Saturday, December 20, 2014

Church Father Tatian, Hebrew Elohim and the Greek LOGOS

Peter Craigie contends that the translation "God" for the Hebrew elohim in Psalm 8:4-5 "is almost certainly correct" and he believes that the term probably alludes to the image of deity in humankind (cf. Genesis 1:26-27); however, it is important to note that the LXX, Syriac, MT, Vulgate and the Targumim all indicate that elohim in Psalm 8:4-5 signifies "angels." The pre-Nicenes also prefer the linguistic terminology "angels" over against the rendering "God" for this passage: Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Tatian conceive of the elohim mentioned in the psalm as "angels." Undoubtedly, these writers were influenced by the LXX/OL tradition or had their view informed by the account in Hebrews 2:7.

See Craigie, Psalms 1-50, WBC (Waco: Word, 1983), 108.

Tatian was born in Assyria and eventually became a student of Justin Martyr. The Oratio is his best and most useful work, according to Eusebius. See Oratio ad Graecos and Fragments, trans. Molly Whittaker (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), x.

Tatian converted to the church by perusing the "barbaric writings" (i.e. the Scriptures) of Judaism and Christianity. See Oratio 30; later, he allegedly became an austere heretic, although we cannot definitively substantiate the heretical nature of Tatian's beliefs (Little, Apologists, 179-180). Whittaker thinks that it is hard to determine Tatian's orthodoxy or heretical status on the basis of the Oratio alone (Oratio, xvi).

Tatian, while emphasizing gnosis like his famed heretical counterparts (the Gnostics), still does not speak about intermediary agents (aeons) who are part of some divine pleroma; nor does he juxtapose the Most High (altissimus) with a demiurgical creator-god. See ibid., xvii.

Tatian also received training as a rhetor before he settled in Rome. His concept of the LOGOS is an abstract conception of divine rationality that assumes hypostaticity prior to and for the purpose of creation: the criticisms of Irenaeus and Hippolytus directed toward Tatian may therefore be justified. See Adv. Haer. I, 28 and Philosophumena 8.16.

38 comments:

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Its a little confusing how the English translations say angels or god, when elohim is plural.

The whole construction of the two verses clearly point to el's. What other OT verse indicates that el = malak?

Duncan said...

https://www.academia.edu/5045650/Barbarians_and_Greeks_in_the_Northern_Pontus_in_the_Roman_Period_Dio_Chrysostom_s_Account_of_Olbia_and_Archaeology

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

My understanding is that elohim is usually glossed as "gods" in English, although the referent of the word which contains a plural suffix could be the true God, angels, judges, or false gods.

See Gen 1:1 for an occurrence of elohim that references the true God (YHWH). For an apparent reference to the angels, see Ps 97:7.

See http://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2013/06/henry-p-smith-offers-commentary-on-1.html

http://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2013/05/repost-of-genesis-126-and-how-many.html

Edgar Foster said...

One more quote from P.M. Casey, which I've posted here before:

"Some beings [in 2nd Temple Judaism] seem to be of almost divine status. At Wisdom of Solomon 7:21ff, Wisdom is described in such terms. In 11Q Melchizedek, Old Testament passages containing two of the words for God (EL at Ps 7:8-9 and ELOHIM at Ps 82:1) are interpreted of Melchizedek. Both ELIM and ELOHIM are used with reference to angels in 4Q Shir Shabb. Philo
describes Moses as 'God and king of the whole nation'
(Life of Moses I, 158), and the LOGOS as 'the second
God' (Qu in Gen II, 62). At 3 Enoch 12:3-5, God crowns
Metatron, who is enthroned in heaven, and calls him
'The lesser YHWH'" (From Jewish Prophet to Gentile
God: The Origins and Development of New Testament Christology. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991), p. 79.

Anonymous said...

IMO, this is simply a case of confusing meaning with reference. Yes, angels, judges, and kings are referred to as ELOHIM, but that isn't meant to suggest that ELOHIM *means* angels, judges, or kings. Rather, it seems to me that as agents of God, these individuals were given the divine title.

11Q Melchizedek is a classic example, as many commentators would agree with a restoration of the text that not only calls Melchizedek "God" but "your God".

~Kaz

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Genesis 1:1 gets its interpretation from the surrounding sentence structure which is masculine singular.

God is a poor translation of EL which in pictographic form is the ox head standing for power and the staff standing for guidance and authority.

Functionally those who hold the power and authority in relative levels - judges, kings (who traditionally hold the horns / coronation and the staff).

