Saturday, July 31, 2010

Angels & Demons 17: “The Life of Adam and Eve”- (Satan Refuses to Worship God’s Image)

In my previous commentary, I promised to supply the excerpt from the pseud- epigraphal work in which the Devil is cast out of Heaven for refusing to worship Adam. The following is Wells’ translation of the Latin text, The Books of Adam and Eve 12-17, taken from The Apocryphy and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, edited by R. H. Charles, Volume II: Pseudepigrapha (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), p. 137:

XII 1) And with a heavy sigh, the devil spake: “O Adam! All my hostility, envy, and sorrow is for thee, since it is for thee that I have been expelled from my glory, which I possessed in the heavens in the midst of the angels and for thee I was cast out in the earth.” 2) Adam answered, “What dost thou tell me? What have I done to thee or what is my fault against thee? 3) Seeing that thou hast received no harm or injury from us, why dost thou pursue us?”

XIII 1) The devil replied, “Adam, what dost thou tell me? It is for thy sake that I have been hurled from that place. 2) When thou wast formed, I was hurled out of the presence of God and banished from the company of the angels. When God blew into thee the breath of life and thy face and likeness was made in the image of God, Michael also brought thee and made (us) worship thee in the sight of God; and God the Lord spake: ‘Here is Adam. I have made thee in our image and likeness.’

XIV 1) And Michael went out and called all the angels saying: ‘Worship the image of God as the Lord God hath commanded.’ 2) And Michael himself worshiped first; then he called me and said: ‘Worship the image of God the Lord.’ 3) And I answered, ‘I have no (need) to worship Adam.’ And since Michael kept urging me to worship, I said to him, ‘Why dost thou urge me? I will not worship an inferior and younger being (than I). I am his senior in the creation, before he was made was I already made. It is his duty to worship me.

XV 1) When the angels, who were under me, heard this, they refused to worship him. 2) And Michael saith, ‘Worship the image of God, but if thou wilt not worship him, the Lord God will be wrath with thee.’ 3) And I said, ‘If He be wrath with me, I will set my seat above the stars of heaven and will be like the Highest.’

XVI 1) And God the Lord was wrath with me and banished me and my angels from our glory; and on thy account were we expelled from our abodes into this world and hurled on the earth. 2) And straightaway we were overcome with grief, since we had been spoiled of so great glory. 3) And we were grieved when we saw thee in such joy and luxury. 4) And with guile I cheated thy wife and caused thee to be expelled through her (doing) from thy joy and luxury, as I have been driven out of my glory.”

XVII 1) When Adam heard the devil say this, he cried out and wept and spake: “O Lord my God, my life is in thy hands. Banish this Adversary far from me, who seeketh to destroy my soul, and give me his glory which he himself hath lost.” 2) And at that moment, the devil vanished before him. 3) But Adam endured in his penance, standing for forty days (on end) in the water of Jordan.

For purposes of comparison, I supply my translation of Revelation 12:7-13. I drew the comparison and contrast in my previous commentary.

And war came to pass in heaven; Michael and his angels had to war with the dragon. And the dragon waged war, also his angels, but they did not prevail, nor was there found a place for them in heaven, any longer. And the great dragon was cast out, the ancient serpent, who is called Devil and Satan, who misleads the whole inhabitable (world). He was cast to the earth and his angels were cast with him. And I heard a great voice in heaven, saying: “Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and of His Christ, because the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, is cast out. And they overcame him by reason of the blood of the Lamb and through the word of their testimony, and they loved not their life unto death. Because of this, Rejoice! Heavens, and you who dwell in them. Woe! (upon) the earth and the sea, for the Devil came down to you, having great fury, knowing that he has a short time.” And when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he pursued the woman who brought forth the male.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Angels & Demons 16: Did Satan Disobey God by Refusing to Worship Adam and/or Jesus?

Since the Book of Enoch “claims” to be written by the man Enoch who lived before the Flood of Noah, we are pretty certain that the “claimed” authorship of the book is false. Enoch certainly lived long before the Greek language even came into existence, yet he wrote in Greek! We call such a book (whose authorship is falsified): “pseudepigrapha.” Another book that is termed “pseudepigrapha” is the Latin book, The Life of Adam and Eve. This book is written in Latin, but Adam and Eve lived long before the Latin language even came into existence.

