Jesus as a Divine Mediator


First, a few words about refinements to the schema presented at the beginning of the semester. I’m still not entirely happy with the two categories I’ve added to Hurtado’s typology of mediator figures, although I think both are necessary to round out the picture. Instead of (4) Charismatic Prophets and Royal *Pretenders* (which has a bit of pejorative tone to it), let’s make it (following a suggestion in class by Chris Maxwell) Charismatic Prophets and Royal *Aspirants.* These are people who claim prophetic or royal prerogatives even though they are not part of an official royal or cultic structure. Category 5, Future Ideal Figures, is problematic, inasmuch as not all ideal figures are future (cf. Jesus as heavenly high priest in Hebrews, or Melchizedek as warrior angel and heavenly high priest in the Pistis Sophia). Perhaps Exalted Ideal Figures is better. As for Davis’s three types of mediation, it was suggested in class (during the session on the Teacher of Righteousness) that category 2, Intervention, could be divided into Intervention from Heaven (angels) and Intercession from Earth (human beings).

There seems to be a connection between the Similitudes and the parable of the sheep and goats in Matt 25:31-46, in which case it is far more likely that Matthew drew on the Similitudes than the other way around. I’ll just note the possibility that Matthew drew on an early version of the Similitudes, in which Enoch was not yet identified with the Son of Man, and Matthew identified the figure with Jesus. It may even be that the addition of the ending to the Similitudes which makes Enoch into the Son of Man was precipitated by the sort of Christian use of the the work exemplified by Matthew. In any case, the Similitudes are significant as background to the early interpretations of Jesus, since the Son of Man figure in the Enochic work is tied to an ideal anointed ruler who is connected with the Davidic royal psalms, as well as the Servant of Deutero-Isaiah. Even if the two references to the anointed one are secondary, as has been suggested in the list discussion, some Jewish writer combined all three strands into a single figure just as the early Christians did for Jesus.

The deification of Enoch in 3 Enoch is similar in some ways to the deification of Jesus by the early Christians. Metatron is called the Lesser Yahweh (cf. John 1:1–the Word was God) and is made an exceedingly high divine agent subordinate only to God (Phil 2:9-11). On the other hand, there is no doubt that a Jesus cult came into existence not long after Jesus’ death, whereas the evidence for a Metatron cult is far less certain and if such a cult existed, it arose long after the time of Jesus. In addition, Metatron is an exalted heavenly figure, but not an eschatological figure. It would be interesting to make a detailed comparison with the noneschatological, nonchristological Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas.

The traditions about Melchizedek as a Future Ideal Figure in the Consummation Pattern provide the best parallels with Jesus. They are both eschatological divine warriors (11QMelchizedek; cf. Rev 19 and Mark 13//) and celestial high priests (Pistis Sophia; cf. Hebrews), and the frequent use of Psalm 110 in the NT to describe the postresurrection exaltation of Jesus (e.g., 1 Cor 15:20-25) echoes the heavenly exaltation of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is called a god, but there is no clear evidence for a Melchizedek cult in the Hellenistic period. The eschatological Melchizedek of NHC IX,1 is not, as has sometimes been claimed, based on the Melchizedek of Hebrews. The literary evidence of dependence has been exaggerated and the Melchizedek of NHC IX, 1 is not the ideal priestly figure of Hebrews, but rather is much more like the eschatological divine warrior of 11QMelchizedek. On the other hand, the Gnostic Christian trajectory applies the Intervention Pattern to both Jesus and Melchizedek. Again, comparison of this Melchizedek to the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas might be useful.

James R. Davila

It is not clear that the figure of Moses, either in the biblical or non-biblical material, contributes specifically to the issue of the worship of Jesus. What is significant, however, is that the traditions concerning Moses appear to be used by the writers of the New Testament as a framework from which to interpret the life, teaching, suffering and death of Jesus.

