KERUX: A JOURNAL
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KERUX is a publication of Kerux, Inc. and appears three times each year (May, September, December). Editorial offices are located at 1131 Whispering Highlands Dr., Escondido, CA 92027-4961. Correspondence should be directed to the editor at this address. Subscription rates for one year are: $15.00 (U.S. and Canada); $20.00 (Elsewhere). All remittances should be made payable in U.S. Funds. KERUX is: abstracted in Old Testament Abstracts, Washington DC and Religious and Theological Abstracts, Myerstown, PA; indexed in Religion Index One, Evanston, IL and the Elenchus of Biblica, Rome, Italy.
ISSN 0888-8513 December 1997 Vol. 12, No. 3
The Exaltation of Christ*
Meredith G. Kline
Introduction: Zech. 6:9-15 is the central hinge1 linking the two halves of the prophet's diptych composition, the axis between the night visions (1:7-6:8) with their introduction (1:1-6) and the burdens (9:1-14:21) with their introduction (7:1-8:23). Each half is itself a diptych having a hinge section, Zech. 3:1-10 for the visions and 11:1-17 for the burdens. Common to the three hinge passages is a focus on the figure of the coming Messiah and in particular on his priest-king office.
Messianic symbolism and interpretation alternate in CH as follows: Symbolism of the preparation of a crown with the participation of returnees from far off exile and the placing of the crown on the head of Joshua, the high priest (vv. 10, 11). Interpretation of the coronation of Joshua (vv. 12, 13). Symbolism of the depositing of the crown in the temple as a memorial of the contribution of the returned captives (v. 14) and interpretation thereof (v. 15). Our comments will follow this sequence except that the opening verses (vv. 10, 11)2 will be treated in connection with vv. 14, 15, which resumes the sub-
* This study of Zech. 6:9-15 concludes the series on Zechariah's night visions begun in Kerux 5:2 (September 1990).
1 CH (central hinge) will be used below as an alternative designation for Zech. 6:9-15.
2 On the introductory formula in v. 9, cf. Zech. 1:1, 7; 4:8; 7:4; 8:1, 18. From Zech. 6:15b it appears that the word of the Lord that comes to Zechariah in CH is a speaking of the pre-incarnate Word. The same phenomenon is found in Zech. 4:8, 9. Cf. Kerux 7:2 (September 1992) 16-18; 7:3 (December 1992) 50, 51; and 9:2 (September 1994) 3. It will be seen below that v. 9 also functions as an element in a particular genre we shall identify.
ject of the returned exiles, so producing an envelope pattern.3
CH recapitulates major messianic themes found throughout the seven night visions: Messiah's dual priest-king office; his regathering of the distant exiles and building of the temple; and his intratrinitarian associations. The most conspicuous connections of CH are with the third, fourth, and fifth visions, the closest relationship being with the fourth. In addition to the formal features distinctive of the three hinge sections of the book,4 other features shared by CH and vision four include: the figure of Joshua as a type of Christ; the crowning of Joshua and his investiture in glory array; his identification as the Branch; the union of the priestly and royal offices; the exalted privilege of presence in God's heaven; and the principle of faithful service as prerequisite to eschatological blessings.5 One difference between these two closely related passages is that in Zechariah 3 the investiture of Joshua with the priestly regalia transpires within a vision, whereas the crowning of Joshua in Zech. 6:9-15 was a real life occurrence. However, this actual historical event, like the visionary episode, had symbolical significance; it too was a typological prefiguration of Messiah's ministry and exaltation.
I. Crown Rights (Zech. 6:12, 13b)
A. Royal Scion. Interpreting the figure of Joshua the high priest with the crown set on his head, the word of the Lord declares: "Behold a man—his name is Branch (semah). From his place he shall branch forth (yismah) and he shall build the temple of Yahweh" (Zech. 6:12b-d). The significance of the name "Branch" is explained by earlier prophecies concerning Messiah as one
3 In this respect CH is similar to vision five. Cf. Kerux 9:1 (May 1994) 3.
4 Cf. Kerux 8:1 (May 1993) 20, 21.
5 Because of the resumptive nature of much of the content of CH, our treatment of some matters will be cursory, with frequent references to our previous studies of the visions for more detailed discussion.
who springs up from David's royal stock (cf. Isa. 4:2; 11:1, Jer. 23:5, 6; 33:14-17).6 In Zechariah 3 the messianic reference of the Branch title is confirmed by the further identification of the Branch with the Isaianic Servant of the Lord (v. 8).
It is Joshua not in himself but as a symbol of Christ who is in view in both Zechariah 3 and Zech. 6:9-15. Many modem commentators, however, reluctant because of their naturalistic bias to admit the prophetic-typological character of the CH episode, try to construe it in political terms as the making of a public statement about the roles of the cultic and civil authorities in the governance of the postexilic community. And since in those terms it would seem that Zerubbabel, the governor and a Davidide, was the one who should receive the royal crown, he gets arbitrarily substituted in the text for Joshua the high priest. Or he gets added as a second figure alongside Joshua (with citation of ancient diarchic practices). On the latter approach two crowns would be involved, and in support of that appeal is made to the apparently plural form 'atarot in v. 11. But this form, if it is a plural and not an old Phoenician singular, may be understood as the superlative plural of excellence or as a reflection of the composite structure of the crown as consisting of separate gold and silver circlets (cf. v. 11 and Rev. 19:12). Certainly the Massoretes understood only one crown to be involved for in v. 14 they vocalize 'trt, the subject of the singular verb tihyeh, as 'atarot. Indeed that singular verb demands the conclusion that only one crown is in view in the entire passage. An attempt has been made to maintain the two-crown view while acknowledging that a single crown is referred to in each instance. But this involves an obviously contrived argument to distinguish the crown of v. 14 from that in v. 11. It becomes evident that no satisfactory explanation of the data is possible apart from the adoption of the typological-messianic interpretation.
B. Messianic Temple Builder. Conjoined with the Branch's identity as one who comes forth as the royal scion of David's dynasty is his role as temple builder (Zech. 6:12c, d). This role belongs to the portrayal of Messiah as king, for temple building was a royal function.7 Agreeably it was the Davidide gov-
6 Cf. Kerux 8:2 (September 1993) 24.
7 Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994) 8, 9.
ernor, Zerubbabel, who was the primary leader in restoring the temple in Zechariah's day and who appears in Zechariah's fifth vision as the prototype of Christ as builder of the eschatological temple (Zech. 4:6-10).8 In CH Joshua is selected as the messianic type, even though the temple-building theme is present, because the basic symbolism in CH is the crowning of the Branch and that is resumed from vision four, where Joshua was the typological figure. The choice of the priest rather than the governor there was dictated by the cultic setting and rituals of that vision. In CH itself there is also a climactic focus on the priestly prerogative of heavenly association with Yahweh (6:13d, e), which makes Joshua a more suitable symbol here. Another possible factor, remembering that the CH episode was not visionary but actually occurred, is that a public coronation of Zerubbabel, a prince of the royal house, might result in suspicion and punitive reaction on the part of the Persian authorities.
Repeating the twofold identification of the Branch given in Zech. 6:12c and d, v. 13a and b declares: "And he (wehu’) shall build the temple of Yahweh and he (wehu’) shall bear the glory." As the grammatical parallelism indicates, these two clauses constitute a pair, with the repetition of the independent personal pronoun pointing back to the Branch as the one who receives the twofold attestation of his identity as Yahweh's anointed king: endorsement as builder of the temple (v. 13a) and reception of the royal regalia (v. 13b).
Taken together the four clauses in v. 12c, d and v. 13a, b form an A. B. B'. A' chiastic quatrain, with the middle members (B and B') being a virtually identical pair of statements concerning the building of the temple. The A and A' members of the chiasm both deal with the Branch's succession to the throne. The A clause (v. 12c) declares him the legitimate royal heir and the A' clause (v. 13b) celebrates his investiture with the majesty of kingship. Rather than the more abstract rendering, "he shall bear the glory," v. 13b may be translated, "he shall wear the royal robes."9 Such investiture in royal robes would
8 Cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994) 9, 17.
9 For hod as glorious raiment, cf. Job 40:10 and Ps. 104:1. Note also the use of the verb for wearing the ephod (1 Sam. 2:28; 14:3; 22:18).
be a natural accompaniment of the bestowing of the crown. In fact, in the symbolism of Joshua's crowning in vision four, the setting of the royal diadem on his head is integral to his being clothed in the priestly glory garments (Zech. 3:5), the diadem being part of the royal mitre.
C. God's Covenant Promise (2 Samuel 7). The two royal distinctions attributed to the Branch in CH, his right to the throne and his prerogative of constructing the temple, remind us at once of God's covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:5-16).10 The same two royal honors are the featured blessings promised in that dynastic grant. At the typological level these royal promises were fulfilled in David's son Solomon and his successors, but Zechariah's prophecy looks beyond that to their ultimate fulfillment in the messianic Branch, that Son of David to whom it would be given to build an enduring house for God's name and the throne of whose kingdom God would establish forever (2 Sam. 7:13).
The covenantal origins of the royal grant to Christ go back before the making of the covenant with David to the intratrinitarian counsels before the world was, back to a primal divine pact.11 Though the covenants made between God and man in the course of human history were determined upon in eternity in the all-embracive divine decrees, the actual covenanting between the parties does not occur until the creature party is on the scene. However, since all parties of the intratrinitarian covenant are present at the determination of the eternal decrees, that decretive predestinating is at the same time an actual eternal covenanting of the persons of the Godhead with each other with respect to their relationships in all that they decree concerning creation and redemption.
It was in that eternal covenant that the cosmic kingdom of glory was
10 The specific terminology of covenant and oath is applied to this arrangement in Pss. 89:4, 29, 35 [Eng. 3, 28, 34]; 132:11, 12. At the coronation of Joash, bestowal of the crown was accompanied by presentation of a covenant witness document, which would identify the kingship as authorized and regulated by the Lord (2 Kgs. 11:12). Note also the parallelism of crown and God's covenant with the king in Ps. 89:40 [Eng. 39].
11 Variously designated by covenant theologians, we may refer to it as the eternal or supernal covenant in distinction from temporal, earthly covenants made with men. Cf. Kerux 8:1 (May 1993) 33; 9:2 (September 1994) 16; 9:3 (December 1994) 32.
granted to the Son as the reward for his faithful execution of the work the Father gave him to do (cf. Luke 22:29; John 17:4, 5). This covenantal commitment to the Son was renewed in the course of the historical administration of the Covenant of Grace.12 It came to earthly expression in the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants: Christ was the promised seed of Abraham to whom pertained the promise of kingship and kingdom (Gal. 3:16) and Christ was the son of David to whom the dynastic promises of the Davidic covenant were directed. What Zech. 6:9-15 prophesies is the Father's fulfillment of the eternal covenant by bestowing the promised kingdom grant on the Son who came to earth as Jesus, the Christ of God, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1), and obediently carried out the stipulated task.
II. Heavenly Throne (Zech. 6:13c-e)
A. Enthronement of the Priest-King. Following the quatrain on kingship and the temple of Yahweh is a bicolon (Zech. 6:13c and d), in which the parallelism of the two cola is established by the shared phrase, "by his throne" ('al kise 'o).13 This pair is capped by a climactic third colon (v. 13e), which is the apex of the entire prophetic celebration of the glory of the messianic Branch.
