Christian Churches of God
God Revealed Chapter 1
(Edition 2.0 19940212-20000710)
This paper is released by chapters. It deals with the nature of God. It shows the history of the development of the doctrines within Christianity and shows how the system has become quite unlike and estranged from authentic Christianity.
God Revealed Chapter 1 – Ancient Monotheism
The Concept of Monotheism in Ancient Israel
Peter Hayman points out in the Presidential address to the British Association for Jewish Studies, Edinburgh, 21 August 1990, published as Monotheism - A Misused Word in Jewish Studies?, Journal of Jewish Studies 42 (1991) that,
In the academic world of twenty or thirty years ago it was conventional to hold that the story of Judaism was one of a gradual, but inexorable, evolution from a Canaanite/Israelite pagan and mythological environment into the pure light of an unsullied monotheism.
There is no doubt that the assertion by Hayman is correct and that the view was wrong. The sort of argument advanced, for example, by Alt is admitted by Frank Moore Cross (Yahweh And The God Of The Patriarchs, Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 55 No. 24, 1962, pp. 225-259) to be wholly unsatisfactory in the examination of the so called 'el religion. The isolation of the God of the Patriarchs as a series of local clan deities differing one from another is conjecture. In effect, the thesis was developed that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob became aggregated into one deity from separate household gods. Further, it is then asserted that this aggregate and the God of Moses were entirely distinct and in any case they belong in two stages in an historical development. Such conjecture seems to be based on the simple fact that the revelation to Moses was sequential to the Patriarchs. The concept denies any reality to the revelation or the fact of God's existence. It insists on the sequence, yet ignores the continuity of Genesis 11:31 to 12:5; 16:16; 17:1-27; 24:1-10; 28:1-9. These passages show that the intermarriage of the Patriarchs was to ensure that there would be no loss of the understanding of the One True God. Hayman notes that the point at which the above breakthrough was achieved was the subject of debate but most scholars agreed that it took place.
Scholars such as T.C. Vriezen (Religion of Ancient Israel, (1963) Eng. tr., London, 1967, p. 37) held that there was an extreme and excessive stress on the transcendental nature of God, which increasingly led Jews to perceive God as inaccessible to them. This concept is also evident in the work of W. Bousset (Die Religion des judentums im späthellenistischen Zeitalter, 3rd edn, ed. H. Gressman, Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1926 (cit. Die Religion)). His work is now acknowledged as deficient especially in the question of Jewish divine agent figures. He regarded the post-exilic thought as erosive of an earlier and purer thought from three areas: (a) angelology (b) dualistic tendencies and (c) speculation concerning hypostases. These aspects are examined by Larry Hurtado (One God One Lord Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism, SCM Press, UK, 1988, p. 23 cf. Bousset Die religion, Der Monotheismus und die den Monotheismus beschränkenden Unterströmmungen, pp. 302-357). Hurtado notes that Bousset was not particularly innovative but his work was widely circulated because it articulated well the views of many scholars of his own and subsequent times (ibid.). Bousset concluded that post-exilic Judaism was characterised by a growing interest in intermediary beings (Mittelwesen) (Bousset, pp. 319-331):
This interest in turn he attributed to a growing sense of God's transcendence, which involved the notion that God had distanced himself from the world and was less available, having turned [H]is rule of the world over to angels and other intermediaries [Bousset, pp. 319,329-331] (Hurtado, p. 23).
The conclusion drawn by Bousset was, that
although these figures were messengers of God and executors of [H]is will, nevertheless they represented a threat to Jewish monotheism, and the interest in them was linked with a softening of monotheism characteristic of Jewish piety of the period in question (Hurtado, ibid., cf. Bousset, p. 329, citing also Moore Christian Writers in Judaism, pp. 227-253).