Jesus’ law (2Cor3), covenant and priesthood (Heb9) supersede those established by Moses. Psalm 68:18-19, usually understood to refer to the events at Sinai, and later interpreted in terms of the Rabbinic traditions of the ascent of Moses, is reinterpreted in Ephesians 4:8 to refer to the ascension of Jesus. Both Moses and Jesus are transformed through contact with the divine in a mountaintop experience; the response of the onlookers to this transformation is, in both cases, fear (Ex34:30, 4Q377, Mk9:6-7). According to 4Q374 the onlookers appear to be unable to recognize the transformed Moses – the narratives of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus witness to the same phenomenon (Lk24:28-32, Jn20:11-18).

As a further parallel it is noted that according to Philo, Moses, on Sinai, enters the cloud which is God’s dwelling. In accounts of his ascent and assumption (Philo, Josephus) Moses is carried on a cloud to God. In New Testament accounts at the transfiguration the mountain is overshadowed by the cloud of God’s glory, and Jesus, at his ascension, is carried on a cloud to God (Acts1:9-11). This parallel also shows up the differences in the way these figures are understood. While accounts such as Ezekiel’s “Exagoge” depict the enthronement and investiture of Moses as making him, somehow, the agent of God, at no time is Moses afforded an on-going interventionary role. He is not like Jesus, who after his transformation and ascent is believed to stand at the side of God, active in the heavenly realm (Acts7). While Philo, Ezekiel and Artapanus may point to a tradition which considered Moses to be in some way divine, or at least as a human being transformed to take on a role within the Godhead, Moses is not considered to be at one with God – as Jesus seems to be in John 14:9-11. Except in medieval Samaritan literature, which may have been influenced by Christianity, there is no clear evidence that an exalted Moses is offered intercession or worship. The influence of the figure of Moses is perhaps most significant in terms the role of the traditions about him play in the interpretation and definition of the life and death of Jesus.

Although we must bear in mind the difficulties of building up a uniform picture of any of the figures who feature in the Qumran literature, it is possible to make some assessment of the figure behind the Teacher of Righteousness from which to consider the way in which this figure may illuminate the worship of Jesus.

From the Damascus Document the Teacher emerges as the leader of a community (col.1) whose teaching remains effective, as a means of salvation, after his death (col.20). The reference in col.6 “until there arises one who teaches righteousness” may refer either to a belief in the reappearance of the historical Teacher, or to the expectation of an ideal figure.

From references in the Pesharim the Teacher is still seen as a leader of a community – he is now in active conflict with a specific protagonist, the Wicked Priest. This conflict entails the suffering (perhaps death) of the Teacher. Salvation, ie earthly vindication, for the people is still dependent on obedience, which may also lead to their own suffering. Col.8 of the Pesher on Habakkuk seems to suggest that in addition to obedience the community is also expected to have faith in the person of the Teacher himself.

There is much which the representations of the Teacher and of Jesus have in common. Both are leaders of, or within, their communities. Both establish a set of precepts, obedience to which, even after their own death, leads to salvation, and may cause their followers to suffer. Both communities flounder after the death of their leader and require further instruction. Both figures themselves suffer to the point of death. The point of departure is that while the Teacher suffers on account of the teaching that leads to salvation, the death of Jesus is itself, in some accounts, understood to be the means of salvation. This points to further differences – while the Teacher interprets scripture (1QHab,7) Jesus is seen as the fulfilment of scripture.

It is possible that these differences may be understood in terms of development, so that the Teacher may be seen as a step on the way to the worship of Jesus (so Brownlee). There remains, however, a missing link since the accounts of the figure of the Teacher provide no specific evidence of a community’s worship of its leader and Teacher.