Throughout the interpretation of the symbolism of the crowned high priest in terms of the Branch (vv. 12, 13a, b), he, the messianic priest-king, is the subject of all the verbs. Certainly he continues to be the subject in v. 13c: "and he shall sit and rule," which echoes the declarations of his reception of the royal office in vv. 12c and 13b. And there is no good reason to read v. 13d: "there will be a priest by his throne," as though there were some other priestly figure standing by the side of the enthroned king. The messianic Branch is himself this priest, the antitype of Joshua the high priest, and the intrusion of another priest alongside Christ, the priest-king, would be superfluous at best. It also requires that the phrase 'al kise 'o be taken in a different sense in v. 13d
12 The Covenant of Grace is to be distinguished from the eternal intratrinitarian covenant of works, for it differs from it in fundamental respects, including: the parties to the covenant, the role of the Son, and the principle of inheritance.
13 On the translation of the preposition 'al, see below.
than in v. 13c. The only warranted translation of wehayah kohen in v. 13d is: "and he will be a priest."
Having rejected the notion that different individuals are referred to in v. 13c and d, we face the question of the meaning of the phrase "between the two of them" in v. 13e. The traditional view, rightly holding that the Branch is both king and priest, would explain the problematic "two of them" by personifying the two offices of Christ as two individuals. But this view proves unsatisfactory. If, as it assumes, "his throne" in v. 13c and d is the Branch's throne,14 then, if the royal figure of v. 13c and the priestly figure of v. 13d are treated as two persons, we are left with the odd imagery of two figures sitting on one throne. Jer. 33:14-18, which prophesies of the Davidic kingship and Levitical priesthood continuing together forever in Christ, the priest-king, uses the more appropriate imagery of the actual typological situation, with the king sitting on his throne and the priests ministering before the Lord in his temple. Moreover, the traditional view is mistaken in its appeal to vision five as another instance of the representation of Christ's twofold office of priest-king by two separate figures, the "two sons of oil" symbolized by the two trees (Zech. 4:11-14). For the two trees there symbolize the prophetic office.15
For a more satisfactory solution of the problem raised by "the two of them" (v. 13e), we must return to the phrase 'al kise 'o in v. 13c and d and reconsider the question of the antecedent of "his"—usually taken to be the king. In the structure of vv. 12 and 13 there are three pairs of clauses, each marked by the repetition of a key term. The repetition focuses attention on "the temple of Yahweh" in the first pair (vv. 12d and 13a) and on "his throne" in the third pair (v. 13c and d), while the middle pair (v. 13a and b), marked by the repeated personal pronoun "he" (hu'), overlaps the first and links it to the third by emphasizing that the Branch is the common subject: he (hu') builds the temple and he (hu') is the one invested with the right to the throne. The connection thus made between the throne and the temple of Yahweh argues
14 The preposition 'al must then mean "on" in v.13c, and so too in v. 13d, for ‘al kise ’o is to be rendered the same way in these paired clauses.
15 Cf. Kerux 9:3 (December 1994) 27-29.
for the conclusion that the throne, like the temple, is to be identified as Yahweh's. Other evidence of the bond of the throne and temple supports this conclusion. Architecturally, temple and throne belong together. The temple is a sacred palace; it houses God's throne. The Lord identifies the eschatological temple as "the place of my throne" (Ezek. 43:7). Indeed, the throne and temple coalesce in the heavenly city, the identity of both of them being absorbed by the New Jerusalem, the city which as a whole is the temple so that there is no separate temple there (Rev. 21:22), the city which is called "The Throne of the Lord" (Jer. 3:17). That "his throne," the coronation site of Messiah in Zech. 6:13c and d, refers to Yahweh's throne is confirmed by the fact that the throne that appears in biblical depiction of the exalted Messiah's reign is regularly the throne of God.16 It is then Yahweh who is referred to by the suffix pronoun "his"; he is the second person in view in this context along with the messianic priest-king. And it is to these two, the Lord and his Anointed, that the phrase "the two of them" in v. 13e refers.17
Just how we are to picture the relation of the Branch's enthronement to the throne of Yahweh is the question of the meaning of the preposition 'al in v. 13c and d. Should we translate "on" or "by" the throne? In the heavenly throne scenes in the Bible the customary imagery is that of Messiah stationed at the right hand of God's throne. That is the case, for example, in Psalm 110, the most significant source behind CH. There the Lord invites the Messiah: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet" (v. 1). The proper translation of 'al in v. 13c and d is then "by" his throne. By the right side of the throne of Yahweh a throne is set up for the Branch, an arrangement illustrated in 1 Kgs. 2:19, which describes how Solomon sat on his throne and set up a throne for his mother, Bathsheba, and she sat at his right hand. The Apocalypse softens the distinction of the two thrones. It describes the Lamb as in the midst of the throne (Rev. 5:6; 7:17; cf. 3:21), which it even calls "the throne of God and the Lamb" (Rev. 22:1, 3). This reflects the closeness of the union of God and his Christ in their co-enthronement over crea-
16 Cf. e.g., Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:33, 34; 7:55, 56; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 12:2; Rev. 3:21; 12:5 (which speaks of the Messiah being caught up "to God and to his throne").
17 This interpretation is anciently attested in the church.
tion. Another factor here is the way elements of the Glory-Spirit and the Ancient of Days theophanies are blended into representations of the priest-king figure of the Son of Man, producing a single triune figure, at times in the context of a revelation of the divine Presence on the heavenly throne (cf. Rev. 1:13ff.; Dan. 7:13; Ezk. 1:26-28).
What an astounding advance is marked by Christ's priesthood. It was the greatest privilege afforded by the old covenant cult that the high priest might enter the earthly holy of holies, he alone, once a year (Heb. 9:7), to stand and minister before the throne of God. But to Christ, the royal priest, it is given to enter the true temple above, to be continually in the heavenly holy of holies, and—the utterly astonishing thing—to ascend the throne and share in the Glory of God between the cherubim (cf. Heb. 10:11, 12). In contemplation of this priest-king, fairer than the children of men, arrayed in divine glory and majesty, the psalmist exults: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (Ps. 45:7 [Eng.6]).
B. Christ and the Glory-Spirit Temple. In his ascension and heavenly enthronement Christ received from the Father the Glory he rightfully claimed in anticipation of his obedience unto the death of the Cross, the Glory identifiable as the Father's own self, the Glory the Son had with the Father before the world was (John 17:5). That eternal divine Glory is knowable by us only as it is manifested within the creation. It was for the manifestation of that transcendent Glory that the world was created. Heaven and earth thus have the character of a temple, a place where God's Glory-Presence is revealed, a place where priestly creatures—angels and men made in Elohim likeness (cf. Psalm 82)—behold and reflect back God's Glory, where they worship and adore him.
According to Scriptural representations, the cosmic temple is not simply a place where God manifests his Glory; it is actually identified with God himself (Rev. 21:22), that is, with the self-manifestation of God within creation. (Needless to say, the intention is not that God is identical with creation in a pantheistic sense.) More precisely, this Glory-temple is identified with the realm of heaven, the Glory-dimensioned realm presently invisible to mortals but to be opened to the redeemed at the Consummation. Created in the beginning and continuing forever, the cosmic Glory-temple, as God's own self-
manifestation, constitutes a perpetual epiphany, a permanent entempling of the divine Presence.
In pre-Consummation earth history the heavenly Glory-Presence has appeared occasionally in localized symbolic fashion in the form of the theophanic Glory-cloud. This earthly projection is identified in the Bible as the Spirit,18 and accordingly the heavenly reality, while a trinitarian manifestation, is more particularly identified with the Spirit.
There is then an eternally continuing Glory-embodiment of God's Spirit-Presence in creation, shaping creation and constituting it a temple. The primal creation event that brought this Glory-Spirit epiphany into existence (Gen. 1:1) may be called the endoxation of the Spirit. It is comparable to the incarnation of the Son. Incarnate Son and endoxate Spirit are both living embodiments of the God of Glory.
Each of these manifestations of the divine Presence is also the temple of God,19 and since the temple is God's dwelling place, each is a divine tabernacling among us. Each is an Immanuel (God-with-us) Presence. Not for the first time does the immanuel principle come to expression in redemptive history. In the original act of creation God manifested this divine eagerness to welcome his creatures into his dwelling place, to gather them as children to his bosom. Creation was as much an exhibition of God's tender, condescending love as of his wisdom and power. When, after the Fall, God yet so loved the world that he sent his Son, incarnate Immanuel, it was to restore the intimate family fellowship of God with his people for which the endoxation of the Spirit was originally designed. The incarnation of the Son subserves the original creational purpose, redemptively enhancing the manifestation of the divine love present from the beginning in the endoxate Spirit.
Exaltation to the heavenly temple, filled and formed by the Glory of the endoxate Spirit, was the reward of the incarnate Son. That Glory-Spirit temple
18 Cf. my Images of the Spirit, pp. 13ff.
19 On Christ and the Spirit, cf. Kerux 9:2 (September 1994) 3ff.; 9:3 (December 1994) 27ff.
was the Glory of the Father's own self, to which the Son returned. It was in the midst of the temple throne that the priest-king Branch took his place as God's "fellow" (Zech. 13:7) at the right hand of the Father.
Jesus' followers witnessed his exaltation to the Glory-Spirit realm in his ascension (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:2, 9, 10). They beheld him transported above on the ascension cloud—the theophanic cloud which was the projection of the Glory-Spirit into the field of mortal vision.20 The mode of the Lord's departure into heaven thus afforded an anticipatory glimpse of the Glory of the invisible Spirit-temple into which he was being taken up. It was also a token preview of the Glory of the Father in which he will reappear at his parousia (Acts 1:11).
C. God's Covenant Oath (Psalm 110). "The counsel ('esah) of peace will be between the two of them" (Zech. 6:13e). As usually interpreted, the idea is that the object of the consultation is to promote a state of peace for God's people. Certainly the effect of Messiah's heavenly reign is such a peaceful condition of prosperity and righteousness in his kingdom (cf., e.g., Ps. 72:3, 7; Ezek. 34:25; 37:26). But "between them" suggests that this peace refers to the personal relationship between the two enthroned persons. And it is in keeping with attested usage of the terms "counsel" and "peace" to understand the relationship affirmed here between the Branch and Yahweh as covenantal. Thus in Ps. 83:6 [Eng. 5] taking counsel together (ya'as) with one consent and making a covenant form a parallel pair. Also, "peace" often defines covenants and characterizes covenant relationships (cf., e.g., Josh. 9:15; Isa. 54:10; Ezek. 34:25; 37:26; Zech. 9:10; Mal. 2:5). What Zech. 6:13e is declaring in particular is that the exaltation of the Branch to fellowship and joint reign with Yahweh on his throne is the outworking of previous covenantal commitments of the two to one another.