This book about Adam and Eve, however, presents another possible Fallen Angel Story. The Devil is presented as an angel who was cast out of Heaven because of his refusal to bow down and worship Adam. He was expected to worship Adam because Adam was the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26). Later human cultures would make “graven images” of their gods and worship those images, so the author of The Life of Adam and Eve thought it logical that angels would have been expected to worship the (living) image of the one true God—Adam. According to this source, when the Devil’s angels, over whom he was placed, heard of the Devil’s refusal to honor Adam by bowing down, they also refused. Michael, who had been the first angel to worship Adam, then warned the Devil of the wrath of God should he persist in his refusal to pay homage to Adam. Whereupon the Devil was quoted as saying that he would set his seat above the stars of Heaven and would be like the Highest. I and Ginzberg (Legends, V, 35) see this last statement as a reference to Isaiah 14:12-14 (the Lucifer passage), a reference which Ginzberg says R. H. Charles (the editor of the Pseudipigrapha text in which the Life of Adam and Eve is published) failed to recognize. I will present the full text of this Life of Adam and Eve Fallen Angel Story in my next commentary.

In this excerpt from The Life of Adam and Eve, however, we have parallels in Revelation 12:7-13. In both accounts, it is Michael who leads in opposing the Devil. In both accounts, the angels of the Devil are also indicted, along with the Devil himself. In both accounts, the Devil is cast down from Heaven to earth. Both accounts also refer to the “anger” of the Devil and his “pursuit” of mankind (Adam and Eve 12 and Revelation 12:12-13).

Missing from the Revelation account, however, is any allusion to the Isaiah 14 passage. Missing from the Adam and Eve account is the strong “dragon” imagery of the Revelation account. There is no mention in Revelation 12 of the Devil’s refusal to worship Adam, though the Devil/Dragon has an apparent feeling of enmity towards the new-born child. He stands in the presence of the woman who was about to give birth in order to devour her child when he is born. I agree with R. H. Charles’s (I:320) and Martin Kiddle’s (p. 213) commentaries on Revelation when they say that the “child” of Revelation 12 is a messianic reference. Jesus is the child. I Corinthians 15:45-47, in stating that the first Adam became a living soul, while the last Adam became a life-giving spirit, strongly implies that Jesus should be understood to be a second Adam. In this same vein, Ginzberg (V:85) comments: “It is quite possible that Hebrews 1:6 goes back to [The Life of Adam and Eve] . . . and . . . makes the angels worship the second Adam (=Jesus), instead of the first.” Hebrews 1:6 states: “And again, when He leads the first-born into the inhabited world, He says, ‘And let all of the angels of God prostrate themselves before him!’”

A parallel indictment of the Devil in both accounts is that he “misleads.” In the Adam and Eve account, Eve was misled; in the Revelation, the Devil/dragon misled the whole world. There is no indication, however, in Revelation that the Devil/dragon is an angel like the Devil of the Adam and Eve account, nor is it clear whether “his angels” in Revelation 12 are, like the Devil’s angels in the Adam and Eve account, actually “angels of God under the Devil’s authority.” I have already discussed the Devil’s “misleading” in prior commentaries. I do not find it to be a sin.

The parallels between Revelation and the Adam and Eve account do seem to indicate that John, the author of Revelation, was familiar with the pseudepigraphal book, The Life of Adam and Eve. Frankly, John is familiar with a tremendous amount of literature and he draws profusely on images from that literature as he writes the book of Revelation. This, of course, does not mean that John believes The Life of Adam and Eve is inspired. He does seem to think there is merit in belief that the second Adam is worthy of worship, however. He shows how the transition from worshiping only God (in Revelation 4) to worshiping BOTH God AND the Lamb (in Revelation 5) was accomplished. And, he asserts that both God and the Lamb are “worthy” of worship by every creature in Heaven and on earth, in the seas, and under the earth (Revelation 5:13-14).

So, Revelation helps us to establish that Jesus, the second Adam, is worthy of worship. It does not present the Devil and/or his angels, however, as refusing to worship him. The Devil is, indeed, cast out of Heaven in Revelation 12:7-9, but not because of any refusal to worship Jesus. He was cast out because “there was no room found for him in Heaven.” His job as accuser had been downsized. Jesus’ blood had paid the price for the sins of all those he was accusing.

