Jump to content

Modern Revelation And The Biblical Gods


David Bokovoy

Recommended Posts

Time for another divine council thread.

Throughout the Old Testament, the biblical gods fulfill a vital administrative role. For contemporary Bible scholars, the concept of a divine council of gods is so central to the biblical world view that Patrick D. Miller refers to this assembly as â??a fundamental symbol for the Old Testament understanding of how the government of human society by the divine world is carried outâ? (in Israelite Religion and Biblical Theology, 432).

â??God has taken his place in the divine council,â? declares the Psalmist, â??in the midst of the gods he holds judgmentâ? (Psalm 82:1; NRSV). According to Psalm 82, at least some of these gods were punished for judging perversely by showing favor to the wicked (vv. 2-6).

The role of the gods as witnesses in cases of judgment provides the conceptual background for at least two laws in Exodus:

â??And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the [gods]; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for everâ? (Ex. 21:5-6).

â??If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the [gods], to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighborâ??s goodsâ? (Ex. 22:7).

Though later traditions wishing to incorporate a radical monotheistic reading into the text removed the Hebrew word elohim and inserted the Aramaic word â??judges,â? as Cyrus Gordon illustrated, â??the oath of the gods is a well attested ceremony in the ancient oriental court procedure and there is no doubt that the same ceremony is indicated by [the Exodus laws]â? (in â??Elohim in its Reputed Meaning of Rulers, Judges,â? Journal of Biblical Literature 54 (1935): 143).

Therefore, the invoking of the divine beings of the heavenly court as witnesses in Exodus provides an important illustration of the administrative role fulfilled by the biblical gods.

Another significant example of the governmental role fulfilled by the biblical gods includes the vision recorded in Daniel 7.

According to the vision, the heavenly court or divine council will abolish the power of the king who rises up speaking against the Most High and persecuting the holy ones (vv. 24-25). This scene parallels Daniels vision concerning the Son of Man. The text is ambiguous, however, concerning the actors who will bring the one who is like a Son of Man â??near beforeâ? the ancient of Days (v. 13). Daniel 7 simply states, â??dominion, glory, and kingship were given to himâ? (v. 14).

In view of the fact that the heavenly court specifically takes responsibility for removing the dominion from the evil king who appears later in Danielâ??s vision, clearly the text assumes that the divine council represents the undefined â??theyâ? who will bring the righteous king near before the Ancient of Days and give to him â??dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve himâ? (v. 13-14).

Concerning this council experience, the Prophet Joseph taught:

â??Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call together and hold a council with them to prepare for the coming of the Son of Man. He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand councilâ? (Teachings, 157).

The ambiguity associated with the divine council addressed in Danielâ??s vision parallels the use of the undefined masculine plural imperatives in Isaiah 40:

â??Comfort ye [plural] comfort ye [plural] my people, saith your God. Speak ye [plural] comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry [plural] unto herâ? (vv. 1-2).

Several biblical scholars have explored the possibility that Isaiah 40 features a prophetic commission in which God calls upon the members of his council to comfort, speak, and cry to Israel; see especially Frank Moore Cross, Jr., â??The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah,â? Journal of Near Eastern Studies XII (1953): 274-277.

As a divine council text in which God invokes the members of his assembly to â??comfortâ? and â??speakâ? unto Israel, the imagery in Isaiah 40 reflects the theme of consolation and communication associated with the heavenly host in D&C 128:20-21:

â??And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!â?

Link to comment

The concept of the congregation of the G-ds is everywhere thoughout the ancient world, both among the Jews and others - like Zorroaster and many various pagan text including the Greek, Pursian, Egyptian, Roman, Eastern (China) and others. The congregation of the G-ds is one of the most consistant concepts of the ancient world.

In the Biblical scriptures there is the title of "King of Kings" and "L-rd or L-rds" and as pointed out "judg of g-ds" that can also be translated as "G-d of G-ds" or "Elehim".

We have additional text concerning the congregation of g-ds in the Dead Sea Scrolls that connects additional meaning to various New Testiment terms - including "Amen" and "Hosanna" that have sugnificents with the "divine congregation of the g-ds." I find that many Trinitarian Christians use these terms and in the next breath deny the ancient meaning.