The covenant transaction alluded to in Zech. 6:13e is expressly cited in Psalm 110. The strong affinities of Zech. 6:12, 13 with this earlier revelation to David are plain. Featured in the psalm is Messiah's dual office of priest and
20 Note in Acts 1:10 the customary association of angelic beings with the Glory-cloud.
king, central in Zech. 6:13. Messiah is addressed in the psalm as the king who triumphs in judgment over his enemies, but he is also identified as "priest forever." This priesthood is described as "after the order of Melchizedek," a priest-king (Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:1-3). Also prominent in Psalm 110 is Yahweh's appointment of David's messianic scion and Lord to a place at his right hand and the remarkable collaboration of the two who share the heavenly throne in judicial action. For the meaning of Zech. 6:13e it is highly significant that this psalm which is recapitulated in Zech. 6:13 presents the exaltation of the Messiah to his royal-priestly glory on the throne of heaven as that which was guaranteed by Yahweh's oath: "Yahweh hath sworn and will not repent" (Psalm 110:4a). Such oath sanctioned commitment is constitutive of covenant. Psalm 110 thus confirms the covenantal interpretation of Zech. 6:13e. And like the revelation of the Davidic covenant in 2 Sam. 7:5-16, the revelation in this prophetic psalm of David points behind the historical, earthly unfolding of redemption in its successive covenant administrations to their foundation in the eternal intratrinitarian covenant. It directs us to the divine oath commitments that find their fulfillment at the end of the ages in the mission of the incarnate Son, the two-stage mission of humiliation and exaltation.
III. Cosmic Heritage (Zech. 6:9-11, 14, 15)
After serving its key role in the coronation of Joshua, the crown was to be deposited in the temple of Yahweh (Zech. 6:14). There it was to serve as a memorial of the group of exiles who had come from Babylon with their silver and gold to participate in the restoration of the cultus. In coming days the crown would recall this past event in order to point to the future. For what the returned exiles had done was a sign, prophetic of a later universal return of God's people from far off to take part in the building of the eschatological temple.21 We shall examine the particulars of the typical episode and then look into the significance of its antitypical counterpart in relation to Christ's
21 This episode in CH provides a transition to the introduction to the second half of the book (Zechariah 7 and 8). There again we read of the visit of a delegation of Israelites to the Jerusalem temple which becomes the occasion to foretell how peoples of all nations would one day make their way to Jerusalem to seek Yahweh (8:18-23). Like CH these introductory chapters open and close with sections that refer directly to the delegation and their activity.
reception of his covenanted exaltation
A. Typological Requisitioning. The role of the individuals named in Zech. 6:10 and (with some modifications) in v. 14 has been construed in different ways. It is plain enough, however, that they (at least, the first three) have come from the Babylonian captivity with a donation of precious metals. As the prophetic significance of their action indicates (cf. v. 15), their contribution was intended to support the restoration of the temple cultus in Jerusalem. Crucial for our understanding of the essential character of the episode described in CH is the role of the fourth member of the group, Josiah ben Zephaniah. That is clarified by two kinds of evidence: the genre of Zech. 6:9-11 and the designation of Josiah in v. 14.
Exhibited in Zech. 6:9-11 are the distinctive elements and technical terms that characterize requisition dockets. We may illustrate from a group of ostraca (sherds inscribed in ink) found at Arad in the northern Negeb, dating from the end of the Israelite monarchy.22 At that time Arad was a royal citadel and administrative center. In the archives of Eliashib ben Eshyahu, an offical there in charge of supplies, taxes, and tithes, were requisition documents authorizing the bearers to obtain specified provisions stored at the fortress. These ostraca-slips were then kept by Eliashib as evidence of the transaction. One such text addressed to a certain Nahum reads: "To Nahum, and now: Come to the house of Eliashib ben Eshyahu and take from him 1 (jar of) oil and send (it) to me quickly and seal it with your seal." On the back of the ostracon Eliashib recorded the date of delivery as a kind of receipt: "On the 24th of the month gave Nahum oil by the hand of the Kitti, 1 (jar)."
Zech, 6:9-11 matches the pattern of this requisition form in these particulars: (1) The address to the bearer of the requisition, Zechariah (v. 9). (2) The command sequence: "come ... take from." (3) The reference to the "house" of the steward and his name with his patronymic, ben Zephaniah. (4) The objects to be taken: silver and gold. (5) The disposition of the requisitioned articles: to be made into a crown. (6) Temporal reference: "that day," i.e., the
22 On these ostraca cf. Y. Aharoni, "Arad: Its Inscriptions and Temple," Biblical Archaeologist 31. 1 (1968) 2-32, esp. 13-15.
day of the exiles' arrival at the "house"—the last clause of v. 10 may be translated "where they have come from Babylon" but also "when they have come (there) from Babylon." (7) The receipt for supplying the requisitioned objects—the "memorial" in Zech. 6:14.
The genre of Zech. 6:9-11 is clearly that of a requisition docket and Josiah ben Zephaniah emerges in this context as a treasury steward. Confirming this identification of his role is the designation for him in v. 14. In place of the name Josiah is lehen. The l- is usually taken as the preposition "for," which is prefixed to each of the other three names. It should, however, be taken together with the hn and this lhn has been shown to be an Akkadian loanword, the Neo-Assyrian lahhinu (also attested in the Aramaic lehen), used as a title for a court or temple official, a steward of precious commodities.23
Josiah was then a temple official. Such an office was occupied in the days of Hezekiah by Kore ben lmnah, who was set over the storage and distribution of the offerings (2 Chr. 31:14). Josiah's "house" does not refer to his residence but to the storage or treasury room(s) connected with the temple, over which he was in charge.24 It was naturally to this "house" of Josiah that the returning exiles brought their treasures for the temple. And it would have been at that (treasury) house that Zechariah received through Josiah's offices the exiles' donation as requisitioned by the Lord.
It has been shown to be possible that Josiah ben Zephaniah was the great grandson of Zephaniah, a priest at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, the "second priest" next to Seraiah, the chief priest (2 Kgs. 25:18ff.).25 Josiah's relationship to Joshua the high priest might then have been similar to that of
23 For the evidence, see A. Demsky, "The Temple Steward Josiah ben Zephaniah," Israel Exploration Journal 31 (1981) 100-102. Our identification of the requisition genre of Zech. 6:9-11 confirms in turn this interpretation of lhn in v. 14.
24 For this use of bayit, cf., e. g., 1 Chr. 28:11; Neh. 10:39 [Eng. 38]; Mal. 3:10.
25 Myers-Myers, pp. 344-5.
his great grandfather to Seraiah. Such a priestly identity of Josiah and the location of his treasury office in the temple precincts would have proven convenient in arranging for the ceremonial coronation of Joshua.
The divine prerogative of requisition, operative throughout the history of God's relationship to Israel, was the expression of the Lord's claims as covenant suzerain. Through authorized agents, like Moses or the high priest (cf. Exod. 25:2ff.; Num. 7:5; 31:51-54; 2 Kgs. 12:5ff. [Eng. 4ff.]), he required of his vassal people due tribute in the form of both regular and special offerings. Thus, at the inaugurating of the old covenant, the Lord through the covenant mediator requisitioned from the people an offering of precious materials to be used for constructing the tabernacle, site of his earthly throne and replica of his heavenly palace (Exod. 25:2-9; 35:4-36:7). Beyond their possessions, the Lord claimed the covenant people themselves for the ministry of his holy palace. An application of this was the obligation that all the first-born males, representing the nation, be consecrated to the service of Yahweh in his sanctuary. In this connection, requisition took the form of a redemption tax exacted for the number of the first-born of Israel in excess of the number of the Levites, who were substituted for the first-born to perform the cultic ministry (Num. 3:11f.). Requisitioning the people themselves was actually another instance of requisitioning the materials for the building of God's royal sanctuary, for God makes his sanctified people to be a holy, living temple for his Presence in the Spirit.
Such is the requisition pattern that we find again in the CH episode. Through his representative, the prophet Zechariah, Yahweh takes tribute of gold and silver from the covenant people. As we have seen, the priestly "house" of Josiah is simply the administrative agency for storage and distribution. Though Zechariah obtains the silver and gold directly from Josiah, he is also said to take it from the three from Babylon, who represent the far off people of the Lord (vv. 10, 11).26 The praiseworthy participation of all four of them is underscored by the statement in v. 14 that the crown made from their donation was to be kept in the temple as a memorial (zikkaron) to them, each of the
26 On contributions of those in exile to the postexilic restoration of the temple, cf. 2 Chr. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-6; 2:68, 69.
four being named. This memorial function of the tributary crown corresponds, as observed above, to the receipt-notice appended to the requisition docket kept in the storage "house."27 Further, in keeping with the use to which Israel's requisitioned offerings were regularly put, the tribute in Zech. 6:9-15 was devoted to the cultic program, specifically, to the special ceremonial crowning of Joshua, the high priest.
The antitypical, messianic dimension of this requisition event must not be missed. Joshua, recipient of the tribute-crown, was a type of the Branch, the coming messianic priest-king. In effect, therefore, these returning exiles were by faith bringing tribute to Christ. Their mission from afar was akin to that of the wise men who came to Jerusalem from the east with their treasures to worship the one born king of the Jews (Matt. 2:1-11). They were participating in advance in the eschatological crowning of the Lamb upon the throne with many crowns.
That such an antitypical perspective is present in this episode is corroborated by Zech. 6:15a. There, the tributary pilgrimage of the exiles from Babylon as memorialized in the crown in the temple is said to be prophetic of an eschatological coming of those far off to help build the temple of the Lord. It is to the fulfillment of that prophecy that we shall now turn, focusing on the sovereign requisitioning activity of Christ as an aspect of his exaltation.
B. Christ, the Temple Requisitioner. The requisitioner in the Zech. 6:9-15 episode is the Angel of the Lord, for (as is indicated, for one thing, by the validation formula in v. 15b) he is the divine speaker who commissions Zechariah to take the tribute from the house of Josiah. In this typological event the pre-incarnate Christ is claiming from the men returned from Babylon the tributary honor due to him, the royal crown to which he is entitled. And in connection with this he prophesies of the later antitypical requisition-
27 The poll-tax atonement money taken from the Israelites and used for the service of the tabernacle, God's royal court, is also said to serve as a memorial, reminding the Lord that the ransom had been paid for them (Exod. 30:16; cf. Col. 2:14). Numbers 31 records an episode with similar requisition features. Moses and Eleazar are commanded to take for the Lord a specified portion of the victory spoils from the battle against the Midianites (cf. Gen. 14:16-20). A special tribute of gold presented by the military leaders was deposited in the tent of meeting as a memorial of the Israelites before the Lord (v. 54).
ing would engage in as the incarnate Christ on a world-wide scale (v. 15a).28
The Gospels picture Jesus as a sovereign requisitioner even during the days of his earthly ministry. A particularly interesting instance is his commandeering of the covenant-ratifying donkey for his royal procession into Jerusalem. Simply say: "The Lord has need of it" (Mark 11:3). And a fundamental form of the Lord's requisitioning was his calling the disciples one by one to leave all and give their lives to him.
Jesus is also portrayed as a requisitioner on the larger canvas of covenant history, in relation to old covenant Israel and to the new Israel, the church of the new covenant.
In the vineyard parable of Matt. 21:33-41, God's requisitioning of the covenant nation through the prophets generation after generation is depicted under the image of the lord of the vineyard requiring of the stewards the fruit in its season. He presents his claims through a succession of servants and finally through his son. The son presents the requisition demand both as representative of the father and as the heir. Such was the mission of Jesus to Israel in his first advent: he came calling upon the covenant nation to submit to him, their Lord. Israel's rebellious response is prophesied in the parable. It also announces God's subsequent taking of the vineyard-kingdom from Israel, an execution of the curse by which the old covenant had been sanctioned.
