1. GARDEN TEMPLE....................................................................................................................................................................3
2. NEW ABRAM..........................................................................................................................................................................51
3. THE ONE WHO GIVES LIFE..................................................................................................................................................54
4. NOVATIAN ON THE INCARNATION..................................................................................................................................62
5. JONATHAN EDWARDS, 1703-1758: APPRAISAL ON THE
TERCENTENARY OF HIS BIRTH..........................................................................................................................................63
6. BOOK REVIEW.......................................................................................................................................................................75
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It is particularly interesting that among the preceding cultic affinities drawn between Eden and Israel's temple was the observation that the word pair usually translated as "cultivate" ['abad] and "keep" [shamar] occur together in the Old Testament elsewhere referring only either to Israelites "serving" God and "guarding" (keeping) God's word (approximately 10 times), or to priests who "keep" the "service" (or "charge") of the tabernacle (5 times). Not only does Genesis 1-2 portray Adam as a kingly gardener but one who performs acts of worshipful obedience in doing so. Consequently, he is being portrayed as a priest in this task.
Not only was Adam to "serve" in and "guard" the initial stage of the Edenic sanctuary, but Genesis 1:28 affirms that he also was to subdue the entire earth: "And God blessed them . . . Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the
In actuality, Adam, as God's vice-regent, and his progeny were to put "the finishing touches" on the world God created in Genesis 1 by making it a livable place for humans. The penultimate goal of the Creator was to make creation a livable place for humans in order that they would achieve the grand aim of glorifying him. This penultimate goal would appear to be confirmed by Isaiah 45:18: "God formed the earth and made it . . . and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited" (likewise cf. Psalm 115:16). God's ultimate goal in creation was to magnify his glory throughout the earth by means of his faithful image bearers.
As we will see below, this is consistent with the notion in Babylonian and Egyptian tradition of people being created to serve their god in a temple and extend that god's glorious light by building more temples or widening the borders of an original temple. In Adam's case, however, it is more probable that he was to spread God's luminescent presence by extending the boundaries of the original Edenic temple outward into the earth. Furthermore, in contrast to ancient Near Eastern accounts, God did not create Adam and Eve because he was tired of the drudgery of providing for himself, but that humanity would reflect his glorious image in extending his sacred presence outward into the wider regions of the earth.3
2 See Meredith G. Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 55-56.
3 John Walton, Genesis, 186.
The following parallels from Assyria and Egypt (discussed below) show that typically images of gods were placed in the god's temple and that kings were viewed as living images of a god. Against this background and in the light of Genesis 1:26-28, Adam's commission to "cultivate" (with connotations of "serving") and "guard" in Genesis 2:15 as a priest-king is probably part of the commission given in 1:26-28.6 Hence, Genesis 2:15 continues the theme of subduing and filling the earth by humanity created in the divine image.7 This "ruling" and "subduing" "over all the earth" is plausibly part of a functional definition of the divine image in which Adam was made, though there is likely an additional ontological aspect of the "image" by which humanity was enabled to reflect the functional image.8 Just as God subdued the
5 Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology (New York: Harper and Row, 1962) 1:146-47.
6 I have found support for this link in Jeremy Cohen, Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1989) 18, who also cites James Barr and Claus Westermann in support.
7 So also Dumbrell, Search for Order, 24-26.
8 See Cohen, Be Fertile and Increase, 22-23, for evidence that God's "image" in Genesis 1:26a, 27 has both an ontological and functional aspect, though it is likely that the latter is the emphasis in Genesis 1 (which is also the emphasis of Walton, Genesis, 130-31).
In the light of the above, one can conclude that Adam's kingly and priestly activity in the garden was to be a beginning fulfillment of the commission in 1:28 and was not to be limited to the garden's original earthly boundaries but was to be extended over the whole world. In particular, for example, Adam's speaking and naming of the animals (Genesis 2:19) expresses part of his rule over the creation and reflects God's naming of parts of creation in Genesis 1 through his creative speech.10 The Qumran community represents the first extant interpretation making a link between Genesis 1:26, 28 and Genesis 2: "You molded [Adam], our [fa]ther, in the image of [your] glory . . . [in the gard]en of Eden, which you planted, y[ou] made him to rule . . . in order that he would walk in a glorious earth," and "he guarded."11
Similarly, that Adam and Eve were to become "one flesh" in 2:24 is certainly part of the beginning of the commission to be "fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth," further underscoring that humanity's function in the image of God as "male and female" (Gen. 1:27)12 was to be extended until the earth was filled with people performing this function. Accordingly, a significant increase in population would necessitate an expansion of the original sacred habitable dwelling of the first primal couple.13 In this regard, Matthew 19:4-6
10 Ibid., 31. Interestingly, Midrash Rabbah Gen. 17.4 says that the way Adam expressed being in the image of God (Gen. 1:26a) was by his ability to name the animals in Genesis 2:20. See Cohen, Be Fertile and Increase, 99, for other Jewish traditions making the same link between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.
11 4Q 504 = 4QWords of the Luminaries (frag. 8 Recto, lines 4-6); so also 4Q423 = 4Q Instruction g (frag. 2, line 2): "is it not a garden . . . to rule . . . And over it he made you (Adam) to rule, to till it and to guard it." Likewise, though not quite as clearly, 4Q418, fragment 81 (= 4Q423 8 + 24?) links Genesis 1:26, 28 with Genesis 2:15.
12 Cf. Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988) 113, 126.
13 This finds some support from Josephus, Antiquities 1.110, who says that God wanted the people at the tower of Babel to spread out over the earth in fulfillment of the Genesis 1:26, 28 commission "because of increasing population."
Jesus identifies humans as "male and female" in the image of God who were to begin to fulfill their commission in the Garden by maintaining their unity. Reproducing offspring in God's image is a natural implication of the first couple's unity.
I have found corroboration for the link between Genesis 1:26-28 and Genesis 2:15ff. in John Walton's Genesis commentary. Walton contends that Adam was much more than a gardener; he was to maintain the created order of the sacred space of the sanctuary. He also concludes that such maintenance indicates that the "cultivating" and "guarding" of Genesis 2:15 is an expression of the "subduing and ruling" of chapter 1.14
Consequently, as observed earlier, Adam's priestly role in the Garden was to "manage" or "care" for it by maintaining its order and keeping out uncleanness. This included "gardening" but likely went beyond it to managing the affairs of the sacred place where God's presence dwelt and maintaining its orderliness in contrast to the disordered space outside. This management included "guarding" Eden from the threat of unclean things entering into it and corrupting it. And would not this management also logically include Adam's teaching of God's Law (from Gen. 2:16-17) to Eve in order that they both would help one another to obey in order that spiritual chaos might not set in? The picture, therefore, is that of a "warden" managing a sacred ward. As the first couple had children, it is certainly plausible to suggest that the management of the Garden extended to teaching them God's Law and serving God by obeying it. Furthermore, Walton observes that if people were going to fill the earth [according to Genesis 1], we must conclude that they were not intended to stay in the garden in a static situation. Yet moving out of the garden would appear a hardship since the land outside the garden was not as hospitable as that inside the garden (otherwise the garden would not be distinguishable).
The intention seems clear that Adam was to widen the boundaries of the Garden in ever increasing circles by extending the order of the garden sanctuary into the inhospitable outer spaces.16 The outward expansion would include the goal of spreading the glorious presence of God. This would occur especially by Adam's progeny born in his image and thus reflecting God's image and the light of his presence, as they continued the mandate given to their parents and went out to subdue the outer country. The original purpose of an expanding Eden will be supported by our next chapter which be exclusively dedicated to tracing other passages in the Old Testament and early Judaism that interpret the Garden in this manner.
The Psalmist, commenting on the purpose of Adam and humanity in Psalm 8, also indicates that the ultimate goal of humanity was to fill the whole earth with God's glory. The Psalm begins in verse 1 and concludes in verse 9 with the same stated goal: "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth." This "majesty" is God's glorious "splendor" (cf. v. 1). The goal of divine splendor is to be achieved "in all the earth" by humanity whom God "has crowned with glory and majesty" by making him in his image (v. 5). In particular, Psalm 8 says God's glory is to be spread throughout the earth by humanity "ruling" over all "the works of thy [God's] hands" (vv. 6-8). Included in this rule was making "the enemy and revengeful cease" (v. 2), which the Aramaic translation identifies with the "author of enmity," the Devil. Genesis 1:28 is best taken as a command, possibly with an implied promise that
16 This may be implied by Isaiah 45:18: God "did not create it [the earth] a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited [as Eden was initially inhabited]."
the rationale of the commandment is that the world should be settled, because God . . . desires its settlement, as it is written, "He did not create it a waste but formed it for habitation" [Isa. 45:18]. And this is a great commandment for whose sake there exist all of the other commandments, for they were given to human beings and not to the ministering angels . . . And he who does not fulfill it annuls a positive commandment . . . because he himself demonstrates that he does not wish to fulfill God's desire to settle his world" (Sefer ha-Hinnukh).18
18 Cited from Cohen, Be Fertile and Increase, 195, who also summarizes Luther's perspective of Genesis 1:28a with similar import: "Defiance of the instruction to reproduce not only contravenes the will of God but subverts the order of God's creation, whose natural imperative our verse bespeaks" (Ibid., 307-8).
It should not be surprising to find some parallels to biblical ideas in the literature of ancient cultures surrounding Israel. The biblical writers were sometimes aware of the ideas reflected in this literature and sometimes intentionally presented their versions as the true ones in contrast and even contradiction to the others. The narrative of creation, especially the creation of humanity, would have been a prime place to point out the unique witness of biblical revelation. On the other hand, the very fact that this revelation is being set against the same general pagan conceptions means that there will also be some similarities between the two which mutually interpret one another. And, as we have noted earlier, the fact that unbelieving humanity is still in the image of God, distorted as that image is, indicates that their conceptions about the nature of deity and of humanity contain some truth. That unregenerate humanity can still have some glimmers of such truths is part of God's grace in natural revelation (e.g., see Rom. 1:20, which is set in the context of idolatry which follows).
For example, the notion that Adam was set in a sanctuary as a royal "image" of his God is an ancient concept found even outside Israel. The following examples of this show how natural it is that images of a god are placed in a temple after it has been constructed.19 Ashurbanipal II (883-859 B.C.) "cre-
Pharoah Seti I (1302-1290 B.C.) built for the Underworld god Osiris "a temple like heaven; its divine ennead are like the stars in it; its radiance is in the faces (of men) like the horizon of Re rising therein at early morning."22 The Egyptians believed that the sun god, Re, would empower other lesser deities to enter stone images placed in temples.23 Accordingly, an inscription from the Pyramid Age affirms that the Creator Ptah "fashioned the [lesser] gods . . . He installed the gods in their holy places . . . he equipped their holy places. He made likenesses of their bodies . . . Then the gods entered into their bodies of every wood and every stone and every metal."24 Ramses III (1195-64 B.C.) said that in the temple of the sun god Re, he "fashioned the gods in their mysterious forms of gold, silver, and every costly stone . . ."25 Indeed, "the King is a sacred image, the most sacred of the sacred images of the Great One . . ."26
21 As argued by Niehaus, No Other Gods.
22 Breasted, Ancient Records, Vol. III, 96-97 (¶ 232); likewise Ibid., II, 156 (¶ 375: "it [the temple] illuminated the faces [of people] with its brightness"), and almost identically III, 97 (¶ 236).
23 E. A. Budge, Book of the Dead (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1951) 164-66.
24 Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (New York/Evanston: Harper and Row, 1959) 46. Cf. also Budge, Book of the Dead, 72, 82, 87, 93-94, 98, 102, 106, 304.
25 Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, IV, 143 (¶ 250); so also with respect to the same Pharoah, see Ibid., Vol. IV, 114 (¶ 190); likewise cf. Ibid., Vol. IV, 15 (¶ 26) and 491 (¶ 958K).
26 R. O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969) 82 (Utterances 273-4, ¶ 407).
The Genesis portrayal of humans being created in the image of God and being placed in the sanctuary of Eden is even generally in line with the ancient Near Eastern practice in which images of the god were placed in a garden-like temple. There is a fascinating parallel from Mesopotamia, where "the
28 Similarly, the Sumerians not only believed that a god inhabited images but that human kings were living images of a god (so T. Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness [New Haven: Yale University, 1976] 37-40, 66, 71).
