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Incredible Books on Biblical Studies & Ancient Religion?

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I've recently been reading Kugel's "How to Read the Bible" - something I find just stunning, amazing, breathtaking, and so forth.  Besides covering many fascinating topics, it's very well written.  Unfortunately, it took me nearly half of a lifetime to discover it!  How did I get halfway through life without someone sitting me down and saying, "YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK" !? I can't let more decades of my life pass by in similar ignorance.

Can you biblical studies aficionados recommend other fabulous books--accessible to a popular audience--for me and the group?

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The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter

The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God by Margaret Barker and The Older Testament by Margaret Barker

The Great Code by Northrop Frye

The Myth of the Eternal Return: or Cosmos and History by Mircea Eliade

I See Satan Fall Like Lightning by Rene Girard

Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount by John W. Welch

Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard E. Friedman

Each one of these permanently changed what I see when I read.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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2 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God by Margaret Barker and The Older Testament by Margaret Barker

Just an aside for those of you who consider reading this book. Reading the angel of YHWH as Yeshua is a faulty theology. He is not Yeshua. Yeshua was YHWH - not simply His messenger. This is made clear in the NT when the angel appears to comfort Yeshua. Further, it is made clear that it was this angel appearing in the burning bush, and makes no mention of His being Yeshua.

Further, the Lord says to give heed unto this angel, because he will NOT forgive you "for my name is in Him." Does that sound like our Savior? There is a modern scholastic tendency to read the angel of YHWH as being Yeshua, but it definitely has its textual problems, and is an error.

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22 hours ago, Mormons Talk said:

I've recently been reading Kugel's "How to Read the Bible" - something I find just stunning, amazing, breathtaking, and so forth.  Besides covering many fascinating topics, it's very well written.  Unfortunately, it took me nearly half of a lifetime to discover it!  How did I get halfway through life without someone sitting me down and saying, "YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK" !? I can't let more decades of my life pass by in similar ignorance.

Can you biblical studies aficionados recommend other fabulous books--accessible to a popular audience--for me and the group?

 

Authoring The Old Testament

Quote

For the last two centuries, biblical scholars have made discoveries and insights about the Old Testament that have greatly changed the way in which the authorship of these ancient scriptures has been understood. In the first of three volumes spanning the entire Hebrew Bible, David Bokovoy dives into the Pentateuch, showing how and why textual criticism has led biblical scholars today to understand the first five books of the Bible as an amalgamation of multiple texts into a single, though often complicated narrative; and he discusses what implications those have for Latter-day Saint understandings of the Bible and modern scripture.

 

Bokovoy_Authoring1_CSS_1024x1024.jpg?v=1

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Anchor Bible Dictionary. You can get the eBook version too through Logos or equivalent apps. Yeah it's expensive but well, well, worth it. And $270 is actually much less than the printed version used to cost. I think I paid over $500 for mine. Even though it's starting to get a little dated, things haven't changed that much the past 20 years. It encompasses a fairly long entry on nearly any topic you can think of related to the Bible.

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You might be interested in James L. Kugel and Rowan A. Greer, Early Biblical Interpretation, Library of Early Christianity (Phila.: Westminster Press, 1986).

William Stegner, Narrative Theology in Early Jewish Christianity (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1989).

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12 hours ago, RevTestament said:

Just an aside for those of you who consider reading this book. Reading the angel of YHWH as Yeshua is a faulty theology. He is not Yeshua. Yeshua was YHWH - not simply His messenger. This is made clear in the NT when the angel appears to comfort Yeshua. Further, it is made clear that it was this angel appearing in the burning bush, and makes no mention of His being Yeshua.

Further, the Lord says to give heed unto this angel, because he will NOT forgive you "for my name is in Him." Does that sound like our Savior? There is a modern scholastic tendency to read the angel of YHWH as being Yeshua, but it definitely has its textual problems, and is an error.