Ysmena Pentelow

I think that we need to accept that there was an Elijah tradition at the time of Jesus which was later expanded during the Rabbinic period. Some of the later Rabbinic ideas can be seen in the gospels, such as Elijah the rescuer in response to Jesus’ words from the cross, and Elijah the judge/advocate in Pauls mind. Elijah then remains an Exalted Patriarch in the strong sense, with the tradition at the time of Jesus showing him as being in the Legacy Pattern, the Intervention Pattern, and the Consummation Pattern. It is likely that Jesus’ followers noticed that some of his miracles had been done previously by Elijah, although Jesus’ miracles are on a much grander scale, demonstrating his superiority. It would be only natural for a link between the two men of God to form in their minds.

If we compare the Elijah traditions to those about Jesus we find that both Elijah and Jesus were able to control the weather, they were both able to make large amounts of food out of morsels, they were both able to restore life to the dead, they both spent forty days and night in the wilderness, and were both attended during that time by angels, they both visited foreigners, and they both left a double share of their spirits on their successors.

In addition we seem to see a continuing tradition extending from Moses to Elijah, Elisha, John, and Jesus. This could be explained as the Spirit of YHWH entering and controlling each person in turn, or as each person deliberately emulating a previous `holy man’ so that he would be mentally connected with his predecessors. This would provide greater honour and respect for the prior prophets, provided that the present one behaved himself and followed YHWH, and would also enable the new prophet/holy man to accumulate honour and respect from those whom he wanted to follow him. YHWH would also receive honour and respect when this happened, so everyone wins.

Christopher Maxwell

Having studied many of the sources which mention Solomon, I have discovered that this figure, on the whole, follows Davis’ “Legacy Pattern.” Solomon’s mediational legacy is apparent from our very earliest extant sources (namely I Kings 1-11 – in particular I Kings 4:29ff). Solomon’s legacy is also evidenced in a great deal of later magico-religious literature and manuscripts. Solomon fits Davila’s “Charismatic Prophet” type in the weak sense since he was renowned like Apollonius of Tyana as an exorcist par excellence. Solomon’s exorcistic legacy is really his chief claim to divine mediation apart from his wisdom, which according to the Testament of Solomon actually “possessed” him. There is hardly one Solomonic tradition that does not at least implicitly refer to this figures incredible ability to cast out and control demonic beings and spirits. The Testament of Solomon (TSol) expands this tradition into an elaborate tale of how Solomon, like a shaman, actually controls the evil spirits (whilst in a trance state induced by what seems to be spirit-possession) and enlists them to assist him with the building of his temple. This is indeed evidence of a shaman-like element in the figure of Solomon which can be paralleled in Jesus’ control of and use of various demons. I have argued that although there is little evidence to suggest that Solomon followed Davis’ Intervention Pattern this possibility must not be ruled out and indeed arguments can be made for seeing Solomon as a heavenly being that was called upon to assist magico-religious practitioners during exorcisms although this must, at least for the moment, be seen as conjectural. Solomon most certainly fits Hurtado’s “Exalted Patriarch” type in the weak sense and if he did follow in some sense the Intervention Pattern, a case can be made for seeing him as an Exalted Patriarch in the strong sense. I have also discovered that the title “Son of David” in the New Testament can be seen quite clearly to refer to the figure of Solomon as opposed to a nationalistic Messianic exclamation. The best evidence for this is undoutedly Matthew 12. In this text we can see that after the crowd has shouted that Jesus must have been “the Son of David” (which we are taking to mean one like Solomon or some form of incarnation of the figure), on account of his formidable exorcistic technique, Jesus then later rejects this acclamation by asserting that he is one greater than the Solomon (Son of David). This passage could well indicate that Jesus at the time of his ministry may have been interpreted through the lens of the proverbial exorcistic figure of Solomon and thus his subsequent worship may well have been catalysed by such a conceptualisation. This last point could do with a great deal more more scholarly attention. The key parallel between Jesus and Solomon, as Morton Smith has pointed out, is their practice of exorcism along with their shamanic and spirit-possessed attributes.