29 Ibid, 122 (Utterance 370, ¶ 647).
30 Ibid, 160 (Utterance 471, ¶ 920); so almost identically Ibid, 242 (Utterance 589, ¶ 1609).
31 So following here, in particular, Niehaus, No Other Gods.
32 Breasted, Ancient Records, Vol. III, 181 (¶ 411).
33 Ibid., Vol. III, 179 (¶ 406). Ramses II said of himself, "I have built it [Egypt] up with temples" (Ibid., III, 181 [¶ 411]), and "I made thee an august temple . . ." (Ibid., III, 181 [¶ 412]). So also with respect to Ramses III (Ibid., IV, 143 [¶ 250]).
34 So Shafer, "Temples, Priests, and Rituals," 22-23; Finnestad, "Temples of the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods," 229.
35 M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature. A Book of Readings (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976) 2:46.
As an image of the true God, in contrast to ancient Near Eastern priest-kings, Adam's priestly service and temple-expanding task also finds further striking parallel in ancient Near Eastern literature. Again, these similarities are only imperfect shadows of the genuine task described in Genesis 1-2. The notion of a human king created for the purpose of serving gods in a temple appears in an Akkadian prayer employed in dedicating the foundation stone of a temple:
When Anu, Enlil and Ea had a first idea of heaven and earth,
They found a wise means of providing support for the gods:
They prepared, in the land, a pleasant dwelling,
And the gods were installed in this dwelling: their principal temple.
Then they entrusted to the king the responsibility
of assuring them their regular choice offerings.
And for the feast of the gods, they established the required food offering!
The gods loved this dwelling!38
Enuma Elish VI. 7-8 asserts that Marduk would "create Man! (Upon him) shall the services of the gods be imposed"39 (twice more in the immediate context it is said that Ea "had created mankind" and "imposed the services of the gods upon them that they may be at rest" [VI. 33-36]). Such "services" most likely are conceived of as being performed within the temple of the gods, since the "service" enables the gods to be at "rest," a rest which we have seen occurs uniquely in a temple (on which see the above discussion of Enuma Elish VI.51-58). Another cosmological Akkadian text affirms that Ea "created the king, for the mainten[ance of the temples]; [He created] mankind for the doi[ng of the service of the gods (?)]."40 A similar text says, "let us create mankind. The service of the gods be their portion." Then the kind of "service" humanity is to perform is explained:
To place the hoe and the basket
Into their hands
For the dwelling of the great gods,
Which is fit to be an exalted sanctuary,
To mark off field from field,
. . .
To water the four regions of the earth (?),
To raise plants in abundance,
. . .
To fill (?) the granary,
. . .
39 Heidel, Babylonian Genesis, 46.
40 Lines 37-38 of an Akkadian text that Heidel, Babylonian Genesis, 65-66, titles "When Anu Had Created the Heavens."
To make the field of the Anunnaki produce plentifully,
To increase the abundance in the land,
. . .
To pour out cold water
In the great house of the gods, which is fit to be an exalted sanctuary.41
This text may refer to agricultural work within a temple or to an actual construction of a temple. The former appears to be the case because "the exalted sanctuary" is in existence before humanity's creation42 and because the directly following context of the quotation describes only horticultural tasks. It is not clear whether humanity performs this "service" both inside and outside the sanctuary, or whether the whole earth is considered a sanctuary in which the work on earth is performed. If the latter, the service in the sanctuary is to be performed throughout the entire earth. If the former, the work on earth is in some way inextricably linked with service in the sanctuary. Thus, these Babylonian texts provide background to understand better that Adam's agricultural role in Eden was a priestly function associated with service in a temple.
A similar text to the preceding from the Enuma Elish (VI.107-130) clarifies that cultic "service" in an initial sanctuary was to be widened to include "service" within other sanctuary-shrines throughout the land and likely beyond:
Let him [Marduk] exercise shepherdship over mankind, [his] crea[tures(?)].
Let them provide for their maintenance (and) let them take care of their sanctuaries.
. . .
42 So Ibid., 69, line 10.
A likeness of what he made (?) in heaven [let him make (?)] on earth.
Let him teach mankind to fear him (?).
Let the subjects be ever mindful of their god (and) their goddess.
. . .
Let offerings be brought for their god and goddess;
Let their god not be forgotten, (but) let them support (him).
Let them make their land shine by building shrines for themselves.
Let mankind stand (in awe) before our god.
. . .
Let his ways shine forth in glory . . .
. . .
In the brightness of his [Marduk's] bright light let them walk about constantly.
(upon) the people, whom he created . . . ,
He imposed the services of the gods . . .
Not only was humanity's "temple service" to extend beyond only one sanctuary-shrine to others but, as this occurred, the glorious light of the god would shine forth further because the human servants continued to perform their cultic tasks in "fear" of and faithfully in the presence of their god.
Perhaps not coincidentally, a similar extension of temple boundaries is observable in Egypt from the First Intermediate Period (ca. 2200) and onward; unlike the preceding Babylonian example of extending by building numerous sanctuaries, this involves the extension of the boundaries of only one temple:
"We find the yearning for limitation side by side with the desire to transcend and dissolve all boundaries." By expanding a divine cult complex, a king [Pharaoh] resolved this tension creatively, simultaneously transcending old limits and establishing new ones. As each king pushed the perimeter of walls and courtyards farther and farther in to what had previously been secular space, the area of the sacred was greatly extended.43
The process of temple expansion represented an attempt to extend the space of existing order into the outer chaotic sphere.44 In addition to widening a temple horizontally, the Egyptians also built various levels skyward as well as into subterranean areas.45 Such a phenomenon of outward extension may be due to the Egyptian belief that at the beginning of creation a small hillock arose, from which grew the entire creation. Since the temple symbolized the entire cosmos, and in particular the holiest place was conceived of as resting on this primordial mound,46 it would have made sense for kings to want to continue to extend the boundaries of their temples ever outward, in imitation of the cosmos that was expanded in the beginning by the Creator. The floor level of the temple gradually got higher as one approached the sanctuary in order to signify the primeval mound.47
The Egyptians employed other architectural features to portray the temple as a kind of expanding new creation. The temple pylons pictured the divine Pharaoh defeating his enemies, just as the Creator of the world had overcome chaos and "expanded the territory of cosmos."48 Imitation of the original cosmic expansion was also reflected by making the holiest place the narrowest and smallest part of the temple complex, with ever-widening sacred spaces as one proceeded into the outer courts.49 Just as light flashed over the earth at the
44 E. Hornung, Idea into Image (Princeton: Timken Publishers, 1992) 116-18.
45 Ibid., Shafer, "Temples, Priest, and Rituals," 7.
46 Ibid., 8, though Shafer does not draw the directly following conclusion.
47 Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, 77.
48 Finnestad, "Temples of the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods," 210.
49 Ibid., 211.
These examples of expanding temples were imperfect echoes of the original commission to the first human priest-king to subdue and rule over the earth and fill it with God's glory by widening the primal garden sanctuary. Genesis 1-2 also stands as a polemic against all imperfect attempts to fulfill this commission apart from faithful service to the true God.
As we will see, after Adam's failure to fulfill God's mandate, God raises up other Adam-like figures to whom his commission is passed on. We will find that some changes in the commission occur as a result of sin entering into the world. Adam's descendants, like him, however, will fail. Failure will continue until there arises a "Last Adam" who will finally fulfill the commission on behalf of humanity.
Some commentators have noticed that Adam's commission was passed on to Noah, to Abraham and on to his descendents:
And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:28).
51 Ibid., 213.
And God blessed Noah and his sons . . . "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth . . . be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it" (Gen. 9:1, 6-7).
And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so be a blessing; (Gen. 12:2) and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:3).
And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly . . . And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, . . . And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan . . . (Gen. 17:2, 6, 8).
. . . indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice (Gen. 22:17-18).
Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham (Gen. 26:3).
And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed . . . (Gen. 26:4).
And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, for the sake of My servant Abraham" (Gen. 26:24).
And may God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful
and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you; that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham (Gen. 28:3-4).
God also said to him, "I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you. And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you" (Gen. 35:11-12).
Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous (Gen. 47:27).
In fact, the same commission given to the patriarchs is restated numerous times in subsequent Old Testament books both to Israel and the true eschatological people of God. Like Adam, Noah and his children also failed to perform this commission. God then gave the essence of the commission of Genesis 1:28 to Abraham (Gen. 12:2; 17:2, 6, 8, 16; 22:18), Isaac (26:3-4, 24), Jacob (28:3-4, 14; 35:11-12; 48:3, 15-16), and to Israel (see Deut. 7:13 and Gen. 47:27, Exod. 1:7, Psalm 107:38, and Isa. 51:2, the latter four of which state the beginning fulfillment of the promise in Israel).52 The commission of
The commission is repeated, for example, to Abraham: (1) "I will greatly bless you, and (2) will greatly multiply your seed . . .; (3-5) and your seed will possess the gate of their enemies [= "subdue and rule"]. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed . . ." (Gen. 22:17-18).53 God expresses the universal scope of the commission by underscoring that the goal is to "bless" "all the nations of the earth." It is natural, therefore, that in the initial statement of the commission in Genesis 12:1-3 that God commands Abraham, "Go forth from your country . . . and so be a blessing . . . and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Commentators apparently have not noticed, however, something very interesting: that the Adamic commission is repeated in direct connection with building small sanctuaries! Just as the Genesis 1:28 commission was initially to be carried out by Adam in a localized place, enlarging the borders of the arboreal sanctuary, so it is likely not accidental that the restatement of the commission to Israel's patriarchs results in the following: God appearing to them (except in Gen. 12:8; 13:3-4); they "pitch a tent " (literally a "tabernacle" in the LXX)," on a mountain; they build "altars" and worship God (i.e., "calling on the name of the Lord," which probably included sacrificial offerings and prayer54) at the place of the restatement; the place where these activities occur is often located at "Bethel"the "House of God" (the only case of altar building not containing these elements nor linked to the Genesis 1 commission is Gen. 33:20).
The combination of these five elements occurs only elsewhere in the Old
54 A. Pagolu, The Religion of the Patriarchs (JSOT Supp 277; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998) 62.
Therefore, though "occasions for their sacrifices were usually a theophany and moving to a new place,"56 there appears to be more significance to the construction of these sacrificial sites. The patriarchs appear also to have built these worship areas as impermanent, miniature forms of sanctuaries that symbolically represented the notion that their progeny were to spread out to subdue the earth from a divine sanctuary in fulfillment of the commission in Genesis 1:26-28.57 Though they built no buildings, these patriarchal sacred spaces can be considered "sanctuaries" along the lines comparable to the first
56 Pagolu, The Religion of the Patriarchs, 85.
57 Later midrashic exegesis on the temple may have been partly inspired by Genesis 1:26-28 in its understanding that the temple brought the blessing of fertility, even of children. While some of these references are speculative and fanciful, they show, nevertheless, an awareness of some kind of a relationship between Genesis 1:28 and the temple. For example, Tanhuma Numbers (ed. Buber, 33) says, "Why was the Sanctuary compared to a couch? Because just as this couch serves fruitfulness and multiplication (i.e., sexual intercourse), even so the Sanctuary, everything that was in it was fruitful and multiplied." In addition, the same Jewish source affirms, "just as the forest is fruitful and multiplies, even so the Sanctuary, everything that was in it was fruitful and multiplied" (cited from R. Patai, Man and Temple, 90). So also Midr. Rab. Num. 11,3; b. Yoma 39b. "During the three months in which the Ark of the Lord was kept in the house of Obed Edom, each one of the wives of his eight sons gave birth to a child every two weeks. It was the Ark then, in which lay the power of fertility" (Patai, Ibid., 90, citing Y. Yeb. 6b.; cf. b. Berakoth 63b-64a; Midr. Rab. Num. 4, 20; Midr. Rab. Song of Songs 2, 5). Likewise, the existence of the temple and the rites performed therein procured blessing and fruitfulness for Israel (and implicitly the earth in general; so Patai, Man and Temple, 122-128). For example, "The world stands . . . on the temple service: how so? So long as the Temple service is maintained, the world is a blessing to its inhabitants and the rains come down in season . . . But when the Temple service is not maintained, the world is not a blessing to its inhabitants and the rains do not come down in season . . ." (The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan 4; I am grateful to Patai for alerting me to the preceding Jewish sources). That these sources are developing a biblical concept is evident from Haggai 1:9-11 that says Israel was unfruitful because they had been disobedient by not building the temple. Midr. Rab. Song of Songs 1.¶ 163 notes that building the first and second temple resulted in a radical increase of Israel's population.