The Traveler

Link to comment

In the article, Gordon cites a number of the tablets from Nuzi which feature the God oath reflective of the Exodus passages:

â??The judges to Hupita said: â??Swear by the gods (against) Shurihi with his witnesses.â?? And Hupita swore (against) Shurihi with his witnesses.â?

"And the judges said to Akkapu: â??Take the oath of the gods against the witnesses.â??â?

We should not overlook the significant fact that these important archeological discoveries have made it impossible to interpret the Hebrew noun elohim as "judges."

So much for a radical monotheistic approach to the Bible!

Link to comment

This is such a radical thought for the strict monotheists that all they can do is deny it to the end...

Atheist scholars chortle, saying that it proves that the Israelite religion comes from the same background as all the pagan religions of the Mideast and therefore has nothing unique about it.

LDS are one of the few (the only?) Christian sects who can take this information and just shrug and say "So? We knew that already. :P In fact, the similarities SHOULD exist..."

Beowulf

Link to comment

Come and enjoy yet another podcast on this very theme the Council of the Gods as I discuss Jim Adams arguments against this concept in his article in the book "The New Mormon Challenge, edited by Beckwith, Mosser, and Owen. I just produced it this afternoon, Saturday....

Link to comment

David writes

Throughout the Old Testament, the biblical gods fulfill a vital administrative role. For contemporary Bible scholars, the concept of a divine council of gods is so central to the biblical world view that Patrick D. Miller refers to this assembly as â??a fundamental symbol for the Old Testament understanding of how the government of human society by the divine world is carried outâ? (in Israelite Religion and Biblical Theology, 432).

While it is more than obvious that divine councils existed in the ancient world by almost all cultures I don't think we should see more in it than a projection of human society on how we feel the heavens were run. Aside from modern revelation attesting to heavenly councils I would have to stick my neck waaaaaaay out and suggest that ancient accounts of councils were pure speculation on how the heavens operate and not a discourse on their realities. If I state the obvious then please forgive me, but I feel that the actual mode of divine hierarchy is probably a bit more complex and not immediately understandable to our limited senses, therefore we incorporate finite mortal constructs to illustrate what we don't truly understand. Otherwise an eyeopener, as usual.

Link to comment

Concerning this council experience, the Prophet Joseph taught:

â??Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call together and hold a council with them to prepare for the coming of the Son of Man. He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand councilâ? (Teachings, 157).

The ambiguity associated with the divine council addressed in Danielâ??s vision parallels the use of the undefined masculine plural imperatives in Isaiah 40:

â??Comfort ye [plural] comfort ye [plural] my people, saith your God. Speak ye [plural] comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry [plural] unto herâ? (vv. 1-2).

Several biblical scholars have explored the possibility that Isaiah 40 features a prophetic commission in which God calls upon the members of his council to comfort, speak, and cry to Israel; see especially Frank Moore Cross, Jr., â??The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah,â? Journal of Near Eastern Studies XII (1953): 274-277.

As a divine council text in which God invokes the members of his assembly to â??comfortâ? and â??speakâ? unto Israel, the imagery in Isaiah 40 reflects the theme of consolation and communication associated with the heavenly host in D&C 128:20-21:

â??And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!â?

David,

If you were a biblical scholar not associated with the Church what would be your explanation as to where Joseph Smith received insight concerning the divine council?

I assume this concept was a radical one during his lifetime. However, I do know he studied Hebrew and am curious if this may have contributed to his gaining the concept of the divine counsel.

Your thoughts?

Link to comment
In the Biblical scriptures there is the title of "King of Kings" and "L-rd or L-rds" and as pointed out "judg of g-ds" that can also be translated as "G-d of G-ds" or "Elehim".The Traveler
Does your keyboard lack the letter "o"?

No, and he doesn't lack reverance for the name of who he worships either.

I've always thought it was cool, Traveler. I've contemplated following your example.

Link to comment
In the Biblical scriptures there is the title of "King of Kings" and "L-rd or L-rds" and as pointed out "judg of g-ds" that can also be translated as "G-d of G-ds" or "Elehim".The Traveler
Does your keyboard lack the letter "o"?