This thinking was the fundamental error of most exegetical activity over the previous few centuries. The philosophical requirements of the logic of monotheism (which is examined in Cox Creation: From Anthropomorphic Theology to Theomorphic Anthropology, UNE, 1990), show that the subordination of activity under the central will of God is necessary to Monotheism. Trinitarianism and the Soul Doctrine logically compromise Monotheism. Further, the biblical position will be shown to be consistent and to be that position which is held by Bousset to be a post-exilic compromise. The so-called weakened post-exilic view was used as the explanation as to how the exalted Christ came to be viewed as a pre-existent heavenly being very early in the Christian movement (Hurtado, ibid.). Thus, the veneration of Jesus was a development, which of itself was to represent a defective Monotheism or insipient Binitarianism. However, it cannot be demonstrated that early Christianity worshipped Jesus. The veneration of Christ was in no way an act of worship. Early Christianity was subordinationist. The Bible at no stage indicates that Christ was thought of as the One True God. Neither was he held to be co-equal or co-eternal with God. This is a later manifestation as we will see. That Christ was seen to be a pre-existent heavenly being is the biblical view of both Testaments. It is continuous and coherent. It is the accepted Judaic view of Messiah, which we shall see herein. Hayman in his paper above goes on to say (p.1) that,
In the last twenty years or so there has been a radical change in the climate of Old Testament studies as scholars have come to realise that claims about the originality of ancient Israelite religion are virtually impossible to substantiate and relatively easy to demolish.
In illustration, he contrasts the work of Vriezen with the following quote from Niels Peter Lemche's Ancient Israel (Sheffield, 1988, p. 256):
All we can be sure of is that the Israelite conception of Yahweh during the period of the monarchy did not contain features which distinguish his worship from other types of religion in western Asia.
Hayman says that,
Despite the changed climate in Old Testament studies of which Lemche's book is but one symptom, there still remains, however, a consensus that Judaism after the exile represents a startling new development in the history of religion, and that it is the Jewish monotheistic conception of God that makes this religion stand out from all others (op. cit., p. 2).
Hayman goes on to make the most significant statements
that it is hardly ever appropriate to use the term monotheism to describe the Jewish idea of God, that no progress beyond the simple formulas of the Book of Deuteronomy can be discerned in Judaism before the philosophers of the Middle Ages, and that Judaism never escapes from the legacy of the battles for supremacy between Yahweh, Ba'al and El from which it emerged (ibid.).
Now these contentions are important. The propositions can be listed as follows:
· that the structure of Jewish Monotheism was fixed in the Pentateuch;
· that structure involved a multiplicity of heavenly entities or representations of heavenly entities; and
· that structure remained unchanged until the philosophers of the Middle Ages altered the way in which Judaistic Monotheism was explained.
There are sound reasons why these propositions should be advanced. The major reason for the alterations in the explanations of Judaism is to be found in the formulations of the propositions of Judaic mysticism and philosophy. Hayman holds that Judaism could not stand up against a model definition of Monotheism and that Maimonedes and the other Jewish philosophers knew this and thus, made a massive effort to allegorise the tradition (Hayman, p. 2).
The reason why those propositions were accepted and not challenged by Christian academic scholarship is that Christian Trinitarianism, using the basic tenets of Greek philosophy, had developed similar concepts between the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon. This non-biblical transition made it difficult for mainstream Christianity to adequately examine the changes in any intellectually objective way. Hayman examines the patterns of Jewish beliefs about God from the Exile to the Middle Ages to assess whether or not it is truly monistic. The results of his observations led him to the conclusion that
most varieties of Judaism are marked by a dualistic pattern in which two divine entities are presupposed: one the supreme creator God, the other his vizier or prime minister, or some other spiritual agency, who really 'runs the show', or at least provides the point of contact between God and humanity (ibid.).
He goes on to say that even in rabbinic Judaism, there clearly is one dominant divine figure. He doubts whether the picture of God presented to us is really unitary at all.