These informal sanctuaries in Genesis pointed then to Israel's later tabernacle and temple from which Israel was to branch out over all the earth. Not many commentators hold this view. After writing the first draft of this chapter, I found that A. Pagolu, The Religion of the Patriarchs, is perhaps most clearly in agreement.58 He says that Isaac's building of an altar at Beersheba was because that place already "had a tradition as a patriarchal sanctuary," as a result of Abraham's similar earlier cultic activities, and, Pagolu contends, Jacob's subsequent similar activities appear to confirm this (for Abraham's activities at Beersheba, see Gen. 21:33; 22:19, and for Jacob's, see Gen. 46:1-14). Pagolu adds that, in addition to Isaac building this site because of a divine theophany and moving to a new area for the purpose of worship, "it is possible to suggest that building an altar at Beer-sheba, the southernmost border of the promised land, may have represented not only a claim to the land but also a legitimation of the sanctuary for later Israel."59
Geerhardus Vos agrees that the theophanies at these altar sites prepared for the more permanent theophany at the Jerusalem temple. He makes the astounding, and as far as I can tell, unique claim that these episodes not merely point to a future and greater temple but represent "the renewal of the paradise-
59 Pagolu, The Religion of the Patriarchs, 70, on which see further; similarly with respect to Genesis 12:6-8, see U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, Pt. 2 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1964) 328-329. Cassuto, ibid., 325-326, argues that the worship site at the "oak of Moreh" in Shechem that Abraham established had become a "sanctuary," at least by the time Jacob went there and performed cultic rituals in preparation for re-establishing another similar site at Bethel (Gen. 35:1-15). Cassuto also identifies the site with the place where Israel later set up an altar in Deut. 27:5-7 which is inextricably linked there with Israel's tabernacle (on which cf. Josh. 8:30-35). A. Dillmann, Genesis: Critically and Exegetically Expounded (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 6th edition 1892) 2:15, says with respect to Genesis 12:7 (and implicitly of the other patriarchal altar building episodes) that "the building of a sanctuary (subsequently in Jerusalem or Bethel) was a less simple form of the same practice" performed by the patriarchs and that these patriarchal activities "were regarded as patterns for a later time." See also S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis (Westminster Commentaries; London: Methuen & Co., 1904) 143, who says that these sites "in later times were regarded as sanctuaries" because of the earlier altar building activities of the patriarchs.
That these miniature sanctuaries adumbrated the later temple is also suggested by the facts that "before Moses the altar was the only architectural feature marking a place as holy" and that later "altars were incorporated into the larger [structural] sanctuaries, the tabernacle and the temple."61 The small sanctuary in Bethel also became a larger sanctuary in the northern kingdom of Israel, though it subsequently became idolatrous and was rejected as a true shrine of Yahweh worship.62
The result of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob building altars at Shechem, between Bethel and Ai, at Hebron, and near Moriah was that the terrain of Israel's future land was dotted with shrines. This pilgrim-like activity "was like planting a flag and claiming the land"63 for God and Israel's future temple, where God would take up his permanent residence in the capital of that land.64 Thus, ______________________
61 Tremper Longman, Immanuel in Our Place, 16. While some commentators acknowledge that some of these patriarchal episodes involve the construction of small sanctuaries, they do not associate them with Israel's later large-scale temple (so, e.g., H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960] 2:781, 918, with respect to Genesis 28 and 35).
62 See Amos 7:13. Amos is told, "no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king . . ." (so see H. Gunkel, Genesis [Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997] 313; B. Vawter, On Genesis [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1977] 311; and W. S. Towner, Genesis [Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001] 139. Cf. also 1 Kgs. 12:28-29 and Hosea 10:5).
63 Longman, Immanuel in Our Place, 20 (and, similarly, Pagolu, The Religion of the Patriarchs, 70). The Talmud affirmed of Genesis 28:13 that God "rolled up the whole of the land of Israel and put it under . . . Jacob, [to indicate to him] that it would be very easily conquered by his descendants" (b. Chullin 91b).
64 Later Judaism held the similar view that the patriarchal altar building sites were the place of the future temple or that at these sites the patriarchs had visions of Solomon's temple and of the eschatological temple: for Abraham cf. Targ. Gen. 22:14; Midr. Sifre Deut., Piska 352; Midr. Tanhuma Gen. 4.41; Midr. Rab. Gen. 56.10; Pesikta Rabbati, Piska 39; for Jacob see Midr. Sifre Num 119; Midr. Tanhuma Gen. 7.9; Midr. Rab. Gen. 69.7; Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, chap. 35. Cf. Ladder of Jacob 5:8: "around the property of your [Jacob's] forefathers a palace will be built, a temple in the name of . . . (the God) of your fathers."
Abraham, after receiving the Genesis 1 promissory commission, went "to the mountain on the east of Bethel ["House of God"], and pitched his tent . . . and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord" (Gen. 12:8; so likewise Gen. 13:3-4). Sometimes mention is made only of the commission and of the tent and altar (Gen. 13:18; 26:24-25). Only an altar is cited together with the promise in Gen. 22:9-18, though there the site is also called "the mountain of God," a name often attached by synecdoche to
65 In addition to the subsequent temple built in Bethel, Israel's tabernacle subsequently came to rest for a long time in Shiloh, which was located near Bethel and Shechem (so Judges 21:19), locations where Abraham had set up shrines. The tabernacle remained there, at least, during the time of Joshua and the Judges (on which see the references to "Shiloh" in Joshua, Judges, and 1 Samuel). This would be another example of a smaller sanctuary being succeeded by a bigger one. There is some debate about whether or not an actual temple structure was built there, since 1 Samuel employs language apparently more fitting for a temple than a tabernacle: e.g., 1 Sam. 1:9, "Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord" (so likewise 1 Sam. 3:3; the word is hecal, used predominately of Israel's temple structure or God's heavenly temple but never of the tabernacle). Most likely, though, there was only a tabernacle in Shiloh, since the phrase "house of the Lord" and "house of God" is also used in 1 Sam. 1:7, 24 and 3:15 and the same phrase was also used of the tabernacle (Exod. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 23:18; Josh. 6:24; 1 Chron. 6:48; cf. "house of my God" in Josh. 9:23). Also, 1 Sam. 2:22 speaks of "the doorway of the tent of meeting," likely the same location referred to in 1:9. Furthermore, Ps. 78:60 summarizes God's dwelling in Shiloh as being a tabernacle: God "abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh, the tent which he had pitched among men." Even if there were some kind of temple structure, 1 Samuel 2:35 says that God's dwelling in Shiloh was not an "enduring house" but was to be succeeded by one which would be.
Though a "mountain" or "hill" is not explicitly associated with Bethel in the Jacob narratives, it is likely the same or, at least, near the same location of Abraham's earlier similar experiences (notice that "go up to Bethel" occurs twice in Gen. 35:1, 3 in the introduction to the narrative of Jacob's experience at Bethel). When the divine promises of blessing are first made to Jacob (28:13-14), they are preceded by his dream of a "stairway" connecting heaven and earth and angels ascending and descending on it and God appearing beside it (28:12). Jacob responds by saying, "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven" (28:17). He then sets up a "pillar, and poured oil on its top" (equivalent to building an altar) and names the place "Bethel" (28:18-19). He concludes by declaring that "this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God's house" (28:22). This statement indicates that from the
67 Longman, Immanuel in Our Place, 45. This point may be enhanced by rabbinic tradition that held that Eden was located near Mount Moriah (Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer 20; Midr. Pss. 92:6).
68 Bruce Vawter, On Genesis, 257.
This episode further links the altar construction of the patriarchs with the notion of "temple," since Israel's later temple was the place in all of the world where heaven was linked to the earth, particularly the "Holy of Holies" that represented God's invisible presence in heaven. It is helpful in this respect to recall that the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies was considered God's "footstool," conjuring up the picture of God sitting on his throne in heaven with his legs extending to Israel's temple on earth (Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:49; cf. also Ps. 99:5; 110:1; a "footstool" was attached to Solomon's "throne" in imitation of God's throne [2 Chron. 9:18]). Indeed, Bethel became the site of "the ark of the covenant of the Lord" during the time of the Judges, continuing apparently into the time of Samuel. This means, of course, that the tabernacle was likewise there, since Phineas, Aaron's grandson, served as high priest at Bethel, and Israel "offered burnt offerings and peace offerings" during his tenure (see Judges 20:18-28; 1 Sam. 7:16; 10:3).
The associations with a temple in Genesis 28 are enhanced by the ancient Near Eastern associations of "stairway-like" structures that connected heaven to earth, allowing heavenly beings to descend and dwell in a temple.70
70 In Mesopotamian mythology, a messenger of the gods would use a stairway to move from a heavenly realm to an earthly or netherworld sphere. "It is this same stairway that is architecturally depicted in the famous ziggurats that adjoined temples in Mesopotamian cities, designed to offer a way for the gods to descend to the temple [on earth] to be worshipped" (Walton, Genesis, 571; likewise, J. Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis [ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1910] 377-378; and E. A. Speiser, Genesis [Anchor Bible; Garden City: Doubleday, 1982] 219-220). Typically at the stairway's top was a gate to heaven and at the bottom was a temple for the divine being to rest in and be refreshed after the journey down from heaven (ibid., 373-374). Indeed, the Hebrew word "stairway" (sullam) is cognate to the Akkadian simmiltu that was used to refer to a heavenly "stairway" linked to a temple (Ross, Creation and Blessing, 488-489). Fishbane, Text and Texture, 115, sees the Genesis 28 episode as a "counterpoint" to the "temple-tower" of Babel.
With respect to the expectation of Israel's eschatological temple, the Qumran Temple Scroll says, "during the day of [the new] creation . . . I [God] shall create my temple, establishing it for myself for ever, in accordance with the covenant which I made with Jacob at Bethel"! (11Q19 XXIX, 8-9, my translation). The "covenant" refers to the threefold promise God made to Jacob at Bethel, which, as we have seen, is the reapplication of the Adamic commission: (1) that God would "be with" Jacob and his seed and "keep" them and "bring them back" (2) in order to possess the promised land (Gen. 28:13, 15); (3) that his seed would "spread out" to the four points of the compass, so that "in you and your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (28:14).
Thus, Qumran interprets that the future establishment of Israel's eschatological temple will be the fulfillment of this threefold promise and repeated Adamic commission.72 Furthermore, this will take place at the time of the new "creation," as a recapitulation of the primal Edenic temple within which Adam and his seed should have carried out their commission by spreading out over the earth. Quite intriguingly, Philo, the first century philosophical theologian, understands the incipient sanctuary building episode at Bethel to have fulfillment throughout the earth in all saints who become cleansed by God's word and, consequently, "become a house of God, a holy temple, a most beauteous abiding-place" (On Dreams, i.148-49).73
For all or some of these reasons, the Aramaic translation of the Old Tes-
72 See J. Kampen, "The Eschatological Temples of 11QT," in Pursuing the Text, Studies in Honor of B. Z. Wacholder (JSOT Supp. 184; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), ed. by J. C. Reeves and J. Kampen, 85-97, for debate about whether or not one or two temples is spoken of in this Qumran text.
73 On which see O. Michel, "nao/," TDNT IV, 886.
The holy site established by Jacob at "Bethel" near "Haran" in Genesis 28 and 35 is the clearest of the patriarchal sanctuary building episodes, which is enhanced by its location at or near the second altar built by Abraham (cf. Gen. 12:8, where the vicinity of "Bethel [House of God]" and "Haran" [Gen. 12:4] are also mentioned). In this respect, Genesis 28:11 introduces the narrative there by saying, Jacob "came to the place [maqom]," which may indicate that this site was already considered holy because of Abraham's repeated earlier worship there, which itself is twice referred to as "the place [maqom]" in Genesis 13:3-4 (e.g., note "the place of the altar" in 13:4).75
In keeping with the thesis that the patriarchal shrines both recalled the original temple in Eden and anticipated the tabernacle and temple, it is not likely coincidental that in the seven instances where the patriarchs build their holy places, "tree[s]" are present or close by on four occasions (Gen. 12:6; 13:18; 22:13; 35:876), though all of them probably had a significant arboreal
75 In support of this point, see also J. Gamberoni, "MwqDm," TDOT, VIII, 538; the same word is used of the first place that Abraham set up an altar probably with the same notion of "sacred place" (following Driver, Genesis, 146). This suggestion is enhanced by observing that, after 28:11, the Hebrew word "place" occurs seven more times in Genesis 28 and 35 with reference to God appearing to Jacob there or with reference to Jacob calling the site "Bethel" ("House of God"). This use of "place" as a special sanctuary site takes on even more significance when it is remembered that the same word not untypically refers to the tabernacle and temple, or things related to the temple, later in the OT (on which see J. Gamberoni, "MwqDm," TDOT, VIII, 537-543).
