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Theological Notebook--Holy Spirit from Second Temple Judaism to Augustine Notes

In the discussion for this day, we examined a first-century Christian mystical text, the Ascension of Isaiah, which follows a classic Jewish mystical "ascent to God" format and speaks of ascending to the "seventh heaven" where Isaiah (the narrator of the text who is having the vision--again this is not actually by the prophet Isaiah, but is written later, in the Christian period, using Isaiah as the lead character of the text) sees a vision of God as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is a very early trinitarian text (again, showing that The Da Vinci Code is full of crap). The Ascension of Isaish, along with this "Two Seraphim" tradition in Judaism--talking about "two seraphim," a type of angel--that is seen in Jewish Scripture, are both texts where the Holy Spirit is described in angelic form ("angelomorphic pneumatology"). The "two seraphim" seen around God would be taken by some early Christians as the presence of the Son and of the Spirit in some Old Testament stories. We're also quite interested in terms regarding the Holy Spirit "coming upon" Mary that we had read about in the Luke/Acts material.

22 September 2004
THEO 383 Holy Spirit from Second Temple Judaism to Augustine
Professor Michel René Barnes
Notes by Dragos A. Giulea


Topic of the day:
The Ascension of Isaiah and the Two Seraphim Tradition

The central terms in Greek: episkiazo (to overshadow) and eperchomai (to come upon).

Diagram of the interpretative traditions on angelomorphic pneumatology:
Exodus14:19; 23:20 -----> Isaiah 63:8-13 ----->Acts 8
Exodus14:19; 23:20 ----------------------------> Luke 4
[Gabriel] Luke 1:35

Is. 63 identified with the Holy Spirit the angel who guided Israel in the wilderness (Exodus)
In Luke there are two different ways of speaking about spirit:
1) Acts 8 follows Isaiah 63 in identifying spirit and angel; this case is an echo to Exodus.

2) Lk.1:35: the identification of the spirit with the angel is difficult, even possible in some interpretative traditions: (The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.) This tradition presents, at the same time, old and new aspects. Another instance: the spirit who bears Jesus.

"Two Angels" (Exodus 29:19-20)
[Elkasai]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------> Ascension of Isaiah
-----------------------------------------------------------------------> Exegesis:
Philo, Irenaeus, Origen


There are three different trajectories on the two angels:
1) Ascension of Isaiah: both angels enthroned in heaven as Angel of the Son and the Angel of the Spirit;
2) Exegetical: Philo, Irenaeus, and Origen. Origen's possible sources: A) Philo; B) a Jewish Christian; C) a rabbi.
3) Elkasai: consort pneumatology.

Another trajectory can be present in Psalm 33: God's Word and Breath:
Two Agents = Word + Breath



Ascension of Isaiah shows two different aspects:
on the one hand, it is not something new, the author making continuously appeal to the scripture;
on the other hand, expresses the two-angel theology without reference to the traditional interpretation which does not consider Isaiah 6:2 (as Asc.Is. does) as referring to the two angels;

They have been, therefore, two Jewish Christian traditions (Asc.Is. and Elkasai) and a new interpretative articulation, of Greek expression (Irenaeus / Origen).

A very interesting case for angelomorphic theology seems to be docetism: according to docetic view, Christ was an angel who appeared, seemed to be a man. In fact, docetism is angelomorphism: a generic expression for angelic Christ. Jesus was not a hologram, but an angel. There is a good parallel in the Book of Tobit where there is description of an angel who makes miracles, heals, casts out demons, etc.

Discussion on the exegetical trajectories for Numbers 22-24 and, generally, on the angel or spirit of prophesy.
Philo & Josephus: cases of Greco-Roman pneumatology
Luke, who generally was a great Hellenizer, has a different spirit-angelology: see the above discussion on Acts and Lk.1:35.



In the interwar period there were configured two scholarly positions on the problem of neo-testamentary language:
in Leiengang it was an old-testamentary language
as a reaction, Buchse argued considering emblematic the language of LXX

Dr. Barnes' reaction: we recognize what we know and what is familiar. The best is to find what really is in the text.

Final discussion on identifying angels with the Greek daemons:
The logic of this fact has to reside in the intermediary status of the daemon – an intermediary being between gods and humans, without access into the realm of gods.
In this case, there are two different situations:

1) If God = Angel
Theophany
God comes down


God can be seen.

(see Exodus)

2) If an angel < God
not
a theophany
God does not come down,

he sends an angel (< God)
God cannot be seen, but heard,
the angel can be seen.
(see Philo & Josephus equivalence between angels and the Greek daemons)

Tags: barnes, holy spirit course, jewish mysticism, patristics, theological notebook
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