Hurtado (p. 49) holds that these vice regent or grand vizier characteristics are interesting because the view reflects an aspect of the conceptual background of the understanding of the role of the exalted Jesus in earliest Christianity. He says of the relationship between Christian devotion and divine attributes or agency:
There are differences of course: (1) These divine attributes were not thought of as real entities alongside God, as I have argued; and (2) at a very early point the exalted Jesus did come to function as an object of religious devotion in the life and cultic setting of Christian groups. This role of the exalted Jesus in the devotional life of earliest Christianity marked the Christian binitarian mutation in ancient Jewish piety and gave Christian devotion its distinctive binitarian shape.
Hurtado is wrong here. Early Christian devotion was not Binitarian. It was Unitarian for centuries. The binitarian assertion is a peculiarity of American fundamentalism and is found among a number of Sabbatarian churches in the US. Binitarianism logically derives from a misapprehension of the biblical structure, being adopted in deference to fundamentalist Trinitarianism, based on its biblical translation and exegesis. It is in error logically, biblically and philosophically as we will see. There is no doubt that the structure contained in the Bible is Unitarian. Harnack (History of Dogma, see esp. Vol. IV) and Brunner are clear on that point (Emil Brunner The Christian Doctrine of God, Dogmatics, Vol. 1, tr. Olive Wyon, The Westminster Press, 1949, Cambridge, Ch. 16 The Triune God, pp. 205-206 esp 206; see also Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion, Bk. I, 13,4, tr. Beveridge, James Clark & Co, London, 1953 for the extra-biblical nature of later Christian doctrine).
What obscure the unitary nature of the structure is the garbled interpretations advanced both by rabbinic Judaism and mainstream Christianity. This occurs for two questionable reasons. With Judaism it seems to stem from a desire to defeat the arguments that the Great Angel was in fact to appear as Messiah and, thus, admit of the possibility that the man Yehoshuah (Joshua or Jesus) was the Messiah. With trinitarian Christianity, it stems from a desire to prove that Christ was not the Great Angel and, hence, the subordinate elohim of Israel but was in fact an hypostases as an integral element of the God Most High.
Most arguments stem from these two factors and, more recently, from a third source which finds its roots in humanist social theory. This third element gave rise to the incoherent arguments of twenty to thirty years ago which tried to introduce social conflict and the developing cults as the origin of the various names for God and the subordinate governing structure to which Hayman refers. The sort of intellectual processes involved have been admirably examined by scholars such as Derek Freeman in MARGARET MEAD AND SAMOA The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, ANU Press, Canberra, 1983.
Creation as the Beginning of the Problem
Hayman's conclusions sprang in part from his work on the Sefer Yesira text. The work developed between the third and the eighth centuries CE, explains creation and has no trace of the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo (Doctrine of the Creation: Some Text Critical Problems; Proceedings of the Congress of the European Association for Jewish Studies, Troyes, 1990). The earliest manuscript of Sefer Yesira §20 says,
He formed substance from chaos and made it with fire and it exists, and he hewed out great columns from intangible air (Hayman, p. 2).
Hayman points to the congruity between the Sefer Yesira and the Bereshit Rabba:
R. Huna said, in the name of Bar Qappara: 'If it were not written explicitly in Scripture, it would not be possible to say it: God created the heaven and the earth. From what? From the earth was chaos (&%;), etc.' (ibid.).
Hayman notes that the position advanced by Sefer Yesira and Rab Huna:
represents no advance whatsoever on Genesis chapter one (p. 3). God creates order out of a pre-existing chaos; he does not create from nothing. Nearly all recent studies on the doctrine of creation ex nihilo have come to the conclusion that this doctrine is not native to Judaism, is nowhere attested in the Hebrew Bible, and probably arose in Christianity in the second century C.E. in the course of its fierce battle with Gnosticism (Hayman noting (5) Weiss, Winston, Schmuttermayr, and May and noting also the concession of Jonathan Goldstein as to the weakness of his position).