76 The Hebrew word for "thicket" in Genesis 22:13 occurs six other times in the OT, three of which refer to a "thicket of the forest [or tree]" (Ps. 74:5; Isa. 9:18 [MT = 9:17]; 10:34).
Though Noah precedes Abraham and his sons, it is more instructive for our purposes to discuss his significance now, rather than earlier, against the background of what took place with Abraham and his descendants. That "Noah built an altar to the Lord" (Gen. 8:20), also in direct connection with God's re-application of the Adamic commission (Gen. 9:1, 7; cf. 8:17), indicates that this also may have been an even earlier inchoate temple-building event. The following observations only enhance this suggestion. First, he "offered burnt offerings on the altar." Second, these offerings were a "soothing aroma" before the Lord. The only other place where "burnt offerings" (in singular) are a "soothing aroma" to God are the offerings in the tabernacle.79 Third, Noah offers these sacrifices on a mountain (in the mountain range of Ararat). Fourth, the distinction between "clean and unclean" animals is made for the first time
78 Longman, Immanuel in Our Place, 21. Claus Westermann, Genesis 12-36, 154-157, 181, contends that the trees at these sites indicate an "early type of sanctuary" but not a temple, since there is no "cultic institution, personnel, or building." Nevertheless, there can still be the essence of a "temple" without these latter three formal elements, as we have argued above in our attempt to demonstrate that Eden was functionally a temple. Indeed, just as Adam was a priestly figure, so likely are the patriarchs. Hence, it is better to view the patriarchal worship sites, like Eden, as inchoate or embryonic sanctuaries or informal temples, pointing to Israel's later tabernacle and temple.
79 So 13 times in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, though a different Hebrew word for "burnt offering" is used; offerings as a "soothing aroma" [reach nichoach] is found over 40 times with respect to the tabernacle and temple in the Pentateuch and Ezekiel.
Israel's encounter with God at Mount Sinai is presumably another experience of worship at a sacred location that approximates a temple site. First, some of the same things seen with the sanctuary building of the patriarchs appear here too. For example, Israel is to worship on a mountain (Exod. 3:12), though Sinai is never called "house of God." In addition, the Sinai episode exhibits other features typically associated with Israel's later tabernacle or temple.
First, Sinai is called "the mountain of God" (Exod. 3:1; 18:5; 24:13), a name associated with Israel's temple on Mount Zion.81
Second, just as with the tabernacle and temple, so Mount Sinai was divided into three sections of increasing sanctity: the majority of Israel was to remain at the foot of Sinai (Exod. 19:12, 23), the priests and seventy elders
81 E.g., see "mountain of the Lord" as a virtual synonym for "house of God" in Isaiah 2:2 and Micah 4:2; for almost identical names, see below.
Third, just as an altar was in the outermost section of the temple, so an altar was built at the lowest and least sacred part of Sinai, where Israel "offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. And Moses took half the blood and . . . sprinkled [it] on the altar" (Exod. 24:5-6). The temple atmosphere of this text is apparent from observing that the phrase "burnt offering[s]" occurs approximately thirty-eight times together with "peace offerings" in the Old Testament, and the vast majority refer to sacrifices in the tabernacle or temple (though even some of the remaining uses may be linked to a sanctuary setting: e.g., Judges 20:26; 21:4, 1 Sam. 10:8; 13:9). Likewise, the majority of the numerous uses of each of the two phrases by themselves refer to the same temple context.
Fourth, not only does the top part of Sinai approximate the Holy of Holies because only Israel's "high priest," Moses, could enter there, but it was the place where God's theophanic "cloud" and presence "dwelt" (Exod. 24:15-17; for Moses as a "high priest" see Philo, Vit. Mos. 2.75). Significantly, the only other times in all of the Old Testament that God's presence is spoken of as a "cloud dwelling" is with respect to God's presence above the tabernacle (Exod. 40:35; Num. 9:17-18, 22; 10:12). Even the word "dwell" (shakan) could be rendered "to tabernacle" (mishkan) and the word "tabernacle" is the noun form of this verb (which is used with the verb in three of the four preceding texts). So also, 1 Kings 8:12-13 says that God "would dwell in the thick cloud" in the temple completed by Solomon. Furthermore, the "ten commandments" and the "ark" are created at the top of Sinai (Deut. 10:1-5), just as later they find their place in the inner sanctum of the temple, once again in God's presence.
Fifth, earlier in Exodus God's presence at Sinai was depicted as a "cassia tree [seneh, or "bush"] burning with fire, yet the cassia tree was not consumed" (Exod. 3:2). In the light of the parallels already adduced, this "unconsumed burning tree" may be the proleptic equivalent to the lampstand-
As in the case of the temporary patriarchal shrines, so the Siniatic holy place is linked to development of the themes found in Genesis 1:28. God sends Moses to deliver Israel out of Egypt's womb because the embryonic seed of Jacob has come to full term, in fulfillment not only of the Abrahamic promises but also of the promissory Adamic commission:
"But the sons of Israel were fruitful and swarmed greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them."83
In this respect, subduing the land of Canaan is also mentioned (Exod. 3:8, 17). Not surprisingly, there is also a link with the promise to "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (Exod. 3:6, 15-16).84
In the light of the association of Sinai as a temple, it is hardly accidental that Revelation 11:19 later alludes to the theophanic phenomena at Sinai in describing the opening of the heavenly Holy of Holies at the end of history, when "the ark of his covenant" will be revealed ("there came about lightnings and sounds and thunders").85 Jewish tradition likewise believed that at the
83 See Exodus 1:7, where the italicized words represent the same Hebrew as Genesis 1:28; "swarmed" comes from the development of Genesis 1:28 in Genesis 9:7, where the commission is passed on to Noah; cf. similarly Exodus 1:12.
84 See Spatafora, From the "Temple of God" to God as the Temple, 28, 31, who, on the basis of some of the above similar observations, recognizes that Israel's temple was symbolic of Mount Sinai.
85 For the allusion to Sinai in Revelation 11:19, see R. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1993) 202-4.
In this light, Sinai was an appropriate place for God to show to Moses "the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture" in order that they would construct it exactly as it was "shown" to Moses (Exod. 25:9; cf. 25:40). Hence, once Israel leaves the stationary sanctuary of Sinai, the commission is passed on to them to build the mobile tabernacle in order that God's glorious presence would continue to "dwell among them" during their wilderness wanderings (Exod. 25:8). The building of the tabernacle itself would be a step toward the construction of the immovable temple in Jerusalem.
What appears implicit with the patriarchs and with Moses at Sinai becomes explicit with Israel's tabernacle and temple. 1 Chronicles narrates David's preparations for building the temple that Solomon will accomplish. David's preparatory actions include all the same elements found with the small-scale temple building activities of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which confirms that their building activities were, indeed, miniature versions of, or pointers to, a later sanctuary.
David begins the preparations on a mountain (Mount Moriah); David experiences a theophany (he sees "the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven;" so 1 Chron. 21:16; 2 Chron. 3:1). At this site "David built an altar to the Lord . . . and offered burnt offerings . . . And he called to the Lord" (1 Chron. 21:26). Furthermore, David calls the place "the house of the Lord God" (1 Chron. 22:1) because this is the site of Israel's future temple to be prepared by David and built by Solomon (1 Chron. 22; 2 Chron. 3:1).
Now we can see more clearly that the altar building activities of the
patriarchs were constructions of small-scale sanctuaries that find their climax
with the larger scale construction of Israel's temple. The episode in 1 Chronicles
21 particularly mirrors the one with Jacob, where also God and angels appear
As with the patriarchs, there are also links in the Davidic narrative with Genesis 1:28, though not as explicitly. In direct connection with David's preparations for the building of the temple in 1 Chronicles 29:10-12, he praises God:
'Blessed art Thou, O Lord . . . Thine . . . is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion . . . Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all . . . Thou dost rule over all . . . and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone.'
David uses language synonymous to that of Genesis 1:28 to praise God himself because he is the one who "makes great and strengthens" his human vice-regents to rule under his hand. Then Solomon is designated in the following verses as the example par excellence of such a vice-regent: "Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king . . . And the Lord highly exalted ______________________
87 Targum Pseudo-Jonathon Gen. 2:7 says that God created Adam partly of "dust from the site of the sanctuary," which he then identifies with Mount Moriah (Targum Ps.-Jon. Gen. 3:23).
2 Samuel 7 (= 1 Chron. 17) closely links the need to build a temple (7:2-13) with the following aspects of Genesis 1:28: (1) ruling and subduing (7:9-16), and (2) a blessing on God's kingly vice-regent (7:29). It is also not unexpected, therefore, that 2 Samuel 7:9, "I will make you a great name," would allude to Genesis 12:2, "I will . . . make your name great." Accordingly, it is natural that the overall purpose is linked to God giving "rest" to Israel's king from his enemies (7:1, 11). This prophecy is fulfilled only partially by Solomon, however, since 2 Samuel 7:10-16 says that the coming kingdom and temple will last forever,88 which was not true with Solomon's and his descendants (Exod. 15:17-18 also affirms the same thing of the coming kingdom and, implicitly, of the temple, to which allusion is made in 2 Sam. 7:10, 12-13).
That Noah, the patriarchs, Moses, and David were building nascent temple structures is further apparent from noticing that the same embryonic temple-building pattern occurs when the remnant of Israel returns from Babylon to
Like Solomon's temple, Israel's second temple did not fulfill the prophecy of Exodus 15:17-18 and 2 Samuel 7:10-16. Therefore, Exodus 15, 2 Samuel 7, and subsequent prophets foresaw an eschatological temple, the ideal descriptions of which both the first and second temples fell short. Not only were these two temples not eternal, but we will see later that they could not fulfill the end-time expectations for other reasons.
Israel's prophesied eschatological temple has the same associations as most of the preceding temple constructions. In Leviticus 26:6-12, allusion is made to Genesis 1:28 in direct connection to the erection of the tabernacle in Israel's midst: if Israel is faithful, they will defeat their enemies in the land, and
"I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you . . . Moreover, I will make My tabernacle among you . . . I will also
walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people."90
Ezekiel 36-37 makes the same link: after promising that God would restore Israel and "multiply men," and make them "increase and be fruitful" (36:10-11), he also promises a "multiplication" of fruitfulness (36:29-30), so that Israel's formerly desolated land will "become like the garden of Eden" in which God "will increase their men like a flock" (cf. 36:35-38). Then, in di-rect development of these preceding ideas and of Leviticus 26:6-12 (!)91, Ezekiel 37:26-28 again refers to that aspect of the promise of "multiplying them" and ties it to Israel's temple:92
"It will be an everlasting covenant with them; And I will . . . multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place [or "tabernacle"] also will be over them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever."93
Strikingly, there is also an association of an eschatological Eden with an end-time temple (Ezek. 36:35), which Ezekiel later identifies with the latter-day temple in chapters 40-48, which is also depicted with imagery from Eden (e.g., see 43:7-12)! While Leviticus 26 and Ezekiel 37 could be read as prophesying God's tabernacling presence in a temple structure, it is just as possible, if not preferable, to understand them as foretelling a time when the temple will be, not a physical handmade house but God's manifest presence alone
91 See Cohen, "Be Fertile and Increase," 32-33 for fuller substantiation of the allusion to Leviticus 26.
92 Marten H. Woudstra, "The Tabernacle in Biblical-Theological Perspective," in New Perspectives on the Old Testament (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1970) 98, though he does not mention Leviticus.
93 Note the further link between Ezekiel 36:28-30 and 37:27 in the common phrase "you will be My people, and I will be your God;" cf. Ezekiel 11:16-20 which may also allude to Leviticus 26.