In Zechariah 11, the hinge passage in the second part of the book, the prophet foretold this future tragic confrontation of Jesus and Israel. As in CH, here again in Zechariah 11 the prophet is told to enact the role of Messiah the Requisitioner. After performing his services as shepherd-ruler of the flock he demands his wages and is given as his kingly tribute a scornful thirty pieces of silver (v. 12). Again, as in the vineyard parable, the sequel to the rejection of the divine requisitioner is covenant judgment. What Israel refuses to give is taken away from them as an act of judicial dispossession (vv. 13ff.).
28 The themes of CH and the third vision (2:5-17 [Eng. 1-13]) correspond closely. Christ is presented in both passages as the sovereign summoning his people from all the earth, in the third vision under the model of the kerux, and in CH, of the requisitioner. Cf. Kerux 7:3 (December 1992) 39-61.
But there is another chapter in the history of covenant requisitioning. The kingdom taken from the old Israel is given by the Lord and heir of the vineyard to another people (Matt. 21:43) in a new covenant, a covenant of grace replacing the old covenant of works which was broken (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:7-13; 10:9). When promulgating the new covenant (Matt. 28:18-20)29 Jesus declared that absolute authority was given him in heaven and earth (v. 18). Thereby he claimed to be Lord of the covenant with the divine right of sovereign requisition. Then he gave his disciples the commission of global requisitioning in his name (v. 19a). Zechariah had prophesied that Jerusalem's king, who would come riding on the requisitioned donkey and whose dominion would be to the ends of the earth (cf. Ps. 72:8), would "speak peace unto the nations" (Zech. 9:9, 10). And the apostle Paul declared of Christ that "he came and preached peace to you that were far off and peace to them that were nigh" (Eph. 2:17). Out of all the nations Christ summons those alienated from God to find peace with God through the Cross (Eph. 2:16), as they submit in faith to his sovereign claims on their lives and consign themselves by baptismal oath under his covenant lordship (Matt. 28:19b, 20a). It is by the mouth of his commissioned representatives, the gospel witnesses, that Jesus speaks peace to the nations, requisitioning those far and near for the praise of his glory. Requisitioning the world for Christ—that is the kerygmatic mission of the church.
As those whom God effectually calls by his Spirit obey this requisition summons, the prophecy of Zech. 6:15a is fulfilled: "Those who are far off shall come and help build the temple of Yahweh." From fallen mankind, exiled from God's presence and paradise as the aftermath of Adam's transgression, from the diaspora of the Gentiles augmented by the diaspora of the Jews (cf. Rom. 11:30-32), from far off they come to Christ, God's temple (John 2:18-21; Eph. 2:12, 13). They come and participate in the building of the extended temple, the church-body of which Christ is the head, the temple of which he is the chief cornerstone and his apostles and prophets the foundation. They contribute to the raising up of this church-temple by giving themselves when they hear Christ issue his requisition demand that they become
29 Cf. Kerux 9:3 (December 1994) 30ff.
living stones in that holy edifice (1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:20-22; 1 Pet. 2:5, 6; Heb. 3:6).30
"And you will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent me unto you" (Zech. 6:15b). Here, as in the previous appearances of this formula (2:13, 15 [Eng. 9, 11]; 4:9), it is the sovereign constructing of the world-wide temple of God through the power of the Spirit that is declared to be a convincing validation of the divine origin of the messianic mission.31 Beyond the notion of inward comprehension, the verb "know" (yada') may signify public acknowledgment. That is, v. 15b might be taken as part of the prophecy of v. 15a, foretelling that confession of Jesus as the Christ of God, the Lord, will resound far and wide-the confession of the mouth, which, accompanied by faith in the heart that God raised him from the dead, is "unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9, 10).
Christ's success in requisitioning a vast company from all nations to come and build God's temple, the validation of the heavenly origin of his mission, also witnesses to the fact that the outcome of his mission has been his exaltation to the heavenly throne. For Christ's efficacious gathering of God's elect is accomplished through the power of the Spirit whom he bestowed on his disciples at Pentecost, and this descent of the Spirit testifies to the prior ascent of the Son to receive the Spirit from the Father.32 Psalms 72 and 110 make this connection between Christ's effective requisitioning and his exaltation. In Psalm 72 it is the one invested with the prerogative of divine judgment (v. 1) and exercising universal dominion (vv. 8, 9) of whom it is said that the kings of Tarshish, Sheba, and Seba shall render to him his requisitioned tribute (v. 10) and, indeed, that "all nations shall serve him" (v. 11). And in Psalm 110 it is in the context of Messiah's session on God's throne as a priest-king forever (vv. 1, 4, 5) that the word of the Lord declares: "Your people will offer themselves willingly ... in holy splendor" (v. 3a). On the day of battle (cf. vv. 2, 5, 6), when Messiah musters his priestly army for the holy war (cf. Rev. 19:14),
30 For previous treatment of the temple building theme in Zechariah's night visions, cf. Kerux 6:2 (September 1991) 33, 34; 9:2 (September 1994) 4ff.; 9:3 (December 1994) 20ff.
31 On this formula, cf Kerux 7:3 (December 1992) 47, 50; for exaltation as evidence of the messianic identity of Jesus, cf. Matt. 26:64.
32 Cf. Kerux 9:3 (December 1994) 37.
the host of volunteers that rally to his banner will be like the abundance of dew that covers the earth at dawn (v. 3b; cf. 2 Sam. 17:12).
Christ's requisitioned people not only attest to but constitute a major component of his exaltation. For they are themselves the promised inheritance awarded to the messianic heir of the Father. Participating in the building of God's temple (Zech. 6:15a) signifies that those who come from far off have been received into the holy company of God's people and God's covenant people are his own personal treasure, his chosen possession (segullah),33 redeemed from Egypt "to be unto him a people of inheritance" (nahalah),34 his "portion" (heleq).35 This identification of the covenant community as God's chosen inheritance is prominent in the visions of Zechariah that CH is recapitulating. The first vision contains the assurance that Yahweh will again choose Jerusalem as his own, the site of his temple (1:17). In the fourth vision God's election of Jerusalem is appealed to by the Angel of the Lord in his rebuke of Satan (3:2). And in the third vision (2:5-17 [Eng. 1-13])36 the divine choosing of Jerusalem is explained in inheritance terms: "Yahweh will inherit (nahal) Judah as his portion (heleq); for his sanctuary ground he will choose Jerusalem" (2:16 [Eng. 12]). This is the more significant for our recognition of the divine inheritance concept in CH because of other correspondences of vision three to CH. As in CH, Messiah speaks as universal Lord (2:17 [Eng. 13]), and immediately associated with the inheritance theme in 2:16 [Eng. 12] are the two elements of 6:15a, b, namely: a prophecy that those from far off will enter into covenant with the Lord and his people (2:15a [Eng. 11a]) and, second, the attestation formula (2:15b [Eng. 11b]).
For the idea of the people of God as the inheritance of the Messiah in particular, we turn to Psalm 2, where we discover much the same complex of concepts that we have found in CH and in vision three, which CH echoes. In Psalm 2, right after God's assertion that he has set his Anointed (cf. v. 2) as
33 See Exod. 19:5; Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Ps. 135:4; Mal. 3:17; cf. Titus 2:14.
34 Cf. Deut. 4:20; 9:29.
35 Cf Deut. 32:9. On this passage, see my Kingdom Prologue, pp. 177, 178.
36 Cf. Kerux 7:3 (December 1992) 44ff.
king on Zion (v.6), Messiah cites the decree of Yahweh on the occasion of the coronation: "You are my Son, this day have I begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance (nahalah) and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession" (vv. 7-8). This decreee was proclaimed in confrontation with the nations conspiring against the suzerainty of the Lord and his Annointed (vv. 1-3). God derisively rebukes the folly of their rebellious council (vv. 4-6) and asserts that the dominion of his king over them will be enforced in a shattering eruption of His wrath (v. 9; cf. v. 12b). But along with this threat, a directive is given to earth's kings to exchange the follow of revolt for the wisdom of allegiance to the Son (vv. 10, 11, 12a), and blessing instead of curse is promised to those who commit themselves under his protectorate (v. 12c)37. The prospect emerges here of a remnant from the nations, battle spoils as it were, who accept Messiah's overtures of mercy as he speaks peace to the nations. Messiah thus receives the nations as his possession in the sense that a chosen company from the ends of the earth become his own covenant people, his precious inheritance (v. 8).38
In the light of the passages closely related to CH, those who are described in Zech. 6:15a as coming from afar to take part in the temple building are seen to be Messiah's chosen portion, the inheritance which he, as exalted Lord, appropriates through world-wide gospel requisitioning.
C. God's Covenant Decree (Psalm 2). In dealing with each aspect of Christ's exaltation, we have traced it to a covenant transaction—his throne rights as royal scion and temple builder to the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7) and his heavenly enthronement as priest-king to the covenant oath of Psalm 110. We have already traced Messiah's requisitioning of his universal inheritance to the decree (hoq) of Ps. 2:7, 8 and shall now examine the covenantal character of that decree.
37Similarly in Zechariah's third vision the hostile nations are threatened with judgment (2:13 [Eng. 9]), in the midst of which there will, however, be a conversion of Gentiles, a redemptive spoiling of the nations. By this despoiling which is a discipling many are brought into covenant with the Lord as his people, his chosen inheritance (2:15, 16 [Eng. 11,12]). Cf. Kerux 7:3 (December 1992) 47.
38 In Hebrews 1, where Ps. 2:7 is quoted (v. 5) in an exposition of the exaltation of the Son, he is described as "the heir of all things"(v. 2).
Hoq, "decree," is paralleled by berit, "covenant," in several passages. For example, with reference to God's covenant with the patriarchs, Ps. 105: 8-10 (cf. 1 Chr. 16:15-17) observes: "(v. 8) He (Yahweh) remembers forever his covenant (berit) ... (v. 9) which he made with Abraham, even his sworn promise to Isaac, (v. 10) which he confirmed unto Jacob as a decree (hoq), to Israel as an everlasting covenant (berit)."39 This corresponds closely with Ps. 2:7, 8, where the covenantal hoq again concerns an inheritance. In fact, the land of Canaan promised to the patriarchs is the prototype of the global inheritance granted to the Messiah in Psalm 2.
The Father's covenantal decree cited by the Son beforehand in Ps. 2:7, 8 was issued at the exaltation of Jesus. It was an enthronement declaration.40 But that assigning of a global inheritance to Christ at his exaltation was not the beginning of the matter. In issuing that decree at the enthronement of the Lord Jesus, the Father was fulfilling his commitment made in the eternal covenant of grant, promising the Son cosmic dominion, with a people from all nations as his inheritance. Old Testament prophecies like Psalm 2 unveil heaven and reveal that the covenant constituting commitments between the Father and the Son have already been made long before Messiah's earthly mission.
The exaltation of the Messiah in view in the Ps. 2:7, 8 decree (and thus in the Zech. 6:15 prophecy) is traced back to the divine predetermination in eternity by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1-3, a context in which he treats the whole range of themes found in Zech. 6:9-15 and the related passages. Included among these shared themes are: the cosmic dominion of the exalted Christ (1:10, 20-23); Christ's requisitioning of the Gentiles as he speaks peace to those far off (2:17; 3:8), a process involving the despoiling of Satan (2:2ff.); the reception of Gentiles into the covenant as the people of God (2:11-22; 3:6-9, 15) and as the heritage of Christ (1:11); the building of God's temple (2:20-22). And all of this Paul declares to be the carrying out of God's eternal purpose and predestinating will (1:4, 5, 11; 3:11).