One of the major problems with identifying this or that god is that they have descriptive titles which can be used across the board for different personages.  Thus, Yeshua "Salvation," and Yahweh, "He who creates that which exists," etc., may apply to more than one character.  It can be very hard to tell which deity is being described in any given instance.  Indeed, Nibley thought that the gods move up in the hierarchy as time goes on and additional worlds are created, and additional Saviors are sacrificed.

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13 hours ago, RevTestament said:

Just an aside for those of you who consider reading this book. Reading the angel of YHWH as Yeshua is a faulty theology. He is not Yeshua. Yeshua was YHWH - not simply His messenger. This is made clear in the NT when the angel appears to comfort Yeshua. Further, it is made clear that it was this angel appearing in the burning bush, and makes no mention of His being Yeshua.

Further, the Lord says to give heed unto this angel, because he will NOT forgive you "for my name is in Him." Does that sound like our Savior? There is a modern scholastic tendency to read the angel of YHWH as being Yeshua, but it definitely has its textual problems, and is an error.

I think it's more complicated than you suggest. But a lot has been written on this. From a theological historical perspective I just have a hard time saying that every use of YHWH refers to Christ. I think that first off that it unlikely people used terminology consistently in this case. (Much as we see with our own history of terms for members of the godhead) The angel of the Lord's presence seems an interesting post-exilic development that likely affected many elements of theology in various movements including the 1st century strains of Christianity. The equating of Christ to the logos seems quite plausibly connected to this tradition. 

Once we throw out the idea of linguistic/theological consistency I think a lot of problems disappear. 

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22 hours ago, RevTestament said:

Just an aside for those of you who consider reading this book. Reading the angel of YHWH as Yeshua is a faulty theology. He is not Yeshua. Yeshua was YHWH - not simply His messenger. This is made clear in the NT when the angel appears to comfort Yeshua. Further, it is made clear that it was this angel appearing in the burning bush, and makes no mention of His being Yeshua.

Further, the Lord says to give heed unto this angel, because he will NOT forgive you "for my name is in Him." Does that sound like our Savior? There is a modern scholastic tendency to read the angel of YHWH as being Yeshua, but it definitely has its textual problems, and is an error.

If you are going to provide an aside, a little context and things like chapters and page numbers would be helpful.  The Great Angel consists of a Preface, Introduction and 11 chapters:

1 The Son of God

2 The Evidence of the Exile

3 The Evidence of the Old Testament

4 The Evidence of Wisdom

5 The Evidence of Angels

6  The Evidence of the Name

7  The Evidence of Philo

8 The Evidence of the Jewish Writers

9 The Evidence of the Gnostics

10 The Evidence of the First Christians

11 The Evidence of the New Testament.

In the index, you can look up topics like Angel of the Great Counsel, Angel of the Presence, Angel of Holy Spirit, Angel of Peace, Angel of Yahweh, angel names, angels, fallen, and angels of nations. 

The discussion of the Angel of Yahweh is on pages 31-7 in chapter 3.  And in that discussion begins by saying "There are many references in the Old Testament to the Angel of Yahweh, and of these, some would most naturally be taken to mean that the Angel of Yahweh was Yahweh's servant or emissary, his messenger."  And after a few pages of discussion of different passages, different interpreters, different commentaries, she examines "a third group of texts (incidentally, the largest group), where the Yahweh and the Angel of Yahweh seem to be interchangeable, that is synonymous."  (page 33).  After a few more pages of discussion, she comments "What are we to make of all of this, especially since scholars think that a major compilation of the Pentateuch was done by someone identifying Yahweh with El the God of the Fathers and consequently altering names?  The bulk of the evidence suggests that the Angel of Yahweh and Yahweh had been identical, some examples are open to either reading, and very few indeed refer clearly to two separate beings, Yahweh and the Angel."  She continues examining more passages and evidence, including, on page 36, the four throne names in the Hebrew of Isaiah's prophesy, Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, these four being aspects of one who is in the Greek given a single title, the "Angel of the Great Counsel."  And the chapter continues with further discussion of texts, and contexts, and interpreters, and sources, and the state of the sources, and the story behind all of that.  And that story turns out to have profound implications for how the Book of Mormon relates to the Bible, and what the Plain and Precious things were, how they were lost, and how they were restored, and where, and what the "mark" was that the Jews looked beyond, and what their blindness was (Jacob 4), and what it was that those who "saw and heard" actually saw and heard.  It's not the sort of argument that collapses at the suggestion of a contrary proof text.  Rather it is far reaching, broadly based, carefully argued, and part of a complex structure that at this stage consists of 17 published books, and many more articles.