What indicates that this tabernacle is not to be like the former, smaller physical structures is the phrase in Ezekiel 37:27: "My dwelling place also will be over [preposition 'al] them." Apparently, at the least, the new tabernacle will extend over all of God's people who have been "multiplied" and "shall live on the land," that is, living throughout the land of promise (on which see 37:24-28)!95 That the temple's worldwide goal is being achieved is alluded to in verse 28: "the nations will know that I am the Lord" (both in judgment and in "blessing" those who believe).
95 So Woudstra, "Tabernacle in Biblical-Theological Perspective," 98. We will see later that the New Testament understands Ezekiel 3:26-28 to refer to the Church as the gathered people of God wherever they may dwell on the earth (2 Cor. 6:16), in heaven (Rev. 7:15) or in the new cosmos (Rev. 21:3). See Darrell I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) 421, who agrees that the preposition 'al is to be translated "over them" but sees this only as a possible reflection of the glory of the Lord that resided over the tent of meeting in the wilderness. The usual rendering of the preposition when not designating a logical function ("because, on the ground of, etc.") is "upon, over, on" (see BDB, 752 ff.). Notions of "by, beside, together with" are less usual but certainly possible, depending on context. The context in the present passage may favor the usual use though it permits "with" as well. The use of this preposition directly following the noun "tabernacle" (mishkan, connoting that the mishkan is "over" something else) occurs only here. Elsewhere (approximately 36 times, almost exclusively in Exodus and Numbers) the noun always follows the preposition and almost always refers to something being "over" the "tabernacle," often the glorious presence of God. The unique use in Ezekiel appears to indicate that God's latter-day presence will become equated with the tabernacle and that it will extend not merely in the midst of but "over" all his people.
16 "And it shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land," declares the LORD, "they shall say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' And it shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again.
17 "At that time they shall call Jerusalem 'The Throne of the LORD,' and all the nations will be gathered to it, for the name of the LORD in Jerusalem; nor shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart.
18 "In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance."
Israel will finally fulfill the Genesis mandate "to multiply and increase" at the time of her latter-day restoration (Jer. 3:16). The fact that Gentiles will stream in suggests that they also will play a role in fulfilling that commission. Though this fulfillment is coupled with a promise of a future temple, it is one that will not be like any earlier structures. Not even the centerpiece of the old temple, the ark of the covenant, will exist in the renewed Jerusalem. Only God's presence will exist as the new sanctuary.
The ark represented the special manifestation of God's ruling presence that extended from heaven to earth. The ark is repeatedly called God's "footstool" (1 Chron. 28:2; Ps. 99:5; 132:7). The Israelites pictured God to be sitting on a throne in heaven with his feet extending to the ark as his footstool in the earthly temple (Isa. 66:1, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool;" 2 Kgs. 19:15; Lam. 2:1). A "footstool" was attached to Solomon's
Thus, the ark and God's heavenly throne were inextricably linked.97 Jeremiah 3 says, not that a future cultic structure in Jerusalem will be the place of God's presence, but the entire future Jerusalem itself will be called "the throne of the Lord." The reason for this is that the essence of the old temple, God's ruling presence, will be expressed in an unfettered way at the endtime.
As we will see, the reason that the ark in the temple will have waned in significance when the Genesis 1:28 commission is finally fulfilled is that there will be a greater temple with a greater glory than a mere physical one, not only expanding to encompass all of Jerusalem (thus the point of Jer. 3:17) but the entire earth, as other biblical texts will testify.
Despite the many similarities between the original commission in Genesis 1 and that given to Abraham and his Israelite seed, some differences exist. Before Adam's disobedience, he would have fulfilled the "subduing and ruling" part of the commission by demonstrating sovereignty through cultivating the earth and having mastery over all the creatures of the earth, including the satanic "serpent" who existed outside the Garden and who would subsequently enter into it. After Adam's sin, the commission would be expanded to include renewed humanity's reign over unregenerate human forces arrayed against it. Hence, the language of "possessing the gate of their enemies" is included, which elsewhere is stated as "subduing the land" (note here Num. 32:22, "and the land is subdued before the Lord," where the same word [cabash] is used for "subdue" as in Gen. 1:28).98 The mention of "all the nations of the
98 So Wright, Climax of the Covenant, 23.
Another difference in the repetition of the Genesis 1 commission is that it is now stated formally as a promise,99 with the commission being implied. That the aspect of the "commission" is still retained is apparent from the imperatives introducing the commission in Genesis 12:1-3: "Go forth from your country . . . be a blessing." The implication is that humanity cannot carry out this commission on its own, but God will enable them in some way to perform it.
God's assurance that "I am with you" is not formulated until the promise is repeated to Jacob. This assurance is the basis for God's promise and commission to spread out in order that his tabernacling presence would spread (see with respect to Isaac [Gen. 26:24], Jacob [Gen. 28:15], and Moses [Exod. 3:12]). The divine assurance "I am with you" is central to the task of extending the "temple" of God's presence, as is apparent from noticing that this forms part of God's promise and commission to Isaac (Gen. 26:24), to Jacob (Gen. 28:15), and to Moses (Exod. 3:12). It was this very presence that provided enablement of the task and assured the fulfillment of the promise.100 In response to God's presence, Israel was "to walk in his ways and to keep his commandments" in order to fulfill the original Adamic commission: to "live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it" (Deut. 30:16). Ultimately, only if God "circumcised their heart" would they be able to love and obey him, continue in his presence, and inherit the promise and truly "live" (Deut. 30:5-6, 16).
100 The same promise could be made to other individual Israelites other than the patriarchs, e.g., see 1 Chron. 4:10: "Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from harm, that it may not pain me!' And God granted him what he requested."
God pronounces the same accompaniment formula when he commissions Jeremiah and enables him to be a "prophet to the nations" (1:5) and "to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant" (1:10; for the formula, see 1:8, 19). God speaks the same formula to Israel when he tells them that his purpose in regathering them from exile was to renew their commission to be a "witness" to the nations about his purpose in creating "new things" (Isa. 43:5-21).
It may not be coincidental that, after the return from Babylonian exile, this formula is also applied twice to the remnant in the land to encourage them to rebuild the temple (Haggai 1:13; 2:4). Haggai 2:5 elaborates the meaning of the formula: "As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst . . ." (likewise it is "My Spirit" that Zechariah 4:6-9 says will empower King Zerubbabel to build the second temple!). The promise referred to is likely that made in Exodus 33:14-17:
And he said, "My presence shall go [with you], and I will give you rest." Then he [Moses] said to him, ". . . how then can it be known that I have found favor in thy sight, I and thy people? Is it not by thy going with us, so that we . . . may be distinguished from all the [other] people who are upon the face of the earth?" And the Lord said to Moses, "I will also do this thing of which you have spoken . . ." (cf. also Exod. 34:9).
Perhaps Haggai 2 also alludes to Exodus 19:5-6: "you shall be my own possession among all the peoples . . . you shall be to me a kingdom of priests . . ." The entire nation was to live in the midst of God's presence, and in this manner they were all to become like priests standing in the presence of God in his temple, being intermediaries for the nations living in darkness and apart from God.
Certainly Adam's obedience within the garden sanctuary was key to carrying out his mandate by means of God's presence with him (recall "God walking back and forth in the garden" [Gen. 3:8]). But God did not promise to him that his presence would always be with him in carrying out his mandate. Indeed, God withdrew his presence from Adam. As a result of sin, Adam was cast out of the sanctuary of God's glorious presence and was not able to fulfill the divine commission.
Just as in the case of Adam, Israel's obedience within their "garden of Eden" to the laws regulating the temple was a part of carrying out their renewed commission as a corporate Adam. Israel's land is explicitly compared to the Garden of Eden (see Gen. 13:10; Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 36:35; 47:12; Joel 2:3) and is portrayed as very fruitful in order to heighten the correspondence to Eden (cf. Deut. 8:7-10; 11:8-17; Ezek. 47:1-12).101 The promised land itself is called God's "holy land" (Psalm 78:54; Zech. 2:12) because it was to be a
This commission is expressed well in Exodus 19:6, which says of the whole nation "you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." They were to be mediators in spreading the light of God's cultic presence to the rest of the dark world. Such a connection of Genesis 1:28 to Eden and the Temple may have sparked off the following thought in the Hymn Scroll of Qumran: "my dominion shall be over the sons [of the ear]th . . . I will shine with a seven-fold li[ght] in the E[den which]104 Thou hast [m]ade for Thy glory" (1QH VII, 23-24, where the temple lampstand with seven lamps is probably behind the image of the "seven-fold light").
Nevertheless, like Adam, Israel sinned and was cast away from God's presence and out of the land. At the same time God withdrew his presence from their temple (Ezek. 9:3; 10:4, 18-19; 11:22-23). The same thing happened to restored Israel in 70 A.D., when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, though God's presence had long since left that temple.105 Thus, the promise of divine accompaniment was not ultimately fulfilled in Abraham or any of the physical descendants nor in Israel's temple but remained yet to be fulfilled.
103 So R. E. Clements, God and Temple, 67-73. Later midrashic exegesis on the temple may have been partly inspired by Genesis 1:26-28 in its understanding that the temple brought the blessing of fertility, even, for example, of children (Tanhuma Numbers, ed. Buber, 33, and Y. Yeb. 6b, cited from R. Patai, Man and Temple, 90; cf. b. Berakoth 63b-64a; Midr. Rab. Num. 4, 20; Midr. Rab. Song of Songs 2,5; Midr. Rab. Num. 11,3; b. Yoma 39b, to which I was alerted by Patai). Likewise, the existence of the temple and the rites performed therein procured blessing and fruitfulness for Israel (and implicitly the earth in general; so Patai, Man and Temple, 122-128, who cites, e.g., The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan 4). For expansion of this idea in Judaism, see the similar but elaborated footnote earlier in the chapter.
104 This follows the translation of Dupont-Sommer, though his is the only translation that fills the lacunae with "Eden."
105 God's presence had left the temple at least by the time of Christ's coming, since he himself became the place of the special divine presence in the midst of the nation instead of the temple, as we will see, in ultimate fulfillment of Haggai 2:5. It is quite possible that the divine presence never returned to the post-exilic temple.
We briefly observed above that Abraham's descendants were to be a renewed humanity. They were to bear God's image and "fill the earth" with children who also bore that image, being beacons of light to others living in spiritual darkness. They were to be God's instruments through whom God caused the light of his presence to shine in dark hearts of people in order that they too might become part of the increasing expansion of the temple's sacred space and of the kingdom. This is none other than performing the role of "witness" to God throughout the earth.
In fact, we can speak of Genesis 1:28 as the first "Great Commission" that was repeatedly applied to humanity. The commission was to bless the earth, and part of the essence of this blessing was God's salvific presence. Before, the "Fall," Adam and Eve were to produce progeny who would fill the earth with God's glory being reflected from each of them in the image of God. After the "Fall," a remnant, created by God in his restored image, was to go out and spread God's glorious presence among the rest of darkened humanity. This "witness" was to continue until the entire world would be filled with divine glory.
Israel's "witness" as a corporate Adam was especially significant. In this connection, the question of why the tabernacle was sometimes called the "tabernacle of testimony" (5 times, e.g., Exod. 38:21) or "tent of testimony" (5 times, e.g., Num. 9:15) needs addressing.106 The most obvious answer is that the tabernacle housed the "ark of the testimony" (so 14 times, e.g., Exod. 25:22; 26:33-34). But why is the ark referred to in this way? The reason is that the ten commandments are sometimes called the "testimony."107 God gave
107 So 6 times in Exodus, e.g., Exod. 25:16, 21; the word is used to refer to God's Law in the Psalms (so approx. 12 times; e.g., Ps. 78:5 and Ps. 119).
Thus, the ten commandments reminded Israel not only of God's moral will for them but of their deliverance from Egypt (Exod. 20:2), God's creation of the world (Exod. 20:11), and of his presence with and providential care of them in the wilderness. All of these items were an evidential, legal "testimony" of God's saving and preserving presence as it had been manifested in various ways to Israel.110 The emphasis on the divine presence with respect to the ark or tabernacle of "testimony" is underscored by repeated statements that each of the four holy items located at the place of the ark were in God's very presence.111 In this respect, the Hebrew of Exodus 30:36 refers to "the testimony in the tent of meeting, where I shall meet with you" (so also Num. 17:4). The Hebrew expression "tent of meeting" referred to "the appointed place where Yahweh will meet with Moses."112 The Greek Old Testament's
109 van Leeuwen, "dEo 'd witness," 844.