Apollonius of Tyana, like Solomon, left a great mediational legacy. He was infamous as an exorcist-cum-philosopher-cum-magician. There are very striking parallels between Jesus and Apollonius which cannot be neglected (both carried out similar exorcisms with similar techniques; both were worshipped; both lived a very austere shaman-like existence; both had a group of followers; both performed incredible miracles and underwent mystical shaman-like journeys and transportations etc.). However we must ask why these similarities exist before we begin to draw conclusions from them. We must understand that our chief source concerning Apollonius (Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius) is hugely biased in favour of eulogising and honouring Apollonius. In addition this source was written two centuries after Jesus’ death and thus the possibility of a very significant degree of conceptual plagiarism is real. On thing we can be sure of is that in Ephesus, Cilicia and Tyana itself there is archaelogical proof of there having been several Apollonian cults. As to the shape and form these cults took, we can only speculate. However the story at the end of Philostratus’ account is to be favoured as being historically reliable and thus provides good evidence for Apollonius’ following in some sense the intervention pattern. Apollonius like Solomon also follows what we coined in class as the “Intercession Pattern” whereby the divine mediator mediates in his present life for his human contemporaries. Also like Solomon and Jesus, Apollonius can be seen to have been spirit-possessed (namely by the spirit of wisdom, Proteus and Heracles the Averter). This may provide evidence for an underlying cross-cultural subconscious interpretative schema from which Jesus’ earliest followers were able to draw from in an attempt to interpret their sage’s behaviour and sayings. Finally Apollonius of Tyana follows Davila’s Charismatic Prophet type very closely indeed and Hurtado’s Exalted Patriach in the strong or weak sense depending on whether one sees him an interceding divine figure who could be called upon at any moment by those who worshipped him. However unlike Jesus who follows all three of Davis’ patterns of mediation, Apollonius only follows at most the Legacy and Intervention patterns. This may be a significant reason as to why Jesus’ apotheosis occurred far more rapidly and with greater endurance than his magico-religious contemporaries.

Andrew Home-Cook

The Future Davidic Ruler greatly contributes to my understanding of Jesus in the New Testament. Only four points will be given. First the study of this divine mediator lets me understand why the New Testament authors describe Jesus as ÒSon of DavidÓ, ÒSon of ManÓ and ÒSon of GodÓ, and how they are related to one another. In short, they are portraying the same idea eventually: Jesus as a messianic figure. This issue is dealt with in 1 Enoch 48:10 and 52:4, and the Royal Psalms in the Old Testament such as Psalm 2:7, 45:6-7, and 110:3. In 1 Enoch 48, the Son of Man and the Davidic messianic figure are identical; in the Royal Psalms, the Son of David is identified with Son of God again. Second, the image as a divine warrior of the Future Davidic Ruler is also helpful for understanding Jesus. The Future Davidic Ruler appears to be violent in 2 Baruch, Psalms of Solomon 17 and the Dead Sea Scrolls, but to be nonviolent in 4 Ezra 13:35-36 and 1 Enoch. Interestingly, in Revelation Jesus as a divine Warrior is described by militaristic languages in a nonmilitaristic sense. Third, the usage of GodÕs law from his mouth by the Future Davidic Ruler in 4 Ezra 14:38 is also reminiscent of JesusÕ ministry by means of his words in rebuking Satan, healing centurionÕs servants etc. Fourth, two aspects (preexistence and Davidic descent) of the Davidic Messiah in 4 Ezra 7:26-31 and 13:26 are also useful for understanding JesusÕ preexistence and Davidic descent in Rom. 1:3-4.

Pilchan Lee

We have observed that some personal figures (1. heavenly figures, such as Michael and Metatron; 2. historical but exalted after death, such as Moses, Elijah, and cf. Enoch?) and some personified attributes (the Logos and wisdom) are divinized and assigned some mediatorial offices for human beings in some Jewish documents of the second Temple period. The degree of each divinization varies with each author’s religious understanding and worldview, and actually the texts which allude to a divine mediator figure, in particular who can be described as a cultic object, are infrequent. However, it is interesting that these mediator figures are considered by several Jewish authors who live in the monotheistic worldview as immortal beings beside God (although Philo thinks that the souls of human beings are in general immortal [e.g. Sacr 8]). And they stand between God and the world (or human beings); they are thought to be able to intervene into the world; and they are expected to visit the world in the eschaton. Although it is not necessarily clear whether they did actually accept the people’s worship, they are recognized as some divine representatives of the heavenly realm, who realize and embody God’s will.