I first spotted a copy of The Great Angel on a shelf in a Half Price bookstore in Dallas in, having been taken there by my brother during a visit in the summer of 1999.  I recognized the title because two LDS writers in The old Review had quoted the same passage, which stuck in my mind.

Quote

There were many in first-century Palestine who still retained a world-view derived from the more ancient religion of Israel [that of the First Temple] in which there was a High God and several Sons of God, one of whom was Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel. Yahweh, the Lord, could be manifested on earth in human form, as an angel or in the Davidic king. It was as a manifestation of Yahweh, the Son of God, that Jesus was acknowledged as Son of God, Messiah and Lord.11

The Great Angel remains one of my favorite books.  And a number of top LDS scholars have shared the same one word review with me.  "Wow!"

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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On 4/21/2018 at 2:26 PM, Mormons Talk said:

Can you biblical studies aficionados recommend other fabulous books--accessible to a popular audience--for me and the group?

Here are a few I'd recommend:

The Bible Tells Me So - Peter Enns  (So far all of Peter Enns books I've read have been excellent and very accessible for a popular audience.  He also has a podcast titled - The Bible For Normal People, and I would recommend that, he has great guests on as well.)

Meeting Jesus Again For the First Time - Marcus Borg (I absolutely love Marcus Borg)

I would recommend reading some John Dominic Crossan, and some Bart Ehrman books as well.  If you want someone more conservative theologically but still honest on the history side try N. T. Wright.  

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10 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I think it's more complicated than you suggest. But a lot has been written on this. From a theological historical perspective I just have a hard time saying that every use of YHWH refers to Christ. I think that first off that it unlikely people used terminology consistently in this case. (Much as we see with our own history of terms for members of the godhead) The angel of the Lord's presence seems an interesting post-exilic development that likely affected many elements of theology in various movements including the 1st century strains of Christianity. The equating of Christ to the logos seems quite plausibly connected to this tradition. 

Once we throw out the idea of linguistic/theological consistency I think a lot of problems disappear. 

Don't read more into what I said than I said. I did not say that YHWH always refers to Christ. I said He was YHWH, and not the messenger of YHWH. Clearly, apparently contrary to common LDS belief, the Father is also YHWH. Both hold the title of YHWH Elohim, and there are multiple scriptures going back to Genesis 3:22 which support this. What i am referring to is the modern tendency Protestant Christianity to try to prove Yeshua's pre-existence by pointing to the angel of YHWH as being Yeshua, which I believe is error, and I gave some reasons why already. I don't care how many scholars have jumped on the angel of YHWH as Yeshua bandwagon. They have to deal with the textual evidence IMHO, which they don't - at least not adequately. 

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1 hour ago, Kevin Christensen said:

If you are going to provide an aside, a little context and things like chapters and page numbers would be helpful.  The Great Angel consists of a Preface, Introduction and 11 chapters:

1 The Son of God

2 The Evidence of the Exile

3 The Evidence of the Old Testament

4 The Evidence of Wisdom

5 The Evidence of Angels

6  The Evidence of the Name

7  The Evidence of Philo

8 The Evidence of the Jewish Writers

9 The Evidence of the Gnostics

10 The Evidence of the First Christians

11 The Evidence of the New Testament.

In the index, you can look up topics like Angel of the Great Counsel, Angel of the Presence, Angel of Holy Spirit, Angel of Peace, Angel of Yahweh, angel names, angels, fallen, and angels of nations. 