110 E.g., Numbers 17:10 says, "Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels."
111 Cf. Exodus 25:22 and 30:6 where the ten commandments, incense, and rod are all located at the place where "I [God] will meet with you [Moses]; the manna is also to be placed "before the Lord" in Exodus 16:33. The particular accent on the presence of God is expressed by the Greek Old Testament in its rendering of the Hebrew "tent of meeting" by "tent [or tabernacle] of the testimony" (skene + marturion; so approx. 160 times, the majority of which occur in the Pentateuch).
112 H. Strathmann, martu ktl., TDNT IV, 482.
The legal nature of the "testimony" is evident from observing that the cognate noun, 'd, is almost always translated as "witness" and occurs typically in legal contexts (e.g., to find someone guilty of a crime in Israel requires "two witnesses"). A "witness" (martus) "testifies" (martureo) in court to confirm the truth of something (e.g., see the LXX of Num. 35:30). Accordingly, when Israel would disobey God's Law, "the book of the law . . . beside the ark of the covenant" would be "a witness against" Israel (Deut. 31:26). The two tablets of the Law served as a daily reminder of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel.
Part of the point of the repeated reference to the "tabernacle of testimony" and the "ark of testimony" is that Israel herself was to accept God's "testimony" and then bear witness to God's saving presence with her in the past and present by declaring God's own "testimony" to his Law and to the various redemptive acts performed on their behalf.114 In addition, the nation was to be a "testimony" by obeying the Law. All of this would bear witness to the truth of God's presence.115
Consequently, the way God's presence was to spread out from the Holy of Holies was for his people to pay heed to his testimony deposited there by giving testimony in word and obedient deed before the nations to God's truth. If Israel did this, it would show that God's presence was with them as the enabler of their faithfulness. Deuteronomy 4:5-7 expresses this purpose well, especially in linking Israel's understanding and obeying of God's law with his presence:
114 Tanhuma Yelammedenu Exodus 11.2 says the tabernacle was called the "Tabernacle of testimony" because "it bears testimony to all people that the Holy One . . . would be reconciled with Israel despite the episode of the calf."
115 Which is similar to the "altar" later built by the tribes of Reuben and Gad that functioned as "a witness . . . that the Lord is God" (Josh. 22:34).
See, I [Moses] have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on him?
This is likewise closely linked with Exodus 33:14-17, where God tells Moses that "My presence shall go [with you]" and Moses responds by saying that "Thy going with us" will result in Israel being "distinguished from all the people who are upon the face of the earth." After the restoration from Babylon, God commands Israel to be "witnesses"116 to their "knowledge" and "belief" that God was the only true God, and that he will express his divine omnipotence by again delivering Israel out of a second bondage and performing a second exodus to the promised land (Isa. 43:10-12; 44:6-8).
That Israel was to be a "witness" to the nations is implied at various points (cf. Isa. 43:9) but made explicit in Isaiah 55:4, where God says that he had made David "a witness to the peoples," a commission that Israel should share. Israel's kings were to be leaders in bearing this "testimony."117 This commission was Israel's task to "call" the nations to God (Isa. 55:5). In order to accomplish this mission Israel was first to "seek the Lord while he may be found" and "call upon him while he may be near" (Isa. 55:6).
However, just as Adam "hid . . . from the presence of the Lord" (Gen. 3:8), thus ensuring failure to accomplish his mission, Israel, as God's true humanity, also separated themselves from the divine presence and failed to carry out the commission. Thus, it is not an overstatement to say that Israel
117 E.g., 2 Chron. 23:11 says that when Joash was crowned king, they placed the "testimony" in his hands, indicating that he was to uphold the Law and all it stood for; cf. also 2 Chron. 34:29-33.
Wheaton College Graduate School
Light breaks over his shoulder
the king shades his Sodom eyes
the feast is finished
the wine and bread exhausted
and a tenth sent off to Salem.
"The balance, my son, take it all
only leave me the company
for my shrine. Please
Count me among your friends
dine with me at nine. Tonight
we serve kosher in your honor
and circumcise all our sons."
Comfortable at court, learning to smile
and ignore the hand recently sworded
blood-sated that too quickly
clasps the cup and breaks bread over
the yellow metal and green-clodded land
long, too long denied.
The shaded face, the black, black eyes
Now we will see; now we will see
this baptist embrace his Herod
not for the gold, not for the ground
but for the proximity, the access,
the adjulation, the debt owed
discharged, leaving the city
late-visited without an intercessor.
Through the gates on a gloomy
afternoon, the streak of a storm
in the west rising off those
ragged hills. "I know home (is)* too
far to reach before it breaks
so I turn back where I know I
I am indebted to Mrs. Charles Dennison, Grace Mullen and Kristin Dennison for their suggestions about the meaning of this poem. As with any posthumous exegesis, my own remarks are tentative, not necessarily definitive.
The setting is Abram's return from the rescue of Lot and his "company" of "women and the people" in Genesis 14. The poem juxtaposes Abram and the King of Sodom with Christ and Judas Iscariot. The feast of "wine and bread" is indicative of the meal before the earthly king (of Sodom) and the meal before the King of Kings (Last Supper). At both, the temptation is the riches and pleasures of this world as contrasted with the treasures of the invisible world. The King of Sodom seducingly invites Abram to abandon those whom he has redeemed for "yellow metal and green-clodded land," i.e., the earthly inheritance. Jesus is assaulted in the same way in the Temptation narratives and again in the disciple devoted to the "gold" and the (Roman occupied) "ground." But the "still small voice"Elijah-likeintrudes its commission into Abram's heart compelling him to reverse, rescue and renovate captivity's captives. Abram, newly greeted by the priest of the Most High God (Melchizedek), cannot leave those whom he has saved to "the shaded face, the black, black eyes." This "baptist"/forerunner/Elijah figure (Abram) will not "embrace his Herod" (King of Sodom), but the latter day "baptist" (Christ) will be embraced by his "Herod" (Judas) with a kiss. The "city late visited" (Sodom/Jerusalem) is left "without an intercessor" (fire and brimstone destruction/70 A.D.). The "gloomy . . . storm" which envelopes the city is reprised in the darkness which envelopes the Savior on Calvary. The "home" for Abram is the heavenly country (Heb. 11:8-17), even as the "well-loved" of the Father brings the eschatological captives home once and for all. Abram anticipates his eschatological seed, Jesus Christ.
James T. Dennison, Jr.
The prophets Elijah and Elisha resemble a two-man relay team in their ministries. In a relay race, one runner begins the race. He then pulls alongside the one who succeeds him. They run together for a while and in that space of time they pass the baton. The first runner drops out and the second one runs the race to the finish line.
This pattern appears in Scripture, not only with Elijah and Elisha,
but also with Moses and Joshua and with the Lord Jesus Christ and his
apostles. The Scriptures suggest the comparison of these "teams." In Luke
9:30-31, Luke records his account of the transfiguration and tells us that Moses
and Elijah appeared on the mountain with Christ and were speaking with our
Lord about his "departure (exodus) which he was about to accomplish at
Jerusalem." Moses, the outstanding figure of the law, witnesses to Christ. Moses
is the exodus leader of the people of Godout of captivity in Egypt in order
to bring them to worship God at Sinai and establish them in the Promised
Land. Elijah is the outstanding figure of the prophets who witnesses to Christ as
he leads the exodus of God's people from captivity to Baalism while
returning the land (though imperfectly) to the national worship of Yahweh. Christ is
the central figure of all redemptive history. He is the promised Savior and
King who leads the final and glorious exodus of God's people, this time
setting them free from their deepest captivity to sin and death and Satan. He
Moses, Elijah and Christ are linked in Scripture in several other ways. They are linked together in the manner of their mysterious appearances. Moses appears suddenly in Egypt after forty years in the wilderness. He comes from the presence of God at Horeb, the mountain of God (Exodus 3:1ff.). Elijah appears on the pages of Scripture without introduction. It's as though he has stepped right out of heaven from the presence of God (1 Kings 17:1). And of course, our Savior comes from heaven, the very presence of God, and makes his appearance in this world. Later he suddenly appears on the public scene in Israel.
These three are also linked by their mysterious departures. Moses dies on the mountain and God buries him. Search for his body if you will, but you will not find it. Elijah goes to heaven in a chariot of fire without dying. Search for his body if you will, but you will not find it. Christ was dead, but he is raised from the dead and in his body he ascends into heaven. Search for his body if you will, but you will not find it.
These three are the central, outstanding figures to whom is given the mission of deliverance by God. With each of them, before they depart this world, their mission is as good as complete. But they each have a successor. Moses has Joshua who, like a relay runner, comes alongside of Moses. They run together for a while; the baton is passed; and then Moses departs and Joshua continues the mission to its already appointed end. He does so in the spirit and the power and the word of Moses. Elijah has Elisha who comes alongside of him. They run together for a while; the baton is passed; and then Elijah departs while Elisha continues the mission to its already appointed end. He does so in the spirit and the power and the word of Elijah. All of this anticipates the Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples. Jesus has his disciples who come alongside of himtwelve of them for the mission which now encompasses the whole world. They run together for a while until Jesus departs into heaven. The baton is passed. His disciples continue the mission to its already appointed end in the Holy Spirit and power and word of Jesus.
This pattern is instructive to us as we consider this unusual passage in
2 Kings 13 about the end of Elisha's life and ministry. Elisha's name declares
All of this anticipates this final era of history, these last days in which we live, between the comings of Christ. At the end of this era, the world and the church that has become like the world, will be ripe for judgment. The message for this entire era is God is salvation in his son Jesus Christ. "There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). This is Christ's own message and it is continued in his apostles. And the life contained in that message continues even beyond the death of the apostles to all those who believe it.
In 2 Kings 13:20-21, we have this curious and wonderful footnote to the record concerning Elisha. Joash, king of Israel, visits Elisha who is near death. God promises the king one more deliverance to turn them from their apostate worship of the bull calves (vv. 14-19). In 2 Kings 13:20-21 we read, "And Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. And as they were burying a man, behold they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha."
Here we have a funeral procession to bury a dead Israelite. The
mourners are frightened by a band of Moabites who regularly show up in Israel
around that time of year to pillage the land. In their haste to escape, the
mourners have to dispose of the deceased's body quickly and they cast it into the
grave of Elisha that they just happen to be passing. Verse 21 continues and
God is salvation. God is the one who gives life in the place of death. This is the point of one story after the other in Elijah and Elisha's ministry. You have actual resurrections from the dead in the ministries of both of these prophets. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah raises the son of the widow from Zarephath. Her son dies. There is no breath in him. Elijah then stretches himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord, and said, "O Lord my God, I pray Thee, let this child's life return to him" (v. 21). And we read that the Lord heard the voice of Elijah and the life of the child returned to him and he revived. Elijah stretches himself upon the child's body. By contact with Elijah who was the prophet of the God of salvation who gives life in place of death, this woman's dead son was revivedwas resurrected and lived.
Elisha duplicates this miracle in 2 Kings 4:1-37. The Shunammite woman who was barren is given a miracle-child who later dies. Elisha went in where the child's body lay and stretched himself upon the child, mouth-to-mouth, eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand. The lad sneezed and new breath came into him. He opened his eyes. He is revived and resurrected. By contact with Elisha, God's prophet, the body of this child was raised from the dead. God is salvation. He gives life in place of death to those who come into contact with him through his prophets.
But here in 2 Kings 13, we have this amazing story. Elisha was dead and gone. He was dead and buried. But when this other dead body was cast into Elisha's tomb and came into contact with Elisha's dead bones, the man was revived and raised from the dead and stood up on his feet. Even though Elisha was dead, his name was still "Elisha." His name still declared, "God is salvation." Even though Elisha was dead, his message, the word in his name, had life in it. For Israel, even beyond Elijah's departure into heaven, even beyond Elisha's departure in death, the message continued and it continued to save all that came into contact with it. And it continued to give life in place of death. Behind these men and their message was God himself.
Elijah received his message from God. It was the word of life. Elijah delivered it to Elisha. Elisha received it and delivered that message of life to others. Those who received it, who came into contact with it, though they were dead, were revived and made to live. Life was in the word because God was in the word. Even from a dead Elisha, one who was dead was raised to life.