As an aside, and along the same line, in my book Revelation: The Human Drama (p. 80), I comment:

Wellhausen claims, "The [image of the Beast] is the alter ego of the empire just as Jesus was called the [image] of God" (cf. II Corinthians 4:4 and Colossians 1:15), then a living human being serves as the "image" of the beast, just as the human, Jesus, serves as the "image" of God. Where exactly Wellhausen derives his information that Jesus is the [image] of God, Charles does not indicate; and the explicit statement is found nowhere in Revelation. However, the [Life of Adam and Eve] 13-14 passage clearly calls Adam the "image" of God, and Ginzberg sees in . . . Heb. 1:6 the link which makes Jesus a second Adam in the fashion of [The Life of Adam and Eve], hence making him worthy of worship. Thus, intertestamental literature with which John could easily be familiar has a human serving as an "image," and therefore receiving "worship."

If John is making the "image" of God (Jesus) in Revelation 5 "worthy of praise," then, in antithetical fashion, he could be making the "image" of the beast (the high priest) in Revelation 13 the object of (unworthy) antichristian worship. In this way, John could be saying that ironically the abomination which the Jews had felt that they had avoided in the assassination of Caligula happened anyway! Instead of an image of stone, the Jews had in the middle of their temple an amazing sign--an image that could "speak" (13:15)! He was the voice of the Empire in the midst of the temple.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Angels & Demons 15: If He Is NOT Satan, Who Is Lucifer?

Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton (and former-First-Lady-now-Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton) are fans of Saul Alinsky, the author of the book Rules for Radicals. The book—which is also recommended by the NEA (National Association of Educators) contains a quote about Lucifer: "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."

Who is this Lucifer whom Alinsky acknowledges as the first radical, the first rebel against the establishment? Surely, Alinsky—in citing “legends, mythology, and history”—was intending to refer to Satan, thinking that Satan/Lucifer was a Fallen Angel who rebelled against the establishment imposed by God. This view of Lucifer is based on an interpretation of Isaiah 14:12-15 (KJV):

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

Granted, if we begin reading in the middle of this chapter, at verse 12, Lucifer can appear to be a powerful angel who has fallen because of his attempt to rebel against “the Most High.” That is, until we reach verse 16, where it is clear that Lucifer is a man: “They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, [and] consider thee, [saying, Is] this the MAN that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?” Verses 18-20, furthermore, point out that Lucifer is a “king”: “All the kings of the nations, [even] all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, [and as] the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, [and] slain thy people.” We confirm this identification of Lucifer as the “king of Babylon” in the 4th verse of chapter 14: “That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon.” What follows, including the Lucifer passage in the middle of this chapter, is all a proverb denouncing the king of Babylon. Nowhere else in the entire Bible do we find an account of Satan being “buried”; yet we find burial concerns for Lucifer throughout verses 18-20, and in the verse immediately preceding verse 12’s Lucifer reference, Isaiah states concerning Lucifer: “Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, [and] the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.”

Politicians, especially those as powerful as the Clintons and Obamas, should be very hesitant to endorse Alinsky as he acknowledges Lucifer. This is true not because Lucifer is a “fallen angel” (he is NOT), but because Lucifer was a deluded “POLITICAL ENTITY!” As the king of Babylon, Lucifer relished his power. Lucifer, the king of Babylon, as a powerful king “oppressed” the people of Israel, God’s people (14:1-6). He did not hesitate to “persecute” (verse 6) the religious followers of the God of Abraham. Perhaps, in his freely oppressing God’s people, he thought he was, thus, equal to the Most High (verse 14). Isaiah 14 is a condemnation of a political entity who thought he was so important that he could oppress and persecute followers of the Most High God.

Only two passages in the New Testament allude to the Lucifer passage in Isaiah:

Matthew 11:23 quotes Jesus: “And you Capernaum, were you not exalted to heaven? Brought down to Hades you will be.” Jesus explains (in 11:20-25) that Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were cities (political entities) that did not repent from their conceited rejection of Jesus, and that other political entities such as Tyre and Sidon and Sodom would receive more grace on the day of judgment than they.

Luke 10:8-15 reports the same account, but in a somewhat more abbreviated form: “Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? No, you will sink to Hades.” Here, Jesus suggests that these towns would be treated less leniently than Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon, but not just because of their treatment of him. It will be so because of their treatment of his followers.