The discussion of the Angel of Yahweh is on pages 31-7 in chapter 3.  And in that discussion begins by saying "There are many references in the Old Testament to the Angel of Yahweh, and of these, some would most naturally be taken to mean that the Angel of Yahweh was Yahweh's servant or emissary, his messenger."  And after a few pages of discussion of different passages, different interpreters, different commentaries, she examines "a third group of texts (incidentally, the largest group), where the Yahweh and the Angel of Yahweh seem to be interchangeable, that is synonymous."  (page 33).  After a few more pages of discussion, she comments "What are we to make of all of this, especially since scholars think that a major compilation of the Pentateuch was done by someone identifying Yahweh with El the God of the Fathers and consequently altering names?  The bulk of the evidence suggests that the Angel of Yahweh and Yahweh had been identical, some examples are open to either reading, and very few indeed refer clearly to two separate beings, Yahweh and the Angel."  She continues examining more passages and evidence, including, on page 36, the four throne names in the Hebrew of Isaiah's prophesy, Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, these four being aspects of one who is in the Greek given a single title, the "Angel of the Great Counsel."  And the chapter continues with further discussion of texts, and contexts, and interpreters, and sources, and the state of the sources, and the story behind all of that.  And that story turns out to have profound implications for how the Book of Mormon relates to the Bible, and what the Plain and Precious things were, how they were lost, and how they were restored, and where, and what the "mark" was that the Jews looked beyond, and what their blindness was (Jacob 4), and what it was that those who "saw and heard" actually saw and heard.  It's not the sort of argument that collapses at the suggestion of a contrary proof text.  Rather it is far reaching, broadly based, carefully argued, and part of a complex structure that at this stage consists of 17 published books, and many more articles.

I first spotted a copy of The Great Angel on a shelf in a Half Price bookstore in Dallas in, having been taken there by my brother during a visit in the summer of 1999.  I recognized the title because two LDS writers in The old Review had quoted the same passage, which stuck in my mind.

The Great Angel remains one of my favorite books.  And a number of top LDS scholars have shared the same one word review with me.  "Wow!"

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

I am not trying to hurt feelings. I am just giving a heads up. I have not read this book. However, I have heard Barker comment on her Angel of YHWH theology, and it is my recollection that she does buy into the Angel of YHWH as being YHWH theology. As a consequence I listed my problems with this theology, which I believe need to be adequately explained before one buys it hook, line and sinker. What is to distinguish Yeshua from the angel who comes and strengthens Him in the garden of Gethsemane, if Yeshua is an angel all through the OT? The answer is nothing. There is no way to distinguish Him. Given that interpretation Yeshua speaks as YHWH and as the angel of YHWH throughout the OT. Well, that interpretation has some textual difficulties, which I deign to point out.

The careful reader will realize that Yeshua does speak as YHWH in the OT - He speaks as YHWH when He says YHWH and His Spirit has sent me. He speaks as YHWH when He says "they will see me whom they have pierced, and will weep for me as one who weeps for his only son." etc, although I believe this can apply to both Father and Son. With due respect to Barker, I don't believe she understands the name YHWH and what it entails, which is quite important when one is trying to understand God. And I believe it is irresponsible to assign Yeshua to every use of the malek of YHWH in the OT when scriptures which delineate this malek, like those in the NT, make it clear in every instance this malek or angelos is not Yeshua, our Savior. He was not the malek in the burning bush.Acts 7:30. He was not the malek who would not pardon the transgressions of Israel. Ex 23:21. If you get all kind of warm fuzzies believing that, I cannot stop you, but I do believe there are serious problems with this theology that need to be addressed. If Barker deals with those, then more power to her, but if not, I believe it behooves the reader to realize those difficulties and her error.

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12 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

One of the major problems with identifying this or that god is that they have descriptive titles which can be used across the board for different personages.  Thus, Yeshua "Salvation," and Yahweh, "He who creates that which exists," etc., may apply to more than one character.  It can be very hard to tell which deity is being described in any given instance.  Indeed, Nibley thought that the gods move up in the hierarchy as time goes on and additional worlds are created, and additional Saviors are sacrificed.