In John 11, the Lord Jesus Christ revealed himself to Mary and Martha and his disciples as the resurrection and the life. Where Jesus comes, salvation from death comes and life is given in place of death. Lazarus had been dead for four days. He was stinking dead. Jesus directed that he be taken to the tomb. Arriving at the tomb, Christ and his powerful life-giving word was showcased for all to see. Here is the teaching of Scripture about regeneration, about the power that saves and brings the dead to life. Lazarus was dead. It is Jesus who will give life to him in place of death.
Arriving at the tomb, our Lord spoke his powerful word: "Remove the stone." "Lazarus, come forth." "Release him and let him go." And the one who was dead is made alive. Jesus did not have to touch Lazarus. He was God come in the flesh. Jesus merely spoke his life-giving word and Lazarus was revived and stood up on his feet. He was resurrected.
In connection with Jesus, those who are dead will be raised from
the dead, revived and given eternal life. Before Jesus performs this miracle,
he tells Martha who he is. "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes
in me, shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me
shall never die" (John 11:25). Throughout his gospel, John tells us what it means
Jesus delivered this life-giving message with life-giving power to his disciples. The disciples received it and delivered it to others. Christ accomplishes salvation and ascends into heaven. The disciples will carry the mission forward to its already appointed end. And they do so in the Holy Spirit and power and word of Jesus. They show the life-giving power of this salvation by duplicating Jesus' miracles of raising the dead. They are his unique and divinely appointed successors. In Acts 9:40, Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. In Acts 20:9-10, when Eutychus fell out of the window and died, Paul raised him from the dead by falling upon him and embracing him. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. And that resurrection life was in his apostles and in the message they declared in Jesus' name.
The apostles speak about their message and the word they proclaim in this way. The Thessalonians turned from idols to serve a living and true God as a result of the preaching of the gospel to them (1 Thessalonians 1). In Philippians 2:16, Paul urges the Philippians "to hold fast the word of life." In 1 Peter 1:22-23, the apostle states that our new birth is achieved through "the living and abiding word of God." In 1 John 1:1, the apostle says that he is writing his letter concerning "the Word of Life."
Jesus received his life-giving message from the Father. He delivered it to his apostles. They received it from Jesus and they delivered it to others. It was the word of life and the apostles declared that word of life to the church that came into being as a result of their witness. It was and still is the message of eternal life to all who believe, to all who come into contact with Jesus.
And in keeping with 2 Kings 13 and the final episode about Elisha,
we are taught that even from dead apostles, salvation comes to those who
come into contact with them and their message. In their written words, the
message for this era between Christ's comings is: God is salvation in his Son
The apostles themselves see it this way. They knew that when they were dead and gone to heaven and were just bones in a grave awaiting the resurrection of their bodies, that their message would continue in the church and through the church to a world dead in its trespasses and sins. They knew that the life-giving word of Christ would continue to impart life to dead sinners. In 2 Timothy, Paul saw the moment of his death approaching (4:6) and directed Timothy to the sacred writings which give the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. In 2 Peter 1:13-15, Peter also sees the time of his departure approaching. He had written to them to remind them of all the things that had been declared to them "pertaining to life" (2 Peter 1:3), so that after he was gone they would be able to call them to mind. The apostles saw to it that their witness to Christ and the Savior's word was deposited with the church so that the church would have it to refer to and to proclaim, beyond the death of these messengers.
Even from the dead bones of the apostles, there comes a message that imparts life. A message that raises the dead, that raises dead sinners to new and eternal life. In contact with that message, we come into contact with Jesus who is the resurrection and the life. We come into contact with the one who was dead but is alive again and is alive forever more.
Let us be numbered among those who believe that message and believe in the one who is declared therein. In contact with that message, even from messengers dead and gone, we come into contact with Christ; the Christ who raises us from the death of sin and breathes new life into us and revives us and causes us to stand on our feet in the power of his resurrection. That resurrection that gives life to our dead souls and that, one day, will give resurrection life to our mortal bodies as well.
The church must be apostolic in its message. Her message must
always declare and agree with the apostolic message. Life from the Father has
been given to the Son and is communicated to us by the Holy Spirit. And that life
is contained in the Word. All who would share in that life must come into
Reformation Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Morgantown, West Virginia
Moreover, other heretics have so far embraced the manifest divinity of Christ, as to say that He was without flesh, and to withdraw from Him the whole humanity which He took upon Him, lest, by associating with Him a human nativity, as they conceived it, they should diminish in Him the power of the divine name. This, however, we do not approve; but we quote it as an argument to prove that Christ is God, to this extent, that some, taking away the manhood, have thought Him God only, and some have thought Him God the Father Himself; when reason and the proportion of the heavenly Scriptures show Christ to be God, but as the Son of God; and the Son of man, having taken up, moreover, by God, that He must be believed to be man also. Because if He came to man, that He might be Mediator of God and men, it behoved Him to be with man, and the Word to be made flesh, that in His own self He might link together the agreement of earthly things with heavenly things, by associating in Himself pledges of both natures, and uniting God to man and man to God; so that reasonably the Son of God might be made by the assumption of flesh the Son of man, and the Son of man by the reception of the Word of God the Son of God. This most profound and recondite mystery, destined before the worlds for the salvation of the human race, is found to be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, both God and man, that the human race might be placed within the reach of the enjoyment of eternal salvation.
An Appraisal on the Tercentenary of His Birth
Last winter, I was asked to compose an article in honor of the tercentenary of the birth of Jonathan Edwards, October 5, 1703. That essay will appear in The Outlook ('unofficial' house organ of the United Reformed Church) for October 2003. It contains a biographical overview of the life of President Edwards interlaced with excerpts from his writings. The present comments are an attempt to reflect on the assessment of Edwards by scholars since his death. In the nature of the case, the survey is cursory, but I trust, not myopic. I have attempted to consider most of the points of view from which Edwards has fascinated his advocates as well as his detractors. This remarkable Calvinist is both bane and blessing, depending on your perspective. Presuppositions do indeed play a part in the evaluation of the non-presuppositional genius of Northamptonone either loves him or hates him. Would that all would actually read the primary documents (ad fontes), at least at first glance, without bias, prejudice, or presupposition. In other words, would that Edwards would be permitted to speak for himselffor that would be the most equitable, the most just, the most charitable, the most objective approach to a man whose intellect, not to mention whose heart, continues to be light years ahead of most of his 'students'.
Edwards's legacy has by no means been uncontroverted. If Charles Chauncy (1705-1787) was unhappy with Edwards's brand of Calvinism in the 18th century, we should not be surprised at Allen Guelzo's critique in our own century. The reaction to Edwards is a love-hate paradigm. He is regarded as the superlative Calvinist (a la John H. Gerstner [1914-1996]); or he is denigrated as the father of Charles Finney's (1792-1875) Pelagianism (a la Allen Guelzo). Is it the brilliance of the seer of Northampton? Are his detractors in fact jealous of his soaring intellect, hence reduced to hurling slanders like spitballs at the colossus who refuses to crumble? Are these Reformed critics of Edwards so unlearned themselves that they cannot penetrate the Calvinism of Edwards on account of their own defective view of 17th century Reformed scholasticism and Edwards's profound development thereof?
Whatever the reason, whether his God-given intellect (so far beyond what frequently passes for Reformed theology in our day), his precision (which remains a dirty word in contemporary Reformed circlesremember! We live in an era of cultural accommodation in Reformed churches), his sweet blend of mind and hearta rational mind informing a reasonable heart ('rational'another dirty word in some contemporary Reformed circles)Edwards towers over Calvinists past and present while striking sparks of agreement and violent disagreement.
I would like to survey the interpretation of Edwards from the 18th century to the present so as to acquaint the reader with some of the issues and players in the discussion. What follows is a genetic history of Edwardseanism; or a brief historiography of the theology of Jonathan Edwards.
We begin with his students. Joseph Bellamy (1719-1790) arrived at
the Edwards home in 1738; Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803) followed in
1741-42. When Edwards died in 1758, Bellamy and Hopkins began to promote
their version of Edwardseanism. Calling themselves 'Consistent Calvinists',
The critics of Bellamy and Hopkins's 'Consistent Calvinism' labeled their system the 'New Divinity'. By the end of the 18th century, the battle was on to determine who wore the genuine Edwardsean mantleEdwards himself or his students.
In 1850, Edwards Amasa Park (1808-1900), Professor of Christian Theology (and later President) of Andover Theological Seminary, Andover, Massachusetts, delivered an address entitled "The Theology of the Intellect and that of the Feelings."1 Park lamented the bitter dogmatism of conservative evangelicals and suggested that godly feelings were more important to Protestant unity than dogma. How much of his esteemed mentor's (Yale's Nathaniel
All this was too much for Charles Hodge (1797-1878). Hodge rushed to the defense of President Edwards whose grave lay but a few blocks from Hodge's home in Princeton, New Jersey. A theology of feelings for Hodge was too too reminiscent of what he had heard from the mouth of Friedrich Schleiermacher while he studied in Berlin and other parts of Germany from 1826 to 1828. Hodge argued that Edwards was an historic Calvinist unaffected by the modifications of his students, let alone post-Enlightenment reductions to the moral sense. For Hodge, the mantle of Jonathan Edwards hung in the hallowed halls of Old Princeton and her numerous sons and disciples. Laying down the gauntlet to Park, Hodge wrote that the insuperable obstacle to the theories of the Andover professor were "Edwards on the Will, Edwards on the Affections and Edwards on Original Sin" (Charles Hodge, Essays and Reviews, 1st Series, [New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857] 624).3 In other words, Hodge appealed to the testimony of primary sources. In short, according to Hodge, the claimants of the New Divinity to carry on the banner of President Edwards ran afoul of Edwards himself ad fontes. Hodge and Old Princeton defended the determinate nature of the will, the love of Christ as the central religious affection, the reckoning of Adamic transgression to all his posterity. There was nothing new, modified or innovative about these doctrines. They were simply the doctrines of historic Augustinianism-Calvinismand they were found in the doctrine of Jonathan Edwards. As recently as 2001,
3 Hodge's three-fold critique is reprinted here as a series of essays entitled "The Theology of the Intellect and that of the Feelings" (Oct. 1850, April 1851 and Oct. 1851 numbers of the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review).
George Park Fisher (1827-1909) of Yale and Lyman Hotchkiss Atwater (1813-1883) of Princeton College reprised the argument between New England and Old Princeton over Edwards in 1868 ("The Princeton Review on the Theology of Dr. N. W. Taylor." The New Englander [April 1868]). The date is auspicious; it is the year before the reunion of the Old School and the New School of the northern Presbyterian Church, USA. 1869 was a year of compromise for Charles Hodge who opposed that merger with pen and vote. In fact, he was never reconciled to the healing of the split of 1837 and maintained to his death in 1878 that classic Presbyterian orthodoxy was diluted by the merger with the New School party. The effects of the Old School-New School reunion are still debated (George Marsden, Mark Noll, Lefferts Loetscher, among others have sallied into print on the topic), but this is clear: in 1869, Old School and New School majorities both claimed the mantle of Jonathan Edwards.
George Park Fisher argued (as had Edwards Amasa Park) that the
current New England theology, including that of Nathaniel William Taylor
(1786-1858), was consistent with the Edwardsean system in the main. Lyman
Atwater would have none of this and pointed out that Park's distinction between
intellect and feeling was the tip of liberalism, while Nathaniel Taylor was an
outright Pelagian ("Professor Fisher on the Princeton Review"
Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review 40 (1868): 368-98). George P. Fisher was
defending his teachers (as students are wont to dosometimes uncritically) for
Park and Taylor had been his mentors prior to assuming the chair of Church
History at Yale Divinity School in 1854. While Fisher was progressive and
'liberal' in his Calvinism, he should be remembered positively as an
inveterate apologist for supernatural Christianity. Against the downgrade of German
rationalism and idealism, Fisher defended historic orthodoxy with respect
to miracles and the canon. Fisher admitted that 19th century New England
theology was altered from some of Edwards's formulations. But, he
maintained, the spirit of the Edwardsean system lived on in his successors. That spirit
The next phase of Edwardsean scholarship occurred at the turn of the 20th century. George N. Boardman (1825-1915) of Chicago Theological Seminary published his History of New England Theology in 1899; and Frank Hugh Foster (1851-1935) of Pacific Theological Seminary, Berkeley followed with his important Genetic History of the New England Theology in 1907. Boardman and Foster argued that post-Taylor New England theology was a reversal of Edwards's system. The significance of these two books lies in the fact that they are essentially vindicating the 19th century assessment of the New England theology advanced by Old Princeton. That is to say, Boardman and Foster are both acknowledging that the New England divinity was a departure from Jonathan Edwards's Calvinism. Thus, when B. B. Warfield wrote his famous essay "Edwards and the New England Theology" for Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (1912v. 5:221-27), he could point to even liberal scholarship in defense of Old Princeton's defense of President Edwards.