39 See also 2 Kgs. 17:15; Ps. 50:16; Isa. 24:5.
40 It is so interpreted when quoted in Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; cf. Acts 4:25.
Eph. 1:11 is of special interest because it contains the divine inheritance concept and so reflects the general Old Testament notion of Israel as the Lord's chosen portion and the more specific idea of the Messiah's inheritance found in Ps. 2:8. In that verse Paul particularizes the idea presented in the immediately preceding context. The apostle has been developing the thought that all creation finds its unity in Christ, all things are summed up in him as his (1:10), and then, focusing on Christ's people in particular, he states that "we were made a heritage, being predestined ... that we should be to the praise of his glory" (1:11, 12). Or, as it is put in 1:22, 23, the church is Christ's own body, the fulness that belongs to him. Also in 1:14 believers are called "(God's) own possession," which he will redeem to the praise of his glory. And similarly in 1:18 Paul exults in "the riches of the glory of his (God's) inheritance in the saints." Surely the interpretation of the heritage in 1:11 as the inheritance that belongs to Christ is preferable to the common opinion that the reference is to the inheritance believers will receive. And the fact that the apostle explicitly locates Christ's claim to the church as his inheritance in the divine counsels before the foundation of the world substantiates the theological construct of the intratrinitarian covenant and, more specifically, the conclusion that Christ's exaltation finds its ultimate determination in that eternal arrangement.
Prerequisite to the Son's reception of the inheritance appointed to him in the eternal covenant was his winning of the Father's approbation in his earthly mission. By the ordering of God, the Sabbath Consummation of the kingdom is secured by way of probation, as a reward to be earned.41 We are confronted by this principle in the closing statement of CH: "This shall come to pass if you [plural] diligently obey the voice of Yahweh, your God" (Zech. 6:15c). There is an ethical prerequisite for dwelling in fellowship with God, a spiritual quality of faith and holiness in conformity with divine stipulation (cf.
41 For our previous discussion of this subject see Kerux 8:1 (May 1993) 33; 8:2 (September 1993) 20-22; 9:2 (September 1994) 15, 16; 9:3 (December 1994) 32. A state of indefectible holiness is the necessary precondition of entering into the eternally secure felicity of the Sabbath-Glory (cf. I Pet. 1:4). Thus, under the original covenant in Eden divine approbation upon successful probation would have been accompanied by transformation to the prerequisite state of confirmed righteousness.
Deut. 30:11-14; Rom. 10:6-10; Heb. 12:14). But that is not what is referred to in Zech. 6:15c as a condition for the realization of the messianic kingdom of glory. The condition in view is rather the obedient performance of a special probationary assignment. That accomplishment, that one act of righteousness, constitutes the legal, meritorious ground for receiving the heavenly reward.
Zechariah casts his prophecy of Christ and the church in the prophetic idiom, employing the old typological order to depict the new covenant realities. And according to the covenantal constitution for that old order, corporate Israel must earn the continuing enjoyment of the typological kingdom inheritance by their obedience. This works principle is a conspicuous feature of the sanctions section of the Mosaic treaties.42 Expressing things in old covenant terms, Zechariah therefore says that God's kingdom of glory is the reward for the probationary obedience of the elect corporately. In the light of the total Scriptural revelation we understand, however, that this act of probationary obedience is performed not by them but by Christ their federal representative—by the one for the many. It is a righteousness of God imputed to the elect by grace through faith.
In Zechariah's fourth vision the Messiah's role as the individual representative probationer is revealed more explicitly. There again the attainment of heaven is made the reward for the obedient discharge of a specific duty, the guarding of God's sanctuary (Zech. 3:7), and it is Christ, the Servant-Branch, as typically portrayed by the individual figure of Joshua the high priest, who must fulfill this probationary priestly mission." What we have then in Zech. 6:15c is the pre-incarnate Christ directing his people in faith to himself as their vicarious probationer, who secures for them God's approbation and so puts them beyond probation.
42 Cf., e. g., Lev. 18:5; Deut. 28:1, 9, 13, 15; 30:15-20. As Paul's appeal to Lev. 18:5 shows (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12), a legal principle of meritorious works was operating in the Torah covenant opposite to the gospel principle of grace.
43 Cf. Kerux 8:2 (September 1993) 20-22.
The function of probationer that Christ assumed as the true Israel-Servant was more basically his in terms of his identity as second Adam (Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:45-47).44 The covenant with the first Adam was a works-probation arrangement.45 Hence, for the Son to covenant with the Father to become a second Adam meant he must win the promised messianic exaltation (which he shares with his own) as the reward for a victory of obedience in a probationary mission. This is implicit in CH in the Branch's role of building the temple of the Lord (Zech. 6:12c, 13a), for, as we have seen,46 the prelude to and qualification for temple construction was regulary the faithful waging of the Lord's battle against his enemies. Messiah's temple building presupposes his victorious warfare against Satan. That was the specific probationary task whose accomplishment established his right to requisition the materials and build God's temple, and indeed to take his place on the divine throne in the holy of holies.
As advertised by his birth under the Torah covenant of works (Gal. 4:4), Christ came to earth as one under the intratrinitarian covenant of works. It was by fulfilling the probation of that supernal works covenant that he became the mediator of the Covenant of Grace, the covenant in which his people
44 In Gal. 4:4, "born under the law" identifies Christ as the second Israel, under the Torah covenant. "Born of a woman" brings out his humanity and so suggests his second Adam status.
45 Though the covenant produced by creation displayed God's goodness and love, it was not a grace transaction, for none of its benefits, whether original or preferred, had been or would have been bestowed on people who had forfeited them by sin. The divine benevelonce complemented the principle of simple justice governing this works covenant; it did not qualify that justice.
It is God's covenantal word that defines divine justice. Analysis of God's covenant with Adam has been plagued with a tendency to judge the terms stipulated in this covenant by some extraneous standard and to pronounce the value of the award offered disproportionate to the value of the service. Thereby any "merit" still attributed to the performance of the stipulated duty in this arrangement (confusingly dubbed "gracious") is radically qualified, the law-gospel constrast is changed into a continuum, the absoluteness of God's justice is relativized, and the foundation of the gospel is destroyed.
46 Cf. Kerux 9:3 (December 1994) 20ff.
become by faith joint-heirs with their Lord of the eternal kingdom of glory (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 8:17). Law is thus foundational to gospel; gospel-grace honors the demands of divine justice as definitively expressed in law covenant. In Rom. 3:31 Paul makes this point forcefully: "Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid; nay we establish the law." The apostle is not concerned here with the normative nature of the Mosaic laws but with the law as a covenant governed by the principle of works in contrast to the gospel with its principle of grace. And even though he is arguing that we are justified not by works but by grace through faith, he insists emphatically on the continuing validity of the works principle as foundational to the gospel order. It is by the obedience of the one that the many are made righteous (Rom. 5:19).
Messiah's exaltation would follow humiliation. The way to the Sabbath throne on Har Magedon led through the abyss of Gehenna. As stipulated in his covenant with the Father, the Son must become incarnate in human likeness and be obedient unto the death of the Cross (Phil. 2:5-11). It would be because of his obedience as the suffering Servant of the Lord that he was lifted up very high (Isa. 52:13-53:12). In CH, Messiah's descent prior to his ascent is intimated by the designating of him as the Branch who comes forth from the human line of David (Zech. 6:12a, b; cf. Isa. 53:2), the Branch who is the suffering Servant (Zech. 3:8).
Sharpening the point that Christ earns his exaltation as a due reward is the identification of his inheritance possession as something he has purchased. "Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people for his own possession" (Titus 2:13, 14; cf. Eph. 1:14). Giving the redeemed to him as his allotted portion is an act of justice, pure and simple. They belong to him by virtue of his paying the purchase price as stipulated in the supernal covenant of grant.
And the purchase price itself tells us again of the humiliation and suffering that was the appointed way to Christ's ultimate exaltation. "You were redeemed ... with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Pet. 1:18, 19; cf. Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:12). It was "with his own blood" that the Lord acquired the church, his bride (Acts 20:28; cf. Rev. 7:14, 19:7, 8; 21:2, 9). This note sounds forever in the music of heaven acclaiming the
exalted Redeemer: "You are worthy to take the book and to open its seal;47 for you were slain and have purchased to God by your blood (a throng) from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9). "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing" (Rev. 5:12).
Seminary in California
47 The imagery of the seven-sealed book evokes the legal sphere of testament and inheritance.
The Lament and the Lamenter
James T. Dennison, Jr.
An acrostic in a poem of acrostics. Lamentations 3 is, in fact, the acrostic of acrostics of this poem. You will note chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 are composed of 22 verses. The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters. Chapter 5 excepted, the verse sequences is aleph to tau. Chapter 3 perfects the acrostic pattern by the rule of threes—a triadic acrostic; or 3 times 22 equals 66 verses. In fact, chapter three is framed by double chapters of 22 verses each. Chapter three is the structural centerpiece, the keystone of the poem. This third chapter draws the poetic imagery of chapters 1 and 2 into itself, while the poetic imagery of chapters 4 and 5 flows out of chapter 3. A remarkably structured poem, triply so at its midpoint!
This striking composition by the weeping prophet has added a word to the English language—"threnody" from the title of the book in the Septuagint—Threnoi. Threnody or a lachrymose plangency emblematic of the classic Semitic lament. Lamentationes (Latin)—Threnoi (Greek)—eka (Hebrew). A poem of sorrows—an acrostic of grief—a requiem for a city. The book of Lamentations is a plangent rehearsal of the death of a city. "How lonely sits the city"(1:1). Zion, the city of the great kings, has become a widow. For the Lord has swallowed up Jerusalem in his fierce anger. Babylon's Nebuchadnezzar is his instrument, but this ruin is the Lord's doing.
The sensitive reader too weeps with those who weep. Jeremiah's sorrows touch the heart-strings of this century. Images of Hitler's death camps—6
million sorrows. And Stalin's Ukranian famine, Siberian concentration camps, political purges—20 million sorrows. And Pol Pot, architect of Cambodia's killing fields—2 million sorrows. And perhaps the greatest mass murderer of all time, Mao Tse-tung—estimated to have executed more than 60 million people during the Cultural Revolution. Need I mention Rwanda and the Tutsi genocide of recent memory. We are not strangers to sorrow. And yet Auschwitz, Siberia, Phnom Penh, Beijing, Kigali, seem remote. We sorrow without suffering sorrows—we lament without enduring the lamentable.
Jerusalem too sorrowed without suffering sorrows. Inviolable Zion had withstood the Syro-Ephraimite coalition of Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Samaria, 734-32 B.C. Impregnable Zion had held out against Shalmaneser V, 722 B.C. And when Sennacherib boasted of locking Hezekiah up like a caged bird, 701 B.C., it was 185,000 Assyrians who sorrowed, not the sons and daughters of Jerusalem. Zion survived the parade of Egyptian soldiers under Pharaoh Necho II on his return from that fateful encounter at Carchemish, 609 B.C.—a visit in which he deposed King Jehoahaz and installed his own puppet, Jehoiakim, on the throne. And what of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon: two times he had surrounded Jerusalem—605 B.C., when he carried off Daniel, Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego; and 597 B.C., when Ezekiel was captured. But Jerusalem still stood—"the temple of the lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord is here."
