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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Apocalypse of John 3:14, part four

Continuing work on Christology, I am in the process of collecting texts that might shed some light on the use of ἡ ἀρχὴ in Rev. 3:14 ….  ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ· Take a look at this passage from Philo where ἀρχὴ is apparently an epithet or a name of the τὸν πρωτόγονον αὐτοῦ λόγον.

Philo is in my admittedly uninformed opinion the "father of confusion" for which reason I have never expended the time and energy it would take to seriously interact with his system of thought. Just dragging home from the library the volumes of Philo from the Loeb Classical Library is enough to make you not want even get started looking at his works. However, I somewhat suspicious of R. Bauckham's waving off Philo[3] as one of several special cases which other scholars use in promoting the notion of a "single grand vizier or plenipotentiary of God" in Second Temple Judaism. I think that special cases which cause problems for our proposed reconstruction of Second Temple Judaism are exactly what we should look at with great care to avoid oversimplification. 

R. Bauckham shares with other authors in his field the habit of giving long lists of citations which are supposed to support his case at some point without presenting the text so we can look at it. The actual quotations of primary sources are few and far between. The trouble it takes to look up all the citations is daunting even with computerized texts. This makes it very difficult to evaluate the quality of the argument.      

Philo Judaeus Phil., De confusione linguarum 146 [1]

κἂν μηδέπω μέντοι τυγχάνῃ τις ἀξιόχρεως ὢν υἱὸς θεοῦ προσαγορεύεσθαι, σπουδαζέτω κοσμεῖσθαι κατὰ τὸν πρωτόγονον αὐτοῦ λόγον, τὸν ἀγγέλων πρεσβύτατον, ὡς ἂν ἀρχάγγελον, πολυώνυμον ὑπάρχοντα· καὶ γὰρ ἀρχὴ καὶ ὄνομα θεοῦ καὶ λόγος καὶ ὁ κατ' εἰκόνα ἄνθρωπος καὶ ὁ ὁρῶν, Ἰσραήλ, προσαγορεύεται.

(146) And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel. [2]

Rev. 3:14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ·

Col. 1:15 ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως,  16 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα, εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι· τὰ πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται·  17 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν,  18 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων,  19 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι  20 καὶ δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν, εἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ, [δι᾿ αὐτοῦ] εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἴτε τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

[1] Philo Judaeus Phil., De confusione linguarum (0018: 013)
“Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, vol. 2”, Ed. Wendland, P.
Berlin: Reimer, 1897, Repr. 1962.
Section 146 

[2] The Works of Philo,   C. D. Yonge

[3] R. Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, p.160


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