All the more reason then to use caution when making Yeshua a mere angel. If the characters are difficult to tell apart. which I can accept, especially since I believe both the Father and Son are YHWH Elohim, then it seems irresponsible to be teaching that Yeshua is the malek of YHWH throughout the OT, esp when this malek YHWH is clearly delineated, he does not appear to be YHWH. If you want to call Yeshua an angel throughout the OT, by all means have at it, but to me it is irresponsible and wrong-headed - as well as being just plain error - and I will state my reasons why I believe so. I am comfortable with allowing the reader then to choose what they wish.

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RevTestament said

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I have not read this book.

I have read the book, several times, very carefully.  Indeed, it is the single most dog-eared and marked up book in my library.  I think that makes a difference.  And it seems to me that due respect ought to involve reading the book in question carefully, at least once.  I have also read Barker's shorter essay on "The Second Person," and while that is a good introduction, it is no substitute for reading her dense, complex, and carefully sourced and argued, far-ranging and detailed book.  And as she has pointed out, The Great Angel is built on a foundation of her three earlier books, which I have also read carefully, several times.  The Older Testament,  Lost Prophet, and The Gate of Heaven.  That makes a difference as well.

One of the reasons I quoted a few passages from one chapter of her book was to point out that her arguments and evidence ought not be oversimplified. That is, she does not read or interpret every occurrence of Angel of Yahweh the same way, and works to account for different uses both historically and contextually.  Oversimplifying without carefully reading the book turns out to be one way of unintentionally manufacturing straw men, which, while they have the virtue of easily succumbing to a well-placed Huff, Puff, and Blow, they aren't necessarily a true representation of is possible given the bricks of her evidence, and the mortar of her arguments and her overall broad perspective.

One of the things I have learned about divine titles and roles is that they can shift, sometimes because the situations and roles played can at times encourage that sort of thing as an aid to communication.  However the shifts and human interpretations can also cause problems for other humans.  Depending on whose definitions are in play, an angel can be lower class heavenly being, a messenger, Warren Worthington the 3rd of the original X-Men, or Angel in the Buffy Mythology.  It can also refer to a visual manifestation of God in human form, and different angel names can refer to different manifestations or roles of the same divine being, or different divine beings acting in those same roles.  The fashions and uses differ among different groups of editors, different schools of thought, different cultures at different times. 

Is the Angel of the Great Council a "mere" angel if the Angel of the Great Council is also the Wonderful Councilor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace?  And does that mean he cannot also be the Good Shepherd of Israel, the Lamb of God, the Servant, the babe in swaddling clothes, the Risen Lord?

It happens that I am a father and a son, a nephew and an uncle, a husband, a technical writer, a High Priest, Service Missionary, an obscure scholar, a human being of Icelandic and English descent, a child of God, an occasional dental patient, and Harry Potter fan.  My appropriate use of a title does not mean no one else can also use it, nor that I should not be allowed to use any titles that I earn through the roles I play.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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8 hours ago, RevTestament said:

All the more reason then to use caution when making Yeshua a mere angel. If the characters are difficult to tell apart. which I can accept, especially since I believe both the Father and Son are YHWH Elohim, then it seems irresponsible to be teaching that Yeshua is the malek of YHWH throughout the OT, esp when this malek YHWH is clearly delineated, he does not appear to be YHWH. If you want to call Yeshua an angel throughout the OT, by all means have at it, but to me it is irresponsible and wrong-headed - as well as being just plain error - and I will state my reasons why I believe so. I am comfortable with allowing the reader then to choose what they wish.