Elohim is the plural of El plain and simple. The sentence structure around it tells us how it is used. If masculine singular then it is the amplified version of El meaning the mightiest in authority YHWH.

This particular sentence is not singular hence why these other translations can say angels (plural) but this none the less is an interpretation that the text does not indicate. El & malak are not interchangeable.

In koine both El & Elohim get interpreted as theos which is problematic & probably why the lxx has this discrepancy. I also think this may account for the translational difficulties of John 1:1. There is no koine equivalent to El.

When understanding EL in its original form makes a comment like "god & king" completely redundant.

Duncan said...

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/s/sandstone_figure_of_a_sphinx.aspx

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bible-British-Museum-Interpreting/dp/0714111554

http://www.amazon.com/A-Ox-Short-History-Alphabet/dp/B000O19GI2

http://www.codex99.com/typography/11.html

Matt13weedhacker said...

Hi Edgar.

Which specific chapter and verse in his "Oratio" does Tatian refer to Psalm 8:5-6?

Matt13weedhacker said...

Its interesting how the Hebrew language found an additional way of using a plural!

A way that we, (and many other common languages), do not use, i.e. the quali-tative aspect, in addition to the quanti-tative aspect.

Matt13weedhacker said...

Masoretic text Heb., ( ELOHIM ). The version of the Seventy LXX Gk., ( TOUS AGGELOUS ). The LXX revisions of Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, all use Gk., ( THEON ).

[1.] Aquilla of Sinope (died circa 135 C.E.)
[2.] Theodotion (circa. 120-200 C.E.)
[3.] Symmachus (circa late 2nd Century C.E.)

Very early, very significant revisions of the LXX from the Second Century AD.

Psalm 8:5(6) MT, LXX, LXX-RV.

Masoretic Text: “...You made him inferior to/than [Heb., ( ELOHIM )] God-par excellence/a god/gods...”

OG Septuagint LXX: “...You made him a little inferior in comparison to Gk., ( TOUS AGGELOUS ) the angels...”

Aquilla LXX-RSV: “...You made him a little inferior in comparison to Gk., ( THEON ) a god...”

Theodotion LXX-RSV: “...You made him a little inferior in comparison to Gk., ( THEON ) a god...”

Symmachus LXX-RSV: “...You made him [Var. Gk., ( ὀλίγον )] a little inferior in comparison to Gk., ( THEON ) a god...”

Syriac and the Targums?

Duncan said...

Edgar,

I see at psalms 97:7 that the LXX strikes again.

There is no evidence in the Hebrew that elohim & malakim are interchangeable.

"bow down to him all you mighty ones"

The mighty ones here are undefined in the context & should be left that way.

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Wis 7:21 And all such things as are either secret or manifest: them I know.

I cannot see an obvious connection ?

Edgar Foster said...

Matt13,

please see Oratio, chapter 15.

All the best,

Edgar

Edgar Foster said...

Hi Kaz,

in Casey's defense, he does not appear to say that elohim means "angels," but merel says that the word is used with reference to these spirit creatures. I also agree that Melchizedek is a classic example of the high priest/king being referenced in this way.

Edgar Foster said...

Mt13:

"And you have made him a little less than the angels, and you will crown him with glory and brightness."
(The Psalms Targum by Edward M. Cook)

"Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels; thou hast clothed him with glory and honour."
(A Translation of the Syriac Peshito version of the Psalms of David by Andrew Oliver)

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

I don't think anyone is claiming that elohim and malakim are semantically interchangeable, only that the words can be coreferential.

Edgar Foster said...

"Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, etc.: Heb. מאלהים, which is an expression of angels, for You gave power to Joshua to still the sun and to dry up the Jordan, and to Moses to split the waters of the Sea of Reeds and to ascend to the heavens, and to Elijah to resurrect the dead" (Rashi's commentary on Ps 8:5-6).

Matt13weedhacker said...

Hebrews 1:6 quotes Deuteronomy 32:43.

Here's what the oldest versions say. Translation underneath the MSS names etc.

Recieved Hebrew MT., Masoretic Text circa. 900 C.E.

“...Let all [Heb., ( HA ELOHIM ) the gods] do obeisance...”

DSS., Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript 4QDt-j, circa. 100 B.C.E. - 78 C.E.

“...Let all [Heb., ( BENI ELOHIM ) Sons of God] do obeisance...”

DSS., Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript 4QDt-q, circa. 100 B.C.E. - 78 C.E.

