1 September 2004
The Holy Spirit from Second Temple Judaism to Augustine
Professor Michel René Barnes
Before we begin Professor Barnes provides a bit of recommended bibliography on the board. Recommended are: All the Angels in the Bible by Herbert Lockyer, Henderson 1995, and Angelology in the Old Testament by William George Heidt, a 1949 dissertation from Catholic University of America. He notes that all of Gieshen's typologies are from Heidt.
The seminar began with Barnes giving an opening reflection on reading Justin in the last time he offered the Apostolic Fathers seminar some three years ago. Justin gets Trypho to admit the doctrine of dual advents, but he stickler was the pre-existence of Jesus. Trypho insists there is no pre-existence. While Barnes was mapping out the argument, he noted that Trypho never objected (and even used himself) the term "Holy Spirit." The lightbulb went on: they both have the same understanding--there's continuity. Three years later, Barnes is relieved that he may finish his book before the Second Coming.
So we begin, neatly, with The Dialogue with Trypho the Jew. Dragos Giulea asks about the origin of the dialogue. Barnes informs the seminar that scholarship seems to think that something like this happened, whether this is as close a reconstruction as Justin could offer, or whether it is somewhat stylized later on. Justin, it is noted, was a Samaritan surrounded by Judaisms. Some scholarship wonders about how good Justin's knowledge of Judaism really is.
Barnes notes that Justin is trying to prove Jesus fits the job description of the Messiah. The exegetical Christian claim of Jesus' Messiahship is idiosyncratic, but even apart from this Christian exegesis, there is a standing exegetical crisis of these texts that Justin uses. Mike Novak asks what provokes this crisis if not the Christian reading of the Jewish scriptures? Barnes replies that that is the question. The standing exegetical crisis of the Hebrew scriptures in Judaism is sketched out as follows:
1) There are multiple titles and names for God.
2) There are plural usages for God.
3) There is the tradition that one who sees God will die. (See Gieschen, p. 68)
4) There are anthropomorphisms of God.
Novak asks whether the Hebrew scriptures actually ever recount anyone seeing God and dying, rather than recording the experiences of people who do see God and are amazed that they are not dead. Could the texts not be preserving a textual tradition, per se, but an older oral tradition? A note is made in passing that someone, somewhere in the scriptures, did die. Daniel Lloyd asks "What is seeing?" with Mark Koehne also trying to focus the issue by asking what part of God is seen? Barnes presents the actual Jewish solutions to these exegetical problems:
1) Translation/emendation. The problem is made into a non-problem by smoothing the text over. Targums correct problems, as we see in Job where Job seeing God now becomes not seeing God.
2) A theology of angels is made more explicit. God and angels are separated. All angels, including the "Angel of the Lord," are angels. Period. Plural language is understood in this light.
3) Angels are what is seen, never God, whatever the text may say. Trypho and lots of the Targums use this tactic. (It is noted that angels occur in throughout the Jewish scriptures. They are heavily present in pre-exile writing, not so much in post-exile. Their presence is very heavy in non-canonical texts, Targums, an apocalyptic literature. Angels come into prophetic material mostly when the prophets are re-working Pentateuch material.)
4) One solution is to embrace anthropomorphisms and esoteric treatises are written on the Body of God. (For example, Song of Songs interpretations were offered in this direction.)
Helga Kisler says intermediary figures like "Wisdom" were offered as a solution, too. Barnes notes, however, that that could simply perpetuate the problem. Koehne submits that another solution was the Jewish Christian one, too, and asks whether there is anything we should know of the influence of Zoroastrianism here? Barnes says no.
Bogdan Bucur wonders what the Hellenized Jews with a thorough philosophical education, like Philo, are doing. By their usual strategy of equating biblical terms with philosophical concepts (Logos, Dynamis, Sophia, Nous, "invisible," "intelligible," etc), they were perhaps also “neutering” some of the problematic passages. In other words, “Platonizing” the problems may also be a strategy. For example, the “powers of the Logos” could be both angelic beings, and abstract “aspects” of the Logos. This type of Judaism (Philo’s) is completely forgotten after the rise of the “Rabbinic Judaism,” and continues to be influential only in Jewish Christianity. Barnes replies that Philo uses intermediary figures, angels, sometimes fusing the two. Perhaps Philo is drawing on the Memra material of the Targums. Barnes does not think Philo gets off the hook: saying God was talking to the angels, the elements, to Himself--all of these are called heresies eventually by the Rabbis. Runia in his commentary lists the possible solutions to the "Who is He talking to?" problem.