Hayman considers David Winston to be correct
to argue that the doctrine of creation ex nihilo came into Judaism from Christianity and Islam at the beginning of the Middle Ages and that even then it never really succeeded in establishing itself as the accepted Jewish doctrine on creation. Aristotelian views on the eternity of the world were perfectly acceptable in Judaism, as also were neo-platonist views on its emanation out of the One, because creation ex nihilo could not be demonstrated out of the Scriptures. Maimonedes (Guide, II.26) concedes that rabbinic texts teach creation out of primordial matter and most commentators, starting with Samuel Ibn Tibbon, the first translator of his work into Hebrew, believe that Maimonedes himself privately thought that the world was eternal (p. 3 quoting Colette Sirat, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages, Cambridge, 1985, pp. 188 ff, 218 ff).
The origin of the creation then clearly had to derive from the tohu and bohu of Genesis 1:2. These concepts were then held to be either co-eternal with God and hence compromised His unique status or they emanated from Him. Hayman holds that the Kabbalists were not afraid of drawing the latter conclusion noting the Kabbalist text Bahir:
There is in God a principle that is called 'Evil', and it lies in the north of God ... for the tohu is in the north, and tohu means precisely the evil that confuses men until they sin, and it is the source of all man's evil impulses (cf. C.G. Scholem On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism, London, 1965, p. 92).
There is thus a perceived conflict between such a concept of the creation story of Genesis and Judaism's supposed Monotheism. There does not need to be any conflict even if primordial tohu and bohu is understood as the primary creation. We can see the activity of the subordinate elohim as creation within the will of El Elyon or the One True God. Thus, Monotheism is not compromised. In this way, Christ creates as a product of the Father but the primary creation is nevertheless of God.
The question of evil coming from the north appears non-biblical. Fair weather comes out of the north: with Eloah is terrible majesty (Job 37:22). Thus, the Bahir would have evil and God co-existing or God as the source of evil. No doubt such a position is derived from the text in Isaiah 45:7 where the Lord makes peace and creates evil. The sense is, however, that the Lord creates adversity from the failure to keep the law. The word for evil (as ra') demonstrates the fall from a cohesive whole and will be dealt with in the work on the The Problem of Evil (No. 118). Hayman attempts to answer the question: Is a doctrine of Monotheism conceivable without a doctrine of creation ex nihilo? Such a question
led scholars in the teeth of the evidence to suggest that creation ex nihilo is at least presupposed in the Hebrew Bible, even if it is nowhere explicit. And if this doctrine is so weakly rooted in Judaism, even as late as the Middle Ages, then we can only conclude that Judaism never escaped from the Canaanite mythological background which all scholars now see behind biblical teaching on creation. The potentially evil tohu and bohu has always been there, limiting God's power and frustrating his purposes. However often he defeats it, it always comes back because ultimately it is as primordial as he is himself, perhaps as the mystics thought, even a part of himself (p. 4).
From this, Hayman sees John Gibson as being correct in holding that the Jewish examination of the problem of the holocaust is a restatement of the problem of the author of Job in the second speech from the whirlwind. It is thus evident that the correct understanding of the Problem of Evil is predicated upon a correct understanding of the doctrine of creation and the structure of the Godhead. No curse comes without its cause (Prov. 26:2).
To this end the primary work dealt with creation (Cox Creation: From Anthropomorphic Theology to Theomorphic Anthropology (No. B5)). In that work it is pointed out that the Augustinian, or in other words, mainstream Christian understanding of the creation is incorrect. Moreover the propositions accepted by mainstream Christianity have hindered the understanding of the Godhead; hence, the Problem of Evil.
The inability of Christianity to explain the structure of the earth and pre-Adamic civilisation in terms of their paradigms left the stage open for the social theorists to attempt to explain, just as inadequately, the biblical revelation in terms of the social theory of tribal interaction in the Middle East. Such propositions deny the logical necessity of Monotheism and the Problem of Evil, namely, that under Monotheism it is logically necessary for the supreme God to reveal His will to the creation at every level to establish Monotheism as a functional system within the will of one God. All subordinate entities are one within that will and derive their existence and unity from the willing self-revelation and power of the One True God.