But in 586 B.C., the warnings of the sorrowful prophet, Jeremiah, were fulfilled. The invincible Zion theology collapsed as Babylonian siege machines pummeled the walls of Jerusalem, Babylonian archers picked off Jewish soldiers on the walls, and Babylonian battering rams leveled the temple of Solomon. No more sorrow from a distance; sorrow in 586 B.C. Jerusalem became a national existential reality. And on that day—that great day of the Lord—it was as if the last judgment had been anticipated in the smoke and the flames and the shrieks and the wails in that city of destruction.
The singer of Lamentations remembers. He chants sorrow—intones sorrow—rhapsodizes sorrow in acrostic poetry. Jeremiah sings a dirge—a funeral dirge—over the once indestructible city.
The songs of sorrow—Verdi's great Requiem; Chopin's Funeral March; taps. In 1976, the Polish composer Henryk Gorecki composed his 3rd Symphony—the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. It contains three movements—the triad—all centered around poetic songs of sorrow: the Virgin Mary for her Son; an 18-year-old girl in a Gestapo prison; a mother's lament for her son killed in war. In a repetitive, tonal plainchant, Gorecki weaves a poignant, plaintive, threefold soprano solo. When the compact disc was released in 1992 with the stunning American soprano Dawn Upshaw, it became the first classical release in the rock and roll era to top the Billboard charts. Gorecki had written a symphony for this century of sorrows.
Jeremiah's composition of sorrowful songs for the 6th century B.C. is even more poignant, plaintive, stunning. Jeremiah weaves concentric patterns around a central focal point. (Interestingly, Gorecki's first movement of his third symphony is itself composed chiastically: ascending strings—soprano solo-descending strings.) Jeremiah's vocabulary duplicates in concentric rings toward the center of each chapter. For example, chapter 1:1 contains the phrase "great among the nations"; vs. 22—contains the phrase "great/many groans"; vs. 2—"none to comfort"; vs. 21—"none to comfort"; and so on to vss. 11 and 12 which contain a precise AB/B'A' chiasm "see and look"/"look and see".
Chapter 2 continues the concentric pattern: note vs. 1—"day of God's anger"; vs. 22—"day of the Lord's anger"; vs. 4—"poured out"; vs. 19—"poured out"; the crisscross at vss. 11 and 12 "poured out ... faint in the streets". But chapter two adds concatenation to concentrism. Like a chain link fence, each verse contains a word which is repeated in the next verse, while the subsequent verse uses a new word which becomes the link to the following verse. 2:1—"Adonai/Lord" is repeated in 2:2; 2:2 contains the name "Jacob" which appears again in vs. 3; vs. 3 contains the term "fire" which is concatenated with "fire" in vs. 4; and so on throughout the chapter with the exception of vss. 13 and 14. Jeremiah's second poem is not only concentrically constructed, it is constructed to link subsequent concentric layers of concatenation.
The keystone of the book, chapter 3, forms the point of transition in Jeremiah's poem. From the crisscross in vss. 31-33 and 34-36, the poem ascends to chapter five and its emotive prayer. In form, the third chapter is a
concentric parallelism in blocks of 3 verses: vss. 1-3 and 64-66 contain the word "hand"; vss. 4-6 and 61-63 contain the phrase "against me" or "on me' and so on to the center where "not Lord/Adonai" is duplicated.
But it is not so much the form or structure of Jeremiah's acrostics which fascinates as the theological and artistic progression of the poetic whole. In chapter one, the poet allows Zion herself to speak. It is the familiar literary poetic device of personification. "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow" (1:12). In chapter two, the poet advances his message by joining his voice to that of the city. This mutual blending of the cry of the city and the cry of Jeremiah deepens the pathos of the passage. "All who pass by clap their hands at you: they hiss and shake their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem, ‘Is this the city of which they said, The perfection of beauty, a joy to all the earth?’" (2:15). But chapter 3 contains a fusion of the poet and the city—the two become one. "I am the man who has seen affliction because of the rod of his wrath. Remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall" (3:1, 19). The poet embodies the fate of the city in chapter 3. He incorporates—yea incarnates—the death of the city in his own anguish. Personification is not sufficient to penetrate the anguish of this lamentation. Nor is juxtaposition of poet and city sufficient to exhaust the death-throes of Zion. Only the incarnation of the death of the city in the poet; only the incorporation of the sufferings of the city in Jeremiah himself suffices. The poet bears the sufferings of Zion in himself. The singer of Lamentations incarnates his lament.
A singer of sorrows who personifies lamentation; a weeping prophet whose tears reflect the death of a city; a poet whose plangent meter embodies the agony of the city of God. Jeremiah is reprised—yet once more, at the end of the age—an eschatological prophet incarnates the eschatological sorrows—with sighs and tears, he cries, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem." A greater than Jeremiah is here. He incarnates lament and lamenter—the subject and object of lamentation. They gather to weep for him who wept over a dying city. But their tears cannot drown out his lamentation of dereliction, "My God, My God, Why ... ?" The very incarnation of wrath, death, judgment, condemnation. This man of sorrows, this weeping prophet—sings his own dirge—his own lamentation—his own sorrowful symphony.
Sings—for you and for me. Sings that eschatological song of sorrows so that the sorrows of hell will not get hold of you and of me. Weeps those bitter tears with sighs so that your tears and my sighs may pass away. There is a city—no more death! There is a city—no more tears! There is a city—the prophet weeps no more!
Have you heard of the city? The streets are paved with gold! There are twelve gates to the city, Hallelu. Three gates in the east, three gates in the west, three gates in the north, three gates in the south. Twelve gates to the city, twenty-four elders in the city, forty-eight angels in the city—great, big beautiful city—city four-square.1
And in that city—Jeremiah weeps no more. In that city—the eschatological Jeremiah weeps no more. In that city—those embodied, those incorporated in the eschatological Jeremiah—they weep no more. No more lamentation for the citizens of the new Jerusalem. Hitler—cannot touch them there; Stalin—cannot touch them there; Pol Pot, Mao Tse-tung—cannot touch them there. God himself shall touch them there—he shall wipe away every tear—there shall be no more death, nor crying, nor pain. For the Lamb who wept weeps no more.
1 Lyrics from "Twelve Gates to the City" found on the Teldec compact disk (D 105671) Where the Sun Will Never Go Down by Chanticleer. Cited here by permission.
R. Norman Whybray. Introduction to the Pentateuch. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995, 146 pp., $14.00 paper. ISBN: 0-8028- 0837-9
If you wish to either purchase or recommend a book that will give an introductory overview of the Pentateuch, Roger Norman Whybray's Introduction to the Pentateuch is not what you are looking for. Not only does Whybray deny that any of the Pentateuch was written by Moses, but he believes that it was composed in its final form no earlier than the 6th century by an author who drew his material from largely fictional sources. Needless to say, there is almost nothing in this book that would recommend itself to the Kerux reader who seeks to understand the Pentateuch from a biblical-theological perspective.
What does interest us about Introduction, however, is that it is an indication of the new direction some current Old Testament scholars are taking Pentateuchal studies: away from the Documentary Hypothesis and away from form- and tradition-critical studies and into the much-neglected task of studying the text in its final form. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to examine why Whybray (whom I will use to represent this new trend) is skeptical of the theories of his predecessors; what has led him to emphasize a synchronic approach to the Pentateuch; how his approach bears on his analysis of the Pentateuch (the book review section of this article); and what are the logical implications of Whybray's views for the future of Pentateuchal studies.
II. Whybray's radical skepticism
The Documentary Hypothesis had achieved wide acceptance by the end of the 19th century thanks to Julius Wellhausen's Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (1883; English trans. Prolegomena to the History of Israel, 1885). It should be noted, however, that the main contribution of Wellhausen's Prolegomena was not in postulating the idea of multiple Pentateuchal sources. In 1753 French physician Jean Astruc first suggested that the book of Genesis drew its material from two sources based on the two different names used to refer to God, Yahweh and Elohim. Although Astruc's aim was to defend Mosaic authorship, subsequent non-conservative scholars began using his approach to deny the same. By the 19th century, the theory known as the Documentary Hypothesis had been developed which alleged that the Pentateuch was really a composite of four documents known as J, E, D and P (composed by four different authors, none of whom was Moses). Although there was no concrete proof that such documents ever existed, variations of language and literary style and the presence of repetitions and (apparent) inconsistencies in the Pentateuch were pointed to as sufficient evidence of its composite authorship.
Wellhausen's contribution, then, was not in inventing the Documentary Hypothesis, but in combining it with the currently popular Hegelian evolutionary approach to history and showing how the four documents reflected various evolutionary stages in the historical development of the Israelite religion. According to Wellhausen, J and E were written during the more primitive stage of Israel's religious development, approximately 900 and 800 B.C.; D reflected a later stage of development in Israel's religious life around 600 B.C.; and P represented the final post-exilic stage around 500 B.C.
Wellhausen's version of the Documentary Hypothesis (known as the Development Hypothesis) was not only brilliant but comprehensive, well-argued, and in step with the times so that it was enthusiastically received by scholars worldwide. It also succeeded in marginalizing the minority of traditionalist scholars whose stubborn insistence upon Mosaic authorship sounded increasingly unconvincing and outdated. Prolegomena fleshed out and breathed life into the Documentary Hypothesis so as to provide non-conser-
vatives with a seemingly solid foundation for their conviction that the Pentateuch was not composed by Moses over a short period of time but rather was written by numerous authors unrelated to Moses over a long period of time, centuries after the recorded events were supposed to have taken place.
Although the Documentary Hypothesis still remains somewhat of a sacred cow among liberals, its credibility has suffered considerable damage at the hands of a new and more skeptical generation of Old Testament scholars of which Whybray is a part. In 1987 Whybray published The Making of the Pentateuch1 in which he severely criticized the Documentary Hypothesis, exposing many of the flaws and inconsistencies that conservative scholars have known about for years. For example, Whybray recognizes that Hebrew writers may have deliberately used doublets and repetitions for literary purposes, and that variations in style and vocabulary may have more to do with variations in subject matter than anything else. He argues that no work of ancient literature was ever perfectly uniform in language and style and completely free of repetition and contradiction. Why, then, in the isolated case of the original Pentateuchal sources should these standards suddenly become paramount? Furthermore, he points out that the alleged original sources, when reconstructed, themselves contain repetitions and inconsistencies.
However exciting conservatives may find this latest trend in Old Testament studies to be, one must not mistake Whybray and his fellow skeptics as pioneers of some kind of conservative uprising within liberal circles. Clearly this is not the case. In the second half of Making Whybray also attacks Hermann Gunkel's form-critical and traditio-critical approach which, when it was first introduced in the early 20th century through his study on Genesis,2 made it possible for one to accept the Documentary Hypothesis and at the same time hold to the traditional belief that the Pentateuchal stories themselves had very ancient origins.
This is not to say that Gunkel and his followers were traditionalists. They did not hold to Mosaic authorship but, in fact, considered themselves follow-
1 JSOT Supplement 53, Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987.
2 Die Sagen der Genesis (1901).
ers of Wellhausen who were only attempting to expand upon his thesis. Nevertheless, their belief that the stories of the Pentateuch had been kept alive in Israel's oral tradition centuries before being actually committed to writing at least safeguarded the idea that these stories were not only ancient but historically based. In the introductory chapter to his commentary on Genesis, Gunkel compared the Genesis narratives with the phenomenon of the Icelandic Sagen or folktales. According to the studies of Heinrich Ewald, a contemporary of Gunkel, many of these Sagen claim to preserve the memory of actual events of the remote past and have survived up to the present through generations of oral transmission. Gunkel believed the Genesis stories were also a kind of Sagen, as he boldly stated in his introductory chapter, "Die Genesis ist eine Sammlung von Sagen" ("Genesis is a collection of sagas"). Martin Noth, one of Gunkel's most prominent followers, even attempted to meticulously reconstruct each stage of development that would have led up to the formation of the Pentateuch in A History of Pentateuchal Traditions (1948), in which he describes a process that began with numerous, originally unrelated oral stories, which then combined into the larger, continuous narratives that eventually became the basis for the written documents.