These divine mediator figures may have provided early Christians with the understanding of the figure of the coming Messiah. Needless to say, early Christians focus on the divine figures of Jesus and seek for the ‘Christ-centered’ theology. They read the Old Testament, keeping the event of Jesus in mind. It is natural for them to draw on several divine mediatorial figures in the Bible, standing in the religious atmosphere of the second Temple period. Jesus is remembered as a mediator for the new covenant (in Heb 9:15) (Legacy Pattern), and each application to several messianic expectation of those days and to the figure of the prophetic traditions encourages the early Christians to depict Jesus as a Future Ideal Figure (or Consummation Figure). The faith in the resurrected Jesus and access to the messianic figure of the heavenly high priest naturally lead them to expect Jesus’ intervention in the present and in the future. In this sense, the divine mediator figures of those period may have been a good resource for the construction of christology.

It is also noteworthy that the early Christians emphasize the uniqueness of Jesus, thinking of Jesus as the fulfilment of each messianic prophecy and as the complete model of each type of the mediator in the Old Testament, placing him in a higher position than any other mediator figures (e.g. John 1:17; 6:32; Heb 1:4-2:9; Matt 12:42; 22:42-45). We should not disregard the fact, however, that the Jews in the biblical time could not accept Jesus, by saying, ‘because you, being a man, make yourself God (QEON)’ (John 10:33), and ‘make himself equal with God’ (ISON TON QEON) (John 5:18). The objection of those people may show that they face a crisis at that moment; i.e. whether they abandon the monotheistic world view, or seek the solution in the perfect unity of Jesus with God, however not reducing the human nature as well.

It is interesting to see the similar context where both Philo and John stand. Both need to deal with some personal figures beside God the creator. In the context where Philo contends against the polytheistic view (e.g. plurality of creator in Genesis creation account, angelic figures), the Logos is employed to dissolve the possibility of polytheistic understanding. In that case, the Logos is called ‘the second God’ (Somn 1:227-230) or ‘a God’ (Quaest Gen 2:62) to sustain the monotheistic view, as well as to distinguish the divine figures from God. In the case of John, the Logos functions as a good metaphor to describe the intimate relation between God and the personal figure, Jesus, however not reducing the monotheistic view.

It is uncertain whether John in fact takes some idea from Philo’s Logos; however Philo and John surely stand in the common understanding of the Logos. Philo’s Logos has a kinship to Plato’s or middle platonism’s cosmological understanding (e.g. Op Mund; Plant 18-19; Fug 94-102), while it maintains the figure of the word of God and wisdom (Sacr 8; Leg All 3:174-178, 204; Post 102, 127-129; Quis Rer 199; Leg All 1:43, 65; Leg All 2:86; Fug 97; Somn 2:241-242). In addition, if our observation that the Platonic idea or its worldview provides the Logos (of both Philo and John) with a divine mediator figure, but rather each application to the personal figure and its biblical context is correct, we may be able to say that the similarities of both understanding of the Logos can be found somewhere in the word of God or in the wisdom tradition. It should be noted that later Jewish literature focus on the word of God in accordance with the Genesis creation account, replace it by other key terms (e.g. Torah in Midr. Rab. Gen; Memra in Tg. Neof. 1), depict them as co-worker of the creation (Midr. Rab Gen 1; Tg. Neof. Gen 1), and locate them in the nearest position to God the creator (e.g. Midr. Rab. Gen 1; De Cher 127).

Masanobu Endo

(c) 1998
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the authors.

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