Rabbinical Judaism and mainstream Christianity do not appear to understand this basic philosophical issue. For example, Hayman does not agree that the experience of the mystical unity with God is missing in Judaism because it is incompatible with Jewish definitions of Monotheism. Hayman, in his 1988 paper at Oxford (Was God a Magician? Sefer Yesira and Jewish Magic, Journal of Jewish Studies 40 (1989), pp. 225-237), states that,
What SY, and later on the Kabbala, offers Jews is the opportunity 'to think God's thoughts after him', and hence in a real sense to experience imaginatively what it is like to be God (ibid., p. 234).
The function of the Kabbalah is to achieve mystical union with the One, the unio mystica [see also Aryeh Kaplan Meditation and Kabbalah (later chapters) and Jacobs ed., The Jewish Mystics, Kyle Cathie, 1990]. That union is fundamental to Mysticism. The concept stems from Shamanism.
It is the concept which influenced the Cappadocians to seek to achieve union with, and to become, God (see Basil 9.23 trans. NPNF, V, 16 abiding in God, being made like to God and highest of all, being made God; see also R.C. Gregg Consolation Philosophy; Greek and Christian Paideia in Basil and the Two Gregories, Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, 1975, p. 228 and fn. 3, where Gregg identifies the origin of the Cappadocian thought with Plotinus). Moshe Idel (Kabbalah: New Perspectives, New Haven, 1988, esp. pp. 59-73) holds that Mysticism, even in its extreme form, can be found in Judaism. Many of the texts used by Idel are held to presuppose that humans can become divine and dispose of the powers of God. Hayman holds (p. 5) that
the theme of self identification with God, once we start to explore it, leads us virtually everywhere in Judaism, from the style of biblical prose (R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (1981), p. 157) to the claims of Jewish magicians (Hayman Was God a Magician?, p. 235), but above all to the claims of the Hekhalot literature that a man, Enoch, ascended to heaven and was metamorphosed into Metatron, the 'little Yahweh' (Hayman, ibid.). The theme of the apotheosis of the wise man, the mystic, binds the Jewish mystical trends together with Jewish Apocalyptic of the post-exilic era, for the most widespread version of belief in the Afterlife in the post-Maccabean period assumed that the faithful would join the heavenly assembly and become like the 'angels', the 'sons of God', the stars (see Dan. 12:3; Wis. Sol. 5:5, 1 Enoch 104:2).
But Hurtado notes this practice particularly in relation to the Son of man figure in 1Enoch, termed the Parables or Similitudes (Chs. 37-71). The Son of man is righteous, being familiar with divine secrets and triumphant (46:3), victorious over the mighty of the earth, and having judgment of the wicked (46:4-8; 62:9; 63:11; 69:27-29). He has a pre-ordained status in God's plans (48:2-3,6; 62:7) being saviour of the elect (48:4-7; 62:14). He is the Chosen One, the Elect (or Anointed) One, or Messiah, with all three having practically identical functions (see e.g. 49:2-4; 51:3-5; 52:4-9; 55:4; 61:4-9; 62:2-16). The figure is Messianic and alludes to the Old Testament (e.g. 48:4 alluding to Isa. 42:6; 49:6 where the Son of man is the Servant of the Lord of Isaiah). Hurtado notes the figure as acting as judge on God's behalf (in the name of the Lord of Spirits, e.g. 1Enoch 55:4), and in this capacity sits upon a throne that is closely linked with God: On that day the Chosen One will sit on the throne of Glory (45:3; see also 51:3; 55:4; 61:8; 62:2,3,5-6; 70:27):
The meaning of this is not that the figure rivals God or becomes a second god but rather that he is seen as performing the eschatological functions associated with God and is therefore God's chief agent, linked with God's work to a specially intense degree (Hurtado, p. 53).