Whybray rejects the idea that oral transmission could have adequately preserved such stories with any degree of historical accuracy, and thus he is not convinced by the evidence that form and tradition critics present in favor of their antiquity. He points out in Making that studies of oral narration in modem cultures show that narrators tend to modify their stories to fit their present circumstances so that a high degree of distortion is possible within a period of only a few transactions. Furthermore, he reports that the latest studies have debunked the once held notion that early Israel was a primitive people that had to depend on an oral tradition because they were unfamiliar with the use of written texts. Studies that had supposedly demonstrated that the ancient Near Eastern cultures surrounding Israel did not preserve their historical traditions through writing are now shown to be guilty of employing a selective use of evidence. In addition, they failed to distinguish between oral tradition and the practice of orally reciting written texts, so that many scholars believed that the "hearer-friendly" nature of the Pentateuchal narratives was proof that the written text had preserved the style and techniques of oral narration. Now scholars are willing to attribute this quality to the fact that the
Pentateuch may originally have been written for the purpose of being read aloud to an audience.
proposal / A review of
Introduction to the Pentateuch
Whybray's view of the Pentateuch, then, springs from an a priori rejection of Mosaic authorship, a rejection of the Documentary Hypothesis's theory of multiple documents, and a rejection of the theory of form and tradition critics that an ancient oral tradition lies behind the written text. He is left only with the following conclusion: there must have been a single author3 of the Pentateuch since the Documentary Hypothesis's evidence of multiple authorship is sorely lacking. And since there is no concrete evidence that the Pentateuch has ancient origins, most likely it is a largely fictional work that was written to give post-exilic Israel a sense of cultural identity and heritage. It should therefore be dated around the 6th century at the earliest.
To bolster his view of single authorship and a late date for the Pentateuch, Whybray cites the work of John Van Seters as supporting evidence.4 Van Seters compares the Pentateuch with the work of 6th and 5th century Greek historians (such as Herodotus) who used myths, legends, genealogies and historical imagination to compose a history of their people for the purpose of solidifying their own national traditions and identity. The author of the Pentateuch presumably had the same purpose in mind. But since in the cultures surrounding Israel no examples of such sophisticated historiography existed prior to the arrival of the Greeks, Whybray argues it is highly unlikely that an Israelite historian could have authored the Pentateuch any earlier than the 6th century. Besides, he says, it only makes sense that it would be written after the exile since the unstable situation of post-exilic Israel would have demanded
3 Whybray's "author" is also assigned the role of compiling and editing existing oral and written traditions much like the ancient Greek historians (cf. below).
4 The reader, however, will not know the extent to which Whybray relies on Van Seters's research simply from reading Introduction. It is in Making that Whybray discusses his reliance on Van Seters in fuller detail.
that someone produce a document like the Pentateuch in order to bring a sense of unity and purpose to that community.
In spite of Whybray's bold and radical assertions, however, one must keep in mind that ultimately Whybray will insist on taking an agnostic approach to questions of the date and origin of the Pentateuch to the extent that he does not even take his own views too seriously. He freely admits that his own late dating of the Pentateuch is "to some extent subjective"5 and refuses to shrink from the disturbing and very real possibility that neither he nor anyone else may ever know for sure how and when the Pentateuch came to be.
Thus, with so many unanswerable questions surrounding Pentateuchal studies, Whybray believes the only "brute fact" he has to work with is the phenomenon of the Pentateuch itself. Closing his discussion in chapter 2 of the various theories of its authorship and origins, he writes,
The debate is likely to continue indefinitely, and whether a new consensus will eventually emerge is far from certain. ... But it is important to realize that in such a matter as this we are dealing entirely with hypotheses and not with facts. Proof, either in the mathematical or in the logical meaning of that word, will never be attainable. The only fact available to us is the text of the Pentateuch itself in all its complexity.6
We know the Pentateuch exists, says Whybray. We know what it claims itself to be. We know it was written for a purpose. Therefore, let us quit speculating about what we can't know and focus on what we can know about this document. Whybray therefore recommends that the reader should approach the Pentateuch first and foremost from the standpoint of understanding its contents and claims. What does it have to say about God, the patriarchs, Moses,
5 Introduction, p. 136
6 Ibid., pp. 26-7.
Israel and the law, and what overall message is it trying to communicate to its audience?
Sounds good so far. Perhaps there is potential here for a truly objective treatment of the text. One will find in Introduction that Whybray's approach does lead him to make some accurate and helpful observations. For example, the Pentateuch presents God as playing the leading role in all his dealings with his people; the story is mainly about the birth and adolescence of the nation Israel; the theme of the patriarchal narratives is God's election of and promises to unlikely individuals; Moses is presented as both a heroic and fallible leader; Israel is presented as a constantly rebellious people; and Yahweh himself is presented as a benevolent God who is good toward the obedient and also as a vengeful God who will punish the disobedient. Unfortunately, the reader will be disappointed to discover that Whybray stops short of drawing any penetrating insights from these observations. He says nothing that a mature student of the Bible cannot already gather from his own personal reading.
This raises the obvious question: what was Whybray's purpose in writing Introduction? To offer a "Cliffs Notes" to the Pentateuch? Whybray informs us in his final chapter that while there are many legitimate approaches he could have taken, it was his intention in this book to provide a synchronic approach to the Pentateuch, particularly in dealing with the narratives. Reading between the lines, it would appear that Whybray actually views his approach as somewhat unique—something sure to leave theologically conservative readers puzzled. What is the big deal about letting the text speak for itself? Isn't it obvious that this is how one ought to approach the Pentateuch? Perhaps not to a liberal. Consider the fact that higher-critical scholars have for so many years mucked around in questions of origin, sources, historicity and authorship that they have completely neglected the most obvious task of simply paying attention to what the Pentateuch has to say about itself. From this perspective, Whybray's approach would be considered fresh, invigorating, and downright revolutionary. From the perspective of the conservative, however, this approach makes for incredibly dull reading.
Sad to say, this "Cliffs Notes" aspect of the book is its sole redeeming quality. Whybray fills the remaining space with various speculations of scholars
about the origins of particular stories and passages (though he rarely commits to any particular view), arguments that cast doubt upon the historicity of the narratives, and arguments advancing his late date theory. He finds "evidence" of post-exilic authorship behind every bush. In spite of his claims to be committed to a synchronic analysis of the Pentateuch, it is surprising how frequently he falls into the very speculations regarding composition that he himself claimed to eschew. True, he manages for the most part to keep a healthy, skeptical distance from unsubstantiated theories, yet one gets the impression that perhaps he isn't fully cognizant of his frequent digressions from "the only fact available to us."
Throughout the book, the reader is bombarded with constant reminders that even though we are concerned with the Pentateuch in its final canonical form, we must not take it too seriously. After all, it is really just a work of fiction and nothing more. So eager is Whybray to make this qualification that in the opening paragraphs of his chapter on Genesis 1-11 he launches into a discussion of why the Genesis prologue should be viewed as a myth.7 He believes most of its elements were borrowed from the creation myths of the surrounding Mesopotamean cultures and that, typical of such stories, the Genesis narrative was concocted as a prologue to be tacked onto Israel's national history for the purpose of explaining her origin and relationship to the rest of the nations. Though not a historical account of actual events, the Genesis narrative was nevertheless supposed to be taken seriously by post-exilic Israel (the intended audience according to Whybray) because it is a parable containing timeless truths about the rebellious nature of mankind, the proliferation of sin in the world, sin's consequences, and the hope to be found in God's grace and benevolence. Whybray strongly suggests that the intention of the author was not only to give his audience general instruction about mankind's relationship to God, but also, consistent with his late 6th century dating, to address post-exilic Israel's situation directly by reminding them of their own disobedience and punishment through exile and giving them assur-
7 Whybray, however, avoids using the term "myth," for he says, "[it] is often applied to these stories; but since there is no agreement about the meaning of this term it is probably best to avoid it" (p. 30). I am using the term to describe Whybray's view for lack of a better word.
ance that in spite of their rebellion Yahweh has not completely abandoned them.
As grievous as Whybray's view of the historicity of the Genesis prologue is, one is almost glad that Whybray thinks the account is merely fictional once one learns how perverse and blasphemous his interpretation of it is. Genesis, according to Whybray, is the story of a God who created the world but then failed to maintain his dominion over it. His first mistake was that he thought he could frighten Adam and Eve into subjection by threatening them with death if they disobeyed his rules. But when a wily snake appeared on the scene and called God's bluff, Adam and Eve discovered they could eat of the forbidden fruit without dying after all. This humiliating defeat left God feeling even more insecure about his ability to control human beings, who continued to increase in alarming numbers. His desperate attempts to restrain them only met with failure after failure. Eventually he was forced to admit to himself that he had been short-sighted when he had made the world and decided that he must destroy it. But just when it seemed that all would be lost, faithful Noah appeared on the scene and saved God from total embarrassment.
Although Whybray does a better job of understanding the patriarchal narratives, he still insists that they are largely fictional. The alleged choppiness of the patriarchal narratives and their disjointed arrangement are, to his mind, evidence that they were artificially strung together in an effort to give the appearance of a continuous account. This clearly betrays the hand of an editor—perhaps a historical novelist who took originally unrelated stories, touched them up, and smoothed them out in an attempt to fabricate a family history portraying Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as blood relations. Interestingly, Whybray does concede that the Joseph story was an exceptional piece of prose that did not need to be tampered with; for he recognizes that the skillful way in which each subsequent event in Joseph's life logically unfolds so as to set up the reader for the powerful climax of the tale speaks for the narrative's unity and literary quality. He therefore thinks that the historical novelist was probably able to adopt the entire story as he originally found it.
Where did this alleged historical novelist obtain his material? Whybray argues that the stories must have been drawn from either the exilic or post-exilic period because none of the "preexilic parts of the Old Testament" dem-
onstrate any familiarity with the lives of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob.8 What criteria he uses to determine which books of the Old Testament should or should not be considered preexilic and why he assumes that the Pentateuch's antiquity should be mistrusted unless verified by the "preexilic parts" are not discussed. This is one example of how Whybray's higher-critical presuppositions, which are already biased against the antiquity of the Pentateuch, lead him to reach the desired late date conclusion.
Whybray concedes that the figure of Moses may be based on an actual historical person, but he thinks the stories surrounding Moses' character have been embellished and exaggerated to the point of reducing him to legendary rather than historical status. (The development of the legends surrounding King Arthur or Robin Hood would be comparable to what Whybray has in mind.) Neither is the account of Israel's wilderness wandering and eventual conquest of Canaan to be believed. Whybray entirely dismisses the existence of the tabernacle with the comment, "That such a massive structure could have been built and carried for many years through the desert is an obvious impossibility."9 He also attacks the idea that the Israelites immigrated into the land of Canaan, favoring instead the "internal development" hypothesis which proposes that the early Israelites were really an indigenous group of Canaanite descendents who broke away from the polytheistic Canaanite culture and settled in the less populated regions of the land where over time they developed their own sub-culture. As proof of Israel's polytheistic origins, Whybray cites Deuteronomy's extensive teachings on the exclusive worship of Yahweh. Why is this proof? Only a polytheistic people would have needed such stern monotheistic correctives!