Pardon me, but that is like saying it is wrong to describe Jesus as a mere prophet, even though Jesus describes himself as a prophet (Lk 4:24).  He also calls himself the bright, the morning star (Rev 22:16, II Pt 1:19), which is reminiscent of Lucifer in Isa 14:12.  Does that diminish Jesus in any way?  We would be as interested in the assumption of the descriptions of Ba'al being adopted wholesale by YHWH:

Both Baʿal-Hadad and YHWH are termed "Cloud-Rider" (Ps 68:4 [MT 68:5]; cf. Dan 7:13), both dwell in Mt. Safon (Pss 29:3,10, 48:2 [MT 48:3], Isa 14:13), both destroy the great Dragon, or Sea (Ps 74:12-15, Isa 27:1, Job 7:12), and both arrive in a great thunderstorm, with seven thunders or seven lightnings (Ps 29:3-9; KTU 1.101.3-4 = Ugaritica V.3.3-4) – all discussed by John Day in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, I:548-549.

Just so with the Hebrew word mal'ak "angel."

Quote

In some Judeo-Christian traditions, the Angel of the Presence / Face (lit. "faces", Hebrew: Mal'ak ha-Panim or Mal'akh ha-Panim) or Angel of his presence / face (Hebrew: Mal'ak Panayw or Mal'akh Panav) refers to an entity variously considered angelic or else identified with God himself.

The phrase occurs in Isaiah 63:9, which states that, throughout the history of Israel, God has loved and been merciful to that nation and shared in its distresses, saving Israel with "the angel of his presence". The Septuagint translation of the Book of Isaiah emphasizes that this term is simply a way of referring to God, not a created angel.  “Angel of His Presence,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_of_the_Presence .

Thus, we might want to take a look at the parallel use of Visions of the Almighty | Angel of his Presence in Abraham 1:15-16, in which Jehovah comes down and personally stops the sacrifice of Abram.  Is that the Shechinah?

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8 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Pardon me, but that is like saying it is wrong to describe Jesus as a mere prophet, even though Jesus describes himself as a prophet (Lk 4:24).  He also calls himself the bright, the morning star (Rev 22:16, II Pt 1:19), which is reminiscent of Lucifer in Isa 14:12.  Does that diminish Jesus in any way?  We would be as interested in the assumption of the descriptions of Ba'al being adopted wholesale by YHWH:

The only place in all of scripture which I believe can clearly even associate the word Malek with Yeshua, is  where he appears to be called the Malek of the covenant - that is because He is not the covenant, but is bringing that covenant to the people. Yeshua never refers to Himself as the messenger of YHWH. Why? Is it because He is YHWH? In the Peshitta Matthew He is is YHWH. In several places in the OT He is YHWH. The NT uses the equivalent angelos a good number of times. Not once is it applied to Yeshua. Even in applying it the Malek of YHWH in the OT, the NT seems to show that the Malek of YHWH in the OT is not Yeshua. Why this seemingly irrational desire to make Yeshua the messenger of YHWH, when He is hoping that we will believe He IS YHWH? John didn't say He was the messenger of the word. He said Yeshua is the word - and the word is God. Yeshua is not the mere messenger of YHWH - He IS YHWH, and He is the living embodiment of the message. To insist that He is the angel of YHWH, is a downgrade. If He ever said it, or the Bible ever clearly delineated it, I would accept it, but every time the Bible has a chance to clear this up, the angel or malek is not, or does not appear to be Yeshua. Tell me why should I strain at gnats to make Yeshua something He is not? Why does scholarship do this? I beleive because they do not understand God. They want to make many things in the scriptures something they are not. More than one can be YHWH as Yeshua shows, and more than one can be the morning star, as Satan apparently once was.

Revelation 2:28

28 And I will give him the morning astar.

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6 hours ago, RevTestament said:

The only place in all of scripture which I believe can clearly even associate the word Malek with Yeshua, is  where he appears to be called the Malek of the covenant - that is because He is not the covenant, but is bringing that covenant to the people. Yeshua never refers to Himself as the messenger of YHWH. Why? Is it because He is YHWH? In the Peshitta Matthew He is is YHWH. In several places in the OT He is YHWH. The NT uses the equivalent angelos a good number of times. Not once is it applied to Yeshua. Even in applying it the Malek of YHWH in the OT, the NT seems to show that the Malek of YHWH in the OT is not Yeshua. Why this seemingly irrational desire to make Yeshua the messenger of YHWH, when He is hoping that we will believe He IS YHWH? John didn't say He was the messenger of the word. He said Yeshua is the word - and the word is God. Yeshua is not the mere messenger of YHWH - He IS YHWH, and He is the living embodiment of the message. To insist that He is the angel of YHWH, is a downgrade. If He ever said it, or the Bible ever clearly delineated it, I would accept it, but every time the Bible has a chance to clear this up, the angel or malek is not, or does not appear to be Yeshua. Tell me why should I strain at gnats to make Yeshua something He is not? Why does scholarship do this? I beleive because they do not understand God. They want to make many things in the scriptures something they are not. More than one can be YHWH as Yeshua shows, and more than one can be the morning star, as Satan apparently once was..............................

You live in an either-or world, while I live in a both-and world.  You are straining at gnats, while I am trying to prevent foreclosure.  Since God the Father can be YHWH, and so can Jesus, I see no problem with Jesus being a prophet of God.  I likewise see no difficulty with Jesus being the High Priest and Apostle of God the Father (Hebrews 3:1).  Nor do I see a problem with Jesus being a "messenger" (mal'ak) of his Father.  It is not any downgrade at all for Jesus to be an apostle ("messenger") of the Father.  He is glorious, but he is also obedient.  There is a hierarchy.

Heb 3:1-3 "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.  For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house."

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Following are a few I think worthy of recommendation.  The first two are older works but still worth a read.  The former of the two is rather a thick volume but a lot of useful information.

R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, with a comprehensive review of Old Testament studies and a special supplement on the Apocrypha

Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament

The next two deal exclusively with archaeology, but are written for a general audience.

Alfred J. Hoerth, Archaeology and the Old Testament

John McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament

Another book, that looks like it is written for a specific audience but really is intended for a general audience, is one that deals with deification in the writings of the early church fathers and the Greek New Testament, as it relates to the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression.  It also knocks down a number of common anti-Mormon arguments relating to the same subject and reconstructs a few older Bible readings.

D. Charles Pyle, I Have Said Ye Are Gods: Concepts Conducive to the Doctrine of Deification in Patristic Literature and the Greek New Testament Text (Revised and Supplemented)

I also like the following book, though not a light read for some people (make sure you are getting the fourth edition):

Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, fourth edition

One book on the same subject but written for a more general audience (it should be noted that I disagree with a couple points the author raises about a couple passages but much of the rest of the material still is worthwhile IMO):

Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament

This one has been updated.  Make sure to get the updated one.  The next one on a related subject is of interest (although I disagree with a couple points raised by the author and it has gotten a bit pricey):

Jason David BeDuhn, Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament

Last but not least, I really like this one, too:

Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God

Those are just off the top of my head at the moment.  If I think of any more I may add to the list.

Edited by MormonMason
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16 hours ago, RevTestament said:

All the more reason then to use caution when making Yeshua a mere angel. If the characters are difficult to tell apart. which I can accept, especially since I believe both the Father and Son are YHWH Elohim, then it seems irresponsible to be teaching that Yeshua is the malek of YHWH throughout the OT, esp when this malek YHWH is clearly delineated, he does not appear to be YHWH. If you want to call Yeshua an angel throughout the OT, by all means have at it, but to me it is irresponsible and wrong-headed - as well as being just plain error - and I will state my reasons why I believe so. I am comfortable with allowing the reader then to choose what they wish.