This is likened to the Davidic king of the Old Testament in Psalm 45:6 (see also Sir. 47:11). The real essence and origin of the concept is from Zechariah 3:1-9, which shows the Angel of YHVH is given the judgment and Satan stands before him as accuser. Moreover, Zechariah 12:8 shows that the Angel of YHVH or Jehovah was an elohim and that the household of the king will be as elohim. Thus, the concept is biblical and part of the Messianic sequence. The association of the Son of man of 1Enoch 46:1-3 with the imagery of Daniel 7:9-14 reinforces the argument. The conclusion that Christ is the Angel of YHVH is resisted where it might be thought obvious. Hurtado notes 3Enoch (circa fifth century CE) as conveying the idea that Enoch ascended to heaven and became God's chief agent. 3Enoch identifies Enoch as Metatron and says he is a gigantic being from whom no splendour is missing (3Enoch 9) and who has a throne like the throne of glory (10:1) with a majestic robe (12:1-2) and crown (12:3-4). Hurtado rightly notes that the late date of 3Enoch should make us cautious of taking the ideas as indicative of pre-Christian traditions. The concepts are, however, extant in the literature of the first century. It is more likely that the Enoch based argument is a counter thrust to the Christian tradition based on the mysterious references to Enoch in Genesis 5:24.
Rashi, however, explains the text quite normally. He holds the text to mean the following:
He was tempted to become wicked, whereupon God cut his life short so that he was not - this phrase being used rather than the normal 'and he died' (Rashi: Soncino).
For God took him is interpreted as before his time (Rashi). Ibn Ezra dissents from the view and interprets the text as indicating that his death was a mark of honour. This concurs with the view of Hebrews 11:5 which states that he was removed (metetethe) not to see death, as a result of faith. The earlier Enoch traditions do not explicitly say that he was transformed into an angelic being. The Judaic traditions and the biblical account are therefore against any use of this later account to deduce a Messianic advent from any pre-existent human. In 1Enoch 71:11, when Enoch sees God in heaven, he says my whole body melted and my spirit was transformed (citing Hurtado, p. 55). 2Enoch 22:5-10 says that God tells Enoch to stand in front of His face for ever (vv. 5-6, ibid.). The text shows that Enoch is held to have been made like one of God's glorious ones. The texts develop the concepts that are vested in the elect from the biblical texts.
The concept in 2Enoch 24:1-3 shows the vesting of the mysteries of God in man. Secrets not known to the angels are made known to him. This accords with the concepts of the elect according to Paul [in Rom. 16:25; 1Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:9,10 (nb); Col. 1:26]. God hid the mystery from the beginning and reveals it to the heavenly powers through the elect.
The text at 3Enoch 12:5 holds that God orders Metatron/Enoch to be called The lesser YHVH which Hurtado holds is a clear allusion to Exodus 23:20-21 (my name is in him). The practice of God conferring authority by use of the name is found throughout the Bible (see Chapter 2, The Angel of YHVH). The idea is resisted because of the trinitarian and binitarian paradigms. This resistance seems evident in Barker's THE GREAT ANGEL A Study of Israel's Second God, SPCK, London, 1992, see below). The identification of Enoch with Metatron or the Son of man is derived from the clear Messianic understanding of the biblical texts. The Pseudepigraphical texts appear to be developments of the Messianic expectations of the time.