Apparently, when the memory of Israel's humble origins had sufficiently faded, it then became possible for imaginative bards to glamorize her history with dramatic tales involving heroic personalities. One wonders at this point how it was possible that the post-exilic Jews so readily embraced the Pentateuch as an historical account of their national and religious heritage if so much of it was fabricated. How did the author get away with passing off his
8 Whybray cites Hosea 12:3-4, 12 as an exception.
9 Introduction, p. 129.
work as authentic? Here Whybray pauses to give the modern reader a short lesson in the psychology of the ancients. You must understand, he explains, that since these tales were set in the remote past far removed from the experience and memory of the post-exilic community, there was really no reason for the Jews to disbelieve them unless there existed within the community an oral tradition that directly contradicted them. Besides, it was fashionable in those days to possess an epic-like account of one's cultural origins, and a certain amount of embellishment was entirely expected. If you think it incredible that the Jews believed the stories of the Pentateuch, consider how gullibly they also swallowed the fantastic tales found in intertestamental Jewish literature! Besides, the post-exilic Jews desperately wanted to believe a message they found so relevant to their situation. It assured them that Yahweh was still the sovereign ruler of all the nations; it instructed them that if they continued in their obedience to Yahweh, he would continue to bless them.
As an interesting side-note, one of the scholars Whybray mentions in his discussion on the dating of the Pentateuch is George E. Mendenhall, whose study of ancient Near Eastern treaties between overlords and their vassal kings has shed light on the possible origins of the Pentateuchal idea of covenant. Mendenhall pointed out the amazing parallels between the content and structure of second millennium Hittite suzerainty treaties and the covenant at Sinai, both of which contain the following six elements: a preamble identifying the author (overlord) of the treaty; a historical introduction reciting the benevolent acts of the overlord toward the vassal; a list of stipulations that the over-lord imposes upon the vassal; the ratification and public proclaimation of the treaty; the list of divine witnesses to the treaty; and the blessings and cursings that will follow depending upon the vassal's obedience or disobedience to the stipulations. Mendenhall furthermore pointed out that even though Assyrian suzerainty treaties also existed in the first millennium, there is a closer resemblance between the Sinaitic covenant and the second millennium Hittite treaties in form and content, supporting a second millennium dating of the Exodus account.10
10 Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Pittsburgh: The Biblica Coloquium, 1955).
Whybray, in an effort to rebut these conservatives implications, flatly misleads his readers into thinking that Mendenhall was not yet aware of the existence of the first millennium treaties when he had made this observation, for he neglects to mention that Mendenhall based his statement on the significant differences he observed between second and first millennium suzerainty treaties. In his counterargument, Whybray only points out that the international treaty form was also used in the first millennium and from there speculates that Israel may have borrowed this format as late as the 7th century to support his own late date view.11 Furthermore, Whybray completely ignores the work of Meredith G. Kline and Kenneth Kitchen, whose further studies elaborating on the parallels between the Hittite treaties and the Sinaitic covenant have strengthened the case for a second millennium dating of the Pentateuch. 12
11 "However, like the Nuzi hypothesis, [Mendenhall's] theory, although at first widely accepted, was destined to have only a temporary success. It was pointed out on the basis of later discoveries that the international treaty form continued to be in use during the first millennium, many centuries later than the Hittite treaties, and that if Israel did in fact borrow the notion from elsewhere this borrowing could have taken place as late as the seventh century B. C." (Introduction, p. 21) (italics mine).
12 Kline demonstrates that what have commonly been known as "the two tables of the law" that Moses delivered to Israel from Sinai were really duplicate copies of one covenant, in keeping with the Hittite practice of making two treaty copies to be deposited in the sanctuaries of both lord and vassal as witnesses and reminders of their respective obligations. Another of Kline's contributions is in demonstrating the parallels between the Hittite treaty structure and the republication of the Sinaitic covenant in Deuteronomy. See Treaty of the Great King (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963).
Kitchen elaborates on the difference between first and second millennium treaty formats by showing that the former did away with all benevolent means of coercion—omitting the historical prologue and the blessings sanctions—and resorted to ruling the vassal solely by means of threats. The covenants of Exodus and Deuteronomy, with their recitation of the great redemptive acts of Yahweh on behalf of his people and list of blessings promised upon their faithful obedience to him, clearly resemble the second millennium treaties in their emphasis on the benevolence of the overlord as the chief motivation for keeping the stipulations. Furthermore, he observed that the second millennium treaties almost always listed the divine witnesses between the stipulations and curses while the first millennium treaties never did so; and that the second millennium treaties had a consistent ordering of its elements while the first millennium varied its order of elements. See Ancient Orient and the Old Testament (Chicago: IVP, 1966) and The Bible In Its World (Downers Grove: IVP, 1977). For his most recent treatment see "The Patriarchal Age," Biblical Archaeology Review 21 (Mar/Apr 1995): 52-56.
IV. Conclusion: The Implications of Whybray's Approach for the Future of Pentateuchal Studies
Whybray has jumped out of the frying pan of Wellhausenian and Gunkelian speculation and fallen into the fire of agnostic uncertainty and skepticism. He sees the flaws in nearly every theory of Pentateuchal origin and authorship proposed by higher-critical scholars past and present, yet he would rather wander in a scholastic no-man's-land with no place to lay his head than pitch his tent in the traditionalist camp of Mosaic authorship and divine inspiration. He adopts the theory of 6th century dating and single authorship of the Pentateuch almost by default, and though he consistently defends his position he is by no means dogmatic. He believes that all he can do is exhort the reader to deal with the Pentateuch simply as a phenomenon that stands before us, letting the text speak for itself. But this seemingly objective approach fails to do justice to the Pentateuch because the contents and message of the Pentateuch cannot be divorced from its divine origins without stripping it of its power and significance. By attacking the Pentateuch's claims about itself—its historicity, antiquity, authorship, and ultimately its authority—Whybray has pulled the rug out from under any meaning and relevance the Pentateuch might have for readers today.
Since Whybray dismisses the traditionalist view of a divinely inspired Pentateuch as absurd and scorns most higher-critical theories of the Pentateuch's origins as hopelessly inconclusive, and since he proposes that having come to terms with our ignorance on questions of origin we ought to confine ourselves to the study of the Pentateuch in its final form without hope of ever knowing the answers to those questions, one wonders whether the future holds any place for Pentateuchal (or even Old Testament) studies at all if Whybray's views were to prevail. If all that is left to "do" with the Pentateuch is study it in its final form, then what need do we have of that specialist called the Old Testament scholar, since he is not required to believe in the uniqueness of the Pentateuch as divinely inspired nor expected to interact with or to even take seriously the studies of past higher-critical scholars?
In his article "Today and Tomorrow in Biblical Studies,"13 Whybray makes this very point. He contends that there is really no need for the Old Testament scholar as a specialist in Old Testament studies; the idea is just a vestige from those days when the Old Testament was thought to have had special status as divine revelation. Whybray perceptively points out that liberals have been inconsistent in buying into the notion of an Old Testament specialist, and furthermore suggests that they have done so to the detriment of Old Testament scholarship. For the Old Testament scholar is neither a specialist in historiography, anthropology, sociology, literature nor linguistics. He is an amateur who tries to apply his sketchy understanding of each of these fields to the Old Testament with less than satisfactory results. Shouldn't he step aside and allow the task to be delegated to the experts who can do a much more competent job?
This might in the end lead to the concept of the "biblical" or "Old Testament scholar" becoming a thing of the past as professional ancient historians took note of the "historical" information provided by the Old Testament in the context of the study of ancient history, professional students of ancient Semitic literatures treated it as a simple regional variant, professional anthropologists made use of it as a source of information about anthropological phenomena, and so on. 14
The elimination of Old Testament studies altogether is the logical end of Whybray's views, and is really the logical end of any view that denies divine inspiration and places the Old Testament on a par with any other piece of ancient literature. For this reason Whybray's seemingly objective and reasonable proposal of focusing solely on the final form of the Pentateuch is a dangerous one. It is an approach that will, in the end, deliver the fatal blow to whatever remains of the unique status still associated with it. And once that status is lost and Old Testament studies is carved up and distributed to the
13 The Expository Times 100 (July 1989): 364-368.
14 Ibid., p. 364.
secular "professionals," we will soon find Old Testament studies to be in an even sadder state in the hands of those with an anti-religious agenda than it was when in the hands of those with an anti-conservative agenda.
Sherman Oaks, California
D. Moody Smith. The Theology of the Gospel of John. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995, 202pp., cloth/paper, $44.95/$12.95. ISBN: 0-521-35514-1/0-521-35776-4
This volume in the Cambridge Theology of the New Testament series features Duke University's (Durham, North Carolina) Johannine expert. For more than twenty years, Smith has been writing on the fourth gospel in summary yet serviceable fashion. The present volume is a handy précis of theological issues surrounding John's gospel as well as a pointer for those who follow on this ever increasing yet ever intriguing road pioneered by the Beloved Disciple.
Smith first summarizes the quest for the historical John. The plethora of suggestions for the origin of this gospel are brilliantly summarized in the space of ten pages (pp. 10-20). From Hellenism to Gnosticism, from Qumran to Judaism—each critical attempt to detect the milieu out of which the gospel arose is surveyed together with its peculiar inadequacies.
Next, Smith takes us on a narrative journey thorough the 21 chapters of the gospel itself (pp. 20-48). He provides a narrative commentary on the gospel which touches all the theological issues, but without penetrating any with profundity. Always lurking in the background is Smith's own attempt to get behind the narrative to the originating Johannine community. The evangelist, the characters in the gospel, even Jesus himself are ultimately unknowable; they are a mere pretext, to be stripped away in order to reveal the Johannine community hidden underneath. In other words, for Smith, narrative analysis
is but the latest critical means to a critical end—demythologize what the text means in order to reconstruct what the text meant to the original community. The theology of the gospel of John is an inventions construction by an early "Johannine" community of Christians. And so left-wing critical fundamentalism reconstructs the gospel in its own (current) image!
In the course of this presentation, we read the buzz words of the 60's and 70's: "paradox," "dialectic," sitz im Leben, "symbol." As late as 1995, Smith has not exercised the ghosts of his neo-orthodox past. Does he not know, Barth, Brunner, Tillich are dead!
There are occasional glimmers of insight: John 17 as a last will and testament (pp. 41, 42); salvation related to the death and resurrection of Christ (p. 81); the incarnation as an eschatological event (p. 97). But when one puts the book down, the gospel is as flat and tendentious as the "author" or "community" behind the text. We are left with the haunting question—is Jesus himself merely a symbol—a myth? Since "a true symbol participates in the reality it symbolizes but is not identical with it" (p. 166), perhaps the critical past has after all succeeded in swallowing up D. Moody Smith. Is Smith in fact any better than the Hellenizers, the Gnostics, the Essenes, the Judaizers—all of whom he dismisses when discussing the source of the gospel?
This small volume is a window on the critical fundamentalism of our era. As such, it is of limited value for the preacher of the text, although those majoring in agenda based liberal pretexts may find it useful.