“...Let all [Heb., ( BENI EL[OHIM] ) Sons of God] do obeisance...”

LXX Papyrus Fouad 266, (Rahlfs 848), circa. 100 B.C.E - 200 C.E.

“...Let all [Gk., ( HUIW[N THEOU] ) Sons of God] do obeisance...”

The implications lead to the possible, i.e. hypothetical, renderings underneath:

Hebrews 1:6 + MT Rendering

“...moreover when HE again brings HIS first born [“...Son...” = implied] into the inhabited earth, HE says: [Quoting Deuteronomy 32:43]: “And let all the [Masoretic Recieved Text: “...the God's...”] do obeisance to him...”

Hebrews 1:6 + LXX Fouad 266

“...moreover when HE again brings HIS first born [“...Son...” = implied] into the inhabited earth, HE says: [Quoting Deuteronomy 32:43]: “And let all the [LXX Papyrus Fouad 266, Rahlfs 848: “...Sons of God...”] do obeisance to him...”

Hebrews 1:6 + DSS 4QDeut-j

“...moreover when HE again brings HIS first born [“...Son...” = implied] into the inhabited earth, HE says: [Quoting Deuteronomy 32:43]: “And let all the [Dead Sea Scrolls 4QDeut-j: “...the Sons of God...”] do obeisance to him...”

Hebrews 1:6 + DSS 4QDeut-q

“...moreover when HE again brings HIS first born [“...Son...” = implied] into the inhabited earth, HE says: [Quoting Deuteronomy 32:43]: “And let all the [Dead Sea Scrolls 4QDeut-q: “...the Sons of G[od]...”] do obeisance to him...”

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan: Wisdom 7:22-27 might constitute a better reference for making Casey's point. I believe he wanted to argue that divine attributes are predicated of wisdom.

Matt13: Thanks for posting a comparison of the MSS. Good points.

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Have we a solid example of co-referential usages of angels & gods in the OT?

Matt13weedhacker

The Plural usage is not unique to Hebrew.

https://www.sron.nl/~jheise/signlists/list3.html

see EN usage

EN.EN.EN.(EN.) translated as lord of lords but again this is a poor translation (as are some of the others EnLil= mighty wind & EnKi= mighty earth). Mightiest of mighty would be better IMO.

EL denotes mighty & Elohim denotes mightiest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_in_Islam

This kind of tripple expression is very old.

Isaiah 6:3

Duncan said...

Edgar,

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SPgkPA4aPz0C&pg=PA289&lpg=PA289&dq=11QtgJob+38:7&source=bl&ots=ejFi4QL2uW&sig=mttcdiO1w-US38BIg6rYnE_HOTs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MkGZVL2gJqKv7AbI5oDwDg&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=11QtgJob%2038%3A7&f=false

This information regarding the DSS Targum of Job 38:7 puts a fly in the ointment.

Duncan said...

cont.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=LccSLoo92mgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+targum+of+job&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tz-ZVMSLCvTY7AbXh4GoDg&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=38%3A7&f=false

Its a pity that I cannot get more of this regarding the initial phrase of the verse:-

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9ZU3AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Another+Seed:+Studies+in+Gnostic+Mythology&hl=en&sa=X&ei=CFGZVM7cIcrQ7Ab9voD4Dg&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=benei%20elohim&f=false

See "benei elohim" & its translation in early writings.

It does appear that Job 38:4 could be saying "productive land" as opposed to earth. Land & sea contrasted.

The lambs cry aloud and the sons of the land owners shout an alarm of joy.

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

by coreferential I mean that elohim, like malakim, can reference the angels although the term itself does not mean angels. I guess one could quibble with any example I adduce, but elohim has been applied to the angels (at least) since the OG/LXX and DSS period.

Edgar Foster said...

A general rule of interpretation is that context is king. But I've often found that what makes sense in the eyes of some, given a particular context, does not make sense to others. Presuppositions and special interests also drive many of these debates.

Duncan said...

Edgar,

(Genesis 32:1-3) Jacob then went on his way, and the angels (malakim) of God (elohim) met up with him. 2 As soon as he saw them, Jacob said: “This is the camp of God(elohim)!” So he named that place Ma·ha·na′im (two camps). 3 Then Jacob sent messengers (malakim) ahead of him to his brother E′sau in the land of Se′ir, the territory of E′dom,

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

a man is said to wrestle with Jacob in Gen 32:25. The NAB understands this man to be a divine being (an angel) and translates Gen 32:29: Then the man said, "You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed."