For this reason Messiah was also identified as Melchisedek (see also DSS). This idea persisted, off and on, over two thousand years. The idea was present among the Melchisedekites or Melchisedechians (see C.E., vol. X, p. 157), an offshoot of the Sabbatarian sect of Paulicians, which were termed Athingani (Intangibles, C.E., ibid.); (see ERE, Vol. 9, pp. 695 ff). The Catholic Encyclopedia may have misunderstood the position of Melchisedek in this situation as we have a duality of intercession here in this sect. Melchisedek was understood as the heavenly intercessor and Christ the earthly intercessor. The idea was also found among the offshoots of the Paulicians in Europe (e.g. Bogomils: see ERE, Vol. 1, pp. 784 ff), where Messiah was identified as Michael. The idea that Christ was Melchisedek surfaced in the 20th century in the writings of H.W. Armstrong. The midrash holds Melchisedek to have been Shem (Rashi: see Soncino, Gen. 14:18). Melchisedek was also identified with the Holy Spirit in an anonymous work, which Jerome refuted (Ep. 73). The Pseudepigraphical texts are examined further elsewhere.
Hayman says that the Dead Sea Scrolls seemed to hold that the goal of becoming one of the 'Sons of God' etc. was attainable in this life (see 1QH 3:19-23; 1QSb 4:22-6; 1QS 11:7-9; cf. Jubilees 31:14). The present tense phrasing of Luke 20:36 was held also to indicate such a possibility. The notation of that age however removes the position into the future and Hayman perhaps appears to confuse the timing. Hayman says the theme of becoming like one of us reveals itself as the lurking sub-text of Judaism from Adam to Nachman of Bratslav (p. 5).
Hayman considers these propositions to be incompatible with the supposed transcendental Monotheism of the post-exilic period. He says that the areas of Jewish angelology and Jewish magic are
where the steadily increasing weight of evidence makes very clear the continuity of Jewish religious belief and practice from its ancient Canaanitic sources.
As Hayman says, who were the angels and archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, Satan, Azazel and Mastema? The question is best answered by taking the Bible as a literal cohesive whole. From a literal construction we can coherently establish the identities and relationships of the Host.
Hayman holds the following view:
The Hebrew Bible is quite clear on the fact that these figures belong to the class of divine beings .*%-! *1" / .*-! *1", members of the 'host of heaven' (.*/:% !"7). Yahweh belongs to this class of beings, but is distinguished from them by his kingship over the heavenly host. However, he is not different from them in kind. This reflects the probable origin of Yahweh as one member of the heavenly host, namely the national God of the Israelite people, who became king of the gods when he was identified with El Elyon, the head of the Canaanite pantheon. This identification of Yahweh with El (.*%-!% !&% %&%*) is the essential theme of the Hebrew Bible. But Yahweh in the Old Testament times had many rivals who are explicitly named in ways which make quite clear that these other gods were believed to exist [e.g. Judges 11:24 (Chemosh); Jer. 46:15 (Apis); Jer. 49:1,3 (Milcom)].
Hayman notes that Yahweh had, in popular belief, a female consort. We are, however, concerned here only with what can be substantiated by cross-reference with the biblical text.
The concept of a female consort no doubt arose from the reference to wisdom in the feminine in Proverbs 8 (see also in later chapters). Barker (THE GREAT ANGEL, pp. 51 ff), identifies this concept with that of the worship of the Queen of Heaven denounced by Jeremiah especially 44:17-30. The Israelite host in Egypt was destroyed except for a small remnant because of the worship of this deity. Baker deduces the Queen of Heaven as being
the figure whom the Enochic writers and the gnostics remembered as Wisdom and the Kabbalists as Shekinah, the figure abandoned at the time of Josiah's reform had been known to her worshippers as the Queen of Heaven.
Jeremiah 44:17-18 shows that the cult had been established in Jerusalem for some time. What we know of the cult identifies the figure with Ashtarte, Ishtar or Easter. The cakes referred to in Jeremiah 44:19 were the traditional Easter cakes, made even today. Barker's identification of the Shekinah and Wisdom with this figure fails to account for the evidence even within her own text (e.g. Baruch 3:12; 3:36-37; 4:1). Wisdom is more realistically understood as the Spirit of God which God gave to Israel in the law. This concept is based on the progression of ultimate goodness from God as regulated activity. The law was intended to be a spiritual concept (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4):
[He] gave her to Jacob [H]is servant and to Israel whom [H]e loved. Afterwards she appeared upon earth and lived among men (Baruch 3:36-37)
The Deuteronomists did not offer the law as a substitute for wisdom in Deuteronomy 4:6. The law was wisdom but, more importantly, the Holy Spirit proceeded from the very nature of God and was itself the law. Trinitarians simply do not comprehend this process because it is outside their paradigm. We will examine the process below and in the subsequent volume.