Warfield's defense of Edwards's Calvinism was irrelevant to the likes of Vernon Parrington (1871-1929)4 and Herbert W. Schneider (1892-1984).5 Edwards and Edwardseanism was hopelessly anachronistica retrograde perversion of a pathetic religious system. Early 20th century civilization was glad to have exorcised the demons of CalvinismEdwardsean and post-Edwardsean. God was a democrat and a scientistso argued Parrington and Schneider. The only justification for studying Edwards was to thank the fates or 'whate'er gods that be' that modern man had been led out of this provincial desert.
Yet in spite of the efforts of these cognoscenti, the ghost of Jonathan Edwards would not disappear from historical or theological discussions of
5 The Puritan Mind (1930).
Perry Miller, Professor of American Literature at Harvard, more than
any other 20th century figure was responsible for the avalanche of
contemporary interest in Edwards. Before Perry Miller, Jonathan Edwards was a curiosity
to an elite band of scholars; after Perry Miller, there was literally a rebirth
of interest in the sage of Northampton. From his book
The New England Mind (1939) to his biography of Edwards
(Jonathan Edwards, 1949) to Errand into the
Wilderness (1956), Miller influenced a generation of scholars and
graduate students with his own fascination with Jonathan Edwards. I say
fascination because Perry Miller was an atheist whose interest in Edwards was
historical and cultural. Perhaps Miller's greatest legacy is the Yale edition
of Edwards's Works (now reaching to 19 volumes of a projected 27 volume
edition)an edition which is slated to publish all of Edwards's works in
hardcopy or CD-ROM, unpublished manuscript material as well as previously
published items. Perhaps the most blatant blunder of Miller in his interpretation
of Edwards was his suggestion that Jonathan Edwards was an
Edmund S. Morgan (1916- ) of Yale and Sidney E. Ahlstrom (1919-1984) also of Yale continued to support the thesis that Edwards was betrayed by his successors. Morgan's reputation lies in several Puritan studies: Visible Saints (1963) and the Puritan Family (1966). Ahlstrom is best known for his Religious History of the American People (1972), in some ways still the standard work on American church history.
Beginning in 1965, a revisionist approach to Edwards began to appear. Rejecting the downgrade interpretation of Edwards and his New Divinity heirs, these scholars began to view Edwards himself as the source of the degenerate Calvinism of the late 18th and 19th century. These new approaches are combining the so-called 'new cultural history' of social and anthropological movements, then re-evaluating all personalities and eras against this revised barometer. The leaders in this new, revisionist study of Edwards and New England theology are: Joseph Conforti, Director of American and New England Studies at the University of Southern Maine; Bruce Kuklick, Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania; and Allen Guelzo, Professor of American History at Eastern University. Guelzo is the most important for our discussion.
Expanding upon this absurdity, Guelzo contends that Edwards subverted covenant theology by abandoning the doctrine of Adamic imputation of original sin,7 that Edwards favored the governmental view of the atonement (though Guelzo cites no primary sources for this allegation), and that because Edwards wrote the "Preface" to Joseph Bellamy's True Religion Delineated (1750) that he therefore endorsed the heterodoxy of Bellamy. Every one of these contentions is based on fantasy, not primary document reality. Edwards's doctrine of original sin was unique, but it was not because his view was non-Augustinian or non-Calvinistic (imputation is part of, i.e., included in, identification or covenantal union with the first Adam for Edwards). Edwards's doctrine of the atonement was the classic satisfaction view or "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" was written by someone else. Until Guelzo produces one quotation from Edwards's writings in which Edwards unambiguously affirms the governmental view of the atonement, this charge amounts to slander. Finally, whether Joseph Bellamy is the advocate of heterodoxy is a matter to be decided on the basis of the sources. Edwards's "Preface" is not therefore necessarily an endorsement of all the content of Bellamy's work. No editor (or prefacer) necessarily agrees with everything he publishes (or prefaces). Guelzo has created straw men in order to slam Edwards's system. This is dirty pool and smacks more of scholarly agenda than scholarship!
7 See Carl W. Bogue, Jonathan Edwards and the Covenant of Grace  for an implicit response to this nonsense.
It would be criminal of me to leave this survey without noting the single most appreciative assessment of the theology of Edwards penned in the last one hundred years. My great teacher, John H. Gerstner, spent much of his life studying the works and manuscripts of Jonathan Edwards. From the time his own beloved teacher, Professor John Orr, at Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, stated in class in the hearing of the young Arminian Gerstner "regeneration precedes faith", and Gerstner's hand went up like a shot"Professor Orr, would you please repeat what you just said?"to the directive in return from Orr for "Mr. Gerstner" to hunt up the Works of Jonathan Edwardsa directive which turned the young Arminian into a full orbed Calvinistto the publication of the third and final volume of Gerstner's magnum opus, The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards (1993; v. 11991; v. 21992)no one has devoted more discerning and sympathetic treatment to the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards than John Gerstner. That 3-volume set is rooted in primary sourcesis literally a systematic theology by Jonathan Edwards via lengthy extracts from his books and sermons (many available in manuscript form only). No Reformed admirer of Jonathan Edwards can neglect John Gerstner. If you are interested in the unrevised Jonathan Edwards, in Jonathan Edwards as he is himself, then read Gerstner, digest Gerstner, admire Gerstner, appreciate Gerstner who appreciated Jonathan Edwards.
Jonathan Edwards was destined to break beyond the maudlin, the ordinaryJonathan Edwards was an extraordinary man. Intellectually penetrating, spiritually ferventeven mystical (in the best sense of that word)personally a servant, a humble servant. A modern Reformed theology captive to the practical, in bondage to the immediately applicable, the topical, the pietisticalsuch a theology cannot comprehend Jonathan Edwards. For captivity to the practical is ultimately and finally, however unwittingly, so earthly minded it is no heavenly good. Edwards was possessedpossessed as a man possesses his wife and a wife is possessed by her husbandEdwards was ravished with the adoration of God's majestyan essentially eschatological concept. In his own words, that majesty was "ravishingly lovely". Very few Reformed pastors and theologians talk like that today. Very few are possessed with Edwards's sweet Christ. Tragically, they are possessed with other agendasallegedly more practical, more applicable, more relevantmore man-centered and earth-bound.
But Edwards is more than a heavenly or eschatologically minded genius. His sense of the lovely majesty of God undergirds his sense of the rational harmony of the cosmos. Revelation for Jonathan Edwards is verified by rational processes because Edwards is a classic or traditional minda mind in which faith is reasonable. God reveals himself satisfactory to an apprehending minda mind subsequently apprehended by the transforming grace of the Holy Spirit. Herein Edwards stands in a noble Christian and Reformed tradition.
What is it then that bewitches modern Reformed pedantserstwhile little Edwardseans? Is it the orthodoxy of Edwards? That orthodoxy is anathema in certain circlesEdwards is labeled the height of arrogant autonomy. Is it the penetrating, searching intellectthe mind possessed and held captive to pouring over the Word of God thirteen hours per day? Well, if so, why don't they practice what Edwards preached? They are men of very little imagination, bare, rudimentary learning, unsearching and uninspiring pietyindeed, they demonstrate at times an uncharacteristic totalitarian temperament whereby they impinge the liberty of the Christian man and woman. Why do they not see the open heaven which Edwards saw?
The enigma of Jonathan Edwards is that he must be owned by both modern intellectuals and modern evangelicals. But while they may lionize his intellect or his orthodoxy, they do not comprehend the man. No, not his brain, not his "right doctrine", not his revivalist successesbut the Christ of Edwards and the Edwards possessed by Christ. For sinners in the hands of a just God, no other than Christ can turn away the eschatological wrath to come. Edwards will have nothing but Christ, no half-way measures of halting between truth and errorCalvinism and Arminianism. He believes the righteousness of Christ is the sole ground of justification and preaches that to his congregation though they throw him out. And the experiences of grace, the sense of grace does not turn a man or a woman or a child into a tyrantit melts them into a servanta vessel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a taste of the sweetness of Christ's love that alters and transforms them. The Father's love is the fuel of a passion for the Mediator of the covenant of grace.
NoJonathan Edwards cannot be usedused by those who have not been ravished with the love of Christ as he was. Nor can he be used by those who want to clobber their congregations with guilt and shame and a sense of failure. Nor can Jonathan Edwards be the inspiration for a church growth model which so denatures the gospel that there is nothing but a sugar daddy left. Jonathan Edwards cannot be used by any of the forces of modernity which see in him a kindred spirit for their own agendas. Jonathan Edwards's agenda is Christand modernity does not comprehend himthe Lord of Glory!
Northwest Theological Seminary
Philip S. Johnston, Shades of Sheol. Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002. 288 pp. Paper. ISBN: 0-8308-2687-4. $20.00.
This volume is a review of the much-controverted debate over the Old Testament concept of life at death and life beyond death. Since the 19th century, fashionable liberal fundamentalism has regarded the Israelite view on these matters as the bottom of the (religious) evolutionary pool. That is, the Old Testament religious person had no concept of life after death because Israelite religion evolved/developed only as it was exposed to other more advanced world religions in its own odyssey. Israel's last stop on the developmental trail, in exile at Babylon, was the beginning of her affirmation of life beyond death. Using the methods of comparative pagan religions, Israel's view of the underworld reads more like Homer and other Greco-Roman mythologiesso say the devotees of higher critical fundamentalism.
This canon of post-Enlightenment critical fundamentalism was disturbed in the 1960's and 70's by the late Mitchell Dahood (author of the famous Anchor Bible commentary on the Psalms) when he drew parallels from his Ugaritic studies to Hebrew religion, The Ugaritic culture of Ras Shamra (particularly 2000 B.C. and later) evidenced a notion of the afterlife. If so, could Old Testament Hebrews be far behind? Could they be that less enlightened living in contact with Ugaritic culture and religion? One could ask the same question about Hebrew contacts with Egypt and the latter's elaborate preparations for the next world witnessed by the monumental pyramids.
Johnston is representative of the emerging evangelical biblical scholar. He is a synthesist, not an antithesist. That is, he merges his alleged evangelicalism into the critical mainstream without positioning himself antithetically to those liberal philosophical presuppositions (for even in biblical matters, all critics are driven by liberal philosophical presuppositions). He ends up giving with his right hand to the critics, while attempting to reserve a very small corner of orthodoxy to his left hand. In the end, he cannot escape being swallowed up by the anti-orthodoxy of the critical schools.
Johnston demonstrates competence in the requisite Ancient Near
Eastern languages; he is at home in the sources; he is abreast of Ancient Near
Eastern comparative religious studies. In all of these, he excels. But he leaves us
wondering whether the Old Testament is in fact divine revelation. Reducing
the question of death and resurrection to the natural horizons of Israel's
neighborhood, leaves Israel no vertical supernatural or vertical and eschatological
neighborhood. This means that the Old Testament text for Johnston must be
understood from the bottom upand he admits the paucity of any indicia of
the "up" dimension. In other words, the Hebrew notion of death and afterlife
is defined not in terms of God speaking to Israel (or
into Israel's history and experience) from his transcendent, supernatural, eschatological realm;
the Hebrew notion of death and the afterlife is defined only from
comparative Ancient Near Eastern cultural studies, endless analysis of Hebrew
etymologies and the compartmentalization of Old Testament religion to this
world. Beyond this world, no sure Old Testament word. "A few [Israelites] seem
This is an impressive book, but disappointing with respect to the conviction that the Old Testament is revelation, given by God, out of heaven, to which he called his sons and daughters, even during the Old Testament era. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee" (Ps. 73:25). That is the precious hope of the Old Testament pilgrim even as its fullness in the death and resurrection of Christ is precious to the New Testament pilgrim.
James T. Dennison, Jr.