Here is the footnote for Gen 32:29 (NAB):

the first part of the Hebrew name Yisrael is given a popular explanation in the word saritha, "you contended"; the second part is the first syllable of ’elohim, "divine beings." The present incident, with a similar allusion to the name Israel, is referred to in Hos 12:5, where the mysterious wrestler is explicitly called an angel.

"Jacob named the place Peniel, 'because I have seen God [Elohim] face to face,' he said, 'yet my life has been spared'" (Gen 32:30 NAB).

Duncan said...

Edgar,

He turns El-is the concrete translation.

"elohim, "divine beings."" Is one of many possibilities as we have already established.

So whom did Jacob send?

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

the malakim sent by Jacob could have been human. We would then have a contrast between "messengers" of Elohim and messengers of Jacob.

We've also discussed how Elohim is used as a reference to the one true God. Do you agree with this view?

Thanks,

Edgar

Duncan said...

Edgar,

The messengers Jacob sent are not designated the messengers of jacob. The only designation is the messengers of elohim.

Hos 12:5?

In the the singular sentence construct elohim can mean the one true god & probably does in most cases but it is a designation of relative power, el being lower than elohim. El being the first sylable of elohim makes no sense since elohim is just the plural of el to emphasise the level of power. This level principle is demonstrated in the term el elyon. All who have the power to judge are el.

Cont.

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

the account states that Jacob sent messengers before him. We might ask that if he did not send his own messengers [angels], then who did he send--Jehovah's?

It's certainly not the final word, but in one fairly recent commentary on Genesis by Robert Alter, he writes: "These are of course human messengers," but the "messenger lingo is used again in Gen 32:4 to form a nexus with 32:2.

NAB probably meant Hos 12:4 instead of 12:5 although the numbering of passages sometimes differs in some texts. The point is that the "man" Jacob wrestles is called an angel by Hosea and "God" (elohim) in the Genesis account.

I agree with the substance of your remarks on Elohim. But the etymology of this Hebrew word (with a plural suffix) is still debated.

Edgar Foster said...

The figure from Genesis who grappled with Jacob is called an angel in Hosea 12:5 NAB. Other versions have it numbered as 12:4.

Duncan said...

Well the debate can go on. I go with what we actually have.

Alter hits the nail on the head. The question is can a man be an El and can a man be a messenger of elohim?

Either way to impose the interpretation of Hosea on the text of Genesis, using a Greek term to obscure a basic Hebrew term is going to create something that does not exist in the hebrew and I am sure that the scholars must recognise this.

Edgar Foster said...

What I mean by the debate is that some think Elohim derives from Eloah instead of simply El. As for Alter, he writes that the messengers sent by Jacob are human--not divine or angels. But he insists there's a comparison being made in the text: messengers of God [possibly angels] with messengers of Jacob [likely human].

I'm not necessarily trying to impose Hosea's language on Genesis since I think the same result can be gotten by reading the Genesis account only. For some reason, ancient Jews applied Elohim to angels and human judges. Even if this use is rooted in the LXX or DSS, something made the ancients create the association Elohim = angels in some contexts. Compare John 10:34-35; Heb 2:5-9.

Duncan said...

Edgar,

There is no getting away from the fact that Akkadian cuneiform uses multiples of en (note no fixed number of repetitions) to designate a singular primary deity or an.u so whether we say el or eloah (dual) really do not make any significant difference to my point.

To thoerise that el means to be in front confuses Hebrew function with greek form. Many terms in the OT are not from Hebrew Semitic root forms. Some , like names of trees, and other items come from Akkadian & other origins.

Duncan said...

Any one who has done there homework will know that the term cannot come from the father god of urgarit since el was a later short form of his name. Like we would call jehovah , god.

Edgar Foster said...

Dunca,

I wish matters were that simple, but Hebrew/Semitic etymology seems very complicated when one reads the vast literature that's been produced on the subject.

I'm not saying that every hypothesis should be given equal attention, but Albright, FM Cross and others paint a complex description of El's derivation whether they're correct or not. There are plenty of examples to wade through.

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Well all I can respond to this is that Albright did not have the benefit of what is now known in relation to proto Semitic script to which the evidence points but most scholars reject because of its implications.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmr0UEwM_p0

Duncan said...

Edgar,

"21. I and every person of my household. Then I sent an invitation to Mamre, Arnem, and Eshkol, three Amorite brothers (who were) my friends, and they ate 22. with me and drank with me."

DSS 1Q20