Regional SBL Papers

Posted By on May 16, 2011

[Note: For other posts on Mike’s work on the divine council, click here for the archive.]

[Note to those who left comments on this post: I have fixed the bad link in the earlier post.]

Here are my two regional SBL papers (keep in mind that in both I spent part of my time talking the audience through a chart):

1. Divine Plurality in the Dead Sea Scrolls (see previous post for files related to the data for this paper).

  • My take in a nutshell: Contrary to scholarly consensus opinion, there are numerous instances of plural elohim and elim in the scrolls, many in divine council contexts; there are *no* instances of the word for “angels” in divine council scenes in the scrolls; consequently, the idea of a “downgrading” of the council gods to angels needs re-thinking and re-articulation.

2. Jesus’ Quotation of Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34: A Different View of John’s Theological Strategy

  • My take in a nutshell: I reject the “mortal view” of Psalm 82:6 taken by all NT scholars I know of who have commented on this quotation; it amounts to Jesus saying he gets to call himself God’s son because any other Jew could, too; that fails to account for the crowd reaction and is utterly foreign to the original context of Psalm 82, which eliminates the possibility of the elohim in 82:6 being human beings. Rather, the quotation is part of John’s strategy to assert Jesus’ own divine nature and shared authority with the Father.

The event was fun, as expected. Both papers were well received. I’ll be using both papers as the starting points for journal articles (hopefully submitting them this summer).

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7 Responses to “Regional SBL Papers”

  1. Nobunaga says:

    Excellent this is why i follow this blog

  2. Chris Gudmundsson says:

    In the whole Bible, the earliest known instance of God’s speaking to his council is recounted in Gen 1, where God issues his creative decrees in the hearing of his divine sons. Why is this not the moment Jesus is talking about in John 10 when he speaks of the council as the ones “to whom the Word of God came”? That would seem to me to be the most natural way to take the phrase.

    • MSH says:

      because the quotation is word-for-word from the Septuagint of Psalm 82:6 (81:6 in LXX numbering), not Genesis.

  3. Chris Gudmundsson says:

    I understand that Jesus is quoting vebatim. It just seems that “to whom the word of God came” is a pretty clumsy way to say “to the folks he was talking to,” which itself seems an ungainly alternative to just saying nothing. Why was it even necessary for Jesus to specify that God was talking to the people he was talking to? Doesn’t Jesus’ language rather suggest some grander, more epoch-making event — such as when the word of God first came to this world and the beings who were here at that promordial moment? Just thinking…

  4. Rafa says:

    Mike, how were your papers received at SBL? Did you see progress from the academia towards abandoning old and inaccurate ideas related to the subject or there was resistance?

    • MSH says:

      They were both well received. In the John 10 one I could see no one had every considered what I was saying (but that’s because they were NT people). No objections were raised. In the Qumran / Hebrew one, there was some surprise (not at the terms, but their frequency). Since I don’t see the terms as impinging on monotheism, no one was bothered. I think they’d look on it as a refinement. What I need to do next time is argue for an understanding that aggelos in the Hellenistic Jewish mind was akin to elohim in the Israelite mind (the term denoted any resident of the unseen world, other than God himself – except for the angel of Yahweh, who is but isn’t Yahweh). I think combining this paper with that one would allow me to reframe the issue of “evolutionary monotheism” the right way. I’ll be doing some of that in November at the ETS meeting.

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