Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Angel of the LORD and Jesus

I would like to draw attention to a post by Mike Koke on many of April DeConick's recent discussions of early Christology as well as referring to my own reviews of Bauckham. In the comment section, there is an extended discussion between myself and Nick Norelli, who has also reviewed Bauckham, on some of the more emotional (annoyed) aspects of my review as well as a nice summation statement by Mike Koke on the whole issue in the comments.


Mike Koke said...

Thanks Jared for your interaction on my blog. I actually have a question about how you see the Principal Angel. Do you think the Angel remains distinct from YHWH as an exalted creature though invested with the Divine Name or do you see the Angel as the physical manifestation of YHWH and a hypostasis? I have not come to a conclusion on this yet.

Jared said...

Difficult, and therefore fantastic, question. Let's begin with the Pentateuch. When I think of Genesis (such as Gen. 22), when YHWH is used interchangeably with the "angel of YHWH" I tend to think their identities are somewhat blurred. Who's speaking? Who's acting? YHWH or the angel? Is there a significant difference? But when I think of Exodus, for example, when God says that he will send an angel to lead them and put his name in that angel, I tend to see it as a separate creature invested with the divine name. I am not sure hypostasis is a helpful concept until the Hellenistic period. In the Second Temple period, figures such as Iaoel/Yahoel seem to be distinct exalted angels invested with the divine name.

When thinking about divinity and these issues, I think a helpful place to look is how kingship works, since the divine is usually perceived to operate similarly to human kingship. I think the ambiguity might rely upon the idea in antiquity that you treat the messenger in the same way you would treat the person himself. So, a diplomat or messenger of a king is to be treated as the king himself. An angel of YHWH is, therefore, for all intensive purposes, to be treated as YHWH.

This might additionally explain, by the way, the fairly widespread depiction of the high priest as glorious and even otherworldly, because to the people he represents YHWH (and is also invested with the divine name on his headpiece--see Exod. 26); on the flip side, to God he represents the people. This dynamic explains a great deal of Leviticus 16. This is why Moses is "as God" to Pharaoh, because he represents God to Pharaoh. In the same vein, the King also represents God, which might explain the interesting combined reverence given to Solomon and God with Solomon on the throne of YHWH in 1 Chron. 29.

I am not sure, but if I were to investigate this more thoroughly, that is where I would start.