Hayman advances the concept of Israelite Monotheism as being a gradual and progressive identification of Yahweh with El, as though one took on the identity of the other, and that El Elyon was not understood and worshipped by Israel. This premise is completely false. It comes from a failure to understand the interrelationship of the Host and the roles allocated to them under the monotheist structure. Moreover, it assumes there is no actual reality to each of the beings named.
Importantly it misapprehends the cause of the initial states of tohu and bohu as demonstrated in Genesis 1:2. The assumption of primordial chaos is of itself a misunderstanding of the intent of Genesis. Genesis can equally be understood as a re‑creation story and not the account of creation ab origine.
If approached from the perspective that the chaos was the result of rebellion, then we can begin to comprehend what is being related in the Bible. More importantly, we can begin to explain the findings of science that archaeology and geology are digging up with exciting regularity. The time frame and scope of Genesis and the authority of the Bible is once again lifted out of the convenient pigeon- hole of mythology to which it has been relegated. The assumption that the Bible is the result of development is just that – an assumption. The structure was understood not only in ancient Israel. It was a consistent theme of the ancient Near East. The Most High God was known as El Elyon. He was God Most High or The Father of the Gods. The concept of the All Father as creator of the Elder Gods was consistent from Asia Minor to Africa and Europe (see below). They were known as Elohim in Hebrew or Elahin in Chaldee and there are multiple references to them in the Bible. Graves (The Greek Myths: 1, Pelican, 1986, in 28:3, p. 114) says that,
The novel worship of the sun as All-father seems to have been brought to the Northern Aegean by the fugitive priesthood of the monotheist Akhenaton, in the fourteenth century B.C., and grafted upon the local cults; hence Orpheus' alleged visit to Egypt.
Thus, the All-father concept was common to Egypt as well as Mesopotamia. The Coffin texts show the concept as extant in Egypt. The first-born god of primeval matter, the divine soul had a Father (see Budge The Book of the Dead, Arkana, London, 1989, pp. 273-274). The great God ruled the gods in the Fields of Peace, which are termed the Elysian Fields hence the interrelationship with the mysteries (Budge, CX, pp. 319-323).
Hurtado says the following in his summary of the ancient Jewish texts that,
Various texts reflecting ancient Jewish tradition present a chief angel in the role of God's chief servant and describe this figure in remarkable ways. Perhaps most striking are the angel Yahoel, in whom the name of God dwells, and the heavenly Melchizedek who is identified as the Elohim of Psalm 82. This shows that Judaism embraced the idea that God had a particular angel more exalted than all others, whose authority and status made him second only to God and who bore some measure of divine glory (p. 81).
Hurtado attempts to exalt the Great Angel above all other angels such that he is not simply an angel. He functions in a way that sets him above all other angels. The angel acts as God's vizier and with full authority exercises the power of His name. This concept is essentially correct. However, the full function of the Host requires to be examined with this individual. Moreover, it will be shown that Binitarianism cannot be predicated on this relationship and is a philosophically absurd breach of the logic of Monotheism.
Our task is to reconstruct the framework within which the structure of these elohim are said to have operated. From this we can better understand biblical Monotheism and, perhaps, more accurately view Christianity. We will proceed to examine the Old Testament texts and the role of the Angel of YHVH and the Sons of God. In subsequent chapters we will examine the New Testament structure and the position of Christ in those texts interrelated to the Old Testament. We will then examine the Pseudepigraphical and later Christian positions. The next book will then deal with the development of the doctrine of the Trinity of modern Christianity.