Barnes notes that the key point is that there are a variety of solutions to these problems. If you understand that this is the state of Judaism at the time of the start of Christianity, it is apparent that the Christians, by contrast, can offer a simple, single, universally-applicable exegetical solution to all these problems. The answer, of course, is the answer of Christ: the Word made flesh. It is an elegant solution. All other solutions are only partial solutions. For Rabbinic Judaism, it will take until the mid-3rd century for all these other solutions to be formed into a system. This is why you must use Christology even while doing Pneumatology.
Bucur submits that there is one more solution on the Jewish side: that of the Sadducees--the denial of angels. Barnes says that all these partial solutions become part of Rabbinic Judaism, other than the embrace of anthropomorphism. Two other solutions that are rejected are the "Two Powers" schema--whatever that refers to, exactly--and the other is Gnosticism. Gnosticism is a solution by its advocating an understanding of Pleroma. Novak asks if that embrace of multiplicity amounts to a denial of monotheism in Jewish Gnosticism? Barnes replies that if there was a pre-Christian Jewish Gnosticism, then yes, it would. Novak asks what the implication is then if it was not pre-Christian? Barnes answers that then later on it becomes a solution. The Hypostasis of the Archons (except for two sentences) is this: a re-working of Genesis. Koehne inquires whether Simon Magus is then an example of this? Fossum implies that. Barnes agrees that you can see the overlap of Gnosticism and Two Powers thinking in Simon's claim to be the Great Power of God.
Barnes says other sorts of solutions can be found in having a very high Moseology, as one finds in the Samaritans where Moses is pre-existent, or where Torah is made an Existent which God looks at or consults in order to create the world.
The main point of all of this is that this is the standing exegetical crisis into which Christianity appears. He would date it very roughly at 200 B.C. to 300 A.D., although he would decline taking a bullet for those dates. In the Segal article (or the book?) one of the distinctive features of Christianity is that there are a number of traditions out there and Christianity's genius or revelation is that all these exegetical traditions come together and are synthesized in Christ. And all of these strands come together in a mutually re-inforcing way in Christ.
Michael Harris asks whether this was the issue in Judaism at the time? Barnes asks in turn if he remembers when Justin says that there have been no more prophets in Israel? (See footnote in Dialogue, p. 77) The problem is: where is God's presence after the destruction of the Temple in 70, and who has the Holy Spirit (that is given to the prophets)? Rabbinic Judaism has its answer: "the Holy Spirit is here among us sages."
There is talk of Hasidic Messiahs and phone connections in coffins in case of resurrection.
The Dialogue with Trypho is read from p. 71. Priority is noted as being given to Jewish Christianity. Justin does not portray these people as being marginal.
The question of the relationship of John the Baptist and the Holy Spirit is mentioned. Barnes notes that Origen thought that perhaps John was the Holy Spirit. The suspicion in antiquity of such a thing as an Incarnation of the Spirit is touched upon.
On p. 81, reading ch. 54, Barnes wonders whether "power of God" should be "Power of God," and is a reference to Luke 1:35.
Justin's exegesis is compared to Genesis Parashah II:IV:A-G. The comparatively modest nature of Justin's exegesis is noted, as is the Parashah idea that the Spirit is the pre-existent Messiah.
It is further noted that in Justin the Spirit is associated with prophesy and inspiration, that the Spirit speaks for God and aids God's servants. Barnes mentions that some scholars say that Philo's accomplishment was to associate the Holy Spirit with prophecy in a propositional way. There are multiple traditions, really, about the practical relation between the Holy Spirit and inspiration, but some scholars say that Philo is the one who normalizes it.
The seminar disbands. Cookies and muffins are distributed without restraint.