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The Lord God of Gods

Divinity and Deification in Early Judaism


The investigation of this book into early Jewish experiences of God begins with calls to discard any categorical and definitional approaches to the literature of early Judaism, and several enduring preconceptions about its mysticism and theology (particularly the relegation of its mysticism to particular texts and themes, and the molding of its theology in the image of medieval and post-medieval Jewish and Christian monotheisms). With this abandonment, the symbolic language of early Jewish texts gives sharper contours to a pre-formal theology, a theology in which God and divinity are more subjects of experience and recognition than of propositions. This clarity leads the investigation to the conclusion that early Judaism is thoroughly mystical and experiences a theology which is neither polytheistic, nor monotheistic, but deificational: there is only one divine selfhood, the divinity of “God,” but he shares his selfhood with “gods,” to varying degrees and always at his discretion. With some important differentiations which are also introduced here, this theology undergirds almost the entirety of early Judaism—the Bible, post-biblical texts, and even classical rabbinic literature. The greatest development over time is only that the boundaries between God and gods become at once clearer and less rigid.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4333-3
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Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Aug 24,2021
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 357
Languages: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4333-3
$114.95
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The investigation of this book into early Jewish experiences of God begins with calls to discard any categorical and definitional approaches to the literature of early Judaism, and several enduring preconceptions about its mysticism and theology (particularly the relegation of its mysticism to particular texts and themes, and the molding of its theology in the image of medieval and post-medieval Jewish and Christian monotheisms). With this abandonment, the symbolic language of early Jewish texts gives sharper contours to a pre-formal theology, a theology in which God and divinity are more subjects of experience and recognition than of propositions. This clarity leads the investigation to the conclusion that early Judaism is thoroughly mystical and experiences a theology which is neither polytheistic, nor monotheistic, but deificational: there is only one divine selfhood, the divinity of “God,” but he shares his selfhood with “gods,” to varying degrees and always at his discretion. With some important differentiations which are also introduced here, this theology undergirds almost the entirety of early Judaism—the Bible, post-biblical texts, and even classical rabbinic literature. The greatest development over time is only that the boundaries between God and gods become at once clearer and less rigid.

The investigation of this book into early Jewish experiences of God begins with calls to discard any categorical and definitional approaches to the literature of early Judaism, and several enduring preconceptions about its mysticism and theology (particularly the relegation of its mysticism to particular texts and themes, and the molding of its theology in the image of medieval and post-medieval Jewish and Christian monotheisms). With this abandonment, the symbolic language of early Jewish texts gives sharper contours to a pre-formal theology, a theology in which God and divinity are more subjects of experience and recognition than of propositions. This clarity leads the investigation to the conclusion that early Judaism is thoroughly mystical and experiences a theology which is neither polytheistic, nor monotheistic, but deificational: there is only one divine selfhood, the divinity of “God,” but he shares his selfhood with “gods,” to varying degrees and always at his discretion. With some important differentiations which are also introduced here, this theology undergirds almost the entirety of early Judaism—the Bible, post-biblical texts, and even classical rabbinic literature. The greatest development over time is only that the boundaries between God and gods become at once clearer and less rigid.

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ContributorBiography

SilviuBunta

Rev. Silviu Nicolae Bunta holds a B.Div. degree in Orthodox theology from the University of Sibiu (Romania), an M.A. in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from the University of Oradea (Romania), and a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament under the guidance of Deirdre Dempsey from Marquette University (USA). He is currently an Associate Professor in Scripture at the University of Dayton (Ohio) and a Visiting Associate Professor at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers (New York). He has published and lectured on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the ascetical-mystical traditions and scriptural hermeneutics of early Judaism, as well as the ancient Christian and Orthodox reading of the Scriptures.

Chapter One. Introduction ........................................................ 1
PART ONE: DIVINITY AND DEIFICATION BEFORE THE EXILE .......... 27
Chapter Two. The Biblical Features of Divinity .......................... 29
Chapter Three. The Ancient Near Eastern Context of Judahite
Theologies ....................................................................... 45
Chapter Four. The Other Gods—Inclusion and Exclusion in
the Godhead .................................................................... 57
PART TWO: THE EMERGENCE OF THEOMORPHIC ANTHROPOLOGIES
AND THE EXCLUSION OF HUMANITY FROM DIVINITY IN THE
EXILIC AND PERSIAN PERIOD ........................................... 73
Chapter Five. Exilic and Postexilic Reassessments of the
Divine Presence ............................................................... 77
Chapter Six. The Emergence of Theomorphism and the
Exclusion of Humanity from the Godhead in Ezekiel 28
and 31 ..................................................................................... 87
Chapter Seven. (Non-)divine “Mediators” and the Angelification
of YHWH’s Council .................................................... 109
PART THREE: EZEKIEL THE TRAGEDIAN, DANIEL 2–4, PSEUDO-ORPHEUS,
AND THE MERGING OF THE WAYS ........................................ 123
Chapter Eight. Hellenization and the (Re)definition of
Jewishness .................................................................... 127
Chapter Nine. The Deified Moses in Ezekiel the Tragedian’s
Exagoge ......................................................................... 131
Chapter Ten. The Deified Daniel in Daniel 2-4 ...................... 157
Chapter Eleven. Boundaries and Crossings in Pseudo-
Orpheus: Moses as a God ................................................ 173
Chapter Twelve. Crossing the Divine Borders in 4Q491c and
4Q427 7 I ...................................................................... 181
PART FOUR: DEIFICATION IN LATE ANTIQUITY JUDAISM: CONTINUITIES
AND DEVELOPMENTS ....................................................191
Chapter Thirteen. The Inclusion and Exclusion of Humanity
and Angels in the Divine in Rabbinic Judaism ............... 197
Chapter Fourteen. Adam and the Kabod ................................ 219
Chapter Fifteen. Adam-Light Speculations ............................ 225
Chapter Sixteen. The Enormous Body of Adam ..................... 243
Chapter Seventeen. Adam’s Body of Knowledge .................... 259
Chapter Eighteen. The Angelic Veneration of Adam .............. 267
Chapter Nineteen. Conclusions.............................................. 281
Select Bibliography ............................................................... 287
Indices .................................................................................. 321
Index of Ancient Sources ............................................... 321
Index of Subjects ........................................................... 344

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