Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bauckham's "Jesus and the God of Israel" 2D (Shema in the NT)

Finally, in what seems to me an appendix in the chapter, albeit not without foreshadowing in terms of “pan biblical theology,” Bauckham exegetes three NT passages’ allusions to the Shema: Rom. 3:28-30; 1 Cor. 8:1-6; and John 10:30.

He begins by noting, contra Margaret Barker, that there is no evidence for non-monotheistic forms of pre-exilic Israelite religion to survive into the Second Temple period to be available for early Christians. Early Judaism is “uniformly” monotheistic and NT writers presuppose Jewish monotheism and do not intend to depart from it.

The widespread allusions to the Shema in the NT militates against Barker’s point. Outside of the three passages he analyzes, he cites Matt 22:37; Mark 12:21-30, 32, Luke 10:22, Gal. 3:20; 1 Tim 2:5; and James 2:19. So, it appears in all of the corpora of the NT, excepting Revelation.

I am fascinated that for the bulk of the chapter on the OT, we barely glimpsed a text, and now in what feels like an appendix, it is all exegesis. I guess he is just going where he is comfortable, since he is a NT scholar.

He again says that there is considerable evidence that the twice-daily Shema was central to the period and echoed frequently in the literature: I just wish he would cite someone on this (maybe he does in later chapters, because I doubt this is the last we've heard of the Shema). I want to know his source to see the evidence.

Rom. 3:28-30: The phrase “God is one” in the passage alludes to the Shema. Paul uses it for the relatively novel (cf. Philo Spec. 1.52) concept that God is the God of Gentiles and, whether circumcised or uncircumcised, justified by the same faith. That “God is one” refers to the Shema as a foreshortened form, he refers to a variety of sources (mainly Sibylline Oracles, Philo, Joseph and Aseneth; and Ps-Sophocles). He says this alludes specifically to the LXX formulation understood as “one and only God of all reality.” The LXX does not mean this in itself, but in its interpretation by these other sources. Paul’s usage does push it in this direction in a distinctive combination of particularism and universalism that argues that Gentiles do not need to convert to become “justified.”

He sees this as an echo of Zech 14:9, showing Paul is not so radically novel, but a continuation of Zechariah. I actually think Zechariah is extraordinarily important for a great deal of NT passages and its underlying influence may be underappreciated more generally.

1 Cor. 8:1-6: This covers some of the same tracks as in the end of Ch. 1, but with new observations as well. It is basically a discussion on food sacrificed to idols. He focuses on the phrases “no idol has no existence in the world” and “there is no God but one.” He compares with Deut. 4:35, 39; 2 Enoch 47:3 (J); and Mark 12:32. He spends some time on “in the world” as an echo of in the heavens and below on the earth. The idols are not “a nothing,” but they are not a god—they are actually demonic (see 10:19-20). So they have existence, just not in the way that their worshipers presume. This, then, is an additional allusion to Deut 32:7 (LXX): “They sacrificed to demons and not to a god.” (cf. Bar. 4:7; Jub. 11:17; 1 Enoch 19:1; Syb.Or. frag. 1:22). The passage goes on in 10:22 to refer to god’s jealousy, which he takes as an allusion to Deut. 32:21, relating God’s jealously to his desire to be the sole object of devotion. As such, B connects it back to the Shema (this argument feels a bit strained at this point). Perhaps loosely it is, since both are related to the larger issue of obedience, just from differing perspectives. Most importantly, Paul associates divine jealousy with Jesus, since he is the referent for “Lord.”

Additionally, “loves god” is already an allusion to the Shema (8:3), and by v. 5, he is shifting from the issue of existence to allegiance, devotion, and worship. The many gods and lords for them contrasts with the one god and one lord “for us.” He later emphasizes this “for us” which gives a personal, particularistic counterpoint the universalistic aspect of creator of all things.

He reiterates a great deal of his exegesis from ch. 1 at this point with the Shema rearranged to include Jesus as one Lord with the Father as one God, including Jesus in creation (although I think in a more restorative role). He additionally notes of non-Jewish texts that present God as creator of “all things” using a variety of prepositions (ek, en, eis, dia): Ps-Aristotle, Mund. 4:3; Asclepius 34; Marcus Aurelius, Med. 4.3). It was something familiar in both Jewish and non-Jewish circles.

Finally, John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.” This is not usually regarded as a Shema reference, but B sees it as an adaptation of “god is one” mentioned first. He does note that it shifts the gender of “one” from its usual masculine to neuter. I’m not sure about the significance of this shift, however.

He also notes issue of father and son and the oneness with disciples—this is just not just closeness, but one people corresponding to the one God in that worship of the one god unites the people as one people. I think there is more to this in John. For example, when Jesus says that he is in the Father and the Father is in him (something noted by Bauckham to demonstrate the identification with one another in oneness; 10:38; 14:10, 11), he also says that he is in the disciples and the disciples are in him (14:20; cf. 17:21, 23). B does cite, but does not mention the content of or discuss these verses. This suggests that the relationship between Jesus and the Father is paralleled in the relationship between the disciples and Jesus. What one says about one relationship applies to the other due to mutual “in-ness.” Does this mean that the disciples are now included in the unique divine identity? Indeed, “they are in us” (17:21). If Jesus and God are mutually identified through in-ness, so are the disciples and Jesus; and, therefore, the disciples and God. Perhaps in arguing for the divine identity of Jesus, B has laid groundwork for the divine identity of Johannine Christians.

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