There is one passage that refers to YHWH (the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) as the "Angel which redeemed me from all evil."  See Gen. 48:15-16.  That seems to imply that calling Yeshua' "Angel" as well as "YHWH" are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

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6 hours ago, MormonMason said:

There is one passage that refers to YHWH (the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) as the "Angel which redeemed me from all evil."  See Gen. 48:15-16.  That seems to imply that calling Yeshua' "Angel" as well as "YHWH" are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

I concede that is a possibility, but I don't think this malek forgave Jacob's sins. I think seeing this malek caused Jacob to change - to make God real in his life in a new way that caused him not to want to do any evil. When Yeshua appeared before the 70 elders of Israel at Sinai, he is called YHWH - not the messenger of YHWH. So even in the OT there appears to be a clear distinction between YHWH and His messengers. Is it right to call His messenger YHWH? Is it right to call YHWH a messenger? Jesus didn't say those who have seen me have seen the messenger of the Father - but they have seen the Father. There is just no place in scripture which clearly ever makes the messenger YHWH Himself. I don't want to make the error of adding confusion to the scriptures. I am not going to assume something that is important as this. I think it is error to do so. Well, I have said my piece. I think that is enough. If the reader can't tell, this is kind of an issue for me, but I don't wish to offend anybody. I just want to air my concerns. I hope they help somebody. Hopefully, I have made my case clear.

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2 hours ago, RevTestament said:

I concede that is a possibility, but I don't think this malek forgave Jacob's sins. I think seeing this malek caused Jacob to change - to make God real in his life in a new way that caused him not to want to do any evil. When Yeshua appeared before the 70 elders of Israel at Sinai, he is called YHWH - not the messenger of YHWH. So even in the OT there appears to be a clear distinction between YHWH and His messengers. Is it right to call His messenger YHWH? Is it right to call YHWH a messenger? Jesus didn't say those who have seen me have seen the messenger of the Father - but they have seen the Father. There is just no place in scripture which clearly ever makes the messenger YHWH Himself. I don't want to make the error of adding confusion to the scriptures. I am not going to assume something that is important as this. I think it is error to do so. Well, I have said my piece. I think that is enough. If the reader can't tell, this is kind of an issue for me, but I don't wish to offend anybody. I just want to air my concerns. I hope they help somebody. Hopefully, I have made my case clear.

I understand where you are coming from.  As to the kind of redemption spoken of there, I'm not sure it says anything about the Angel making Jacob "want to change so he wouldn't do evil."  The scripture says that he is "the Angel who redeemed [him] from all evil."  Doesn't redemption also include forgiveness of sins? The problem is partly because of what scribes have done to the text.  It is hard to tell what the original reading might be in a number of situations.  But then again I've not seen any good evidence that the text I cited is among those that were adjusted.  I think it was ambiguous enough that the scribes felt comfortable leaving it as is but the Genesis text I cited isn't the only one that speaks of YHWH as "Angel."  Another one is Hosea 12:4-5.  That one talks of the "angel" who wrestled with Jacob, spoke to them, and so on.  The very next verse identifies the one spoken of in the previous verse as YHWH.  But I guess it sort of depends on the translation for what one perceives from this.  The Hebrew seems straightforward.  Another one is Malachi 3:1.  That one speaks of "the messenger of the covenant" מלאך הברית who will come to his temple, also identified in the same passage as האדון and that is a title that refers to YHWH.  This latter one is one that has gotten JWs hung up on this a bit because they have recognized it as a title of YHWH.

Quote

The title ʼA·dhohnʹ, “Lord; Master,” when preceded by the definite article ha, “the,” gives the expression ha·ʼA·dhohnʹ, “the [true] Lord.” The use of the definite article ha before the title ʼA·dhohnʹ limits the application of this title exclusively to Jehovah God.

They used to have this commentary in an appendix in the old green vinyl-bound and reference Bibles they printed but they've since taken it out.  It can still be found in their online reference edition.  I think the most fascinating thing of all is that Justin Martyr (one of the earliest Christian writers preserved) also spoke of Jesus/Yeshua' as "Angel."  He identified this same person as the God of the OT who appeared to Moses and Abraham but he also referred to him as "Angel."  A couple pages or so discuss this in the above book by D. Charles Pyle but it is easily confirmed by consulting Justin Martyr.  The question arises as to why it was that early Christians had such an idea among them if it was problematic.  They didn't seem to take issue with such an idea.  I think God eventually will sort all this out for us.

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