Notice that neither of these passages make any reference to Satan. Clearly, they understand the Isaiah passage to represent a condemnation of HUMAN political entities—those who mistreat the followers of the Most High God. The Lucifer of the Bible is not a fallen angel. Although there are some indications that Isaiah may have drawn upon some Babylonian mythology in his condemnation of the king of Babylon, he is not introducing a Fallen Angel Story. If any conclusions may be drawn from the Lucifer passage in Isaiah 14, it is that political entities who exercise power over God’s people should be extremely careful not to mistreat God’s followers.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Angels & Demons 14: Can Angels Rebel Against God?

While some Christians are familiar with the notion of angels marrying human women, and while that Fallen Angel Story is the most prevalent one in the period preceding the New Testament, most Christians are more inclined to link the fall of the angels to some rebellion of angels. Specifically, Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-14 (who many Christians believe is Satan) is thought to have led an angel rebellion against God.

The motif of lesser gods rebelling against Zeus is the basis for the “Clash of the Titans” in Greek mythology. Therefore, the motif of angels rebelling against God made a good deal of sense to Jews who were living in the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great and his successors (between the Old and New Testaments). Furthermore, although the Isaiah 14 account has Lucifer “die like men” and be, thus, shown to be far inferior to God, many Christians view this Lucifer/Satan who led the supposed angelic rebellion against God to be almost equal to God in his strength and power. They believe that God and Lucifer/Satan are currently at war with one another, and some even believe it is possible that Lucifer/Satan will win. This motif of a Good God who is locked in struggle with an Evil God is neither Greek nor Jewish/Hebrew; it is Persian. (See Angels & Demons 4: “The Great Satan” of Iran.) Both the New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism from the New Testament period reject the view that angels can rebel against God.

Bereshit Rabbah 27:4, a passage to which I referred in an earlier commentary, presents evidence that angels were incapable of rebellion against God. There, in his exposition of Genesis 6:6 (in which God repented that He had made man), Rabbi Judah, from the second century A.D., quotes God as saying regarding MAN: “For behold, (if) I had created him from above, he would not have rebelled against Me.” The point of Rabbi Judah’s remark is that, if man had been created out of the same substance as heavenly beings, he would have been incapable of rebellion against God. Even if one accepts the view of Rabbi Nehemiah, also from the second century A.D., in the same Bereshit Rabbah passage, that if God had made man in Heaven, he would have caused the heavenly beings to rebel against God, one still finds the same basic conclusion: that heavenly beings have never rebelled against God. Otherwise, Rabbi Nehemiah would not have presented God as “relieved” that he had made man “on the earth.”

In Tanhuma Book I, page 30 (an account that parallels Bereshit Rabbah 27:4), the common term for “angels” is used instead of the term “heavenly beings.” Rabbi Judah is quoted as saying that angels do not sin. Rabbi Nehemiah says that God was consoled that He had not made man in heaven, because he would have caused the angels to rebel. Here, then, as in Bereshit Rabbah 27:4, angels remain non-rebellious.

The authoritative Judaic teaching of the period under consideration is in line with this Bereshit Rabbah passage. Angels did not rebel against God. However, we should hasten to add that this was not the position of the Church Fathers—those Christians who wrote in the centuries following the New Testament period. As I mentioned in an earlier commentary, in Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho a Jew, Dialogue 79, Trypho accuses Justin of blasphemy, because Justin says that angels sin and rebel against God. Here, it is clear that the Church Father taught that angels rebel, and it is equally clear that Judaism rejected that teaching.

The Jews of this Post-New Testament Period even REWROTE the Book of Enoch. The Hebrew Book of Enoch, written by various authors of this time, contains NO FALLEN REBEL ANGEL STORIES. It contains no account of rebellious fallen angels, such as the versions of the Book of Enoch written BETWEEN the Old and New Testaments do.

According to Bamberger (p. 94), “nowhere in Talmudic sources is Satan depicted as a rebel against God.” Neither is any account of Satan rebelling against God to be found in the New Testament. According to the New Testament, the account of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-14 is NOT TALKING ABOUT THE FALL OF SATAN. Lucifer is NOT SATAN. I will discuss Lucifer and who he is in my next commentary.