clearly there's no evidence to suggest to what extent, if at all, the Essenes shaped Christian thinking and, as detailed above, when we look at John, who is closest to Essene motifs, eg light and dark, John's theology is distinct from Essene teaching ...

For a long time it was assumed John was influenced by Gnosticism because of his use of dualist analogy, especially light and dark. Now the same claims are being made for the Qumran materials, but really it's not the case.

Christian doctrine is clearly its own. The Logos for John is quite other than the Logos of the Stoics, for example.

The question wasn't serious. It was more playful, because if that is Thomas Aquinas' conclusion, then the "Angelic Doctor" is missing a lot of stuff.
Not really, because the DSS are not central to Christianity. Nor are the DSS the 'last word' on angelology.

As the excerpt from Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis showed above (with my emphasis in bold), the priests are angels:
OK – in which case they have been elevated, or an angelic nature has settled upon them?

Moses, clearly, exhibited signs of an angel nature when he descended the mountain with the Tablets of the Law, in Exodus 34:29-33
"... when Moses came down from mount Sinai ... Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him ... And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him... And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face."

Angels are spoken of as creatures of light and so one might say the Presence of God is with him.

My point still being that all this depends on the a priori idea of angelic and human natures ...

That the Jews speculated on angelic anthropology is not in question, but to pin the entirety of that speculation to a few verses, or say that a few verses are definitive, is stretching credulity somewhat.

None of this counters my initial point about the immanence of the Divine and the angelic orders ...
 
The spirit has a non-local connection with the body in my humble understanding of Baha'i teachings.
OK. That's not the case in the three Abrahamic traditions.

As for your questions – Hebrews 13:12
'And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.'
 
  • Love
Reactions: RJM
As for your questions – Hebrews 13:12
'And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.'

It doesn't answer anything. Translation: for those present that are not aware they would have seen or heard nothing.

Christian doctrine is clearly its own.

As was shown in post #7, clearly it is not.
 
It doesn't answer anything. Translation: for those present that are not aware they would have seen or heard nothing.
What's your take on Abraham and the three strangers?
 
What's your take on Abraham and the three strangers?

Some say this episode was an actual occurrence in the external world. Since @Thomas will not answer the question clearly, I will try to answer it for him. If @Thomas were present during this episode, then he would have seen three strangers that eat, drink, get their feet washed, and talk with Abraham and Sarah. They are obviously men (although some might conclude they are angels or the Lord in the form of men). Assuming this reading is the correct one, @Thomas would have heard and seen Sarah laughing and kneading cakes too.

Some say Abraham had a vision or a dream. So, if @Thomas were present near Abraham during this episode, he would have seen a man having a vision. Nothing else and nothing more. He would have not been aware of any "angels" nearby, because he would have concluded Abraham is having a discourse with "incorporeal beings" in a vision, I suppose. Also, he would not have heard and seen Sarah laughing or kneading cakes.

In both scenarios a witness of the event can conclude there were no angels present if they are unaware that they are angels, so I still have no clue which side @Thomas is taking here. The same issue arises with "angels came and attended him [Jesus]" (Matt. 4.11). A vision of "incorporeal beings" or not? Priests/holy ones/angels attended him? Same issue with other passages like Exodus 23.20-21: "See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him." Is the angel the high priest (who also carries "the Name" on his attire) or what I guess Christians would take to be an "incorporeal being" in a vision?

I was hoping @Thomas was going to vividly paint the picture for me, but, instead, I got Hebrews 13.12, but I think he means Hebrews 13.2. I suppose he is siding with St. Augustine since he concluded that they are angels: “Actually, these men were angels, as is clear from the witness of Scripture not only here in the Book of Genesis where the episode is recorded but also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where, in a sentence praising hospitality, it is said: 'Thereby some have entertained angels unawares.'" The Orthodox Church, however, takes a view similar to Justin Martyr: "One of those three is God, and is called Angel, because, as I already said, He brings messages to those to whom God the Maker of all things wishes, then in regard to Him who appeared to Abraham on earth in human form in like manner as the two angels who came with Him, and who was God even before the creation of the world, it were reasonable for you to entertain the same belief as is entertained by the whole of your nation." St. Augustine rejects this interpretation.

Anyway, the issue is the same: How can an incorporeal being have "discourse" with humanity except through matter? Abstract substances can only have effects through matter. The three strangers are all human beings.
 
Last edited:
Back
Top