No, and he doesn't lack reverance for the name of who he worships either.

I've always thought it was cool, Traveler. I've contemplated following your example.

So then leaving out the letter 'o' somehow manages to fool your god? Something like well that latterdayteancum *almost* used my name but didn't so I'll go back to sleep now. Is that it?

Way off topic but still....

Link to comment
If you were a biblical scholar not associated with the Church what would be your explanation as to where Joseph Smith received insight concerning the divine council?

I would probably assume that Joseph Smith was simply a religious genius who came to his views regarding the role of a divine council of deities through his studies with Joshua Sexias; via pondering the significance of the divine plural elohim.

I suppose I would feel a bit intrigued with the fact that though somewhat revolutionary for his time, Josephâ??s ponderings have proven more biblically sound than the ideas held by many of his religious contemporaries.

Link to comment
If you were a biblical scholar not associated with the Church what would be your explanation as to where Joseph Smith received insight concerning the divine council?

I would probably assume that Joseph Smith was simply a religious genius who came to his views regarding the role of a divine council of deities through his studies with Joshua Sexias; via pondering the significance of the divine plural elohim.

I suppose I would feel a bit intrigued with the fact that though somewhat revolutionary for his time, Josephâ??s ponderings have proven more biblically sound than the ideas held by many of his religious contemporaries.

You could, of course, ask a biblical scholar not associated with the Church what they think. I presume you know a few. Great missionary opportunity!

Link to comment

I would probably assume that Joseph Smith was simply a religious genius who came to his views regarding the role of a divine council of deities through his studies with Joshua Sexias; via pondering the significance of the divine plural elohim.

I suppose I would feel a bit intrigued with the fact that though somewhat revolutionary for his time, Josephâ??s ponderings have proven more biblically sound than the ideas held by many of his religious contemporaries.

You could, of course, ask a biblical scholar not associated with the Church what they think. I presume you know a few. Great missionary opportunity!

Not to divert from the Bible, but we can also study up on the "Eleusinian Mysteries" that talk all about "the council of the gods", temple initiation and become gods ourselves and such. Their was actually groups of people who practiced these mysteries in the Eastern United States in the Early and Mid-Eighteen hundreds, particularly in Pennsylvania.

Here is just a little snippet of info on this stuff:

"AMONG most of the Ancient Nations there was, in addition to their public worship, a private one styled the Mysteries; to which those only were admitted who had been prepared by certain ceremonies called initiations.

The most widely disseminated of the ancient worships were those of Isis, Orpheus, Dionusos, Ceres and Mithras. Many barbarous nations received the knowledge of the Mysteries in honor of these divinities from the Egyptians, before they arrived in Greece; and even in the British Isles the Druids celebrated those of Dionusos, learned by them from the Egyptians.

The Mysteries of Eleusis, celebrated at Athens in honor of Ceres, swallowed up, as it were, all the others. All the neighboring nations neglected their own, to celebrate those of Eleusis; and in a little while all Greece and Asia Minor were filled with the Initiates. They spread into the Roman Empire, and even beyond its limits, "those holy and august Eleusinian Mysteries," said Cicero, "in which the people of the remotest lands are initiated." Zosimus says that they embraced the whole human race; and Aristides termed them the common temple of the whole world.

There were, in the Eleusinian feasts, two sorts of Mysteries, the great, and the little. The latter were a kind of preparation for the former; and everybody was admitted to them. Ordinarily there was a novitiate of three, and sometimes of four years.

Clemens of Alexandria says that what was taught in the great Mysteries concerned the Universe, and was the completion and perfection of all instruction; wherein things were seen as they were, and nature and her works were made known.

The ancients said that the Initiates would be more happy after death than other mortals; and that, while the souls of the Profane on leaving their bodies, would be plunged in the mire, and remain buried in darkness, those of the Initiates would fly to the Fortunate Isles, the abode of the Gods."

These mysteries speak quite a bit about "the council of gods", "temple worthiness" as well as "three heavens." Check it out if you haven't already. I think you will be suprised how much Mormon doctrine follows these mystic teachings...

I have not studied this stuff in great depth but what I have learned so far is pretty shocking and interesting, especially since Joseph Smith used to speak of the "Mysteries" alot.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...